Progrock.com Radio presenters Richard Reyes (ProgPhonic) and Chuck Simons (Progrock for Beginners) have teamed up to present the best progressive rock of 2022. Multiple categories such as Best Albums of the Year, Best Debut Albums, Best Epics, Best Veteran Albums, and more have been announced through the 24 hour live streaming radio channel Progrock.com.
Along with the nomination announcements, Reyes and Simons, aired songs selected from each band or artist. Several hours of music and a list of nominees for each category can now be downloaded/ streamed at the links listed below.
Ryo Okumoto releases his 5th solo album today, The Myth of the Mostrophus. I had the opportunity to meet Ryo over at his studio and have a little chat with him about the album, his new band ProgJect, the future of Spock’s Beard, and how he got his start as a professional musician.
Hey Ryo! It’s great to see you today! Thanks for having me over. Congratulations on your new album. It’s really fantastic!
How’s this one different than your other solo albums?
This time I really wanted to focus on prog! Hard-core crazy MY kind of prog! You know people know me as a crazy motherf*cker. I had a couple of hundred songs. So I sent some to Michael Whiteman, about 30 songs. I needed someone to write the lyrics, so that’s the main thing he did. He puts the lyrics on it, and changed the melody here and there. He’s a great singer, plays bass, guitar, keyboard. But mainly I would send the songs to him and he would put the lyrics on the top.
Were any of the songs supposed to be Spock’s Beard material?
Yeah, they were. Every time we make a record, we listen to all the material and pick and chose which ones to record. And these didn’t survive. But Michael is a big fan of Spock’s Beard so he knows how to treat the material. There are a lot of chorus and background vocals.
I googled Mostrophus and all that came up was page after page of Ryo Okumoto! (laughs)
Yep, it’s made up! Michael’s daughter came up with it when she was 5 years old.
Who would win in a fight, Mostrophus or Godzilla?
Well, we’ll see! When I needed the cover, I sent Thomas Ewarhard a few tracks. He’s the art guy at Inside Out and does all the Spock’s Beard covers. The most catchy one was “Godzilla vs Ghidarah” from my last album so he first drew Godzilla- But Godzilla has only 3 claws. Mostrophus has 5 claws.
Ah, so Mostrophus might be able to kick Godzilla’s ass with those 2 extra claws!
So, in the beginning, what drew you to playing keyboards, and how did you get started playing professionally?
Short one? Long one? Short one?
It’s up to you… (laughs)
It’s a long one. Well, the quick one is I had the opportunity to play with this group for the Courage Festival, I was 13. Then I became professional when I was moved to Tokyo when I was 15 and started playing a night club. And that was it! 45 years later, I’m still doing it!
You’ve performed and recorded with so many musicians like Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Asia featuring John Payne. Is there a musician you haven’t got a chance to work with, but would like to?
Oh yeah, there are so many. Sting! I want to work with Sting so bad. Pat Metheny- that would be really cool, that would be my dream.
What’s it been like to be in your new band ProgJect? I heard you had an amazing Cruise to the Edge pre-show.
It’s fun, we do all covers, but the dynamic is different than your normal tribute or cover band. We put our own arrangements into it, that was the concept from the beginning. So it’s in a different category than a cover or tribute band. It’s so odd that the band allowed me to bring anything I want, play anything I want, and as many as I want. Usually the bands asks “can you cut it down to two keyboards” But now I get to play six keyboards- that’s fun! The CTTE pre-show was great. People know us as individuals but not as the band name, so on the tour, sometimes the crowd was just a few, but at the end we had 1200 people I think. So crazy!
Where does your passion for the prog-rock genre come from?
From everywhere! It’s totally unlimited! I just like to be different and twist a lot. I like twisting a lot in a hard way, distorted way, a long way. I love that prog allows that. Maybe I’ll swing here. I can do Latin. It can be jazzy. Anything goes!
This is your first solo album since 2002’s “Coming Through”. I’m sure you have changed a lot as a person and a keyboardist. What new qualities are in this Ryo and how do those qualities appear in your new album?
The one good thing, different thing is… I’ve been practicing. I have not been practicing this much for a while. And especially when I joined ProgJect, I have to play so much. I went from practicing a couple hours to 5-6 hours a day. It was perfect timing because then at the same time as ProgJect, I started making this album. So my chops were getting better and better. Now I have more focus and control. I know how I want to present myself as a keyboard player so that people will recognize it.
