DEEP STARE: Interview with Michal Popelar

Deep Stare

Deep Stare is a progressive metal trio from Prague, and they released their debut EP titled “Triplet” recently. Guitarist and composer Michal Popelar introduces us to the work of this great instrumental band.

Thank you for having time to answer some questions. First of all, introduce us the band Deep Stare. What does the band name refer to?

Deep Stare is an instrumental progressive rock/metal band and it was founded in September 2013. But we know each other much longer from previous musical activities. The band members are: Michal Popelář – guitar, Tomáš Monok – bass guitar and Luboš Pavlík – drums. Our work is strictly auctorial and you can find components of many musical genres.

The name refer to way, how we feel things. Whether it is a music or everything that happens in our lifes. It is important to go deep and not to judge things superficially. The superficiality made us lose „deeper“ knowledge of the essence of the matter.

Would you mind telling us about your musical background, as well as education?

Each of us has different musical backround and education. Luboš studied drums at a conservatory, I was studying violin at an art school for 7 years and Tomáš didn’t attend any art school. However it doesn’t discourage us from playing that kind of music we play. Each of us tries to improve his individual skills of playing as well as playing in a band. Always is something to improve.

You recently released your debut EP titled “Triplet.” How was the creative process for it?

In the beggining there was a song „Eternal Sense,“that we composed during our period with vocals. This song had originally two parts. The first one was sung and it was kind of rock ballad, the second one was instrumental. After our decision to make a music instrumentally we kept only the second part and called it just „Eternal Sense.“ Then we decided, that it is the high time to make other material and record a CD. Then we composed a song „Words Of Wisdom“ and at last „Obsession“, which is played only instrumentaly without samples. We made an EP „Triplet“ from these three songs. As the title says, there are only three songs on the EP.

Deep Stare_Triplet_cover

“Triplet” is very eclectic. What do you think I should describe Deep Stare as to my friends? The real question here is, what do you guys consider the music of Deep Stare to be?

We try to build our music to evoke some feelings, thoughts, moods, but also relax. It works the best at live shows. It is necessary to immerse into the deep and to not take it as several things put together. Every another song is trying to go deeper and deeper. We are on the beggining of our existence and we belive that some day we will be able to compose songs, which nobody will have to think about and listeners will be just dragged into the music.

This eclectic music must have a wide range of influences and inspiration. Would you guys mind enlightening us as to some of the influences you haven’t mentioned already?

We draw inspiration from many sources. Each of us listens different kind of music and we are not cut from the same cloth. We try to bring variety of styles and combinations into our work. For now we are a little bit conservative, but I belive, that we will free ourselfs of the borders and we will connect more music genres into one piece. Our big inspirations definitely are Dream Theater, Rush, Led Zepelin, Pink Floyd and many many others.

Can you think of some moments where musical homages have been included in Deep Stare’s tracks?

In our songs, we hope, are not used any parts of music, that have ever been composed before. We know, that parts of classical music from famous composers are used very often, but we haven’t used it yet and we are not planning to do it.

Deep Stare live

What’s the live experience with Deep Stare like? Any plans for a tour somewhere down the road?

We have played in several concerts and festivals in the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Hungary up to this day. We participated in international drum festival in the Czech Republic in 2014. It was great to meet musicians as Mike Terrana, Gavin Harrison etc. We have got many plans for tour, but we are still looking for someone, who would help us with it.

What have you been listening to recently? Also, would you tell us what your all-time favorite albums are?

There is so many bands and albums. Each of us listen to little bit different kind of music. It is not just progressive music, art rock or metal. There are also other genres. The music has nothing to do with rock or metal very often and still it sounds great to us.

What kind of advice would you impart to other musicians? Do you have any words of wisdom or inspiration for other artists trying to make their mark?

I’m not sure if it’s not too soon to pass on some experiences, but no matter how old are you, how long is your experience or how long you play, the most important thing is to do it by your heart. It must be honest. You have to belive in what you do. As well as he must like it.

Thank you again for agreeing to do this interview. I think I’m out of questions, so feel free to add anything you like.

