After decades behind the scenes, Robert Berry has unquestionably stepped into the spotlight. In the late 1980s Berry hit the big time alongside Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer as vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and co-producer of the progressive-pop trio 3. Afterwards, he parleyed his new-found visibility into decades of fine work in both mainstream rock (Ambrosia, Greg Kihn, Sammy Hagar, his album-oriented rock band Alliance) and the prog scene (numerous tribute albums for the Magna Carta label, discs and tours by the holiday-themed collective The December People). Though Keith Emerson’s suicide in 2016 thwarted a planned reunion, Berry honored Emerson’s legacy with his deeply felt, impressively realized 3.2 project, releasing the posthumous collaborations The Rules Have Changed (2018) and Third Impression (2021) and mounting a career-retrospective tour in 2019.
But the Robert Berry I spoke with last month is focused on the future, not the past — namely, his brand new, very different trio SiX by SiX. Collaborating on songs with Saga’s guitarist Ian Crichton and anchored by Saxon’s drummer Nigel Glockler, Berry sounds like he’s having the time of his life. The new band’s self-titled album, released by InsideOut/Sony on August 19th, doesn’t really fit into any prog or progressive metal pigeonholes — and it’s all the better for it. One minute SiX by SiX is making an almighty, rifftastic noise; the next comes a killer singalong chorus; the next you’re reveling in a lush, impressionistic soundscape. Wrapping up our interview, Berry said, “we want a wide audience of all kinds of people that just like good music,” and this album has both the ambition and the substance to hit that sweet spot. There’s plenty here for your head, your heart and your guts to grab onto!
When I interviewed Robert Berry at his California homebase Soundtek Studios, he managed to be supremely casual, pumped about his new music (as well as about a graphic novel based on the album by Chicago artist J. C. Baez) and genuinely interested in what I thought of SiX by SiX’s debut, all at the same time! I think both of us had fun; join us by watching the video below or reading the transcript that follows.
So, first of all, tell us about the way SiX by SiX, this new project of yours, came together.
It’s sort of magical, really. My manager Nick [Shilton] who’s in the UK – we were talking, he goes, “well, what are you gonna do next? You’ve said that there’s gonna be three 3 albums, right?” The original one [made in] ’88, and we had The Rules Have Changed and we had Third Impression. I said, “yeah, I feel that’s all we had from Keith, material-wise. I don’t wanna do that on my own; it needs to feed off him.”
“Well, what are you gonna do?” I said, “I’m either gonna hang it up and tour with the past, or I’d like to find a guitar player to work with that was like Keith Emerson, that made up these incredible parts. But except for Steve Howe, who’s very busy, what guitar player makes up parts? Orchestrates a song, doesn’t just play power chords and a smokin’, rippin’ lead?” He goes, “Let me think about it.”
He called me back the next day; he says, “what about Ian Crichton from Saga?” I said, “why didn’t I think of that?” Now I didn’t know Ian at the time. I said, “he plays parts and you could almost sing his solos; they’re so great!” So he tracked him down, got us on the phone. Ian was, like everybody, having some down time with the COVID, not touring. And we decided to start sending some things back and forth – and it couldn’t have been better for me, inspiration-wise! I mean, if I could have written down, really thought about “I’d really like this, I’d like this.” Also, all these parts kept coming! He’s so prolific, making up that great stuff that I only thought of in my head, like “what guy does this?”
And the songs started coming out; we committed to this band once we found the right drummer. Which of course, it was an old friend of mine. I felt anyway; didn’t know if he’d say yes, cause he’s in a big band too, Saxon. And Nigel said yes and bang! It was organic, actually; just happened just like that! But it took a whole year to get it to the point of that now.
OK! What I’m hearing you say, and from what I’ve listened to of the album, I agree with you on what Ian brings to the table. Two or three great riffs on just about every single tune, plus that unique solo voice that, as you say, is so melodic.
Can you talk a bit more about what Nigel Glockler brings to the party?
