Advice From The Strawbs

nomadness

As I watch the political ads attempting to convince each Connecticut resident who the “right” choice for governor is, I cannot help but think of this brilliant song by The Strawbs, a band I have enjoyed for a few years now. “Mind of My Own,” not surprisingly, urges people to think for themselves, a skill which seems to be in short supply these days. I especially recommend playing this song out loud (or at least in your head) if you ever find yourself surrounded by a group of Republicans or Democrats. Now, if only this song could be heard by every American…

Prog’s Summer Party has a certain Resonance

The Bedford

A postcard from Balham
Hi all.

You know what it is like. You wait for something progtastic to happen and then 42 bands and artists come along at practically the same time. Well, that has to be something to celebrate!

This is what is happening this weekend in Old Londontown when a star-studded cast converges on The Bedford, a Victorian former hotel, now a pub in Balham. The venue was made famous when it was used as the courtroom for the unsolved case of Charles Bravo, a lawyer who died a lingering death from poisoning, whose second inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder.

Now, nothing so sinister is likely to happen this weekend, as the venue is now very much the community hub in Balham and for four days Thursday to Sunday, it will be resonating with the sounds of 42 different shades of prog – from the gentle and acoustic, to the wild and the widdly, to the classic and symphonic, through to the downright bonkers.

This is the Resonance Festival, the brainchild of The Gift’s mainman, Mike Morton, who had a eureka moment last year. His vision was to stage a festival where all the proceeds would go to charity, in this case, the wonderful Macmillan Cancer Support, which does so much amazing work to help cancer sufferers and their families through some challenging times.

Scouring all corners of the prog firmament, he has gathered together some of the most happening names in prog. The biggest coups are the two main headliners on Sunday night comprising LA prog metallers Bigelf and Swedish sensations Änglagård who are making their one and only appearance in the UK this year.

The list of must-sees is endless but some of the highlights are going to be The Enid on Saturday who continue to wow audiences throughout the land with their pastoral, theatrical brand of prog. Also on the bill for Saturday is Tim Bowness and Henry Fool who will be joined by the legendary Theo Travis.

The redoubtable and weekend birthday boy Matt Stevens will be multi-tasking with an acoustic set before he then cranks up the volume with The Fierce and the Dead.

Elsewhere, you can see the much loved Mostly Autumn on Thursday evening and Friday’s line-up heralds another show from Lifesigns whose live reputation grows ever stronger, their creator John Young one of the most passionate of all the prog maestros.

There is a rare appearance on the Sunday from the quintessentially English composer/guitarist/lutist Francis Lickerish and the Secret Garden, and that other great exponent of olde Englande, Guy Manning, will be gracing the acoustic stage on Saturday.

If ever proof was needed that the future is so bright, prog now has to wear shades, then look no further than the Sunday when Synaesthesia, Maschine and HeKz, all comprising some prodigiously talented Twentysomethings, will show why they are regarded as among the vanguard of the next wave.

Last but by no means least, there will be a performance by Mike Morton’s band The Gift who have just released Land of Shadows, an album which has garnered some rave reviews from a number of prog scribes.

It’s a very laudable thing that Mike and his dedicated team are doing to bring together so many spectacular names under one roof and spread them across three stages. So let’s party on down to Balham to charge our glasses and raise a toast to our beloved prog; and to celebrate a couple of birthdays which may also may be happening around this time.

Wish you were here. http://www.resonance-festival.com/

Love and light,

Alison

A Pretty Decent Racket: An Interview with Mark Kilminster of Tin Spirits

The Tin Spirits.

The Tin Spirits.

As far as I know, I have the very proud distinction of being the very first North American to review “Wired to Earth,” the first release from the Tin Spirits.  Greg Spawton had recommended it as a unique form of guitar prog, and I ordered it immediately.  That Dave Gregory played on it didn’t hurt my decision, either.  I had just written something about Alex Lifeson, Matt Stevens, and Dave Gregory being among my all-time favorite guitarists, and I was certainly elated to have more proof of the truth of this.  So, yeah, I’m proud to have reviewed Wired to Earth immediately upon its release.  It grabbed me from the moment I first heard it.  And, as my wife can verify, I pretty much listen to it all of the time, especially when The Birzers are on the road.  Which is quite often.  And, because of some very personal family history, the fourth track on the album, “Broken,” means as much to me as any song.  If you’re not religious, forgive me–but I can’t help but thank God for the health of Penny.  You’ll see why in the interview.

