Tag Archives: Prog Sphere compilation

CORVUS STONE: Funny Moments and Wrong Noises

With members divided by the Atlantic Ocean, multi-national project Corvus Stone still succeeded in making a record that would make many bands that have real studio chemistry ashamed. The self-titled album was released in 2012 and it received many positive reviews. We talked to Colin and Pasi about the debut, their new album and their look at the progressive rock scene among many other things.

Corvus Stone

Corvus Stone is a multinational collaborative group, but the core of the project is comprised of Pasi Koivu, Petri Lindstrom and you. How did you guys go about working on Corvus Stone?

Colin: Pasi and I were in contact for some time, due to connections with Black Widow. It started out as a little fun, when Pasi sent me a piece to add guitar to. I have never heard anyone come up with music like Pasi does. He is a rare talent and it was very challenging for me to get my head around what he does. The results are never like any other single band really. We both come at music from opposite ends of the prog spectrum. Petri heard what we did and said he would love to play bass on it. When he did that, we were blown away. He is really a virtuoso. So we have continued in the same way. After 3 tracks in the can, we said we need to do an album. We didn’t change how we do anything. Whoever “writes” the initial piece, knows it will change greatly by the time we have all added our own ingredients to the recipe. The unusual thing up till now is that nobody in the band has ever disliked even one section of all the music. We  are very open minded and enjoy what the others add, however crazy and unexpected it is.

We met Blake Carpenter (The Minstrel’s Ghost), very late in the process and he told us he would love to add some vocals to The Ice King and another track or two. What better way to gain a band member than someone who asks? He did an amazing job and when we recorded the Black Widow cover track as a bonus on the album, he was perfect. The main Black widow guys said he improved it from the original. It is not easy to sing on Corvus Stone but now he is in!

Pasi: It was a nice accidental thing, really. I had a badly recorded idea for a thing that became the song called “Iron Pillows”. I felt it sounded more guitar oriented than the music I had previously recorded myself. It had some challenges and tempo changes so it was natural to ask Colin to record some guitar on it as I saw he was back into making music! Thankfully Petri heard the basic version and suddenly he was in!

How hard it was during the creating process considering that other members were at different locations? Do you think that if all of you were together in the studio the album would take other direction? Who was in charge of the project?

Colin: Pasi is more “switch on and go” than I am. He plays in the moment, I believe. He composes and the variations of what he comes up with are staggering. Then I think he plays much of it live. He will often then play another keyboard jamming with the first. So he tends to achieve a very live sounding, impressive result. I am very different. I work very closely with what he has done. It can take me hours to hit on ideas that work. If we were in rehearsal rooms doing this, I would miss the mark every time. I tend to take an orchestral approach I think. So I tame it in a way and that is not going to happen if I play in the moment. People who listen to the album once, think we sound like we are jamming often. They are wrong. Spend time with it and you hear very specific melodies and hooks. None of it is an accident. Petri is also a composer and he has the ability to really think about a piece and add something that lifts it to a whole new level. He can also just go for it!

If we had worked on this first album in a studio, it would be different. Almost certainly, not as good. Now tho’, we have a drummer!

Our drummer, Robert Wolff (USA), only joined us towards the end of the recording. For him, it would be good to be in the same room arranging all this music. He is a great drummer with a lot of experience and near misses in the professional world. Steve Morse supported Robert’s band for example. Ha!

Nobody is in charge but I am doing the production, so I tend to shape the sound but nothing is final till we all like it. One thing I know. If any one of us was replaced, it would be a very different sounding band.

Pasi: I feel it was fun and very easy. It sounds like we are in a studio together – I don’t know why? It has to be chemistry. We are all in charge but I must admit Colin did a huge work by producing and mastering the entire album. He also handles most of our publicity. Another important member is Sonia Mota who created the artwork. Suddenly we also had Robert Wolff and Blake Carpenter with us and it was beginning to sound really great to my ears! Blake and Robert are virtuosos as well. We don’t have too many songs with vocals but when we have it sounds really great and Blake also creates amazing lyrics.

