Interview: Steve Deaton of WHITESIDE’s DAUGHTER Talks Upcoming Concept Album “The Life You Save”

Whiteside's Daughter

You may think, “here’s another prog rock concept album; nothing new here,” but Whiteside’s Daughter from Jackson in Mississippi are set to launch their full-lenght “The Life You Save” this June, a record “about James, the gay son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher, who in high school rebels and falls in with John, his ex-Baptist atheist classmate and guitarist for a high school death metal band called Village Witch.” Putting together progressive rock and proto-metal makes things even more bizarre, but that’s what we love about prog, anyways.

Read an interview with multi-instrumentalist Steve Deaton.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

All is well. Busy, but good.

Speaking of new music, you have an upcoming album. What can people expect from “The Life You Save”?

Well, it is a concept album, so I hope they can expect a compelling story set to some adventurous music. It is a dark story about religious indoctrination, guilt, depression, and suicidal thoughts. But in the midst of all that, too, is a joyous celebration of teenage rebellion.  So the music has many moods, and therefore many styles—from minor key prog rock and prog metal, to major key power pop, and a bunch of stuff in between. It has elements of the Southern Gothic literary tradition which explores the dark, taboo, grotesque elements in traditional Southern culture—in this case, hellfire preaching, suppressed sexuality, casting out demons—basic “snake handling” sort of stuff.  But it is set somewhere in 80’s or 90’s. Anyone, especially rock and metal fans, who lived through the “Satanic Panic” in the U.S., predominantly in the South, will certainly get that vibe.

What was it like working on the album?

All in all, it was fun. I’ve known and worked with Brian, the drummer, and Poff, the vocalist, for years, so we always seem to be on similar wavelengths and the creative process goes pretty smoothly.  The only thing that made the process long and difficult is that this was a long distance collaboration—I live in Mississippi, and the two of them now live in Alabama—Brian in Birmingham and Poff in Montgomery. So a lot of file sharing and hashing things out in a Dropbox folder.

Whiteside's Daughter - The Life You Save

Are there any touring plans in support to “The Life You Save”?

Not touring so much, but we are working up a live performance of the concept, and we plan to stage it periodically, more like a theatrical performance than a club show. Plus, we all have other pursuits that make sustained touring impossible.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

It would be awesome to stage the show in the UK or Scandinavia. Mainly because so much of the music that I like comes from that part of the world, but also because our social media seems to get a lot of traffic from there—it seems there is a devoted audience for progressive music all concentrated in a small geographic space. We have a lot of prog heads in the US, but we are scattered all over a vast expanse.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Any artist or musician who isn’t afraid to explore and do something that may not be popular—even though if they do it well, they often DO become popular, even if it’s with a smaller niche of fans. So my heroes are diverse—David Bowie, Rush, King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Fishbone, even Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

So, as I alluded to, I listen to a lot of music. Though I’ve always gravitated toward rock and metal, I love classic country (Hank Sr., Willie, Waylon, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash), psychedelic So Cal country like the Flying Burrito Brothers, and great pop or folk music—I love the Mamas and Papas for instance and Simon and Garfunkel, too. But a lot of Southern influences creep into this prog rock project—especially Southern rock like Molly Hatchet or even the Allman Brothers. I’ve played in alt-country bands and even some that do straight up honky tonk. So I guess that can’t help but influence what I write and play. 

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Well, we obviously really hope you dig the concept and the music when the full album comes out in June. If you really dig it, we are always more than grateful to those who spread the word. That’s how independent music has always made the rounds. Our local rock stations here in Jackson, Mississippi, aren’t going to play a prog rock concept album about the gay son of a Pentecostal preacher. Ha!

You can preview the Act I of “The Life You Save” on Bandcamp. Follow Whiteside’s Daughter on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Something Sneaky is Going on at BBT HQ

The Big Big Train website has been superseded by a band logo and a countdown – counting down from roughly 5 days and 10 hours at the time of this post. I sense exciting news from our favorite band! I’m not sure when it started – maybe I’m late to the guessing game. New album? NORTH AMERICA TOUR?!!! I guess we will have to wait and see.

https://www.bigbigtrain.com

The Neal Morse Band live in concert at the Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac, Michigan, February 24, 2019. Thanks to Paula Pasma for the great pic!

Prog Past, Present, and Yet To Come

One of Robert Fripp’s “devil bugs” caught up with the Krueger household on February 24 — the same day a “bomb cyclone” hit West Michigan, causing a 30-degree temperature drop in 24 hours, along with whiteout snowstorms.  It’s taken this long for us (and the region) to emerge from hibernation  — but through the depths of winter to the cusp of spring, music has taken sad songs and made them better.