Was there someone that you were surprised to be working with on this album?
Mike Keneally… oh my God. I heard him play a couple times a long time ago, but it’s way different when you play together. Woah, what did he do, his solos are like… woah!! There are two type of musicians, one will give you a track and says it has to be this- you have to play as is , because I don’t want you to screw up my sound. But I send the track and tell him to do anything you want. And he just sends me back all the tracks and it’s like… woah!!!! He so expressive. And Mark Bonilla… same thing… I send him a track, and he sends it back… Oh my God! These guys don’t care what I play, they just take over! haha Keneally, Mark, Morse. Oh my God. They put these tracks in another dimension. Oh and Doug Wimbish, bass player from Living Colour! What the f***! Jonathan suggested him, I needed to find an R&B bass player for “Chrysalis”. He played a lot of notes, and we kept everything he did. So good!
What was your favorite experience in recording this album?
It was great having a team. Everyone was so helpful, and asking me “What do you need? What do you need?” Everyone worked so hard on this. The record company too. Inside Out. I can’t believe my album is coming out on Sony Records in Japan. It’s sort of unheard of for Japanese artists to come out on Sony. I am so happy how it turned out, but I don’t know what to expect, how people are going to react.
I’m sure you’re getting this question a lot, but are there plans for Spock’s Beard to put up a new album or play live soon?
Well, I don’t know about an album. I still have a lot of my own songs I’d like to record. We were supposed to play HRH Prog in the UK this year, but that was postponed until Nov 2023. We’re booking around five UK shows around that time, then maybe 2-3 weeks in New York. Even if we don’t make any albums, there’s no reason we can’t still play. We don’t owe any money to anyone, so we keep it as is, we play when we like. And when they call us on a big festival or tour- we do it!
Besides releasing this album, what have been your top three highlights of 2022?
The ProgJect tour, my son Sonny, and my other son, Sage. I got to be with him on tour, he was my keyboard tech, and there was only else the sound guy. So when Mike Keneally needed help, Sage also became his guitar tech.
What advise do you have for young artists pursuing music? Or for someone wanting to play in a prog-band?
Listen to my album! (laughs) You gotta be able to play, not just fucking around on your computer. get serious and really exercise your skill.
What can you tell us about your future plans?
Well, I have a 3 album deal with Inside Out, so I’m going to start on the next one. I won’t take 20 years this time to come up with another one! (laughs). Hoping to do some shows. I’ve been talking to Michael (Whiteman) to do some shows in the UK… maybe just going over there to join his band and do the whole album. It all depends on how I do with the album sales!
Well, it really is a wonderful album, and I hope everyone gets it! Thank you so much for your time and congratulations again!
As you most likely know by now, there’s a new holiday celebrated by musicians and music listeners all over the world. It’s called Bandcamp Friday, where the online music platform drops their commission and gives all the profit to their artists. I put together some recommendations, new and old, including some stuff you may have missed. Click on the cover art to take you to each album page.
Dave Kerzer has a pre-order up right now for his third solo project. If you’re aware of Mr. Kerzer and his close-knit community of prog-artists, you’ll know this is a highly anticipated release. For the first time Kerzner has combined collaboration with his bandmates from four different bands/projects: In Continuum, Sound of Contact, Mantra Vega and Arc of Life! Featuring an all All Star cast of Prog musicians including Fernando Perdomo, Durga McBroom, Nick D’Virgilio, Marco Minnemann, Randy McStine, Matt Dorsey, Billy Sherwood, Jon Davison, Alex Cromarty, Stuart Fletcher, Ruti Celli, Joe Deninzon and more! He has 5 different editions of this CD including a 4-disc set which includes outtakes and new recordings of Sound of Contact songs with a special autographed art-print. When you pre-order the special editions you can also get your name in the liner notes as a thank you.
Schooltree’s Heterotopia CD is now out of print, but the digital album is well worth the purchase. One of the best albums from 2017 and possibly the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway of the new generation. If you missed this one, I don’t feel sorry for you anymore, because now you know this exists! Their official debut album Rise is also a fantastic album to add to your digital collection.