For me personally your self-titled debut album presents rather a sonic journey than just another music album. 24 songs in total, including three bonus tracks are really a massive collection knowing that the album was recorded the way you did it. How long did you work on it?

Colin: It actually didn’t take long. We didn’t decide to make an album till about march 2012 and it was all effectively done by September 2012. The mixing is always what takes the time and that was happening on the fly and then of course during October for the release. We all had other musical projects running at the same time.

The way the album sounds is kind of live, even tho it isn’t. The reason is because we all like to keep the funny moments and “wrong” noises, if they work. Listen to the track “Corvus Stone” and you will hear a cough. That was me. I had the mic on by accident. When I heard it, it sounded great, just where it landed. I panned it and kept it! There are moments where the guitar is too loud or the bass gets out of control. We don’t like to iron music to death. Keep the fun in there but still be precise with the main body of the music and deliver a professional and pleasing album. The fact is that if we had gone to anybody else to mix it, much of that would have been lost. I know this from experience.

We are not fans of compressing the hell out of music. We want the dynamics and the mid-range. So it has its own sound, or maybe a little retro.

Pasi: That’s nice to hear (now I’m really looking for our 2nd album to be completed and I already feel it’s an improvement). We worked few months with the music. I didn’t feel it was work for me – it was like a dream!

CD Cover Hi-res

Pasi has composed all the tracks on Corvus Stone except „Cinema“, which is on our new compilation. Tell us more on this piece.

Colin: I think Pasi has found that Corvus Stone was the band he always wanted and cannot stop writing. Nevertheless, it is important to say that if we told Pasi that Petri and I will compose all the tracks on album 2, he would not mind at all. Like us, he is enjoying the collaboration. Petri wrote the piece Cinema and thought it perfect for us. He sent us that demo. Pasi re-recorded the keys and even percussion, then sent  5 chunks of music to me, which was effectively a Pasified Cinema. The key melodies and ideas of Petri’s were all there. I then glued the pieces together (One of them became the short opening track of the CD). I added all the guitars and it became obvious to me that it was a very special piece. The version on Progstravaganza, is just the finale and happens to be my favourite 6 minutes on the album.

Pasi: Petri sent me this piece and I think he originally wanted me to just use the piano intro he had on his old demo. Then I thought I could use the whole thing and make an arrangement by using Petri’s chords and notes. It became a very guitar oriented track and I’m happy for that! Some extended soloing by Colin and even a bass solo by Petri!

Are you satisfied with the reception of Corvus Stone album?

Colin: I am amazed really. The reviews mostly are beyond anything we expected. There is a problem tho. Few take the time with anything that doesn’t sound like something they heard before. Many listen to half a track and think.. ok.. jazz funk and move on. Many say it is too long. No idea what that means! We don’t plan to sell less music for the same money, just because some reviews say we should. So far, nobody who heard the album a few times has anything but great comments. It is a grower. The reviews tell us we did good and that what we did should stand the test of time.

Pasi: Yes I am! You can’t please everyone. During the last few weeks we suddenly had many great reviews by the critics who didn’t know us at all. Of course there are some not so good reviews as well but many of those critics still find some good things on our music.

What is Corvus Stone’s relationship to the progressive rock genre and your opinion on its future?

Colin: I am the guy that loved Pink Floyd without needing drugs! I was raised on progressive music but it had no label. The electric guitar and most keyboards are very recent inventions, so much of what we heard on the radio way back in the 60s, was effectively progressive. The Beatles dragged everyone kicking and screaming in to prog. It was a lucky break for us all because they were so famous. The normal world allowed real art and totally new sounds to create the landscape of that era. It happened in the UK and doors were even opened for non UK musicians  ..Hendrix and Focus for example. There has never been a time like it since. From Deep Purple in rock to Dark side of the moon. All of it on mainstream radio and TV. It became possible to earn a living, with strange and wonderful music because people actually enjoy it. That was the key. We all need to earn money.

The internet has created thousands of Steve Vais. It became the new cool extreme sport. So prog and complex music is now cool to young people because they can get involved. It also showed that music is inside everyone and the skill and determination out there is fabulous to see.

