Progressive rock 5-piece band from Seattle, Autumn Electric have released their fifth studio album “Star Being Earth Child” in July. A rock opera album, “Star Being Earth Child” tells the story of an alien visitor whose friendship awakens a young child’s environmental awareness. Partially inspired by visiting petroglyphs in Albuquerque during the Live Feed tour, “Star Being Earth Child” is Autumn Electric‘s most musically ambitious project to date. Progarchy talked with guitarist, singer and flutist Michael Trew.
Autumn Electric released a new album “Star Being Earth Child” this summer. Tell us something about the creative process of this new record.
After the “Flowers For Ambrosia” tour in 2014, I was gathering up whatever song ideas the others had, and just started throwing paint at the wall. One of the ideas our guitarist Max Steiner had sent me, I wanted to write lyrics about the Petroglyphs we had visited in New Mexico. One of the figures was called the Star Being, people here on earth that were once from a celestial place and have forgotten who and what they are. I could sympathize with this idea, and began to write several songs, with a story and characters forming within them.
Much of the album was co-written with major sections by our drummer Chris Barrios, as well as Steiner, which I eventually weaved into an hour long musical story. Then of course Steiner moved to Germany early on in the writing, leaving the rest of us to put it together and add his parts as the final layer.
After 5 releases, it’s evident that Autumn Electric has become definitely more experienced and more mature. And with every album your sound gets more “progressive”. Is it your conscious decision to go more progressive or is it just the natural development of your sound?
I would say it has been very natural. I was in a couple of bands around 2001-2003 that were doing something similar to our recent stuff. The end result has a lot to do with who is in the band. Going prog can scare some off as well attract others.
Autumn Electric is a band that remains truthful to what progressive rock sounded in its early stages. How do you see the modern progressive music considering that during the years the genre developed taking influences from metal and its extreme subgenres?
I love the rock/jazz/folk/classical approach as well as early manifestations of orchestral synths and guitar not sounding like a guitar. I see the genre expand from several different nuclei, all of which I think are vital.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected or is it an organic outgrowth of performing them together?
A lot of both.
Tell me about the themes this album captures.
Preservation of the Earth, purpose of life, rights of humans and animals, questioning authority, science fiction… all the good stuff.
Explain the concept of the album art.
There are two characters in the story: The Mother and her son Leif. The Mother is a Star Being living as a human, and the son is only human.
What are your plans in terms of touring and promoting the new album live?
We completed a 2 month tour of the United States this Spring, presenting “Star Being Earth Child” as a live rock opera. It was captured in a full film at the tour finale in Seattle, which can be seen on YouTube. Since returning home we have been focusing mainly on college/public radio.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the new album?
This was the first time I really let me intense love for Genesis run wild. There are a lot of idiosyncratic, highly composed passages. I drew of some of the structural ideas of The Lamb, The Wall, Tommy, and Days of Future Passed. People get a laugh out of the reference to Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the very end of the album, and some may notice it’s woven into some of the other songs. Of course the use of the 1970 song “Who’s Garden Was This?” by John Paxton, whose version by John Denver caught my attention, to which we included in two places on the album.
Do you see the band s music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Yes, in many ways. We hope through the music as well as our interactions with people and community as one that pushes the boundaries, stimulates the mind and heart, and can lead to real change or exploration.
As an animal lover, and defender of the animal rights I would love to thank you personally for your help to PAWS by giving the part of your Bandcamp incomings. Is there anything you want to share with your listeners about this?
PAWS and other groups that we have worked with or are around are doing great things. I want to shed some light on them as I can, as well as encourage the act of charity within the independent music scene.
An Interview with Yes’ Alan White (August 3, 2015)
Prog Rock’s quintessential super group, Yes, will be heading out on an American tour again this summer/fall, including the third annual Cruise to the Edge in mid-November. The most notable change in the line-up, of course, will be the absence of Chris Squire on bass—the first time ever for a Yes tour.
