Pattern-Seeking Animals 2- A Conversation with Dave Meros and Ted Leonard

Pattern Seeking Animals will be releasing their sophomore album Prehensile Tales, May 15th on InsideOutMusic. The band consists of current and former Spock’s Beard members Ted Leonard (Guitar and Vocals), Jimmy Keegan (Drums), Dave Meros (bass) and Spock’s long-time contributing songwriter John Boegehold (Keys and Producer).   I had fun speaking with Ted and Dave about the new album, as well as their side-projects and how they’ve been keeping occupied during quarantine life.

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Congrats on the new album. I’m really digging it, It’s quite different than the debut. I like the first one, but I definitely like this one better. It has more interesting ideas and sounds.

DAVE – I think that’s the general consensus with us too.

TED-  For me, I don’t know, actually. There are certain songs I really connect with, but there’s definitely a broader sound palette on this one for sure, which a lot of reviewers have pointed out as well. There’s also a lot of real instrumentation which sounds more authentic. It’s a bigger sound. It’s a bigger band than we are.

What’s your favorite track on the new album?

TED-  “Soon But Not Today”- It’s between that and “Lifeboat”.

DAVE-  It’s kind hard to pick one on this album for me, but mine is kind of a tie between “Lifeboat” and “Why Don’t We Run”. I really like that song for some reason.

TED-  That one appeals to me too. It’s super different. I played it for my daughter and she thought it was really cool, and I’ve played it for my boss who’s a super prog-head and he said  “That was different.” Haha. Like many of the songs on this album, it incorporates so many feels and in this case, it’s like a spaghetti western, instead of being filmed it Italy, it was filmed in South Korea.

Did you record this album, in the same fashion as the first, or was there a different technique or anything unusual for these sessions?

DAVE-  It was pretty much the same, except for John writing all of it this time. We’re all up here in our little man-caves recording our parts.

TED-  Everything’s isolated except for Jimmy, but that’s the same as the first album. The only instrument these days that really require a great sounding room is drums. So he records it at Rich’s (Mouser) studio.

    “Here in My Autumn” is the first single from Prehensile Tales:

RoSfest 2020 in May was supposed to be Pattern Seeking Animals’ debut live performance.  Since RoSfest 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic, how is PSA coping with the cancellation or changing their plans?

TED-  Yeah, we were bummed about that, but of course no one’s making plans. Obviously we’d like to perform for people in a live scenario. It’s going to be a fun line-up, especially with the two guys we have in mind to fill out the roster. We have Dennis Atlas, who we would bring on as the primary keyboardist, because John’s not going to come out and play live with us, and then we would require someone who can wear many hats, and that would Walter Eno. He’s a local scene dude who’s a really good guitar player, keyboardist, he plays some sax, and he apparently can sing very well too.

What’s the main reason John can’t perform live with you guys?

TED-  It’s just not in his interest.

DAVE-  Yeah, he doesn’t want to and he would have to develop a whole rig. He’s never played keyboards in a band live before, so that’s a whole different animal. You have to get all your patches all organized and split keyboards- I don’t blame him.

TED-  Yeah, I have nightmares about that sometimes. I’ve actually had real nightmares about someone sticking an instrument in my hands, repeatedly it’s Ed Platt from Enchant.  He says “You know what key it’s in, just go out there and play it!”  And I’m like “I don’t fuckin’ know this song!” Haha, yup just a weird dream I have.  But I’ve lived the nightmare of having to become a keyboardist- a better keyboardist than I am- very quickly. I’m glad it happened- it gave me a broader understanding. It’s a little easier to find my way around, if I have to.

I was super impressed when you did the keys for Transatlantic on the ship (Progressive Nation at Sea 2014).

TED-  Yeah, that was fun! That was a crash course! I’ve always been able to play chords and single-note parts, I know my scales and I know chordal theory well enough, but when Neal called me up and said “You’re gonna play this part and that part”, and I was like “Wait a minute- that’s a piano part!  My left hand doesn’t even touch this instrument!”

I know not much is happening as far as plans go right now, but is there anything you guys are hoping to get started with once the dust settles?

DAVE-  Nothing finite, but we’re always fielding offers.

