MASS is known as a hard rock band from Revere, Mass., but they have decided to show another side of themselves with the release of a four song Christmas CD Holden on to Christmas. You may know these four musicians as the rockers that they are but they are also all fathers who believe that no child should go without presents on Christmas.
The band first decided to give to Toys for Tots in 2010 when they released their first Christmas single. They released a second Christmas single in 2014 and once again donated the proceeds to Toys for Tots. This year, MASS decided to step up their game by releasing a full, four song Christmas CD, which is limited to 500 copies and they’re already selling fast. Get your copy HERE!
Limelight Magazine spoke with MASS vocalist Louis St. August about the success of the first two Christmas releases and the band’s inspiration for expanding their Christmas tradition by releasing a Christmas CD this year. The first Christmas single they released did very well and they were able to raise around $3,000 for Toys for Tots. For the Christmas release in 2014, MASS ended up raising even more money for the charity. Since there was only a limited number of copies for both of these releases, MASS decided to put that music, remastered on a CD, with one original MASS Christmas song.
“We have the three songs that we previously recorded and a brand new original Christmas song called ‘Holden on to Christmas’,” St. August explained. “We had them all remastered and we put them all together on the CD.”
The CD was just released on November 17th but already around 300 out of the limited 500 copies have been sold. Along with this impressive first week of sales, MASS is glad to be able to once again give Toys for Tots a substantial donation.
“No child should go without receiving at least one gift on Christmas,” August said. “We felt strongly about that, especially myself, so I presented the idea to the guys [Gene D’tria, Mike Palumbo, and Joey “Vee” Vadala] and they all agreed.”
Not only is this CD a grouping of four merry songs but it is also a true MASS album. With so many other Christmas albums out there, St. August talked about what makes this CD different.
“Our fans like MASS music so they like our renditions of the songs that are rock but also Christmas,” he said. “People who have written me back really appreciate the new song we wrote so I think the CD is different than other Christmas CD’s because we have a little bit of a different style and our voices are different. It’s coming from a melodic, hard rock band and it’s just showing a different side of us; a side that can do ballads and happy, Christmas tunes.”
St. August first started thinking about creating a Christmas CD in August since the band would need that much time to create Holden on to Christmas.
“I started it in August and I actually sang the Christmas song that we wrote on a hot day in September,” he said. “I had to kind of force myself into the Christmas spirit.”
Holden on to Christmas consists of three previously released songs, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Grown Up Christmas List”, and “Where Are You Christmas”. The last song on the CD is the title track which is a original MASS Christmas song “Holden On To Christmas”. St. August explained how that last song came into fruition.
“We’re coming out with a brand new album next year, a full length album,” he explained. “It will be our ninth studio album. We wrote a couple songs when we were in the studio and one of the songs just didn’t fit with the rest. So my idea was, ‘why don’t we change it and make that into a Christmas song?’ I put Christmas lyrics on it and added some Christmas kind of atmosphere to it with sleigh bells and the choir.”
MASS hopes to continue releasing Christmas music every few years and also donate as much money as they can to Toys for Tots. MASS has even considered doing a possible MASS Christmas concert in the next couple of years.
Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick will be back on the road this December by popular demand. Both are extremely talented musicians known for their work with drummer Carl Palmer, of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia. For their December run of dates, Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick will be premiering one act from their soundtrack written for the classic silent film Nosferatu.
Bielatowicz is a sensational guitarist from Lancashire, England. He attended school at Leeds College of Music and pursued music for a while before he was offered the opportunity to play guitar for the Carl Palmer Band. Although he has only released one solo album in 2014 titled Preludes & Etudes, he has a vast history within the music industry touring the world, recording music, and playing phenomenal live shows with musicians such as Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big) and Les Paul.
For a while, Bielatowicz toyed with the idea of creating a soundtrack to a silent film. In the same out-of-the-box manner in which he approaches many of his projects, Bielatowicz chose to write a soundtrack for Nosferatu, a silent German expressionist horror film, after watching the movie a few years ago.
“I feel that music and art should connect people on an individual and personal level,” Bielatowicz said. “Sadly we live in a society that seems to be moving away from that idea, where mass media and maximum profits are the primary goals of creativity. I’m always looking for ways to rebel against this modern day trend – writing and performing a live soundtrack to a 95-year-old silent movie just seemed like the right thing to do!”
“The name I gave to the silent movie soundtrack project is The Orchestra of Lost Emotions,” Bielatowicz said. “With all the wonderful technological media innovations we have today, I feel like we miss out on a more personal experience – our physical and personal relationship with the world is becoming a lost emotion – hence the name of the project.”
Bielatowicz loves to challenge himself as a musician so creating a soundtrack for a movie such as Nosferatu that has been surrounded by so much hype has been an exciting experience for him.
“I think the history that surrounds Nosferatu makes it a very attractive movie to tackle,” Bielatowicz said. “The director’s initial plan was to make a version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula but when permission was denied by Stoker’s family, he decided to go ahead and make the film anyway, tweaking the script and changing the characters’ names – Count Dracula became Count Orlok for example – in an attempt to avoid copyright infringement. Despite their efforts, the changes were not enough to avoid a lawsuit. Shortly after its debut, a judge ruled in favor of the Stoker estate and ordered all copies of the movie to be destroyed.”
Thankfully, some copies of the film survived, and today it’s become a cult classic. The movie sprouted a wave a creativity within Bielatowicz and he knew this was the project for him.
“Nosferatu has the reputation for being a creepy horror movie, which of course it is but it’s also so much more than that,” Bielatowicz explained. “F. W. Murnau was the genius director of his day and the movie is a cinematic masterpiece full of innovative camera techniques, cutting edge special effects and emotional acting performances. It’s difficult to imagine how innovative Murnau actually was in his early silent movies – you have to remember he was literally inventing the media of cinema at the time and the films he made still stand up as a benchmark for modern day movies to be measured by.”
“Not wanting to give too much away, Nosferatu doesn’t follow the standard plot norms we came to expect of Hollywood over the 100(ish) years that followed,” Bielatowicz said. “The hero turns out to be not-so heroic, while his love interest becomes the heroine in an emotional climax to the movie. That’s definitely not what audiences would have expected in the early 1920s. The way Murnau succeeds in communicating these subtleties and emotions using the medium of silent acting and camera work is nothing short of genius.”
The Orchestra of Lost Emotions is a multi-cultural soundtrack. Bielatowicz combined his English heritage and the original film’s German elements to create a masterpiece. This piece of art also incorporated Bielatowicz’s rock sound with a mixture of classical music.
