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
The entire lineup has been announced for RoSfest 2020. The festival takes place at the Sarasota Opera House in Sarasota, Florida May 8-10. Big Big Train, CAST, and Thank You Scientist are headlining. This marks Big Big Train’s first show on U.S. soil. Other acts on board are Dilemma, Pattern Seeking Animals, United Progressive Fraternity, The Tea Club, Lobate Scarp, Moon Letters, and Arc Iris.
Platinum Seat Tickets go on sale today at Noon (EST)
(Gold Seat Tickets go on sale October 18th, 2019, and Regular Seat Tickets go on sale November 22nd, 2019. After that, they will sell day-only tickets based on availability. More info at rosfest.com)
The Platinum Seat ticket gives you admittance to three days of the festival with exclusive access and amenities and the best seats in the theater! Included are limited preproduction sound checks and exclusive meet and greet with the bands, plus VIP Lanyards and a RoSfest t-shirt.
Limited Platinum select premium seats available for $505.00 for the three-day pass.
For credit card purchases, add an additional 2.75% to the total purchase. Total $518.89
How to order tickets:
Step 1. Call George at 484.432.7357 to select your seats.
Step 2. Pay by credit card or by check.
The credit card prompt will be available through Square on the website.
Pattern-Seeking Animals is a new project with 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). Their self-titled debut album is now available in CD, vinyl, and digital formats.I had the pleasure to speak with both Jimmy and John not only about their new music, but about the state of music today. Everything is covered here- from K-Pop to Prog, Imagine Dragons to The Beatles, and from Thai food to spaghetti.
Here’s an audio snippet of John and Jimmy discussing new vs. old technology in music-
How did Pattern-Seeking Animals come to be?
JOHN- It essentially started off as a recording project. I had a couple songs I’ve been working on.Originally I had programmed drums and I thought it would be cool to go into the studio and have Jimmy put down some drum tracks, just for something, because I get sick of programming drums sometimes. In the time between I scheduled the session and the session about 6 weeks later, I came up with a few more tunes. So I asked Jimmy to see if he wanted to work on a whole project and he was into it. I talked to Dave and Ted about it, and then it just snowballed pretty quickly into an actual group.
Did most of the songs come into the studio already written, or was a lot of the album created in the studio?
JOHN- The only thing we recorded in the studio were the drums, everyone else contributed from their home studios. Some of the material existed before all this- some were several years old that didn’t make it on a Spock’s record, a couple I didn’t submit to them. The rest were written for the album. Essentially they’re all new. At any given time I have a folder with, I don’t know, 60, 70, 80 different ideas- like 30 second of me strumming a guitar and bleating out a melody. “Oh maybe I’ll use that someday.” So when I start to write for a project, I’ll go back into the folder and listen to it- most of the time, I’m like “Oh this is crap, I don’t want to use this.”But every once and while, I’ll think “Oh this is kind cool! Maybe I’ll build a song around that.”I think the only one made from entirely from scratch was “Orphans of the Universe”.
So there were some tracks that were supposed to be part of a Spock’s Beard album?
JOHN-More or less some bits. For an example, “These are My Things”-There was a version of it a couple years ago that we tried in the studio and everyone was feeling it differently. So I said screw it and completely rewrote it.The only original thing that exists in the current version are the lyrics and I think the melody in the verse. The chorus, the bridge, and everything else is totally different.“No One Ever Died and Made me King” was a song Dave I wrote years ago and we tried to get it on a Spock’s record, but the guys didn’t want to do it for whatever reason. Again the melody and lyrics are the same, but a lot of the instrumentals are different on that one.I didn’t want to have it exactly the way it would have been as a Spock Beard song because obviously there are different players with a different approach.
JIMMY- I think subliminally part of the reason I’m even involved with this project is that every time John would submit 5 tunes to Spock’s thing, there would be 2 songs that were dripping with Spock’s. And there would always be 1 or 2songs that would be quirky or left of center and those were the ones I would embrace. For whatever reason it was too removed from anything Spock’s had done. My attitude is that’s the direction we should be going, removing ourselves from wherever we have been or where they had been.
