For Immediate Release: October 21, 2014
ROGER HODGSON Readies Fall Tour As “Crime of the Century” Celebrates 40th Anniversary
HODGSON’S SHOWS GIVE NORTH AMERICAN AUDIENCES OPPORTUNITY TO ONCE AGAIN EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC AND SPIRIT HODGSON CREATED WITH SUPERTRAMP
Roger Hodgson, legendary vocalist and singer-songwriter from Supertramp, is heading back to North America for a series of fall dates. Following extensive tours of Europe and South America, Hodgson kicks off his North America tour on November 4 in Wabash, Indiana.
Hodgson, one of the most gifted composers and lyricists of our time, co-founded the progressive rock band Supertramp in 1969. Roger was the driving force behind what fans call the “golden years” of the band that made Supertramp a worldwide phenomenon with album sales in excess of 60 million. He wrote, sang, and arranged the enduring rock standards such as “Breakfast in America,” “Give a Little Bit,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “The Logical Song,” “Dreamer,” “It’s Raining Again,” “School,” and “Fool’s Overture.”
Accompanied by a four-piece band, Roger Hodgson continues to perform all his hits he wrote and later recorded with Supertramp plus other classics of his such as “Child of Vision,” “Hide in Your Shell,” “Sister Moonshine,” and “Even in the Quietest Moments,” plus favorites from his solo albums – “Only Because of You,” “Lovers in the Wind,” and “In Jeopardy” – many of which can be found on his current CD release, Classics Live.
Uniting generations, Hodgson is transporting baby boomers back to their youth while giving younger concertgoers a taste of why his heartfelt songs have endured. In fact, this year marks the 40th Anniversary of “Crime of the Century,” released in September 1974 (see a revised full press release below about the re-issues). Hodgson’s song, “Dreamer,” became Supertramp’s first international runaway hit, driving the album to the top of the charts. “School,” “Hide in Your Shell,” and “If Everyone Was Listening”are also fan favorites from the album that Hodgson wrote and composed and often plays in concert.
Roger’s shows give North American audiences the opportunity to once again experience the magic and spirit that Hodgson created with Supertramp.
Roger Hodgson North America Tour Dates:
November 4 – Wabash, IN – Honeywell Center
November 6 – Detroit, MI – MotorCity Casino Hotel
November 7 – Niagara Falls, NY – Seneca Niagara Falls Casino and Resort
November 8 – Ridgefield, CT – Ridgefield Playhouse
November 9 – Bethlehem, PA – Sands Bethlehem Event Center
November 11 – Huntington, NY – The Paramount
November 14 & 15 – Rama, ON, Canada – Casino Rama
“Whether it’s the melodic complexity of his songs, the harmonies he weaves with his band, the lyrics that sweep you away or his ability to still command the incredible upper range of his voice, ‘beautiful’ was what kept coming to mind over and over again during his performance. ‘Breathtaking’ might also apply. ‘I want more’ certainly would.” ~ Ted Hansen – Mesa Classic Rock Music Examiner
“All these years I thought I was a Supertramp fan when actually I was and am a Roger Hodgson fan. What a show! WOW is all I can say.” ~ David Wild, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone
Enjoy this video montage of Hodgson performing some of his timeless classics.
For additional information on Roger Hodgson, visit his Bio.
CRIME OF THE CENTURY
DECEMBER 9, 2014 in the US (Dec 8 ROW)
1 CD /2-CD DELUXE EDITION/ BACK TO BLACK 180gm vinyl / PURE AUDIO BLU RAY / 3-LP 180 gm BOX SET / DIGITAL EQUIVALENTS
Featuring the cream of Rick Davies’ and Roger Hodgson’s songwriting, Crime Of The of the Century was the first of the many peaks in Supertramp’s illustrious career; an album that had everything to prove and tunes that effortlessly straddled the world of pure pop and progressive rock. The significant change that happened with Supertramp on this album was that Hodgson and Davies had each found their strength as songwriters and were writing alone. The LP eventually peaked at Number 4 on the UK charts and saw the band for the first time on the US Top 40. It was the music and the album’s cinematic sonic qualities that accounted for its impact.
