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Progressive Rock Interviews

The Tangent

Interviewed by Julie Knispel
Interview with Andy Tillison of The Tangent from 2008
THIS IS AVAILABLE IN AUDIO FORMAT IN OUR MEMBERS AREA
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

I appreciate you taking the time out with me today to go over a little bit of what's been happening with The Tangent.  I know you guys have a new album out and a tour going on, so I think we'll be focusing on that a little bit to start off.
All right, yes.
MSJ: The new album is called Not as Good as the Book.  It's a 2 CD set, a little bit longer than your last release.  How would you say your new album as evolved or progressed, for lack of a better term, from A Place in the Queue?
Right, well...OK.  It is a development from A Place in the Queue, obviously.  We've been undergoing quite a bit of a change...the whole story of The Tangent has been about starting from a band that was never supposed to exist, and then eventually finding we were discovering more about ourselves as musicians and work out what we wanted to do.  The first album was really quite popular.  We started off making this one album, you know...it was supposed to be just a one-off, and then found it popular, and then we had to kind of work out where we wanted to go now.  So the idea really was that we pushed ahead and tried to become a real group with an ambition and a manifesto and everything.  The fourth album is just part of achieving that manifesto.  And I think that we...what I really always wanted to do was to form a band that somehow took over from where progressive rock was originally cut off in 1977...
MSJ: Right...
...to actually continue where it had almost got to at that time.  Looking at who was around at that time, it was people like National Health and UK, the Canterbury bands, the Hillage band, The Enid and things like that.  We just decided to go in and say, "Right, this is what might have happened next."
MSJ: Right.
Now, I know there were other bands around, like The Flower Kings and IQ and Marillion that have been around for a long time too, you know.  But most of those bands have been into it for themselves, and what we wanted to do was to do something that really moved on from where progressive rock had gotten to the first time.  I think that Not as Good as the Book is a possible move of where progressive rock might have gone next.
MSJ: I know, from my standpoint, having listened to all four of the albums, spending the last week or so really reacquainting myself with the older material versus the last two releases, which obviously Roine (Stolt) was not involved in... the band really seems to have come into its own and started crafting a sound that, listening to it you have to say "This sounds like a band...it doesn't sound like an amalgamation of influences."
I think that...I think that's really what I hoped we would achieve.  I mean obviously there was a very big question mark which arrived over our career the moment Roine Stolt said "Alright, I'm going to leave now because I want to concentrate on The Flower Kings."  And I think that probably quite a few people's heads when Roine left, said "Well, that's it, The Tangent will stop."  I was enjoying myself too much (laughs) and there was no way I was going to stop.  So...the thing is that Roine's influence on the group when it first started was a very big influence...he is a very individual person and he's got a lot of musical personality.  So when Roine Stolt is involved in a project, you're going to hear his personality, because he's, you know...he's that good.  It's not a bad thing!  I've sometimes seen reviews where people think it's a bad thing, but it's not!  It's quite remarkable.  I mean, if we had Jimi Hendrix on our record, it would sound like Jimi Hendrix.  He had so much personality.
MSJ: He has a voice.
And Roine has personality. So OK, he went, and obviously something left our band when Roine left, and we just kind of have think "Right, OK...what do we do to make a good band without him?"  And I think it worked (laughs)
MSJ: I believe so.
I believe we've managed to develop our own strain.  And the really great thing is there's a kind of progression to it in that...when we first started off, our first album sounded like...a bit like The Flower Kings.  But our new album sounds a bit like our first album, but it doesn't sound like The Flower Kings at all.  So there is a natural kind of progression to it...away from it, and the fact that now The Tangent is a completely different sounding group to The Flower Kings.  That's a good thing.
MSJ: Absolutely.
More variety on the scene.
MSJ: Absolutely...I agree.  I think that, from the first play through that I did for the new album, it really grabbed me just how much it sounds like it could have come out of 1978 or 1979 of 1980, but it doesn't sound retro.  It sounds fresh and contemporary and modern.
Well, that is the great thing that we wanted to achieve, to actually try and just prove...we're not trying to prove that The Tangent is great or anything, but to prove that progressive rock music itself did not go out of date simply because some people said it went out of date.  Progressive rock music is a vibrant and multifarious musical form that belongs in the contemporary age.  It's just that the major record companies and the major media decide to stop endorsing it, rather like a computer program that nobody supports.  It doesn't mean that the computer program is no good, it's just not being supported by the software houses.  So we feel that we've managed to make that statement through the record that progressive rock music belongs to now.  I think that we are not the only people to have done that...Porcupine Tree have clearly demonstrated the relevance of progressive rock music in this age, and I admire them greatly for doing that.  They've had to...they've had to hide their progressive influences more than we have, but we've been absolutely, totally...we actually say "We are a progressive rock band," we have no shame in that at all.  I believe it’s still a vibrant, strong musical form.
MSJ: I know from what I have read that the gestation and genesis of this project was a little bit fraught.  Do you think that some of that energy...even though some of it was most likely negative in some ways...contributed to the vibrancy of this particular release?
I guess.  I guess that just has to be the case, yeah.  Essentially, yeah...my life has been rather chaotic for the past few years, and...because of the break-up of a relationship, and...generally everyone's been really good about it, so there's been no problems.  It's just that...yeah, I went through some kind of emotional time, and I decided to try and make the most of what was happening to me, almost dutifully noting down in a musical diary.  So, I even spoke to people about it, you know, whether I was doing the right thing.  Some people close to the band thought I was doing a silly thing by being so personal, but essentially I decided to contact one of my all-time heroes, Peter Hammill of Van der Graaf Generator to ask if he thought it would be the right thing to do.  To put his reply into a nutshell, I think he said to me was, "you're a songwriter, and this is what you do.  When things happen and you can write about it, that's it.  You do it, because that's what a songwriter's job is, to reflect life through song."