Nigel and I were in GTR together, back [in] 1987. And Steve [Howe] brought him in to replace the guy that had done the first album with them. And I had said to Steve Howe, “the drums are kinda muddy; don’t we need something a little more solid?” They brought Nigel in; I didn’t know Nigel at all. And he was just the greatest drummer and the nicest guy, that we stayed friends, stayed in contact.
When he came through town here – I’m in Silicon Valley, San Jose, close to eBay and Apple and all that – I went to see him and we just chatted a bit and I said, “Man, the guy, he’s still in good form, still playin’ solid and hard.” And so, he was a top of the list choice for me! And Ian didn’t know him, but they had bumped heads on tours a little bit maybe, and seen each other but not really got to know each other. So once Nigel said “I’m really interested in this,” and then we got his drums on a couple of songs. And it was like having John Bonham in the band, you know? [Laughs] Really heavy hitter, solid! It was a little to me like Cozy Powell in ELP; it just cinched it up!
That comparison just had occurred to me as well; that when Powell was with E[merson] and L[ake], there was this rock-solid bottom. I heard them live. He’s so completely different from Carl [Palmer], but what he brings to the table is amazing.
And it was a good album they did too! Not that we need to talk about that . . . [Laughs]
That’s true! And you can tell that Nigel isn’t just a pounder.
He’s a big prog rock fan, which is probably why Steve Howe brought him in originally. He and Phil, the bass player for GTR, were pretty good friends, and they’d done a few things together before. So, Phil knew about the intricacy of what Nigel could bring. He just doesn’t get to expand that in Saxon, of course. He hit the fine line between “let’s do a few things” and “let’s keep the thing really solid”. So again, Ian’s guitar can do what it does, and if the power chords [makes guitar noises with his voice] aren’t always there, something has to keep it solid. And Nigel just made it happen, really.
And again, hearing what I’ve heard from the album, there’s a lot of elements going into what you do. But there’s also space for all of those elements. It doesn’t feel cluttered or crowded; it feels like everything just locks together.
And it’s mainly the guitar! The keyboards on this, I use them very sparingly, and it’s really just a sort of glue, a little background in there sometimes when the guitar’s gotta do other things. Even onstage, my thing is to once in a while, during a solo or something, I’ll change to the keyboards and left-hand bass and cover the fullness and the bass on keyboards, then get back to the bass guitar when Ian comes back into playing the full chord and whatever he’s doing.
So, you’ve described the creative process. You and Ian are working together and the songs come up out of his ideas; obviously you add to that. What was the recording process like?
Ian has a studio at his house. I have – you can probably see my board in the background; I have a Neve console – an old Neve console, sounds incredible – the latest ProTools. Nigel came into the studio to do drums here, flew in from England.
Ian did most of his guitar parts at home, but also those fragments he sent me to start songs with? They were just genius! And even some of those, even though he didn’t record them as final takes, I used those in final mixes. But he only did a little bit of guitar here; most of it was done at his home. The creativity that he sent me before we really got into doing the album was the key to this album, really. It just sparked me to write songs from these parts – basically like Keith Emerson did! Keith wasn’t a full song kind of writer when it came to the song; he had the genius Emerson parts. You’d go, “that sounds like Emerson! Nobody else sounds like that!”
I get the same feeling from Ian; nobody else sounds like that! He has to sit there in his comfort zone, his space there in his house with his great equipment that he has and his amps and everything else. And he has to have the freedom to do what he does!
One thing about having a bunch of people, an engineer, a producer in the room – you’ve got a little pressure on you. When you’re by yourself, you can make mistakes. And sometimes the mistakes are genius! “I didn’t mean to do that, but oh, that’s really good! I think I’ll keep that.” So, the freedom, especially in Ian’s case – I think he was just free to express himself like he’s never done before, as far as I can tell. You can tell I’m excited about it; I keep bragging about him. Man! Every time I hear a song or I do an interview or look at a video we did: “damn! That guy! He’s so good! And original.”
I saw him say in another interview elsewhere that he felt like he could be – I’m paraphrasing – really expressive and he didn’t have to be super clean [like] he has to be with Saga.