The future of varied and amazing music is limitless. Can we earn any money doing it? Not so far! It was never easy for musicians but it feels better now than it has for over 30 years.

Will it ever be allowed in the mainstream again? I thought Muse or even Porcupine tree could help cause it but so far it hasn’t happened.

Pasi: I never try to compose progressive rock. Maybe it’s because of our natural playing style people automatically think we are “prog”? Maybe we are? You must remember we have many influences on our music. We have weird things and the next song could have catchy melodies and hooks! The genre you mention has a great past and future, no doubt.

How did you start playing music, and what other experiences did you have prior starting Corvus Stone?

Colin: I was in the band “Odin of London” in the 80s. We gigged for 3 years. The climate for good music was at an all time low and we gave up. Three of us formed BunChakeze and recorded an album, totally independently. Unusual then but it failed to get the attention of any record company. I stopped playing for 25 years! Restarted in 2010 by releasing the BunChakeze album and later, Pasi forced me into this mad world of Corvus Stone!

Pasi: For me it was piano at the age of seven. I’m a guy who quit playing for many years. I had a fun project Metal Plankton with my friend (he now records extreme metal with his project Ofghost – he’s very good on what he is doing). I learned to use Internet and became friends with Clive Jones from the 1970′s UK band Black Widow and helped a bit to find their 1970 film and I also has a pleasure to be in touch with Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath) during the time Black Widow managed to have him to guest on their 2011 comeback album! I bought my current keyboard in 2009 and between 2010 and 2011 I released three limited edition solo Cd’s as Pasi Koivu ~ Psychedelic Eye.

What music do you usually listen to? Tell us something about your influences.

Colin: Progressive. Almost 100% of the time. I have seen almost all the greats at the right time. Alice Cooper(first london gig), The wall 1980 and 1981, Tales of Topographic oceans(opening week). Wakeman on ice!!! So I am influenced by all from Floyd and Yes to uriah Heep and Camel. I discovered Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater in the 90s. Since then, I have seen all the new greats many times. Pain of Salvation is a big fave! I discovered Al DiMeola in the 70s – OMG!!  Al, Vai and Zappa got me through the 80s.

Pasi: I wish to find more time to listen to music. My influences are everything I hear. It might be Black  Sabbath’s “Sabotage” or Jean Sibelius. If I’m going to compose something and it has to be good I have to listen to something like Quatermass first.

As a keyboardist I love what Keith Emerson did on the ELP album “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973). Our drummer Robert almost plays like Carl Palmer did on that album!

Have you ever thought of bringing the project on stage?

Colin: Yes we have. We all agree it could only be done if we would not lose money. It has to be right and we would love to do it. We need to focus on the albums first I think.

Pasi: Never say never. Our music is like a musical. We don’t have two songs that sound alike. A visual project would be nice as well?

Do you have anything new in the pipeline?

Colin: We seem to have enough for more than 2 albums already. Some of it almost complete and some waiting for the drummer to get studio time and much of it waiting for me (I am completing the Oceans 5 album right now). This time, we have a drummer fully in the band, so he is influencing the music in a very good way. He actually created two of the new tracks. We played to him. Now that is fun!

Pasi: Personally I have recorded twice for The Airwaves (the band from Sweden). The latest song was called “Paperpile” and I really loved the catchy hooks they created on that song. I hope the song will be released soon.

Corvus Stone has so many new songs at the moment. The stuff is so much more exciting than on the first album! This time we know what we are doing. I’ve written many songs but they don’t sound like the stuff on the debut album. Petri has given us great stuff! He just signed a deal with Melodic Revolution Records for his band Progeland and still he gave us at least six great songs! Colin gave us great acoustic stuff sand even Robert started two new songs!. I wish we had more time (I’m not a professional musician myself). Blake is as good as always as you can hear on “Purple Stone”. We have Andres Guazzelli guesting on that song and maybe we’ll have some more guest stars on the next album as that happened on the first album as well (we had Stef Flaming on “JussiPussi” – we also had Victor Tassone and John Culley on “You’re So Wrong”).