JOHN-Yeah, there always seemed to be a split within the group, and since I wasn’t in the group, I had no say as far as the direction and what kind of material should be done. And whether it’s Spock’s or anything else, I’m always in the camp of moving forward, try different things, different influences, don’t get too comfortable in your sound, because I just know as a listener, 2 or 3 albums of an artist or band doing essentially the same thing, it gets really tedious for me.
When I listened to your album, I was surprised at how it really wasn’t too Spock’s Beardy, if I may use that as an adjective. It has some little Spock’s flourishes here and there, but for the most part, I thought it sounded pretty fresh and original. Did you guys make an active effort to get away from that style?Did you find yourself in the studio saying “That sounds too Spocky, let’s tone that down”?
JOHN-From a writing stand point, absolutely . When I was writing for Spock’s, and it started sounding like Kansas or Genesis or Yes, I would tend to go with it, because Spock’s fans would like these influences. In this group, if things start to go in that direction, or sound like a Spock’s tune, I shy away from them. I have so many other influences and things I’d like try with this that I couldn’t with Spock’s or other groups because they have their narrow lane of things they’d like to do, for better or worse. There’s always that argument with groups that you don’t want to piss off the fans and do something totally different, but on the other hand you want to try to attract a new audience.
I heard that you guys are already working on a second album, is that right?
JOHN-Yes, the whole thing is written and we’ve recorded Jimmy over at Rich’s (Mouser) a couple months ago.Yeah, Dave and Tim have already been recording parts.
Wow! You guys waste no time! Is there going to be a different approach to this album, either in the style or how you’re recording it?
JOHN-Yeah, it’s a pretty different approach. There are somethings that are similar in terms of overall sound, but it’s got a different… well what do you think Jimmy?
JIMMY-(Laughs) When I heard the first demo he posted, I almost jumped up and down in my chair, because this was nothing like the first album. I’ve been doing this for 40 years- I’d like to think that I have a voice. Ted has a voice in a literal sense and Dave is an unbelievably defined bass player, John writes the songs, and Rich does the sounds- When you throw all those things in a basket, you’re going to have similarities because of all of our voices but other that we’re making a left turn while everyone is probably expecting a right turn.
JOHN-Yeah, if everyone likes the first album, who knows, everyone might listen to the next one and go “This sucks, what are they doing!?” (laughs) But to me, it’s always more important to just write cool stuff and I figure if we like it, the fans will like it.
Is there a plan to do live shows or a tour?
JOHN- Yes, the plan is there, it’s just logistics.
JIMMY- Yeah, it’s managing the concept of a new project, managing the concept of a genre of music that has a limited fan base. When you have a new band, it’s just about fighting to get in, the time, the locations. It’s weird- most other genres of music, the band tours and then the album comes out. The tour is promotion for something that’s coming or something that just came out. Prog is the odd occasion where people want to know what it is first. Nothing’s announced yet, but we’re working on a couple of festivals and we hope to get that solidified shortly.
JOHN- Yeah, the album just came out, so people are still discovering us, but there is already some interest and we’ll just see where it goes.
You guys have worked with engineer/mixer Rich Mouser a multitude of times now. What elements did he bring to the album?
JIMMY-Rich, besides being a great engineer in the technical sense and having a studio with a great sound to it, he’s also a very creative guy, so his input and response to the things we’re doing always has an influence and his influence is strong, even when we’re just recording the drums. And the drums are the first to go down, then everyone has to respond to me. So it’s not only a technical conversation, but also an artistic conversation.
JOHN-I remember reading an interview with The Police, years ago, and they were asked why don’t they have a producer and essentially they said “We know what we want, so what we need is an enlightened engineer.” Which is basically what Rich is. He’s not just someone who can turn the knobs, but he has great ears. After all the parts are in there- I’m thinking this part is going to be more keyboard heavy, he might say, “You know what? This part has a really cool guitar part, it should be higher in the mix” and I usually go with him on that stuff, cause he’s more objective and has that kind of ear.
