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Interview with Alan Morse (Spock's Beard)

Interview with Alan Morse (Spock's Beard)
BANDS : Spock's Beard

 

Hello, Alan, and welcome into the pages of metalfan.ro. Since this is your first time here and some of the fans don't know so much about the band, I would like you to provide them with some of the most important moments of Spock's Beard's history.

Well, we started about 15 years ago in a small town in Romania - oops, I mean Los Angeles . We got together when we finally stopped trying to do music that people would like, that would be "commercial" Neal wrote some stuff and convinced me to start a band to play it, even though "nobody will like it". And here we are!

I know that your debut album, The Light, was released ten years ago. Was it a good period for progressive metal back then?

Surprisingly, yes. We didn't think anybody else was into this stuff, but apparently a lot of people were. This was a complete surprise to us.

Many of your listeners consider Spock's Beard a band with a more British approach towards music. Do you think this is a hazardous statement?

Not at all, most of our favorite bands were English, so I'm happy and proud to hear you say that. I love British rock, especially from the 70's.

The next album, Beware of Darkness, opens with the title track. Is it true that this is a George Harrison track? Why did you choose it?

Yes, the song was written by George Harrison, who was in some band a long time ago whose name I can't remember ; ) Neal just had an idea sort of taking off from Leon Russel's version of the song, it seemed to work so we went with it.

I heard that there were some excellent reactions towards this album coming from Japan . How do you explain Asian affinity for melodic metal?

Actually, I don't really think we've ever done too well in Asia . I toured there with Ryo a few years ago and very few people had ever heard of Spock's Beard. So I don't know what to tell you. I think maybe we're not metal enough for them.

About The Kindness of Strangers and the way its introduction sounds, do you really think "The Good Don't Last"? Were these lyrics referring to some real situation you were facing at that time? Do you think strangers are more kind that the ones you know?

Well, sometimes it seems that the good don't last, and the bad goes on and on. But ultimately, there's always good & always bad, just try to focus on the good and ignore the bad as much as possible.

The Kindness of Strangers line is from the play "A Streetcar Named Desire". I think we just used it because it sounded cool, not that strangers are really all that kind - especially here in L.A. !

I must admit that Day for Night was the first Spock's Beard album that I listened to. I also know that it was one of your best-received albums in Europe . Have you done some European touring after its release and if yes, have you noticed any major differences between the American and European audiences?

We tour a lot more in Europe, because we have more fans there & it's easier to get around, America is too big! I love European audiences, they really like to rock. Americans are usually a little more reserved.

I know that V was released in a special edition also. What does this 32-pages booklet contain and to whom it was addressed? What does the cover of the album suggest and who is responsible for it's design?

The cover was designed by Thomas Everhart who does most of our covers. I'm not sure what it means, but it sure looks cool!

The fans and media consider the 2002 album, Snow, your best album. It is also the most complex of all your creations, containing two disks (the special edition box set has 3!) and a marvelous story. Please, tell me some about the concept of Snow, the time you spent in the studio recording it and the reactions you got from the public worldwide.

I don't know if it's our best album, personally I don't like it so much. But that's partly because it happened around the time when Neal was leaving the band. People seem to like it.

Feel Euphoria was the first album recorded without Neal Morse. A slightly different orientation is sensing while listening to this opus. It was also the moment that Nick D'Virgilio became the lead vocalist. There is a saying: "You win some but then you lose some." What had Spock's Beard to lose and what to win with Neal Morse's departure?

Well, we were all really bummed when Neal left the band, but it was an opportunity for us all to do more writing and see where we could take it. It's been mostly really fun since then. We get to rock a little harder.

Here we are in the year of 2005. Spock's Beard is here and offers us a new album. Why Octane? Doesn't this gas pump look a little prosaic for a band with concepts so poetical?

We decided to call it Octane, partly because it's our 8 th CD and "octo" means eight, and partly because it sounded kind of cool, kind of powerful. Thomas E. came up with the gas pump thing to go with that. Hey, you have to put something on the cover!

Are you by any chance trying to say that this album could be the fuel we all need to go further with our existence? Or the fuel Spock's Beard need? Give us more hints about the story behind this album.