So yeah, I think that I became very kind of prolific after this happened, and I found myself writing a lot of music.  There it is on the record. It's very emotional, there's no doubt about it.  And it's something that could have happened only because of that.  Even when bad things happen to you in your life, you try to find the best way of using that, don't you?
MSJ: Absolutely.
Whether it be the death of a relative or the death of a relationship.  You learn from your experiences and you reflect them.
MSJ: There are definitely a lot of moments on the album that hit home and ring very true with a lot of experiences that I've had.  The emotion comes through very strongly, especially on the second disc.
This is something that quite a few people have said.  I've had quite a few mails from people who genuinely have been affected by the writing of this record and the fact that I've tried to focus the attention of this record on more middle-aged people and the problems that many of us face rather than singing to the school kids like so many bands do.
MSJ: Right.
Not that there's anything wrong with that!  There's nothing wrong with singing to the school kids.  There's nothing wrong with singing to middle-aged people either, because school kids will grow up to be middle-aged one day (laughs).  So a few people have said...because, when a relationship breaks up, in mid life, it's one hell of a lot more complicated than some girl who didn't turn up at the prom.  It's like, an awful lot of rock and roll love songs are about teen aged romances, singing "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to," all that kind of stuff.  But a break up in mid life, with kids...property...houses...geography, all that stuff comes into question and it's a hell of a lot more complicated.  And a few people who have suffered the same kind of breakups in mid life have been in touch and said "wow!  Nobody's ever done this before, what an amazing idea."  And I'm forced to go back to them and say "Terribly sorry, what a wonderful idea?"

So yeah.  That's it.  For some people there's a wide path of opinions about whether you should be as personal.  I think that most reviewers of our album have said that they have found it quite touching and tender and honest and open...and then we have a few people who say it's a bit too much like a soap opera and Andy Tillison should shut up and not really say this sort of stuff, it's too upsetting.  So there you have it.  I accept both sides of the argument, but the fact is I did it, and there we are.  It’s done. Can't be undone.
MSJ: Peter Hammill did the same thing with Over, pretty much.
That of course is why I spoke to him about it, because I felt that, well, he did it, so why should I not.
MSJ: Exactly.
And of course Over is an incredibly powerful piece of work as well.
MSJ: You have a new member in the band.
Yes!
MSJ: What does Jakko (Jacszyk) bring to the group?
Jakko brings an enormous world of experience, you know. It's like...when we first started The Tangent, we did this whole "three generations of progressive rock music in the same band."  We had Jaxon (David Jackson, ex-Van der Graaf Generator) from the first generation, myself in the third, and Roine, who's been involved in Kaipa back in the second wave of progressive rock...all that kind of stuff, you know.  Jakko is very cool, you know, because he was right...he was actually playing progressive rock right at the end of the original period!  Although he never managed to record with the band he was actually involved in a group called REM (laughs) which has nothing to do with Michael Stipe.  Rapid Eye Movement was a band that featured Dave Stewart and Pip Pyle, both members of National Health, and that was their next project.  That band was REM, and Jakko played and sung in that band.  It was a very good band as well...I've heard some of the bootlegs.  And so he was there right at the beginning of where we kind of begin our story...the end of progressive rock music.

