Features http://www.progmeister.com//features.php PROGMEISTER2...TO BE OR NOT TO BE? 5/15/2011 11:23:52 AM

Sitting in The Moorings eatery the other day with Glacier bass specialist Bob Mulvey the initial ideas for Progmeister 2 were discussed. Of course finding a suitable venue was high on the agenda now that the Studio has closed its doors. Numerous options are being considered and if anyone out there in Prog land has any suggestions please write in and let is know at
We have already been contacted by numerous bands and artists wanting to play at Progmeister 2 and if all goes to plan it promises to be another exciting day. However, I am hoping that the lethargy induced by modern life styles doesn’t prevent people from attending. During our discussion Bob and I vented our frustration at what can be described as laziness inherent in many fans of good live music. The luxury of watching a concert DVD or streaming footage via your computer in the trappings of the home gives rise to such attitude.
It can be understood that the economic situation in the country has affected people’s ability to travel as fuel is not cheap or indeed beer, food and other such necessities when you get to a venue. Not to mention that we’re all not getting any younger. My view is that in comparison to a premiership football match ticket or indeed a concert ticket for one of the big name prog acts like Yes et al (God knows how much the tickets will be for Pink Floyd) It makes The Progmeister festival a very good proposition. 
Progmeister 2 is many months away and in the very early planning stage and to assist in the decision making process with regard to bands and all of the logistics we would appreciate some feedback or suggestions. A lot of hard work goes into the organizing of such events and it is important not to break the law of diminishing returns. Therefore it is important to know if there is sufficient interest before setting out on such ventures.
On a different note, the news of possible Pink Floyd shows is what everyone wanted to hear and one of the best things that could happen to reaffirm to the masses that prog is still very much alive and kicking. It makes me proud to be British.

IN CONVERSATION WITH JEFF GREEN. 4/26/2011 2:58:48 PM Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4


I recently had the pleasure of talking to one of the nicest human beings in the music business Jeff Green.

I travelled north to Whitely Bay, braving my phobia of fog, where Jeff was playing with the Illegal Eagles.  Jeff was there to greet me on my arrival and guide me back stage where the other band members were busy preparing for their performance.


We made ourselves comfortable in the changing room and engaged in a lengthy discussion.


PM: Thank you so much for the interview Jeff.


JG: No problem, thanks for coming along.


PM: Tell me about Jessica, given the subject matter being about the loss of your daughter it’s not at all what I expected.


JG: Yes, when I set about recording the album I wanted to capture pride, anger and acceptance.  Myself and ex wife, Jude, experienced many emotions.  Jude suffered the trauma of having to go through the birth knowing that Jessica’s heartbeat had stopped.  I think you know what I mean, Phil Chelmsford tells me you have been through something similar.


PM: Yes, my first little boy, Ben, lived only a few weeks after he was born having developed respiratory distress syndrome, so I am in tune with your pain. Was this expressed in songs like ‘On this Night’?


JG: Very much so.  You can hear anger in other songs too like ‘Tomorrow Never Came’ and ‘Prittlewell Chase’.


PM: ‘On this Night’ reminds me very much of Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ album, I noticed that you included the sound of a car speeding away at the end, its that symbolic of wanting to get away from the situation?


JG: Mmmm, Pink Floyd are a huge influence on me and that’s an interesting observation.  My style is very much like David Gilmours I’m told.  The car signifies the fated night that I left the hospital to tell Jude’s parents what had happened.  I was forever driving along Prittlewell Chase which is the road that Southend General Hospital is on.


PM: I think I dealt with my grief by running away.  Sometimes literally jumping in the car and driving away at speed.


JG: Yes, it can get to you that way.

PM: To be honest if someone handed me a copy of Jessica and told me that it was a new Camel album, but for a few exceptions i would have believed them.

JG: That's been said to me before. I was given some of their stuff to listen to but i just couldn't make the connection. Perhaps i'll have to have another listen to it when i get home.

PM: You just don't see it then?

JG: No.


PM: I notice that you used a 12 string acoustic on ‘Pride’.  It seemed to represent the feeling of ‘Pride’ very well.  Do you think that certain instruments do represent certain emotions?


JG: I’m glad you said that.  Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve.  Yes, there are certain instruments I use that represent emotions like anger etcetera like the guitar synth.  Are you au fait with Prokofiev?


PM: Oh yes, I love Prokofiev.


JG: Peter and the Wolf is a great example of using instruments in such a way.


PM: Yes, you’re so right.  There are some fabulous keyboard sounds on the album.  Is it a real Minimoog being played by Mike Stobbie?


JG: Yes, I was very lucky that Mike agreed to play on the album.  I went over to his place to record the keyboard parts and there was his Minimoog sat there like an antique the pieces that he recorded with which appear on three of the tracks sounded great.


PM: How did you manage to persuade Mike Stobbie to play on the album?


JG: Well, I’ve known Mike since 1997 when we were doing some work for a Carpenters tribute band.


PM: The Carpenters!


JG: Yes, really.  I would be sat in the corner playing ‘Roundabout’ by Yes and Mike would join in.  We are both Prog fans. We stayed in touch and when I needed the keyboard parts for ‘Jessica’ I just called him and he agreed to do them straight away.  He’s a good guy.


PM: He uses some fantastic keyboard sounds throughout the album doesn’t he?


JG: Yes, I remember listening to them and re-recording all of my guitar parts to bring them up to the same level. He raised tha bar a little.


PM: Despite the age of digital technology and being able to record in isolation all of the components on the album are very cohesive.  There is a synergy between all of the players?


JG: Thank you for that.  I was real lucky to have them play.  Phil Aldridge is on there too playing piano.


PM: Tell me about ‘Terrepin Station’.


JG: ‘Terrepin Station’ is my studio project and the name that fronts my business.  When I invoice folks for guitar lessons they are all through ‘Terrepin Station’.  It’s named after a Grateful Dead song, have you heard it?


PM: No, I have never listened to the Grateful Dead.


JG: You should check it out.  It’s awesome.


PM: Tell me about the album you are working on at the moment.  Is there a story behind it?


JG: ‘Elder Creek’ is about the importance of memory and how important our memories are to us.  My parents divorced when I was very young and I went to live with my grandparents.  When my grandmother was hospitalized I went to visit her and she didn’t recognize me.  The nurse sent me away and said I was confusing her.  So that’s why ‘Elder Creek’ is about memory.


PM: It sounds fascinating.


JG: Oh yes, it is.  My dad was involved too with writing etcetera.  The album contains songs about Mnemosyne the Greek goddess of memory.


PM: Fascinating, I’m hooked already.


JG: Well Steve, I’m going to have to go, I’m due on stage in ten minutes.  See you after the show?  Come back stage and meet the guys.


PM: Yes, go and knock em dead Jeff!


I watched Jeff’s faultless performance with the Illegal Eagles which I thoroughly enjoyed.  It made me think how good it would be if Prog bands commanded the audience that matched the numbers of this band.  We talked at length afterwards and really felt that we both had a lot in common on many levels. I sat for half an hour in my car writing my notes hoping that the fog would clear, to no avail.  Worth the trip though.  Jeff Green is the nicest man I have met in the music industry.  I would recommend checking out Jeff’s website and indeed buying a copy of ‘Jessica’.







INTERVIEW WITH TONY PATTERSON.... 4/7/2011 10:56:55 AM Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Having listened extensively to Tony Patterson’s new EP “All The World” I thought I would track him down and see if I could press him on a few issues. Here’s what he had to say……


PM. Hi Tony, good to see you again. What inspired the change in direction whilst writing songs for your latest EP "All The World"?


TP. I wanted to do something different. It's as simple as that really.My last album was an instrumental album. I always viewed it as the soundtrack to a film that hasn't been made yet. With the new EP, I wanted to write 'songs',concentrating on melody rather than 'soundscapes'.


PM. Did you enjoy working with an orchestra again whilst recording "All The World" and "Until The End"?


TP. The Oban Session Orchestra did a fantastic job!


PM. What was your motivation for including an orchestra?


TP. I love Orchestral music. I love the way it enhances rock and pop music. I've worked with Orchestral music in the past writing for music libraries etc,. I even got a chance to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra back in 2006!


PM. Tell me a bit more about how the songs were put together?


TP. The genesis (sorry) of the songs happened with just me and a Piano. They started out very raw and then I just built everything else around them.


PM. Tell me about Spiral.


TP. It's a song about negative emotions and what can come from them. One day I found myself alone in the house and getting very reflective and wistful. It's a song about  a half-empty glass, but by the end the glass is half-full.


PM. Which other musician's were involved with the project?


TP. I did get Norman Glover in on guitar on one track but that particular track never made it to the EP. I'm sure it'll turn up somewhere though.


PM. Mystic City, Newcastle Upon Tyne or indeed a mystic city?


TP. It's yet another anti-drugs song. I did a similar thing on 'Barriers' with the track "Deep into the Night". I've never really understood why someone would want to lose control through drug use. It's something that has never appealed to me. Mind you, some people have asked if I was on drugs when I wrote the track!


PM. I instantly identified with "Celebrate The Sun". Is this perhaps auto-biographic?


TP. No, not at all. I think it's the old hippie in me coming out.


PM. The new EP is released in May. In which formats/media will it be available?


TP. For now, it's download only. It will be available on iTunes and Amazon etc,. you can also download it direct from my website www.tonypatterson.co.uk


PM. There's a rumour going around that you are planning some gigs with a band especially put together to play your own compositions, true or false?


TP. It's  something I'm currently looking at.


PM. What form would such events take?


TP.  Maybe as a support slot and festivals.


PM. Do you think that some of the songs from your new EP reflect a more (dare I say it) romantic side of you?


TP. Absolutely! there's nothing wrong with romance. It's something I've always avoided but this EP is very personal and honest and I wanted to say 'I love you' in some shape or form.


PM. Do you intend to record more songs in a similar style or return to more familiar territory ?


TP. I'd love to do more in this style. It's been a bit of a learning curve. There are several songs that didn't make it to the EP so I may develop them and bring out a full album in the future.


PM. Do you enjoy a self autonomous approach to writing and recording? 


TP. Yes, absolutely. I feel I'm the only one who can realise my ideas. I'm not very good at explaining what I want. When I get an idea going and there's just me, I have have the basic idea finished with guitars, keyboards and drums etc,. finished within an hour.


PM. What next?


TP. A few things are happening. I definitely want to do another project in this style. I've also got an idea for a kind of concept ambient-chill-out style album called 'The Lost Weekend' which I'd like to make a start on soon, as well as continuing the work with a certain Mr. Hackett.


PM. Known to many as a voice and to the minority as a musician, do you think that the songs on you new EP represents your most important work to date

In getting all of your musical talents recognised?


TP. Yes. Definitely, I wanted to avoid the Gabriel associations and go out on a limb with this. I definitely think it is some of my strongest solo work and I'm very proud of it.