“I guess my influences as a composer aren’t what you’d typically expect for a rock guitarist!” Bielatowicz said. “Classical music has always been my passion and there’s a huge classical influence in the music I’ve written for this soundtrack. As for the German connection, I think fans of classical music will recognize a huge tip of the hat to Beethoven throughout.”
Bielatowicz talked about the main characteristics that differentiate the Nosferatu soundtrackfrom his previous material such as his stripped back solo album Preludes & Etudes.
“The biggest difference is that I’ve written all the music to tie in very closely with onscreen action,” Bielatowicz explained. “Scoring for a silent movie allows you the freedom not only to write music which evokes the emotions of a scene but also to incorporate sound effects into the music. Elements such as footsteps, door slams etc. are all incorporated in the music as an attempt to blur the lines between soundtrack and sound effects.”
The soundtrack is split into four acts. Bielatowicz will be premiering the first act on his December tour along with the first 30 minutes of the film.
“[The first act] is a great introduction to the movie and goes right up until the dramatic moment where the main character first meets Count Orlok the vampire,” Bielatowicz explained.
Along with the premiere of Nosferatu, Bielatowicz will also be playing a variety of covers and original music.
“We’ll be playing a selection of classical showpieces, including a lot of music from my solo album Preludes & Etudes,” he said. “You can expect to hear movements from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, some Beethoven favorites, Chopin Etudes, Debussy ballads, famous opera overtures all arranged for electric guitar, bass guitar and Chapman stick, like you’ve never heard them before! Mine and Simon’s tour follows an extensive tour with Carl Palmer, where we’ve been playing tribute to the late Keith Emerson, so you can probably expect a couple of ELP [Emerson, Lake & Palmer] classics thrown in too!”
The last time Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick played together, they received rave reviews. Both musicians always put on a dynamic instrumental performance, and this one is bound to be even better due to the premiere of the soundtrack. Bielatowicz confirms his true talent by creating an all instrumental playlist that never bores the audience and never begs for vocals.
“I think variety is the key to maintaining an audience’s interest in any musical setting,” Bielatowicz said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re solo instrumentalist, a full band with vocals or a 90 piece orchestra, if everything you play sounds the same then your audience is going to get bored pretty quickly. Obviously, the fewer elements or instruments you have in a band, the more creative you have to be about maintaining variety but as long as you remain mindful of that then it’s possible to keep an audience’s interest no matter what instruments you have at your disposal. Dynamics play a big part, as does instrumentation, the use of different sound effects and obviously having 25 minutes of your set devoted to playing a soundtrack along with a movie screening helps a lot too! Audiences can expect a carefully thought-out set, specifically designed to keep them on the edge of their seats for the entire duration of the show.”
Bielatowicz has been playing alongside Fitzpatrick for many years and is excited to embark on another tour with him.
“Not only is Simon one of my best friends but he’s also one of the most gifted musicians I’ve had the pleasure of playing with,” Bielatowicz said. “I think our musical styles compliment each other perfectly – there’s no one else I’d rather do this tour with. I guarantee audiences will see him doing things they never thought possible on the bass guitar or Chapman Stick!”
Over the years, their relationship has grown and they have pushed each other to be the best musicians they can be. Their musical chemistry is evident during their live performance and this bond has been created and solidified through their years of friendship and musical expansion.
“I definitely think we’ve inspired each other to take our instruments to new places,” Bielatowicz said. “The way we both play our instruments is quite un-guitary and un-bassy and I think it’s fair to say we’ve influenced each other on our musical journeys.”
Here’s is the complete list of tour dates for Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick’s tour. Visit the websites of the public venues to purchase tickets.
December 8, 2016 – Pawnee, IL (Private Concert)
December 9, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI (Private Concert)
December 10, 2016 – Chicago, IL (Private Concert)
December 11, 2016 – Gibsonia, PA (Private Concert)
December 12, 2016 – Blend of Seven Winery, Delaware, OH
December 15, 2016 – Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
December 17, 2016 – Hollis, NH (Private Concert)
December 18, 2016 – Hartford Road Cafe, Hartford, CT
December 20, 2016 – Schwenksville, PA (Private Concert)
December 21, 2016 – Triad Theatre, New York, NY
December 22, 2016 – Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA
Trevor Rabin is a musician, singer/songwriter, producer and film composer most famous for his time as the guitarist and vocalist for YES. He was with the band from 1982-1995 and was responsible for some of their biggest hits including “Owner of a Lonely Heart” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 singles chart. He was also responsible for their most successful selling album 90125, along with three others: Big Generator, Union, and Talk.
Rabin is currently planning a tour with two former members of YES, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. The tour, appropriately called “Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman: An Evening of YES Music & More,” launches tonight in Orlando, FL, and will come to Boston on October 19th at the Citi Wang Theatre.
It’s been 25 years since Rabin performed on stage with Anderson and Wakeman on the Union tour. In an interview with Limelight Magazine, Rabin talked about how this reunion came about.
According to Rabin, he and Wakeman had always planned and hoped to tour together, but it never happened until now. With busy lives full of thriving careers, both Rabin and Wakeman spent years making excuses and putting off their work together.
“I think the catalyst was our very good friend [YES founder and bassist] Chris Squire dying,” he said. “This led us to discipline ourselves and say ‘you know what, now we really really got to’.”
The two finally decided to clear their schedules and make this project happen with their mutual friend Anderson who previously performed a successful series of concerts with Wakeman in the U.K. in 2010 and the U.S. in 2011. These three musicians work great together and flourish in the mist of each other’s company and creative energy.
“What’s really great is that it really came from the heart of the musicians, opposed to some promotion company or record company getting involved,” said Rabin.
Rabin and Wakeman are currently rehearsing and also recording music together. Rabin said that they have had a great time working together recently and are both inspired and excited for the upcoming tour.
Although they will not be playing any of their new music on this tour, Rabin explained the setlist they are working on.
“So what we’ve done is we’ve really taken the catalog that we’ve all been involved with in the past, and really found, I think, exciting new ways of doing it,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
“We’re still going through it,” he continued. “We’ve rehearsed way more than we need and we still haven’t reconciled what we are going to play. I mean obviously we’re going to play “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and things that you kind of have to play. It’s kind of prerequisite for doing the tour, almost.”
Rabin explained how the tour came about and his current work with Wakeman.
“We do have some new stuff, but I guess just because of the passion we have for this and how we approached it, it isn’t done yet,” he said. “This music and tour wasn’t put together by a bunch of promoters and managers and record companies. It’s really just happening in it’s own good time. The intention was to possibly do an album or at least a bunch of songs and go on tour after, but it was taking a long time once we started to get the stuff done.”
