Interview: Steve Deaton of WHITESIDE’s DAUGHTER Talks Upcoming Concept Album “The Life You Save”

Whiteside's Daughter

You may think, “here’s another prog rock concept album; nothing new here,” but Whiteside’s Daughter from Jackson in Mississippi are set to launch their full-lenght “The Life You Save” this June, a record “about James, the gay son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher, who in high school rebels and falls in with John, his ex-Baptist atheist classmate and guitarist for a high school death metal band called Village Witch.” Putting together progressive rock and proto-metal makes things even more bizarre, but that’s what we love about prog, anyways.

Read an interview with multi-instrumentalist Steve Deaton.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

All is well. Busy, but good.

Speaking of new music, you have an upcoming album. What can people expect from “The Life You Save”?

Well, it is a concept album, so I hope they can expect a compelling story set to some adventurous music. It is a dark story about religious indoctrination, guilt, depression, and suicidal thoughts. But in the midst of all that, too, is a joyous celebration of teenage rebellion.  So the music has many moods, and therefore many styles—from minor key prog rock and prog metal, to major key power pop, and a bunch of stuff in between. It has elements of the Southern Gothic literary tradition which explores the dark, taboo, grotesque elements in traditional Southern culture—in this case, hellfire preaching, suppressed sexuality, casting out demons—basic “snake handling” sort of stuff.  But it is set somewhere in 80’s or 90’s. Anyone, especially rock and metal fans, who lived through the “Satanic Panic” in the U.S., predominantly in the South, will certainly get that vibe.

What was it like working on the album?

All in all, it was fun. I’ve known and worked with Brian, the drummer, and Poff, the vocalist, for years, so we always seem to be on similar wavelengths and the creative process goes pretty smoothly.  The only thing that made the process long and difficult is that this was a long distance collaboration—I live in Mississippi, and the two of them now live in Alabama—Brian in Birmingham and Poff in Montgomery. So a lot of file sharing and hashing things out in a Dropbox folder.

Whiteside's Daughter - The Life You Save

Are there any touring plans in support to “The Life You Save”?

Not touring so much, but we are working up a live performance of the concept, and we plan to stage it periodically, more like a theatrical performance than a club show. Plus, we all have other pursuits that make sustained touring impossible.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

It would be awesome to stage the show in the UK or Scandinavia. Mainly because so much of the music that I like comes from that part of the world, but also because our social media seems to get a lot of traffic from there—it seems there is a devoted audience for progressive music all concentrated in a small geographic space. We have a lot of prog heads in the US, but we are scattered all over a vast expanse.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Any artist or musician who isn’t afraid to explore and do something that may not be popular—even though if they do it well, they often DO become popular, even if it’s with a smaller niche of fans. So my heroes are diverse—David Bowie, Rush, King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Fishbone, even Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

So, as I alluded to, I listen to a lot of music. Though I’ve always gravitated toward rock and metal, I love classic country (Hank Sr., Willie, Waylon, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash), psychedelic So Cal country like the Flying Burrito Brothers, and great pop or folk music—I love the Mamas and Papas for instance and Simon and Garfunkel, too. But a lot of Southern influences creep into this prog rock project—especially Southern rock like Molly Hatchet or even the Allman Brothers. I’ve played in alt-country bands and even some that do straight up honky tonk. So I guess that can’t help but influence what I write and play. 

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Well, we obviously really hope you dig the concept and the music when the full album comes out in June. If you really dig it, we are always more than grateful to those who spread the word. That’s how independent music has always made the rounds. Our local rock stations here in Jackson, Mississippi, aren’t going to play a prog rock concept album about the gay son of a Pentecostal preacher. Ha!

You can preview the Act I of “The Life You Save” on Bandcamp. Follow Whiteside’s Daughter on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Review: Rainburn – Insignify

Insignify

Indian progressive rockers Rainburn are a band who sit firmly within that region of emotive music which crosses the line between the plaintive sound of Porcupine Tree and the bluster of cinematic indie. Now on their second release, Insignify out on November 7th, they return to the age old trope of the concept album with a narrative, which feeds into the at times explosive music.

Telling the story that deals with issues of existentialism, the significance of human life, narcissism, craving importance, insecurity and the search for reason, you may consider it all a bit convoluted. At nearly 50 minutes long it does test your patience and you may find yourself drifting away from the main theme. Give it some due listening though, and you’ll find a concept which works to keep your attention.

Although thematically it’s difficult to keep up, within the music you find a way to enjoy this album. Cinematic in not just scope, but in drive, the peaks and troughs of a film are recast within some wonderful playing. Particularly good are the plaintive guitar solos, feeding off a classic sound developed by masters of prog, and given new life here. They are moments which lift the album to another level and become moments of transcendent emotion.

Rainburn can do heavy too and on the tumultuous end of “Suicide Note”, the devastating centrepiece of the album, they bring a new heaviness to prog rock which only the metal maestros dare explore. Unafraid to raise the tempo, it’s fascinating to listen to the way the band use their music as a kind of soundtrack of emotion, rather than a classic style of songwriting. They may veer on the more predictable side of prog, but at least they do it well.

There is plenty on Insignify to excite prog fans. It’s always difficult to deliver emotional music such as this without veering into cloying territory and with a concept verging on the slightly pretentious, you’re edging towards dodgy terrain. All dues to Rainburn for pulling this off in the main though, and if you’re willing to give it the time you’ll find plenty to keep you coming back. Pour yourself a drink, stick your headphones on, and lose yourself in the story for a while. You’ll enjoy it.

 

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