Arjen Lucassen has been the genesis of many projects: The Gentle Storm, Star One, Stream of Passion, and Guilt Machine all started with Arjen, but no project comes with quite the fanfare of Ayreon. It was the project that made Arjen a household name in the progressive music community, and the one that continues to deliver all-star casts on every album. This of course holds true for The Source, due out April 28th on Mascot Label Group. James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), and Tobias Sammet (Avantasia) account for only a third of the vocal talent on the album. It’s nearly unfair to other bands that can struggle to have one vocalist of that calibre, while The Source manages to have twelve amazing singers, as well as instrumentalists like Guthrie Govan (Steven Wilson) and Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big). This album has all the elements fans have come to expect, and the array of different musical styles and voices will make it easy to draw in new fans.
In our twenty minute interview Arjen discusses getting a new album out to people, the interaction he has with his fans, the way technology has allowed fans to better experience his music, and of course the upcoming Ayreon Universe live shows happening in the Netherlands this September. Arjen revealed that this effort to properly bring much of the Ayreon catalog to the stage for the first time will be the culmination of two years of preparation. And while the shows have already sold out, a live release has been promised to document the experience. So listen in and take a glimpse into the world of the rock-opera master!
Fates Warning are a band that certainly evolved since their early days, and saw success past their initial mark as well. That said, many fans, especially the more metal oriented, have a special place in their hearts for the first three albums featuring the vocals of John Arch. Perhaps it’s the substantial difference in style between Arch and current vocalist Ray Alder, or simply the time that has passed since Awaken the Guardian was released in 1986, but the band hasn’t been keen on playing the earliest material in the past decade or two. With that in mind it’s no surprise the buzz that was caused when the band announced they’d be playing two very special festival shows playing Awaken in its entirety with the lineup from that album. ProgPower USA and Keep it True in Germany were the lucky spots for these historic performances, both of which have been captured for the upcoming release Awaken the Guardian Live.
In this 20 minute interview John and I discussed what it was like returning to the stage for these incredibly special shows, his working relationship with Jim Matheos, and the possibility of a new Arch/Matheos disc at some point in the future.
It was November 2015 onboard the Norwegian Pearl that I first learned about the project that would become Nova Collective. Richard Henshall, guitarist and songwriter of progressive metal shooting stars Haken was telling me about an upcoming trip to America with ex-Haken keyboardist Pete Jones in order to work with Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs on an instrumental outing. Matt Lynch from Cynic would round out the quartet, and now more than a year after they got together The Further Side is finally available to fans.
Over fourteen minutes we discussed this exciting new project, as well as Richard‘s involvement in Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress, as well as a brief look back and forward from the Haken camp. For those interesting in hearing more from Nova Collective you are free to peruse two tracks from the album below.
Diego Tejeida has been working the ivory for Haken from nearly the beginning, and has seen his sound evolve with the band. As we discussed in this 25-minute interview, that’s no easy task. We talked about his process for developing the tones you hear on each record, which goes well beyond picking from the usual pre-packaged sounds. We of course talked a lot about Haken‘s forthcoming album, Affinity, which is due out on April 29th. I mentioned in my review of the album all the new styles and sounds seen on this record, and now have a much deeper appreciation for them than I already did.
We also spoke about the evolution of the songwriting in the band, the addition of Conner Green on bass, and playing live, including some discussion of Haken‘s upcoming European and North American dates. Not one to be accused of using clickbait, let me say, no, there are no set American dates, yet, but they will come! And, as we discussed in the interview, you can watch the first track, “Initiate”, below!
Odin’s Court have been a part of the prog-metal scene since the early 2000’s, however it wasn’t until 2008, when the band signed to ProgRock Records and released Deathanity, that they gained a far wider audience. Since that time the band has remained busy, releasing 4 more albums. The most recent of those releases is Turtles All the Way Down, which features the vocals of Dimetrius LaFavors. The band is currently in the process of two projects: First, given a sonic update to their breakthrough album Deathanity, including the inclusion of Dimetrius, and second, recording their new album, Turtles All the Way Down II.