PM. And what of other ventures?


TP. I'm venturing down to the pub soon.


PM. Is there still life in the old Prog yet?????


TP. Well, I'm still busy with SoGabriel and other projects so it's good to wear the prog hat now and then.


Thanks for talking Progmeister again Tony. Congratulations on a fine piece of work. We wish you all the best of luck. Will catch up with you soon for beer and chat.

Checkout Tony's new EP "All The World" available now as download from www.progmeister.com











The world really is in a sorry state at the moment isn't it? The whole of the Middle East seems to be on fire, the tragedy that has recently befallen Japan, the economy, the list goes on and on. Recent cuts in the arts budget concerns me a lot too. It is bad enough that local councils don't grit the roads or close public toilets to save money but when they axe the means by which we all escape from the humdrum it becomes even more depressing.

The new Leap Day album was sent to me the other day for review and whilst i was listening to it, it dawned on me that whist i was litening i was transported back to the 1970's and that i had totally forgotton about the current misery that mankind is faced with. No mean feat for a little known Dutch band methinks!

My point is this, never has there been a more important time to support bands in every way possible than now. In a world where stealing music via the internet is fast becoming the norm (bring back vinyl for all new recordings) the main source of income to many bands is to play live.

I think the recent cancellation of this years Nearfest is not only a tragedy but a sign of how tough things are in the present climate. It is up to us all as a music loving community to support bands in any way that we can and prevent yet another piece of our heritage disappear into the ether.

Where do we go to escape the current world crisis? Well, the answer is in your music collection. Put on a record or a CD and transport yourself to another dimention. Better still, if you can afford it get yourself along to a gig and emerse yourself in the shear escapism. Whilst you enjoy it though, remember on your return to Earth who gave you the means. Covet them, appreciate them and above all support them as best you can. Not only bands but the venues in which they play.

Prog, it might be all we have left........

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS 2/2/2011 5:14:27 PM

Being as i am a proghead who's penchant lay firmly with the keyboard fraternity i was recently reflecting upon absent friends. Namely Richard Wright and of course much more recently the tragedy that befell Woolly Wolstenholme. These reflections coinsided with the finding of a compilation disc i did nine years ago following the death of the late Peter Bardens.

I cringed at the low tech CD booklet that i had at the time thought was really good, and decided to play the rather cheap and cheerful CDR within. I must admit to being a little overwhelmed. It had been some time since i listened to the disc and i had forgotten just how talented Pete Bardens was. It didn't take long before i was quickly reminded as the first few bars of Westward Ho rang out across my room.

It also made me think of the fragility of the aging prog population. Rick Wakeman spending more time as a grumpy old man on the telly and Emo's health scares serve as reminders that not all that is good will last for ever. However, music chronicles your life and listening to given musical pieces can transport the mind to happier and easier times.

Pete Bardens left a healthy musical legacy that may well be little thought of by the masses but consumed like a fine wine by those in the know. The body of work that exists from the late sixties to his untimely passing in January 2002 is more extensive than you may think. Pete Bardens recorded some fantastic albums though he will probably be remembered best for his work with Camel.

My view is that his work wasn't that of a musical genius or indeed a great technician but that of a hands on muso who's enthusiasm and raw sponteneous talent can be heard via his compositions and wonderful use of sound and texture. Best known as a jazz influenced organist he was as adept playing a Mini Moog or laterly adopting newer technology which he was well ahead of the pack utilising creatively.

At the time i compiled the disc i had just taken delivery of a CD recorder which enabled me to transfer analogue to digital so many of the tracks i had transfered from vinyl. I was reminded of this when on first hearing the opening track afer all these years i was greeted by a very loud thump through my precious speakers and complete with cracks and pops coming fom my CD player felt right at home.

I listened to the disc in it's entirity as i felt unable to leave it unattended any longer than it had been. My job at the weekend will be to transfer my now coveted compilation to a quality CDR to prolong it's life a little longer and use my somewhat improved imagination and computer skill manufacturing a better booklet.

Pete Bardens along with his afore mentioned brethren not only left a rich musical legacy which touched us all and influenced many, they carved a template from which many contempory prog artistes draw their style and technique. I intend to celebrate with wine and song in the company of my like minded friends the heritage that has been left by Pete Bardens by broadcasting my jewel to them and allowing them to drink my single malt for absent friends.

I am very lucky to be one of the many who witnessed Pete playing live and i am hoping that my ramblings may just jog a memory or two which may spur you on to give his music a new airing following nine years in a world without him. With regard to the rest of our rapidly aging heroes, may i quote from one of Pete's songs, "gather the roses while you may". I have enjoyed revisiting the diverse and interesting recording career of this gentleman of the Hammond and intend to do so for quite some years to come.

For those who may be remotely interested. The Progmeister's complilation was/is as follows

Westward ho
Slow motion
Shape of the rain
Columbine (From where i pinched the above quote)
In dreams
Sea of dreams
China blue
Last waltze/for old times sake
After dark
The zone
Futher than you know
Hopi prayer
Spirit of the water (solo piano demo version. exquisite!)
Rain talk.


Following on from my recent review of Traces by Nine Stones Close I got in touch with Adrian Lee who is to all intense and purpose Nine Stones Close. Being kind enough to call me from the Netherlands one cold and bitter eve, here is what he had to say.


PM. Hi Adrian. Many thanks for the call, how are things with you?


AJ. Well, it’s pretty severe here and we’re pretty much snowed in. Apart from that not we’re not too bad.


PM. Congratulations on the album by the way. I really enjoyed it. On the heavier side of rock methinks?


AJ. Yes I’m a big Jimmy Page fan and I have always leaned toward his style of playing and it shows on the new album.


PM. How did you get started?


AJ. Well, I’m originally from Sheffield but I played with a few local bands in Wiltshire in the eighties whilst working in the area and developed my style there.


PM. Did anything come of these bands?


AJ. One particular band who I thought were going places quickly disbanded following the walking out of the singer. Shame really, because we had a few songs recorded and they sounded pretty good. But most of them didn’t really do much.


PM. I noticed on your Myspace that two of your influences are Dream Theatre and Transatlantic. I recently reviewed The Whirlwind and thought it was terrific. Are they your main source of influence?


AJ. Not really. I absolutely love them but my main influences’ hark back to the seventies. Jimmy Page in particular. To me he is king. Rush, David Gilmour and of course Andy Latimer who plays with such feeling and soul are without doubt the main people from whom I draw influence and style.


PM. I thoroughly agree about Andy Latimer. To me there simply hasn’t enough attention afforded to him. He’s a genius.


PM. On to Traces, The differences in production are astounding compared to you first album. What do you attribute to this?


AJ. Quite simple, more time was taken with this project than the last and more people where involved.


PM. It’s a fairly bleak and dark affair isn’t it?


AJ. Yes. Sometimes not everything is sweet and light. As you said in your review, Roger Waters made a few bob from being gloomy.


PM. I thoroughly agree. Is there a story behind it?


AJ. Not as such. The songs on the album reflect how I feel when I’m writing.  I was involved in a head on collision whilst travelling in France with my family in 2002 which left us all badly injured. This became a vehicle for my first album however, you can’t stop reflecting on such times and to be honest I think it’s ok to be a bit dark sometimes.


PM. Why Traces?


AJ. It’s all about traces of yourself that is left behind when your not there. Art, building things, a loss of innocence, feeling or death.


PM. You had some great help on this album?


AJ. Yes, Brendan Eyre and Marc Atkinson of Riversea played keyboards and provided the vocals whilst Neil Quarrel provided bass.


PM. How did you get to meet Brendan and Marc?


AJ. It was at a Marillion convention in The Netherlands where I am based these days. Brendan was nursing the mother of all hangovers when we started to chat. He told me of Christmas song that he and Marc had recorded and invited me to add a guitar solo.  From there Brendan passed on the files to Marc and the rest as they say is history.


PM. They seemed to add another dimension to the album.


AJ. Marc is a great singer and he wrote the lyrics to “falling To Pieces” too. Brendan added some really atmospheric keyboard textures. When myself and my wife listened to the finished product we were bowled over.


PM. So tell me, Nine Stones Close???


AJ. Mmm! My wife would probably be able to explain better, but basically it the phrase is derived from a stone circle in Derbyshire. I think it’s somewhere near Bakewell.


PM. I thought the cover was terrific.


AJ. Yes, I’m very pleased with it. He’s very gifted is Ed Unitsky.


PM. What of future projects?


AJ. I’ve been chatting to Brendan (Eyre) lately about doing something together outside of our usual stuff. Probably in the new year I would think. I’ll tell you more about it when I know.


PM. Adrian thanks so much. Please keep me informed of developments and have a great Christmas.


AJ. You too. Good talking to you.


For more information check out











GUY MANNING INTERVIEW. 12/14/2010 5:00:58 PM

I am really pleased to announce that Guy Manning will be headlining at the forthcoming one day prog festival in Teesside next March. Here's what he had to say when todders caught up with him recently.

1.Your new album “Charlestown” is going to be released on October 25th 2010. What are you hopes and aspirations for this release?

a) It is well liked mainly!
b) Maintains the high quality / standard that I feel the other have had or have at least been working towards
c) Selling lots of them would also be very nice :0)

2. Is there a concept or story associated with “Charlestown”?

Not with the album as a whole, but certainly around the title piece, which centres around one voyage made by the Barquetine, the WATERWITCH in and around 1805? These boats regularly left the port of Charlestown in Cornwall to make their way around Lands End and up to Bristol or Liverpool delivering China Clay. Now most of thee voyages were event free but that would not make a good sea faring yarn for an epic ‘prog’ piece and so lots of events happen along the way!

My band and supporters often comment that a lot of my compositions are based on the topics of ‘Death’ or the Sea (which I think is right when I look at the back catalogue); with Charlestown I was able to combine the two at last! I did some research into the boat etc and port via the Charlestown maritime museum plus visited the port myself.
It was walking on the decks of the Tall ships in the port that set my mind wandering on this as a theme in the first place

3.Does the new album build on the last in a natural way or do you think it moves further ahead or takes a different path?

Hmm, that is tricky…not sure really. In some ways it draws upon lots elements from all of the previous albums and yet in others places goes beyond in the use or orchestral sections and arrangements.
I think any progression from the last one is organic and natural but as I really only write to please myself (which ensures I do not have to reproduce any previous style or move in any pre-directed direction etc) I can only hope it moves us long nicely.

4.How do you normally begin the song writing process, I know a lot of musicians have little notebooks full of jottings that they keep over the years and refer back to them from time to time for lyrics and inspiration?

Well, I think an idea for a new piece can arise from any number of situations for me. A musing on a storyline or hearing a passing comment, a nice chord progression on the guitar or keyboard, a leading drum or percussion rhythm which sets the cogs in motion, a title for a piece that pops in my head…. The lyrical or narrative content may follow on from a musical doodling or precede them.
The truth is I don’t really know but I am just glad I keep getting ideas!

