WITH PALLAS (italian version)
by Giancarlo Bolther
I saw that your re-union was very acclaimed, you recorded two studio albums and a double live dvd after a successful tour. Are you satisfied?
If you mean by that. " Do you think you've achieved all you set out to?" , then I think the answer is both Yes and No.. Yes, because we feel we've managed to recapture and build upon the spirit that we feel makes Pallas what it is. We're doing music we're proud of and have managed to move forward to create material that we think is the best we've ever done - we're not just liveing off the glories of the past. No, because we feel we still have a lot of good music still left in us, and that the passion that drives the band is still very much in the ascendant - there's still so much left to do!!
I really appreciated your live performance, a lot of energy, feeling and a great technical execution; It seems a magic moment for the band.
We certainly enjoyed making it. The aim was to capture as much as possible the "essence" of the band. Not just technically accurate playing, but to convey a sense of the band's live identity. We have a lot of fun playing - we like to rock out. The music itself can be very serious, and I think if you'd only heard the albums then perhaps you'd think we were a very dark group of people without any sense of hunour. We enjoy what we do and we like to share that with others. As for the energy - we get off on the energy of an audience.. the better the audience, then the better the performance usually.
A very meaningful moment on the dvd is the presence of your first singer.how did you live that moment?
Euan's performance with the band on this DVD has to be my favourite part of it really. I used to be a fan of the band when he was still the singer and he had an electrifying effect on an audience - a very unique approach. More of an Alice Cooper thing than a Peter Gabriel approach - he could be genuinely scary. When we knew we were going to do the DVD I suggested to the guys it might be an opportunity to ask Euan to get involved. He'd guested with us one night on the last tour and we all enjoyed it. Thankfully he said yes - though i think it was quite a hard thing for him to do personally. I have to say it was worth it. We only had one rehearsal with hin and we had no idea what he'd really do - so when he came out dressed up to do "The Ripper" it was as much a shock for us as for the audience.
Why did he left the band?
It wouldn't really be fair for me to comment too much as I wasn't there, but I understand there was a difference of opinion about how the band would develop and the upshot of it was that he left. It wasn't very amicable at the time.
When did you decide to work together again? Are you planning a future cooperation?
As I explained previously, it just seemed the perfect opportunity to celebrate his contribution to the band's history - it's certainly something we're all still very proud of. I don't think we'll be making a regular habit of it, though I did say to Euan he should learn the newer stuff just in case I got sick or something :-) As to whether we'll collaborate again.. well there are no plans at the moment, but you never can tell.....
On the dvd performance you didn't include "Arrive Alive" why?
For the very simple reason that it wasn't a very good performance. Euan and I shared vocals on "Arrive Alive" that night, and we just hadn't reherased it well enough and were interrupting eachother etc. It just didn't sound too good. To be honest we were all pretty knackered - we'd been playing for about three hours and had been preparing for two days solid, so we were just running out of steam. It's a shame really, because we don't have any decent live recordings of "Arrive Alive"
The live set of the concert was around your first and your last album.do you think they are your most important works?
I think it's fair to say that with "Cross and the Crucible" we felt we'd made our best album to date. It definitely distills all the strengths of the previous albums into one cohesive whole. Having said that, each of the previous albums is still very dear to us. It's just that "Cross" is where we were at at that particular time. As for the "Sentinel" stuff... we'd actually decided after the "Beat the Drum" tour that perhpas it was time for the Atlantis material to take a rest. We didn't play any of it on the "Cross" tour. But with a DVD we felt we had to offer things from across the band's career, and the obvious thing to perform was "The Atlantis suite" - we couldn't just ignore it
Are you working on a new record now?
Indeed we are!! We're about to start formal recording with the aim of getting it finished by Easter 2004. We'd hoped to have done it by now, but the DVD slowed us down a bit.
There will be some changes? Can you give us some "scoop"?
It won't be fundamentally different.. the same but different is how I'd describe it.. probably a bit heavier in some places with a bit more prominent guitar. But it'll definitely sound like Pallas.. apart from the Country and Western bits and the Opera chorus of course :-) !!!!!