Crime Of The Century is not only one of Supertramp’s greatest works, but one of the most highly regarded recordings of 70s rock music. Released in 1974, it put the band on the map after five years of struggle. With the unmistakable blend of the two songwriters – Davies’ and Hodgson’s – work, it married the sweetness of Hodgson’s ‘Dreamer’ — the band’s first big hit single — with the grit of Davies’ similarly beloved ‘Bloody Well Right.’ In ‘School,’ ‘Rudy,’ and the title track, the band – Davies, Hodgson, John Helliwell, Bob Siebenberg, and Dougie Thomson – helped define what would soon be known as ‘Adult Oriented Rock.’ This was — and is — not just an album that showed Supertramp’s increased maturity, but a timeless gem marked by the incredible melodies and thoughtful lyrics of Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies.
This 40th Anniversary edition contains the classic original album, remastered by Ray Staff at Air Studios, and a second disc features their 1975 Hammersmith Odeon concert, mixed from the original tapes by original on-the-night engineer Ken Scott, capturing the band on the verge of stardom, showcasing all of Crime, and also previewing tracks from the then-as-yet-unreleased follow-up, Crisis? What Crisis?
The 2-CD package comes with a 24-page booklet of photographs, and a new essay written by Phil Alexander, Editor-in-Chief of Mojo Magazine, containing new interviews with Dougie Thomson, John Helliwell, Ken Scott, Bob Siebenberg, Roger Hodgson, and 1973-1983 Supertramp manager Dave Margereson. Crime Of The Century is also available in 3LP and digital formats.
The heavyweight vinyl set in a beautiful box set, cut by Ray Staff at Air Studios, featuring all the material of the two CDs across three 180gm LPs, with an eight-page album-sized booklet with a longer version of Alexander’s essay, and two 10×8 prints.
Crime Of The Century was produced by Ken Scott (The Beatles’ ‘White Album’, David Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars). His engineering prowess merited a Grammy nomination and became one of the ‘go to’ albums for Hi-Fi demonstrations alongside Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.
Enjoy again the sonic excellence and musical and lyrical sophistication of this well-loved band on this timely celebration of one of Crime Of The Century, one of their landmark recordings.
ORIGINAL ALBUM: School / Bloody Well Right / Hide In Your Shell/ Asylum / Dreamer/Rudy / If Everyone Was Listening / Crime Of The Century
LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH 75: School / Bloody Well Right / Hide In Your Shell / Asylum / Sister Moonshine / Just A Normal Day / Another Man’s Woman / Lady / A – You’re Adorable / Dreamer / Rudy / If Everyone Was Listening / Crime Of The Century
# # #
CONTACT: Sujata Murthy, UMe (310) 865-7812 / email@example.com
Lellie Capwell, LPC Media, (818) 384-1180 / Lellie@lpc-media.com
Contacts: Sujata Murthy (Ume)
Elizabeth Freund (Roger Hodgson) 718-522-5858
Amen, amen, amen.
New Album “Arcade Messiah” Incoming
Hi, everybody, I have a new album coming out next month, called Arcade Messiah.
After the last years KingBathmat album and this years acoustic solo John Bassett album “Unearth”, I decided I wanted to make an instrumental album that was quite heavy, bleak, full of riffs and that also flirted with a number of unusual time signatures. This coincided with me having to upgrade my home studio, so the last 4-5 months I’ve been busy learning some new hardware/software whilst making this new album. I’ve decided to release it under the the different name of Arcade Messiah as its purely instrumental and it is slightly different to the KingBathmat style.
It is now finished and will be released next month. There will be a pre-order for both digital download and CD next week, which will be slightly different from what I’ve done recently as it will be available exclusively through bandcamp alone.
But in the meantime here is a 2 min sample preview of the album
Arcade Messiah can be found on these links across social networks
Thanks for your continued support
Hailing from Sao Paolo, Brazilian progressive rock quintet Violent Attitude If Noticed (abbreviated V.A.I.N.) is one of the most refreshing bands coming from South America. Formed in 2008, the group has ever since then released on EP and three full-length records. Their newest studio album is titled “Eight” and it brings, as the title suggests, eight new songs. Compared to their previous works, “Eight” is the band’s most ambitious recording to date, and is a bold statement of where the band is at the present time.