When I heard that “Scorch” (forthcoming, September 15, from Esoteric Records) would be the second release from the Tin Spirits, I put away my very shy nature [for those of you who know me, you're laughing] and ask Mark Kilminster about the album.  Not surprisingly–after all, he’s an incredibly nice guy–he responded with enthusiasm.  So, wonderful, say I!  Thank you, Mark.

 

*****

 

Progarchy: Mark, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us. We know you have to be incredibly busy, and we’re honored [honoured for our English readers!] you’d spend some time with us. About half of our readership is North American, and, despite my best efforts, Tin Spirits is still not as well known on this side of the Atlantic as it should be. For our benefit, would you mind giving a bit of history of the band? How it came together? How you knew and recruited Dave Gregory? Where the name comes from?

Mark: No problem Brad, the honour is all mine. I’ll attempt the short version! Dan, Doug and I had been in a functioning band together since 2006, playing standard rock covers. Dan was already friends with Dave through Dan’s GigRig company (amazing guitar pedal switching systems) and through a bit of superfan stalking (sorry Dan!).

Our first meeting with the four of us came about when Dan wanted to create an “Amp Shootout” video to demonstrate the different tonal capabilities of different amps. He asked Doug and me to play drums and bass respectively in the video and as a long shot, he asked Dave if he’d like to take part, too. Much to our surprise and excitement, Dave happily agreed, and we spent the day jamming in a studio. It was clear to all that the four of us made a pretty decent racket so Dan suggested asking Dave if he would be interested in joining us to create a new band, initially playing covers we would normally not be able or allowed to play. Dave happily agreed, and Tin Spirits was born.

With regards to the name, it’s actually one of the hardest things to come up with. That and album titles. We spent weeks bouncing name ideas backwards and forwards via email. If no-one replies, you know it’s a duffer! Then, all of a sudden, Dave just turned up at rehearsal one day and said “What about Tin Spirits?” and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Incidentally, exactly the same thing happened with the album titles, “Wired To Earth” and “Scorch.”

Progarchy: Youtube is full of videos of the Tin Spirits covering great rock and prog songs. You cover XTC (naturally), Rush, Steely Dan, Yes. Can you tell us a little bit about this? Why these, and how much did they influence the style of original Tin Spirits music?

Mark: Well, the initial idea was “let’s play the songs we love and have always wanted to play but couldn’t.” Mainly because if you play Roundabout at a wedding, you won’t get paid! [The interviewer is laughing very, very hard at this—ed.] So we each went away and created a “dream setlist,” and it became clear very quickly that we were all big prog fans. So once we’d gone through everyone’s list and picked the ones we all agreed on, that’s what we ended up with.

We also covered Radiohead, Frank Zappa, Free, and Jellyfish to name a few. After we’d done a few local gigs we decided to have a go at writing our own stuff and see how far it went. That’s basically what “Wired To Earth” became, an experiment to see if we could write songs as a band. There was no agenda as far as whether it should be prog or rock or whatever, but I guess because we all have a penchant for that genre, “Wired to Earth” naturally leans towards it (without keyboards).

Progarchy: In the end, you chose to cover a Genesis song for “Wired to Earth.” Was this a hard pick?

Mark: In hindsight, perhaps we shouldn’t have included a cover but as we’d spent such a long time rehearsing the songs, we thought it would be worthwhile sticking one in. I think we chose “Back in NYC” as it was the one we could knock out fairly quickly.

One of my all-time favorite albums.  Wired to Earth.  A must own.

One of my all-time favorite albums. Wired to Earth. A must own.

Progarchy: Mark, as you know, my favorite [again, favourite for our English readers!] song on the first album is “Broken.” The lyrics are much more than lyrics. They really reach toward poetry. Can you give us the background to that song?