So having Jakko there really makes an awful lot of sense chronologically.  But the guy is a really fantastic player.  Really good bloke, and it's been a delight to work with him to be quite honest.  So yeah, working very well indeed.  And you know, he's a professional...he works doing cinema music and advertising music  and all that kind of stuff, so I just hope that The Tangent can keep him sufficiently interested to stay with us!  I really like working with him.
MSJ: And he'll be joining you at Summer's End (A festival in the UK).
He is joining us at Summer's End, yes.  He'll probably turn up on the next little tour as well on a couple of guest spots or something.
MSJ: Fantastic.
But not every night on the next tour, where Krister Johnsson is working.
MSJ: You're touring with two of your other label mates...Beardfish and Ritual.
Yeah (laughs).  I've been a fan of Ritual for years.  I really liked them way back in the 90's when I heard their first album...as a matter of fact, my bank supported them at a concert in Rotherham back in the 90's.  I really...yeah, I really enjoy their music.  I'm actually very chuffed to be going out on the road with them.  Really great stuff.  Beardfish, I've already played with them once as well in Sweden, and they're really quite bright young things.  I like what they're doing, and they're one of the younger prog bands...probably one of the most important.
MSJ: Is the European scene that much more vital for live progressive music, that a tour like this can happen over there? Here in the States it seems the entire progressive music scene is almost subsidized and supported by three or four festivals over the course of the year.  Bands will come over and play one or two shows around the festivals and that's the only chance you get to see them.
Yeah.  Well...that's right.  It has to be remembered that although the festivals are very impressive in America...we loved when we played ROSfest...it also has to be remembered that America actually has one of the smallest progressive rock markets, so that...you know...I think that for example there are more people into progressive rock in South America than there are in the United States.  And there are certainly more people who are into it in Europe than there are who are into it in America.  So the problem is the American vastness, it means that we can come over...we can play one of the festivals, but then we have to transport ourselves miles away to the next show to keep from interfering with that festivals bookings and play a gig on the other coast.  The problem is...we've already discussed this with other bands who have done the same thing and they find nobody goes to the next gig because they've already gone to the festival!  So these big festivals in America are sort of like, everybody goes and you see the same people or core at all festivals.  So it is a bit difficult, of course, and the American market is...it's difficult to get over there to start with, and all the instrument hire, and...

So yeah...we can do the festivals, but unfortunately putting a tour together over there is almost impossible.  We're not big enough yet...we haven't got enough people who could make a tour pay, and, you know...it is terrible that you have to think of money like this, but...unfortunately we do.  We can't come home having to pay for our own performance.
MSJ: Right.
It's a very sad state of affairs.  But that's the situation the music industry's got itself into.  You know...we'd be other there every week (laughs), but we can't.

I have to say...although the audience is small in America, I think that the best gig I ever did...I probably have played a thousand gigs, one of the concerts I have ever played is in America.  Gig I enjoyed the most?  The one in America! (laughs)  So there you go!  You know, it was the best...the best crowd I ever played to.  The fact that it is the only one among the thousand other gigs I've played means it must be pretty good over there.  But unfortunately...for us to play just that one concert cost the festival an enormous amount to get us there.  And then of course you have the problem with work permits and all that other stuff...
MSJ: Which hasn't gotten any easier over the last couple of years.
Even now, there's even more problems with bands coming over with the dollar devaluing and...I wrote about this in a song called "The Winning Game," as a matter of fact, you know, and how as one value rises another one drops.  So of course, if we were trying to sell our records in America, we'd have to sell them at, personally, cost price.  So we wouldn't be able to fund ourselves with merchandise as we do in Europe because the price in America has to be so low.  So in effect we don't make any profit on the CD sales.  You know, I'm not being a money man...I don't even think about it, but it's just that every time I try to organize a tour, I'm being told "No you can't do it, because you can't afford to go."
MSJ: Do you have a master plan for what comes after the touring this year?  Have you thought about the next record...are there pieces in an embryonic phase, or is it really kind of a clean slate right now?
At the moment, I think that quite a few of my contemporaries at the moment are exceptionally prolific.  If I look at Neal Morse, Guy Manning, Roine Stolt, The Flower Kings, bands like that...they kind of do...(sigh) I'm not saying anything bad about them, but they kind of like manufacture stuff on an assembly line...there's always something coming off.  And I think that Roine thinks, "OK, I've got to write an album now," and the same with Guy, and the same with Neal Morse, OK?  It's been such and such a time since the last one...that's just not going to happen with me.  The music doesn't get written until I'm ready to write it...till I've actually got something to write about.  Whereas The Flower Kings can sort of release their album every year, then there's sort of like a fan club album, and then bonus tracks and loads and loads of stuff they've got in the can...virtually everything I have written is out there already, you know?  There isn't loads and loads and loads of outtakes and other bits lying about.  So at the moment, I've started writing some things, but there's nothing concrete there, no idea of what album it will be or what kind of album it will be or anything like that.  I've got some little ideas sketched out, but when I'm ready to make another Tangent record I'll do it.  But until that point...I won't (laughs). 