V.A.I.N. adds the “post” tag to their progressive rock, the songs on “Eight” are atmospheric, yet there is a classic progressive rock construction threaded to the album’s backbone. The album effectively channels musical influences taken from Porcupine Tree, Marillion, Nick Cave and Godflesh into a sufficiently original concoction. On the other side, the band mentions Edgar Allan Poe as one of the influences on the album’s lyrical compound.
The album kicks off fittingly with “Just Another Day“, an emotional and varied composition that ultimately sets the pace for the rest of the record. Dark, doomy atmosphere is threaded throughout the whole album. The same vibe is present on the following, title song which occasionally opens by employment of the acoustic guitar. Other gems include a tranquil “Alone Again,” which includes a guest appearance by Cleo, pessimistically named “Tomorrow Won’t Come,” and intricate and diverse “Salvation.”
All in all, “Eight” has a lot of masterfully crafted elements, yet it’s plain and simple. It is a fairly good accomplishment for the band. With this album under their belt, Violent Attitude If Noticed introduce themselves with confidence and complexity, and it will be interesting to hear what they do next.
Listen to “Eight” or buy it from Bandcamp.
1. Just Another Day 05:05
2. Eight 05:41
3. Delirium 03:59
4. Alone Again 06:16
5. Tomorrow Won’t Happen 03:54
6. Handle With Care 07:07
7. A Tree Tall Enough 05:01
8. Salvation 06:34
The fact is that there are not so many progressive rock bands on the current scene that actually understand the term progressive, and that offer music that is colourful and inventive. Portland based The Mercury Tree have been around for eight years and so far they produced three records. Their latest is titled “Countenance.” Long story short, this album is a masterpiece.
But there is much more happening on this 9-track monster than that. Complex arrangements and accessible atmosphere is what adorns the recording throughout its playtime. If their previous album “Freeze in Phantom Form” hinted a balance between eccentricity and straightforwardness, “Countenance” now has a fully take on this approach.
King Crimson’s touch in The Mercury Tree music was present since the band’s beginnings, but Portlanders’ blend of jazz and prog manages to feel new and relevant while capturing the qualities of ‘70s influences. There is a quintessential feeling of retro on “Countenance,” yet the record has a modern day polish making it sound like a pleasant attempt to recapture a classic era for a new generation.
“Pitchless Tone” and “Vestigial” ultimately set a scene for an element of distinctiveness, as Ben Spees and Connor Reilly pave the way with counterpointed guitar work and somewhat hypnotic rhythms, respectively.
That The Mercury Tree soar above their contemporaries is probably the most appropriately shown on the album’s longest piece “Otoliths.” On its almost 11 minutes, the song comes long way from an alternative rock piece to a classic prog rock hitter while crossing over the experimental tag.
A wisely named instrumental “Mazz Jathy” explores on the jazz fusion rhythmics, while “To Serve Man” sets the pace towards more a-la The Mars Volta mode. A share of psychedelia exists in the shape of “The Ellsberg Cycle.” The album closes with “Jazz Hands of Doom,” another title where the band gives a hint of what’s going on in there.
If you are looking for a recording that comes close to Kayo Dot’s “Coffins on Io” as the most experimental album released in 2014, look no further. The Mercury Tree has advanced to the point where all the potential and skills are masterfully used and put onto an album. Bravo!
The Mercury Tree’s “Countenance” is out now. But it directly from the band from Bandcamp.
1. Pitchless Tone 05:27
2. Vestigial 05:30
3. Otoliths 10:55
4. Mazz Jathy 06:47
5. To Serve Man 05:28
6. The Ellsberg Cycle 05:12
7. False Meaning 04:29
8. Artifracture 04:05
9. Jazz Hands of Doom 06:04
10. Rappel 03:26
Ben Spees – guitar, keyboard, vocals
Connor Reilly – drums
Oliver Campbell – bass (1, 2, 6, 8, 10), vocals
Aaron Clark – fretless bass (3, 4, 5, 7, 9), vocals
What does one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century have in common with the most militant Catholic of the sixteenth century? Quite a bit, it seems.
