The Bardic Depths’ Dave Bandana: The Progarchy Interview

Full disclosure: I PLAY ON THE NEW BARDIC DEPTHS ALBUM!!!!!

Now that I’ve got that out of my system . . . oh, wait. You want details?

Having gotten to know Dave Bandana through this website and the Big Big Train group on Facebook, I was one of the folks who contributed spoken words (“This! Is! War!”) for The Bardic Depths’ 2020 debut. I had mentioned to Dave that, if he ever needed a church organ part for an album, he should get in touch. Which didn’t lessen my surprise when, in that strange summer of 2020, he did! And so, I wound playing not only church organ for Promises of Hope’s closing track “Imagine” (no, not that “Imagine”), but a Hammond organ solo on the opener “And She Appeared.” Being listed in the album booklet as a “special guest” has turned out to be more of a kick than I ever would have anticipated.

With all that as backstory, Dave agreed to join me for a chat about the new album, released worldwide on June 24th! We cover its genesis and the integral contributions of lyricist/conceptualizer Brad Birzer, producer Robin Armstrong, the new core band that plays on every track, and other collaborators. (And yeah, there are a few minutes devoted to a goofy volunteer keyboardist.) The video of our conversation is below, with a complete transcription following.

So, brand new Bardic Depths album!  I’ve been looking forward to it, for reasons we will probably get into – but I know a lot of people are as well!   But what was the initial impetus for returning to the world of The Bardic Depths?

The success of the first one, and the actual joy of recording the first one and bringing it all together.  Especially as, when we originally had done the first album, we didn’t know how it was gonna finish off.  It was just gonna be a little home studio thing with me and Brad [Birzer] and a few friends.  But then as more friends got involved in it, and then Peter Jones got involved and Robin [Armstrong] got involved, and the thing turned into a fully-fledged proper album.  And just the joy of doing that and seeing the fruition from that, we couldn’t not do a second album!

And to be honest, I was straight on writing even before the first one was released.  So that was the major impetus for wanting to do a second album.  And, hopefully the same thing’s gonna happen for a third one as well!

So, you were so excited that you already had material going for this?

I didn’t have material going.  I knew that I wanted to write again and started writing straight away from when that first one came out.  I can’t even remember how much of that initial burst of enthusiasm got used on Promises of Hope.  Probably a few snippets of it, but the writing certainly started as the first one was completed.

OK.  So, where did the concept that drives this album – the overall, the lyrical concept — emerge from?  I’m assuming Brad Birzer had a great deal to do with that.  But where did that come from?

Yeah, he had a lot to do with it!  Brad had sent me a little novelette thing that he’d written, a story.  I’d suggested to him a while back, “you’re a great writer.  Have you ever written a novel?”  He said, “well actually, I started on one, but I never got it finished.”  So, he sent that to me, and I said, “this would be a great idea for a concept album.”  So, he then carried on and took it — he didn’t actually complete the story; what he did was, he took it as far as he’d gone with it and elaborated around it a little bit more.  So, Brad was the guy that came up with the story for the second one.

And in the publicity, you mention that Virgil and C.S. Lewis are the two bards here.  And it seems to me that the Virgil, if I’m reading the story right, it’s the story of Dido and Aeneas from the Aeneid.

Yep!

Got that one right!  I can’t place the C.S. Lewis part of it, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out as time goes by.

Brad’s the person to speak to for this.  I think the actual C.S. Lewis part is actually in the booklet.  In the booklet Brad’s written a whole page, basically detailing what the story’s all about.  [Searching his memory] I can’t remember the complete title of the book. [A later message from Dave stated that the book is The Horse and His Boy from The Chronicles of Narnia.]  Anyway, Brad’s actually quoted from that book, so we’ll see it in there, so we’ll know which one it is.

I left the story to Brad; it’s a tricky sort of subject.  But I think it’s one that we dealt with in a not-complex way, in quite a simplistic way.  But it told the story that we wanted to tell; it didn’t go into too much detail, but it gives the listener something to think about.

Uh-huh.  So why Promises of Hope as the title?

The original title was gonna be Hope, Not Victory.  But as an album title, that was possibly a little bit more difficult to explain away.  And I liked Promises of Hope; it appears a lot in the lyrics – “with promises of hope, but never of victory” is a line that comes up quite a lot.  And I think to have a promise of hope is something to look forward to, rather than the other way around.  So, I changed it to make it a little more joyous, for want of a better word, yeah?

Got it!  So, as you were recording this, how did the core band that you wound up with at the end of this album take shape as you were making this album?

Continue reading “The Bardic Depths’ Dave Bandana: The Progarchy Interview”

The Ultimate Prog Super-Hero Team-Up?

From Big Big Train’s Facebook page:

We are delighted to announce that Robin Armstrong will be joining the live line-up of Big Big Train for our shows in 2018 and beyond.

Robin is a multi-instrumentalist and the leader of progressive rock band, Cosmograf. Nick, Rachel and Greg have played as guest musicians on Cosmograf albums and we are looking forward to performing with Robin at our shows at The Anvil in Basingstoke and at the Night of the Prog festival in Loreley, Germany.