What’s your favorite track on the album?
JIMMY-“Ghosts Stories” because it’s the most unusual. I know the rest of the record has these elements that will attract prog fans. The songs on the record that I like are the ones that don’t.(laughs). Let’s sort of play the Peter Gabriel game. Everyone associates Peter Gabriel with Genesis so they qualify him as a prog artist. But he hasn’t made a prog record since his first solo album. Everything he makes are basically pop records, but with really intelligent lyrics and beautiful composed and produced. It’s also like Jellyfish, or David Bowie, other artists that prog fans embrace, not because they are prog rock but because they’re great. So I’m looking for THAT song.“Ghost Stories” tells an interesting story and you can visualize it as it’s passing through and we went different directions sonically and tried new things- for me it’s just the one that hits all my bells.This is an odd album for me, because I really enjoyed the whole record. With this album I was just more invested and I find myself wanting to listen to it as if someone gave me the record.
JOHN-I don’t know if I have a favorite. By the time it gets recorded, I don’t want to say I’m sick of everything, but I’m just worn out on it. Like right now, when I’m talking to you or talking to other interviewers, my head is 100% in the second album, and I even have a folder on my iTunes that is labeled Pattern-Seeking Animals 3 with a few ideas in that one. If I look back at it, for me it’s more about moments; things that came together. In “Fall Away”, Ted’s solo when he goes into the key change and he hits that high C or whatever he hits, that worked out so perfectly. I’m more of a songwriter/producer nerd, so when I hear things that impressed me that were pulled off, I’m more happy with that stuff than maybe a whole song.
Any song impress you the most, from the writing process to its completed recording?
JOHN-Probably “The Same Mistakes Again”, which was originally about a one-minute chunk out of “Stars Along the Way”, which was something else Dave and I started writing for Spock’s around when Nick was in the band.It was really different than what it is now. And I eventually kept adding to it and changing it, and I could never get it to work. There was a version of it that I submitted to Spock’s for the last record, but for various reasons, we won’t get into it, it didn’t happen. And I just tore this song down to its basics and wrote a whole new bunch of sections. So with “The Same Mistakes Again” I took the verse and part of the chorus which was just a chord progression with just one vocal line, I thought it would make it’s own really cool song, so I pulled it out of there. Ted said, but I really like it in “Stars Along the Way”, but I said “No, trust me, it’ll be its own cool song.”So I was really happy with how the whole thing turned out exactly as I hoped it would.
Apart from the band, what else are you guys working on?
JOHN-This is my everything at the moment, at least for the next few years. Every once in a while a friend will go “Let’s go write a song”, a country song or whatever. Or if someone calls me up and asks me to score some low budget movie, great I’ll do it, because I have this company I work for occasionally where I can do it in a weekend and make some ok money. So stuff like that, but overall, this is it for me.
JIMMY- I’m slated to go out with Robert Berry and the gang and do the 3.2 tour in September and October. And I’m still working on my own record… it will happen. I keep dumping all this money into doing something for our house and I keep thinking, wait, I could’ve just put that 10 grand into this record and I’d be done. But when the 3.2 thing was thrown on the table, I was like, “Yes! I can!”
What have you been listening to lately, any new favorite artists or bands?
JOHN-I listen to… (JIMMY laughs in the back ground)Here’s the thing- I listen to so many different types of music. I listen to a ton of pop. I listen to K-pop, I listen to J-pop. I like poppy happy driving music you don’t have to think too much about.
JIMMY- (sings) Hey Hey We’re The Monkees!
JOHN- Yeah, I liked The Monkees more than The Beatles when I was a kid, but that’s me. Because I’m such a production nerd, I sit there with a lot of current pop stuff with my headphones on, and listen to all the production stuff for good ideas. A lot of EDM stuff.On the prog end of it, not too much. But when I started working on Pattern-Seeking Animals, I thought, “I wonder what’s out there in the prog world.”So I listened to some prog radio stations and there’s definitely interesting stuff out there. I love Big Big Train. Opeth has a new one coming out which I’m excited about. Anything Roine (Stolt) comes out with, Flower Kings or what not, I like; I just like the way his mind works, as a writer and producer and everything. A group I’m really into right now, is Manchester Orchestra.