I think one of the things I've learned a horrible lesson, really, is that after The Music That Died Alone, everybody was so keen to make another Tangent record we did one almost straight away.  So it was only a year from the release of The Music That Died Alone to The World That We Drive Through.  The second album is the one I have always been least happy with.  I think that was probably a result of trying to do another one too quick...writing toward it.  It wasn't until A Place in the Queue that I felt that was what I wanted to do next, you see what I mean?
MSJ:
MSJ: Right.
So yeah...I think there are some great moments on ...Drive Through, and I think some of the songs are some of the best I've ever written, but somehow or another the actual performance, the actual execution, the way it all fell together...it didn't have quite the joy as the first record, and it somehow got lost in translation.
MSJ: When the time is right, it will be there.
Yes.
MSJ: What are you listening to these days?  Are there any bands out there...other than the ones we have already mentioned...that are really catching your ear?
On the progressive front, there's one thing I particularly like at the moment, that's a band called La Torre dell'Alchemista.
MSJ: Ah, the Italian group.
Yeah.  I think they're fabulous.  I listen to them a great deal.  I've got both their records, and I sort of cycle between them.  I've just found myself listening to a lot of Ritual again since I found out we're going to be touring with them, which is going to be great.  Porcupine Tree, I've heard...I've been going to see Porcupine Tree since 1994, and I think twice last year on the Fear of a Blank Planet tour.  Thought they were terrific both times, and I think that Fear of a Blank Planet is a fantastic record.  Haven't quite got into In Rainbows by Radiohead yet, but I listen to quite a lot of Radiohead.  The new Van der Graaf Generator album's out...I've just heard once so far, and I found it rather difficult...I'm going to have to give it another listen, because they're one of my favourite bands of all time, really.

Listening to quite a bit of Mediski, Martin and Wood, the kind of organ based jazz band from America...sometimes they tend to jam a bit.  Other than that...my usual diet of disco which I love (laughs)...absolutely adore disco music.  I listen to quite a lot of that, simply for pleasure.  People like Earth Wind & Fire, the Bee Gees, Kool and the Gang, all that...I love it all.  Quite a lot of thrash metal, you know...I like Opeth quite a lot.  Still listen to Voivod, the Canadian band from the 1980's...I'm currently living with a teenaged girl, the daughter of my partner, who listens to an awful lot of Japanese heavy metal, so I find myself listening to a lot of that, whether I like it or not!
MSJ: Are we going to start seeing some of that working into The Tangent?
(laughs) I don't think so!

I've always thought that heavy metal is a very very easy road to follow.  I think it's just so easy to turn up the guitars and get that aggressive rock and roll sound, and so many people do it...it's just so over done.  I just wonder how much...I wonder how much people can stand because there's just so much of it.  I mean, nothing bad, there's just band after band after band...the differences between Nirvana and Soundgarden and Metallica and Napalm Death...they're just not that big.  I know there's an awful lot of difference in one way, but texturally they're so similar with that enormous guitar sound...

