Progressive Hard Rock trio The Madeleine Haze began as an acoustic solo project for vocalist/guitarist Zack Goebbel. Inspired by French novelist Marcel Proust’s “episode of the madeleine” and the connection between music and involuntary memory, he released “In Search of Lost Time,” an intensely personal EP that became an unexpected regional success.
Zack assembled a band and the sound quickly evolved into a mix of classic Hard Rock and modern Post-Grunge. The resulting politically-charged EP, A More Perfect Union, was a clear sign that this was not a band who was afraid to challenge the listener both musically and lyrically. During this time they also contributed a cover of the anti-war anthem “Killer of Giants” to the “No More Tears: A Millennium Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne- 1971 – 2012” compilation. The band supported these releases with headlining tours across the US, and provided support for acts such as Adrenaline Mob, Vicious Rumors, Seven Witches, Super Bob, Bulletboys and Broken Teeth.
With growing national success came pressure from the industry to conform to a narrow view of what a mainstream Hard Rock band should be. Rather than limit themselves to those stifling constraints, however, the band became more creatively ambitious than ever. The result is Noble Lies & Pious Frauds, a ground-breaking full-length album set for release in the Fall of 2014. Thematically, the album serves as commentary on how corporations, religious and political institutions and even the people we love can manipulate how we think and act. Musically, the band incorporates everything from thrashing Prog-Metal to radio-friendly power ballads, bringing disparate genres together to create a cohesive whole. With crowd-pleasing hooks and virtuosic musicianship, The Madeleine Haze proudly walks the line between the Mainstream and the Progressive fringe, and trusts their fans to take that journey with them.
Zack Goebbel answered the Progstravaganza Questionnaire following the band’s appearance on Progstravaganza XIX: Convergence.
How did you come to do what you do?
My father was a musician dating back long before I was born, so I guess I was destined to play music in some capacity. Music was just always around. People were always playing guitar together, going to band rehearsals, etc…It was just part of the lifestyle I grew up in. And I started on drums, but quickly ended up a guitarist/vocalist just like my old man.
What is your first musical memory?
Well, there’s a photograph of me when I was 5 years old playing drums and jamming with my dad, but my first memory on guitar was sitting on my couch at 9-10 years old, conquering 12 bar blues. That was the moment I fell in love with guitar.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
PAIN! I hold the opinion that truly good music that has the ability to move you, mostly comes from a place of pain, hurt or anger. I had a tumultuous childhood, which lacked stability, and let’s just say, I’ve had some pretty crazy stuff happen to be able to write songs about.
What message does the song on our Progstravaganza compilation carry?
The Turning Away deals with someone who’s been entrenched in the christian religion for their entire life, and they slowly start to lose their faith. That’s pretty much where the song begins, and it has some parts where the character is looking back on the decisions they’ve made because of their religious belief and affiliation.
I guess the ultimate message it would wish to convey would be, to trust in yourself. Everything you need, you already have, and what you don’t have, will come to you when you’re ready to receive it.
Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?
I try not to. I like to mix it up. Start writing lyrics to existing music and vice versa, I always try to keep the topics I write about somewhat personal, at least in strength of opinion, and try to vary them to keep it interesting. I like all kinds of music, so what I write might start out an acoustic soft number, and end up a thrashy rocker by the end of it, or the other way around. Sitting down with an outline of how you want a song to go before you’ve written the first note, doesn’t allow the entity to identify itself. The song has to have a soul of sorts, and if you think you already know what it’s going to look like before it comes out, you’re going to alter it with those notions, and not just let it be what it wants to be. People ask me sometimes why I write longer songs, and my response is always that I let the song say what it needs to say. However long that takes is how long it takes. 3 minutes, 8 minutes, 21 minutes, I don’t care. As long as what needs to be said is said.
What is your method of songwriting?
I covered that a bit in the last question, but as a band things are changing in exciting ways. The Madeleine Haze started as a solo project for me, and due to instability in the bass position, the songwriting process has remained mostly on my shoulders. However, with the recent addition of bassist Richard Wilson, we’ve become a songwriting team, with each member contributing ideas to the overall structure. This process is resulting in the most dynamic material in the band’s history, which is remarkable since we are still in the early stages of discovering what this line-up can do together.
How do you see your music evolving?
“Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does” – Epictetus
I think this quote says it all. Now that we’re able to write as a complete unit, the music is naturally taking on more progressive elements, simply because it’s not one progressive minded musician, and not two, but three. So, the music is taking on new shapes that, as the quote suggests, we’ve been wishing for all along. I’m just happy to be able to share in writing with such talented players, and watch music form in front of me. It’s like watching a child grow. It’s an amazing feeling.
What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?
Be proud of what you create. If you’re proud of your product, other people will be drawn to that. We’ve experienced so many hurdles throughout the years, but people have always been there for us, willing to help us, because when you hear our music, you know it’s real, and you know it’s from the heart. Be true, and you’ll have their respect. And without the exchange of respect, you won’t last a minute.
What are you looking forward to?
We are currently working hard to finish up our new album, entitled Noble Lies & Pious Frauds, and expect to have that out by the end of the year. We can’t wait for everyone to hear it! We have Prog Sphere to thank for helping us find our cover artist, Chris van der Linden, who did an absolutely fantastic job. We’re also thrilled to be able to include an advance single release of The Turning Away on Progstravaganza XIX: Convergence!! As soon as our album is finished, we plan to get back out on tour in the US, and look forward to meeting some new friends out there on the road!
Bands, send your music submissions for the Progstravaganza compilation series to firstname.lastname@example.org