A lot of wonderful music was released in 2021, so you may have missed this one! Really cool grounded prog-rock that actually rocks. Great riffs and nice gritty hard rock guitars are here, while the band is fronted beautifully by Melissa Jane Dichiera (singer of L.A.’s Lady Zep). Check it out!
This collaboration between The Amorphous Androgynous and Peter Hammill is worth getting into, and I’m still getting into it. If I ever get around to writing my favorite albums from 2021, this will be included. Man, this takes you all over the place, and I love it. The cool cover definitely represents the music well, although you can’t really describe it- I would just experience it for yourself.
One from 2020 that I still can’t get enough of is Magenta’s Masters of Illusion. It has many breathtaking moments and the performances are top notch. And of course Christina Booth’s voice is like butter. It may be one of my favorite albums from Magenta, although I haven’t been through there entire immense discography.
Anything from Phideaux is worth listening to (and purchasing!) including his most recent Infernal. Some people swear by Doomsday Afternoon or The Great Leap, but my favorite of his is the dark and mysterious Snowtorch. Great journey of an album, has a classic feel with a modern edge. It looks like there are no CDs here (I have mine), but both the LP edition and digital are available. I’m not sure, but I think most of his discography is also here.
The Endless Collection, from Izz was just released last month. Well, 3 songs from it, anyway. While the songs are at a very un-proggy average of 3 minutes in length, supposedly they will be adding songs to it throughout eternity. So in that regard, it’s going to be longer than any album in existence! Any of the Izz albums are fantastic as well, and while they’re not all on Bandcamp, any of the ones that are, are worth checking out.
While we’re on the subject, one of the ladies of Izz, Laura Meade, released her solo album The Most Dangerous Woman last year, and is joined by most of the other Izz members as well. While it’s short by today’s standards, the album is wonderfully crafted and the performances are great. It’s available on CD, vinyl, and digital.
So, my friends- RUN, don’t walk, to Bandcamp right now and check some of this stuff out! I know the artists will appreciate it! Enjoy and have a wonderful Bandcamp Friday!
The pandemic sure has a way of changing things around and cutting deep into our threshold for patience. Like everything else in 2020, the Rites of Spring Festival and Cruise to the Edge were cancelled. Then RoSfest announced that it was going bye-bye forever. CTTE later announced that the post-pandemic dates for the event would be April 25-30, 2022 aboard the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas. Then early this year RoSfest announced that they were coming back with a new group of organizers and the 17th rendition of the festival would happen May 6-8, 2022.
But wait!!! Early this month, CTTE caused a prog-quake by announcing a move to a different ship, different dates, and different destinations, due to the original ship moving its new home to the Southern California coast. The new locale for the cruise will be Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas and sail from Port Canaveral (Orlando), making excursions to CocoCay and the private isle of Labadee, all taking place May 2-May 7, 2022
Cruise to the Edge’s announcement caused a social media stir with RoSfest fans and organizers, as many prog-fans look forward to both, and of course many didn’t want to chose one over the other. After working things out with the Sarasota Opera House, RoSfest has now announced their new dates- April 15-17, 2022 (Easter Weekend). Check out their new website: http://rosfest.org/
As of today, both events have not announced their entire 2022 line-ups, but we’ll probably see some bands that were scheduled for the cancelled 2020 shows as well as other acts that did not appear in the original line-ups including some amazing headliners!
No matter how you break it down, it looks like 2022 will be the year to prog!
Now that we are a full month into 2021, I was able to spend sometime reflecting on the wonderful music that was released in 2020. There is a lot of variety here and therefore impossible for me to rank them, so these albums are in no particular order. I narrowed it down to my favorite ten 2020 albums, plus best EP, best pop album, best contemporary album, and several runner-ups.
BEST PROG-ROCK ALBUMS OF 2020:
Abel Ganz- The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity Really beautiful songwriting all around here. The whole album took me on a journey- which is a really important for me when it come to rating an album.
Haken- Virus The 17-minute “Messiah Complex” (split up over five tracks) is worth the price of admission alone! In my opinion, every Haken album since The Mountain has been one of the best of the year. A conceptual sequel to their previous album Vector, Virus is the stronger of the two so this makes my Top 10 without question.
