Progarchy Interviews Casey McPherson @alpharev

Alpha Rev, Case.e Sessions Volume 1, 2019.

Tracks: Changeling (6:35), My Evolution (6:47), I’m A Refugee (4:02), White Matter Recess (4:24), Everyone’s Charade (5:19). You are the Peacemakers (4:33), Song of Aleppo (10:08), Silence (4:58), Write Your Name (4:22), Help Me (4:21), Silence For Humans (14:26)

Casey McPherson’s latest Alpha Rev album, Cas.e Sessions Volume 1, sees the extremely talented singer and multi-instrumentalist tackling music-making in a unique way. Modeled loosely off Neal Morse’s groundbreaking Inner Circle concept, the Cas.e Sessions membership program finds Casey making one song per month, creating a mini documentary about its creation, and presenting it to the members. After receiving positive feedback and seeing that the songs meshed together fairly well, he decided to release season 1 (2016) of the Cas.e Sessions music as a new Alpha Rev album.

Some might call this album pop, but I see it as prog in the vein of a band like Muse. There are a lot of similarities between this and Muse, such as the melodies and vocal lines, but this is a unique album that clearly comes from the heart. One might call this group of songs eclectic, but they work really well together, even though they were all written separately as a single project per month.

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The Progarchy Interview: Tom Brislin of The Sea Within

Tom Brislin first came to prog fans’ attention as the keyboardist for Yes’ 2001 Symphonic tour, going on to work with numerous other bands in the genre.  Recently he joined guitarist Roine Stolt, bassist Jonas Reingold, drummer Marco Minnemann, and vocalists Daniel Gildenlöw and Casey McPherson in the new collective The Sea Within.  Their debut album for InsideOut is released on June 22, and Tom graciously talked about his career and TSW with us.

On becoming a musician:

“It’s a funny thing; I had this sort of clear sense of purpose for a long time.  I don’t know really how to explain it.  I don’t know if it was from the time I first heard my sister’s record collection and saw what a rock band was, and how there was this team of people that collaborate to make this music.  But it always fascinated me, and I’d always been trying to form bands – I think my first band was when I was ten years old.  And we were just always going for it, and it never stopped.  I just always identified as a musician and took lessons and played with whoever I could – and here I am now!”

On Tom’s major musical influences and heroes:

“Like I said, I was first exposed to my family’s record collection, mostly the ‘70s rock stuff from Foreigner to Yes to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin – you name it.  But it was in the ‘80s when I was a little kid that I discovered music on my own through the radio.  So a lot of those bands that were really iconic in the early ‘80s, like The Police, Men at Work, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, groups like that were exciting to me, because that was the music I discovered on my own.  And to this day I think there’s still a little bit of their influence.  As I became more serious about playing piano, I got really into Emerson Lake & Palmer and Gentle Giant and a lot of progressive bands, and also heavy into jazz, which I ended up going to college for. And I would say that from that time is when I really got into players like Herbie Hancock, who I guess is one of my dearest influences, because I just always admired his versatility and his mastery and pretty much anything he does musically.”

About playing with Yes:

“I had been Meat Loaf’s piano player for about three years, and we did VH1 Storytellers and a lot of UK television, and we had done a couple world tours.  Meat Loaf and Yes shared the same management company at one point.  And someone from management had been at one of our Meat Loaf concerts.  And we got to talking about Yes, and I told them that Yes was a huge influence, and how I grew up playing all that music, and that I was raised on it, practically.  And they must have remembered that!  So when the need came up, they looked me up and asked me to submit a CD playing some of [Yes’] music. And I got the gig!”

“It’s interesting, ‘cause the Meat Loaf experience was like a muscular or athletic and theatrical type of thing.  It was high-energy, three hours of Jerry Lee Lewis-influenced piano, and it was really interesting; it sort of brought me into that mentality of playing for large audiences and playing big arenas and big venues.  The Yes experience was, of course, the more cerebral challenge.  Even though there was an orchestra behind us, by the end of my first phone conversation with Jon Anderson, he wanted me to do everything a Yes keyboardist does, whether or not there’s an orchestra.  Especially once they found out I could sing, Chris Squire was especially keen on me singing backing vocals in addition to all that stuff.”

“So there was a lot of juggling going on, too.  Because, you know, a typical Yes keyboardist gets to have thirteen keyboards on stage, [laughs] and because of the orchestra being there, we didn’t have a whole lot of room, and they just wanted me to fit in with four keyboards – which in any other gig would be more than enough!  But I had some technical tap dancing to do to get all the sounds that were needed for the concert, and to bring out these parts that were initially recorded by such iconic, different-styled keyboard players.”

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Album Review: The Sea Within

If you think you know what The Sea Within will sound like just from knowing who’s involved — The Flower Kings’ guitar/bass team of Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold, Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlöw and Flying Colors’ Casey McPherson singing, Tom Brislin on keyboards and Marco Minnemann on drums — think again.  Sure, put these six proggers together in a studio, and they’ll work from their signature sounds and strengths.  But they also play off each other in unique ways, stretch out in unexpected directions, and come up with a rewarding, thoroughly listenable debut.

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