Karcius - Photo 3

KARCIUS: Creators of Evolution

Karcius emerged in early 2000’s and since its inception the band managed to keep a constant progress, keeping the indelible mark established with their debut Sphere. After ten years and four albums, these Montrealers are determined to change the face of progressive music in the new millennium. Where will that takes us all, let’s find in the interview with the band’s guitarist Simon L’Esperance.

Karcius - Chairs

Karcius was formed in 2003 and for ten years you released four albums. Can you clearly see the progress you managed to make between these records? If you compare your debut „Sphere“ with the latest record „The First Day“, how much did you change your approach when working on new music?

Yes in fact it’s a major evolution. We started as very young players and we evolved a lot as musicians and as human beings too. We created this project to follow the steps of bands like Liquid Tension Experiment and Bozio Levin Stevens, even Return to Forever, for 3 albums we were more focused on a fusion between any style we liked. It was a band with no boundary. In 2009 we hired Sylvain Auclair to replace Dominique Blouin on bass. We were looking for a change of direction at that time so Sly just got in and was also an incredible signer. Two for one ! He has a enormous background in prog, rock and metal so it so the fit was right on. We wanted something more fluid and less complex in a way so it turned out we were songwrtting more than we actually compose instrumentaly. I think it’s a great turn for us and for the purpose of our music.

Comparing „The First Day“ with previous album „Episodes“, I would say that art rock element is more emphasized on the new album. Did it come on purpose or as a natural shifting?

It was totally in purpose. We were looking for a sound alike Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and even The Beatles. We wanted a music with more space and more ambiances. Something where the listenner can travel and can be moved in different moods and emotion. I am really influenced as a record producer by Daniel Lanois and he uses the term « sonic landscapes » I love the image. I think the shift in the music was in purpose but the changes are very natural and guided by our evolution as musicians too.

Though you try to make a balance within the instrumentation on „The First Day“, piano parts navigate the album course. How do you go about composing in general? Do you usually bring your own pieces and work together on them ?

This album is based on a 4 days jam we made in a beatiful place in the woods.We got together and created a lot of the ideas you hear on this album. We worked a lot more on this but the basic ideas were there. We usually work together some riffs or melodies someone bring, it’s really rare someone brings a final idea in this band. It’s always been a 4 pice band with 4 brains working together. This is the essence of Karcius :Friendship and creativity. We do not calculate the space of each other in the record we just go for the music.

Karcius First Day Cover

Let’s  talk about the influences everyone of you brings in the Karcius’ music. We can hear tons of classic 70’s progressive rock, hard rock, classic rock, metal, ambient, even funk.

Wow, you are opening the Pandora’s box ! We have influences from classical to jazz, rock to world beat 60’ to actual music …To make it simple we love music and we love to listen to music. Let’s say Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Sting, King Crimson, Return to Forever, Foo Fighters, lot’s  of African music for rythms, lot’s of soundtracks, Steven Wilson, The Beatles, Daniel Lanois, U2 and so on….

One of the quotes taken from your press kit says that you guys are helping to bridge the gap between prog rock and jazz fusion. I agree with that, but what is going on that bridge? You have a totally new world in between that has to be explored.

I think it is a way of saying that we dont’ stick to traditionnal song forms and we blend a lot of improvisation with written music.  It’s not a new concept at all in music but bringning a jazzy twist to a heavy rock song or having some big African drums in a Pink Floyd kind of song is what we try to say in this phrase. No limits with the fusion of genres.

When working on new music, do you often see it as a challenge?

This is the most challenging thing in life. It’s really hard to find a purpose for new music, a direction, a message, a story… then it’s harder to deliver this message properly This is intense and we love it, we live for it and we love challenging each other with new ideas.

Karcius - Photo 3

You are not for the first time on the Progstravaganza sampler. We featured you guys on the fourth edition of our compilation series with the song „Purple King“ taken from 2006’s „Episodes“. On the new sampler you are featured with „Water“ (The First Day). Both songs come with sort of a laid-back vibe, with organic sound. Can you make a parallel between these two tracks ?