I think that bands like The Tangent, The Flower Kings and other bands like us don't use that big distorted guitar sound.  Rather than making it sound lighter, I think it makes it sound more...rhythmic and exciting and...
MSJ: Dynamic?
Yes, dynamic.  A bit more fresh air...yeah, we tend not to go for the metal stuff.
MSJ: On a bit of a side note...I know the lead track on Disc 2, "Four Egos One War," was a piece that was written for Parallel or 90 Degrees.
Correct.
MSJ: Are there any thoughts about revisiting some of that older material and re-releasing...I understand that there are a number of compositions that were either never properly recorded or only exist in demo form?
Well...I was in conversation with somebody from the record company, and basically somebody mentioned to me through conversation, that basically Parallel or 90 Degrees is currently the hottest musical property in the world of progressive rock music because it's a whole band that nobody can get anything of anymore.  All the titles have been deleted, and I don't think you can buy the records anywhere, really...you might be able to pick up a copy of one of them at some website.  Of course, the fact is that we made music continually between 1996 right as far as the beginning of The Tangent album.  I mean, there's five albums we put out.  Of course there's enormous amounts of interest in them and I get mails about them all the time, "When are we gonna see some of that stuff coming out again?" 

So the thing is, is that gradually all these titles, owing to contracts that have expired, have fallen back into my possession, so I am now again the legal owner of all Parallel or 90 Degrees music, and the recordings.  So really what I have to do is sort out what to do with them (laughs) and to find some kind of record deal where I can get them released.  I've got a lot of people interested in buying it, and I've got a lot of record companies that have offered me sorts of deals to re-release.  But, at the moment I'm not wanting to do anything that will take attention away from The Tangent, really...I think it's something that we've got to hold in abeyance for a little while.

It's only really since A Place in the Queue that interest in Parallel or 90 Degrees has picked up again.  So, it's funny...it's kind of like a band that's not working anymore that's become a bit of a hot property at the moment.  We just have to make the right decision.
MSJ: Does it frustrate you, having people ask you about your past so much like that?
No!  I mean, I was very proud of it the day I recorded it, and I still am.  I am essentially very proud of what Parallel or 90 Degrees achieved musically.  The simple fact is that not many people were interested.  It's funny, because when The Tangent first appeared, it was like a mixture of The Flower Kings and Parallel or 90 Degrees, and people would say "Para-who?"  They'd never heard of them!  And now people are talking, "Oh yes, Parallel or 90 Degrees, yes yes."  The thing is that not many know, but our last album, which is one of the best we made, sold less than 1000 copies.
MSJ: ...wow.
So, you know...that's not very many, at all.  And basically, The Tangent's first album sold more than the entire Parallel or 90 Degrees catalogue made between 1996 and 2004.  It outsold that entire catalogue in less than two months.  It wasn't a very big band, Parallel or 90 Degrees.  That's all.  A lot of people seem to think it was bigger than it was.  I don’t think that any of the CDs that we made ever had more than one thousand five hundred manufactured.  So it's a bit of a false illusion.
MSJ: Absence making the heart grow fonder...
Yes (laughs)  That's right.
MSJ: One of the things that we've kept going back to...and you kind of beat me to the punch earlier when you started talking about the continuance from that first wave of progressive music, and how you see The Tangent as following on from that tradition...a lot of these bands are groups I didn't know about until well after they were active.  For me, it's been kind of exciting seeing groups like The Enid slowly working back into active duty, and Gryphon working on new material and Jade Warrior working on a new release.  Does it excite you as much to see those bands doing something again?
Well...I've got mixed feelings, to be quite honest...mixed feelings.  And essentially I feel that...certain...let's just leave The Tangent out of the equation for the moment...
MSJ: OK.
Spocks Beard and The Flower Kings and Porcupine Tree have spent enormous amounts of effort putting together new progressive rock.  Suddenly an awful lot of the old guys have come out of the wood work, and it has to be said that I don't feel that any of the great, of the bigger progressive rock bands have made what I think compliments any of their best material during this period.  I think that you look at the greats, like Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer and Pink Floyd, their best material has not come now.  The last Yes album, Magnification, was OK, it was good, had a great tour with it and all, but it wasn't their best material.  And I think that you look at what Roine Stolt has managed to achieve since 1994...he's created some absolute progressive rock classics.  Absolutely brilliant progressive rock classics...and he's still hawking The Flower Kings around, playing to three hundred people at various night clubs all over the world.  But all Genesis has to do is announce a tour and not release any new music and thousands of people turn up to see them.  Thousands.