Thank you for this interview.

Visit Deep Stare’s official website here, and follow the band on Facebook.

Interview with LANES LAIRE

Lanes Laire

Through trial and error, through experimentation, through perseverance, Lanes Laire has come full circle to the core of his being… his musical roots. Originally from Los Angeles, Lanes started his musical career playing in various bands while still in high school, performing all over Hollywood and the famed Sunset Strip. However, he always stood out from the crowd musically, bringing a moody progressive edge to his songwriting. He was the “Peter Gabriel” to Genesis. And like Peter, he eventually moved on as a solo artist.

Earlier this year Lanes released an album titled “Resurrection of Black,” which features drummer Gregg Bissonette and his brother, bassist Matt Bissonette. 

Read below what Lanes had to tell us about the record, his beginnings, and more.

Tell us more about your musical beginnings.

When I was 12 years old I found and old guitar stuffed away in our hallway closet. It was a Kay f-holed acoustic my dad’s dad gave to him when he was a kid but he never played. We took it to a local guitar shop to get it fixed up and I started teaching myself how to play guitar. The first song I taught myself was Day Tripper by The Beatles. Eventually I had formal training and studied contemporary and traditional jazz. I think I was 13 when I joined my first rock band and knew that’s what I wanted to do.

How did you go about forming this project?

When I began working on this album I tried out a few musicians but wasn’t finding the right combination. I was talking with my good friend Wally Minko, who’s a great session keyboardist and arranger about the project and he said “I’ll get you the right guys.” He hooked me up with drummer Gregg Bissonette and his brother, bassist Matt Bissonette. This was exactly what I was looking for. They provided a solid foundation and brought that musical intangible I needed to build upon.

Which bands or musicians influenced your works at the most?

I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to music but there are a few that have stood out. I grew up listening to The Beatles so they have always had an influence. When Gary Numan’s Replicas album came out, that really grabbed me. The moody rawness and synth heavy album was something I had not heard before. It was because of Numan I got into synths. Still a fan to this day. Pink Floyd is a huge influence. When I was first starting to write serious music I didn’t know much about Pink Floyd. Being the dumb naive kid that I was, when I heard them I thought, “damn, these guys sound just like me!” Of course they were the masters of their craft so I had a lot to learn. Jean-Luc Ponty was a huge influence. It was his music that exposed me to jazz fusion. I also got into Al Di Meola, early Genesis, ELP, and other progressive bands. But Numan, Pink Floyd and Ponty were the biggest influences.

Lets talk about your new studio album “Resurrection Of Black.” Describe its music and tell us about its sound.

The music is definitely moody but rockin’. Maybe moody crossover progressive is the best description. I wanted to create a soundscape with this album and make sure it flowed from beginning to end. I used sound effects and did guitar experimentation to create unique sounds throughout the album. I like utilizing drone bass notes as the foundation to set the mood. There’s a lot of Moog Taurus pedals on this album. Those original pedals have such a great sound. The songs themselves deal with topics ranging from the state of the world, corporate greed, to cliques and not being part of the “cool” crowd. It’s not necessarily a concept album but there is a common underlying theme.

Lanes Laire - Resurrection of Black

How did the creative process of “Resurrection Of Black” go?

Resurrection Of Black actually has its roots going back when I was still in high school. Most of the songs were written back then. I performed these songs in various bands but never seriously recorded them. After putting them aside for a while, I decided it was time to bring these songs back and do them right. Though the songs themselves were already written, there still was plenty of room to mold and craft. I had the freedom to do what I wanted, which is great to not have restrictions on the creative process. The album came together fast and ideas for the songs just kept coming. I felt fortunate for such a smooth creative flow.

What was the hardest moment at the recording phase of the album?

Laying down intricate guitar parts were probably the hardest moments. Whether a technical riff or a soft string bend, it had to be perfect. I’m my toughest critic, as is the case with most artists so striving for perfection can be very frustrating. However, you do have to draw the line. So, there are imperfections on the album but that’s what makes it human…what makes it real.

Are you satisfied with where “Resurrection Of Black” landed?