PROGARCHY’s Kevin McCormick recently spoke for with Yes drummer extraordinaire, Alan White, as he prepared for rehearsals for the upcoming tour.
PROGARCHY Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us. I think I speak for all of the members of Progarchy.com in offering our condolences after the recent and sudden death of your colleague and friend, Chris Squire. Obviously he was such an essential part of Yes, founding member and the only person to appear on every Yes album. Are there plans to honor his memory in some way on the upcoming tour?
Alan White Well, we’re going to start rehearsals on Monday and we’re going to put our heads together. We’ve got numerous ideas and we’ve got to work out something to honor Chris. Just how we’re going to do it, we haven’t really decided.
PROGARCHY On your website, you wrote a touching note in his memory. As a musician, I know how unique the musical relationship between the drummer and bassist is and how crucial it is to forming a solid foundation for the band’s sound. Can you put your finger on what made your collaboration with Chris work so beautifully seamlessly?
AW Well yeah, it’s a question of similarity with each other. And over the years it became a more brotherly kind of relationship. Chris was almost part of my family. We shared a lot of experiences together and we played together for 43 years. So when you play together with someone for that long you get to know all of the facets of their playing and visa versa, him with myself. So it made it easy for us to work out some kind of flow in the rhythm section in what Yes was creating. And it was a special relationship. It probably never will be the same. All the same, he did ask that we keep this going, and that I keep it going. He said just do whatever you can do. And that’s a good insight, to just keep things very much forward.
PROGARCHY I imagine it must have been difficult to choose to continue with the planned tour. Was there a deciding factor for you?
AW That was what Chris wanted. He didn’t want everything to come to a halt just because he was ill. And while he was ill he had a very positive outlook to the future. He said, “Well, I’ll go into hospital for four to six weeks, I’ll get rid of this and I’ll be back on tour next spring.”
PROGARCHY Well, the fans will certainly miss him and I know the band will too. Any hints on the set list for the upcoming shows or will that be decided at the rehearsals?
AW Well we’ve put a set list together, but we’ve not rehearsed. We’ve got a few things to try out and see if they’ll work out or not. That will determine how we approach the set list. It’s not confirmed yet, but we have a good idea the type of set we want to do, because we’re touring with Toto who are probably going to do a lot of their [popular tracks]. We’re not going to play whole albums like we’ve done in the past few years. We’re just going to do a great selection of Yes music that people love to hear in concert.
PROGARCHY At first glance, Yes and Toto doesn’t seem like the most obvious double-bill. How did it come about?
AW Well it sounded pretty good to me. Maybe … because we know the guys in the band so well. Steve Porcaro and all the them, I’ve known those guys for years. They’re all super-nice guys and we get along really well.
PROGARCHY Any chances that you might join forces?
AW I doubt it. You know, once you get on the road you have a set list to get into and a time line you keep to. There’s not really time to work that kind of thing out. But I’ve played with Steve Porcaro and Billy Sherwood [on the Pink Floyd tribute album, Back Against the Wall].
PROGARCHY So is it Yes with Toto or…?
AW It’s going to be Yes and Toto. They’ll be opening for us every night, but it’s really more of a kind of double-billing.
PROGARCHY It’s amazing to me how much energy you bring to your live performances. When I saw Yes perform in Austin in 2013, I was impressed with the power in your playing. For you in particular, it must be extremely physically demanding.
AW [laughing] Well it all depends on what part of the tour you go to when we’re on the road! You know, none of us are spring chickens anymore, obviously. And traveling is really what gets you. If we didn’t have to travel on a daily basis we’d be in relatively good shape every evening. But sometimes you’re just really tired when you get to the evening and the last thing you want to do is share music. But it’s really funny how the body turns around and rises to the occasion. I guess when you walk out on stage and see all of the people out there, the body just shrugs all that off and gets to it.