Due to their lack of time and eagerness to go on tour together, Rabin and Wakeman have set up two different tours. After this series of dates, they plan on finishing their collection of music and then plan a separate tour where they will be playing new music.
Rabin has many things to look forward to in the future, but he also spoke a little about his time with YES and his reasons for leaving the band in 1995 at the conclusion of the Talk tour.
“It was very satisfying when 90125 came out and was the biggest YES album ever. It kind of legitimized this band,” he said.
But eventually, Rabin did outgrow the band and moved onto a new project.
“I had done close to a thousand shows with YES and I just didn’t feel like playing ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ for a little while,” he said. “I wanted to get into film and I’ve been famed as a conductor, arranger, orchestrator, so I thought, ‘well, what’s the natural place to do this?’ I thought, ‘well, film, maybe film.’”
During Rabin’s time with YES, he worked closely with Anderson writing songs in the past particularly on the highly underrated Talk album, but he has done less work with Wakeman. Because of this, Rabin was truly excited to work with him.
“The most important thing about this for me was working with Rick,” said Rabin. “Obviously working with Jon is great. We’ve always wanted to do this again. But Rick, I haven’t worked with as closely as this before. Although, when we were doing the [Union] tour, we worked very closely. There were nights when it felt like it was just him and I on stage.”
Rabin said fans who purchase tickets to his upcoming shows with Anderson and Wakemen will enjoy a night of old time classics with a new twist and be able to witness the flourishing musical relationship these three men have.
“I hope people enjoy it as much as we’re enjoying it,” said Rabin.
The Citi Wang Theatre is located at 270 Tremont Street in Boston, Mass. Tickets to the show can be purchased online by clicking HERE, at the Citi Center Box Office, or by calling 800-982-2787. VIP packages are also available through ARW-TOUR.COM.
Although he may not be a household name in the United States, Robert Reed is a man of diverse musical talent. A multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, Reed is best known throughout Europe as the founder of the Welch progressive rock band Magenta. Before that, he was creating equally compelling music with his band Cyan and side project Trippa. A self-proclaimed fan of 70s progressive rock music, Reed recently decided to salute his music hero, Mike Oldfield, by recording a solo album, called Sanctuary, in the style of Oldfield’s 1973 masterpiece Tubular Bells. Like Oldfield, Reed played every single instrument on Sanctuary and structured it exactly like Tubular Bells with two movement instrumental pieces. He was even aided by Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth who were members of the Tubular Bells production team.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Reed immediately followed up his debut solo album with Sanctuary II. While he once again played almost every single instrument, this time he was joined by drummer Simon Phillips (Toto/Hiromi), who previously worked with Oldfield on four of his solo albums. The album was released this past June to critical acclaim.
Currently, Reed is rehearsing with a 10 piece band for a special Sanctuary Live performance on October 8th at the Big Room at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. The performance will be recorded for a future CD and DVD release. Despite his busy schedule, Reed was gracious to grant us an interview where he offered in-depth and insightful answers to our questions.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): In order to put the following questions in context for our readers, could you briefly explain the impact legendary multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield has had on you as a musician, particularly in your formative years?
RORBERT REED (REED):Tubular Bells was the first album I had bought for me at the age of 7. I had heard a funky version of it on an album of horror film themes. I was captivated by it and played it to death. I then discovered the rest of M.O. (Mike Oldfield’s) catalogue. I just became inspired to learn to play all the various instruments, like my hero. I found in M.O. music a deep emotional content. The ability to move you with music without lyrics. There is something very special in M.O. guitar playing. It’s almost like a vocal connecting with you. I then became a massive fan of all his work and went to see him many times.
LM: Now moving ahead to 2014, you released your critically acclaimed solo album, Sanctuary, which pays homage to Oldfield in a big way. You structured the album exactly like Oldfield’s masterpiece, Tubular Bells, with two-movement instrumental pieces and played every single instrument. Why did you decide to tackle a solo project of this magnitude at this point in your music career?
REED: Alongside my career in music with my various bands Magenta/Komepndium, I have done lots of TV and film music. But I’ve always had a yearning to do a long form album like Tub(ular) Bells. Lots of people knew my influence which shows itself in my other projects and always asked when I would do the album. Then, at the beginning of 2013, on the first day of the New Year, I sat in the studio and asked myself what I really wanted to do, and started what became Sanctuary. The music just flowed for the following months. It was the most enjoyable album I have ever made, as it came from the heart. I knew I wanted it all to be played by hand, real instruments and using the long form template of classical music and Tub(ular) Bells. I also knew that I wanted vocals, but not lyrics. So I had to find singers who understood this. I was lucky to work with Synergy Vocals, a vocal group who work with Philip Glass and Steve Reich, so they knew exactly what I wanted.
LM: Sanctuary was co-produced by Tom Newman and mastered by Simon Heyworth who were both part of Oldfield’s 1973 Tubular Bells production team. How did you get them to assist you with this project?
REED: When I finished the first Sanctuary album, I really liked it, but wasn’t confident that it worked as a standalone album. It had been a labour of love, but wanted to check that it was NOT just a “clone” album that couldn’t be taken seriously.
So I thought I needed to put it to the test, musically, and who better than Tom Newman, who had made the original album. I know he is a very straight talking man and would say the truth. So I sent him a copy and asked his opinion. He replied and gave it his blessing and was really complimentary. There are loads of fan versions of M.O. material, and people who do YouTube demos in their bedrooms of M.O. music. Tom said that he is sent loads of these, but Sanctuary was different. It was actually NEW music, written in a similar style, but had managed to capture the spirit of what M.O. had done on those first four albums of his.
I also sent a copy to Simon Heyworth to ask a similar question of the music. He also replied and said the same, but also that he could close his eyes when listening to Sanctuary and he was back in the Manor Studios in 1973, and offered to master it. I was so pleased and had the confidence to go forward.
LM: What was it like working with them, especially since they come from a different era of recording, and how much input did they have on the finished album?
REED: Tom was such a help, he lives in Ireland so we had to do the collaboration via the internet. I had done a lot of the work already, so I sent him the individual tracks of the music, so he could extend, change the order and sound of each part. He had loads of suggestions. On the first album, he said that I was putting too much into the music, cramming too many themes. This is because these days I worry that people haven’t got the attention span, to listen to things and want everything changing and exciting all the time. Tom is the opposite and kept telling me to let the music breath. Also, I was going to add shorter tracks to the first album, to make the album longer, and to have “single” type songs to help promote it. Tom hatted this idea and just said that it spoilt the atmosphere created by the two long pieces… He was of course right.