Yes, I’m very satisfied. I feel I accomplished what I set out to do with Ressurection Of Black.

If you have to pick a song that in the best way describe your work, which tune would that be?

Two immediately come to mind – The World Around Us and Justifiable Condemnation. But if there had to be one definitive song, it would be The World Around Us. It pretty much encapsulates my style.

What does the future hold?

Great things, of course! Always thinking positive. I’m planning to do some live shows in 2016. I’m excited to take Resurrection Of Black on the road. Also, I already have songs put aside for the second album so I’ll be starting work on that next year.

Is there anything you want to share with our readers about your new album?

The best way to enjoy Resurrection Of Black is to sit down and listen to it from beginning to end. It’s rockin’ as well as provocative.

Give yourself an aural orgasm… Enjoy!

Get a copy of “Resurrection of Black” from Lanes Laire’s website, and follow him on Facebook. He is also on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Make That A Combo, Please


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There have been quite a few CD/DVD/Blu-Ray combos released in the prog world recently, so here’s a rundown of the best of the bunch.

Gazpacho: Night of the Demon

Night Of DemonAn outstanding performance by the boys from Norway. Even through tricky time signatures that require lockstep coordination of playing, Gazpacho delivers an emotional and beautiful show. Jan Henrik Ohme’s vocals are spellbinding – delicate and tremulous one minute, powerful and commanding the next. While he’s caressing the microphone, his bandmates play their hearts out. Songs I thought I knew take on new meaning and accessibility. This set is a perfect introduction to someone curious about this somewhat enigmatic and definitely magical group.

Glass Hammer: Double Live

glass-hammer-double-live-deluxeAs light as Gazpacho is dark, Glass Hammer has been riding a high for the past few years – Ode To Echo and The Breaking Of The World are both instant classics. Double Live features the best cuts from those albums, as well as a terrific rendition of the epic “The Knight Of The North”. Steve Babb and Fred Schendel have been together so long they are telepathic onstage. Aaron Raulston is excellent on drums while Kamran Alan Shikoh has matured into an astonishingly inventive guitarist. Carl Groves is the best male vocalist GH has ever had, and Susie Bogdanowicz steals the show with her performance. No fancy camera work here – the music and performance are strong enough to speak for themselves.

Spock’s Beard: The First Twenty Years

Spocks Beard 20 yrsThis is a fine collection of Spock’s Beard tracks. The first disc features the best of the “Neal Morse Years”, while disc two has six tracks from Beard versions 2 and 3 (featuring Nick D’Virgilio and Ted Leonard) and a new epic featuring a big reunion of everyone. You might think that losing your lead vocalist and sole songwriter would mean the end of a band, but the Beard is nothing if not resilient. The songs from the post-Morse era certainly hold their own against anything from the first six albums. I wish they had included “The Great Nothing”, but there’s only so much space on a compact disc! Of course, long-time Beard fans want to know how the new epic, “Falling Forever” stacks up. To my ears, it’s a pleasant listen, but not particularly memorable. It’s clear that Neal’s path has diverged from the Beard’s, and each camp has its own strengths that don’t necessarily mesh into a powerful whole anymore. The DVD features performances from 1997’s Progfest interspersed with contemporary interviews of the band. It’s illuminating for the hardcore fan, but not essential.

Flying Colors: Second Flight: Live at The Z7

Flying Colors Z7Phenomenal growth from this band. As mentioned in the interviews included in the Blu-ray, the first album had the members somewhat tentative about critiquing each other, while during the recording of Second Flight they were much more collaborative. This is set is a terrific performance that showcases the talents of each member. Casey McPherson is a very confident frontman, and an amazing vocalist. Steve Morse’s guitar work is jaw-dropping good, and Dave LaRue almost steals the show with his bass solos. Mike Portnoy is, as usual, controlled chaos on the drums. Neal Morse plays more of a supporting role in this group, keeping in the background for the most part. “Cosmic Symphony” and “Mask Machine” are highlights, while the segue from “Colder Months” into “Peaceful Harbor” is one of the most beautiful musical moments I’ve ever heard. The quality of the Blu-ray is top-notch, both in sound and video. An excellent choice for the prog fan who enjoys the likes of Boston, or even classic Journey.