Yes. Saga’s a keyboard band; I’ve seen them on stage with three keyboards and drums and guitar. And everything’s clean, everything has its place. Our manager calls Saga more quantized, which is the term for lining everything up, making it perfect. They didn’t wanna make [makes guitar noises with his voice] anything like that in the Saga music. I welcome that; Ian has expression with the sounds and the little bits that I would never get rid of. So you’re right; he’s – reckless abandonment. [Laughs]
Cool. Again, that’s part of the fun of this new band. It sounds like all three of you were just going for it.
I used the word “organic” before. It kinda is, you know? No one is saying, “oh, no, no, no.” We’re all saying, “wow! That really works.” Which is kinda cool; it’s a good feeling to feel you can give 110 percent of what you do, and it’s probably gonna work. Unless you judge yourself – “oh, I hate that!” Cause we always judge ourself very harshly as musicians. But you’re knowing that the guys are gonna say, “I like what you came up with; that fits!” I guess that’s experience; all three of us – Ian and I on the songwriting, Nigel has probably played more shows than the other two of us put together. Experience really comes in at this point and makes us know what we wanna do. And how to make this band what it is.
And it’s not always the case that having that strong feel for what works is mutually supportive. But that sounds like what’s happened in the process here. You guys are working for each other, not just with each other.
That’s right! And because I base the songs on – this was interesting. Ian was saying – he’s out with Saga right now doing some shows – “man, I gotta work these parts back up again!” I said, “well, that’s not as easy as SiX by SiX, I betcha.” He says, “well I feel that way, but I’m sure why.” I said, “because SiX by SiX comes out of your brain through your fingers into the recording. It starts with you.” Those hard parts start with Ian. I said, “I put the song together, the choruses, the verses, whatever the chords are. That’s the easy part, playing-wise.” It’s those Ian-isms that come out of him. You know that when you make up something yourself, it’s what life experiences led you down that path. It’s just easier, even if it’s harder for somebody else to do, to copy you. So, I really think it’s natural for Ian; Nigel is doing exactly what he wants to do in the way he loves to do it – heavy hitter, playing the parts when he wants to, lay ‘em down. The piece in the second video for us, “Save the Night”, when you can tell right from the chorus, he’s just sitting there [stamps rhythmically with his foot] on the bass drum and he’s smiling! He’s not doing anything and he’s loving it. That’s ’cause he knew at that point that’s what he wanted to do. He didn’t have to impress anybody with [makes drum fill noises with his voice] stuff. Very cool!
Let’s move into talking about the singles. You’ve got two so far, “Yearning to Fly” and “Save the Night”. To your ears, what facets of SiX by SiX’s sound do those songs show off? What are you trying to convey in advance of the album release to people who are going “OK, this is brand new; what do I make of it?”
And you’ve heard everything? All ten [tracks]?
OK, I figured so. I feel like these two are right down the middle of what we do. We have mellower, more artsy kind of stuff on that end – let me think of one here. Even one of my favorites, if I can think of the name [both laugh] – I’ve been talking about the singles so much! “Reason to Feel Calm Again”. Ian starts off [with] this incredible – I can only say it’s like bagpipe, but it’s guitar! And it’s just wide-open, like you almost see the range, the tundra forever – whatever it is he’s got going, the hills of Ireland or Scotland! It’s a beautiful piece. We have that; we have “Live Forever”, which is an almost folky kind of thing, with fingerpicking.
Then we get heavy like “China”, which is the third single. And we’re gonna take a real risk with that. It’s hard-hitting; it’s the hardest rock piece we do; it’s that end of what we like to do. And it’s sort of a political piece, cause we’re supporting the Chinese people but not the Chinese government. And nothing else on the album has anything to do with political stuff or our opinion. More of the album is about being positive and getting from point A to point B and treating people with love and respect and all that kind of stuff.
So, these were kind of right in the middle.
OK! And “Yearning to Fly” is kind of punchier and more like a single sort of thing, whereas “Save the Night” has that extended feel to it.
Yes. And the chorus doesn’t come in until the end. And I was surprised the record company picked that, and they loved that song! They signed us when they heard “Yearning to Fly”, so that was an important first single for all of us, right? But they picked “Save the Night” ‘cause they loved that! We’ve been told by the record company, “they don’t write ‘em like this anymore. This is really great!” Which is a great compliment to get from the record company.