With some musical ideas I can use a ‘stream of consciousness’ method for lyrics writing which is a pompous way of saying having got a tune/rhythm going I sit with a mike and just make stuff up and record it…some of this later will be used or discarded depending on quality. Sometimes, very occasionally, I can get to the end, listen back to it and it all makes some sort of sense (if you know what I mean?)

5.What has been your biggest challenge during recording, and have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

This time around it was getting the guys together and actually putting time in to record their parts!
Normally, I do most of it myself and just overdub the others on. This time Dave Albone wanted to real drums but could not commit time until much later in the process than I normally like. Of course then, I had to book a studio and spend a few days recording his parts, then, bring these back and integrate them on my PC.
I think the fact that Dave actually recorded his drums though does back a lot of difference on how the album sounds and is all the better for it, IMO.

Likewise, the others in the live band are busy, busy so I had to grab the odd hour here and there or do it myself in the end!

All time consuming for one man who has a normal day job and a family too.

The other factor was that some of the arrangements had been conceived with a view to how we could possibly perform them…perhaps…so this accounting in places made instrument choices more difficult.

6.The cover art for the new album looks very striking, how important do you feel that it is in the presentation of the album as a whole?

The artwork and the lyrics are so very important to me, nearly as much as the music. They provide the whole package, the whole clue and insight into the stories (they add that 3rd dimension) - something you cannot really appreciate if you download it (legally or illegally).
Plus, you should always have an album cover that leaps from the CD case at you. This helps if you want to get noticed in a wave of other CDs on stalls, shops etc. I always seek to try and make an Iconic front cover image!

7. How do you normally deal with any negative comments or criticism towards your music?

What negative comments????….come on, show me where …name them!!


There have been many across the 10 albums, after all, this is not music that will appeal to everybody (even within the ‘prog’ community). People have to make a judgement call because there is a vast amount of music and bands out there now. Some people don’t like my singing voice, some people prefer their ‘prog’ more smooth, more AOR and with lots of widdly, widdly virtuoso soloing going on all the time. Me? I tend to place the solos I want into the songs and metre their length and feel. Put them into some sort of context, more like a lead instrument in an orchestral arrangement.

If you are a big YES fan you may not like CARAVAN or you may not like GENTLE GIANT or HENRY COW. “Progressive” covers a hell of a lot of music and there are many arguments on sites on the Net where these sorts of genre classification battles take place all the time!

And I like my singing, so tough! Can’t please everybody and so why worry if you can help it.

The only things I really detest are unqualified criticisms, like just stating “it is awful” but not saying why it is awful in their opinion or a review which tells you absolutely nothing about the music at all but is written purely to make the reviewer appear intelligent, clever or witty!

8. How do you decide that the time is right to go into the studio to record an album? Or is it an ongoing process?

Ongoing really, I like the writing phase best of all so am always itching to go get into that, the rest of it….the recording, mixing and production phases etc are a necessary evil I think if you want to release it commercially. As you can see from my track record I normally have an album released every year and this is number 11 (if you don’t count the work I have done with the Tangent and on the Colossus Project discs in there as well)

9. Finance always comes into play when you record a new album, would there be anything that would have been different with the album or you would have changed if money was not an obstacle?

Oh lots!!!!
a) To be able to take time getting the musicians away from the daily grind and into recording / rehearsing mode easier, somewhere (“getting your head together in the country” as was) with no worries about expense
b) Better and more professional recording facilities
c) A real producer!! Oh bliss!
d) Real strings and choirs etc

10.There seems to be an obsession amongst journalists and some music fans with trying to pigeon hole artists into a particular genre, are you comfortable with the progressive rock label you have been tagged with, or do you not feel that you fit into a particular genre and are happy as long as you are making good music?

On one hand I can state for the record that IMO I think some of my songs are not really ‘prog’ but just songs of no genre really or at least transcending boundaries and other most definitely are.
Depends again on your definition of ‘prog’ see earlier!

I see myself as a song writer, pure and simple nothing more nothing less.

It is however very difficult to argue that you are not a ‘prog’ band when you release 3 albums on the ProgRock label and then go on to release with a label who also runs progrock.co.uk mail order!

11.What would you like to achieve musically that you haven't done yet?

A few more sales would be good!!!! I think a lot of people may like my stuff if they got to hear it more (Who knows?)

Musically though, I am reasonably pleased with what I have done (although I do think they could have sounded better if I was a better producer).

I would like us to perform in more countries. The chance to go to ROSFEST in 2010 was a dream come true for us. I also would like to do Europe if we ever get the offers that would help us break even on it…but venues where we can do this sort of stuff now are harder than ever to secure.

12.I have noticed on a few forum posts that you have mentioned that your fans need to give your new album a few listens before they judge the music as it is not as immediate as your last album “Number Ten” can you explain this in a little more detail?

The world of the CD and prog is a funny old thing! In the old days (Yes, I am that old), we used to get about 21 mins. of music on a side of an LP and then have to turn it over (a nice little break in the middle) to continue (or not). Along comes the CD and woe betide if you put only 40 mins. of music on it….no, it has to be c. 60 mins. else you get accused or short changing the buyer! In other words, nearly a double album each time!…quite a feat to achieve regularly.

With Charlestown, the title piece is 36mins long and in many sections to tell the narrative tale. These go from rocky fast bits to very quiet introspective portions. It is a long listen especially IF you do not know it. The funny thing about long pieces is, the more familiar you get with them, the shorter they feel! OK Charlestown is not another “THE WHIRLWIND” (Transatlantic), but it is not another SONGS FROM THE BILSTON HOUSE either!

However, there is lot of music out there and so it’s a big risk putting a long suite on. The listener may not hear what they are looking for in the first 5 mins. and it may go in the bin!

I definitely feel that this album is more of a challenge to appreciate quickly and does not speed to give up a sugar rush to the listener…it has to be allowed to permeate and become familiar to really get into it. There is enough in the way of good old Manning lyrical and narrative content and melodies though to make this a strong album but, there are bits where it does go more into the ‘what is going on here?’ territory.

I personally like a challenge, I love the fact that TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS or A PASSION PLAY were not an immediate hit, but had to worked on and invested in….that is why I love them now as much as I did then….they have stayed with me all these years!

13.Are there any other projects you are working on at the moment that you wish to share?

Not at the moment. All eyes and ears are on MANNING right now and getting it ready to perform
Next year, who knows? I may do something off left of field to this ….not sure yet.
I am open to offers for the exploration of collaboration if anyone wants to work with me??

14.How difficult do you find it balancing your family, work, and music together?

Sometimes it feels harder than others, but I have been doing it for so long now that I am used to it.
I would love to devote more of my time to it and not have to go to a daily job to earn the mortgage payments, but sadly, that is the way for a lot of us out there today.

15.In your opinion who would you name as the one person or band that has had the biggest influence on the music you make?

Oh dear…another tricky one…just ONE?
Who made me want to do what I do…do you mean? Probably Ian Anderson / Jethro Tull.
I have a long an enduring love for all their music, which I will take to my grave!

16.Is there any music artist or band you are currently listening to that you would recommend to your fans to listen to and are you prepared to name a band or artist you would consider as a guilty pleasure?

Well lots, but I only get to hear new music when I am not in the throws of making my own, so in brief periods in the annual album production cycle!
Tinyfish’s newie “THE BIG RED SPARK “ ticked all the boxes for me
Moon Safari’s “BLOMLJUD” is fabulous
Big Big Trains’ “THE UNDERFALL YARD” is excellent. I now want to hear the new EP!

I also have lots of artists that I love that may not appeal to everyone
I have some ELO, MEATLOAF, BARRY MANILOW, CARPENTERS albums in my vast collection and even a CLIFF RICHARD album or two as well !!! Hee Hee

I love lots and lots of music really so it is hard to not have a ‘guilty’ pleasure in some cases, but I like them, so I am NOT feeling at all guilty!

17. You will be playing a number of live dates in the near future in support of “Charlestown” is this something you really enjoy or do you just see it as necessary as far as promoting the new album?

OK, this again is multi parter….

I love to meet and perform for people!!! BUT the bits I do not like are the amounts of rehearsing we have done in order to just play only one date in 3 months and also the loading /unloading of the gear into the cars / homes at passed Midnight to drive back again! Oh, for some roadies!!!!

At ROSFEST we were spoiled rotten, we stayed back in the hotel or chatted with everyone at the gigs and then all we had to do was turn up and help set the gear up and then rest up and then go on…it was all done for us…Oh! the joy!!!!

18. Outside of music are there any other hobbies that you have?

Well I love watching films and Sci-Fi stuff plus lots of reading

19.How do you feel about the electronic distribution of music and do you ever envisage a time when eventually there will be no physical product as in a CD to distribute?

Yes, I can see a time when no one releases something you actually get to hold in your hands!
Which is a real shame (See my comments on artwork/lyrics)
I still miss the gatefold sleeve LP cover myself!

Does it make it easier for people to hear it.??? …..YES!

Does it I mean that you get a fair hearing???...NO!. You can choose to just download ONE track and the,n make a judgement call on the band from that….
Imagine someone recommending PINK FLOYD and you went to a download site and downloaded the track “SEAMUS” from MEDDLE and made a judgement call on the band from that – dangerous!!!

Does it make it easier for people to get hold of it and not pay anything for it???…YES!

Thank you for spending the time to do this interview I wish you all the best with your new album and hopefully you will get the recognition you deserve with “Charlestown”

You can pre-order the new Guy Manning Album which will be released on the 25th October from www.guymanning.com

Interviewed By Adrian Jones (Todders) For Caerllysi Music and Harmonic Lizard.


I was shocked recently by a comment made to me in an email from an online forum.  I had joined the forum to share the views of others with regard to hi-fi and related subjects.  It wasn’t long before the subject of music was broached and therefore prog. 



Assault via e-mail is the way I would describe it.  I was frustrated to say the least to witness such bigotry and amazed that it still exists with regard to modern progressive music.  On mentioning bands like IQ, Pendragon and Combination Head I was informed that “Prog rock in its day was good, however, the originals cannot be bettered and everything else is but an imitation”.


I was very quick to remove myself and distance myself from the forum and its Masonic tendencies and was more determined than ever to champion the virtues of new materiel from both new and well established artistes


Of course we are all entitled to our opinion, though I am sometimes surprised with just how venomous prog music can be spoken about even by the musicians themselves.  There are numerous genres of music that I just don’t fully appreciate but I don’t feel the need to be damning towards them. There’s enough room for everyone methinks.



In these times of x-factor and cyber-musicians I think a little retro music is just what we need.  Taking a look recently Caerllsi music website there is so much to choose from.  Unlike many I think these are exciting times with lots of interesting bands and musicians recording albums that not only rival the standards of the seventies but in many ways actually better them. So many people out there listen to there hi-fi and stop listening to the music being played on them. That is not meant as a generalisation as i am sure there are many who have managed to get the balance right.