Mark: Thank you very much Brad.

It was the last song written for “Wired To Earth” and nearly didn’t make it, to be honest.

We had a deadline of early March 2011 to finish the album and were still working on it up to the Christmas 2010 break. We recorded a rough demo without vocals so I could work on the lyrics over the holidays.

My wife was pregnant at the time so the lyrics were initially about my second chance in life, essentially going from being single at 32 to having a family at 35. She was due in May 2011, so the album would be all done by then. However, on 6th Feb our daughter was born 14 weeks premature, weighing just 785 grams [1.73lbs.] and everything turned upside down.

As I remember it, the lyrics were written around the end of February and convey what we were going through at the time. It was a 50-mile round trip to the hospital each day, hoping our little girl was doing ok. So the song was recorded right up to the wire and, in fact, Dan and Dave recorded the twin guitar parts in a freezing, converted church hall one night until 3AM in order to meet the deadline.

Penny is now 3, by the way, and you’d never know to look at her what a tough start to life she had.

 

Poor Icarus.  Looks like the sun got him again.  Scorched.  Forthcoming, September 15, 2014, from Esoteric.

Poor Icarus. Looks like the sun got him again. Scorched. Forthcoming, September 15, 2014, from Esoteric.

Progarchy: We’re in the middle of a glorious moment for prog and for rock—despite what the doomsayers claim. How do you see the Tin Spirits? That is, when someone is looking back at 2014, twenty years from now, how do you want the Tin Spirits to be placed and remembered?

Mark: You know what? It would just be nice to be remembered. There is so much new music out there these days that it’s very difficult to hold anyone’s attention before they move on. I’m as guilty as anyone of that. Ooh, great album. Next! It would be great to think that in 20 years, someone will see a Tin Spirits album in their collection and think “Ah, I think I’ll listen to that today.”

****

The Tin Spirits are: Mark Kilminster (vocals; bass); Dave Gregory (guitar); Daniel Steinhardt (guitar; vocals); and Doug Mussard (drums; vocals).  “Scorch” is produced by Tin Spirits and Mitch Keen; mixed by Paul Stacey (Oasis).

The tracks for “Scorch”: Carnivore; Summer Now; Old Hands; Binary Man; Little Eyes; Wrapped And Tied; She Moves Among Us; Garden State.

Progarchy will let you know as soon as it’s available for preorder.  Or, of course, go straight to the official website: http://tinspirits.co.uk

You can order “Wired to Earth” from amazon.com and other outlets, including directly from the record company: http://www.cherryred.co.uk/esoteric-exd.asp?id=3598.  Please do.  Not only do I give the Tin Spirits my highest recommendation in 2014, but I think I’ll still be promoting them in 2034, should I still be wired to this earth.

 ***

Lovely Leah, Metal Maid–GRATIS!

Our great friend, the extremely talented Leah McHenry, is offering all of her music for free at the moment.  Take advantage of this while you can.  She’s as talented as she is generous.  Enjoy.

Summer special!!!
*****ALL LEAH MUSIC IS FREE*****
Just enter “0.00” at the checkout!
This is for a limited time, so share and tell all your friends!!
>>>Enjoy the free music! CHEERS

http://leahmchenry.com/music

1492576_10153659138935694_358483786_o

Monetizing Prog: “By the way, which one’s Pink?”

Jason Notte on how “Weird Al Yankovic Just Made a Joke of the Music Industry“:

Google CEO Larry Page watched Psy’s now-ubiquitous Gangnam Style rake in $2 per 1,000 pageviews on its way Ito a $1.2 million payday by November alone. Page called Gangnam style “a glimpse of the future” as Psy was able to make a bonafide bankable hit through a video/download approach that had since been reserved for novelties like The Bed Intruder Song or Rebecca Black’s Friday. Songs no longer need airplay, major label backing or televised videos to be hits: They just needs to catch people’s attention and hold it as Yankovic has done for years.

If you applied that $2 per 1,000 to the 20 million views Yankovic’s four videos received during their first week of airplay, that’s $40,000 in one week alone. Not $1.2 million, but still not shabby for a week’s work.

