Several Progzilla presenters will be attending – come and say hi! B->
Several Progzilla presenters will be attending – come and say hi! B->
Norwich-based Progressive Metal quintet SynaptiK is about to launch their sophomore studio album entitled ‘Justify & Reason,’ a fine piece of music that blends together old school and modern worlds of the mentioned genre. Drummer Pete Loades and singer John Knight spoke for Prog Sphere, and in the interview below you can read about what was it like working on the new record, the story, technology, and more.
Define the mission of SynaptiK.
Pete: To continue to write music that we love playing, listening to, creating and to push ourselves as individual musicians and as a band. We hope other people will get a chance to hear our music and enjoy it, on the album or at one of our live shows. Always nice to hear good feedback from people, getting credit for something that you put your heart in to is always a good feeling and knowing that you are passing it on to others makes it even better. We hope to see our music and fanbase grow globally. Spread the word and get those brains sparking everywhere.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your new, upcoming album Justify & Reason and the themes it captures.
Pete: Musically it’s a blend of all our influences, those musicians that we inspire to be as separate musicians all comes together to create this album, it worked so well, I like to think it wrote itself, it just flowed out. But looking back, still a lot of hard work was put in to it. John worked really hard on the vocals, always changing them, getting the right melody and timing so that they do blend the way the song transforms. Each song has a different theme, musically and vocally than the next. Very in depth…
John: Yes, I feel the new album shows a greater maturity in writing, the songs just work so much better and have stronger melodies. Everything was allowed time to change naturally. We jammed through the ideas and let the songs evolve. I really wanted to take a different approach to the vocals on this album than I did on the last, I wrote most alone at home rather than at rehearsal, having the home studio really helped me write, and it shows, as I use lower parts of my vocal range on this album far more than before, a good mix, of course there are still some of my high scream vocals that I am kinda known for, but they seem more controlled and effective when used sparingly.
What is the message you are trying to give with Justify & Reason? What does the album title hide?
John: I write all the lyrics for the albums. The subject matter lyrically on Justify & Reason ventures into the dark, labyrinthine corridors of the human psyche to examine the relationship between inner emotions and society at large―universal themes that transcend cultural and national boundaries. Each song has a different feel, they are their own monster, the lyrics reflect these different moods, the effects of anti-psychotic medication, regret, emotional abuse / control & the human brain and the mysteries it holds (which one line of lyric from “The Incredible Machine” from the album title is taken from and what influenced my artwork for the cover).
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
Pete: One of us brings a idea forward, like a riff, patterns or a beat, we play a lot around that, jamming getting ideas where we are going to go with it, we recorded every section we do on a recording desk and all instruments are tracked separately, to get the best sound quality and really helps that we can drop guitars, drums, bass out so we can listen to what each other is playing and lock on to the musical flow and sections of the song. Sometimes some stuff gets binned or sections moved in to other songs. We are always working on 3 or 4 songs at a time. Once we are happy with the arrangement, we listen to it over and over again, just have it on in the car, at home in the background so see where the vocal melody line flows naturally then the lyric element can be applied.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
Pete: Oh God yeah, lots of time goes in to making everything blend, Jack is always messing around with so many guitar harmonies with Kev and Ian, drums tend to lock in on the main rhythm of what’s going on, with lots of accents to make it more musical. Of course having the progressive elements in Synaptik, it does get very intricate in some sections, but does not go against then grain of the song.
John: Yes, the musical sections, middle parts are where we have most fun, but we are conscious not to go too far, we have reeled ourselves back quite a bit at times for the sake of the ‘song’, for us it is about the ‘song’ first and foremost and not being afraid of melody, creating cool dynamics and moods. There are some technical parts, but they are controlled and there to benefit the song not just for self indulgent widdling. [laughs]
Describe the approach to recording the album.