I never did reply to my dissenter, though, baring in mind some of the things that he had written I would like to take the opportunity and qote Nick Barrett of Pendragon who shouted very loudly at the recent High Voltage Festival “Only Prog can save us now”.  You know what?  He may well be right.



The Alan Parsons Project. A time machine? 8/29/2010 5:55:58 PM

I make no apology for my love of progressive rock music. Its pomposity and weird time signatures set it apart from most other forms of music. During a recent debate with an old friend we discussed the merits and demerits of many of the major exponents of the genre and even questioned just who fell into the category.


This made me reflect on the best decade of discovery with regard to progressive music, the nineteen seventy’s. Having been blown away by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and other such epics I developed a hunger for other interesting musicians and artists.



Being as I am a closet anorak when it comes to the subject of hi-fi, I was to be found most Saturdays in the local emporium listening to the latest piece of kit. It was on such a mission that I first heard The Alan Parsons Project. If my memory serves me correctly it was during the demonstration of the latest turntable of the day that I first experienced I Robot. At that time I had no idea that a previous album existed and Pyramid was just in the process of being recorded.



It wasn’t long before I had purchased Tales and mystery of imagination the very first Alan Parsons album. The album was all about the stories of Edgar Allen Poe and it was listening to this album that inspired me to read his books and stories. By the time that Pyramid was released in 1978 I was completely smitten.



Every album that was recorded by this tour de force was bedecked with diamond personnel. Parsons used his position as studio engineer at

Abby Road to enlist the very best musicians, orchestras and choirs. These included the boys from Pilot, David Paton, Ian Bairnson and Stuart Elliott as well as John Miles, Colin Bluntstone and the fabulous Lenny Zakatek.The music of the Alan Parsons Project was a huge departure from anything else that the major players of the day were doing. Each album had a flavour of it’s own with different concepts and story boards.


However, it was the collaboration between Alan Parsons and the late Eric Woolfson that made the early albums very special. The songs beautifully sung by Eric were often a contrast to the grandiose of the larger scale pieces which featured The English Chorale and orchestra usually conducted by Andrew Powell. It wasn’t until 1984’s

Ammonia Avenue that Eric started singing and writing songs like “Don’t Answer Me” which seemed to be a pastiche of the Motown sound which heralded for inclusion on the album of more diverse compositions. In my opinion this was a turning point and a welcome one.


Following the release of Gaudi Eric went his own way recording Freudiana under his own name. It was after this that Alan Parsons began to make albums under his own name dropping the Project moniker. I was always impressed that Alan Parsons kept abreast of new technology and recording techniques and the four albums he made from 1994 till 2004 remained high quality items. I do feel that they are to be savoured in there own right though and not compared with the magic of the earlier albums which to me will always be very special.



Music chronicles your life. When I listen to I Robot I am instantly transported back to a Hi-fi shop in 1977 where I first witnessed as Austin Powers put it “the awesome power of The Alan Parsons Project”. I still see and hear the magic of those recordings now and like Dark Side Of The Moon They stand the test of time.



Many of the original titles have since been remastered with bonus material and enhanced booklets giving a detailed history. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. As for the debate in the pub, well, I stick to my guns. The Alan Parsons Project are not only prog, they represent the highest quality prog that there is. I have no doubt I will have my dissenters but what ever label you care to hang on them, The Alan Parsons Project were a class act. I thoroughly recommend that you revisit them.







High Voltage fever!!!! 7/27/2010 7:31:46 AM

My tired bones are just in the process of regaining normality after one of the best weekends i have spent for many years. The High Voltage Festival in London's Victoria Park was without doubt one of the best musical events that i have ever attended. Having arrived in good time to gain entry we qued with the other disiples clocking one anothers t-shirts. A culture which seems to be quite tribal at such huge outdoor events. Touchstone took to the stage before everyone had chance to gain admission. A mammoth task for organisers i am sure, searching, and checking such a huge body of people. We did manage to catch most of their set though and they were excellent. A very worthy opening band for such a huge event. Pendragon took to the stage at 13:20 and played a blinding set. As the sun beat down (no pun intended) and amidst very humid conditions they palyed some of thie most recent material though for me it was master of illusion that i enjoyed most.

They finished their set by anouncing that "Only Prog Can Save Us Now", a maxim that i will take with me to the grave. The technical hardware of Pendragon was quickly tidied away by the tremendous and extremely hard working stage crew to be replaced with a far less elaborate and fairly low tech set up as Focus prepared for their turn. Thijs Van Leer chopped at an ageing Hammond organ and checked the sound levels of his flute before launching into Focus 3. Looking a little bit like the Frank Carson of the keyboards he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Playing such classics as Tommy, Sylvia, House Of The Kings and of course Hocus Pocus the band seemed top make the sun shine even more. I was sad to see them leave the stage.

As the crew did their thing and prepared for Bigelf we decided to duck out for food and beer whilst we watched gary Moore doing his thing on the main stage. Definately a crowd pleaser Gary and his band played a good set and were very entertaining. As we made our way back to the Prog stage via the beer tent and urinary village we were treated to the delights of Dweezil Zappa. At first i was unsure and for a brief few moments went to check out the hammer stage. I was drawn back to Mr Zappa as i was betwixed the two stages and i have to say both him and his band were excellent. By the time they had finished their incredible set i honestly felt that i had been given more than my money's worth. I was and still am unfamilier with any of the materiel that they played but it didn't spoil my enjoyment at all. One of my friends commented that he would be buying tickets to see the band on tour.

As the heat of the afternoon took it's toll we retreated beneath the huge tree beside the stage and consumed yet more larger whils we watched Asia's tools being assembled. Introduced by no less than Roger Dean himself they played the best set i have ever seen them play. All the faves were here playing most of their first album, Sole Survivor, One Step Closer,Wildest Dreams, Heat of The Moment and many more. Of the newer pieces An Extraordinary Life ticked all the boxes for me. Consumate professionals. There was of course the obligatory Palmer drum solo but in my opinion the band were so tight and working with such synergy that no one member could be identified as better than the other, absolutely blinding. Time for tea and a vist to the bar before Transatlantic completed the running of the day on the Prog stage. We took a little time out and visited some of the many attractions. Classic cars and motor bikes, Wall Of Death as well as many of the eateries stationed perfectly for all three stages. Not being too au fe with the music of Transatlantic i was looking forward to hearing just what they were all about. I was totally amazed. The opening song totalled up to about 77 minutes and was amazing. Having only seen Neil Morse play with Spocks Beard iwas surprised at his competance with regard to his instruments. Probably one of the most enigmatic men of the festival. Portnoy's drums as powerful as ever they left the crowd breathless. The highlight of their performance for me was that as everyone was walking away thinking that they had left the stage for the last time, they returned with Steve Hackett and played "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed" Astounding.

By this time my aching legs were reminding me that i'm not getting any younger. We had one last walk North to the main stage to catch a little of the ZZ Top set. After ten minutes we decided to retire. I don't think my comments about ZZ Top's performance would be appreciated so i will keep them to myself. Let's just say that we three amigo's were very underwelmed.
After a few ours of sleep and some paracetamols it was back through the streets of Hackney to Victoria Park.

No such problems getting in as the previous day which allowed us to catch the Reasoning in their entirity. They were excellent and just like Touchstone the day before a fantastic opening act. Again, a band who's materiel i am unfamilier with. I intend to put that right though. They were brilliant. Easy on the eye too. To some peoples bewilderment Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash were on next. Anyone like myself who had bought a laniard were expecting Steve Hackett. For some reason the order had been changed to that of the original as advertised on the High Voltage site. I was a bit confused as to why Wishbone Ash were appearing on the Prog stage. I would have though they were more classic rock or indeed blues. Half way through their set however the need for all things to sustain us took priority and we had to leave what sounded like a really good entertaining set.

It was on our quest for food and rest that we happened upon a little oasis in the trees called Motley Brew. I was approached and asked if i would like to join their facebook. Most importantly to me was it had seats and sold proper tea for £1 per mug. Such a contrast to the expensive surroundings. Right next door to them was Osteorox a team of trained ciropractors who seemed very bust tending to peoples aching necks,backs arms, you name it. I was seriously concidering some treatment. Sound them out. Indeed sound out Motly Brew on face book. They're diamomd geezers.

Wending our way back to the brog stage full of burgers and chicken we witnessed the awsome Steve Hackett. I have seen Steve many times in concert with many configurations of personnel. With exception of the Nick Magnus years it was the most exciting,interesting and diverse i have ever seen him and his band. Starting the set with Everyday and Ace Of Wands Steve was on to a winner. Moving through newer material such as fire on the moon to a medley of Genesis pieces. Nick Beggs seemed to have many of the crowd intrigued with his garb. Black leather waist coat c/w matching pleated kilt like skirt Nick's bass playing beggered belief. Much more at home with playing the bass padals too that Steve previous bass man. For me and the boys Hackett and his exceptional band were the highlight.

Uriah Heep followed Steve playing their Demons and Wizard's album in it's entirity. And very good they were too. Watching them made me think of spinal tap type rockers. These guys were the real deal. The crowd were very appreciative of their heroes perfomance and quite rightly too. They were great. I think they fulfilled many nostalgia fixes. As hard as the act was to follow Argent did it admirably. Starting off with it's only money and working through some great Russ Ballard compositions such as God Gave Rock N Roll To You and many more. I particularly enjoyed I Don't Believe In Miracles and Hold Your Head High. Ultimately though it was She's Not There that won the day for me. Not strictly prog though, more classic rock. Although that Argent did have foray's into prog with perhaps the Circus album this was definately a set to motivate the crowd and it did just that.

As afternoon moved to teatime it was food and back to Motley bew's for more tea, a flapjack and a sit down before heading to the prog stage for the last time. Marillion had without doubt drawn the largest audience to the Prog stage and opened with a blinding segment of their Marbles album. Unfortunately it was always on the cards that i would be unable to see their complete set due to an overlap of E.L.P.'s performance on the main stage. I am reliably informed by others that they were magnificent. So much about any festival is compromise. You can't be in two places at once and i felt it more importand to go and stake my pitch up front to see may heroes. Fortunately for us all, Marillion's set was recorded and filmed.

When we got to the main stage the previous act to E.L.P were still playing. There seemed to be confusion as to when to stop playing. As Joe elliott/Ian Hunter and the down n outs were asked to leave the stage because their alloted time was up there seemed to be a little friction which spilled out back stage. Some members of the crowd witnessed the ensuing tantrums and theowing of a guitar. Well, it is rock and roll.