PROGARCHY Has your relationship with Yes’ music changed over time? Are there any songs that you enjoy more now than when they were recorded?
AW Not really. All of Yes’ music is pretty challenging to play. Each song has got its own demands on what to play, and how to play, and the way to play it. So you have to readjust yourself to all of that framework….I have played some of them quite a few thousand times. So it’s about getting back into the mold and making it work.
PROGARCHY Are you surprised at all to still be playing with Yes after so many years?
AW [laughs] Well, I mean, yeah. Eventually, when I joined the band I said, “I’ll give you guys three months and see if I enjoy it and you give me three months and see if you enjoy it as a band.” And I’m still here forty-tree years later, so there must be something working.
PROGARCHY You had commented a while back about the current line-up of Yes is one of the best there’s been and Jon Davison’s working out well. Are you still feeling that?
AW Jon Davison is an excellent vocalist and all-around musician. He’s a super nice guy and very easy work to with.
PROGARCHY It’s amazing to me that Yes is still touring after 40 years. Is there an element to progressive rock that allows it to reach across decades and generations?
AW I guess the main thing is that everybody strives to make Yes a well-respected, high-standard-of-musicianship kind of band. When we perform, everybody gives 110 percent. If one part of the band isn’t clicking on all eight cylinders or whatever, you can tell, because it affects everybody else and their whole performance.
When we’re all firing on all cylinders, there’s no other band like it.
PROGARCHY Indeed! Thank you so much for all of the great music over the years and good luck on the upcoming tour.
AW Alright, man.
Demons of the Astrowaste is a sci-fi concept album from Unleash the Archers. The metal is superb and the whole album tells a story using even some dramatic dialogue and special effects sounds interspersed between the crossfaded tracks. It’s an engrossing, immersive experience. Here’s the brilliant song that kicks off the album. It’s one of my favorites.
Why Neil Peart?
[Be forewarned, this is a serious essay that leads to an advertisement. Proceed at your own risk!!!!]
A year ago, I had the great privilege of reading a fine history of Rush: Robert Freedman’s RUSH: LIFE LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE. It was a very satisfying read, and, as I finished it, I sighed to myself. . . “I wish I’d written this.” I don’t think my reaction was one of hubris, but rather one of joy. I was glad to see Peart taken so seriously at an intellectual level. All too often, even in a culture that can go utterly ga-ga over the most trivial things, Americans still tend to dismiss rock music as a fad or rock musicians as a low form of artist.
For those of us who love prog and art rock, we cringe at such slights, and yet, in our heart of hearts, we’re kind of glad that we are among the few who know—as almost a secret treasure we possess—that good rock as art most certainly does exist. Sure, we’ll argue until we’re blue in the face about what makes art good. But, in the end, we’re somewhat satisfied that we’ve chosen the past least taken.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and I know that much of my life, I’ve been a total music snob. Sure, being from Kansas, I can do it with manner and a smile, but I’m still a snob.
When the four editors of progarchy and I started this website, we dedicated ourselves to promoting—as widely as possible—the beauty of music in all of its forms. We’re each music snobs, of course, but we so want to make our snobbery general and widespread. That is, we’d love to have Big Big Train playing on every rock station across North America. Rock music is at a crossroads, and we think we can destroy the mediocrity and corporate vanilla the so prevails and gives rock a bad now. Now, this truly is HUBRIS on our part!
One of the persons I find most intriguing over the last half century is Neil E. Peart. Whether you agree with his political views or hate them, whether you think he’s a god among drummers or just a guy dealing with his ADHD, you have to give Peart credit for making his own way, no matter the cost and no matter the obstacles.
Just a few nights ago, Rush played their final show of R40. The chances are pretty good that that show will be the last normal Rush show ever played. After 41 years of constant success and considered artist endeavors, that’s huge!
[Remember, I warned you above!]