Prayer of St. Ignatius
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
Talk Talk, Wealth
Create upon my flesh
Create approach upon my breath
Bring me salvation if I fear
Take my freedom
Create upon my breath
Create reflection on my flesh
The wealth of love
Bear me a witness to the years
Take my freedom
Create upon my flesh
Create a home within my head
Take my freedom for giving me a sacred love
Steve Babb, everyone’s favorite Glass Hammer bassist and all-around great guy, has just released a trailer for his new work, The Lay of Lirazel. It’s available as an ebook, a paperback, and an audiobook. On a personal note, I must note that this is a gorgeous story, related to that told–through prog music–on Glass Hammer’s classic, The Inconsolable Secret. Enjoy.
I have been back in Bristol for about 6 months now, and boy have I missed the place. It’s a vibrant City with so much going on that it’s very easy to get distracted and if you find willing conspirators you can be out every night.
One of the greatest things about a city this size is the number of venues that have live music on, and not just tribute bands, but proper bona fide gigs criss crossing genres and styles, so from the Fleece, The Louisiana, The O2, Colston Hall, The Old Duke to name a few there really is something for everyone.
One thing Bristol has got going for it is a talented and diverse musical scene, from bands like Portishead, Massive Attack, Hi Fiction Science, the Blue Aeroplanes and artists like Tricky and She Makes War there really is some fantastic music that has been produced and continues to come out of this area.
One such band is Schnauser, an exciting and eclectic English band, who are now signed to the Esoteric Antenna label (alongside local band Hi-Fiction Science, and the excellent Tin Spirits from just down the M4 at Swindon), hats off to Mark & Vicky Powell at Esoteric who find some amazing bands. With some fantastic bands in this area there must be something in the water (or the cider-just ask the Wurzels…)
Mark Powell brought Schnauser to my attention at the album launch for Hi-Fiction Science’s wonderful album Curious Yellow, when he mentioned that if I enjoyed Hi-Fiction Science I should keep an eye out for the new Schnauser album.
In one of those happy coincidences which keeps the world spinning the next day I saw the last Schnauser long player (Where Business meets Fashion) on the review list for the DPRP, and I was hooked.
If you can imagine a four piece performing music in a Canterbury scene vein, with a seam of quintessentially English surrealism and word play running through their oeuvre with overtures of Monty Python or the Bonzo’s and killer vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys or early Yes, then you are getting warm as to the Schnauser sound.
However there is something indefinable at play as well, something truly original that sends tingles down the spine, and which puts a great big smile on the face.
Their latest album Protein for Everyone, is their fifth long playing excursion, and sees the debut of Jasper Williams on drums, joining founder member multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Alan Strawbridge, long term collaborator, bassist and vocalist Holly McIntosh and keyboardist extraordinaire Duncan Gammon (also on vocals) who joined in 2011.
Following on from the inventive and complex tracks on Where Business Meets Fashion, which is wonderfully layered album, containing some fantastic tracks like Walking Stick and Cat and Waterloo Teeth, Protein for Everyone is an evolution of the Schnauser sound.
With a striking cover, featuring Laura Kidd (She Makes War) and a real beefcake of a Gentleman all in tweed enjoying a day out at Clevedon pier, this is album art as part of the record, and is probably the best album cover I have seen so far this year (although it might put vegetarians off) the meat theme is carried over, with the CD itself looking like a piece of steak, and the credits written like packaging for meat. A wonderful concept, it works beautifully with the contents of the album.
These 7 tracks are superb, starting with the fantastic Grey or Blue, with its vocal harmonies, it’s great keyboard and guitar work, and of course that Schnauser trademark, the vocal harmonies of Alan and Holly that add so much to the sound, and with its lyrics about choosing optimism or pessimism, it’s a brilliant opener to a strong album. Since the band coalesced around the current line up, the confidence and power of the songwriting has grown, and this is a definite step along from the previous album. The title track Protein for Everyone, features more of those wonderful harmonies, some fantastic musical interplay between all four of the band and lyrics about selling body parts for me. The knack Schnauser have for mixing the dark and the light is sublime, the music is bright, airy and upbeat, then you throw in the lyrics, and it’s only as you’re humming or singing along, you realise that they’re covering quite dark subjects in a very clever way.