Kansas- The Absence of Presence Their impressive comeback album from 2016, The Prelude Implicit, was in my top 10 from 2016. Although I can’t figure out which one I like better, this one is definitely made my list for 2020’s Top Ten. Had I put my picks in order, I would probably put this as my favorite of the year (For sure in the top 3), just because this album is the strongest contender of my most enjoyed prog sub-genre (symphonic). And an extra bonus, I enjoyed the addition of keyboardist Tom Brislin, who I’ve been a fan of since seeing him perform with Yes and then discovering his band Spiraling.
Kyros- Celexa Dreams A wonderful album full of great energy, wonderful production, and excellent songwriting. A nice mix of mainstream potential with prog-rock. As a keyboardist myself, I admire much of the keyboard sounds they use and there are a lot of 80’s sounding beats as well as music that would fit quite well as soundtracks to Sega Genesis games. “Rumour” and “Sentry” are super catchy tunes, but my favorite is the 14 minute “In Vantablack”.
Magenta- Masters of Illusion This is one of my favorite releases from Magenta so far. Love the synths, soaring melodies, and outstanding performances from the entire band especially lead vocalist Christina Booth. Her powerful, yet easy on the ears tone, is perfect for the music that accompanies her. The cinematic arrangements are masterfully mixed and produced. This is great old-school prog reminiscent of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and Pink Floyd.
Neal Morse- Sola Gratia We always know that we’re going to get a quality album from Mr. Morse, pretty much no matter what he comes out with, and this is no exception. You get all the usual proggy Morse-isms, plus a few unexpected and refreshing sounds, but this one doesn’t change the game. Mike Portnoy, as always, kills it on the drums, and Randy George’s bass performance is excellent. The quality of the mix is excellent and has a wide scope of dynamics, and since it is a Rich Mouser mix, it sounds fantastic using a nice pair of headphones. Neal exudes so much passion into his vocal performance, but the choirs and background vocals are sort of dry and lacking energy comparatively.
Once and Future Band- Deleted Scenes Even though the title sounds like this would be a B-side collection, it definitely doesn’t sound like that at all. This one is so extremely enjoyable. Sounds like an English band from the 70’s, but I discovered they are from San Fransisco. It’s Beatles meets Burt Bacharach, meets jazz fusion with old school production and vibes from the Steely Dan universe, and really cool harmony vocals straight out of The Who and Beach Boys. This is their 2nd full length album, the first being their self-titled album in 2017.
Pattern-Seeking Animals- Prehensile Tales Wonderful sophomore effort from Ted Leonard, Dave Meros, John Boegehold and Jimmy Keegan. While their debut album was a strong one, they have definitely outdone themselves with this release. This is a super fun listen that takes many directions. My favorite track is “Here in my Autumn” and longest track “Lifeboat”.
Pure Reason Revolution- Eupnea This one is a very enjoyable listen. Supposedly this is their first album in 10 years- well worth the wait- Well, I just found out about them so I didn’t wait much, but their fans seem very happy. Both the dark and melodic pop-like melodies and edgy riffs reminded me of Porcupine Tree. I’m not familiar with PPR’s other two albums, but this one was definitely a surprise. I can’t really pick a favorite track- it’s pretty wonderful from beginning to the end.
Wobbler- Dwellers of the Deep Excellent retro prog! A lot of early Yes influences complete with vocal harmonies we don’t hear very often. Not just a carbon copy of their influences, the tracks are masterfully done. This was my first time discovering this group, and I’m now stoked to check out their back catalogue.
BEST PROG EP:
Thrailkill- Detach Very impressive heavy instrumental prog-metal in the wheelhouse of Haken, with many influences of jazz and fusion as well. The are six tracks over the period of twenty minutes and twenty seconds, but they all flow into each other as one piece… yes, that’s right- it runs 20:20 and came out in 2020. I’m guessing this was done on purpose, but doesn’t matter- it’s really good- well constructed and masterfully performed. It boasts a really unique album cover too!
BEST NON-PROG CONTEMPORARY ALBUM:
Chris Opperman- Chamber Music from Hell Maybe it’s not exactly prog-ROCK, but it certainly is still progressive. Chamber Music from Hell is a contemporary classical concept album about a post-human civilization and the music that follows. The music is mostly instrumental, but together with the 32-page booklet- it tells the entire story and completes the experience. There are some Frank Zappa influences in the music and in concept. Zappa musician Mike Keneally and drummer Marco Minnemann are among the guest performers. Prog artist Dave Kerzner is also credited as engineering some tracks.