TED-  Yeah, nothing specific, but we’d like to get in on some festivals, maybe get in on the cruise, if there ever is a cruise again. Of course we would entertain the idea of touring if we could find a way that was financially feasible. I think the only way to do that is to pair up with a band that makes for a good bill.

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What’s going on in Spock’s Beard world?

TED-  So much! Haha

DAVE-  It’s kind of the same thing. Just seeing what comes up. We do have the cruise booked for 2021.

TED-   There’s that, and we just played a couple shows in San Pedro, but that was just a keep-the-wheel-greased gig. But that was fun.

Ted, what’s going on with Enchant these days?

TED-  Enchant’s supposed to be writing right now, and they were writing on a weekly basis as a group,  I live further away from them now, so I can’t really be a part of the group writing. But usually I’ll get demos which will or will not already have vocals on them. Or if we’re going to take a song of mine, it’s usually submitted as a completed piece, then they just sort of embellish or whatever. I can’t even say usually when you’re talking abut a band whose most recent album came out like 4 years ago, and the prior one was 10 years before that.

Dave, still working with Iron Butterfly?

DAVE-  That’s another one of those handful-of-gigs-per-year bands. We have stuff booked in July which I’m hoping works- fingers crossed.  We might all still be locked up in our houses then, who knows.

Is there a musician you haven’t got a chance to work with, but would like to?

TED-  Yeah.

Haha… and who might that be?

TED-  Sure, yeah! Most of them are dead. I would love to lure Casey McPherson out of the band [Flying Colors], and let me take over that spot. Haha, I was going to start with saying I love anytime I get to do anything with Neal Morse, and I would love to do something with Steve Morse someday. Anybody from Kansas, past or present. I would love to sing on something that Kerry Livgren wrote. There are a ton of guitarists I’d love to have on one of my future solo albums. Or just someone to be the guitarist, and I’ll just do my thing.  One of those guys is James Santiago who’s been a friend of mine since we were in our twenties and I just always wanted to have him be in a band with me. We did a Jellyfish video a few years ago. I’ve always fantasized about having that guy in a band. A lot of people know who he is because he’s been part of the build process for certain popular Line 6 products, but they haven’t gotten to hear how good he is as a guitar player. I would like to make a band for the sole purpose of getting that guy some visibility. Plus he’s the coolest guy in the world.

DAVE-  You know, I always say “no” to that kind of question and the reason is I can pick Peter Gabriel or Jimmy Hendrix or any of those guys; there are hundreds of them. But if I played with them, it wouldn’t be the same and I would probably end up being really embarrassed. So I’d rather not, haha.

TED-  Yeah, it’d be like when you’re talking about someone’s bass player you probably esteem as better than yourself, like Peter Gabriel’s, it’s kind hard to want to fill some of those shoes. That would be like me wanting to play with the members of Queensrÿche– yeah no, I’m not going to do that.

DAVE-  Yeah, and let’s say you get to play with Jimmy Hendrix and it turns out he’s just tripping on acid or something and it’s just really weird just to be there- your whole mystique about him would be gone then. It just wouldn’t be the same. Never meet your idols, I guess.

TED-  Same reason I’ll never have sex with a porn star, haha

Dave, have you met an idol you were disappointed in meeting?

DAVE-  Actually the ones I’ve met have been really nice. I’ve never met anyone who blew me off… oh wait! I actually I did! One of my big bass idols is Percy Jones, and on the last cruise when Brand X was playing and I was all tongue tied like you get with your idols, he just kinda blew me off-  that was really depressing, giving me a look like “oh no, here’s another asshole telling me I’m great- just let me go back stage and have a beer… come on!” you know?  But then I met him later that night, had a cocktail with him and talked to him for quite a while and he was super nice.

What have you been doing differently these days because of the pandemic stay- at -home orders? You guys picking up any new activities or skills?

DAVE-  I got some work actually. There’s this guy I play for, and he just records stuff all the time, so I have another album from him to record, so I have that, which is really good timing. And I’ve been working on my basses and building a speaker cabinet. I’m kind of a hermit anyway, so my life hasn’t really changed that much.

