By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
Headspace, a British progressive rock band consisting of five best friends, including keyboardist Adam Wakeman, just kicked-off a U.K. tour in support of their debut album, “I Am Anonymous.” It follows their 2006 EP “I Am….,” which was recorded just in time for the band to earn the honor of opening for Ozzy Osbourne during the European leg of Ozzy’s 2007 Black Rain tour.
In a recent e-mail interview, Wakeman, son of former YES keyboardist Rick Wakeman, said Headspace is excited about performing again after spending the last five years writing and recording their full-length album. They are thrilled to be getting the chance not only to perform, but to also reconnect with one another.
“The writing took place over many years purely because of our individual schedules,” Wakeman said. “I was on tour most of 2007/8 and 2010/11 with Ozzy, so a lot was done by sending ideas back and forth. I am very lucky to spend a lot of time with bands such as Ozzy’s or Sabbath and many other artists I really enjoy, I just felt that I never actually got to see some of my older friends and this gave us the opportunity to get together and work as a band on something for ourselves. This band is the sum of its five parts and everyone’s input is essential.”
The Headspace line-up includes Wakeman, plus Damian Wilson on vocals, drummer Richard Brook, bassist Lee Pomeroy, and guitarist Pete Rinaldi. Wakeman said he and Rinaldi got together as often as possible to collaborate and sent the rest of the band what they worked on so they could add their parts.
“Damian wrote all the lyrics and the majority of the melodies, plus a few acoustic sections, too,” said Wakeman. “‘Soldier’ was a finished song he bought to the table, but it was too ‘folky’ with major chords, so I just got him to sing the melody and played some different chords to make it fit with the band.”
From there, the album continued to evolve. During the process, Wilson and Rinaldi came up with the idea for a concept album, which encourages the listener to ponder his or her relationship with humanity and the mental battles he or she endures.
Wakeman said the concept can be analyzed by showing the connection with The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, a hypothesis introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ book, On Death and Dying.
“The Soldier in our story is reflecting on emotions from coming back from war and struggling to understand Man’s inhumanity to fellow Man,” said Wakeman. “He is also questioning religion in ‘In Hell’s Name,’ and in ‘The Big Day,’ he ends up on a plane on its final journey. ‘Heads were bowed – Hand’s clenched with fear,’ draws a beautiful image of people in the ‘brace’ position. Are they praying or just ‘bracing’ for the crash? At a time like that no one knows what’s going through your head. Is the search for a God futile and pointless, or is that where it begins?”
As is often the case with most prog-rock bands, many of the album tracks are lengthy, as one is 15 minutes long, and at least four others hover around 10 minutes. There are eight songs on the album.
“We don’t ever have any preconceived ideas about song length,” Wakeman said. “We had lots of time to reflect on sections and whole songs, and we recorded the whole album first to make sure it worked musically and lyrically. Then we re-recorded everything again.”
Wakeman said the experience was fulfilling and highlighted attributes of each of his band mates, noting that they are the “most talented musicians I know, and the people I would choose to spend time with, if I actually had any free time.”
Aside from their musical talents, he said Rinaldi brings clarity to a lot of situations and helps him with the business dealings for the band. Also, they have their comical sides, as well.
“Because we all know each other so well, there’s a lot of humor involved when we’re all together,” said Wakeman. “Lee and Rich are great fun to be around and Damo is the most random character I know, which is why he’s so good as a front man.”
Wakeman went on to say that some of the situations Damo gets into on tour are quite interesting, to say the least. He anticipates the remainder of their current tour to be no different.
“He was once late for a recording session at my studio because he was arrested on a bus after being wrongly pointed out as a robber,” Wakeman said. “Another time, he was thrown out of a bar and arrested for someone else starting a bar fight [and was] released with no charge. He just seems to find himself in the most bizarre situations.”
Touring with Ozzy, he said, is just as entertaining, as well as enjoyable.
“Ozzy is a true, old school rock royalty in my book,” Wakeman said. “He has the utmost respect for people and is the most genuine, honest person I know. What you see is what you get and that’s pretty rare in anyone and almost extinct in the music business.”
Another well-known musician in Wakeman’s life is, of course, his father. Having a highly talented keyboardist/composer like Rick Wakeman as a dad has put a bit of pressure on him, yet, he has developed his own notoriety through the years.
“When I was young and we toured and recorded albums together, there were people who just said, ‘He’s only doing that because his dad’s Rick Wakeman,’” he said. “But once I got a bit older and worked with a lot of other artists, I think people realize that I have my own career.”
He also said he father was and continues to be a huge inspiration.
“He’s the person I call with questions about the business that I need advice on, because chances are he has come across it in his long career,” Wakeman said. “I appreciate YES a lot more now than when I was younger. I swapped my YES albums for a football when I was eight.”
For Wakeman, he’s just grateful to be a musician. He said he loves being able to jump from one project to another so he never gets bored.
“I recently finished a film score for a British indie film called “Nothing Man” and then went straight on tour with Ozzy and Friends for the summer,” he said. “Then it was lots of press for the Headspace shows and album, and a recording session with a singer/writer from Nashville.
I have friends who gave up touring to just be writers or producers, but I know that I would really miss touring if I were to stop doing it. You can never replace the feeling of playing in front of a crowd and seeing people really enjoying a show.”
To learn more about Headspace or find out how to purchase their music, visit headspaceonline.com.