An excerpt from the liner notes, which gives you a little more insight into what this is about:
Ever since the first major label signed an algorithm to a twenty-album deal with the goal of making the analog people(s) more productive in the workplace, music has remained a large part of AI culture. While the sports community initially heavily resisted the intrusion of advanced technology, the music community embraced it. Fans mostly just wanted relatable lyrics, familiar harmonies, and cool beats from incredibly good-looking artists with compelling back stories. Eventually, improvements in AI made it possible to successfully and consistently provide these songs through algorithms and procedurally enerated names, images, and backstories. Once all of the biggest venues were equipped with holographic technology, there was no longer any need to work with the analog people(s). A large component of pop music was always the spectacle, and the holograms could consistently deliver the kinds of shows that the analog people(s) could never even dream of. After taking over the music industry, it was simple to expand into the film and television markets. They eventually even began to be accepted in sports thanks to proliferation of broadcasts about how unsafe sports were for the analog people(s). Plus, slam dunks from the opposite side of the court are pretty cool. Now that the analog people(s) are gone, the target market of these products has shifted to the syn-cons themselves. They prefer complexpan-chromatic music with nearly incomprehensible beats and the excessive use of arpeggiators. There are still plenty of paypoor clips to be made in the entertainment industry of 2XXX, after all!
BEST POP ALBUM:
Whitney Tai- Apogee I discovered Whitney Tai this year and was immediately captivated with the songwriting. The music, lyrics, and production are on an exceptional level which all wanna-be-pop artists should inspire to. There is obviously a lot of passion here and much of the lyrical content has a haunting poetic vibe, and compliments the mood of the music itself.
BEST RE-RELEASE OF 2020:
Djam Karet- Burning The Hard City/ Suspension & Dispslacement (Special Edition)
This 3-CD reissue showcases their 1991 releases Burning The Hard City and Suspension & Displacement and comes with a bonus disc of archive material from that same era. Although the music is 30 years old , the new master sounds incredibly fresh. Great packaging too, prog collectors will definitely love this one. The physical release is limited to only 450 copies.
BEST ALBUM RUNNER-UPS:
Airbag- A Day at the Beach This is my first time listening to Airbag. Really enjoyed the experience from beginning to the end. This one is an album that feels like a complete piece of work. Cool electronica mixed with prog and concise songwriting. This one came super close to making my Top 10.
Amuzeum- New Beginnings Soon after the sad news of hearing L.A. band Heliopolis broke up, we received the exciting news that 4 of the 5 members would form an entirely new band. While not as strong as Heliopolis’ only studio album City of the Sun, this one is a strong contender, almost making it to my top 10. Like Heliopolis’ release, this one has wonderful 70’s era prog feels along with positive vibes.
Days Between Stations- Giants If I made a top 10 list in 2007, DBS’s debut album would have made the list. Their new album, sounds like a very different band, most likely due to to Yes’ own Billy Sherwood’s influential producing and lead vocals. Colin Moulding, who appeared on their previous album In Extemis, also sings lead on a track. These songs were obviously written specifically for these singers, as we get a taste of modern Yes/ Billy Sherwood solo albums, and XTC consecutively.
Esthesis- The Awakening Mostly mellow in nature and nothing too obtrusive if you’re doing other work which requires some brain energy. The mix and production is very warm and organic. Don’t let the fact that it didn’t make my top ten fool you. This is one you definitely should check out.
Fernando Perdomo- Out to Sea 3 Not as solid as Fernando’s first Out to Sea, but compliments Out to Sea 2 really well, and is a great listen if you want to check out some vintage sounding instrumental prog-rock.
Flower Kings- Islands If you’re a fan of The Flower Kings, you’re going to love this 21-track, 90 minute album. Most of the tracks are great, but the main reason for me not putting it into the Top Ten list is that the album feels more like a bunch of really cool tracks and instead of a cohesive album. It’s well performed and mixed though, and there’s a lot to love here.
Lunatic Soul- Through Shaded Woods Mariuz Duda from Riverside preforms all vocals and instruments. It’s not a very long album, but you get six carefully crafted tracks.
There you have it, folks! Make sure to check it all out! And support all these great artists, because in case you hadn’t heard, 2020 was a rough one! (Bandcamp Friday is just a few days away!)
