Rock Impressions

by Giancarlo Bolther

You were born around 2008, you made five album in studio, could you do a balance this path, please?
It’s been a long journey, and I think we’ve covered a lot of musical ground in that time! Our first release in 2008 was a 5-song EP, which had a definite jazz-rock vibe to it. It received far more attention than we’d anticipated so we were eager to record more music and in 2010 we released our debut album ‘Spiral Vendetta’. This album still retained a jazz-rock influence because at that time we were heavily influenced by Frank Zappa and Steely Dan, and fascinated by jazz harmony.
Our sophomore album ‘The Envisage Conundrum’ was when our heavier side began to emerge, although there are still plenty of piano-based songs. Probably our most eclectic album of our entire catalogue, I think.
In 2015 we released ‘Emergence’ – this album was most definitely where our heavy rock instincts came to the forefront. The intention was to create an all-out heavy prog-rock album and, aside from the acoustic-based ‘All that remains’, I think we achieved exactly that.
‘Faced with rage’ came in 2017 and picked up where Emergence left off. The guitars were as heavy as ever, though we introduced more light and shade into proceedings with tracks such as ‘We are leaving’ and ‘Revere’.

Five album is an important goal, what is that give you the energy to reach this result?
I think that after we’ve finished recording each album we feel that we’ve learned something new about song-writing, so we are keen to put this into practise as soon as possible and write new songs. Also, our tastes are always changing and developing, so we feel the need to write music that better reflects these changing musical moods. For as long as music remains a passion and as long as we’re inspired by music around us, I think that we’ll always want to create music of our own.

Can you tell us about the making of Inescapable? Which direction have you take? In what is different with the previous ones?

For this album we challenged ourselves to come up with strong melodies and memorable choruses. We felt the best way to ensure this was to keep instrumentation to a minimum i.e. drums, guitar, bass, and vocals. That way, we knew the song would only work if the melody and rhythm part were strong enough and powerful enough to stand on their own, without the need for overdubs.
This approach was a little alien to us at first – especially as we’ve always liked using lots of overdubs to create textures - but we’re pleased we persevered and are happy with the results.

Your music is dark and complex, it’s a reflection about our times, or has a different meaning?
‘Inescapable’ was more of a reflection of my evolving as a person. I’m often pretty vague with the subject matter of my lyrics, as I prefer for them to be interpreted by the listener, but this time around I thought it might be of interest to be more personal and introspective and deal with some of the issues I’ve had growing up.
I suppose I have a dichotomous mind: on the one hand I’m optimistic, and enjoy being around people, but on the other I think about death quite a lot and usually like to seek out solitude – my lyrics often reflect this!

A lot of new band don’t like to be categorized as prog, do you know why? You are classified as a prog band too, do you agree or not with this? And what do you feel about your music?
I think bands don’t like it because it conjures up images of the genre’s past, with bands such as ‘Yes’ and ‘Genesis’ in particular springing immediately to mind. That’s what prog means to quite a lot of people, rightly or wrongly. So, a lot of modern bands classified as prog (usually the heaver prog-metal bands) don’t want to be pigeonholed into a category of music often perceived as anachronistic, especially if they think that their music bears little similarity.
It’s quite difficult to be impartial when it comes to categorising your own band because your perception is often quite different from others. I always view us as a heavy rock band with progressive elements, but it’s fair to say that some of our albums in the past have been jazz-rock based. But as this point in time I feel that we’re maybe progressive metal. Given that I’ve categorised us in 3 different ways in one paragraph I suppose it’s little wonder why we’ve been given so many labels!

In the past twenty years we faced a new wave of prog artists and prog festivals from all over the world, in your opinion there is a reason of this increase of interest in prog rock?
I think that there has been a slight increase in popularity but I’m not sure it could be considered substantial. I think the popularity of subgenres such as prog-metal and math-rock has seen the biggest increase in fan bases and that’s likely down to the success of bands such as Dream Theater and Opeth, who are probably the industry’s icons at moment (not forgetting Steven Wilson of course).