How about you Jimmy? What have you been listening to?
JIMMY-St. Vincent.I went to see Paula Cole a little while ago and she blew me away. I’m similar to John in a sense where each button in the stereo of my car has nothing to do with the next one. The session I was doing right before Nick asked me to join Spock’s Beard, was with a guy named Rahsaan Patterson, a neo-soul artist- although he hates that title. I was doing those kind of records and finding myself counting in 7 and 11 and stuff like that. I’m trying to listening to anything that can spin my head as much as possible. I like…. um… what’s the band’s name?
JIMMY- Haha, yeah, I like what I’ve heard from them.A lot of the pop stuff I feel is getting a lot of play- I can give them all the same note. Stop trying so hard to get my attention! Let the SONG get my attention. I like it when people have interesting voices or when I hear a great musician play but when it sounds like your forcing it, then I say “Shhhhhh!” I want to hear the song! But your noodling thing, whether it’s a guitar thing, keyboard thing, or vocal thing, if it’s distracting me from what you’re saying, then you’re going to far. Stop trying to produce every note. So that’s pop music for me now. It’s too swimming in production. It feels like we’re in 1984, when MIDI hit, and the DX-7 took over. There was a lot of technical innovation but not a lot of music, as much as I love Trevor Horn. (laughs) Oh, Imagine Dragons was the band I was trying to think of.
Ah! I honestly cannot stand them.
JIMMY-I APPRECIATE them. There’s a weird trend in pop music that I’m having a tough time with.Bernie Taupin was giving an interview while they were touring around promoting the movie and he mentioned something that was fascinating. There were only three singles from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.Back in that day, it really wasn’t expected to have more singles on an album. You’d have your lead single, and if it did well, you’d have a second single. And if THAT did well, you’d release a third. By the time you released the third, you’d already finish the next record. So even though they had this huge inspiration slam putting out this double record, by the time they released their third single, Caribou was done. So that’s three singles off one of the best albums of all time, if not my favorite album.So what I’m getting at, is that we’re not in album-based sales anymore; people are just putting out songs. I looked at the charts a couple months ago, and saw that Drake was at #1, #4, #6, he was #9- in the Top 40 he had like eight songs. One of these hip-hop artists, released the whole record-he said, these are the singles, and he released them all on the same day.So while I appreciate the innovation, I have a tough time keeping up with it- I’m like “Wait, WHAT am I supposed to listen to? It’s just a weird psycho market out there. And I love it and hate it all at the same time.
JOHN-I’ve just accepted it. I’ve given up. You still have people arguing that streaming is killing music. C’mon, grow-up! When we record over at Rich’s place, Rich says something like “We’re trying to get that Drama sound by Yes.”Haha, can we have a reference from this century please?I’ve joked with Jimmy, “Yeah that sounds great like Abacab!”I mean, I love all that great stuff, but things change. When I talk to people and they say they like pop music too, I know what they’re going to say next. “Oh yeah I like Crowded House, and Squeeze, and Supertramp.”Those are oldies at this point. If we’re talking about pop music, pop is what’s happening now. I think there is some great stuff out there, as good as stuff now as there ever has been. But I know, I’m an oddball for my age, trust me. I get teased by my friends all the time, because if you look at my iTunes, I could be a 17 year old Asian girl.
When I was a teenager listening to music, you would always go to prog, a new Genesis or a new Yes album, to hear all the new cool technology, latest synth sounds, the latest production ideas. Prog was always at the forefront of all that stuff and somewhere along the way, that changed completely. Now all the new stuff is in EDM, dance, and pop stuff, and that’s where I go for all the cutting edge synth sounds and production ideas. There’s nothing wrong with using the old B3, Mellotron, or whatever, but there’s so much great stuff that has come out since then. Listen to Zedd, an EDM artist- stick on some headphones sometime and put on the album True Colors.Some of the synth work on there is phenomenal. And some of that new pop stuff and K-pop- it’s all cutting edge synth work and I wish that more prog acts would embrace it, because there is such a bigger pallet of colors out there when it comes to sounds of synths, keyboards, and guitars.