On the new album Sanctuary II, Tom had even more of an input. I had finished the album and was about to send it be mastered. I thought I had better send Tom the finished mixes, for one last check, as I hadn’t spoken to him for a few months whilst doing the final mixes. I had a reply, where he said I had made the most perfect album in history BUT I had taken out all of the soul of the demos! I was devastated, but went back and checked some of the guide mixes Tom had done and he was right. Computers allow you to repair every mistake, everything in time, make everything sound perfect…but it’s not what we should be trying to achieve in music. It should be about soul and emotion and sometimes the little mistakes are what make it human. So I spent the next four weeks, mixing from a different perspective. To Tom, I owe a lot and am so grateful to have his input.
LM: After Sanctuary was released, you wasted no time and spent most of 2015 recording Sanctuary II. Was it your plan from the start to structure this follow-up album the same way as the first, which is also what Oldfield did on his second studio album Hergest Ridge?
REED: As I said, the first album was such a joy to make, also the reaction to it was so positive, that I really wanted to make a second album as soon as I could. There was no need to change the song format as it had worked so well on the first. I was also a lot more confident, so I could be more bold. I had also learnt lessons from Tom that I could bring to the new album, though he still would complain that I was squeezing too many ideas into the music.
LM: Unlike Sanctuary, you were aided by legendary drummer Simon Phillips on Sanctuary II who worked with Oldfield on four of his studio albums (Crisis, Discovery, Islands, and Heaven’s Open). Why did you decide to use a drummer this time around? Was it always your plan to work with Phillips? Were other drummers considered?
REED: With Sanctuary II, I wanted to add something new. I had avoided drums on the first album, as it really changes the atmosphere of the music, but thought it would be a challenge to use them on the second album, but tastefully. I had a wish list of drummers I thought who would understand the music. Simon was at the top, but I never dreamt that I would get him. I tracked him down and sent him an email, explaining what I had done and working with Tom and Simon and asked if he would listen to the demos. This he did, and he was really complimentary about how nobody was making this type of music anymore, so he agreed to play. He lives in America, so I sent him the backing tracks and he sent me his drums. The moment I played them against the music, I knew I had something special. Simon is also an amazing engineer and producer, so the drums sounded amazing and what he played was perfect. I never thought, back in 1984 watching Simon play drums at Wembley with Mike Oldfield, that years later he would be playing on my album. That was special.
LM: I’ve been listening to Sanctuary II non-stop since I ordered it online. While this album again pay tribute to Oldfield’s early works, the influence of some of his later releases shines through, particularly Platinum and Five Miles Out. Did this naturally progress this way or was this what you were aiming for when you started writing and recording the album?
REED: Yes, there are definitely more of the Platinum era. That’s because of the drums and how they make the music move. For me, there is a lot more influence of David Bedford the composer who M.O. worked with a lot in the 1970’s. David’s albums like The Odyssey was a huge influence. But again, there is a lot of me. The whole “influence v. plagiarism” debate is a weird one. When I released the first album, I split the M.O. fans down the middle. Half saying that they loved that I was bringing new music in a style they liked; the other half were very of protective of M.O. and hatted what I was doing. I remember M.O. saying how disappointed he was that after Tub(ular) Bells nobody else was inspired to make long form instrumental music. This is exactly what I am doing. Also, EVERYBODY has influences and brings them into their music. M.O. music is very stylized because of the instruments used, but so is classical music. Beethoven sounds like Bach, sounds like Mozart, because they all use the same instruments. It’s the melodies that set them apart. ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) sound like The Beatles. Steve Wilson [sounds like] King Crimson. Genesis took their sound from King Crimson, Marillion and Genesis….we all have influences. In the end it comes to this. IS THE MUSIC well written and performed and does it move you emotionally????? If it does then I have succeeded.
LM: Do you know if Oldfield has heard either of the Sanctuary albums?
REED: I’m not sure he has heard it. He must be aware of it, as it’s all over Facebook and YouTube. I’m not sure if M.O. is interested in anybody else’s music. I just hope he appreciates the spirit in which I made it, and the reason why I made these albums.
LM: Now that the album is out, you’ve been busy rehearsing for your Sanctuary Live shows on October 8th at the Big Room at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. How are rehearsals going?
REED: I always wanted to play these albums live, but knew it would be a challenge, for obvious reasons. So, after the new album, I just put a date in the book, and forced myself to make it happen. We are in the middle of rehearsals, and it’s sounding fantastic, a little different than the record. It’s very had to play, as everybody has to play the right thing at all times for it to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
LM:You’re going to be performing with a 10-piece band. Since you performed almost every instrument yourself on both Sanctuary albums, how did you select these musicians to bring these albums to life?
REED: I had to find people who I could trust to be able to bring the right style of playing to each part. I also wanted people who I can get on with and feel comfortable around. We have two guitarists, two keyboard players, bass play, drummer, percussionist playing tub bells, times, marimba, etc., and three singers. It would have been very easy for me to play piano through it all, as that’s my main instrument, but I thought people would expect to see playing various instruments, so currently I’m playing a lot of guitar, some bass, and various percussion instruments…Its’ a real challenge, but fun.
LM: You’re recording the concerts for a future CD and DVD release. When do you expect them to be released?
REED: Not sure really, hopefully mid-2017. The concert is going to be very intimate, as Real World Studios is not really a venue. We can get 75 people in for each of the two shows, so I hope it’s going to be great for the audience to be surrounded by the band, visually and sonically. The plan is them to play more shows in more traditional venues, possibly with the same band or smaller, with different line ups. It’s weird I remember seeing M.O. perform Tub(ular) Bells II at Edinburgh He had a massive band and it was perfect, but it was a little too safe and boring. Then I saw him with a five-piece band and the music was completely different to the albums, but was so much more exciting. So you have to strike a balance when playing live.
LM: Speaking of the future, Oldfield concluded his two-movement trilogy of albums with Ommadawn in 1975. Are there plans for a third and final Sanctuary III album?
REED: I’d love to do a third album, but I need to find a sound in my head, and have a few ideas of what new to bring to it. At the moment, I’m completely consumed with the live shows. Though, I am planning a special E.P. for early 2017 that is the early stages of recording.
If there’s anyone who could be classified as a “Renaissance Woman,” it’s Phoebe Legere. The Maine native who is of Acadian and Abenaki (First Nations) descent, sings, plays a number of instruments (piano, accordion, cello, Native American flute, organ, buffalo drum, synthesizer, guitar and cavaquinho), stared in several films (Mondo New York and Toxic Avenger 2 & 3), paints, draws, sculpts, and writes movies and musicals. She also founded the New York Underground Museum in 2006 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2000. She’s released over 15 CDs of original music and will be appearing at Brick Hill House Concerts on Sunday, Aug. 30th, in Orleans, MA. We recently caught up with Legere who didn’t hold back in her answers to our questions.