National Grid is another great song, and as the music works its magic, again very catchy and very clever, the lyrics deal with everyone being connected via social media.
Contemporary lyrical commentary in a pop/prog packaging, very few people can pull this off, even fewer can pull it off with such skill and aplomb.
Holly takes the lead on The Reason they’re Alive, a brilliant composed song, with another great performance by the band and some fantastic lyrics, again looking at the world in a slightly different way, this time celebrating the life of wasps of all creatures, again it makes you think about them in a slightly different way.
Split is a fairly conventional post-love song, with some heartfelt lyrics and a great performance from Alan, whilst Buon Natale is a fairly joyous if a tad incongruous Christmas song in Italian, whilst the lyrics are all sung in Italian, the music is wonderful, and I would love to be able to speak Italian to translate it, and find out what they are saying.
Then we come to the grand finale, and when I say grand finale it is the long one, Disposable Outcomes, a 16-minute plus epic of Canterbury style intensity and musical playfulness. In fact as it’s made up from a number of different songs it also has that Abbey Road side 2 vibe to it as it flips from mood to mood and song to song.
In fact the band are brimming with musical confidence here, it starts with an announcement about turning off your mobile devices and asking you to enjoy the song, with a lyrical introduction to the piece. In fact the spoken word intro is almost pure Stanshall. With some fantastic jazzy piano, great keyboard work and guitar interplay, the drum and bass of Holly and Jasper working in sync, this is fantastic as it weaves from mood to mood, it’s lyrics celebrating the joys in life, as it sneaks in a reprise from Buon Natalie, with some great guitar work. The band really stretch them out on this one, as the song fragments are all built and built with some of Duncans finest keyboard works and Alans brilliant guitar as suddenly a powerful driving keyboard and guitar riff comes in, Jaspers beat propelling it along at great speed.
This is a confident and intelligent piece of music, as it leads us back into some more of Schnausers story lyrics about Ordinary Ways, celebrating the joy of the usual, in a similar vein to McCartneys vocal interlude during A day in the Life.
Next we launch into Spleen Damage, a cautionary tale for all written and performed in a style that owes nods to the Bonzo’s or indeed Monty Python, with it’s blend or the real and the surreal, it provides a counterpoint to the musical intensity, as the story builds to its crescendo.
The finale returns to musical ideas introduced in Grey or Blue, and rounds the album off with aplomb and style as the finale builds and builds.
This is a fantastic album and shows a band at the park of their musical and compositional powers, and there is no weak track on it, proof of the pudding of course is, does it work live?
Yes, is the answer to that question.
The album was launched at the Lanes in Bristol on Saturday 4th October, and having already heard the album, and having the joy of seeing them play (albeit a truncated set) supporting Knifeworld, with the addition of the saxophonist to the line up, this was not going to be a gig I missed. Especially it’s practically on the doorstep!
The venue itself, the Lanes, is as the name suggests a bowling alley/bar/multipurpose venue, and whilst I love the fact that quirky venues like this have a place in the world, and also are diversifying so they can maximise their space and make sure they generate revenue to stay open, I am not 100% sure that this works as a venue for live music.
The fact that the bowling was still going on whilst the band played was distracting, and the mixing on the sound left a bit to be desired as some of the magic of the vocal harmonies were lost in the mix.
However that is my only criticism of the night, and with a few tweaks the venue would be perfect. However the audience didn’t seem to mind as the place filled up very quickly, and there was quite a crowd there ready to enjoy the debut of Protein for Everyone in a live setting.
The band played a couple of tracks from their previous album Where Business meets Fashion, including a wonderful version of Walking Stick and Cat, before launching into the album.
With the addition of Deano on Sax to the band, this was the first time the audience got the full five-piece Schnauser effect, and boy is it impressive.
