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Progressive Rock Interviews

Mindgames

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Mindgames from 2006


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Editor's Note - This interview was done by email and the band prefers that all the responses, with the exception of a few that are specifically labelled, be credited to the entire band rather than an individual person. While this is not the way we typically handle interviews, we will honour their request.
MSJ: Can you catch the readers up on the history of the band?
Mindgames: The story begins in 1997 when Bart Schram (vocals - acoustic guitar) and Eric Vandormael (bass) are sending each other a Christmas card. The two, who had been playing in the same band a year before that, joined each other again to form a new band. It was the same kind of music that brought them together… progressive and symphonic rock. Although it is not their invention, they're trying to create a sort of symphony in their songs. Eric - who is always in search for the most unexpected chords and tunes - is concerned about the structure of the songs. Bart tries to fill that in with a high-pitched voice and a way of playing extraterrestrial measures on his guitar. While composing, they immediately put some ads in the paper to recruit other musicians. The first one that made himself blend with the rest of the band was Benny Petak (drums). He was a veteran who had been playing metal for several years. Now, he wanted to do something else. He needed to have more perspective and flexibility, which was truly a straight opposite to the things he'd done before. He fit like a glove. His way of drumming collaborated with the bass, a requirement for having a good basis in further musical development. After that, it must have been two months, Tom Truyers (piano, synthesizers) showed up. He proved, after a week of rehearsing, he had a style of playing, which was indispensable for the sound and the symphonic character the band needed. He had been playing classical piano for ten years and was very interested in making different styles meet. It became the strength of the band making personal influences meet and blend. Almost a year and half a dozen contestants later, a guy contacted Benny. He found a little note about a symphonic rock band looking for a guitar player. Of all musicians of Mindgames Rudy Vander Veken (electric guitar) had the most difficult audition: not only did he have to search for a sound and a guitar line for the existing songs; he also was confronted with a band playing on the same wavelength. His way of playing and his musical ideas were the missing link that Mindgames was looking for.
MSJ: I know people don't like to describe their music or see it pigeonholed, but care to give it a try?
Mindgames: We would still describe it as prog rock (some prefer to describe it as neo-prog or art rock). We have no problem with this description. It's just a style of music. Especially in this kind of music, you could ask yourself whether the description of the style is precise enough. If you look at different bands who are "classified" in the same style, there still is a big difference between them.
MSJ: Who do you see as your musical influences, both personally and as a band?
Mindgames: OK, let's summarize our favorites:


Eric Vandormael: Yes, The Flower Kings, Gentle Giant, Rush, Bach, Zappa


Benny Petak: Marillion, Yes, ELP, Saga, Genesis, Dream Theater


Bart Schram: Supertramp, Yes, Genesis, The Beatles, Vangelis, Zappa, Stravinsky


Rudy Vander Veken: Yes, Kansas, Boston, Lynyrd Skynyrd, UFO


Tom Truyers: Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Zappa, Waits, Mozart, Bach, Satie, Pärt
MSJ: Are there musicians out there with whom you'd like to work?
Bart Schram: Not especially. We'll see what the future brings. I'm mostly interested in playing in a band where the musicians are all on the same wavelength. Although we can look up to some big names. Musicianship is one thing; the energy of a consistent "band" is something else.


Rudy Vander Veken: I'm always interested in working with and learning from others, but to play in a band with not really.


Tom Truyers: For me the same: I think a band where musicians speak the same language has a great potential.
MSJ: Where did the name come from?
Mindgames: Mindgames has a double meaning. On one hand it refers to the games, brain breakers and riddles. One the other hand it is also "playing with someone's thoughts, with someone's mind" e.g. changing the plot, creating unexpected changes, to anticipate on expectation, etc. This last one fits our musical style. It's true, you could give our name a specific meaning while listening to our songs. But the name does not determine our style or our way of composing and playing.
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?
Mindgames: It is certainly true that Internet has changed the music industry completely. In the next few years everybody (musicians and industry) will have to use their creativity to anticipate what is coming. On the other hand, we notice that it is now easier for independent bands to make contacts than ten years ago. Within ten years, the distribution and promotion of artists will have become individualized to a much larger extent. Major record companies are about to disappear; at least times will be very hard for them.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans taping and trading live shows?
Mindgames: You just have to be careful about what you play live as a band. Especially with new songs which have not yet been officially released on CD. We don't see any harm in playing recorded and copyright-protected songs.
MSJ: What's on the road map for the future for Mindgames?
Mindgames: At this time nothing. We received some interesting proposals, but at this time we cannot say more because things are still in consideration.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
Bart Schram: The new David Gilmour CD, "On an Island". When Pink Floyd (or one of its members) releases an album, I'm always very curious about what's it going to be. In fact…yes, you can say I'm still following them.


Tom Truyers: Likewise, I ordered "On an Island" together with "Deadwing" from Procupine Tree. I think what they do is ultramodern. Some of their albums are timeless.


Rudy Vander Veken: The last one I bought was reggae and I listen regularly to Kino and¨Porcupine tree as well as Megadeth, Steely Dan, jazz, big band and others (Aerosmith rules)
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Bart Schram: It's been a while since I went to a concert. OK, I went to the "The Passion According to St. Matthew" by J.S. Bach last month. But next week I'm going to see "Zappa plays Zappa". And I have great expectations for that!


Tom Truyers: Likewise! The last thing I saw was a classical concert too: the Wiener Philharmonic Orchestra who gave an excellent and surprising interpretation of Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart. Concerts of other prog rock bands are nice, but I didn't see anything new or promising.


Rudy Vander Veken: I always attend concerts for my enjoyment, the last one? M!ndgames
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Bart Schram: Normally we manage to rehearse two times a week, without encountering any technical problems whatsoever. But you can bet your life that a week before, or even on the day of a concert, something is bound to go wrong. Amplifiers will break down, the van will have engine trouble. It would be easy to imagine that these things are cursed.


Tom Truyers: Yes, that's really a fact! My spinal tap was a conflict, years ago, with a guy (a reviewer) who believed he's the center of the prog world. In a very childish way he claimed one of our own achievements. As a result of this conflict he keeps everything about us quiet. But this works against him: it undermines his credibility.
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
Mindgames: For this short period we are here, let's try to make it good and to be good to each other, music helps us find the way to harmony. We hope we can give our fans a good time while listening to our albums, as well as during concerts. It's a nice feeling knowing that you can give positive vibes to people, even if only for a moment.
 
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