Limelight Magazine (LM): You’re going to be performing at Brick Hill House Concerts on Aug. 30th in Orleans, MA. For anyone who has not seen you perform live before, what can they expect at this show? Phoebe Legere: This is an excellent and fair question, but it is impossible for me to answer. I cannot see myself when I am performing, nor can I predict how I will be perceived by others. I can only tell you what I feel when I play music. I go on a journey inside myself into a cosmos of memory, desire and ideal beauty. There are spirits there, spirits of my ancestors and of animals. These spirits seem to hover near! They are very interested in the music. Spirit voices suggest things to me, ideas about color, pitch, timbre, re-harmonization and expression. My eyes may appear to be seeing the audience, but in fact, I am looking into a place beyond space and time. I feel deep love and compassion for my audience. I read them with my heart as I play.
I play rhythms and notes and what I feel will soften hard places in their hearts and heal sad places in their minds. My job is to bring the music medicine to the people. That is why my native name is Phoebe Songbundle. I can be very photogenic, but cameras do not see very well. In person, I hover between pretty and ugly, male and female, young and old, white and Native. That is a good place to be. People soon forget how I look and they begin to go on the journey with me.
Music is a magic canoe that can take you down the river of your own dreams. In that journey you will find your own ancestors and spirits of animals who can guide you to heal yourself. I channel the music of my ancestors – French Acadians, Abenaki Native Americans, Wampanoag ancestors who ran to Maine and Canada and joined the Abenaki during the Massachusetts holocaust, and yes, my Mayflower Puritan ancestors too. I’m descended from a few of the travelers including Bradford and a young woman named Remember Allerton. They named her Remember so we would never forget how the Puritans were treated by the English.
I have to heal the pain of those ancestors who are still grieving because of the territorial and linguistic incursions of Imperialist England into North America at that time. You will also hear elements of church music in my note choices. I grew up in a small colonial town in Massachusetts where I sang in the choir and played the organ in the church.
LM: Will you be performing solo or with a band and do you have a preference for one over the other? Legere: I have invited musical friends from the area to play with me. Notably, my friend singer-songwriter George Leonard, a 2015 inductee into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, will play fiddle with me. I love to be part of a team. When we play together we are than the sum of our parts – music is prayer – everyone knows it’s easier to get the Lord’s attention if there’s a crowd praying the same song.
LM: You’ve released 15 CDs of original music. How do you go about deciding on a set list for your shows? Legere: I use my intuition in everything I do. On the Cape I will play more of my maritime songs: “Big Sperm Whale,” (click on song title) “Heart of the Summer,” (click on song title) and “Sailing on the Sound.” When I am in French Canada, I do mostly French, but this far south I’ll sing mostly English.
LM: In some of your promotional materials, it says you “reinvented Cajun music in your own image, mixing New York City jazz funk with New Orleans blues, down-home Acadian bluegrass, story-telling and melody.” How would you describe your music to someone else? Legere: I play North American music. An oyster makes a pearl from the pain of a grain of sand. Similarly, my music grows from the pain of forced human migration. What do I mean? Well, in 1755 the Acadians were deported to Louisiana – that’s how we get Cajun music at the same time Africans were being moved, forcefully, in chains, from beautiful Africa to places where they were treated like animals. The Cajuns (Acadians) were an underclass everywhere they went, since social status is all about territory and having a big house and an established business. The English had burned our houses and took our land. All we had was family and music. The Cajuns intermarried with the Africans and that’s when the music started to get really interesting. It’s called jazz. This is the vein I am working. Where Acadian music meets Black music. I like it and I feel right at home in this type of groove. To this Jambalya, I add plenty of Native American, French and classical elements. Yes, I went to Juilliard. Yes, I sing at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Yes, I write for and conduct Symphony Orchestras. Yes, I was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. But when I play folk music at a house concert, I am just that. I am a woman of the people, a down to earth, real person born on the 4th of July.
LM: You sing, play several instruments including the piano, accordion, cello, Native American flute, organ, buffalo drum, synthesizer, guitar and cavaquinho, as well as write memorable songs. When did you take an interest in music? Legere: I started playing the piano before age three. I reached up and could feel the keys. That is when I started. I began composing at six and I’ve been professional since age nine.
LM: What was the first instrument you learned how to play and why did you decide to pursue other instruments? Legere: In those days there was a strict division of instruments into “male” and “female.” The piano was feminine, a nice thing for a little girl to learn. My mother forbid me to play guitar. They directed me instead, to the cello, which was my main instrument for many years. My sister wanted to play drums and vibes. She was forced to play the flute. My other sisters played violin and viola so naturally I picked those up and started playing them. My grandfather played accordion. The accordion had fallen out of favor by the time I reached adolescence, but I found one in the attic. The minute I squeezed it I was hooked. The expressiveness of the reeds is like the sighting of the sun, the cries of immigrant populations! The accordion is the true instrument of the people! And what’s more, you can move while you play it. I love to hear the sound waves swirling around me as I stroll with my accordion.
When I got involved with performance art many of the galleries and museums where I played did not have a piano. The accordion was perfect.
I was signed to Epic records at 16. They said “Phoebe, don’t let anyone see you carrying THAT THING!” (the accordion was that thing). Now, as with so many of my visionary ideas, everyone realizes I was right all along. The whole world now knows the accordion is the hippest instrument. I have much more to say about the accordion and music as a mind control tool of government BTW
LM: You have a very impressive biography. Of all of your accomplishments, what was your proudest moment so far? Legere: Singing my poem, The Waterclown, with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in 2000. (Pulitzer Nomination 2000). The topic, water, the privatization of water and the importance of water in climate change has become one of the hottest topics in enviro-politics now. You can listen free to the mp3 on my website: http://www.phoebelegere.com/waterclown.html. Also hear me conducting and singing my classical chamber trio called STARS on the same page.
LM: Outside of music, you’ve also appeared in several cult films including Mondo New York and Toxic Avenger 2 & 3. Did you like your experience working on these films? Are you still actively pursuing film projects? Legere: I write movies and I make my living writing music for movies. I have a degree in film scoring from NYU. As my late friend Roger Vadim once said, “Film is a perfect synthesis of sound and image.”
I direct and produce all of my music videos. My movie The Shamancycle Story, (about my 15 person rideable eagle sculpture made from up cycled and re-purposed junk), had a limited run in art houses last year. It could be viewed as a 20 minute extended music video for my song “Love is Your Power,” but you can also hear me singing the traditional, 10,000 year old Creation Hymn in there too.