But how does a company monetize that, you ask? Most of Yankovic’s partners do so through advertising: A concept that’s lost on many companies trying to make a dime off of streaming.

A glimpse of the future and the way prog bands can perhaps make some money to keep the music alive?

Track list: Second Nature — Flying Colors

Release date: 26 Sept 2014

Track list (CD or Double LP):

1. Open Up Your Eyes
2. Mask Machine
3. Bombs Away
4. The Fury Of My Love
5. A Place In Your World
6. Lost Without You
7. One Lost Forever
8. Peaceful Harbor
9. Cosmic Symphony
I. Still Life Of The World
II. Searching For The Air
III. Pound For Pound

Johnny Unicorn – Far from Imaginary

Johnny’s new album is a thing of wonder and amazement
and I’m only truly one track in. It is called Angels in the Oort Cloud and I urge everyone to go buy it right now. If you liked the recent Knifeworld record, which is very good I grant you but by no extent of the imagination great then you’ll adore this. For great it is.
File the first tune, Angels, in the OMG section of your brain nuggets such is the depth, breadth and eclecticism on offer.
There’s Mellotron too, which is always a bonus. What you get here is melodic, yet powerful and challenging as Johnny manages to blend a sound like no other you’ll hear all year I’m sure. Trumpets, flamenco, heavy alt-riffage, soaring symphonic moments that Yes would give their eye teeth for, this has it all. And more. I haven’t had chance to listen properly to the whole album as yet but have been playing the heck out of this 16 minute long beastie for a while now.
I’ve been a fan for a while too, and have enjoyed and own a number of Johnny’s earlier albums. With each new release I have become correspondingly just that little bit more impressed with this dude’s work.
Apologies for the lack of formatting, pictures, links and whatnot but I’m doing this on the phone. Just wanted to capture some initial thoughts on the album.
Spinning the last track, Inertia now and hearing it for the first time. Clocking in at over eight minutes it bookends the album with the 16 minute long Angels you have just read me raving about.
Emotional, wrought vocals and lovely acoustic out Coldplays Coldplay to start with. But then trapping your finger in the fridge door or sticking pins in your eyes is preferable to listening to those whiny millionaires go on about how horrid their lives are. This right here is art. This is beauty, this is truth. It is true. It builds and builds like a great big buildy thing. Lovely female background vocals too and I’m not normally a great fan of those. Flute and soaring electric guitar give way to the acoustic which picks up the pace as the flute returns, raising a huge smile on the face of this Jethro Tull fan at least. The climactic, emotional last bit will get the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. If it doesn’t then you’re probably dead.
Marvellous stuff.

Now, my pretties, fly fly fly. And buy buy buy.

Happy Batman Day

Happy Batman Day!

I celebrated by going to The Phoenix Nest.

They were all out of stock of Clockwork Angels …

… but I did get my free Batman comic, along with the Magic: The Gathering 2015 Core Set.

Batman is very prog …

… because he’s a legend.

Just ask Brad Birzer.

Or how about U2?

Some Tool News

The waiting continues to be the hardest part with respect to the release of the next Tool album.  This Rolling Stone piece explains some of the reasons for the delay.  There are also some tantalizing details about what might be forthcoming:

So far, the process has yielded one song that Jones describes as “pretty much done.” Carey says the yet-untitled track is at least 10 minutes, in which it “goes through lots of changes and it’s got really heavy elements.”

In fact, “heavy” is a word both band members use to describe their new sounds. “Sometimes I feel we get a little too proggy or too into exploring time signatures but not getting heavy enough for my taste,” Jones says. “There are some good nose-bleeding riffs happening, and I’m really happy about that. It’s not out-of-the-gate crazy heavy, but there are these little journeys with nice paths that end up very heavy.”

“It’s all a little more ‘metal’ sounding, if I may,” Carey says with a laugh. “I’m having fun drumming on it. There is one other song [beyond the 10-minute tune] that I would say is pretty much there. It’s another one that’s pretty gnarly with some good double-kick [drumming] going on in it.”