The addition of the sax to the band enhances the live sound, and the way it weaves into the tracks from Protein is superb.
Watching a band live is always better than listening to the album, and the beauty of Protein for Everyone is that every track on the album translates well into a live setting, and when you see them live, you realise just how powerful a drummer Jasper is, throwing himself into everything and driving the songs along, whilst Holly on bass plays to perfection, more than a match for jasper, and the way they work together anchors the whole sound, and is as important to the band as Alans wonderful guitar work and vocals, and Duncans keyboards and his theremin, which when thrown in with the vocal harmonies adds to the fact that at times there is a Beach Boys vibe about them. The vocal interplay between Alan and Holly, which has been a Schnauser trademark for as long as there has been a Schnauser band is vitally important to the sound, and on tracks like The Reason they’re alive and Buon Natale, is at the forefront of the bands sound. The highlight of the set for me, and indeed the highlight of the album, is the immense epic Disposable Outcomes, which works even better live than it does on record (bear in mind on record it is flawless) and with the addition of the sax to the mix, it lifts it even higher, and with its quick fire mood changes, its changes in key, and tempo and style, it comes off with aplomb, showing that Schnauser are absolutely on fire as a live act, and easily the equal of any band you might have seen before. With some fantastic stagecraft and peerless musicianship from all 5 of the band, this was one of those gigs you leave and realise you’ve just witnessed something special. If you get the chance to see Schnauser do so.
I also spoke to multi-instrumentalist and keyboard player Duncan Gammon about the new album, and Schnauser in general, first however we got talking about Duncans 2009 solo album Lord Gammonshire’s guide to Everyday Sounds, a piece of fantastic prog pop, which features guests like Maria Charles from Bristol’s Hi-Fiction Science, and is a rare treat which deserves investigation.
‘It took ages to record, as it was ideas I’d had for a long time, and there was stuff bubbling under from about 2001 when I had started playing in Bristol bands, I started recording it at my home studio, and a friend of mine Gaz Williams, whose a producer here in Bristol helped me out with it, and it came out in 2009. It got some good reviews and reasonable sales, and then I should have promoted it more and toured with it, but I didn’t!’
Then you joined Schnauser,
‘I joined Schnauser in 2011, I had seen them supporting Euros Childs as I’m a bit of a Gorkys (zycotic Mynki) fan and was blown away by seeing them. I bought Sound of Meat and got chatting to the band. I am very into photography so I offered to do some pictures for them, and we got chatting about music. I sent a copy of my album to Alan (Strawbridge) who was raving about it, and then he asked me to join the band on keyboards. I wasn’t really a keyboard player, my main instrument is the guitar, but having switched over to keyboards there’s a different area of songwriting that has opened up for me, and it’s like a blank canvas composing in a way you wouldn’t even consider with a guitar’
Had that informed your input on Protein for Everyone?
‘When I joined the band the majority of Business meets Fashion was already recorded, so I overdubbed all the keyboards and we recorded one song, Pigeons, which I contributed. This time round we were writing in the rehearsal studios, and the process was more organic. It reflects more of what we sound like live, and of course it’s the first album with Jasper on drums.’
‘John (Fowle) the previous drummer had a great sound, right on the mark, he was very precise, Jasper is so different, he’s very much into jazz and so he plays the drums very much like a lead instrument. So the songs came very easily from the jam sessions, and there was a real spark with the writing.’
‘We’ve been playing these songs a long time, they were well rehearsed before we recorded them, and they’ve been in the set list for a while, so we’re used to performing them and know what we’re doing each time’.
I mentioned how I’d seen them supporting Knifeworld recently in Bristol,
‘That was a great gig, I love what Kavus does with Knifeworld and of course the Cardiacs, the music Knifeworld are making is amazing. Unfortunately on the night of that gig, with it being in a small pub, it took ages to set up, so we had to play a shorter set, but we still managed to get the 16 minuter in.
It was out first gig playing with the sax player Deano, who’s now a permanent member of the band. He brings that extra package, another ingredient to the mix and a different sound.’
What about the album launch gig, how did that go?