My early music videos, “Marilyn” and “Trust Me,” were collaborations with Nile Southern, Terry Southern’s son. I was very influenced by Terry Southern. Terry wrote Easy Rider, Doctor Strangelove, Candy, The Magic Christian, and most of Barbarella. He was an important writer until Nixon put him on the Enemies List after which he could not work in Hollywood.
Nile and I lived with Terry in an old farmhouse in Connecticut. Terry’s ideas about movies and writings were a profound influence.
LM: You’re also a painter who founded the New York Underground Museum in 2006 to preserve the works of artists whose works are not held by major institutions. Why is preserving these works so important to you? Legere: NYUM presents, preserves and curates the work of visionary artists whose work is not held by major institutions. In 2006 there was a show called the East Village show. I could not help but notice that women, artists of color, handicapped artists, ethic artists and Native Americans were not represented in this show. However, Madonna and Debbie Harry were in the show. This showed me how corporate culture not so subtly invades the world of high art. I wanted to create a zone of beauty and vision that was protected from the dominant money culture.
LM: What artists do you currently listen to? Legere: Daniel Lavoie, Congolese hip hop such as Baloji but also the hip hop made by 12 year old soldiers in the Congo.
I listen CDs made by families who sing the old Acadian songs, like “C’est d’même que ça commencé” by La famille Doiron who sang with me on my Canadian tour 2015, I listen to George Leonard and Ray Legere my cousin.
I listen to CD’s I made from Brown Wax cylinders created at the turn of the century by someone who went in and recorded the oldest Abenaki/Penobscot elders singing the old medicine songs, (the cylinders were in a flood so they were covered with mildew, hard to listen to, but I was (able to extract some basic Abenaki medicine motifs later, when I went to visit the Maliseet, who speak a very similar language to us, they had the same songs and we understood each other, you can hear me singing in this (language on “Blue Canoe Blues” (click on song title) on Soundcloud.)
I listen to the very old gospel recorded before it all became a business, I listen to the Smithsonian Folkways recordings.
I listen to the radio just to see how bad it is. Yes. I listen to Top 40 and I realize with horror that somebody has now created computer program to determine the words and images from the top three songs in each year for the past 30 years and that is how the music is being made now. You think a song was written by an inspired artist songwriter? No. Music is now ghost written by teams of writers who market test the lyrics on subject fitted with electrodes. I was on a major label for three years. Epic/Sony. I know how these people operate and they are beyond scared shitless. They leave nothing to chance. How about that song “Shut Up and Dance.” Yes consumers listen closely.
I listen closely to the top 10 songs to hear the subliminal messages embedded behind the lyrics. I listen to the machines used in the productions. Your consent is engineered.
I listen to RFI the French global internet radio station. They play a lot of African music that interests me. I play with an African drummer named Joachim Lartey. He knows 2000 West African shamanic drum beats. It’s kind of cool and sad that the Zulus are now doing house music. It sounds better than the crap I have to listen wherever I go in America, but African rhythms are one of the cultural treasures of the worlds and it’s tragic to see the Zulus handing their power to a machine. Africans used to say: “The drum is the voice of God!”
How do I know so much about Africa? I went to Africa in 1987 with Nile. We lived at Peter Beard’s Hog Ranch. We visited the Masai Mara. We lived with the Kikuyu tribesmen who had lived with Karen Blixen. I learned many things [such as] creativity, music, dance and costume.
That is how I got the idea for Hello Mrs. President, [which was] my musical about the first black woman President of the USA starring Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer LaVerne Baker and me as (the First Partner).
I listen to early early blues artists like Howling Wolf, Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, Son House, John Lee Hooker, Sunnyland Slim…you want me to go on? I was the Blues DJ on Sirius Radio for two years.’
I had a friend named Boris Rose who recorded all the radio broadcasts of the 40’s. That was when radio had good music. The major labels were still signing musical geniuses.
Boris made me cassettes of the broadcasts from the Royal Roost and the big ballrooms. He made tapes of the great boogie boogie and blues pianists who came through New York City and that’s how I developed my blues piano style, as well as spending a great deal of time in Louisiana with my grandmother. We are connected to all the Legere’s and Trahans in Eunice and Lafayette, LA. I listen to early New Orleans R&B. I love the period just after World War 2 when jazz was just morphing into rock ‘n roll. I love it.
I can’t get enough music. I never tire of it. I studied jazz piano with John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet but I have also hung out with and played with the best modern piano players from Nola’s great blind Henry Butler to my friend Billy Joel. Do I listen to Frank Sinatra, Billy Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Charles Trenet and Jacques Brel? You bet I do. I am an ear person. I listen to poetry being read by poets too. It is amazing what is available on YouTube.
My best listening time is when I am not listening. In the silence I hear my own symphonies, melodies, ideas and songs.
LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add for those reading this? Legere: I like music, I like musicians and I like people who like music. I like to listen in a group. Music is more important than people think. Music is the vibration that is creating the illusion of reality and music is the telescope that lets you see through the illusion. That is why, in the old days, before industrial music and machine music, music was the glue that held families together. That’s why they call it music harmony. I have created a free art and music camp for the high poverty at risk children of New York City. This is my passion. I am a natural teacher and that my greatest love is nurturing the visionary artists and musicians of the future.
Did you see the drums I made – White Eagle Drum and Golden Wolf Drum with Abenaki symbols? I’ll be playing them at Brick Hill House.
Born and raised in Israel and the youngest of seven children, Meytal Cohen started playing drums at age 18. After serving a mandatory two year stint in the Israeli Defense Force, Cohen relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a drumming career. She enrolled in the Los Angeles Music Academy and graduated with a degree.
It wasn’t easy at first, but Cohen caught her first big break when she and some of her friends filmed an audition video for America’s Got Talent of an electric string rendition of System of a Down’s “Toxicity.” The show didn’t think much of them, but the video went on to become a viral hit with almost 10 million views. As a result, she decided to continue uploading YouTube videos of her doing cover songs and her viewership has grown to over 120,000,000 views, with over 1,000,000 likes on Facebook.
Last December, Cohen headlined a sold out performance at the Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles and is embarking on a two-date East Coast tour that will hit Brighton Music Hall in Brighton, Mass., on March 24, 2015. At this show, she will play a mix of songs from her upcoming studio album of original tunes and covers that her fans have grown to know and love.
