"Desolate July", the new Christian Rios-directed video from SONS OF APOLLO — featuring former DREAM THEATER members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-GUNS N' ROSES), Billy Sheehan (THE WINERY DOGS, MR. BIG, DAVID LEE ROTH) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-JOURNEY, ex-YNGWIE MALMSTEEN'S RISING FORCE) — can be seen below. The song is taken from SONS OF APOLLO's second studio album, "MMXX" (pronounced: 20/20), which will be released on January 17 via InsideOut Music/Sony. Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (Portnoy and Sherinian), "MMXX" will be made available as a standard CD package, limited-edition 2 CD package (which includes instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats.
"Desolate July" is a tribute to musician David Z, who tragically passed away in 2017.
Soto comments: "From the few seconds of hearing this song, it guided me to write the lyrics about our dear friend and colleague, David Z. David was one of the greatest, funniest and kindest humans I have ever known. He had friendships with most all of us in SONS OF APOLLO, but Mike and I were certainly the closest. I thought it fitting to include this tribute to him from us in this haunting, incredible body of music."
Adds Portnoy: "This video is a great tribute to our dear friend David Z. Jeff and I were particularly close with him and I was honored that Jeff invited me to sing the harmonies with him on the choruses for us to both share our love for our friend that was tragically taken from us way too soon."
"MMXX" track listing:
01. Goodbye Divinity (7:16)
02. Wither To Black (4:48)
03. Asphyxiation (5:09)
04. Desolate July (6:11)
05. King Of Delusion (8:49)
06. Fall To Ascend (5:07)
07. Resurrection Day (5:51)
08. New World Today (16:38)
"Stylistically, we have followed the same path as the debut," outlines Portnoy. "But we feel that it has come out stronger, simply because we know one another better. 'Psychotic Symphony' was the first time the five of us had worked together, so there was bound to be an air of experimentation happening. Now, we can draw on having the experience not only of recording that album, but also of touring together a lot. And now there is clearly a lot more obvious chemistry going on."
"We did 83 shows on the last tour," adds keyboardist Derek Sherinian. "And it was so worthwhile, because we came out of it with a stronger bond, and that is certainly reflected in what we wrote."
The writing process began at the start of the year, as Portnoy, Sherinian and guitarist Thal got together. "The three of us were at my home studio in Pennsylvania," explains Portnoy. "And it took about three weeks to get all the music written. That was a very smooth process. The last time, it certainly must have felt a little weird for Bumblefoot to be writing with Derek and me, because we were strangers to him. Now, we know one another better and that helped things push along."
"Because we all have our home studios, it meant everyone could record there as and when they had opportunity," continues Sherinian. "We all had the luxury of being able to take our time to get all the parts done, which was a huge help in the way the album's come out. I suppose in all, it took about eight months to record everything."
The lyrics were written by Soto, who also came up with the melody lines with input from Sherinian. "While Jeff was left to come up with the words on his own, as the melody lines are part of the music, it made sense for me to be involved with that part," says the keyboard player.
There are eight tracks on "MMXX", with variations in length totaling 60 minutes. "The final song is 'New World Today', which is 16 minutes long," says Portnoy. "This one has elements similar to 'Opus Maximus' and 'Labyrinth' on the previous album. It has some insane, brilliant instrumental moments, which I am sure the fans will love."
"We wanted to do something epic here, as we did with 'Opus Maximus' last time around," adds Sherinian. "You have to remember that Mike and I come from DREAM THEATER, where we never bothered about how long a song was. So, for us doing a 16-minute track is not a problem."
The album title was inspired by a simple chronological fact. "This will be released in mid-January 2020," says Portnoy. "That means it will be one of the first releases in what is a new decade. So I came up with the idea of calling it '2020', except having it written in the Latin form of 'MMXX'." And the album's artwork has been created by Thomas Ewerhard (who was responsible for the cover design of "Psychotic Symphony"), which inevitably reflects the title. As Portnoy explains, "For the first record, we had a mythological feel. This time around though, there's a much more futuristic style to what we've got. It has a very 21st century appeal. And the band crest is more polished, cleaned up and a lot more modern than last time, when it had an old-fashioned look."
"Each member of this band has their own signature sound on their instrument," adds Sherinian. "And when you put all of this together what you get is a wonderful five-headed beast. It makes this a sonically special band, which is definitely what comes across on 'MMXX'. You can hear odd time signatures and amazingly crazy performances here. Overall, we've been satisfyingly more adventurous this time than we were before, and I know people are sure to love what we've done."
In touring news, the band's headlining "MMXX" world tour will launch January 24 in Pomona, California and will take them around the world throughout the new year. They have also just announced European tour dates for March 2020.