Pete: A lot of it is done at the pre recording stage before we step in to the studio, stuff like drum click maps, guitar solo’s written and practiced to death and generally getting everything to it is played tight. So that when we do go in the studio we know exactly what we are doing, time is money in that situation. Always a learning curve for us, as the first album took months to record, going back and forth. But on justify and reason we new exactly what we wanted. It was just a matter of getting the right over all sound together, input from Meyrick (the sound engineer), was brilliant he was opening up some ideas that we had never thought of, always good to have a outside opinion. We recorded at Floodgate studio last year, basically lived in the studio for a week and got the whole album done. Then just worked on the mastering, we left that with Meyrick to do, a fresh perspective on the final master. You know you have done it right when you listen to it and sends shivers done your spine.
John: Yes I was so pleased with the final product, it was head and shoulders above our previous album (the since remixed debut) – Meyrick did a cracking job. Having the ability to record at home and the studio has really helped us being far more prepared for the studio.
How long Justify & Reason was in the making?
Writing the music, was probably just over 9 months (although we had lots of gigs and time off for holidays during that time so sounds longer than was). Recording it was just over a week and mastering it was about 3 week’s as we needed to tweak another version especially for the vinyl.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
John: Each band member has their own tastes and in that respect influences, we never set out to sound like anybody, the mix of styles and melodic vocals over some death metal style riffs really mixes it all up, some influences aren’t conscious, we really just let the songs evolve from various riffs. We do get compared a lot to bands such as Nevermore, Watchtower, Queensryche and we enjoy their music so I guess in some way its these bands, but as I said its difficult to put us in one particular area of metal. We enjoy Kate Bush, Celtic Frost, Porcupine Tree, Maiden, Judas Priest, Opeth, Death, as well as Rock, Jazz… It all goes into the melting pot.
What is your view on technology in music?
Pete: Oh it’s great. It’s made it so much easier than the old days, the quality of demos, writing recording, sending stuff via the web. The musical equipment and the sound you can get out of it these days is staggering, but it’s no substitute for practice, technique, to be inspired by your heroes and a good ear.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Pete: To bring world peace over the globe, now that would be awesome, but far too many idiots on this earth for that to happen. Maybe to those who hear listen our music, I would like to think they have taken on board the message that is in each song, appreciate it, and hope it makes them feel good. That’s the reason we listen to music right, and then in turn, maybe other people will hear it and feel the same. It’s all about getting you music heard these days, with out the gimmicks and image that people are targeted and conform to just to make a money… Just the way it is. If people like our music then that’s just fine with me.
John: A message beyond the music? Well, my lyrics can be deeply personal and writing them cathartic, so if someone reads them and are moved, or influenced to make a change for the positive then that’s cool, but its not essential, as long as they enjoy what they are hearing that’s enough for me. I’m not aiming to change the world with my music, but I do want to get people thinking, yes. I like reading bands lyrics, stories, outlooks on life, I find it interesting, but I understand that not everyone does and they just like the melodies and how the music makes them feel. Music can have a massive effect on the listeners mood, music is very powerful, I can’t live without it.
What are your plans for the future?
John: To push this album hard, to get the name Synaptik on everybody’s lips, the music in their ears burning its melodies and hooks into their incredible brains, to get the brains sparking around the world. This album has more hooks than Hellraiser. [laughs]
Pete: Got a tour coming up in May this year, going up and down the UK, also got some shows later in the year in Europe to promote the new album. Gently just keep doing what love doing, playing our music. We need festivals and promoters in Europe to contact and get us on their bill. We always bring it big time live.
The Progressive Tracks Show #199 (Prog-Child Development), originally broadcast on Friday February 24, 2017, is now available to download or listen to any time you desire.
Herman’s Hermits – “Listen People (2002 Remastered Version)” from The Very Best of Herman’s Hermits on Parlophone UK
Jerry Samuels & Napoleon XIV – “They’re Coming To Take Me Away (Ha Haaa!)” from Single on Novello & Co. Ltd.