We recently caught up with Cohen who graciously answered our questions for this interview.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): You were born and raised in Israel, graduating with a theater major from Blich High School and serving for two years in the Israel Defense Force, before relocating to Los Angeles and enrolling in the Los Angeles Music Academy to focus on drumming. Why did you eventually decide to play the drums and relocate to Los Angeles? METYAL COHEN: I remember being drawn to drums from a young age, and even asking my mom if I could have a drum set. But she said no, and put me in the tap dancing class instead (I actually really liked it, it’s kind of similar to drumming in a way) Then, later on, in high school, I got into metal music and that really sparked my interest in drums again, as they’re so prominent in that style of music. So, I decided I was going to get a drum set and take lessons, even though my mom was still against it. I got a really shitty job till I was able to buy my first drum set and started taking drum lessons. My teacher at the time was a graduate from a music school in L.A. so I assume that’s how I got the idea in my head. When I eventually decided to go for it, I wasn’t playing for very long, but felt it was now or never type of thing. I was just released from the Israeli Defense Force and was supposed to go to med school, but then changed my plans and decided to relocate to Los Angeles and try to become a professional drummer. I figured I can always go study in a year or two if it didn’t work out. Of course, it didn’t work out in a year or two. It took way longer, but I just kept hoping and trying different ways to make it work. I really didn’t want to go to med school. It was really my mom that wanted that. LM: The Los Angeles Music Academy has world class drum instructors on their staff. How did your time there help you as a musician? COHEN: Since I wasn’t playing for very long when I enrolled at the L.A. Music Academy, I feel that I wasn’t really able to make the best of it. The true school for me was covering my favorite songs. I would pick songs that were way harder than what I was capable of playing, and worked my way into being able to play them. That helped me develop my ears as well as my technique. LM: Since attending the Los Angeles Music Academy, you’ve made a name for yourself. What advice would you give to aspiring female musicians, especially those that want to pursue drumming as a career? COHEN: Follow your heart, learn from but don’t compare yourself to other drummers, have patience, and remember there are no rules for how your success will come. LM: Your website contains a number of videos of you playing cover songs, including songs by Dream Theater, Rush, System of a Down and Tool. You’ve obviously invested a lot of time into your online videos and you’ve reached a jaw dropping number of views. What made you decide to start making drum videos? Did you expect them to become so popular online? COHEN: Me and some friends shot an audition video to America’s Got Talent of an electric string rendition of System of a Down’s “Toxicity.” The show didn’t think much of us, but the video went on to become a viral hit (almost 10 million views now). I was getting a lot of requests from people for more videos and I was practicing a few songs at the time already. So, I decided to shoot those covers, just by myself, as the girls at the time were busy with other projects. The response was pretty amazing. I have to give a lot of the credit to my boyfriend, Lior, who at the time was shooting the videos and editing them. He saw the amazing potential and really encouraged me to shoot more video. We decided to shoot 100 drum covers and see what happens as a result. I personally never imagined that I would gain so much support and feel incredibly fortunate. LM: Most of your drum covers are of metal, hard rock or progressive rock bands. What draws you to this type of music? How do you go about selecting a song to cover? COHEN: I was introduced to metal music through my first boyfriend when I was about 17. He gave me a mix tape and it had Pantera, Korn, Deftones, Metallica and some other amazing bands. I totally got into it and the best thing about it was the drumming. The songs I cover are a mix of my favorite songs and songs people request. LM: In some of your videos you are playing barefoot. Do you have a preference? Does it make a difference either way? COHEN: Lately, I’ve come to the realization that I have way more power with shoes on. My opinion already changed several times since I started playing. Both work! LM: Who are some of your biggest musical influences? COHEN: Tool would have to be my biggest influence. I love everything about that band. Danny Carey’s drum patterns, Maynard’s vocals, lyrics that make you feel, and melodies that are not that complicated and yet brilliant. LM: Given your strong following online, have your considered offering drum lessons online or even becoming a drum instructor someday? COHEN: No, I don’t think I’m the greatest teacher. Doing something and explaining how you do it are two very different things. LM: You played a sold out show at the Whiskey a Go Go in December. How did that show go? What was the audience reaction like to your set? COHEN: I was really nervous about that show, but it went great and it was amazing to meet everyone that’s been following and supporting me for so long. The response was overwhelmingly positive and so many good things have happened as a result. I was able to sign with a really good management and booking agencies, here in the U.S. and in Europe, and I was also offered two headlining shows in New York and in Boston this coming March. You should come out! LM: How much time do you spend rehearsing for a show with your band? COHEN: For this first show we did, I was practicing like a mad woman because I was so nervous, as it was the first time I played live since I made YouTube my home-base. As a band, we rehearsed for two weeks. My singer lives in Ohio and my guitarist lives in Salt Lake City, which makes practicing very expensive. For these next shows, we’ll probably only rehearse together once or twice before the show. LM: For your show at Brighton Music Hall in Brighton, MA, on March 24, will you be playing your own songs, covers or both? COHEN: We’ll be playing songs from my soon-to-be released album. I’ve posted a few of my original songs on my Facebook page already, and the response has been amazing with over 10,000 likes within the first day. We’ll definitely play a couple of covers too, after all that’s how it all began! LM: Do you already have a band in place for this show? If so, who will be performing with you on stage? COHEN: I’ve been so fortunate to collaborate with some amazingly talented musicians. My singer, Eric Emery, has the most amazing vocal range I’ve ever heard. My lead guitarist, Travis Montgomery, is like a machine with feel; my second guitarist, Doc Coyle, of God Forbid, needs no introduction, and my awesome bassist Anel Pedrero. LM: Given your versatility as a drummer, I would think you’d be in demand from other musicians. Are you open to collaborating with other musicians? COHEN: I’m always open for new and exciting opportunities! LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add? COHEN: Thank you so much for this interview!
The Stick Men is a progressive rock band formed in 2008, featuring musicians with extensive experience playing together. Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto are the rhythm section of the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson and Markus Reuter is a composer/guitarist who designs and plays his own unique touch style guitar. The Stick Men is a rock trio like no other. Playing instruments not seen or heard every day and writing captivating and challenging music, they embody the tradition of forward-looking rock music. On October 21, 2014, The Stick Men will perform their only New England date at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass., with special guest Mindset X (click on link for related story). We recently interviewed the band right before a charity show in Kingston, N.Y. where they discussed their music, touring, crowd funding, and what the future holds for the band.
Limelight Magazine (LM): The Stick Men have a gig at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass., on Oct. 21, 2014. Are you looking forward to this show? Tony Levin: Very much looking forward to it. Boston’s where I’m from, so getting back to the area to play is always special. (I do come in for Pats games when touring schedule permits it, and that’s great, but playing is even better.) Pat Mastelotto: Yes. Markus Reuter: I’m looking forward to this show, and the whole tour, very much.