Let’s hope they get these delays sorted out and get this album out soon … because the anticipation is killing me!

Latest The Reasoning News

And, my hearts beats faster. . . . The Reasoning reports at their own website:

Album and Tour News

So it would seem that Pink Floyd, Opeth, The Pineapple Thief, The Steve Rothery Band, Amplifier, Threshold and Flying Colors, to name but a few, are all releasing new albums in the latter part of 2014. As you know, The Reasoning had the very same idea (great minds, and all that), but after much deliberation, we have selflessly decided that the above-mentioned bands deserved to catch a break for once. We have therefore postponed the release of our album until the early part of 2015, to avoid unfairly creating a situation in which these other bands simply don’t get a look in. We care too much, obviously…

With tongue firmly removed from cheek, our album is sounding amazing already, harking back to some of the much-loved musical and vocal elements from our earlier days, but with a great deal of contemporary pizazz. After the whirlwind experiences of the past couple of years, we’re going to take some extra time to really develop and embellish this new piece of work, craft it to its very richest potential and, most importantly, ensure that we give YOU, our dear followers, your most enjoyable Reasoning experience to date. This is going to be a big financial investment for us – outsourcing the recording of drums and, for the first time, vocals, to some “big” studios. We’re also in talks with several mix engineers, both here and on the other side of the Atlantic – more on this soon. Particular time and attention will be paid to the capturing of voices this time around, with Rachel and Seb (our young French floozy) leading the way, ably embellished by Rob and Jake.

This leads us very nicely on the other reason for postponing the launch of album 5. Next year, 2015, is the 10th anniversary of the formation of The Reasoning, and so this new release offers us the perfect way of celebrating such an auspicious occasion. Not only will there be a very special tour to promote the album, we will be doing other things to make sure we share the whole thing with you – with bells on! Watch this space.

tourpostergreatescapeOur October/November tour this year will still be going ahead as planned, and will be entitled “The Great Escape Tour 2014”. During these shows, we intend to perform our Awakening album in its entirety, and to throw in some additional tracks – some not heard live for a LONG time! – from “Dark Angel”, “Adverse Camber” and “Adventures In Neverland”. Oh yes, and we’ll be road testing some brand new material from album 5 as well. This will be a rare opportunity for you to hear yet-to-be- recorded music and, for us, will be a really organic way of putting the final touches to the songs before we commit them to their final digital destinations. There will be plenty of scope for you to be involved as listeners, too, so more on that in the very near future.

We’re looking forward already to our autumnal Great Escape from the studio, and we can’t wait to hook up with you all for fun and frolics on the road, Reasoning style. In the coming months we will release the name of the album as well as some of the artwork, and will give you details of a little something special that’s planned for the 10th Anniversary tour next year. Finally, we will be setting up a special group on Facebook (if you are on Facebook) based purely around “The Great Escape Tour” where you can talk openly about your thoughts, expectations, and share anecdotes of past gigs etc. We won’t be setting up individual ”Events” on Facebook this time either. Part of the new approach to promote these shows is to utilize the use of modern, portable technology and therefore, we have set up the band on the app “BandsInTown”. Here is a little blurb about what is does…….

Not only does BandsInTown allow us to keep our schedule up to date easily, it provides fans with a really excellent way to be notified about bands they don’t want to miss when they’re on tour. It’s an intelligent app that pro-actively informs fans of new tour dates for all the bands they connect with and show interest in.

Our BandsInTown schedule can be displayed on our website, on Facebook, and other places so that any updates are sure to be seen everywhere.

Our own website diary will also be up to date and may contain even more details than is available on the BandsInTown app, and our Great Escape Tour group will be filled with a compilation of ALL tour related information.

So, there you have folks, I know this is a lengthy piece but, we never do anything by halves, after all! Don’t forget also, that the wonderful “HeKz”, who will be promoting a new album, will be joining us on the road. It’s going to be a corker so, come along, have fun and sing with us as you always do. We cannot wait to see you. We’ve missed you a lot. Be well and love to you all as always,

Rach, Matt, Jake, Keith, Rob and Seb xxxxxx

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