The producing of both records I think. We recorded all our albums at Studio Victor in Montreal. It’s our home base in a certain way. The Hammond B3, the Piano, the room, the console, the mics, I think this is were we get this sound. Thomas and me worked a lot on the producing of these records and I think you can hear our producers sound in there. Any band who would like to be produced or mixed by us can contact us anytime, we love working with new bands.

Over the years you’ve been pretty active playing live. Share a story, something interesting that happened to you while being on the road.

Last tour we did in French Guyana was amazing and quite surprising. We did the trip to play The Crescendo Guyana festival. We knew the producer but we were way far of expecting this crazy country. Bugs, heavy heat, very roots conditions, the jungle and all thèse crazy conditions.…This was the trip of a life. We made the soundcheck at around 120 degress under the sun, my pedal board just stoped working, we were totally cooking there !! I think we lost 5 pounds each this day. The show was amazing and the crowd just crazy but this stage was in the deep jungle, we never taught there would be so much people there and we just gave everything we had ! Hello to all these guys, it was unbeleivable. This is one crazy place in the world trust me !

What are your future plans?

We are currently working on some new material and I beleive we will be recording next year, we are working on a project with videos and filming. We’ll see where it’s going !

Thanks a lot for having time to answer my questions and thank you very much for being the part of Progstravaganza 13.

Thanks to you! Prog on!

traffic-experiment-group-photo

TRAFFIC EXPERIMENT: Writing Music and Lyrics as a Soundtrack

Named after a road sign in Guildford, England – Traffic Experience broke into the progressive world choosing probably best possible ways. Recording in a studio where Fairport Convention used to write their music, with Andy Jackson as a mastering engineer (who produced Pink Floyd’s „The Final Cut“ album), the band led by guitarist/vocalist Stuart Chalmers released an album that presents a sonic journey with emphasized visual character.

traffic-experiment-group-photo

What made you name your band after a road sign in Guildford? Were you in lack of names back then? I have to say that Traffic Experiment sounds really good.

I saw it written on a temporary road sign and it stuck in my head as a potential future band name. I was putting the band together years later and it had come back to me when writing one of the lines in Once More (with feeling) and I still liked it. It’s now also taken on a bit of a secondary meaning for us as we are continually trying different ways of passing our own music around, getting people to discover it.

Tell us something more about your beginnings with the band.

I’d demoed the first album at home in 2005 and was looking to put a band together to record it. After a couple of false starts I met Tom (Vincent, drums) and Simon (James White, bass), both of whom were phenomenal studio and live musicians and they were really up for doing the album. We really hit it off musically and on a personal level and Traffic Experiment was effectively born.

Your first album ”Blue Suburbia“ was recorded in (formerly) the private studio of Fairport Convention. Did you have any particular feelings knowing that this renowned band used to record their songs there?

It’s always inspiring working in a studio that you know extremely well-respected musicians have recorded in (and owned at one point). Woodworm was one of those fantastically atmospheric studios with a great history (I think Radiohead even recorded some very, very early stuff there) but it actually ended up feeling like a home from home (on and off) for a few years. Sadly, it had to close its doors a couple of years back.

“Blue Suburbia“ was recorded in 2006, but it took you four years to release it. Were you looking for a label to release it? According from what can be heard on the album, it’s pretty strong collection of tracks.

It actually took us those 4 years to finish it! The time taken was mainly down to financing it (and a lack of deadlines). We didn’t even bother trying to approach any labels and always intended to finance and release it ourselves. I’d never produced an album before so there was a lot of learning along the way. It was a fairly complex, layered record so we had to be quite efficient in the way we funded it. We recorded all the vocals, guitars, synths and effects at home (in a pretty basic studio in the back of my parents’ garage) to reduce how much we spent out on studio time. We recorded all the drums, bass, grand piano, acoustic guitars, Hammond and Rhodes in the live room at Woodworm, overdubbed the various other parts at home and then headed back to Woodworm to mix it – as and when we could afford it. We sometimes went months with nothing happening. Once mastered, we had no money left for a designer so I then spent a further nine months doing all the album artwork in my spare time before we finally released it.

traffic-experiment-blue-suburbia-album-cover

What is the story of ”Blue Suburbia“? There is definitely a lot to be heard within those 11 tracks. It’s interesting that the album creates a strong visual vibe. How did you manage to do it?