One of our problems in modern day progressive music is overcoming the constant reissues by older bands.  If we look at it in the cold hearted light...progressive rock fans have a limited amount of money to spend, and we tend to find, for example, that a progressive rock fan, faced with a choice between another remastered edition of Trespass, for example, will buy that before he buys a Flower Kings record.
MSJ: I don't know that that's necessarily true of me, but I don't know that I am the traditional progressive rock listener.
Yes, well, unfortunately it is a trend.  Definitely a trend.  People are very keen on collecting...I know a collector in England who has four copies of Close to the Edge...on CD as well as his vinyl.  Four copies of Close to the Edge, and he’s bought all four.  One is the original CD release, and then one is the remaster, and then there's the remastered edition with bonus tracks, and then there's the Japanese version that comes in a cardboard sleeve like the original.
MSJ: Right.
He has all four.  But...but...he downloaded Unfold the Future by The Flower Kings and printed off the CD sleeve from the internet.  And he's just one of many...it's sort of like "Oh the Flower Kings, here's something for me to check out...but Close to the Edge...I've got to have all four!"

I mean no wonder some of the original progressive rock people are coming out...people like Jade Warrior, who were very very minor on the scene in the first place.  They look around and say "hey, there's a whole lot of other progressive rock bands around.. that's what we do!  Maybe it's time for us to go!"  And even to an extent my favourite of all...Van der Graaf Generator...here they are releasing a new album that's just come out three weeks after our record.  It's funny to be releasing an album at the same time as Van der Graaf Generator.

Obviously you live in hope that one day they'll come up with something as good as what they did in their heyday.  But the bizarre thing is that...when you actually look at it...me, Roine, Neal Morse, all these other guys, we're doing something actually quite unusual when you think about it.  we're people who are...well, Roine is fifty, I'm nearly fifty years old...I suppose Neal's about the same age, Guy Manning's about the same age.  We are people who are still, we are working, making our classics now, if you see what I mean.
MSJ: Right.
If you look at people like Bowie and people like Genesis and things...you're looking back over their greatest hits and wondering if they'll do anything as good as that ever again.  This is our first time.
MSJ: Right.  You're doing it now...
This is it.  This is it.  We're not going to go and play a gig...when we play a gig, people aren't going to know our old stuff, because we haven't got any! (laughs)  This is what we do now.  We haven't split up and reformed twenty odd years later.  We're already old!  There aren't many in any field of music, let alone prog...there are not many people of our age who are writing new music which hasn't yet broken onto any big scene.  It’s a peculiar thing because most bands creating new music are younger. So this is almost a first time this wave of people like Roine and Neal are actually generating new music at this stage in our lives.

It's an interesting thing.
MSJ: It is.  It's an incredibly vital, prolific group of musicians that are putting out new material that has been incredibly consistent and evolves in a natural, organic manner.
Yeah.  I just wonder how it's going to be for poor old Van der Graaf Generator who's just made this new record.  They're going to go and play the concerts and you know what?  Most people don't want to hear the new music!  They're going to want to hear the old stuff and so they're going to be pretty much tied to doing that.  Van der Graaf are, actually, a bit more...I think that Van der Graaf will take the risk and play a lot of the new material.
MSJ: Right.
As for Genesis, they did this most recent tour without writing a new song.  I mean, there are some staggering statistics to actually put against that so that...if you actually think about the latest Genesis tour that took place in Europe, their last tour took place before the Flower Kings had even been performed.  And now they come, and they put on a tour during which time they haven't written a single new song.  The set that Genesis played featured no new material at all.  And since their last tour, Roine Stolt has written four albums...all of which are, in my opinion, better than anything Genesis did since 1977.  That's my opinion.