As the evening grew darker and E.L.P.'s equipment was finely tuned and tweaked the tension was rising.And then Keith Emerson followed by his partners in crime walked calmly onto the stage and took up their stations. As they blasted their way through Karnevil 9 it was evident that they were setting themselves a more managable pace than in previous performances. Quite rightly too. Going back right in time for the second piece of the night the three Fates plodded a little bit before getting there wings for Bitches Crystal. Knife Edge was the first time in the evening at just how low Greg Lakes voice can go and as a contrast in the next song From The Beginning just how pure his voice still is. Without doubt the best i have heard this particular son. It was beautiful. The band did not disppoint on many levels though it was plain to see to all that Keith Emerson struggled with the disability in his left hand. This in no way removed him from hero status in my mind because the newly freshened Tarkus was a joy to behold. The opus of Pictures At An Exhibition was a work of genious. Again show casing Gregs pure yet powerful voice.

The residence of Hackney would have no doubt thought that they were under invasion as air raid sirens and extremely loud cannons being fired during and completing this piece thundered out across the park. Coming back to the stage following a lot of clapping, shouting and cheering the three pioneers of prog give the baying crowd a treat as they played Fanfare for the common man during which Carl Palmer played his second drum solo of the festival this time on a rotating kit. Mr Emerson also demolished his aging Hammond with some gymbnastics and a couple of carving knives. A fitting end to the inaugural High Voltage festival. A simply must attend even for any prog fan. There was something there for everyone. There was a few minor glitches over the weekend that amounted to nothing.

One of the best organised and run festivals the you could possibly go to. Even the toilets were good. Kep your eyes peeled for next year. I returned home tired and worn out thinking to myself "When do i go back"? "I'll be there, i'll be there i will be there"

Some pictures of the high points taken by Ian Kerr. Unfortunately none of the E.L.P. pictures turned out very well.


The mighty Asia



The Reasoning

Steve Hackett. For me, the highlight of the whole festival.


CAMEL. Where would we be without them? 7/11/2010 12:59:26 PM

  CAMEL! What would life be without them?


I am a very firm believer in the fact that you don’t ever miss something until it’s gone or not as freely available to you. Like most people that frequent the Earth I am as guilty as the next man of taking some things for granted. Whilst thumbing my way through the record collection the other day I was halted at the letter C by the influences and memories brought about by one of the most musically inspiring bands in the world, Camel.

There is little I can tell you about Camel that cannot be found on there own website and with a greater degree of accuracy too. Instead my intention is to tell you about the impact that this bastion of prog has had on my views and opinions with regard to music. A famous Scottish manufacturer of Hi-Fi equipment once mused that “music chronicles your life” and I have to agree. Whist I was an apprentice and taking my exams I can think of little else than Katie Lied by Steely Dan and my holidays as a teenager listening to John Miles, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Alan Parsons.  It’s fair to say that the standard bearers throughout all this time would be the big four, E.L.P., Pink Floyd, Genesis and last but not least Yes. However, despite all these bands and their tributaries I would have to site Camel as the band that captured my musical soul in totality.

My musical journey with Camel began in 1976 when I saw a full page add in the Melody Maker for their now eponymous album Moonmadness.  I was intrigued by the whole concept of a camel in a space suit and suspected that it may be just up my street. In the advert were some tour dates and as luck had it one of them was close by. I and a friend hastily bought two tickets without even hearing a note of what they had ever played and from that evening onward became a devout Camel disciple. I soon acquired their three previous albums and cursed my self for what I had been missing. I attended most of their ensuing tours with the odd exception and remain mesmerized to this very day.  I was saddened on some occasions by the all too regular line up changes and musical direction, though thinking back I was probably maturing at a slower pace that Camel’s music. I soon became as in tune with innovation and new directions as the band themselves which made every new Camel album an exciting prospect. Following their 1984 album Stationary Traveler all went quiet on the Camel front as Andy Latimer who to all intent and purpose is Camel left the UK for California, setting up home their with his long term partner Susan Hoover. It was some time before any new music appeared and it was in the form of Dust And Dreams. By this time Andy had set up Camel Productions and basically given the finger to the record companies. It was at this time around 1990 that I started writing to Andy and always received a written response, not something that busy musicians do. Something I have always remembered. I met Andy Latimer twice, once at the lead mill in Sheffield and once at a meet and greet following Camel’s appearance at the 2003 Nearfest in TrentonNew Jersey. On both occasions he remembered my name and on the second occasion he even told me in which town I lived. Something I think  is rather special.  I am only one of many Camel fans and most that I have spoken to are as passionate as I am about the band.

Imagine then how the news of Pete Bardens death affected each and every one of us and the sense of heartfelt disappointment that any possibilities of a reunion with Andy under the Camel guise had been cruelly stolen by the most terrible of diseases.

In the last few years as many of you know Andy himself has been battling illness and fortunately for us all survived to tell the tale. Hopefully the Camel story doesn’t end here? As I ready myself to head to London for the High Voltage Festival I was heartened that there was at least a rumour Andy might make an appearance. Sadly that’s all it was, a rumour. The excitement that I felt for that brief moment though was cameshear bliss.

I have a lot to thank Andy Latimer, Pete Bardens et al for. The quality and diversity of Camel’s work the sincerity and lasting images that I and many others will cherish all our days. Thanks also to Susan Hoover to whom I owe a great deal of gratitude for keeping me a copy of Curriculum Vitae, of which she had only brought a few copies to Nearfest which the band duly signed.

Over the next few months I will be cherry picking some of Camel’s albums and expressing my views about them. I think it hideous to consider that I favour any particular album as it would be like trying to choose one of your children. They are all very different and it would be a mood driven event as to which one I would listen to at any given time.  Please feel free to share your views etc about Camel by e-mailing me at inf@progmeister.com or post something on the forum.

Prog is indeed a wide church. There is room for everyone new and old, though as I reflect on all that has gone before and hearing some of the new up and coming prog bands I am compelled to think of the huge body of work from the early seventies to the early naughty’s presented to the world by Camel. There are many bands over the years that have been presented with accolades and trophies. The awards given to Camel reside in the hearts of their many followers. Camel eh? Where would the world be without them?



The Progmeister

John Young interview 6/20/2010 1:38:56 PM

  In a recent conversation with my good friend Prog Al Peterson, the subject of progs nice people came up and those of whom we have met. I immediately recalled a Greenslade gig at The Newcastle Upon Tyne Opera House where after an amazing and intimate gig in the Bistro I managed to chat with the band. Whilst it was a thrill to meet the legendary Mr. Greenslade and the ubiquitous Tony Reeves, it was the enthusiasm and enchanting nature of John Young that enthralled us both. Having played a blinding set John shared a couple of beers with us both and talked about all things music. It was this memory that prompted me to contact John recently and fired a few questions his way. Needless to say that John along with a few other down to Earth people has been firmly placed in the nice category and is a man with whom it is a pleasure to communicate.


PM Hi John, Many thanks for taking time out to be interviewed by The Progmiester. I have no doubt that you have been asked some of the questions many times before. I crave your patience. Can you tell me a little about your musical background?



JY I started learning the piano at the age of 5 and singing in the Liverpool Cathedral choir from the age of 7. I received the Rushworth prize for my piano playing when I was 11 years old and went on to become head chorister at the Cathedral.



PM Who or what would you say were your biggest influences when you were at this tender stage and learning to play?



JY I think as a child my biggest influence tuition wise were Philip and Terry Duffy at the Cathedral as they understood my thirst for all things musical. Piano wise I loved the romantics Schumann, Debussy, Rachmaninoff etc. As I moved into keyboards I liked the playing of Patrick Moraz and Rick Van Der Linden as they seemed to play music in a similar vein and not mathematical as many players do.



PM When did you start playing music for a living?



JY 1985 really, I signed up for a world tour with Uli Jon Roth and I guess that changed my life….nothing was ever quite the same.



PM What made you become interested in Progressive Rock music?



JY I think my classical upbringing in St Edwards. I did grade viii and A level music so prog seemed like the next step. It was just a shame that it was eclipsed by other genres so soon.



PM At what point did you start playing in a more progressive style or indeed prog rock?



JY I think from the word go, I bought a Diamond 700 organ and a vox piano and I was off….that said, I played purely classically and it took a while for jazz, blues and other influences to play their part. As such I only became happy with my own writing towards the end of the 90’s.



PM Tell me more about the early forays into prog rock, bands etc?



JY Well, I was in involved in some local bands in Liverpool, Cloud (cool name huh!), Solitude, and Lynx and then the jazz combo

England’s National Sport (a real favorite of mine). I spent a couple of years with a band called England in the early eighties. After Uli I returned to prog a few years later with Cathedral another favorite with (with Jon Camp from Renaissance) and then with Asia in 1989/90. Further prog occurred with John Wetton and Qango in the 90’s and then Greenslade around 2000.


PM Who would you say was or is your biggest influences in prog?



JY Moraz, Yes, Focus, Genesis, Trace, Refugee, Gentle Giant, Alan Parsons, Peter Gabriel etc.



PM From where do you draw inspiration whilst writing new materiel?



JY Well it used to come from my experiences and such like….now it all just comes from somewhere else…I don’t ask questions!



PM How did you become involved with Greenslade?



JY I think a promoter recommended me to them and we hit it off straight away.



PM Did you enjoy the gigs with Greenslade?



JY Absolutely, it was like a gentleman’s club. I wasn’t really much like Mr. Lawson  (for whom I have much respect) but I think musically I complemented Dave Greenslade pretty well. It was great fun…and never say never;)



PM Did you like the early Greenslade albums?



JY To be honest like most folk I only really knew the artwork…but once I started getting into it I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can understand if it is an acquired taste…but that said I certainly acquired it.



PM Tell me about Qango, how did that project come about?



JY I wasn’t involved to start with, I just got a call from John Wetton saying that their first choice of keyboard player couldn’t do it and would I take over.



PM Who was the first choice of keyboard player?



JY Not sure who the first planned keyboard player was I’m afraid.



PM What has been the highlights of your musical career so far?



JY Oh loads really. I think the first tour with Uli took some beating. It was great to work with

Asia as I had the albums ;) Writing with John Wetton and Jon Anderson has been fun. Playing the Pyramids with The Scorpions, my solo tours in the USA with my knapsack on my back!...the list goes on and on.


PM Has there been any low points?



JY Yes and no.



PM Can you tell me about the company that you set up making musical instruments? Is it still trading etc?



JY Well that would probably take a small book but in a nutshell I started buying and selling from my bedroom and a few other folks joined me. I bought a bigger house then eventually we got 2 suites of offices and at our height I employed about 15 people (including my ex bank manager). We started manufacturing synthesizers in the early nineties and at our peak we turned over £1.5 million. We even sold synths to

Japan. As we became more normal and corporate I lost interest and a few years later when I was going through some personal turmoil some so called “friends” pushed me out of the business (but made sure I kept all the depts.!)….It was not a particularly pleasant chapter but the early years were a lot of fun.


PM That’s amazing; tell me more about the synths? How did you get into that? Were they analogue or digital? I’m intrigued.