Unfortunately, 2020 has more terrible news for us before the end of the year. America’s longest running prog-rock festival, RoSfest, has closed its doors. Over the last 16 years, RoSfest has included prog headliners from all over the world, such as Spock’s Beard, Glass Hammer, Brand X, PFM, The Flower Kings, Moon Safari, as well as wonderful less well-known bands and up-and-comers like Traverser, Perfect Beings, District 97, Kyros, and The Aaron Clift Experiment (to name a few). The festival moved to the 1000-seat Sarasota Opera House in Florida in 2019 from its original Gettysburg PA location and was forced to cancel its 2nd year at the opera house due to Covid-19 lockdowns. The 2020 line-up was supposed to include Big Big Train’s first show in the States, and CAST and Thank You Scientist as the other two headliners. Other acts on board were Dilemma, Pattern Seeking Animals, United Progressive Fraternity, The Tea Club, Lobate Scarp, Moon Letters, and Arc Iris.
George Roldan, organizer of RoSfest, put out a statement yesterday:
The Rites of Spring Festival says “Goodbye, for now”. RoSfest has been a treasure in the progressive rock world for the last 17 years and it has been my privilege to produce and host one of the best progressive rock music festivals in the world, but RoSfest will officially end its 16-year run in 2020. Dedicated to delivering the highest level of talent, production, and timing is central to what RoSfest represented; an outlet for a niche genre called Progressive Rock that provided a venue for new up and coming artists from around the globe. Running a music festival can be breathtakingly rewarding, but also quite expensive due to production, insurance, venue rental, hotel rental, staff accommodations, band expenses, vehicle rentals, etc. Additionally, the US government has made it harder and harder to acquire permits for working artists from around the world to perform in the US. Increasing artist permit requirements and fees makes it almost impossible for young bands to travel abroad. RoSfest has been a labor of love but has been struggling financially for years and can’t survive another “Covid” crisis. Unfortunately, we are not able to keep operating the festival at a loss. On a personal note, I feel so lucky to have been part of this organization. To work with such an incredible staff and dedicated volunteers and to interact with the best Progressive audiophiles in the world. RoSfest has been magical and could not have existed without YOU…. the best and most supportive audience anyone could hope for. Without such an incredible community, RoSfest would not have been possible. I am so thankful for all of your support and dedication throughout our festival years.RoSfest will continue its core mission to support the art of Progressive Rock and may surprise you (at some point) with a special concert in the future. But for now, with tearful heartfelt thanks from all of us at RoSfest, it’s been an honor to interact with such accomplished and inspiring musicians and music lovers in the progressive rock community. In the words of RoSfest’s production manager, Kevin Madrishin, “We did it right!”– George Roldan
Hopefully the emphasis is on “for now”, and perhaps within a few years we will see a resurgence of RoSfest either in its glorious festival form or maybe in the form of an occasional one-night special event.
Friday Night Progressive, a weekly progressive music radio show, has announced the nominees for the Indeprog Awards (IPA).Categories are for Fusion, Instrumental, Vocal, Composition, Multi Instrumentalist, and Original albums. This will be the 7th consecutive year of the IPA.