TED-  I work from home, so in many ways, it hasn’t changed much for me either, apart from the fact that I’m never home alone anymore. My wife just finished her masters-  she was seeing a bunch of clients, but she obviously hasn’t been able to see them now, but she has some physiology clients that get on the phone with her to do FaceTime, but a lot of them aren’t comfortable with that… yeah she’s been home a lot. All that means is… yeah… my life has… improved.

DAVE  Haha…  I know what that means.

What made you want to become a musician? Was there a moment in time that lead you there or a musician that influenced you to say “I wanna do that”? (Listen to soundclip below)

I’m on a Rush kick right now. I’ve been trying to listen to an album a day.  What is your favorite Rush album?

TED-  You’re gonna hate me.

Oh yeah?

TED-  Just by having said that, what would you guess?

Probably something in the late 80’s, early 90’s? Roll the Bones?

TED-  Presto

Nice! Actually, the very first Rush album I ever heard. So I actually like that album quite a bit!

TED-  Yeah, that was the first one I ever owned, but I listened to rock radio growing up, so I heard everything prior to that, that was a release. But when “Show Me Don’t Tell Me” came out, and I heard it, I just remember going “OK, I gotta get that album.”

DAVE-  The only album I’m familiar with, front to back, is 2112. All the rest of them I just heard bits and pieces from, which is really weird, because I really like Rush, but I’ve never been a person to buy all of their records. So I’d say 2112, that’s the only one I owned and used to play all the time.

TED-  I wasn’t familiar with the deeper cuts until I joined Enchant, and those guys were Rush freaks, so it was almost like required reading. The original drummer of Enchant, Paul Craddick, was especially a die-hard fan. Personally it was hard for me to get into Rush. If we talk through a list of bands that I’ve liked over the years, the one commonality is usually the lead singer. Not only do they have to strike my ears as something I like, a lot of time they have to be someone I can sing along with, otherwise it just loses my interest- part of being a lead singer, I guess.  It was always hard for me to get into Jon Anderson, which I know, that’s heresy, but his voice is unapproachable. Trevor Rabin is right in my wheel house, but Jon Anderson, not so much. I was more into the arena rock growing up, buying Triumph albums. Rik Emmett, has the same kind of voice as Geddy, but I think he’s technically a better singer, personally.

The last interview I did for PSA, I asked John and Jimmy what was their favorite food, so I’d like to get your answers for that as well.

DAVE-  Man, that is a hard choice for me.

TED-  Dave really likes cock.

Haha!

DAVE-  I like cock prepared anyway. Anyway you prepare a nice cock, I’m there.

TED-  Especially filleted.

Wrapped in Bacon?

DAVE-  Wrapped in bacon for sure!

TED-  Everything is good wrapped in bacon!

That’s right!

TED-  There’s a street near me, and apparently it’s a guy’s name, but it’s called Dick Cook Lane. Every time I drive by it, a whole scenario goes off in my head.

DAVE-  I have a hard time decided between three- Indian food, Thai food, and Mexican food. They all tie for my #1 spot.  For Mexican, I’ll eat anything. For Thai food, I always gravitate toward the spicy mint noodles. For Indian food, I really like Saag Paneer.

TED- Before Spock’s Beard, I would have said something completely different, but everyone would be going out on a night off or whatever, and we ended up at an Indian food in England,  which is the best place to get Indian food. And I didn’t want to be a dick or anything, so I said, ok I’ll go, and it was the best thing I ever tasted. So I’ve been on an Indian kick for a few years now. We made Chicken Tikka Masala at home a few times. It’s quite a process, but I love pretty much anything Indian. And with Thai, I hated curry as a kid, but now I just can’t get enough of it.

Thank you so much for meeting up with me! Congrats on the album! It’s really great!

Anything you’d like the Progarchy readers to know about about it?

TED-  It’s definitely going to be a step in a different direction. It has a big appeal for prog fans; it has a lot of prog moments, but also doesn’t shy away from non-prog moments. I think it will attract the mature prog fan. Not the ones that say, “If it’s not prog, I can’t like it”.  If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap! hehe. It has appeal for all the masses, including the North Koreans.

DAVE-  It’s very melodic. Like John said with the first release, you’re never more than like 30 seconds away from some kind of a hook.  If you’re into musical rather than shredding, this is for you.

Pre-order Prehensile Tales on CD, Vinyl, or Digital at this link!

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