JY Well, it’s not that amazing Steve but it was fun. I just started buying old analogue stuff, Roland’s, Prophet’s, Moog’s, ARP’s etc and selling them on. This got quite profitable and soon I had some folks working with me who could fix them too. The synths were popular with old prog type bands (who we also bought from) and the new emerging dance acts. We realized that there was niche market for TB303 clone (dance bass lines) so we invented the Deep Bass Nine synth and sold about 2000 of them. It was my company so I kind of made the nuts and bolts happen but the technical side of things was dealt with by my R&D team as I’m a bit useless on that side of things. Earlier in life when I was 23 I was European sales manager for an American air freight company at Heathrow airport so I’ve always been able to sell stuff so I just applied that the equipment side of things. It was great until the gloss wore off and it started getting a bit too corporate. I might re-emerge soon as I have a website idea that seems to be growing in strength. I’m just looking for a web-designer to come in with me on it…so if you know anyone who might be interested let me know.



PM Are there any musicians with whom you have not yet played with who you would like to?



JY I’d quite like to work with the guys from Yes and Genesis but I guess as we all get older that becomes less likely.



PM Which would you say is your most memorable gig?



JY I think it’s unfair to single out any one particular gig…they can be memorable for so many different reasons. The Pyramids was pretty surreal and playing to 200,000 folk in Austria was great but that said probably one of the best gigs I’ve done in my life was to 11 people at Fat Lil’s in Witney with my own band a couple of months ago. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to flying on stage.



PM Ultimately and given the resources, what would you most like to achieve in your musical career?



JY Simple….I’d like to be heard.



PM Do you mean metaphorically?



JY It’s quite literally really…Radio doesn’t play my music and of course tv is very unlikely. You won’t hear about us in the media and venues only want covers and tribute bands so getting the word out on new original material has never been more difficult, or at least that’s how it seems. We are still playing music from the live 2003 tour and most people who show up at a concert have never heard any of it before. It’s all a little odd.



PM Maddening isn’t it?



PM Which brings me nicely onto your views on the present music industry. What are your views about the current download culture? Should we embrace or despise?



JY I think we have no choice but to embrace. That isn’t so much the problem; it’s much more endemic than that. It’s rooted in giving people the lowest common denominator in music and telling them that is100% of their choice, it’s disgusting. A great quote I saw on myspace said I’m eclectic, I like from Robbie to Kylie.



PM Dessert island discs? Take a moment John, what’s your top ten?



JY Again, difficult and off the top of my head…prog only



  1. Genesis (The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway)
  2. Refugee (Self Titled)
  3. Trace (self Titled)
  4. England (Garden Shed)
  5. UK (Self titled)
  6. Focus (Focus 8)
  7. Yes (Relayer)
  8. King Crimson (Discipline)
  9. Kate Bush (Hounds Of Love)
  10. Gentle Giant Live (I’m on it shouting in the background)


PM Who or what are you listening to at the moment?



JY I don’t really get the chance sadly.



PM Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?



JY Yes although I can’t tell you anything much at least until things are firmed up a little more. I plan to release some contemplative material in singer songwriter vein, some rockier tunes for the John Young Band and a project….. That’s really all I can say for now.



PM Any gigs planned and with whom?



JY Yes, I’m still touring with Bonne Tyler and I’ll be out solo and with my babd in the months to come. I may be working with several other artists too.



PM Will you be attending the forthcoming High Voltage Festival in



JY Sadly I’m gigging in



PM John many thanks for sharing your past present and future.



JY you are most welcome…It’s been a pleasure.



Please check out John’s Myspace for gigs and other news. I would strongly recommend giving John a hearing should he be in a town near you. Better still treat yourself to one of his albums.

People who enjoy John's music can request gigs anywhere in their town (anywhere in the world) at www.musicpledge.com
John is also active on facebook, myspace and last fm.





























The Work Of John Wray. 5/17/2010 3:10:19 AM
No, this is not the South Bank Show. And yes, this is a feature about an artist. I have been fortunate enough to have been friends with local artist John Wray for many years and indeed commsissioned an illustration by him. John and i both share a passion for prog rock music on which john is an encyclopeadia. Here's what he had to say when i interviewed him recently.

    How long have you been interested in illustration and what got you interested ?
I have drawn and painted from a very young age, five or six year old,  I really became interested in art when I discovered a book about Salvador Dali in my local library.  When I started listening to music I saw album sleeves such as Barry Godbers excellent artwork for ''In the Court of the Crimson King'' then work by Roger Dean,  Hipgnosis and Patrick Woodroofe's work for Greenslade. I bought a lot of the Paper Tiger coffee table art books that were around in the early to mid 70s.  I was never a big fan of the Chris Achilleos - superhero / sword and sorcery type paintings prefering the more darker surreal stuff.
The late 60s and early 70s were to me the classic times for the record cover design the Harvest, Vertigo and Island Records labels (to name a few) had some amazing artwork going out into the public arena, a new album was an event  the gatefold artwork and label design all part of the package this is something I find sadly missing from the booklet size art you get with the CD format. 
That being said some good sleeves contained some poor musical content, and some bad  (to me) designs had some cracking music within, hence the old saying never judge a book by the cover
  From where do you draw your inspiration ?
Artists such as HR Giger, Ernst Fuchs, The Pre Raphaelite Painters, Salvador Dali, Patrick Caufield  and many many more including those named in the previous answer..
  What format / techniques do you prefer ?
I like working in oil paint or acrylic paint .  I'm not very good with watercolour.  It amazes me to watch someone who works well with watercolour as I normally end up with something resembling a mudbath on paper.
I have recently been working on drawings using draughtsmans pens. The pens are fine and allow a for intricate detail These drawings started as sort of organic freeform doodles and have ended up pretty well planned.  They are busy drawings and have a lot going on in them. I have received a lot of  feedback from this type of work and have recently had some work published in an e-zine and via this site will have a couple of my drawings published in a book later in the year. Go to http://www.thehorrorzine.com
  What plans have you to develop your work?
Id like to take the drawings into the 3D realm and will be working on a design for a guitar body and I'd ideally like to try and exhibit some work this year.  I dont know if my 3D idea will work or not, but as they say ''nothing ventured nothing gained''.
  Would you say that any of your work has been influenced by Progressive rock music ?  if so which pieces ?
There are several of my drawings directly influenced by prog rock these are ''The Lighthouse'', ''Entangled'' and ''While I'm alive and half awake''
The Lighthouse is loosely based on A plague of lighthouse keepers by Van der Graaf Generator, in the drawing you can see the lighthouse ( a steal from the cover of Peter Hammills book ''Killers Angels Refugee's.  The lonely man who's solitude is true (lyric from Plague) is sat somewhere amongst the drawingas are several chess pieces to reflect the ''Pawn Hearts'' album artwork.
Other works I have done with a VdGG theme are ''Checkmate'' - 2010 and ''The least we can do'' - 2006
Entangled evolved while listening to Genesis album 'Trick of the tail'  especially the opening single guitar part and ending heavenly mellotron like choir which feature in the track of the same name. What the music stirred up in my imagination was an undiscovered (until then) surreal forest which was being seen for the first time. The end product worked although it took (4 month) an unusually long time to complete the drawing. 
While I'm alive and half awake is a comissioned work, the title comes from the lyric of the IQ song 'Sacred Sound' from the Dark Matter album. In the drawing comissioned by The Progmeister, there are references to a multitude of personal items but on the prog/musical side of things there's references to IQ, The IQ stage show I saw at the Bury Met - September 2006 and Dark Matter sleeve, Camel, Pink Floyd - Darkside of the Moon and The Wall, a VdGG chessboard, Mini moog, the Harvest Records Logo and much much more. 
Here are samples of John's work. I think they are wonderful.
Entangled  -  2007

While i'm alive and hald awake 2007
Angel Of Hades 2008


Checkmates 2006
If you would like to contact John to commission work or for any other reason he can be found at the above mentioned site or contact info@progmeister.com

I think you will agree, John's work is something special. Check him out Progsters.

The Progmeister

Progmeister Article 4/15/2010 6:15:12 AM Work, it's the scurge of the music listening classes don't you think? Been trying to write something now for weeks and kept getting scuppered by work. I have been very fortunate lately to have been given quite a few discs to listen to, and amongst the fodder i found some prog gems. My reviewing quil is at the ready and it will be in full flight later today. I'll let you know my view on at least two of the recent findings. Firstly, thanks to Alf for the discs and to Norfolk Tom for the cattle prod type jolt i so needed to sit at the computer and work.
Of the large mound of discs that i listened my way through this past few weeks i have been smitten by four of them. The afore mentioned and reviewed Leap Day, Gothenburg's finest "Simon Says", Yak (Totally magnificent), Karfagen and RPWL's last album "God Has Failed".
I have to dmit that i was e-mailed some tracks of Simon Says a while ago from special agent Cozmo  down South. I didn't give them enough attention until the hard copy was listened to repeatedly in the car and i was hooked. All in all it's a great time for prog with the high profile classic rock magazine PROG, recent television documentaries and of course some fabulous dedicated sites on the net. (not least this one). 
I have received numerous favourable comments about the new Nick Magnus albums via e-mail to the site. It really is a prog masterpiece. I would just like to mention two excellent resources for prog music, discs,vinyl etc. One of them being CD SERVICES in Dundee and the other being CAERLLYSI MUSIC in Wales. These guys really are a fountain of prog and i would urge you to sound them out. Their links can be found on the obvious page.
A little bird told me that the Peter Gabriel gig at the O2 was nothing short of spectacular. Please let me know your thoughts if you attended. The Genesis France weekend looks like a great event at the end of May especially for Steve Hackett fans. I fear the dreaded work thing may prevent me from attending so a full report from anyone that does would be great. Not long now till the High Voltage festival in London. Yes indeed, it's a good year for prog. There are some great bands out there too keeping the legacy of Genesis,Yes,Pink Floyd,E.L.P,Camel etc alive and in my opinion more in vogue than it has ever been.

The Progmeister.

Re-Genesis Front man Tony Patterson Talks to The Progmeister 3/9/2010 1:37:13 PM

Tony who? Who’s he I hear you say. Well, Tony Patterson is the vocalist/flautist with one of the most successful Genesis tribute bands in the world, Re-Genesis. If you haven’t yet seen the band I would thoroughly recommend you do. I travelled to his hometown Newcastle Upon Tyne where upon we chatted all afternoon and well into the evening about all things prog. Tony not only plays with Re-Genesis, he is also a writer/composer of original material and has appeared on albums by John Hackett and Nick Magnus. I met up with him in his favorite haunt overlooking the Tyne, here is what he had to say.


PM.  How did you get into the music scene?


TP.  Well, I started to learn the flute at the age of ten and then later studied music at

Newcastle. I played keyboards in some local bands, one of them being Carillon. None of the bands did very much and didn’t last very long. I composed materiel of my own though it wasn’t until I became involved with Re-Genesis that I became involved in the Genesis music scene in a serious way. My wife Angela always knew I could sing and thought I would be good at fronting a band.