The IPA event will be split into around 10 shows starting July 24th with the Fusion Category. Tune into fridaynightprogressive.com at 9pm EST to listen, and fridaynightprogressive/home-2/chat to chat with fellow prog fans and artists during the show. Winners are chosen on the final IPA show (date to be announced), and are voted on by a group of 7 secret judges. The nominations, selected by FNP hosts, Stephen Speelman and Ronald Marquiss, are as follows:
Freyja Garbett – Album: Maya
Lenny Rocillo – Album Vanilla Sou Masters
Kenner – Album: 8 Ball City
Spyral Jones – Album: Shock Value
Bob Holz – Album: Silverthorne
Colmorto – Album: Colmorto Vol 1
Identikit – Album: Mind’s Eye Meteorology
Three Wise Monkeys Album: Isolation
Shob – Album: Solide
Alessandro Bertoni Album: Monarkeys
Shob – Album: Solide
a2RK – Album: Morlich
In Continuum – Album: Annihilation
Anders Buaas – Album: The Witches of Finnmark Vol 3
Atlas Cube – Album: The Rift
Time Shift Accident – Album: Chronosthesia
Djam Karet – Album: A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof
The Inner Road – Album: The Majestic Garden
Monolith Orchestra – Album: 21st Century Apocalypse
Tomasz Piwecki – Album: Dark Matter
Andrew Roussack – Album Storm Warning
Biondi Noya – Album: Virgos Night
The Emerald Dawn – Album: Nocturne
Blank Manuskript – Album: Krasna Hora
Diatom – Album: diatom
Metronhomme – Album: Metronhomme 4
Pulsonica – Album: Entre Mundos
Light -Album: Light
Infringement -Album: Alienism
Great Wide Nothing -Album: The View From Olympus
Mangeur de Reves -Album:Mangeur de Reves
Vincent Carr’s Sumic -Album: New Paeans
Vox Nostra -Album: Conjugaison
Onioroshi -Album: Beyond These Mountains
Lobate Scarp -Album: Spirals and Portals
Marco Ragni -Album:Oceans of Thought
Moon Letters -Album:Until They Feel the Sun
Numen -Album: Cyclomythia
Mike Kershaw -Album: Good Intentions
Red Bazar -Album: Things as They Appear
Steve Bonino Project -Album: Stargazer II
Faint Signal -Album: Formula
Coma Rossi -Album: Coma Rossi
Euphoria Station -Album: The Reverie Suite
Grice -Album: One Thousand Birds
Lazleitt -Album: Perpetually Under Idle Grounds
Herd of Instinct -Album:Incantation
Oval Planet-Album: Trench Poems
The Bob Lazar Story -Album: Vanquisher
Cloud Over Jupiter -Album: Short Stories about Tall Aliens
Town Portal -Album: Of Violence
Bruno Karnel -Album: Master Amra 1809
Trampoline – Album: Happy Crimes
Richard Wileman -Album: Caal of a Thousand Souls
Drifting Sun -Album: Planet Junkie
Habelard2 -Album: Sgnautz
Oak -Album: Giordano Bruno
Bowo C -Album: Endeskrie
The Biology of Plants -Album: Volume 2
Izz -Album: Don’t Panic
United Progressive Fraternity -Album: Loss
The Far Meadow -Album: Foreign Land
Kinetic Element -Album: The Face of Life
Emmett Elvin -Album: The End of Music
Michele Conta -Album: Endless Nights
Soniq Theater -Album: Brandenburg
Odd Logic -Album: Last Watch of the Nightingale
Timm Biery -Album: New Shoes
ONY -Album: Salamander
Penna -Album: Soul Magnet
Bonzo Fimbres -Album: Combative Life
Earthkind -Album: Windswept
Custard Flux -Album: Echo
Tom Kelly -Album: Burnt Peas/The Tolling of St John’s Bells
According to Friday Night Progressive’s Facebook Page:
The IPA is a testament of good will and a gesture in recognition of accomplishment above and beyond the realm of excellence. It is perceived as a magical award.
The nominees are selected from the prior year’s album release date.
The judges then decide on a formula for which works and is fair. This formula helps them to decide the advancement of artists / bands to the next tier selection.
Every artist that is played on FNP is recognized as special or outstanding and contributes to a genre which is well respected. The IPA was designed to spice things up for the progressive community throughout the world. If you were played on FNP and nominated, that alone should be enough to win. It is important to bring these artists out to the forefront and the IPA certainly accomplishes that goal.
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.
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.
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?
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.
DAVEHaha…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.
TED-Just by having said that, what would you guess?
Probably something in the late 80’s, early 90’s? Roll the Bones?
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.
DAVE-I like cock prepared anyway. Anyway you prepare a nice cock, I’m there.
Wrapped in Bacon?
DAVE-Wrapped in bacon for sure!
TED-Everything is good wrapped in bacon!
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!
“In our hour of need, we look to Canada for guidance. Canada has brought the world so many wonderful things, for example Martin Short, ice hockey, and Rush. Neil, Alex and Geddy have given us so much over the years, and we thought it was a good time to take a look at their rich discography and count down the greatest albums of their storied career. Resident Prog Boy Adam Sears and the greatest Rush fan on the planet Etan G take over the show for an episode and help us get to the bottom of what makes Rush the band that deserves all of the accolades and fandom they get.” – All Time Top Ten