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HALF PAST FOUR: Not Another Female-Fronted Band

Half Past Four have been around long enough to become an intriguing subject. Having released two albums under their belt, this Russian-Canadian female-fronted combination breathes in “interesting” in progressive rock, while successfully escaping from any clichés. We conducted an interview with the band as a result of their recent participation on our latest Progstravaganza compilation.

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You were formed in 2005, but it took three years to release your debut album “Rabbit in the Vestibule”. Did you know since your beginnings what direction will you choose in your music? What did you want to achieve?

We were consciously making progressive music since the beginning. We all had different genres and influences that came together to make a more signature sound, but we knew the direction we were going in.

Three of the band members are coming from Eastern Europe. I am interested to hear how did you guys come up together? How did it go with forming the band? Why name Half Past Four?

Constantin and Dmitry met while playing in a cover band in the Russian Toronto scene and met Igor soon after and they began forming their sound. Kyree joined a year later and we have gone through many drummers over the years.

It wasn’t that much emphasized back in the golden era of progressive rock, but it seems that with entering the new millennium, more female singers decide to try their luck in progressive rock. Kyree, what is your look on that?

I think it’s great to evolve, especially, in this case, concerning women breaking into places where men tend to hold court for various reasons. It’s more fun with both chromosome combos involved in my opinion. I am not sure why there weren’t as many women in prog rock back in the 70’s but there were certainly important contributions from artists such as Kate Bush, Lindsay Cooper (Henry Cow), Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) and Annie Haslam (Renaissance) and many more. Today there are a notable amount of women playing in, and fronting progressive rock bands. At this point it’s more about what idea they project as a singer or genre that they sing in rather than if they exist at all. I’d like to see more women behind the instruments now!

Rabbit in the Vestibule was released in 2008. I have to admit it’s kind of a weird title for the album. Why did you choose to name it like that? What can you tell us about the story of this record?

The music on Rabbit is a stew of old and new ideas and represented by not only what we started out with musically, but also where we ended up composition-wise. We wanted very much to tie it all in together as a concept, and that is when the idea began to take shape of a vestibule, or anti-room that lead to many doors, the navigation is left to the listener but because the songs were varied and unusually matched, the character of a rabbit – a skittish and random creature hopping from room to room took shape. So, the Rabbit in the Vestibule leads you to each song experience and this is realized by the sound of doors opening and closing between songs.

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You put out three videos off the Rabbit in the Vestibule album. How much this visual segment is important to you?

Nowadays artists tend to use more than one form of expression to channel their art and because videos are a common extension for music we naturally wanted to use videos to further our storytelling and meaning behind our songs as well as give the listener an idea of how we looked playing and our sense of humour.

Could you explain a bit more about the Spinal Tap-like issue?

Since the beginning we have had a hard time keeping drummers around – one per year for a while – which is approximately the amount of time it takes to learn our music! We are happy to finally have Marcello. No sign of combustion as of yet. He’s hot but does not burn!

In early 2012, drummer Marcello Ciurleo joined the band and you were all set and ready to proceed with recording of your sophomore album Good Things, released this year. The album is adorned with more original ideas and instrumental perfectionism and it really shows a big step forward. How satisfied are you with the meal you served with this effort? How was it in kitchen?

The chefs are happy! The great reviews and opinions we have received since the release have been overwhelmingly positive and make us feel very proud of our hard work. We love making music and are very pleased that people enjoy the fruits of our musical kitchen!

Have you listened to any other songs off the Progstravaganza sampler? Anything that you like?

Yes! We are particular fans of or friends Wilton Said who we have played with several times here in Toronto. He is great! We also love Modest Midget!!!

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“Rise”, taken from your new album is the part of our Progstravaganza 13 compilation. It features a part reminiscent of the 60’s surf rock. What can you say about this song in particular?

The first intention behind Rise was to create something emotional and epic and exciting. Iggy wrote some passages that the band added to and it became very clear that it needed a meaningful lyric that matched its grandness and intensity, but also had a bit of tongue in cheek humour. The lyrics are meant to be a juxtaposition between baking a loaf of bread and being pregnant. I liked the idea of a song about baking bread being taken to such a height of dramatic complexity in the music, and I thought it should be interchangeable with a truly grand and complex idea.

What are your future plans?

Our plan is to play as much as possible and probably to spend the winter writing new music, as we tend to do. Our hope is that our music is enjoyed by many people all around the world, our fanbase continues to grow and flourish and that we get the opportunity to play in Europe one day.