Blue Suburbia is really just about that undercurrent of suburban life that looks all fine on the outside but can be totally falling apart under the surface. It was all based on my hopes, fears and frustration of being a 20-something trying to make my way in the world for the first time as a “grown-up”.

Although it didn’t really start out as a concept album, I started to tie some of the themes (conceptually and musically) together and there did end up being a chronology to the tracks, in that they ended up being in the order that the events that inspired them took place.

I think I’m actually a bit of a frustrated film-maker and always approach making music as if producing a film, writing music and lyrics as a soundtrack to the visuals in my head. As a kid I used to listen to whole albums from beginning to end on my parents’ CD player, lying on the floor with massive headphones on and eyes shut, being totally absorbed by the music. I think when I’m writing and producing I’m always trying to recreate that.

Andy Jackson, who worked with Pink Floyd, mastered the album. How did you get in touch with him? Anything special that you heard about his involvement with Floyds?

I was looking around for a mastering engineer and noticed that Andy was now doing that commercially and, given the type of album we’d just done, he seemed the perfect choice. He had recorded Pink Floyd’s ‘The Final Cut’, still one of my favourites and (unusually) the first album that got me into the Floyd. I asked him a bit about it while I was there (knowing just about every millisecond of it) and he told me he hasn’t actually listened to it since!

Who came with the idea of covering and recording the Doctor Who theme? You named it Vashta Nerada, after a flesh-eating shadow from the TV series. Are you fans of the show? Speaking of it, how do you comment on Peter Capaldi’s getting the role of Doctor Who?

I’ve always adored the Doctor Who theme and hearing it takes me straight back to being 6 years old and watching it (I was terrified of Cybermen!). I was on the lookout for a track that we could completely rework into our own style and was watching the show and thinking how little I liked the latest incarnations of the theme. I found a clip of Peter Howell showing how he created his version for the BBC radiophonic workshop in the 80s and it set a spark off. I could suddenly hear all these Floydy type guitars, synths and vocals.

In terms of the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi is a superb actor and an inspired choice. I think he’ll be absolutely brilliant in the role.

On December 21st 2012, when everybody was in a fear of the world’s end, you guys entered the studio to record and film session of tracks from the “Blue Suburbia“ album. What was going on in your minds during the recording/filming process?

Mainly playing the songs well! It was entirely coincidental that it took place on the 21st. We picked it as the shortest day so that we could do an earlier shoot (the studio looks really atmospheric when lit up at night) – but it tied in quite nicely and provided the End of the World theme for the film.

It was quite an intense session and unlike anything we’d done before. We’d already funded the making of it through a PledgeMusic campaign and suddenly you realise people have already paid for the recording you are about to make and you really can’t afford to screw it up! It was a great experience being able to record it in Steve Winwood’s studio though.

Are you working on any new songs? When can we expect a brand new release from Traffic Experiment?

Yes. We’re busy writing the next Traffic Experiment album at the moment and hope to release that sometime in 2014. With this new album I’ve started with the whole theme first, then sketched out the song titles/chapters and have started fleshing it out from there. I think it will end up sounding much more of a single work than than the first one and am also considering that we may make a full film to go along with it.

“Once More (With Feeling)“ taken from “Blue Suburbia“ is on Progstravaganza 13. What can you say about the song? What’s the meaning behind its title?

Once More (with feeling) was a song I wrote in my first job working for a large corporation. I felt I’d been on an upward trajectory right through school and University and, now that I was in the ‘real’ world, my life had ground to a standstill. Every day had become completely unfulfilling and exactly like the day before – and all to pay the bills and just exist. I felt I had to put on an act because it was expected of me, trying harder every day to look like I enjoyed it and meant it – hence the title of the song (a reference to the old musical expression of saying: do it again but this time try and look like you mean it).

How do you see progressive rock in 2013?

There’s lots of fantastic new and interesting stuff out there at the moment and it’s great to see websites such as yours really helping promote it. Even though very little touches the mainstream radar there seems to be a massive community across all the various social media that really embrace progressive music and that can only be a good thing because it’s a genre where I think some of the most interesting and lasting music can still be made.