So, why Neil Peart? Well, I try to answer this very question in NEIL PEART: CULTURAL (RE)PERCUSSIONS. The biography comes out officially on September 15 from Kevin J. Anderson’s Word Fire Press. For another 9 days, however, you can get an advanced review copy of the Peart bio for $15 from Humble Bundle.
I’m biased, but I’m really hoping you’ll purchase a copy. I could explain to you that every time you buy a book, you put food on the table for my huge family. But, this isn’t quite true. Still, it would help for the college funds!
Mostly, though, I wrote this book to spread my love of all things Peart.
To be continued. . . .
H/T: M. for these links full of awesome music:
The Bad Elephant sampler is on this website: http://music.badelephant.co.uk/album/bad-elephant-music-prog-magazine-sampler
Also a different sampler on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/badelephant/sets/bad-elephant-music-sampler
Advent, SILENT SENTINEL (released on August 11, 2015).
Tracks: In Illo Tempore; On the Wings of an Ant (Verse 1); Voices from California; The Uncharted Path; Reloj de Sol; On the Wings of an Ant (Verse 2); The Silent Sentinel; 12/12; Sentinel’s Reprise: The Exit Interview; Second Thoughts; On the Wings of an Ant (Verse 3); and Romanitas.
Birzer Rating: 10/10
Without question, this is one of the most interesting releases I’ve heard in a long, long time. I don’t mean there aren’t or haven’t been other incredible releases in the recent past. There’s no question that 2015 has turned out to be one of the finest years in the history of prog. This is high praise, indeed, as the last five or so years have been nothing short of mind-bogglingly good.
By claiming that SILENT SENTINEL is interesting, I mean INTERESTING. Really interesting. There’s never a shortage of musicians doing the tried and true, just as there’s never a shortage of musicians trying to do something radically new. It’s rare that the former last long, and it’s equally rare that the latter can create something of beauty. The best art is always that which honors the past while making the old palatable to the present. This is where Advent admirably succeeds. SILENT SENTINEL is art, pure and simple. It’s also well-executed and beautiful art. It honors the past while making something old new.
Over four decades of listening to prog, I’ve never heard anything quite like this new Advent album. I hear elements of Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, and A LOT of what sounds like Glass Hammer—at least in terms of music composition. What makes SILENT SENTINEL so fascinating is 1) its vocal lines; and 2) the intersection of its vocals and Glass Hammer like music.
As it turns out, this is Advent’s third album. I must admit, I thought it was the band’s second. And, I’m more than a bit embarrassed about this mistake. I’ve been listening to what I thought was the band’s first, CANTUS FIRMUS, rather lovingly for years. I’m now eager to get the first album. My loss, and soon my gain.
Regardless. . . .
If I had to compare this new album to anything on the current music scene, I would definitely name it the cousin of the work of Babb and Schendel, as mentioned above. But, SILENT SENTINEL not a clone, by any means. And, I hope this doesn’t turn off any readers, but it must be said. This is Glass Hammer if someone were writing really artsy and innovative jazz mixed with some really good (not Marty Haugen!) liturgical music. There’s an element of Hebraic chant, but there’s an even stronger element of Palestrina-like music. Don’t worry: no one is screaming scripture at you. The religious element—as far as I can tell (as I don’t have the lyric sheet)—is in the music and vocal lines, not the words.
I’ve said in half-seriousness for several years that CANTUS FIRMUS is Chestertonian prog. SILENT SENTINEL is more Tolkienian prog. I could easily imagine this music being sung in the First Age of Beleriand, most likely under the protection of Melian. It’s Sindarin Elvish, to be sure.
As you can see—even from a cursory glance at the track listing—this is a joy, pure and whole. There are a lot of themes that repeat throughout the album, and there’s playfulness intermixed with intensity passages of beauty. The production of the album is especially crisp, with every instrument really shining forth as a part and as a part of a whole. Really, everything—drums, keyboards, guitar, and bass—sound perfect. And, it’s clear that the producer and sound engineer gave everything to make this cd work so beautifully. I have a feeling that no matter how many times I listen to this, I’ll be rewarded with hearing something new.