Tommy Roe – “Sweet Pea” from Greatest Hits – The Original ABC Hit Recordings on Geffen
George Harrison – “What Is Life” composed by George Harrison from All Things Must Pass (30th Anniversary Edition) [Remastered] on Apple
Three Dog Night – “Liar (Single Version)” from 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Three Dog Night on Geffen
Iron Butterfly – “Unconscious Power” from Heavy on Atco
Status Quo – “Pictures of Matchstick Men” from Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo on Sanctuary
War – “The Cisco Kid” from The World Is a Ghetto (40th Anniversary Expanded Edition) on Universal Music Enterprises
Grand Funk – “Mean Mistreater” from Live Album (2002 Remaster) on Capitol
Deep Purple – “Rat Bat Blue” from Who Do You Think We Are on Rhino
David Essex – “Rock on” composed by David Essex from Rock On on Columbia
The Undisputed Truth – “Smiling Faces Sometimes” from Smiling Faces Sometimes on Motown Records
Jethro Tull – “Aqualung (New Stereo Mix)” composed by Ian Anderson from Aqualung (40th Anniversary Special Edition) on Parlophone UK
Bloodrock – “D.O.A.” from Bloodrock 2 on Capitol
Sugarloaf – “Green Eyed Lady” from Sugarloaf on Capitol
Firefall – “Strange Way” from Elan on Atlantic
Bad Company – “Crazy Circles” from Desolation Angels on Swan Song
Alice Cooper – “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets” from School’s Out on Warner Bros.
Alice Cooper – “Street Fight” from School’s Out on Warner Bros.
Mike “ProgTracks” Pollack
The Louisiana, Bristol
19th October 2016
From Reading, Tail Feather are a progressive psychedelic rock band with harmony vocals. They are rather good.
The ticket for this show at the Louisiana came bundled with a download of their Mother Nature EP, so let’s have a listen to that first…
Four tracks make up this EP. Alright, alright has a sound straight from San Francisco, psychedelic and yet rooted in the traditions of the late sixties. The vocals are not dissimilar to Jim Morrison and there’s great musicianship throughout from bass to distorted guitars. CarNation is Doors-like, but with a harder contemporary edge. The harmonies are nice and more of a hook than on the first track. It’s like a song out of time, but more towards indie rock than progressive. The centrepiece is Mother Nature, a strong song that holds close to their psychedelic blues style. They open with this in their live performance. Finally, Rain Dance closes the EP, a great little tune that benefits from listening to it loud.
Now to the live show, and as Tail Feather start their short set, the immediate response is how much more they are live than on their EP; twin guitars vie for space with a well-balanced bass sound, tight drumming, slick keyboards, and accompanying bongos. They are tight, there is an obvious onstage camaraderie and Mother Nature clocks in slightly longer than on the EP. If they suffer from anything at all, it is the low-ceilinged nature of the upstairs room of the Louisiana, which seems to lessen the dynamic of their sound.
The conga drums and sax, played by Andy, enhance the Tail Feather sound, lifting it above the everyman prog that many British groups seem to favour. Spellbinder and CarNation shows the growing confidence in front of the small audience; a little early Floyd in the guitars, a touch of Hendrix and others that the 10-year-old me wasn’t as aware of as I am now. With so much rock history it is difficult for a band to find its own identity, but Tail Feather are getting there.
Three more tracks and feet have been found, the sax and keyboards demonstrating the depth and warmth they add to the music of this band. The guitars and drums are really good, but in terms of creating that sought after identity, these elements may be the place to move forward. I like what I hear and the toes do tap. There is even a hint of sway as their sound fills the upstairs room. Their strength is in the musicianship, close harmonies working well giving a slight Californian vibe, and even within the confines of the Louisiana their sound is warm, and involving.
Space Travel is excellent, and I find myself wishing that it was on the EP. I find this by far to be the strongest piece from the whole set. I have enjoyed it all, but this does stand out. Simon informs me in an after set chat that it has been a single for them. The short but enjoyable set closes with Rain Dance.
Tail Feather have something here, technically very good, but sometimes lacking that ‘extra’ that puts them above the others out there. They currently self-produce and do a very good job, but I would suggest that in the search for that distinct TF sound they work with a producer for a while, someone who will hear things that they do not. If it is within the realms of possibility, then they should retain their sax and conga player. He gives them a little of that edge they need to find.
