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The Syn

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Steve Nardelli of The Syn From 2006


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

This is a second coming of the band. Can you catch the readers of up on the original history of the group in the 1960's?
The original band came together in 1965 as the amalgamation of 2 local North London bands. These were The Selfs which included Chris Squire, Andrew Jackman and Martyn Adelman; and the High Court which included John Painter and myself. The 2 bands met when we went head to head in a battle of the bands contest and soon afterwards joined forces. The idea for the name Syn came from John Painter.
We were very much a touring band and played all over England and Europe, in particular France, where we had a number 1 hit with Flowerman. We established ourselves at the Mecca of all rock clubs in those days, The Marquee Club and famously played with bands like Pink Floyd, The Who and very specially with Jimi Hendrix.  

MSJ: So, how did the reunion come about, and what can you tell us about that?
Very sadly, our original keyboard player Andrew Jackman passed away in 2003. I had the idea with Martyn Adelman to make an album of archive Syn material dedicated to Andrew. Peter Banks and Chris Squire became involved in the project and the result was a limited edition double CD called Original Syn and a second version called Original Syn 1965-2004, which included new tracks recorded in 2004. Everything developed from there.
MSJ: You currently have the new CD Syndestructible out - what other products are available for people to purchase?
The 2 CD's I mentioned above are currently available, plus the single version of Cathedral of Love. In April we are releasing a DVD of one of our shows on the Syndestructible tour of America and there will be a live CD of our Marquee show last November coming soon. This was our first show in nearly 40 years and it was fitting we chose the Marquee. Purchase details of all these products can be found at:
http://www.synmusic.net/index2.html.
MSJ: I understand that Peter Banks had some, shall we say, "harsh things" to say about the reunion. Can you shed some light on your side of this?
I think Peter is very disappointed not to be part of the ongoing Syn project and that is reflected in his comments and statements. Peter took some decisions that impacted the line-up of the band and the introduction of a new guitarist, but I wouldn't say the door is closed on him for the future. You never know.
MSJ: How did the recent tour go?
It went very well. We played small venues to showcase Syndestructible and everyone enjoyed it very much. The tour line-up was augmented with Alan White on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar and the whole thing jelled really well. The shame is we have had to reschedule our West Coast dates and that has caused a lot of disappointment with fans, some who have flown from Australia to see us, but new dates will be announced soon.
MSJ: What do you see as some of the differences between the music industry of today and the '60's?
I don't think music is important to people today like it was in the 60's. Francis Dunnery made the point to me that because music is so easily available for free, people don't value it any more. The other difference is the nature of the music media and this whole Pop Idol/Celebrity culture. Real music doesn't get a chance to be heard any more, this is also devaluing the industry. Part of our objective with the Syn project is to try to address this is some small way.
MSJ: I know people don't like to describe their music or see it pigeonholed, but care to give it a try?
We describe our music as Prog Modernist. That is taking the best of 60's/70's prog music and developing it into music of the 21st Century. I think we have achieved this very well with Syndestructible.
MSJ: Who do you see as your musical influences, both personally and as a band?
For me, The Beatles and The Who for sure, plus Bob Dylan, a music genius! The foregoing probably goes for the rest of the band too, plus Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd to a lesser degree.
MSJ: What do you see as the differences between Syn's sound today and in the original incarnation?
I think had Syn continued we would have sounded like we do now. We have retained the roots of our pop/psychedelic history but now make music for the 21st Century. I think we have blended our past with the present very successfully with Syndestructible.
MSJ: Where did the name come from?
The name came from our original guitarist John Painter. The word Syn is Greek for 'the coming together of music' so it was very apt. However, we liked it because it was short and dynamic just like The Who, our favourite band!
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?
I've touched on this in earlier answers. The Internet is an amazing theatre for music and that can only be a good thing for musicians. However, if people don't pay for music then musicians and record companies can't recoup the money they need to make the music in the first place. That is obviously a very bad thing and the end result will be that musical quality will be affected. We are seeing a revolution in the way music is presented and sold at the moment all driven by the internet. Interesting times!
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans taping and trading live shows?
I know that every one of the shows we just finished on our East Coast tour was taped and are being shared/traded, whatever. I think it is a compliment to the band that people do this and there is a marketing angle as well. If it means more people get to hear the band, that will encourage them to go and buy the CD's or DVD's and come to the shows.
The more people that hear the music the better as far as I'm concerned.
MSJ: What's on the road map for the future for Syn?
We start our rescheduled West Coast dates in March, kicking off with the LA Guitar Centre Charity gig in LA on the 14th. This is charity to promote music in schools across America, a wonderful concept to bring music to children. There will be a series of Charity concerts across America that we will perform at with other great artists, this will be the first one. We are proud to be part of it. There will also be a tour of Europe in May and then more US dates. We are already planning the next Syn album to record this year, so we are very busy!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
I really like KT Dunstall and the Kaiser Chiefs and these were the last 2 CD's I bought.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
The Syn had a box thanks to Warners at the last night of the Cream concert at the Albert Hall last year. There was a fantastic party after the show in a Kensington mansion, every one was there; Paul and Ringo, Roger Walters, Dave Gilmour, Bryan Ferry, Bill Wyman, Phil Collins, I mean everyone, film stars like Tom Hanks, everyone! It was so 60's!!
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Every day with The Syn is like living Spinal Tap, but I love it! It's only Rock 'n' Roll!
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
I think The Syn reunion project after so many years has been a huge undertaking and achievement for all concerned. I am very proud of what we have achieved and look forward to the future very much.
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