PM.  How did you become involved with Re-Genesis?


TP.  It was back in 1998. Re-Genesis was already established as a band, though at the time they were in a state of flux as their singer had left.  Norman Glover sent Doug Melbourne (Re-Genesis keyboard player) a tape of me singing and I was asked to travel to

London for an audition. They liked what they heard and it wasn’t long before we were rehearsing. Unlike their previous singer I could also play the flute which is handy for some of the really early Genesis songs.


PM.  Tell me about your album Ra. What inspired you to compose what could be described as world music?


TP.  I am passionate about Middle Eastern music. And to be honest I wrote the music for what I like to think of as a movie that hadn’t yet been made.  The title Ra gives the album a feel of portraying Ra the sun god. In fact I had most of the pieces recorded and it was just a title to hang it on. I enjoyed making it very much. It sold quite well too, especially in



PM. Yes I’m very fond of it. It’s got some beautiful driving rhythms on it hasn’t it? Some wonderful textures too.


TP.  Did you know that I had recorded a couple of albums before Ra?


PM.  No I didn’t.

TP.  Yes, unlike Ra they were song based albums.


PM.  I’ll have to sound them out.


PM.  How did you land the gig with John Hackett? Some of the songs that you sung on “Checking out Of

London” were fabulous, especially Dreamtown.


TP.  John wanted Peter Gabriel to sing 0ne particular song on the  Checking Out Of London album. However, Peter’s availability and the fact that he would probably have cost a fortune meant seeking out alternatives. Nick Magnus who played keyboards on the album had attended a Re-Genesis concert in

London and told John to check out the singer. He may be just what you’re after. John came to see the band in Sheffield and a few days later i got a call from John and was asked to attend an audition at his place.


PM.  What was the audition like?


TP. Absolutely nerve racking! We chatted  in his front room and it seemed no time at all before we were in his studio recording. He’s a fabulous musician. I remember playing at the Boardwalk in

Sheffield with John’s band and towards the end of “Jacuzzi” I was struggling to keep up with him in a flute duet.


PM.  I was at that gig and it was a brilliant night.  What was it like playing with Steve Hackett that night?


TP.  Excellent.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.


PM.  Back to the subject of Re-Genesis. Have the band now disbanded? I ask this as I thought that your recent gig at The Studio with RetroGenesis was amazing.


TP.  No, I am still very much a member of Re-Genesis. My involvement with RetroGenesis is at present being honed into a vehicle for Peter Gabriel’s music.


PM.  Is that why you included some Peter Gabriel songs into the set?


TP.  Yes.  The idea is to evolve the band in that direction, which is totally different to what Re-Genesis are all about.


PM.  What props do you have in total?


TP.  Errrm, Let me see now! I have some that belong to Re-Genesis and some which belong to RetroGenesis.  I have bat wings, a huge flower headdress, and a box head piece which was made for me by RetroGenesis keyboard player John Lewis.


PM.  What happened to your Slipperman suit?


TP.  The Slipperman suit was sold by our manager on ebay.


PM.  I remember seeing ReGenesis at

Newcastle opera house a few years ago playing The Lamb.  I thought you were great. All the projections that you showed that night must have cost a few bob?


TP. Yer, I remember travelling down to

Kent to record material for some of the slides. I actually appeared in some of them.


PM. Have you ever met any of the other members of Genesis?


TP. Yes, I met Peter Gabriel when we were rehearsing at real World. . He’s nothing like the man you see on stage. He’s quite a shy retiring person, a really nice bloke.


PM. How did the recording go for Nick Magnus’s new album go?


TP. Very well.  I recorded three songs for the album which I have to say is Nick’s best album to date. I also appear on the video which can be seen on Nick’s website.   Nick is really good to work with. He’s a perfectionist. We had a good time whilst recording.


PM. Do you plan on recording anymore solo projects?


TP. A big yes. Definitely. It’s an area that I want to start developing because I can’t dance around with a flower on my head for ever.


PM. Apart from the obvious, who would you say are your biggest influences?


TP. Not at all who you expect really. I would say Ravel and Bach.  Mainly classical music.  I love orchestration. I was very fortunate enough back in 2006 to have won a competition for new composers.  As one of the winners I got conduct the BBC concert orchestra at Angel Studios in

London. I’m very proud of that. What an experience.


PM. What do you think of the current prog scene?


TP. I don’t like it. Full stop!


PM. What have you got planned for 2010?


TP. I’ve got some Re-Genesis shows coming up and a few other projects in the pipeline including the So Gabriel project.  I have been doing some work for Carrie Melbourne who plays Chapman Stick. I have been helping out with a track called Declaration Day. She is excellent, check her out.


PM. Will do Tony.


PM. What are you listening to at the moment.


TP. The new Nick Magnus album of course. I am really enjoying Imogen Heap too, cracking stuff.


PM. Well I think that’s about it. Another pint Tony?


TP. I, go on then.


Prior to the interview Tony gave me a couple of discs. One being a copy of Ra and the other a little gem entitled Excellent Words. Watch this space for a review of the latter. I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Tony. He’s a good man to spend your Saturday afternoon with.


The Progmeister.


                                                     Printed with kind permission.

 Want to know more about Tony and his music? Ceck out 





































Interview with Paul Birchall of Combination Head. 12/24/2009 4:29:17 AM I was recently granted an audience with a musician whom i admire and respect a geat deal, Mr Paul Birchall. I first met Paul a couple of years ago following a Combination Head gig in Wath Upon Derne. It was an icy cold night, though red hot musically. I recently caught up with him back stage whilst he was on Tour with Heather Small and when he had caught his breath a couple of weels later here's what he had to say........

PM. How did the tour with Heather Small go?

PB. The tour went well thanks. Iv'e been working with Heather for eighteen years now nine of those with M-People. Heather's a great person and passionate about her music. I was musical; director for this recent tour. Musically it is made easy by the top notch band we have including Gareth and Brian from Combination Head. It's a bit like the nice working with PP Arnold.

PM. On reflection as the year draws to a close, how has 2009 been for you? What have you been up to?

PB. Phew! Two tours with Heather small, two American tours with Wang Chung and Cutting Crew, lots of shows with Snake Davis, a number of productions including Human Nature for Snake Davis,our tribute to the great Micheal Jackson, it was track of the week on Jazz FM. Constantly working on the New Combination Head album titled Truth seeker. I am recording with Gaz right now, it's all sounding cool. We can't wait to get some tracks out there. Busy basically.

PM. What can be expected frrom the new Combination Head album? Will "We Are Machine " be included on it?

PB. I can tell you there are eleven tracks on it. We Are Machine won't be on it.

PM. How far from completion is it?

PB. Iv'e scheduled April.

PM. I found some of the subject matter in the last two albums intriguing lyrically, From where did you draw your ideas for the new album?

PB. Oh there's lots of stuff on there. I would like to keep it under raps!

PM. Looking at the images on the Combination Head website, i was wondering who came up with the idea of the manikin head?

PB. Myself and Matthew my son. Matt and Gareth are responsible for the wonderful art work.

PM. Any Combination Head gis planned in the new year?

PB. We are discussing the possibilities at the moment. Maybe the odd one off shows early in the year. There is a possibility of a show in Hartlepool. Watch this space.

PM. Being as you are, a working musician, what was the original motivation for getting Combination Head together.

PB. Since my exposure to Emerson,Lake and Palmer at school, 1971 i think?? my ears have always perked up on hearing intersesting interplay both harmonically and rythmically, andthat Hammond sound etc. Oh yes, The Beatles.
Basicalli i write every day and have amassed a huge catalogue of unused stuff. thats most of it actually. I am fortunate enough to count as friends some world class mucsicians, engineers and artists who all enjoy the music and contribute both in the writing and in many othert ways. its a dream machine, i just change the oil now and then.

PM. How did you get involved in the music scene?

PB. I was thrown in at the deep end. I taught myself a few chords on a single manual Phillichorda, the father of my school friend ran dance bands in the area and was told i was playing. He dropped a pile of sheet music off one day and said there was a gig in a couple of weeks "just learn the chords". He must have thought i did ok as i never stopped working. There was a very healthy live music scene then, any function had a band so three gigs a week was the norm. Juggling an apprenticeship at British Leyland wasn't so cool so one had to go. Also i am still happily married to Diane, the band leaders daughter.

PM. Would it be fair to say that Keith Emerson was an influence on your style?

PB. Very much so., particularly when i solo on the hammond. To be compared in any way to sir Keith is a great honour.

PM. Is there anyone whom you haven't yet played with that you would like to and why?

PB. A lifes ambition was to work with George Harrison, he stopped returning my calls. I met Donald Fagen in New York last year but he didn't ask me to play, or even better write. jimmy Webb is another.

PM. What is your opinion of the currant progressive rock scene?

PB. We got support from the Classic Rock society when it was most welcome, including a couple of support slots, some radio play. The first two albums have sold out and continue to be downloaded. We had lots of nice comments from people we met and by email. I feel there is a deep love of musicfrom those who attend our shows and we certainly love you. There are lots of music hungry people out there. We just need to work out how to get tribute band audiences to come and see original contemary prog.

PM. Whats in your CD player at the moment?

PB. "Ruff Album Mixes", some tracks sent by my old, and i mean old, friend Gary Boyle. Anyone out there remember Gary or his band Isotope? His back catalogue has been re-released. We are talking about doing something together next year.

PM. What are your three favorite albums?

PB. If you asked me what my favorite Thirty albums were i would still struggle, so no!

PM. Do you have any commitments in 2010 with regards to playing with other people?

PB. Other than the lovely people previosly discussed, no.

With that i will bid you fairwell. Many thanks Paul.

Mr Birchall will be sending me a peak preview of some of the tracks from the forthcoming album Truth Seeker, though i am bound to absolute secrecy.  I will be reviewing the album as soon as i get my hans on it. If you haven't yet had a listen to Combination Head i would suggest you give them a hearing. Sound them out at www.combinationhead.com  and www.myspace.co/combinationheaduk

Steve Hackett interview. 12/4/2009 8:35:35 AM I have been an avid Steve Hackett fan since i first heard Dancing WithThe Moonlit Knight in 1973. Sine then he has been one of the most prolific writers/recording artists true to the genre of progressive music and someone whom commands the respect of his peers and fans alike. Many thanks to Steve for taking time out to answer a few questions and to his partner Jo who arranged everything.

PM  Hi Steve, It's been a very difficult year for you personally though you seem to be closing it on a high note with a superb new album. Do you feel that you are through the worst and able to miove on professionally?

SH  It's a relief to be able to release new product now. Response has been overwhelmingly positive towards the album and tour.

PM  The new album seems to build on areas previously explored on the Wild Orchids album. It is a marked return to your old style. What was the inspiration for the album?

