2. Do you find it important to be classified as a progband and /or do you see yourself as a progband?
I don't see Phideaux as a "progband". I think we are art-rock in the sense that we use our music to express art, rather than as a dance band or party music. I love progressive music from the 60's and 70's as well as the post rock music of the 80's. Perhaps I think of us as psychedelic art rock. For me, the art of making albums is what I most enjoy. I don't think the classification is important, however it is important to try and reach the audience you think would like the music. So, to this end, we embrace the progressive rock music audience (of which we are also consumers)
3. Do you find cover art important? Please elaborate.
Cover art is very important because it makes a statement that expresses the music. It is a calling card, it is an extension of the music. I have the luxury of working with some fantastic artists who I have known since I was a child. They are super talented. Linda Ruttan Moldawsky did our last album Number Seven, easily a mind bending visual experience. Molly Ruttan, who emerged from the same embryo as Linda, did the paintings for the two albums prior. She will be doing the Infernal album cover in 2010 and Linda will do 7½ at the end of the year.
Always the music comes first. I might have a fragment of lyric, some phrase or word or idea. But the music usually comes full blown like a egg fallen from the sky.
5. Which bands/artists/genre would you name as your inspirational source?
The Beatles showed me as a small child that music was magic. Jefferson Airplane revealed the chaos in psychedelia and showed how you could go very far within the realm of listenability. I love rock music and that includes progressive rock, post punk rock, 60's music. Van der graaf Generator, Genesis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Leonard Cohen, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Joy Division, Alice Cooper, David Bowie and of course Jethro Tull. But, that leaves out the other thousands of artists that amaze and distract me.
6. The Mellotron, has become an icon..a pseudonym to great music in progmusic circuits, whats your thoughts on that and the particular instrument?
I love that instrument. I love Moog sythesizer and Mellotron. We just got an electronic cd version of mellotron from Germany called Memotron. It operates with the same parameters and drawbacks as the original Mellotron and is quite quaint. I loved Mellotron when I first heard Nights In White Satin. I was hooked by the sounds of that song and In The Court Of The Crimson King. Two fantastic tron songs. Of course, I didn't realize it at the time, but Strawberry Fields was probably my first mellotron experience. But, everything I heard from the Beatles (when I was 3 and 4) was a revelation about music and production and spirit in art.
7. If the ultimate choice were given to you, which comes first, live performances or studio work?
Studio work. Although we really love playing live so we can meet the audience. It's a very exciting thing to be able to perform something you have made as an album. It gives it new life and allows you to find new dimensions to music. We recently performed at a festival and it was so incredible to meet the listeners and people who have been generous enough to come and hear us.
8. In many interviews Beatles comes up as as the ultimate forerunners of prog!? In other words...without Beatles, no progscene as we see it today! Do you concur? Please elaborate!
Well, The Beatles really were there at the right time and had the exact perfect tools to help effect the revolution in popular music. I think the drug scene helped to expand the consciousness of the time. Of course, drugs are a tricky thing because only a very lucky few can use them and escape without some sort of damage or baggage. But, those song writers, with that producer, seeking to expand their own craft within the context of that era in the UK where those wonderful recording machines were being invented... It was a magic time, no?
9. In a given concert, with you PHIDEAUX headlining, whom or which band/artist would you most like/love to see on that imaginative event/ poster! Please feel free to name several!
So, we are curating a festival? Natually we want to see our friends and our favourite artists. But, since we are headlining we are apparently a very arrogant band! However, on the same bill we'd want Discipline/Matthew Parmenter, Guy Manning, Rebsie Fairholm (a haunting folk artist from UK), Edensong and a solo warm up set from Arjen Lucassen (Ha! he'd never do it, but he might if it was simple enough and he didn't have to play his complex epics). Basically, this is a list of our respected friends and comrades.
10. In this day and age of progcircuits, I guess most of your fans, friends & musicians would like to learn the instruments of your choice, im of course talking make and brand. Please elaborate individually!
I like using Martin and Taylor acoustic guitars. Gibson Les Paul for electric (and I love my double neck). For bass it would be Fender. I have no particular piano, what a pleasure to have an acoustic piano under your fingers! The keyboards I personally like are Nord Electro, Moog Voyager and Memotron. I have not had an affinity for Roland... We use Brauner VMA microphone for my vocals. I am VERY particular about that. I have a difficult voice to record and Brauner brings out the good qualities and helps cancel out the boomy and nasal qualities.
11. I realise that " Number Seven" is NOT the third and final part of the trilogy!? "The Great Leap" & "Doomsday Afternoon" being the first two! What happened to the third part?