LM: This is your only New England date on the tour. What can your fans expect from the band at this show? Tony Levin: We love sharing our music – Stick Men has been touring and recording for quite a few years now – so we can choose music from some past albums as well as the new one. We will also play some King Crimson pieces, a no brainer, since two of us, Pat and myself, are members of Crimson, and we all love that music. And we do our version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” And we love to improvise too, so there’ll be some musical surprises, even for us. Markus Reuter: We are about to release a “Best Of” compilation and our set list will reflect that. So we will be looking back by playing songs we haven’t played in a long time, but we’ll also play some new pieces.
LM: How does the band decide on a set list? I’ve seen you perform several King Crimson songs in the past, but now that you have a few studio albums under your belt will it lean more toward that material? Tony Levin: Good question, and we do vary it from show to show, so we’ll only decide on that day which of the pieces we’ll do. Markus Reuter: I guess we’ll still be playing two Crimson songs in the set. The rest has always been our material.
LM: The band’s music is often described as being complex and adventurous. How would you describe your music to a first time listener? Tony Levin: We try to be ‘progressive’ in the real sense of the word, not simply by playing “Prog rock music”…so we look at our music as a growing thing, and don’t keep going out to do the same thing. This year we’re in writing mode, exploring ideas for next year’s album, and at some point in the show we’ll probably give some early exploratory versions of those ideas. Pat Mastelotto: Two, two-handed guitar bass tappers going at it. Markus Reuter: It’s essentially rock music. Very visceral and groovy.
LM: Giving the complex nature of your music, are there any songs that you perform live that end up being more difficult than you expected?
Tony Levin: When you’re playing complex music, any piece can suddenly become really hard — sometimes they’re based on different players playing intermeshed parts, or separate time signatures, and if anybody has a little glitch, well, you don’t meet up where you thought you would, and some quick adjusting needs to be done. I’d say that happens pretty regularly, and we’re always pleased when we survive it. Pat Mastelotto: All of them 🙂 Markus Reuter: Yes, some are harder than others. The devil is in the details usually. Some pieces require extreme concentration while others require physical stamina, for example.
LM: Your rhythm section just wrapped up a tour with King Crimson on Oct. 6 and you’re wasting no time at starting up the tour with The Stick Men. Did you go straight into rehearse mode after the Crimson gigs? How much time does the band generally devote to rehearsing? Tony Levin: Our rehearsal periods vary a lot, depending on what schedules allow. This time it’s a bit nuts…the Crimson tour finished in Seattle and Stick Men have a benefit show (today, actually) here in Kingston, NY – then Pat will run home to Texas while Markus and I rehearse a few days, for the tour starting next week! Next February, I’ll go to Berlin, where Markus lives, and we’ll rehearse there for a week, getting ready for spring touring. Pat Mastelotto: King Crimson had about seven weeks of rehearsals spread throughout 2014. Stick Men will get one day Markus Reuter: We usually do very little rehearsing.
LM: On your last studio album, Deep, you used PledgeMusic to help fund the project. How did the idea come about to use a crowd funding source? Tony Levin: That worked out well – we’re very appreciative of the fans who help us out to a higher degree by pre-ordering the CD and other stuff – in a band, financing the recording is an issue, and often you want to do more…like have a DVD with some video and extra bits, but the costs have to be paid before making it, and a lot of bands don’t have the backing or funds for that. So getting advance funding from the campaign allowed us to make a more extensive and better product for Deep than we would have been able to without it. I don’t see us doing that kind of sourcing for some years, because you don’t want to lean too heavily on your biggest fans – they’ve already been kind enough. Markus Reuter: We wanted to release Deep also as a 5.1 mix on DVD plus a concert
movie, so we needed much more funds. It was wonderful to see how much support we got from our fans.
LM: Do you feel that crowd founding platforms have enabled musicians who may not normally have label support to keep the focus on the music and to stay in touch with their fans? Pat Mastelotto: Yes. Certainly. Markus Reuter: Yes, but it seems this is already over. The major labels are now plugging into the same pool.
LM: Can we expect any new music from The Stick Men on the horizon? Tony Levin: This tour we’re bringing back some cool pieces from our past that we haven’t done in a while and, as said before, we’re giving some glimpses of the upcoming music from next year. To make that music really the best it can be, we’ll have many periods together rehearsing and recording until we feel it’s right. Since we’ll do that in both Berlin, Germany, and Austin, Texas (where Pat is based) it should have quite an international feel to it! Markus Reuter: Some time in 2016. And I hope we’ll play some of the new music live before an album release.
LM: This band has been together for over five years now. Besides having one lineup change, how has this configuration of the band evolved? Tony Levin: We’re very comfortable musically with each other — not a surprise with Pat and I having been touring together since mid-90’s in King Crimson! I think in a live show the chemistry among the players is part of the fun of the show, and hopefully it shows with us that we enjoy each other musically. Pat Mastelotto: Actually it’s been about seven years. The configuration really hasn’t changed since Tony remains a Chapman Stick and I remain on acoustic and electronic drums and percussion. The change to Marcus was too a very similar instrument but Marcus’s style of playing is completely different. With the next recordings, we hope to re-introduce more vocals back into the songs.
LM: Along the same lines, what do you like most about playing with these guys? Pat Mastelotto: I love the level of musicianship and commitment. Markus Reuter: I guess it’s the fact that we’re creating “music” and that there’s actually an audience that wants to hear it.
LM: You all have such diverse resumes. Is there anyone you haven’t performed with that you would like to in the future? Pat Mastelotto: Hendrix and Lennon but I’m not in a hurry. Markus Reuter: I’m open to whatever happens. I do want to move further, for sure.
LM: After this tour, what’s next for everyone in the band? Tony Levin: Right after our Mexico City show, I will go to Europe for a Peter Gabriel tour that ends in early December and I can finally catch some Pats games in chilly December. Then January we’ll be writing music separately, hook up in Berlin in February to start bouncing it around. Looking at Far East and S. American tours in March thru May, then getting that album done in the Summer. We all are part of a music camp in August, called Three of a Perfect Pair Camp, in the Catskills… so that’s about as far ahead as I can guess at. Pat Mastelotto: About a week after this tour ends in Mexico City I’ll be going back to Europe to tour with the Slovakian guitar player David Kollar, that’s only about 10 shows – and then after our last show in Prague, I’ll go to Sweden to work with IB Expo which will include Mel Collins from King Crimson. Markus Reuter: I will be taking three months off of touring.
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