But the audience has to wait for – what is it, two and a half, three minutes to get to that chorus? And then the great guitar solo and everything’s in there. It’s a test, and so far – it’s interesting, the comments, they almost like it better than “Yearning to Fly”. Although “Yearning to Fly” got 100 percent good comments! It’s interesting: I look at these things, I watch what everybody says, I try to answer everybody I can, talk to ‘em. It’s an honor that they spend the time with us, you know? ‘Cause there’s way too much music out there; I mean it’s just flooded with everything and anything that can get on the Internet. And our responsibility is to try to do our best work and connect with them. So, if we do, I think I really oughta talk with you and say, “Hey, man, what do you think? I’m excited! What do you think?”
And you give me great feedback, and you talk to a lot of people and review a lot of music, so that you’re interested and you like it – it doesn’t get better than that for me!
Well, I’m glad to hear that. And the thing about “Save the Night” that struck me is — that’s a soul out chorus! It feels like you’re hearing – it’s not the same sound, but it’s like, “Ooh! Stevie Wonder fade out!” It just keeps going and it just keeps building, and it gets more powerful as it builds.
It’s the only time I got to play a little fancy keyboard then too, actually. As it fades out, you hear the Moog going “doodly doodle doo”! My goal with that song was to make it when it hit that last chorus – and the video guy, we also talked – when it hits that last chorus, the sun comes over the mountain. The fire ignites! See the hand come out and the flame that’s been sparking throughout the video, the fire’s in his palm! And the end starts with the big drums, and then Nigel just sittin’ back going “Oh, yeah!” [Stamps foot] And then the guitar solo, which is again – you can almost sing it. I can if you want me to sing the guitar solo! [Laughs] It’s so melodic! But then he burns on it! Oh my God, it’s so good. I’m an Ian fan, you can tell!
I’ve noticed this! So, any other tracks – you’ve already mentioned a couple, but any other tracks on the album that you’re especially pumped about?
I’ve done quite a few interviews; no one mentions “The Upside of Down”, which I thought the record company might have picked as a single. I think it’s really in the vein of “Yearning of Fly”, but it’s easily accessible. Maybe it’s a little more straightforward in places, but as far as the first single, people went “Oh, I get this! I like it or I don’t like it, but I get it.” They took some chances with “Yearning to Fly” ‘cause it’s got some parts in it again. So “The Upside of Down”, I think people are gonna like once they get into it.
And I would agree with you. That was probably, the second time through the album, that was the one that really grabbed me. Because it’s got that super-catchy chorus, which also contrasts with everything that’s gone before.
And I don’t know if you were gonna drop the Stranger Things reference in there deliberately, but culturally that’s kind of big, “the Upside Down” right now.
That’s funny to me to see that come up, ‘cause we’ve had the songs written for a year, maybe a year and a half now, ‘cause of the album promotional thing going on. And I’m seeing a few things that talk about that kind of thing, but at the time . . . It’s a positive song again. I tend to write things about trying to inspire yourself, to take the negative and make it a positive. If your life isn’t going the right way, there’s only one way to go, that’s up, right? And I like that kind of thing; I resonate with that, and that song is that kind of song. But you’re right! It’s comin’ across. I’m not surprised, I guess, to hear you say that, that you thought it was accessible. You and I seem to agree. And let the listeners know that I did not send a hundred dollars in the mail! [Grins and laughs]
OK! Rats, but OK.
[Laughs] Now you’re sendin’ me the bill, right?
No, no, no, no, no! [Laughs]. So you referenced before: this music absolutely sounds like it’s meant to be played live. Any plans you can reveal, or is that all still hush-hush at this point?
No, it’s not even hush-hush; it’s getting the right response to the album. Now the album’s still not out for a month. Today’s the 19th of this month; it’s the 19th of next month that it’s actually delivered, or being shipped out anyway. We have the video for “China” coming out.
The really great piece of this is I got contacted by J.C. Baez – do we have a time limit too? Do you wanna make sure that I’m not blabbing?