JIMMY-I think that Steven Wilson is at the forefront of a lot of things, he’s not just surviving off of the prog crowd. Young people like him because he’s embracing everything that’s contemporary and he’s writing lyrics that are relevant to people today. His fans include teenagers and girls. How novel!
JOHN-What a concept! (laughs)
What are some of your pet peeves?
JIMMMY-Oh my, I have lots of them. (laughs)
JOHN-It looks like you opened up a can of worms there!
JIMMY-That’s a big-ass can!
JOHN-I’ll start! I’ll keep it to music. It goes back to what we were talking about. My pet peeve is musicians who automatically dismiss anything which is happening by younger players. Anyone that says, “Oh they’re just kids, they don’t know what they’re doing, no one writes good music these days, there’s no good songs out there.” I just don’t like that attitude. It drives me crazy.
OK, Jimmy, how about just one or two things- it doesn’t have to be about music.
JIMMY-My pet peeve is people with a lack of empathy. Musically, I’m not too far off from what John was saying. I hate recycled music. I hate that everyone wants to keep doing the same thing over and over again. The Beatles were all in their 20’s, like 21, 22 when they kicked into gear. When the Beatles ended, they were still in their 20s. And this is one of the most defining bands in history. So if you look at age and judge anything by age, you’re completely dismissing the greatest music that ever happened.
JOHN-Yeah, and when I was teenager, Genesis and Yes were only a few years older than me and they were putting out some of the most fantastic music ever. A lot of players might keep on coming out with great music, but as far as actually progressing and turning out new things, a lot of musicians just get locked in to what they’ve always done.
Is there a musician you haven’t got a chance to work with, but would like to?
JIMMY-Yeah, Peter Gabriel! I can retire after that! I would love to work with Sting. My old buddy [Josh Freese] is working with him instead. Whatever! I’m not jealous!Also St. Vincent- I would love to do something with her. I would love to collaborate with some of these EDM synth artists- ya know working on some of the instrumental stuff and see what happens. A lot of these DJs will put drummers on stage, but it’s really more just for color. I would love to get deeper in the whole game with some of these synth guys, and incorporate acoustic, electric, new, old, any kind of instrumentation and do an album that has no rules.
How about you John, any artist you’d like to either produce, or write for, or play with?
JOHN-No.I mean there are a ton of people I respect, but I don’t know how I would interact with other artists. I’m more of producer and writer and I just prefer to do my own stuff. I don’t have bucket list, let’s put it like that, because a lot of times I think what sounds like a good idea on paper, I’m not sure how it would actually work out. For an example, let’s say Kerry Livgren, who I have ultimate respect for, if something were to put us together to write something, I’d be like “Well, why would he need ME to write something?” I suppose I could come up with something. (laughs)
What’s your favorite food?
JIMMY-That’s right! I’m a musician. I’ll just say spaghetti, that’s what I had for dinner last night. And that’s spaghetti with meat sauce.
JIMMY-I like Thai food too- but John actually GOES to Thailand.
JOHN-Before I learned the language and had friends over there, I would eat only Pad Thai. But once I started hanging out over there, I learned there’s so much other great food there. A lot of Vietnamese food is really good too.
Did you feel the earthquakes?
JOHN-The first one happened when I was recording the acoustic guitar part for one of the new songs. And when the second one happened, I was recording acoustic guitar on the exact same song. Coincidence? I think not.
Anything else about the album you’d like to say to the Progarchy readers?
“Looking at it from a musicologist’s point of view, genre anomalies can be fascinating. Most music genres have their rules and parameters by which a standard band operates. In the world of progressive rock, or prog rock, or simply ‘prog’ if you know your stuff; expansiveness is a virtue. Your average prog album is 60 minutes and 4 tracks, or so the cliche goes. What ATTT is all about this week is the anomaly – the ‘short’ prog song, and for our intents and purposes all of this week’s tracks are under 5 minutes long. No suite sections, no interludes, absolutely no radio edits!
