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Progressive Rock Interviews

Rausch

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Doug Rausch from 2010
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

The grass is always greener on the other side. People constantly tell me "how great it must be to know what you wanted to do from an early age," but I am truly in awe of those who possess the ability to just relax and live in the moment.

My path might read something like this...

Piano study from age 8, musical life-epiphany at age 12, complete sacrifice of all “non”-musical life as a teenager, graduation with music degree (piano and recording) from Ithaca College, and from there I've been doing what it takes to call myself a professional musician. From Day one - even when the music industry wasn't in as bad a shape as it is now - my excruciatingly tunnel vision was always to attempt that one big "Album to Save Music History" before it's too late.

Although the extreme hibernation in the studio really intensified over the last six years, in one way or another I've been working on "the magnum opus" all my life. It takes all that and more. As we all know, in the current state of the music industry, one must pay a lot of dues and do it the hard way unless he or she elects to throw in the towel and submit to the molding process of a major label. But that defeats the purpose...

MSJ:

You've got a couple of interesting guests on your album. How did you land those guys?

This album called for someone truly special to step forward. Unfortunately that also reads "needle in a haystack to be found." Unbelievably, fate does put in an appearance every now and then.

Through a mutual friend, I learned that Sir Gary Wehrkamp of Shadow Gallery is actually not an inaccessible human being. We hit it off so unbelievably, the conversation ballooned into "what if we can get (SG's drummer) Joe Nevolo, too?" Before I knew it, I had the ultimate palette with which to paint my canvas!

MSJ:

If you weren’t involved in music what do you think you’d be doing?

Psychology. Music is life, and music is therapy. I want to help people, and fortunately music kills a few birds with that one stone!
MSJ:

Who would you see as your musical influences?

People sometimes find these to contradict one another, but here you go: Bon Jovi, Dream Theater, Queen, Guns N Roses, Liszt. I'm all over the map, but to me there is a constant theme of epic emotion and true musicianship that should run through all music.
MSJ: What’s ahead for you?
Getting out there! After all these years of slaving away in preparation and being buried in the studio for so long, all that's left is to rock – if that doesn't sound too Spinal Tap....
MSJ:

How would you describe your music?

The reason I dislike the word "prog" is because there are so many masterpieces out there that will likely never make any more than a blip on the radar of music history. I know everything must receive a categorization, but when it comes to putting a label on good-quality music itself (and subsequently throwing a coup to banish it from the mainstream), it just gets ridiculous. I like to craft music along the lines of "artistic substance injected into a commercial vehicle;” but that's dangerous to say when you are talking about yourself.

There will be the 10 minute epics, but there is value in 3-4 minute tunes, and just because they are shorter doesn't mean they have to be stripped of all their integrity! I like to push envelopes while still respecting the medium of a “song.” Ultimately, though, this is me just providing commentary "after-the-fact." I'm saying all of this as a third party observer, nothing more. Like Tom Waits says, songs are strange little critters that are really in control of the artist, not vice versa. In the end, I'll settle for "a progressive Billy Joel," if I must.

MSJ:

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Before I die, I will have shared a stage with Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Steven Wilson, Mike Portnoy, Chick Corea, Kevin Moore and Slash.

That's the wish list, but really it would just be an honor to play live with Gary (Wehrkamp). We actually played a wedding together and that goes in my top two most magical musical moments I've ever had. We went into an impromptu "Show Must Go On" and I had goosebumps.
MSJ:

Do you think that illegal 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?

Yes and no. Without sales, there's no music. Sure, people will continue to do music as a "hobby," but if serious artists can't support themselves, the focus and deliberateness of music will begin to drift. Don't get me wrong, it will take eons for music to die its long, slow, and painful death, because right now of course there's more music around than ever before. But ultimately, music will suffer. First the quality (which is already happening), *then *the quantity.

The "no" part of my answer would take a book, and the title would be "The Chicken or the Egg?" Labels are in an urgent need to monetize now, so these days, unfortunately, it makes sense that they won't take a chance on anything new or unique. They are in survival mode. At the same time, however, they did bring this on themselves by doing that very thing even throughout much of the past, when times were not as terrible; signing cookie-cutter after cookie-cutter each time a new trend takes its choke-hold. All of this obviously just begs the million dollar question, "How does revolution start in the first place?"

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
I can see both sides; I suppose for me, it doesn't bug me as much as someone "stealing" a studio work that takes so much time, effort, and money to make. If live recordings help get the word out, I'm all for it.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Kurt Cobain. This book I will probably write some day, so stay tuned.

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
I hope it's living or dead, because Freddie Mercury is the only choice for frontman. I would die to see Richie Sambora and Slash play with Mike Portnoy and Victor Wooten, so there's my band. Can I play keys?
MSJ:

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Bon Jovi, Dream Theater, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Tom Waits, Spookie Daly Pride. Enjoy! [laughs]
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I know it sounds biased - and I've bought a lot of CDs this year, but Digital Ghosts (Shadow Gallery) hasn't left my car in 8 months.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Well that would be Bon Jovi's Hershey stop on the Circle Tour. But being a "Prog Jovi" man has its downsides that interfere with having a good time; I tend to shout the chord progressions out with religious fervor, while 99% of the audience digs deep just to recall lyrics to the choruses of three or four songs. My life's greatest frustration...
MSJ: Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?”
Growing up, the music I listened to was always the opposite of what my generation was "supposed to" be listening to. I was born in the wrong generation and never listened to the "correct" music, but I no longer feel guilty about it.
MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Answering your 5th question, I think!
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Franz Liszt, Freddie Mercury, Axl Rose
MSJ:  Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Thank you for this opportunity, Gary, it really means a lot to me.

Onward with not letting it die!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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