Traffic Experiment on the web:

http://www.trafficexperiment.net/

https://www.facebook.com/TrafficExperiment

http://www.youtube.com/user/TrafficExperiment

https://twitter.com/TraffExMusic

HellHaven

HELLHAVEN: In the Volcano of Great Prog Rock

What is art metal? Maybe the best answer on this question is checking the Polish band HellHaven, who are the part of our latest Progstravaganza sampler. We talked with the band’s guitarists and keyboard player Jakub Węgrzyn. Check the interview below.

HellHaven

How did the HellHaven story begin?

HellHaven came into existence in Myślenice in order to bring to life original and unorthodox music.

At the beginning HellHaven was inspired by bands in heavy metal or hard rock genres. This period, for us, was a quest to find our own sound, an idea for future music and creation of a strong and solid group backbone. After 12 months of writing our own original material in 2010, using our own financial expenses, we’ve created mini-album “Art for Art’s Sake”. The record was a concept album which music could be described as a combination of progressive metal and heavy metal music styles. The debut record was positively received both by critics and by fans. Thanks to the members’ commitment in the band’s activity, HellHaven music was often presented on polish radio stations.

The new sound, presented on our debut record, lead to the band’s many successes. With the start of 2011 we’ve decided to start to work on a more complex music material for the second long play record. During that time we’ve signed a contract with German record label “Legacy-Records” which allowed us more creative and technical possibilities. In 2012, after 12 months of creating new material, HellHaven registered more than 50 minutes of music dubbed progressive rock/art rock, and we’ve named it “Beyond The Frontier”. From this point we are trying to show HellHaven’s music to the whole world. As much as possible.

You describe your music as art metal. What do you mean by that? Is it art rock with metal edge or totally something new that’s known only in your terminology?

Our starting point was to put ourselves into waves of unpredictable, creative, crazy and remarkable music with no borders. We knew that this would be very hard task for us. After making new material, we’ve realized that we’ve created some kind of mixture of prog, art rock with a touch of prog metal, but not as “vintage” as people were used to known. When we were playing our first shows, some people from music magazines and radio stations couldn’t find the proper name for our music style. In fact, they describe our music as “art metal with heavy art rock influences, with a touch of post rock and native music”.  The truth is, that in our style people can find influences of heavy metal, art rock, post rock, prog rock, even polish national music and so on. Crazy mixture, that makes us quite original in this hard days (when thousands of bands plays exactly the same music). What we are proud of, is “art” in our music style. It means, that music is not just a few notes, which go through your brain, but it is also some kind of a theatrical performance that touches deeply your sensitivity.

Beyond-The-Frontier-cover

When I heard the „Beyond the Frontier“ album for the first time, the song Beyond the Frontier (Part 2) made a biggest impression on me. What is your favourite song off the album?

Hard to say – every song has it’s own beauty. But from my personal point of view I will choose “About Reading and Writing”. This song is quite romantic, very diverse, with beauty guitar solo, and soft, fragile vocal parts. Also it has great spatial synths. This song says “they can make something that floats above ground, flies thorough clouds” I think.

„About Reading and Writing“ off the album is also on our latest Progstravaganza compilation. Why did you pick this song for the sampler? Tell us something more about its structure and your view on it.

 Well, I think that I’ve already answered it in last question, but let me try to say something more about the purpose of choosing this song to be a sampler. This song gives you HellHaven in a nutshell. It has everything, that we’re proud of – art, prog rock elements, heavy riff, nice final solo, great vocal parts, a lot of synths… If you would like to show HellHaven in one song, I think “About Reading and Writing” would be the best choice. Of course, that is just my opinion. I know, that many people say, that Perikarion is the best mixture of what we are able to create. Also Paper Swan shows our respect to what we’ve learned after many years in the band.

On a studio report video taken from the album session, there is a moment when Marcin (bass player) „uses his head to play“. So, is it always that funny for you guys during the recording process? Anything interesting to share from the recording sessions?