Infernal is the music I wrote as the follow up to Doomsday Afternoon. I haven't written the lyrics and the music was pretty complicated and I got lazy and didn't want to work through it with the drummer, so we decided to do some simpler music. That became Number Seven. It was supposed to be a quick and easy album.
12. "Number seven" is..at least to these trained ears, is a bit different musicwise from the former albums. Mind you it is excellent, but I hear a more folkrock/60´psychedelic vibe on this release! Is that an accurate assumption?
I don't know what to make of Number Seven. I love it as the pinnacle of what I've been wanting to make. I see it as our "Passion Play". It is sprawling and circuitous. I think it is psychedelic in the sense that there are short weird linking bits and things that come out of left field. It is definitely an attempt to make an "album" that you put on and experience as a whole. There are really only a couple of songs. We split things up so it would be listened to modularly, but in truth there are only 6 or 7 songs. For me there isn't really too much of a folk vibe except in Gift Of The Flame. I was going with inspiration from some of the Italian progressive masterpieces of the 70s. Le Orme and Banco were inspirations on this one. Number Seven is exactly the album I wanted to make. That's the first time that I looked back and was mostly happy.
13. Are you yourself, classically trained or selftaught?
I learned to play guitar as a small child from group classes at the recreation center in my home town. I left that class and studied with the teacher who taught me to finger pick so I could play songs by Renaissance and King Crimson. My training was strictly folk guitar and I never practiced. I later picked up the piano, well anyone can make music on a piano with a little experimentation. I am atrocious at playing piano, but I can compose on it. However the fact that I am not a trained player makes my approach very simplistic and that may impact my music -- for good and bad.
14. In that respect, either way. I find it quite impressive that you orchestrated the 10 piece unit band this album boast´s. Would you care to elaborate on that particular part of the album creation?! One would think that it was hard work and long hours!?
It is long long long hours. The band contribute a lot of ideas. Sometimes I will have a plan and ask someone to play a certain thing, but usually the members will start to play and I might make a suggestion to slightly change it. Number Seven has some great contributions from every band member and that's what makes it exciting. I don't even play a single instrument on Love Theme From Number Seven. I am very proud of that fact, 6 minutes that I am not on at all!
15. Valerie Gracious, has an amazing and beautiful voice (which of course led me to ask the former question on the folkrock feel) that made me think of Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention). But there are also remindings of Renaissance (with Jane Relf) both musically & vocally. Where did you "find" her and how? Please elaborate.
Valerie has a great voice. I love Jane Relf. She is massively great! That song Wanderer is so beautiful. Valerie is my oldest friend. I have known her since I was four years old. Lucky for me that she has such a wonderful and luminous voice!
16.I read somewhere (the booklet?) that this album, are to be followed by a " Seven and a half" album!? Is that true?
7½ is in the process of being finished. We left the Number Seven sessions with a few extra bits and some unfinished ideas. They were intriguing enough to follow up on before we begin the recording of Infernal. That is the third part of our trilogy. I didn't think I wanted to finish the world of Doomsday immediately. I wanted some other music to bridge the gap and maybe to keep people guessing. That is the only advantage of not being signed to a record label. There's no one to tell us what to do. No commercial considerations to have to worry about.
17. Which leads me to the next question, when will we "see" the third and final part of the famous trilogy?
18. Why the Italian lyrics on track 14? Did I miss something?
When we did that song I was singing along with it. I kept singing some mock words that had the ring of Italian, so I contacted an Italian person I knew and asked her to help me create the lyrics. We listened to the music and I sang the gibberish I heard in my head. She and I found lyrics that had a similar sound. I don't speak Italian, but the language is beautiful and I love Italian rock from the 70s. After we finished the lyrics, some of which are slang and perhaps of a specific region, Lili coached me on my pronounciation. It was a bit of the surreal humour and psychedelia surrounding the spirit of Number Seven. We thought of this as a Dada album. There was nothing we could not do. It didn't have to make sense. The lyrics we came up with worked in the context of the concept story because the main character is having a life crisis and the lyrics question our own personal "stories".
19. What would you like to tell your fans, friends, progfans from around the world and our readers?
I want to say that we love making music. We do it because we loved listening to music as we were growing up. Music was a companion when I was younger. It is coded in my memories. The idea that I can be involved in making music is a true life's dream come true. The fact that someone out in the world might hear it and be interested is so exciting and humbling. I want to say that we appreciate everyone who takes the time to listen. We are happy to get notes about your experience with the music. We apologise when you hate one song or another. There are times when I love all our music and times when I think, what was that? We hope to see you live one day. We would love to be able to perform around the world and meet the listeners. Thank you for the encouragement.
20. Thanx so very much Phideaux, for taking the time to do this interview!!
Thanks Tonny for the questions and feel free to submit more if anything came up that you want more info about.
All the best,