When doing research for an interview, and especially when reading over promotional material, I can often prepare myself for what I can expect to hear from an artist. However, when I spoke to Jonas Reingold in July of 2011 I got a bit of first hand news that knocked me back a bit. Jonas sounded very hopeful that the Flower Kings hiatus would be coming to an end. That hope would turn into Banks of Eden in 2012, Desolation Rose in 2013, and accompanying tours.
The main focus of our interview was not the Flower Kings, but instead Jonas’ main creative outlet, Karmakanic. They were on the verge of releasing their fourth studio album, 1969. The band would go on to do some touring for that album, including an appearance at RoSfest 2012, where they would record Live in the US.
Along with those two primary bands, Jonas has kept busy helping on several other projects, including bass duties on the most recent release from The Tangent, A Spark in the Aether.
Perhaps there is no better follow up to our retrospective interview with Neal Morse a few weeks back than with Jon Anderson today. Although very active through most of his career, aside from a few live shows he was been mostly dormant since we spoke with him in June of 2011. At that time he was promoting his new solo CD, Survival and Other Stories.
He did however participate in what could be viewed as a highlight in prog for several years to come. On the Progressive Nation 2014 cruise he performed an hours worth of brilliantly delivered Yes music with Transatlantic and a few other guests. On a cruise already beaming with amazing moments, it’s something I still see many of the sea goers talking about today.
Ian Jones of Karnataka
Interview conducted: 2015-04-08
Interview posted: 2015-04-11
Ian Jones is the driving force behind British proggers Karnataka. Earlier this year Karnataka released their 5th studio album, Secrets of Angels. If you want to test out the album, there is no better place than our last podcast here that features 3 songs from the disc, including the 20 minute epic title track. Fans in Britain still have 3 opportunities to see the band live this tour; April 12th in Swansea, April 17th in Leicester, and May 9th in London.
As noted at the start of the interview, I apologize for a technical glitch that caused the first two minutes or so of the interview to be corrupted and lost. That said, there was a lot of great topics discussed that didn’t get eaten by technology, and the interview actually “starts” with Ian answering a question about new members to the band and any potential pressures of molding them to the people and sounds that came before them. Make up for my bumble by going out and buying the album!
This week’s retrospective interview deals with the man who is arguably America’s most prolific prog songwriter. In previous weeks I’ve mentioned what the artist has been up to since we last spoke, and for Neal Morse there is a lot to talk about. Testimony 2, the album we spoke about back in 2011, was released and had a supporting tour. Since then there was another solo album and tour, an album and tour with Transatlantic, two Flying Colors albums and tours, some live reunions with Spock’s Beard, some non-prog solo albums, and of course a constant stream of “Inner Circle” releases to his biggest fans. And he even had an assist with Spock’s Beard, helping them in the songwriting department.
And I haven’t even mentioned live albums, of which there have been about a half-dozen with various projects since 2011. Looking forward, the project he is currently supporting is also his newest, The Neal Morse Band. Featuring many of the same people who have toured with him over the years, this album differs in that the other musicians also helped to write the album, titled The Grand Experiment. So it’s safe to say Neal Morse has been a busy man, and I’d like to say that in this interview we are looking back at less hectic times, but this kind of non-stop tour and release schedule has been a trademark of Neal Morse for well over two decades now.
When I spoke with Peter in 2011 he was in the midst of a rather large bump in his worldwide exposure. Working with James LaBrie on his 2010 solo album had certainly helped introduce him to a new audience, but it was auditioning for Dream Theater and the accompanying documentary about the process that immediately gave him a high standing amongst a new group of fans. Since we spoke to him Peter has kept busy with his main band Darkane, and has been touring with them as well as releasing a new album in 2013 called The Sinister Supremacy. He also worked with James LaBrie again in 2013 on Impermanent Resonance, and in 2014 on the digital only EP I Will Not Break. So, in our next installment of retrospective interviews, let’s look back on the man who only narrowly missed being in Dream Theater today.
I wish I could say I planned it this way, but that’s not the case. Here we are in the fourth week of looking back at past interviews, and up next is Arjen Lucassen, who has a release coming around the corner on March 23rd (Europe) and 24th (US). The new album is a collaboration with fellow Dutch musician Anneke van Giersbergen under the moniker The Gentle Storm, and a review of that album can be found right here!
That isn’t the only news for Arjen since we spoke to him in October of 2010. The album he was promoting at the time, Star One’s Victims of the Modern Age went on to win my album of the year nod, as well as Arjen himself as songwriter of the year, and it featured my vocalist of the year, Russell Allen. He then went on to two other big projects. First, he released his first true solo album in 2012, Lost in the New Real. Then in 2013 he returned to his mainstay, and Ayreon released The Theory of Everything in 2013. It’s worth mentioning that those albums landed at #4 and #3 on their years respectively. And yes, I’m aware I may have an affinity for tall Dutch progressive composers. I’ve made peace with that!
Official Arjen Anthony Lucassen Page
Shadow Gallery are a band that have been near and dear to my heart for many years for a variety of reasons. I became a fan shortly after the release of Room V, and very quickly became a very big fan from there. It wasn’t till after I became a big fan I realized how much of a “local” band they were, recording most of their albums to that point within a mile or two of my home. What really hit home, in the most somber way possible, is when I saw the obituary for original vocalist Mike Baker in my local paper.
After some time the band decided to carry on, and I had the absolute privileged of going to the release party for Digital Ghosts, becoming friends with the band along the way. When I talked to the band for this interview they were getting ready for an important milestone, their first live show. The band debuted their self titled album in 1992, and the interview occurred in August of 2010. The band went on to play their first show in their home state of Pennsylvania, and would then hop the pond to headline ProgPower Europe, as well as the rest of a full European tour. Since then the band has gone out one more time, headlining RoSfest and again playing through Europe, both in celebration of the album Tyranny.
I hope you enjoy this look back at a band of veterans opening a new chapter in their career, an admittedly awestruck and long winded interviewer. Gary has said that it’s the longest interview he’s ever done, and I’ve learned to keep it a bit more compact since!
In our second installment of our interview retrospective series we take a look at Richard Henshall, the lead songwriter, guitarist, and sometimes keyboardist for the British outfit Haken. In the summer of 2010 Haken were still high on the success of their debut album, Aquarius. This particular host had named Aquarius the “Newcomer of the Year”, and I’m happy to report the band has certainly shown since that they deserved the title.
Since I spoke with Hen, Haken have released two more full length albums, and most recently an EP of tracks that are re-writes of early years material. Seeing and talking to the band on Progressive Nation at Sea was one of the highlights of that trip, and watching their rise through the prog ranks has been an absolute pleasure. So, let us go back to a time when they were simply impressive upstarts out of Britain!
To go along with the revamped website, we’re going to take a look back at some of the artists that have been kind enough to speak with us in the past, send out the interview as a podcast, and give an update an where they are at now. As our very first interview was text only, we’re going to jump ahead now to the second interview, conducted with a fresh face out of France, Nicolas Chapel.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nicolas when he visited North America prior to the first Demians album being released, and was happy to follow the band once they released their debut, Building an Empire, in 2008. Our interview was conducted on the eve of his second album Mute being released. Since that time it’s no surprise that Nicolas has decided to go to the personal distribution route. Already being the sole performer on his albums, he self released Mercury in December of 2014.
I hope everyone enjoys this look back at the mind behind Demians!