WITH DARRAN CHARLES OF GODSTICKS
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
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
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
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
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!