You’re still good; we’ve got time.
OK. So, J.C. has worked with Steve Hackett on an art show. He’s worked with all kinds of people doing graphic novels and art. And he contacted me wanting to do a graphic novel on an album. Cause he’s a fan of the music. And I don’t know the first thing about graphic novels, Batman and all that kind of stuff.
And I said, “well, I’d be interested.” And he said, “what about this new album? Does it have a story?” I said, “let me get back to you on that.” So, I looked at these songs, and I started writing this story about this guy who doesn’t see life the way he’d like to. He’s in a dark place; he’s not feeling good about everything he sees, which makes him feel bad about himself. And every song linked together, and this story, this 66-page graphic novel is almost done! It’s like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway; it’s a rock opera now and it wasn’t supposed to be!
That piece of it is also gonna push this to a wider audience. And the art is just incredible. I’ll see if I can show you a picture on the phone, cause I’m getting pages one by one. [Searches phone, then shows the hero striking a pose.] Here’s one of the pages if you can see it.
It’s that type of art; the whole thing is done like this. The story really laid out quite nicely.
So, we gather all those fans. We need to capture the Saga fans, Saxon fans, any Emerson/Berry fans that are out there that like this new band. And by the time the album comes out, we decide if we can get a tour next year.
The talk is to go to Europe a couple of months; not the US to start with. It’s tough in the US because all the clubs are kinda small, and these guys are out there playin’ [for] 5,000-10,000 people right now. They don’t mind going down to only 5,000 people to start and build from here. But they don’t wanna go to 80 people [laughs] in a small club. We’re just seeing how the response is.
That’s why I’m so glad to talk to you because those are the things that connect with people. You have a fan base that trusts you, that like what you say and they’ll check it out. And they’ll go “oh, no, no, no, this guy’s crazy” or “yeah, I’m glad I watched that.”
Thanks for that! I do have a bit of a retrospective question, but I hope that it’s general enough that it feeds into this project, what we’re talking about.
You’re obviously a lifer in music.
A lifer, a lifetime musician.
It sounded like a prison term! I’m going, “oh yeah, I’m a lifer!” [Laughs]
I can’t remember if it was [J. Geils Band singer] Peter Wolf or whoever who said, “we’re not prisoners of rock and roll, we’re volunteers.”
But looking back at 3.2, which was a project that really did bring you back into the public eye, especially in the progressive world: first of all, what satisfactions did you gain from that? And secondly, can you see the ways that it fed into being able to approach SiX by SiX with such confidence?
That’s a really good question; no one’s ever put the two together. First, I’ll say my mom was a singer in my dad’s big band – ‘40s and ‘50s. They didn’t know she was pregnant until she was eight months pregnant, when she stopped singing. So, I was on stage before I was born. Yes, a lifer is it exactly! I always said that I was sentenced to a life in music. So, it’s very close to that! I can either do music or mow lawns, and I don’t like mowin’ lawns. So, that’s the only two things I can do.
The greatest experience of my life was when I sat down for lunch in 1987 with Keith Emerson. And after a two-hour fantastic meeting, he said, “if we do this new band, and we go on tour, would you mind singing a couple of ELP songs?” And right there – can you imagine the empowering feeling that Keith Emerson was asking this guy that had no world footprint at all if I would mind, right? It was like, “wow, this guy really is talking about us being a team!” And I said, “Well, Keith, I would never expect you to leave your legacy behind. In fact, the audience would probably skewer me if we didn’t do something.” He goes, “I’m in; let’s do it!”
Now that was empowering right there at that moment. Then we had an album that was accepted by a new base, but really criticized. And I wasn’t Greg Lake; they said “oh, we want Greg back!” I was a Greg Lake fan, so that criticism didn’t muffle my excitement. It was like, “oh, I get it. But I’m here with Keith.” Keith didn’t wanna do it again because of the criticism. He couldn’t take criticism on the thing, so it was 27 years later when we’re talking. He hears this live album [3 Live Boston ‘88] and he says, “wow, we were so good; I just didn’t realize it. We were really good!” And I said, “can we do another one?” And he says, “OK.” Basically, I’m paraphrasing myself.