‘The launch gig, that was the first time we’d played all the songs live and in order as a whole. The sound was a bit muddy, some of the harmonies got lost, but it was a lovely place to do a gig, it’s a great venue.
We launched the last album at the Cube, which unfortunately this time round was booked up, the Cube is an old cinema so we had more films, which this time round we were unable to show.
We did have a good time performing, and it’s good to see the songs went down well with a lot of the audience’
Protein for Everyone is their first album on the Esoteric Antenna label,
‘Mark & Vicky (Powell, label bosses at Esoteric) have done so much for us, they’ve both been so enthusiastic about the record, and I count them as friends. The press has also been very supportive we are getting great reviews. There was a good one in Prog, another great one in Shindig and Record Collector, there’s been some radio as well, and we’re getting orders from other countries
We were nominated for the Limelight award at the Prog Awards this year, we chanced it when we sent off Where Business meets Fashion, and they latched on it and have been supportive of us, and it’s taken off from there.’
How do you feel about being part of the new prog scene?
‘It seems to have come at the right time for us, with all the magazines calling us prog. I am a massive prog fan and listened to things like Ummagumma, Zep III, and Piper at the Gates of Dawn when I was growing up, so it’s where I come from. Up until recently prog has been a dirty word, but now there’s bands like Syd Arthur who aren’t afraid to say they are prog’
Has prog influenced you as a songwriter?
‘Personally I listen to a lot of music, the Canterbury Scene, Caravan, the Soft Machine, Egg, I also like a lot of new bands. We went to see White Denim as a band and they sparked in us the idea of doing the 16-minute track. White Denim have released 4 albums and live they cut it up and mix it with tracks from each album being chopped and changed, its high energy entertainment with a cut and paste style.
Al & Holly are into Todd Rundgren, Al and I like 10CC with their element of songwriting. I consider the work of 10CC to be prog but in a pop sound. Like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci they had a prog approach with a more commercial sound.
We like to think we have that same sort of approach.
The last track we recorded for the album was Disposable Outcomes, we’d been writing a lot of jams and had ideas for verses and choruses that were unfinished, and then we decided to segue them in a way that seems perfectly natural.
They all came from sessions going back to about 2012 and we’d had bits and pieces recorded when the last album came out.
It became more of a cohesive piece as we did it live in the studio, then overdubbing bits and pieces to give it more energy, we must have rehearsed it several times before recording it, then we broke it into chunks, did 4 takes of each and then mixed it and nailed it. Then when we toured Italy we wondered what we could do live, and honed it there.’
I mentioned the striking album cover, which harks back to classic album covers of the 70’s,
‘We had the album title already, and Johnny who runs Rocket recordings, is a great graphic designer, was knocking ideas around with us. At first we thought about making a meat-processing machine out of an amp, but that didn’t quite work, we wanted something unexpected. So Johnny came up with the idea of the man made out of meat, which ties in with the title track and selling body parts for meat.
We took the photos at Clevedon pier, and Laura Kidd (solo artist She Makes War) another friend from Bristol, volunteered to be our cover star, which works out great because she has a pet Schnauser Benji, and so he’s in some of our promo material as well. Johnny has an eye for detail and is a big fan of Barney Bubbles, and he wanted to make this one like a Hipgnosis cover.
Down to the disturbing shrink-wrapped faces?
That was Johnny’s idea; he covered our heads in cling film, and told us not to breath in otherwise we would suffocate. That was a surreal afternoon. The things you do for your art!’
How has the band evolved?
‘We’re all working full time or part time, and so we can’t do this permanently because at this level it doesn’t pay the bills, and so we fit Schnauser in round family life, and we’re lucky to have such supportive families who allow us to do this.
We feel we’ve evolved from the previous album, and we have a few songs left over from this album that we’re not sure what to do with yet.
Now we’re starting to jam and the riffs we’re doing are different again from ones we’d have done two or three years ago. The song is paramount; it’s all about the pop hooks. The playing might be a bit sharper, particularly with the sax. Now we have the sax we are revisiting the back catalogue to mix the set list up a bit. We’ll even be drawing on the first album that Al did as Schnauser back in 2005, Kill all Humans.