Fans of the old school of progressive rock tend to consider the bands of today as "regressive" because they lack of innovation and creativity and they don't look to the future but they look to the past.. what do you think about?
To some extent I'd agree.. Too many bands trot out the same old mid-seventies cliches, and you get the impression that the last album they ever listened to was "Foxtrot". I'd like to think we've managed to do something fresher with our influences.. we've certainly tried to embrace other musical styles and influences over the years and integrate them with the stuff that first inspired us. The aim for us is to sound like PALLAS, not anyone else.
Having said that there seem to be some very strong bands out there who've ploughed their own furrow. I'd say "Progressive rock" (I'm not really that keen on the term) is the strongest and most dynamic it's been for years. There's a lot of rubbish out there, but there's some really good stuff too.
What are in your opinion the chances for progressive rock in the future?
I don't think it's going to dominate the Top 20 anytime soon, but there's a very healthy scene that seems, if anything, to be growing. For a kind of music that was already considered deeply unfashionable when we were working for EMI in the 80's that's no mean achievement.
Do you listen to some new band? Is there something good in your opinion?
I'm not a huge buyer of new albums - working on our own stuff takes up a lot of my time - but I have to say I really enjoyed the new Muse album.. a very post-modern take on prog rock. There's loads of good new guitar music around at the moment. I don't really listen to much "prog" at all. I enjoyed a bit of the last "Spock's Beard album I heard.. and I went to see the Flower Kings a few weeks ago and was very pleasantly impressed. But I wouldn't describe myself as a big fan.
How do you describe your kind of music?
Pallas music :-) I suppose to a complete outsider I' describe it as "heavy rock with keyboards" or "rock music with a progressive edge", rather than as simply a "progressive rock band". I supose that's because I'm aware that to many people the term "progressive rock" means "sounds like early 70's Genesis"!!! I think we offer a great deal more than that.
The aspect i like very much in your music is the epic and dramatic feeling you give to your compositions. What can you tell me about this passion you have?
I could get all arty and say it's a Celtic thing.. that we're driven by our historical roots and our sense of tragedy and beauty.. it might even be partly true.. but I think it's just because we all fervently believe in what we're doing. We really get on well as a band and the passion we devote to it obviously communicates itself at some level.
In your opinion is your music a way to escape from the reality of the world or a way to concentrate on what happens around you?
It can be both - depends on what frame of mind you're in and what you feel you need at the time. I feel personally that we should try and reflect the world around us in all its pain and pleasure. Others in the band have a more escapist view.
What do you think about what is happening in the world today? Our countries are busy in Irak, what do you think about it?
Personally I was appalled by the events that led up to the invasion of Iraq and our government's willingness to blindly follow America's lead. A lot of unneccessary suffering has been caused to the Iraqi people and I get no sense that we have any clear idea on how to improve things there. Unpleasant though Saddam Hussein undoubtedly was I didn't see any clear provocation that gave the USA the excuse to do what it did . However it can't be undone, and the international community's going to have to find ways of improving the situation (perhaps after Bush leaves office???)
I must stress however, that this is a personal view.. I can think of at least one member of Pallas who was very much in favour of the invasion of Iraq. We aruged about it constantly. We're divided on it, just as the country as a whole is.
In your last tour you came to Italy. Do you remember that experience?
It was an unusual experience. We didn't have the best gig technically which threw us a little, and the audience behaved a bit differently to what we're used to - they sat and listened!!! Once we realised that's just the way these people were we relaxed a bit and really enjoyed it - by the end of the night we were having a great time. From the many conversations I had with people afterwards I got the sense that they did too.
Are you planning to come back in our country?
Most definitely.. there is at least one invitation we're considering at the moment.. it's just a question of how it fits in with other plans. The important thing right now is to finish the new album. Once that's done we'll be out on tour - and Italy is one place we'd really like to see more of.
Interviews: 2001 (in italian); 2005
Reviews (in italian): The Sentinel; The Cross and the Crucible; The Bliding Darkness;
The Dreams of Men; Moment to Moment
Article (in italian)