Three months into it, we had a lot of songs written, ready to go. And of course, the suicide pulled the carpet right out from under me. That was not only disheartening, but talk about a confidence destroyer for me. That was what I’d dreamed of, to do another album with Keith.
After a year and his son Aaron encouraging me, “you gotta finish that! There’s some really good stuff there.” I finished it, they put it out, and I was really nervous and still not confident. But then again, I was alone, right? I could make mistakes, I could do all the things I had to do without worrying about criticism.
The reviews came out really good; “thank you for doing this. We miss Keith; he was a great guy. This is good for his legacy. You’ve honored him.” Well, that was a real confidence builder. I felt so good about that! Record company said, “the response was so good. We can’t tell you what everybody sells, but we have Whitesnake, we have Journey, we have Yes. You did really good.” Wow, people liked it! That’s why I did the follow-up [Third Impression]. Again a lot of people said, “better than the previous one!”
That builds your confidence! You think, “where I’ve come from and my life experiences are making something now that connects to people’s hearts and their musical sensibility. Or their love of just that style of music.” And sometimes it takes a lifetime to get there, you know?
For the first 3 album, I wasn’t there. I had a few songs; we had “Desde La Vida”, we had “Talkin’ Bout” that kind of worked, “On My Way Home.” But in general, the record company used some of my pop-rock songs to put on that album they wanted, ‘cause they had invested money in me. And I wasn’t wise enough to know what the whole package should be. So you come 30 years later – 30 or 40? I don’t know! [Laughs] Is it a hundred years later? Feels like it!
We’ll just put a zero on the end.
There you go! Your life experience, people you’ve worked with – I mean, I toured with Ambrosia; I had my band Alliance with Gary Pihl from Boston, David Lauser from Sammy Hagar’s band. You put all that together, and you learn something if you know it or not. It’s osmosis, organically absorbed, kind of.
And it brought me, I feel to the place of SiX by SiX, where my piece of it is just what I love to do. And I don’t know if I could explain it. ‘Cause when I start writin’ the songs around the parts Ian sends – I hate to say it was easy, but they just flowed out! It took some time, but it just wasn’t a struggle. A lot of times you say, “oh, these lyrics! What am I gonna . . .”, erase it. You know what I’m saying? You struggle to get the thing across. And I didn’t struggle with this! It was really natural, and I think it is the culmination of all my years doing it.
I hope that brought it together for the question. I’m not sure!
Oh, that’s a great answer! Because, again, hearing the album – there was this soundfield to go through. And I have to say I’m a stone Keith Emerson fan from a long, long time ago. And I have to admit that I honestly dismissed the original 3 album back in the day. And I regret that now, because frankly, as you say, going back to the live albums, going back to the original, it’s like “you know, those guys had something.” It just wasn’t a great time for it, market-wise and fanbase-wise.
Yeah. And we did it so fast! I mean, we didn’t develop as a band, but after the tour we all knew what we needed to do. It was just that Keith couldn’t take the criticism. Which is OK, you know?
But when I hear SiX by SiX and when I put it together with the 3.2 albums and the live CD/DVD [Robert Berry’s 3.2 Alive at Progstock], which is excellent. I just actually tossed that into one of my capsule review articles that came out and said, “Yeah! This is a guy stepping into the spotlight that he deserves, so you need to check this out.”
I appreciate that! That is my history right there. And that’s why what I’m saying about SiX by SiX. You listen to that and see where it’s come, and you can see how I’ve learned something. I’m not saying I’m the greatest in the world, but I had to have learned something. I’m not smart, but I’m not dumb! [Laughs]
Absolutely! And no matter who is around you, it sounds like you. Not in an egotistical way, but in this very unique, expressive “nobody else is doing exactly this” way. And that’s the thing I find very appealing about it, because it’s true of all three of you in that band. Again, it’s not a festival of egos, but it’s individuals really working together, and the commonality that comes out of it is really striking.