It started out as Al’s baby and it’s evolved as we’ve been playing the new material and stuff from the 4 previous albums.
Has any of the Lord Gammonshire material made it’s way into the set list?
We’ve played Everyday Sounds, so it has been known to happen, as we play Bristol quite a bit, we like to have very different set lists at each gig.
We’re looking for a few more gigs across the UK and start to get out there. Its difficult without a manager, and there’s no idea if there’ll be an audience for us if we get gigs. We’re playing Birmingham, Bournemouth, Swindon fairly soon, then Italy in February.’
Italy seems to figure quite heavily in the bands story
‘Al is obsessed with Italy; in fact he’s out there at the moment. He’s been learning Italian for a long time and I think he’d move there at the drop of a hat.
Buon Natale for instance means Happy Christmas, but Al felt that if he’d sung the lyrics in English they would come across as mawkish, as it’s a jolly tune with quite melancholic lyrics about missing his Dad and other people at Christmas.
It took a while to get the lyrics right on the recording, as we recorded it as live in Weston Super mare, the same sessions that we recorded Grey or Blue, Protein for Everyone, National Grid and Buon Natale. It must have taken about 40 takes to get the vocal right for that. The fact we’ve been playing most of these songs for two years means when we were able to get them done pretty quickly in the studio.’
Buon Natale features another example of the Schnauser harmonies,
‘I’m not needed that often to get involved with the harmonies, one of the Schnauser sounds is the vocal harmonies with Al singing a higher vocal than Holly, there’s only a few songs where I join in and we all harmonise.
Has the band thought about performing further a field?
‘Hopefully we’re looking to set some gigs on in January, we’d like to go up North as we’ve been selling albums in Hebden Bridge, and I have family up North as well, so hopefully we can play up there’.
What about festivals?
‘We played Eppyfest last year, which is a great gig, a superb venue, however we nearly didn’t make it as we broke down and were stuck at Thornbury for three hours, luckily we made it in the end.
We are looking to do more festivals; we usually get on Bristol’s Dot-to-Dot festival. We’ve also played a festival in Dorset, it was the first time we ever played a big stage like the one they have at Glastonbury with a big PA. We played with the Pretty Things and Hugh Cornwall that was good fun. We’d love to do the Green Man festival, and it’s all about getting the momentum behind you’.
And having the record label helps,
‘It was ironic Esoteric signing Hi-Fiction Science and us at the same time, as we’re both good friends. There’s a great scene in Bristol with loads of bands and the live scene is good and supportive, it’s nice to know that there’s bands and venues for everyone.
We wouldn’t have labelled ourselves prog, we think we’re nearer a pop band, and prog people and the prog scene picking up on what we’re doing have labelled us, and it’s great to get exposure as part of the scene.
What about the final story in Disposable Outcomes?
The story, Spleen Damage, it came from a night when I’d had some Speckled Hen. A big influence of mine is Viv Stanshall, and Al had this piano piece that he didn’t know what to do with, and it sounded a bit Rawlinsons end, so I got the notepad out and went nuts. The lyrics throughout Disposable Outcomes are all about celebrating the ordinary. No-one writes about going down the shops, and it’s what people do everyday, so why not write about it and celebrate it.’
Thanks to Vicky at Esoteric for arranging the interview with Duncan, and thanks to Duncan for his time.
More information can be found at http://www.schnauser.co.uk
Rush’s lyrics over the decades put its point of view firmly in the great Western intellectual tradition of Aristotle, John Locke, and Adam Smith. So when you listen to the band’s 165 original compositions, you’re hearing the same ideas that animated Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson—only a lot louder.
–Rob Freedman, RUSH: LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE, 2014
A nice note came to the website today:
I recently searched for pictures of the famed Le Studio in Quebec where Rush recorded (following my own desire for a place so cool to record in). I found out that Le Studio has been abandoned and was facing demolition. All the news I found is a couple of years old and I’m wondering if it was demolished or if someone purchased the place to preserve it.
Does anyone have any idea of what happened? Thanks, Brad