So...but yet, Roine is playing for three hundred people...
MSJ: ...and Genesis is playing to thirty thousand people...
Playing stadiums without writing a single new song.  That to me...in fact, Roine Stolt has written more music than Genesis ever did.  There's more Flower Kings music in the world than Genesis music.  I think that he's been a lot more creative in that time and really he deserves the audience.  But unfortunately people do tend to go to what they know.  So the Genesis tour was going to be a big hit.  And it sure as hell pulled...in fact, the Genesis tour took so much cash out of the progressive rock market last year that people were so busy buying the double release...the double albums of the individual concerts both legs, buying the two hundred dollar tickets, all that kind of stuff...that even a release like the Flower Kings album was impacted by the fact that so much money had been spent on Genesis.  It's something that has to be looked at.  We can't stop them...for goodness sake, they invented...they're one of these inventors, or innovators of the music form that we play.  None of us would be the same if it wasn't for Genesis or Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer...they've got every bit as much right to play to the future as we have.  The thing is that we are going to be here longer than they are (laughs).  At least I hope so.
MSJ: I hope so as well.  I think that there's still a lot for The Tangent to say.
I certainly hope so.  The thing is, if we manage to keep going and playing into our sixties like the other progressive rock bands out there, there will come a time where there will not be any Pink Floyd, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, because they'll either be dead or just too old to play.  Because we're going to be too old to play one day.  The thing is...there's going to be a little bit of time where we're all that's left, unless some of the younger bands really get picked up on.  Beardfish and Magenta...these are the important people.
MSJ: From a live standpoint...from a performance standpoint, you've played a lot of gigs with The Tangent, with Parallel or 90 Degrees.  Have you ever had a "Spinal Tap" moment on stage?
A Spinal Tap moment with the band?  There was one particular moment on the last tour we did in Germany where we walked on stage, began...immediately as it began, my amplifier, all the keyboards and the computer attached to them just collapsed.  The amplifier went down my leg and cut a huge gash in my leg.  But actually, fortunately, the keyboards managed to stay upright, and the computer, which hit the floor somehow, continued to work, so I still had all my sounds and everything.  So I just carried on and played the gig.  My leg was bleeding furiously...I walked off the stage leaving a trail of blood behind.  The audience never knew about it of course...one of those things that kind of happen quietly behind the scenes.  It was a very painful experience.  But yeah, that's one bizarre moment, I suppose.  Obviously, I've been on the road since I was seventeen, I suppose I could go on with anecdotes all night.  But I'm not going to!
MSJ: Any plans on playing the Relayer album real loud in the future?
(laughs) As long as it's not at 3.14 decibels out of phase!
MSJ: Sounds like a good idea.
(laughs) I love Relayer, obviously.  You've read the book then?  (NB: Not as Good as the Book has been released in a special edition with a 100+ page novella written by Andy Tillison that casts the material from this album into a semi-science fiction/humour context.)
MSJ: Unfortunately I have not yet...my copy is just the standard edition without the book.  But I have an order for the deluxe edition coming.
I hope you get that.  I hope you enjoy it.
MSJ: I have a feeling I will just from what I've read about it.  Was it a lot of fun to put that together?
Yes, it's been fun.  That was it.  It was great because...while making a very serious record, it was fun to be putting it together with something that was not serious.  That's part of...if I may say so myself, that's part of the magic in this package that it comes from so many different angles.  It comes at you from music, it comes at you from lyrics, it comes at you from humour and it comes at you from being really serious.  It comes from drawing and it comes from text.  It's just an all-round experience.  I hope people start to enjoy it for what it is.  As I say, for every moment where there's a kind of a heartfelt moment where you feel sad when you're listening to the record, there's a laugh in the book.  So there you go.
MSJ: And it's nice to have a package that feels like something special.
That's it.  I mean, this is exactly what we wanted to create, because the original progressive rock bands created packages that were special.  None of us can deny it.  We all have our memories of what we did when we were reading the sleeve notes to Close to the Edge or Tales from Topographic Oceans or The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or a Pink Floyd record.  We even know where we have the stickers that came with Dark Side of the Moon. 

I think that, since the CD arrived on the scene...and particularly since MP3s and downloading arrived on the scene and Myspace bands and things like that...the whole idea of music as a package has become devalued.  People just tend to..."Oh, I'll download that...I'll download that," you end up with vast amounts of CDs you don't even listen to, piled on your hard disc.  In the end there's nothing special about it.  I know people...same guy with four copies of Close to the Edge...downloads stuff and never even listens to it.  It's just there because they need to have it.

What we wanted to do was create something that people want to have.  They bought it and want to squeeze every out of it, you know?  Because they spent the money.  It's like me...I mean, look, I bought a record one, I spent four pounds fifty on it...and that was a lot of money when I bought it back in the 1970's...a lot of money...and I bought this record, and I put it on, and I didn't like it.  And I didn't like it the second time I heard it, and I didn't like it the third time.  But I kept on listening to it because I spent four pounds fifty on it!  And I wanted to like it, and I tried to like it, and now I absolutely bloody love it.  I can't live without The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway!  And I didn't like it to start with.  But something about the fact that I spent money on it, I bought it...I felt that I owed it to myself to make myself like it.

There it is.  That's what we tried to create...something that hits you from all angles and that's worth having.
MSJ: I think that it succeeded on just about every level, too.
(laughs) I'm glad you think so.
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