That very day late last month, I trekked across the state to catch The Neal Morse Band’s Great Adventour stop in suburban Detroit; Neal and his merry crew (including son Will and daughter Jayda at the merch table) didn’t disappoint.   As I anticipatedThe NMB’s live take on The Great Adventure was even tighter, more driven and more finely honed than the fine studio album (first half glitches to Morse’s keyboard rig notwithstanding).

Hearing all of TGA in one go brought home how thoroughly integrated the new effort is.  The key musical themes (as well as flashbacks to The Similitude of A Dream) aren’t just repeated, they’re developed in near-symphonic ways: transposed, transformed rhythmically and harmonically, recapped in unexpected contexts throughout the work.  Kaleidoscopic contrasts of rhythm, instrumental color, vocal textures (mainly from Morse, guitarist Eric Gillette, keyboardist Bill Hubauer) and tonality meshed smoothly with drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Randy’s George’s badass forward propulsion, ably mirroring the lyrical highs and lows of another journey to the Celestial City.

In sum, TGA is a genuinely impressive concept work, marked by ambition, intelligence, technique and sentiment in just the right proportions.  The result at the end of each set (and the encore medley that covered Morse’s entire solo career, ending the night where it began) was sustained, extended, unforced ecstasy in the audience — a feeling that, I believe, couldn’t have been manufactured or manipulated into existence.  I couldn’t help think that, consciously or not,  Morse’s recent work fully embodies the ongoing ideal of American revivalist religion — an ideal, whatever its flaws, that’s been a cultural constant from the Puritan theologizing of Jonathan Edwards to the rough-hewn democratic juggernaut of today’s Pentecostalism.

And, in the inspired, paradoxically complex simplicity of its drive to the finish, The Great Adventure live reminded me of nothing so much as Gustav Mahler’s massive Resurrection Symphony. Like Mahler, Morse and band embraced everything that came to hand, running the risk of grandiosity to shape a new musical world — a payoff acknowledged by the heartfelt, fervent applause of the 300 souls in attendance.

Continue reading “Prog Past, Present, and Yet To Come”

The Artist Strikes Back: T Bone takes on Big Tech

This is a great talk by multiple Grammy and Oscar winner Joseph Henry “T Bone” Burnett about the threats posed by digital technology. You can read the talk in full text, but don’t miss the video version below, because after the talk ends at around 35 minutes, the Q&A section is excellent, and he has lots of great comments about music today (for example, listen in at the 45-minute mark, if you need convincing). Highly recommended.

Interview with Adam Green of HUMAN BRAIN

Adam Green

Human Brain is a project by composer and guitarist Adam Green who has been teasing his upcoming debut album with the release of “Spaces” single. In an interview for Progarchy, Adam talks about the project, and he sheds light on the album.

Hey Adam! Thanks for responding to this interview. How have you been lately?

Been great, thanks!

How might you introduce yourselves to new potential listeners?

I like to write for everyone with multiple musical tastes. If you like super hard-hitting, energetic and emotional music, you’ll love Human Brain!

What inspired the name of the project — Human Brain?

Brain dump basically. I have quite a bit of emotion and passion flowing through my brain on a daily basis that I wanted to release into my writing.

HB

How did Human Brain initially form?

Human Brain essentially started about 3 years ago when I began getting more serious about my writing in general. I decided it was time to put an official name to it and yearned for the fulfillment of it being heard by others. I’ve been inspired by many of the great metal artists on YouTube and wanted to get my brand out there in a similar fashion.

You are about to release a debut album. What can you tell me about it? Where did the inspiration for it come from and how did you go about the whole process of writing and recording it?

10 songs spanning multiple genres including everything from alternative rock to metal. Inspiration for the album basically came from the answer above for what inspired the project as a whole.

What can be expected from the upcoming album? Would you say the released single for “Spaces” is an accurate sample?

Yes, Spaces is for sure though I will say every song has it’s own thing going on. Some are more mellow than others and many different guitars were used throughout.

What’s your songwriting process like?

My typical approach is to flesh out a track that incorporates all of the musical styles I love most (metal, rock, progressive) while taking the listener on a roller coaster of a ride with meaningful changes throughout. I wrote all of the parts in my head and laid them down in iPhone voice memos initially. From there, I tracked everything in Logic using my Kemper Profiler Power Rack, Apollo Twin and Toontrack.

What are your ultimate hopes for Human Brain?

For the music to be heard and resonate with people across the world on multiple levels just like it does for me.

Do you have any bigger plans for the future?

TV, Film, Label with some gigging sprinkled in.

The last words are yours.

I’m beyond excited to give everyone a glimpse inside my Human Brain!

 

Follow Human Brain on Facebook.