Wow, that's a little heavy for us. It just sounded cool. There really isn't more to it than that as far as I know.

How does a Spock's Beard day in the studio look like? When it comes to recording processes you suddenly become serious and workaholic or you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere? After all those years you are family to each other, isn't it?

Well, we start out all together. It takes a long time to get started, getting the drum sounds & stuff. We really just go mainly for the drums at first, the rest can be added later, but we all play together to get the feel. After that we all pretty much add our parts on our own & put it all together at the end. Some of the other guys will show up when one of us is doing his bit, who ever is in town and can come by. It's usually pretty relaxed, it takes a lot of time.

Tell me about the way your tracks are composed. How many of them get to be on the album and how many go to the thrash can?

Most of what we write all the way through ends up on the CD. A lot of stuff doesn't get completed, so it doesn't make it. Some stuff, like "Planet's Hum" from Octane gets pretty much written in the studio. We had some ideas we all liked, so we fleshed it out together.

I have noticed a constant care for the lyrical part and for the album booklets and covers. Who is the mastermind behind Spock's Beard lyrics? Do you have a special someone that deals with illustrating your albums?

The lyrics on the older stuff were all by Neal. The lyrics on the new stuff are by all of us, and often by John Boegehold. He's really good with that stuff. Thomas Everhart does most of the album covers, although John B did the Beware of Darkness cover, from my idea.

There's no secret that you are very active. All of you have side projects or choose to "help" other musicians with your presences on their albums. Can you reveal us some of these activities?

Nick has been touring with Tears for Fears, Dave plays with Eric Burdon and the New Animals a lot. Ryo has played with Natalie Cole, Peabo Bryson and many others. I'm CEO of an electronics company, and like to spend time with my wife & kids. I'm doing a solo CD, and working on some projects for some other people as well.

The public often wonders what kind a person must one be in order to record music like Spock's Beard's. Could you please tell us something about the Morse, D'Virgilio, Okumoto and Meros persons?

Everybody's pretty cool and mellow, except me sometimes. I get a little carried away with things sometimes, but the guys cut me a lot of slack. They're all really funny, cool people.

Where do you get all this energy? What keeps you alive and what are your sources of inspiration?

These days I get a lot of exercise and really watch what I eat. I think it's really important to eat right to keep your energy up. I like to do yoga & ride my bike a lot.

I guess you are one of the bands with the most important live activity ever. Please, tell us something about your so many official live albums.

Well, we do have a lot of live records out. It gives us something to sell on tour so we can make a little money. We're coming out with a new one soon - "Gluttons for Punishment" - that I think will be the best one yet. We really did it right this time, and got some strong performances recorded well.

There's no secret that we are facing the Internet era. Are you a computer addict?

I spend a lot of time on computers, but I hope I'm not an addict! We record on Pro Tools now, so you end up looking at the screen a lot. But it really comes down to the writing and the playing, doesn't it?

Another problem of our times is the piracy and the free circulation of mp3 files. What to you think about this matter? Does it have any negative impacts on the market, album sales and artists' rights?

Yeah, I think piracy is really uncool. It's hard enough for performers at our level to make any money, and it's a lot of work to make a record. So when people just steal it, that's pretty lame. But the Internet has also helped us a lot. If not for that, I don't know if anyone would know about the band. So it's a mixed bag. But please buy the records, otherwise we can't make more of them!

In the end I would like you to tell me some about your future plans (DVD, touring, new album, etc.). When will we have the honor to see you live in Romania? Have you got any offers from our promoters?

We are going to be touring Europe in October, but no dates in Romania . I haven't heard of any offers from promoters - any promoters out there reading this? Get to work, get us out there! I'd love to come.

Thank you very much for your time and kindness in making this interview, good luck and inspiration in the future and all the best for you and the guys in the band. Please, share a few thoughts with our readers.

All I can see is keep going for it. The success of Spock's Beard is completely improbable. So forget about the odds. Just keep standing up for what you love, amazing things can and do happen! Thanks for supporting us, we couldn't do it without you. Hope we can make it out to Romania & see you all sometime. Until then, keep on proggin'!

Cheers, Alan Morse

Autor: Sake
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Spock's Beard

   August 29, 2005  | 0 Comments  | 6716 Views « BACK

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