Of course if it’s a progressive rock episode, we have to be joined by 2 of the biggest prog nerds we know – Certified Prog Wizard and leader of SoCal prog titans Lobate Scarp Adam Sears is back; as well as Prog Sorcerer-In-Training Fernando Perdomo. To devotees of the genre, we hope we did you proud, although the inevitable nitpicking will surely commence immediately. *eyeroll* The picks are outstanding and the conversation is as hilarious and nerdy as you’d expect. Enjoy!
Fernando has just released his first all-prog album Out To Sea, and is a featured performer at next year’s upcoming Cruise To The Edge. Find out more at https://www.fernandoperdomo.com . Adam’s band Lobate Scarp has new music coming out soon.”
-Ben Eisen, Host of All Time Top Ten.
Listen to All Time Top Ten’s Prog Songs Under 5 Minutes here:
In the midst of working on their second album and planning their next show, Los Angeles Prog band Heliopolis is calling it quits. The following, plus an unmastered 14-minute piece from their upcoming album, was posted on their Facebook page today.
Hey, Kerry here.
Well, this isn’t easy to say but Heliopolis have decided to throw in the bowel. I wanted to at least play the gig in August and then assess things; bummed but that’s life. Please know this wasn’t my call, one of us decided to quit and I respect their decision.
As for me personally it’s simply not financially feasible, nor enjoyable, to have a 170 round trip commute to LA every weekend. Also, most of the guys in the band have been going thru significant life issues and we feel it’s not worth continuing on at this point. It’s a hell of a lot of work for all of us, not to mention the expense.
Truth be told, when I was in Mrs Hollow I wanted to record a 3rd album and then quit at the top of our game; I consider Heliopolis’ debut to be the 3rd album in my personal prog-rock trio so my mission is complete.
Now I’m going to take it easy for awhile and watch all the other prog-rock bands at our level spend their money and store their unsold CDs and t-shirts in the basement. 🙂
To our fans and promoters, we’re very sorry. As a token of appreciation for all the support over the last five years here’s the latest and, sadly, final version of the “Barney Miller” song.
It’s called “The Challenge” and it’s a true band collaboration. Believe it or not, this is the scratch vocal from the day we did the bass/drums session last October, we had some beautiful vocal harmonies worked out but we never got around to recording them. It’s also unmastered. This song was going to morph into another 10 minute song for a 24-minute suite, and we also had a crazy 10-minute thing called “Cluster B” that I am VERY bummed we’re never gonna record. We had a killer 2nd album happening but it’s just too much effort anymore, for all of us.
To my brothers Michael, Matt, Scott and Jerry – thanks for being the best band I’ve ever had. I’m gonna miss writing music with you guys so much. 😦
To our friends and fans – thank you, sincerely and respectfully, from all of us. It’s been a blast. Be kind to yourselves.
With just under 9 months away from sailing, Cruise to the Edge has announced that they are over 80% sold out. The 6 day journey from February 3-8 features Yes (on their 50th anniversary), Marillion, Stave Hackett, Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Saga, Anathema, Gong, Haken, Glass Hammer, Adrian Belew Power Trio and many more incredible prog acts.
I attended CTTE17 and highly recommend the experience, especially to anyone who hasn’t been on a prog cruise before! This time around they added an extra day to the trip as they sail from Tampa, Florida to Belize and Costa Maya for optional daily excursions.
Past attendees of CTTE got first dibs on cabins so all of the VIP Suites are sold out, but anyone can join the wait list, as specific cabins may pop up closer to the event. They are also offering a International Airpass Credit ($100 per person or $200 per cabin max) for travelers from outside the United States. For International travellers, type in “AIRPASS” for the promotional code when booking- by June 30. For more information and to check out payment plans, go to http://cruisetotheedge.com/