That’s cool. You couldn’t be making me happier right now about what we’ve presented and how it’s being received. Again, it worries me: all the comments on the video, everything is all positive! I can explain it better than that. I feel like people want us to succeed. There’s no negativity! “Wow! Gee! Wow! Ian’s at his best! Nigel, he’s hitting.” People want us to succeed because there’s so much music goin’ on and evidently we have a bit of an original something happenin’ here. I can’t be the judge of that, but that’s what I’m feeling from people.
Well, I think that feedback reflects my response to the album, so I’ll just add one more voice to the chorus.
Yeah. Very good.
Now, is there anything else you’d like to share with the folks who go to Progarchy, who read the articles, who listen to interviews like these?
We’re at an interesting time, because a lot of our future, the tour, is being judged by YouTube views and reviews. By the time the album comes out, it needs to be elevated by the fanbase. You have to remember, we’re seven weeks, eight weeks maybe, into being unheard of completely! Cause we kept it a secret; we wanted to do it that way; we don’t want to leak things out. We wanted to go, “hey! Guess what! Here we are!” June 6th the first video came out. So, we were a secret to the whole world at that point.
And to build it and get people like you interested enough to talk to us, that had to happen in the last seven, eight weeks. So we need to build it a little quicker and bigger by the time the album’s out to get that tour locked in, and also to try to get that graphic novel out there. It’s so incredibly done; the artist, J. C. Baez is amazing! He keeps sending me page after page: “My God! Look at that.” It’s not Batman; it’s a story kind of thing. But it’s the real deal, you know? It’s like a Spider-Man movie. I go, “Jeez! Look at this.”
And all that, hopefully, will make this band palatable to a wider audience. Cause just the progressive audience isn’t the audience we’re shooting for. We’re shooting for an audience like Rush, let’s say. Where people just say, “this is damn good music. It’s artistic; we like what the lyrics say.” I went to a Rush show, and it was half women there! And I thought, “what the hell? I thought they were a progressive band!” [Laughs]
I mean, I toured with a progressive band. Keith and Carl and I – and I can say this to you – bald head and glasses as far as you can see, right? They were all guys, older guys! And I’m at a Rush show going, “I’m missing something, somewhere. What am I doing wrong?” Cause these guys aren’t straight rock; they’ve got progressive leanings pretty heavy. So that’s the kind of audience; we want a wide audience of all kinds of people that just like good music.
And the prog people are the most discerning, right? They’re the ones that really – like you, you pick up all the nuances. I’m hearing when you’re talking about the album that you get it; you hear the things. A lot of people don’t hear all the stuff; it has to be palatable to them too, right? Those things just kind of go by, but the song itself, they hang on to it, they sing a chorus or something.
Yeah, more of a thing they can marinate in, rather than something that hits the egghead sensibility.
And we don’t want anybody to say the first time, “oh, this is a hit!” That’s not the audience we’re looking for. We’re looking for them to say, “oh, this is interesting. I think this is pretty good; I gotta listen to this a few times.”
You can answer this for me; I feel that the album as a whole is even better than the individual songs. ‘Cause it does take you on a journey. It’s got the highs, the lows; got the heaviness, got the light. Like “Live Forever”; the middle goes way down. I’m waiting to see when it comes out if people feel the same.
I’d agree that the sum is greater than its parts. But the parts so far are pretty doggone good as well.
That’s really cool.
So, it’s been such a pleasure talking with you; I appreciate the opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of SiX By SiX when it comes out; and we’ll do our best to spread the word via the website. And I wish you the best with it!
Thank you! I appreciate your energy and your smiling and asking good questions. You can tell I’m excited about it. That’s kind of the key to making things happen; that you feel prolific. A lot of the older bands aren’t prolific; they’re not putting things out. Goes with doing interviews, too. You have to be prolific; you have to have those good questions and a smile on your face, or [slumps and makes an exhausted face, then smiles].
Best wishes and thank you so much!
SiX By SiX is available for preorder on LP and CD from InsideOut Music and Burning Shed. J. C. Baez’s graphic novel based on the album, The Journey Internal, can also be pre-ordered from Burning Shed and Robert Berry’s online store. The 2 CD/DVD set 3.2 Alive at Progstock is available from Berry’s webshop right now.
— Rick Krueger