While there’s nothing half-way done on the album, and I like it all, I’m most drawn to the epic title track, The Silent Sentinel. I’m not exactly sure what the context of the story is, but the music flows mysteriously and cinematically. I presume it’s a play on the title of the band, as Advent is a time of watchful waiting. Thus, the Silent Sentinel is a guard over time as well as space.
Again, I don’t have the lyric sheet, but it sounds like there’s some real Homeric evil happening as well, with the guardian protecting the crossroads of this world and the next.
I really can’t exaggerate or overstate how much SILENT SENTINEL grabs and intrigues me. It’s the kind of release that makes me not only proud to be a prog fan, but it actually makes me proud to be alive–to live at a time that produces such artists. This is the equal of Big Big Train and The Tangent in terms of quality, innovation, and beauty.
Progarchists, SILENT SENTINEL is something truly special. Don’t let this release pass you by. Pre-order and prepare to be dazzled and downright overwhelmed.
For more information and pre-ordering, make sure to visit Advent’s website: http://www.adventmusic.net
2112.net has all the details on the tour that is now history:
Digging deep for these setlists, “Losing It” and “How It Is” were performed for the first time ever, and while most of the songs from the first half of the show have been performed on relatively recent tours, many of those performed after the intermission have not been performed in decades: “Jacob’s Ladder” was last played in 1980; “Hemispheres: Prelude” in 1994; “Cygnus X-1: Part 3″ in 1980 (“Prologue” was played in 2002); “Lakeside Park” in 1978; and “What You’re Doing” in 1977. Closing out the show is a teaser of “Garden Road”, an unreleased original song last performed on tour in 1974.
And don’t miss Neil’s tour book essay, “Live It All Again“:
A few years ago the band received a couple of lifetime-achievement-type awards, and in response to one of them I remarked – only half-jokingly – that it was our fans who deserved a lifetime achievement award. Because if we have hung in there, they surely have too.
Originally posted on Drew's Reviews:
There will never be another Rush.
This much is true.
The trio hailing from Toronto, Canada closed a large chapter of their 40 year + career to a sold out crowd on Saturday at the Forum in Los Angeles. The final concert of the 40th anniversary tour is quite certainly the last of its kind but whether it is indeed their last of all time only the future knows or at least Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart.
It was another stellar evening with Lee in strong command of his vocals along with a very present bass, Lifeson, ever the virtuoso on guitar, in pristine form, and Peart the professor behind the drum kit. They kept it straight, no extra songs, nothing different than what hasn’t already been played since they embarked on the R40 tour on May 8 in Tulsa, OK.
The final show got “Losing…
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Order the Silent Sentinel pre-sale bundle
NOTE: Shipping/handling included in all prices.
LIMITED-TIME OFFER (expires 9 PM EDT on August 1st)
Pre-sale bundle of Advent’s Silent Sentinel album includes:
- A copy of the 77.5-minute Silent Sentinel CD
- 24-bit/96-kHz audiophile files of the entire album (sent electronically)
- An exclusive 29-minute bonus CD-R featuring:
- Classical guitar duet from “On the Wings of an Ant (verse 2)”
- Vocals-up mix of “Voices from California” (first half)
- Vocals-up highlights from the “The Silent Sentinel”
- Vocals-up highlights from the “Sentinel’s Reprise: The Exit Interview”
- “Canto XXVI (The Evil Counselors)”
- “Awaiting the Call …” live at MARPROG
NOTES: Includes early shipment of physical media unless autographs are requested*. Audiophile (24/96) files to be delivered electronically via the Internet on or before date CDs are mailed. The Silent Sentinel album (CD and corresponding 24/96 audiophile files) mastered by Bob Katz at Digital Domain.