4. Which comes first in your process of composing/creating music, the lyrics or the music?
(Robert) As a guitar player, I tend to write by coming up with licks and riffs and melodies which sit in my great cosmic bank until I find a home for them. I have a tendency to stew ideas, sometimes for years, before they see the light. Steve (lead vocals) tends to write in the traditional way of coming up with a concept and set of strong lyrics. Jon (bass) uses his technology and coupled with his weird brain often teaches us to see outside the box. Tom (additional guitars) is, as yet, a largely untapped resource who needs to be milked because there is a lot of music in him (and he is not getting any younger ha ha!). So, in summary, collectively, for as many schools of thought as there are with regard to songwriting is as many ways as we use to write songs. Aqua writing sessions, which usually occur at Tom’s, are very fruitful sessions where ideas run as thick as a tropical downpour.
(Steve) Sometimes for me it’s a case of responding with melodies to Rob’s ideas, and as he says, sometimes its about bringing a formulated idea to the table. We work in a very hybrid way that draws on each members’ strengths, and we develop our music collectively. Nonetheless, “Dr Bob” is the guru who brings our disparate ideas to a cohesive whole and guides the overall musical vision.
5. Which bands/artists/genre would you name as your inspirational source? Please elaborate and individual perspectives would be great.
(Robert): well I’m stuck in the 70s with my Jethro Tull, Focus, Rush etc. etc. But also some of the mainstream bands of the 60s such as the Who and the Beatles. However, my leanings go into classical/baroque, flamenco, jazz, world stuff.
(Steve): Inevitably Yes and prog more generally. I am a bit like Dr Bob in that I look to the past for inspiration, but there’s some good new generation prog bands out there. More widely I like innovative musicals such as Wicked, and film soundtracks such as the recent Sweeny Todd release (Depp was fab). I also like traditional stuff and world music. I'll pass on gangster rap.
(Jon): I love the old prog bands such as Rush (my main bass playing influence), Genesis and Yes but more recently have been getting into contemporary bands such as Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater and IQ.
(Tom): I’m a self confessed old rocker who prefers good rocking mainstream stuff like Whitesnake, Toto. Often, unsuccessfully, I try to put a lid on the more outlandish proggy elements in our music.
Steve Carney (lead vocals)
6. The Mellotron, has become an icon..a pseudonym in progmusic circuits. What’s your thought on that and the particular instrument?
(Robert) Yeah, the sound defines an era. There is mellotron (well mellotron samples) on Aqua – most prominently accompanying the real flute in “Ode to Grey Mornings” and as a counterpoint to the vocal melody in the first half of “Nature’s Sunday”. When mixed in properly, it is a haunting sound.
(Steve) My life was changed by the Mellotron. Hearing that ghostly sweeping sound was otherworldly and made me see endless possibilities in music. For me the ultimate example is ‘Starless’ by Crimbo, absolutely fantastic.