 

Will the good Dr. Birzer’s head explode anticipating all the proggy goodness to come?

Tune in tomorrow … same prog-time … same prog-channel!

 

— Rick Krueger

Here She Comes: April 5 Progarchy News

Just when I thought spring might have sprung in Michigan, vernal verities hit hard. Upon arising from my heavy slumbers, I have looked out the window to discover there’s a fresh layer of snow upon everything. Old Tom was right: April is the cruelest month.

Some great things happening in the world of music, especially as interests the citizens of progarchy. So, in no order discernable to me:

Unearth-Album-Cover
Bassett, contemplating immensity.

John Bassett, Integrity’s Minstrel, continues to receive nothing but excellent reviews for his solo album, Unearth.  Not surprisingly.

Mischievous progger, Andy Tillison.
Mischievous progger, Andy Tillison.

Andy Tillison reports the first version of the new The Tangent album is done and will be released early next year by Insideout Music.

Also, don’t forget that Andy is selling much of his excellent back catalogue through his online website.  To purchase, go here: http://thetangent.org [navigate through a couple of pages; it’s worth it]

Leah, Metal Maid.
Leah, Metal Maid.

Our own lovely metal maid, Leah McHenry, has just raised the full $25,000 of her Indiego campaign. And, even three days early of her goal. Congratulations to Leah! We’re extremely proud of her. And, of course, we’re looking forward to the followup to her spectacular Otherworld.

Mike Kershaw, Wakefield's progger.
Mike Kershaw, Wakefield’s progger.

The ever-interesting Mike Kershaw is about to release his next album.  We very much look forward to it as well.

Edited by everyone's favorite Master of Fate, Jerry Ewing.
Edited by everyone’s favorite Master of Fate, Jerry Ewing.

PROG magazine, edited by the incomparable Jerry Ewing, will now be distributed in physical form throughout North America.

cover

The Black Vines, heavy rockers, from the Sheffield area of England, have just released their second album, Return of the Splendid Bastards. It’s some great, great rock. To download or purchase the physical CD, go here: http://blackvines.bandcamp.com

Dr. Rachel Cohen, lead singer of The Reasoning.  Photo by Tim Hall.
Dr. Rachel Cohen, lead singer of The Reasoning. Photo by Tim Hall.

The Reasoning is offering some really nice bundles at their online webstore:

You may also have noticed that our website has been updated. We have had a clear-out, done a major restructure and completely rebuilt the shop. Rob, our ivory tickler, has done a splendid job and we here at Comet HQ are extremely grateful to him. You will find the new shop stocked to the hilt with a bunch of wonderful new discounted “bundles” plus new individual items and, of course, the usual shop fair. There may even be some copies of CDs that have not been available for a very long time (wink, wink). Your shopping experience is now going to be quicker AND simpler. Win! Have a look at what’s available and treat yourself… because you’re worth it.

To check out the bundles, go here: http://www.thereasoning.com/shop/

Lego Arjen.
Lego Arjen.

From a few hints offered, it appears that Arjen Lucassen is deep into his next project. His legions of fans can collectively sigh, “amen.”

Stunning album cover.  A progged version of Dolby's GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS.  Brilliant.
Stunning album cover. A progged version of Dolby’s GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS. Brilliant.

The new Cosmograf, Capacitor, is done, and from the trailer, it looks nothing short of spectacular. Indeed, when it comes to watching this video, I might have an addiction problem. “Hello, my name is Brad Birzer, and I’m a Cosmografaholic.” Righteously ominous.  To watch (and you should, repeatedly), go here: https://progarchy.com/2014/04/01/capacitor-the-amazing-spirit-capture/

New progarchy editor, Craig Breaden.
New progarchy editor, Craig Breaden.

I’m very happy to announce that within the quasi-anarchical structure of progarchy, Craig Breaden has achieved the rank of editor! This comes with a Vorpal Blade and an additional 17 hit points. Craig has been a close friend of mine since 1990, and he first introduced me to some of the greatest music of the late 1960s and 1970s, especially to much of the best rock not found in what’s typically called progressive or new wave. From Spooky Tooth to Richard Thompson to Newspaperflyhunting and everything in between, Craig throws himself into reviewing, always revealing equal depths of intellect, humanity, and grace in his articles. He is a real treasure in the world of music. He’s also, importantly, a professional sound archivist, as well as a devoted father and husband. He’s a hard guy not to love and respect.

The elusive Nemo Dre.
The elusive Nemo Dre.

Nemo Dre finally revealed to me his real name.

 

One of Suzanne Vega's best albums, Nine Objects of Desire.
One of Suzanne Vega’s best albums, Nine Objects of Desire.

Burning Shed is now selling Suzanne Vega’s music. This is very cool and speaks well of both Vega and Burning Shed.

One of the best albums of all time, The Colour of Spring.
One of the best albums of all time, The Colour of Spring.

Finally, it’s April 5, International Talk Talk Day. https://progarchy.com/2013/04/05/here-she-comes-laughter-upon-her-lips-talk-talks-1986-masterpiece/  Make sure you listen to your favorite Talk Talk album today to celebrate.