Oh, a lot of funny things happened. That’s why we are still making music ! Music has to give you a lot of joy, fun and should makes your dreams come truth. During recording sessions a lot of little problems appeared. Like when we had problems with electrical current on Marcin’s bass guitar. We had to connect his head and toe by the wire to the strings, to make it ground. Funny story, but saved our… day J What is more interesting, Perikarion was played during recording session for the first time ever ! We’ve never practiced it before. But we are very proud of what we’ve done that day (well, with the support of many beers).

In the same studio report, Marcin uses to compare the song “Hesitation” with “Spanish inquisition”. Would you elaborate on that more?

I had to call Marcin directly, to make this answer as closes to the truth as can be. Marcin says, that in Hesitation, riffs are unpredictable. We could say about them, that “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” like nobody expects which riff suddenly appears in this song. I have to say, that sometimes we are crazy like Monty Python.

Your songs exude energy. How much of your daily life influence the music? Is the music the way of manifesting the energy you carry in yourselves?

The biggest influences were from our childhood, and what we were listening to at those times. We were growing up in hard times, just after Poland regained its independence from the rule of communist Russia. Life has taught us that in order to achieve something, you have to work very hard for it. I think that this gray reality of post-communist Poland made in us a urge to creating something, that will manifest our fresh, shiny energy, in-mind power, our new way of living, of understanding. We wanted to make something that will show to whole world that guys from Poland can do something valuable, and we are not worse than rest of the world. Nowadays we are proud to say, that Poland has one of the brightest prog and art rock bands in the world.

HellHaven

How would you describe your music in one word?

Peculiar.

Have you thought about employing any traditional instruments in your songs? I am asking this because „Beyond the Frontier“ is quite eclectic release? Any space for some classical elements in your music? Maybe soprano singing?

We wanted to do it, but our friend, Ryszard Kramarski (leader of polish art rock band Millenium), who watched over technical aspect of our recording session, said very wise words, that this album will be the better, the less people not from the band will be involved. In another words, we’ve decided to make it almost with just our own, HellHaven’s knowledge of making music. Just us, and two violinists to show people what THE BAND can really do. But in the future… yes, we will definitely ask more friends to join us with this great musical adventure.

Are you working on any new songs?

Yes, yes, yes… it is unstoppable process, that makes our life very pleasant. For now, we have two new songs that we are working on. They expand what we’ve done on “Beyond The Frontier” for sure. Those, who are familiar with our unpredictable style, will be glad. People, who like simple, short tracks, will be disappointed. New album will be another “impassable frontier” that we will cross through with a great success, I hope!

How do you see the progressive rock scene in post-2000’s?

Because I live in Poland, I will say something about our scene – from year to year polish prog rock scene is growing massively up. Month after month appears new great bands that really can create beauty music. More and more music editors from all around the world say that Poland is a volcano of great prog rock. We are so proud of that, and proud, that our music is a part of it.

At the end I would like to thank you, that you gave us possibility to present our music, to say a little bit about us, and polish rock. I hope, you will enjoy our newest album. For us the greatest reward is the listener’s smile and shivers on his/her back.

Thank you, stay prog !

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Progstravaganza 13

PROGSTRAVAGANZA 13 Artwork Revealed

Progstravaganza 13

Prog Sphere have revealed the cover art for Progstravaganza 13 compilation, to be released in the coming week. 

The artwork was designed by Chris van der Linden of Linden Artwork (also mastermind of Fourteen Twentysix and Bow), who will be designing full PDF booklet of the sampler, as well. Asked about artwork itself, Chris comments:

I talked with Nick about his ideas for the new release. After fiddling with the idea of “13″ and all related horror stuff we decided to not go down that route, and I then pitched some ideas that I think would be awesome for “prog” fans. One of them was a robot like creature on long Dali-inspired legs walking through a landscape. I started the artwork on paper, with a pencil sketch to quickly block the anatomy and shape of the creature and painted it with some acrylic paint, then in Photoshop I started adding the photographic material like engine parts, tubes, wires. I chose a sort of sc-fi steampunk font and colors to finish everything off.

Progstravaganza 13 includes 76 tracks in total from artists coming all around the world and will be available as free download from Prog Sphere’s Bandcamp page.