Today English prog artists are very few and the scene is poor in comparison to its tradition, how do you live this situation?
Aside from Yes (who I would regard as an early influence), I’ve never been personally influenced by traditional and classic prog rock, and the bands around today whose influences are most keenly felt by those bands do not grab my attention. Besides, the vast majority of bands like Genesis etc kept evolving, so I think that the best way to invoke their influence is not to emulate them, as they certainly avoided emulating themselves.

Nowadays it seems that all the records made in the sixties/seventies were great classic albums, while the ones made after seem they don’t have the same impact, why?
I’m not sure really, but I take your point. Personally, I think there have been many classic albums made in the last few decades, and even superior to those they may have been influenced by. But on the same token those albums would not have existed had those classic albums not been made!
I think that there were seismic societal changes entwined with music in the 60s and 70s which added gravitas to music written in that era: certain albums and songs even feel like a soundtrack to those eras. But there are seminal albums in each decade and genre, for example NWA’s debut album is a classic and brought into the focus the plight of inner-city black youth in America. Similarly, it’s often acknowledged that Dream Theater’s ‘Metropolis part 2’ is the benchmark for modern prog metal.
So, there’s plenty of classic albums out there that will likely be acknowledged in the future, but if you’re talking specifically about prog music then the only one that comes to mind is the aforementioned Dream Theater album.

Here in Italy it seems that younger doesn’t listen to rock music very much, I don’t know what’s like in your country? I’ve listened a lot of good rock albums made by young artists, like Rosalie Cunningham… What does it mean for you to play rock music today?
I suppose it’s as relevant here as it ever was, although there aren’t as many huge stadium-filling bands as there once were. Maybe what sets rock music apart a little is the desire to see the band perform live. Rock music has an energy that lends itself to live performance that perhaps you don’t get with many other musical genres. For instance, I like a lot of pop music but I’ve never had any urge to see the music performed live, whereas if I hear a good rock or metal album, I generally look to see when they are touring.
So as a rock performer I feel it’s essential to perform live and that is something we try to factor in when writing an album. I need to imagine playing the song live to know if it works or not.

The world of music is going through a great crisis, record sales are down, what do you think of this situation and why make a new album in this context?
I don’t think it can be considered a ‘crisis’ any longer: this is the new normal.
The inexorable progression of technology and its accessibility means that it’s easier than ever to express yourself musically and deliver it to the world in a professional package. So now bands are competing with millions of other bands, with everyone’s music available for pennies and conveniently purchased by a click of the mouse and immediately transmitted through your stereo system. If you looked at recording and selling music today purely from a business perspective, you would have to be crazy to participate in it. The market is saturated and it’s a terrible business model.
But I think all musicians and bands to some degree or other are deluded! And I think you have to be slightly deluded to think you can make an impact in this industry. Nobody likes to admit that, but I’m happy to!
For me personally, I have an urge to create music. I’ve no idea why but I know that I want to create something original, rather than simply play in a covers band. Part of me wishes I enjoyed playing other band’s music as hobby, but I’ve never been able to derive any joy from it.

Which is the greatest satisfaction happened to you in your musical career?
That’s an interesting question, and one that I don’t have an immediate answer for! No sooner than an ambition or achievement is realised, it is quickly forgotten and replaced by another. It’s difficult to derive or at least sustain a feeling of satisfaction because I’m usually more interested in what I’ve left to achieve that what I have achieved. That said, I do get a sense of satisfaction when an album is complete and released. And doing a headline tour playing 90 minutes of our own music (as opposed to being an opening act playing a 30 minute set for audiences that came to see someone else) was particularly rewarding also.

We are facing this terrible epidemic, how do you live this moment, what do you see for your future? And how this epidemic could change the music world?
The biggest effect it will have is on the families of lost loved ones and the economies of those countries that have been in lockdown the longest. I fear for live venues and festivals, the smaller ones especially – it’s difficult to see how they can survive this if it goes on much longer. For musicians, often touring is by far the biggest source of income so they are also struggling right now as they are looking at almost a year without being able to perform live and generate an income.
I don’t really see long-lasting change once this epidemic has run its course, unfortunately; I’m sure the world will pick up where it left off.

Feel free to end this interview as you like… if there is something more that you would say?
Thanks very much for taking the time to interview us!

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