SH  I find the pan-genre approach works best to give the sense of a musical journey. Spanish, Hungarian and Turkish music play their part on the new waxing. As lyrics are very personal it seems to draw people in more and more.

PM  Why the title "Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth" ?

SH  A boyhood fascination with trains meets a sense of coming out into the light after a dark period.

PM  In the CD booklet notes you inform that the album was made in the living room. Is this to be taken literally?

SH  Unbelievably, it happens to be true.

PM  I am very surprised. The production and recording quality is gold standard. Will other projects be recorded this way or will you be returning to the studio?

SH  We'll see.

PM  How did you meet Nick Beggs and how did he become involved with the recording and touring band?

SH  I met Nick at an EMI bash that we were both performing at. He was MD for Belinda Carlisle's band whils i was promoting A Midsummer Nights Dream. We hit it off immediately. He's a great player. We stayed in touch over time and i called him to ask if he was interested in joining my circus.

PM  What was it like working with Chris Squire and Anthony Phillips?

SH  Both Chris and Anthony are equilly as enthusiastic when working on ideas that fire them up. It6's fun working with them both and i love them dearly. They are great players and hugely influential.

PM  Do you have any more projects in the pipeline?

SH  Chris and i have a project in the pipeline, which just gets stronger every time we work on it. I'm always busy trying new ideas and material.

PM  Were you happy with Alan Hewitt's biography "Sketches Of Hackett"?

SH  I thought Alan did a fine job on the book, which i'm glad to say has been so very well recieved.

PM  Obviously there were more personal areas that Alan rightly steered clear of. Do you invisage writing your own autobiography in the future?

SH  At some point down the line i'll write my own warts and all memoirs of an old Pimliconian!

PM  You were the only ex member of Genesis to maintain progressive rock roots. Whilst you were a member of the band did you ever feel isolated?

SH  Genesis were a great band. I loved my time with them but since then iv'e enjoyed the benefits of an autonomous afterlife.

PM  Whom did you feel that you had the most in common with?

SH  I had things in common with all of them. for instance, classical with Tony, Musique concrete with Pete, folk with Mike and big band brass arrangement with Phil.

PM  reflecting on the Genesis revisited album, the magnificent "Deja Vu" was a piece started by Peter gabriel in the Selling England By The Pound days. Are there any other such diamonds worthy of the Hackett polish?

SH  There may be the odd recycled riff worthy of exhumation. Ther's a song called "Wooden Mask" that we once recorded at a studio called Theatre Projects, but unfortunately the tape remains lost in the vaults.

PM  Of your own albums which is your favourite?

SH  Spectral Mornings and Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth. But they are all my babies.

PM  The Genesis box set 1970 - 1975 were also released on 200g vinyl. Would you consider having some of your classic or newer albums released in the same format?

SH  Sketches Of Satie is available on vinyl. there may be more in future for vinyl fetishists!

PM  Will there be a tour next year? and if so will there be any shows further North than holmfirth?

SH  The answer is yes to both questions. There are plans afoot. I'm addicted to gigging and i know i have an extraordinary band.

PM  What next?

SH  Other than a nice cup of tea, it promises to be a very nomadic new year.

PM  Steve, thank you far taking time to answer my questions. Best of luck with the new project and i look forward to seeing you in 2010. You remain a legend for many people, myself included.

SH  Have a progtastic yuletide and a happy new year to you and all your readers. Very best wishes.

Steve Hackett


Interview with Nick Magnus 11/24/2009 5:17:08 AM

I have been a lover of Nick Magnus's music for may years now and have recommended all three of his albums to music lovers's for many years. Following a recent telephone conversation with Nick he agreed to let me know what has been going on in the world of Magnus and kindly give in to my interigation. 

PM What have you been up to since your previous 2004 album Hexameron?


NM Quite a bit, actually - I've not been away from 'the biz', even though it it might appear that way!  Most importantly, I've been working hard on the fourth album 'Children Of Another God', which should be ready in the new year.  I've also totally revamped my website
 which has details (blogs, videos) of the album's progress.  Aside from the album, it's been a mix of speculative projects and production work.  I even got to score an independent movie called 'The Release' in 2006, which was great.  Sadly it didn't go on general release, so like a lot of things you do, the outside world never gets to hear them!  One thing that a lot of people will have heard is the current version of the 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' theme tune.  Not that I wrote it (drat and double drat!) but I was commissioned to re-record it for the TV show using a more 'modern' approach.  I've been involved with a number of John Hackett's projects, producing 'Checking Out Of London', as well as helping out with 'Velvet Afternoon' and 'Prelude To Summer'.  We did a mini 'Checking Out' tour in 2006, which was the first time I'd performed live in 17 years!  I also produced an album for Lyn Paul ('Late Night Lyn Paul'), and earlier this year Pete Hicks and I released our first collaborative album 'Flat Pack', which I also produced.  And let's not forget those other small but all-important musical jobs that we all have to do to make a crust and pay the mortgage!  One other project worth mentioning is the songwriting...  A few years back, Dick Foster and I experimented with writing songs with specific target artists in mind.  It was great fun to do, and we think we came up with a handful of crackers (well you do, don't you?)  But we also discovered that it's easier to burrow throught the Great Wall of China with a toothpick than getting those songs to the attention of major artists.  Nevertheless, the songs exist, and we're still very fond of them - they cover various genres including ballads, pop, disco, dance and rock.  Maybe we might make them available as a downloadable album.   

PM What brought about the transition of your musical style from that of being more rock orientated to a more atmospheric form?
NM I never think of having transitioned from one style of music to another.  Rather, I like to think the style has developed to embrace a whole diversity of approaches.  Any changes in style are just part of the natural development any composer goes through, with no particular reasons other than it feels right to go down a particular road at the time. The word 'atmospheric' suggests New Age, which definitely is not what I do!  I'm not even sure that the term 'progressive' adequately describes what the music is - although I'd say that the generally held 'conventions' of progressive rock provide a major ingredient.  There's plenty of rock flavoured moments on the albums, but also lots of classical influences and therefore, I like to think, a lot of dynamic variety. 
PM  Many of the tracks from your first album "Straight On Till Morning" sound very much like film or TV music, were they written and recorded to be used as themes or soundtracks?
NM As a teenager, sometime last century, I used to record TV themes from the telly onto my Philips cassette recorder.  I amassed a huge collection, and listened to it almost to the exclusion of any other music.  It was very educational, because TV exposes you to almost every imaginable genre of music.  Also, the late 60s/early 70s turned out some of the best theme tunes ever written - for example, The Avengers, The Prisoner and Lost In Space (seasons 1 & 2) are simply classics.  Both the UK and America turned out so many great writers like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Laurie Johnson, Edwin Astley, Barry Gray - the list is endless.  So it's unsurprising that I've always wanted to write music for films and TV, but the right opportunities have somehow never come along.  SOTM was, in some ways, driven by those wishes - and I was very much into writing 'shortform' thematic pieces at the time.    

PM Straight On Till Morning seemed far removed from you previous musical output. What was your inspiration?
NM As above!
PM  At what stage did you decide to part with your older analogue equipment Mellotron, Moog etc? And why?
NM There was no single moment - things have been replaced or upgraded gradually, over a long period of time.  Sometimes things broke down and repairing them was not viable - other times a new toy came along (and we all love new toys) that superceded an older instrument.  The Mellotron was replaced on stage simply because it became unreliable.  Same with the Roland SH2000.  Latterly, I've replaced much of my hardware in the studio with software instruments.  There are loads of reasons for that - restricted space, primarily, but there's no doubt that the instruments I have now are quantum leaps more versatile than their hardware equivalents.  I get total recall, too - I can load up a song and it comes back exactly as I left it - effects, synth edits and all.  Now, you can't easily (or affordably) do that when it's all hardware! 

 PM  Did any of them survive?
NM  A couple of things did survive to the present day.  I only recently sold my two D6 Clavinets, and my RMI Electra Piano is still around, living in storage in a friend's garage.  Otherwise, they're all living with someone else now - assuming they haven't also sold them off.
PM  I saw you many times playing with Steve Hackett's band and noticed that you seemed to have a penchant for Police uniforms. Are you a frustrated Highway patrolman?
NM Movies featuring highway patrolmen (e.g. Magnum Force, Electraglide in Blue) seem to end up with them getting shot.  So that would probably be a no... 
PM  What was the main reason for leaving Steve's band?
NM I didn't actually leave the band - it dissolved by default when we stopped touring in 1984.  I continued working with Steve in the studio right up until 1989.  When he decided to resume touring in 1990, I was already deeply involved in doing production work.  I felt I couldn't do both, so I took a deep breath and opted to go my own way.

 PM Do you foresee working with him again either as part of his band or recording together?

NM Steve contributed guitar to my last album 'Hexameron', and to the forthcoming new one 'Children Of Another God' - so we are still recording together, albeit occasionally.  Working with Steve has always been a hugely enjoyable experience, and I hope we'll always be able to find excuses to work together in the future.  As for being part of the band again, Steve now has a superlative collaborator in Roger King.  Roger's contribution is spot on - and just what Steve needs.  Don't tell Roger, but I'm a huge fan!   
PM  Your new project sounds very exciting. As with two of your previous albums it is inspired by (dare I say the word) a concept. Can you tell me more?

NM The back-story of the album really serves as a vehicle for a more general idea.  Basically, it's an examination of uniformity versus diversity.  Uniformity offers strength of numbers, but it also stifles development and progress.  Trying to make people all the same (in other words, forcing the idea of 'normality' on society) is not A Good Thing.  Diversity, on the other hand, is a very positive Darwinian idea - adapt and change to flourish and survive.  Uniformity can be very beautiful (flocks of birds and shoals of fish all moving as one) but it is often very negative (Nazis, football hooligans, cults and religious fanatics).  The album attempts to illustrate this with a story, following one character who is assimilated into a uniform group of ten others, and what becomes of them.  I won't give away any more than that! 
PM  What can we expect from the new album? 
PM Hopefully something thought-provoking that takes people on a journey.  Each track has its own distinctive flavour - I've tried to make the musical styles follow the changing moods of the story, a bit like scoring a movie.  So it goes through a lot of dynamic variations, ranging from prog to rock to orchestral - but with an overarching 'prog' way of thinking behind the whole thing.       

PM  Will you be recording at Alpha control?

NM Absolutely.
PM  When will the new album be available?
NM At the time of writing (mid November) I'm still working on the last couple of tracks, so I can't give a definitive date as yet.  However, I'm hoping it will be as early in 2010 as I can manage!
PM  Will the usual suspects be appearing?
NM Guests so far include the Hackett brothers, Tony Patterson (ReGenesis), Pete Hicks (Hackett Band), Glenn Tollett (The Enid), Linda John-Pierre, and Andy Neve.

PM Nick, thanks for taking time to answer my questions. Like many other's I eagerly await the new album "Children Of Another God". It sounds fascinating. I hope to being posting a review just as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. Watch this space!