Rush: R40 Live

1035x1511-R40.Tour.Cover7.FNL-copyWhich brings us to the big release of the year: Rush’s R40 Live. I have every live DVD Rush has released, and this isn’t the best performance. But there is something so special about this show that it will probably be the one I return to most often. There were times I caught myself thinking, “Gosh. they are looking old!”, but then I had to remind myself they’ve given of themselves so generously for 40 years. 40 years! How many bands have kept the same lineup for that long, and are still talking to each other? ZZ Top is the only one that comes to mind. The fact that this show is from Toronto makes it even more moving.

This is a top of the line production, with every possible camera angle a fan could ask for. The sound on the Blu-ray edition is outstanding; there are two surround mixes to choose from: front of stage or center of hall. The show itself is masterful – it is a trip back in time from Clockwork Angels all the way to “Working Man”.

The animated intro is hilarious – I had to go through it practically frame-by-frame to catch all of the visual puns. Every album and tour is name-checked somewhere in it. The initial stage set is very elaborate, but as the band goes back into their history, you can see workers slowly dismantle it. At the start of the second set, Alex is front of a huge stack of Marshall amps, and we’re transported to the 1970’s. By the time of the encores, Alex and Geddy are down to single amps on chairs in a high school auditorium.

My only quibbles are selfish – I wish there was at least one track from Power Windows/Hold Your Fire, and I don’t know why the bonus tracks at the end couldn’t have been inserted into their proper places in the concert video. Other than that, it’s a very good setlist.

What comes through most clearly as the concert progresses is the love and respect Alex, Geddy, and Neil have for each other. They look like they’re having the time of their lives, and they’re so glad to have several thousand fans along with them. Thanks for the ride, boys. It’s been a great one.



Geoff Banks, RIP

One of the greats of the current prog scene, Geoff Banks, has passed into eternity.  I only heard the news minutes ago.  He and I had many intense and brilliant conversations about everything that matters in this world.  May he find peace and joy in the next. . .

Here’s Sally Collyer’s tribute:

Incredibly sad to hear that we have lost Geoff Banks today, one of life’s real people if that makes sense and I am glad that I was able to call him a friend, Geoff was actually one of my very first friends here on FB and at that time little did I know that he would play such a big part in our Tangent journey – always there 100% behind us even when things weren’t going too well, certainly not a fair weather friend, he was loyal, clever, infuriatingly funny and had a huge heart and passion for the music and friends he loved…too young to leave us …. I will miss those marathon 3 hour phone calls when he would talk to us in turn until both the house phone batteries ran out such was his passion for whatever his next project was or the problem he wanted to help us solve – my love and heartfelt condolences to his family and all who loved him – there are many – Rest in peace now my friend and you are totally forgiven for all the ludicrously rude jokes and atrocious behaviour, you rocked for real, larger than life and never to be forgotten  xXx


Big Big Train News


The latest from Spawton and Co.:

Hello everyone

Until the end of November, all Big Big Train merchandise at The Merch Desk is half price. Pop over to:
to find some Christmas present ideas for the prog fan who has everything. Or just for yourself…

The release of “Stone and Steel”, originally planned for this year, will now happen on 7th March 2016. Alongside nine songs and documentary footage filmed at Real World in 2014, we have decided to include four songs from the Kings Place gigs this year, and to mix all performances in 5.1 as well as stereo. It hasn’t proved possible to complete this work in time for a pre-Christmas release.

Given a total running time which will approach three hours, we’ve also taken the decision to release “Stone and Steel” on Blu-Ray only to ensure the highest quality video and audio. It will also be available as a paid download via Vimeo.

As a consolation for anybody who was hoping that Santa might put a copy in their stocking, we’ve released video of another Kings Place performance online: “Judas Unrepentant”:
(This performance won’t be included in “Stone and Steel”.)

Best wishes,
Andy, Danny, Dave, David, Greg, Nick, Rachel & Rikard
Big Big Train


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