Do I recommend that you look out for them, book them, or just give them a good listen? Wholeheartedly yes. Would I like to hear more as they develop? Yes. Give them a go, I think there is more to come.
Tail Feather are:
Alex, Ben, Hugh, Paul, Simon
Andy – Congas & Saxophone
No related posts found!
In the footsteps of No Gods, No Monsters, NYC-based Signals of Bedlam had some very big shoes to fill for their next album, and expectations were very high. The band’s sophomore full-length effort is an album that is very different from the first one, and yet another great work. There’s a really spaced out feeling for most of the album, but the actual music itself far overshadows any of the atmospheric stuff.
There is not a single weak track on here out of twelve, which on average clock around four-minute mark. One of the first things that hits you about this record, is the power of the drums. In Rich Abidor they possess one of the most intensive and creative players on the current scene, and his rumbling beats are very impressive.
After a soft intro “Intercept,” which gives the album sort of a post-rock-ish tone, “The Thread” powers up all cylinders with powerful groovy rhythm section (Chika Obiora is on bass), very catchy riff-work, courtesy of Tom Hoy, and haunting voice of Cero Cartera, who also handles guitar duties. Laden with often rhythmic changes and a chorus that seems to decay as soon as it begins, the contorting and yet lulling song is a high point of the record. Of course, the track would not be complete without some atmospheric sounds at the end, which usher the listener into the fantastic “Mass Appeal.”
With a rocking rhythm that’s not too far from the Mars Volta, the wah-wah guitar in “Mass Appeal” is a highlight here, along with Cartera’s singing which shapes up to be a trademark of the record, and Signals of Bedlam as well. The band goes on with some real Prog Rock on this one, which will surely be praised by everyone who still thinks that Genesis is the best thing that happened to the genre.
Fourth on the record is the less-exciting “Rule 41,” the longest track on the Escaping Velocity, which is arguably the most “down-to-the-ground” piece on the record. “Piece of Us” is an atmospheric, vocal-only chant which just confirms that Cartera can do all kind of things with his voice. It also serves as an introduction to “Signals,” a song that lulls you in before a series of riffs take control for the chorus.
“The Void” is some sort of a mixture made from punk and mathcore, and it is a needed piece, positioned right where it belongs. The band’s punk-y streak continues with “Kingslayer,” while “Cause_Ø” is yet another effort where the quartet goes for more experimental sound, employing a bit of Psychedelic Rock. After a short instrumental break “Anomie Duet,” “The Fix” is yet another centrepiece of Escaping Velocity. A real hodgepodge of all kind of crazy things is going on here — this song is possibly a piece that in the best possible way depicts what this album is about. Escaping Velocity closes with “Without Your War,” a somewhat lazy, laid-back tune which is all the time on the verge to explode into something bigger.
In conclusion, this is what happens when a group of people decide to do whatever they damn well please. Signals of Bedlam created something different for a change. I honestly believe this album has that much “classic” potential, and hopefully some good big people will notice it. It’s going to be a big burden for the band to come up with something “new” after this, but if judging by Escaping Velocity, Signals of Bedlam have the knowledge and skills to come up with something far greater. Bring it on, boys!
Edition 44 of THE PROG MILL, first broadcast on Progzilla Radio on Sunday 26th February, is now available to stream any time or download.
Two hours of superb progressive rock, old and new including Steve Hackett, IO Earth, Kyros, Wonderland, Hellhaven, Stewart Bell, The Mighty Handful, The Tangent, John Wetton, The Light Afternoon, The Opposite of Hate, Tangerine Circus, Genesis and Yes.
Your proggy music suggestions and also music from bands/artists for airplay very welcome. email firstname.lastname@example.org or PM via twitter @shaunontheair of www.facebook.com/theprogmill
I’m delighted to announce that the podcast for edition 039 of the Francis Dunnery Radio Show is now available!