I had the pleasure of talking with Matt Brookins, the long time leader of the band about the road they’ve traveled so far, and their immediate future and Kickstarter campaign. We also talked a fair bit about the business side of the band and music in general. I hope you enjoy this 26 minute discussion, and check out the band’s crowd funding campaign to help make the new album, and the re-release a reality. The video below does a great job of documenting the improvements being made to Deathanity, and some sneak peaks into the sequel to Turtles All the Way Down.
For over 15 years Mike LePond has handled the bass duties in one of progressive metal’s flagship bands, Symphony X. He first appeared on their 5th album, and has now been a part of their sound for over 15 years. His duties sandwich him between rhythm section partner Jason Rullo, and guitar shredding extraordinaire Michael Romeo. The band recently released their 9th album, Underworld, and is gearing up for years of touring, starting with a North American jaunt with thrash legends Overkill.
Mike is also fresh off the heels of releasing Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, which saw him return to his roots, delivering a pure metal performance that any headbanger will appreciate. He is currently working on recording a second album with the band, and hopes to get them into the live setting soon. Finally, Mike is also part of the international collaboration Affector, who released their debut album Harmageddon in 2012.
After a few years of relative hibernation, Ted Leonard was coming alive when I spoke with him in August of 2013. He had, or was in the process of recording material with 4 different bands. At that time were still studio projects, with only Spock’s Beard having any live commitments. In the time since however, the busy studio man has become a live staple in my concert diet. From a personal perspective, after not having seen Ted live since becoming a fan around 2005, up until 2014, I have seen him perform 9 times since.
For starters, Ted stepped in for Daniel Gildenlow when health issues forced him to sit out the last Transatlantic tour. Then Spock’s Beard made a few appearances on the East coast, and finally Enchant embarked on their first tour in a decade. Ted’s future with Transatlantic is uncertain, but Spock’s Beard is on the verge of a new album, and Enchant has vowed to continue their comeback from a long hiatus, with their next step being some European shows come October.
For a long time I would have considered Ted one of those overlooked gems in the progressive world, but thankfully his recent high profile gigs have allowed him to gain some of the recognition he deserves.
In August of 2013 I found myself able to speak to the singer of what I have long called the prog band of my generation, Haken. When I did that interview, I spoke in the notes about how far the band had come since I had spoken to guitarist/keyboardist Richard Henshall in 2011, and I’m happy to say as I release this podcast in 2015, the band’s success has only continued in a big upward trajectory.
The Mountain, released shortly after my interview with Ross, was hailed as a huge success for the band. They saw themselves playing, and often headlining more and more prestigious festivals, including Progressive Nation at Sea. They then released an EP of reworked demo material, Restoration, in 2014. The following ResTOURation saw the band continue their success in Europe, as well as a headlining slot at the 2015 RoSfest, and their first ever American tour.
The band currently finds themselves writing and recording for their fourth full length release between tour obligations, including an upcoming slot with Between the Buried and Me.
Back in 2011 I had the pleasure of speaking with Scott Mosher, the composer and multi-instrumentalist for California based band Oceans of Night. Talking to a “jack of all trades” musician is always a treat, as the range of musically relevant topics is always greater the bigger hand someone has in something. While writing, recording multiple parts, producing, and promoting has to be exhausting on a single musician, I imagine the result is also all the more rewarding.
When we spoke Oceans of Night had just released their second album Domain, though Scott had put out many solo albums prior to that. Since then the band has released another studio album, Midnight Rising, in 2014. Scott has always made his music available directly available from his site and at a very reasonable price, and as such I hope you visit the page below and support this wonderful artist.
Like many of their Swedish contemporaries, Beardfish have shown themselves to be quite active in the years since I spoke to them in May of 2012. At that time they were getting ready to play the first in a short series of shows in the Northeast United States. The show were I spoke to Rikard and Magnus was hosted by the NJ Proghouse, who have also booked Beardfish back in October of 2015 for their homecoming weekend.
At the show that evening the band played some then forthcoming material from The Void. The band would release the album later in 2012, and then get some important support slots, opening for Flying Colors in 2012, and Spock’s Beard in 2013. The band would then take an unusually long break between studio albums, waiting till January of 2015 to release +4626-COMFORTZONE. This could be in part due to Rikard taking on some guitar duties with Big Big Train in 2014.