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Progressive Rock Interviews

Flying Colors

Interviewed by Larry Toering

Interview with Casey McPherson of Flying Colors from 2012

MSJ:

Do you listen to prog rock in general, or is this all something new to you?

I listened to Dream Theater growing up and wanted to play that good. Alpha Rev, which are signed with a subsidiary of Disney, is combination of different styles so I'm used to that. Steve Morse encouraged me, and you can hear it, especially in the the Queen moments. Normally you write songs or create melodies over riffs. Coming from another band, as well called “Indosheen,” which was pop but it was very bizarre so it was kind of proggy, so I did have some experience there.
MSJ: How do you like working with Mike Portnoy? 
He is a machine in terms of work ethic/creativity, handles it like a bull. And he is aggressive about moving forward with things. His involvement and Neal's in the studio were particularly important. we were even able to actually sit around and have meals that Neal's wife made. It allowed a comaraderie to build. Mike has a lot of drive to keep this thing going.
MSJ: Did you have any reservations about the project, or were you interested from the get go?
They asked if I wanted to join, so I was the last guy to join at Mike's suggestion. I was extremely nervous about measuring up, and we were all pleasantly surprised. As for my reaction, I was overwhelmed and nervous. Dave LaRue, called the shots about the bands that go together and what to use and what not to use in that sense. Normally you write songs or create melodies over riffs. 
MSJ: Do you write lyrics before or after the backing tracks are laid down?
It all depends on my environment, Peter Collins was very encouraging and it helped, and everything just felt right, even on the metal tune “All Falls Down.”
MSJ: Who are some of your singing influences?
I learned to sing in a church choir and grew up listening to the radio a lot. My mother turned me onto Pink Floyd, and my guitar teacher turned me onto Yes and bands like that. Then I got into Radiohead, U2, etc... then more recent influences like Muse, although they're of the one dynamic range, and I like a dynamically multi-directional range. These days you don't know if a vocalist is really good until they're on stage night after night. And that's what I try to convey.
MSJ: Is “Blue Ocean” lyrically Biblical or just spiritual? 
A little bit of both. I'm a very spiritual guy, but it's a question of what do you believe? Music for me has always been a connection to God and the universe so it's an elusive thing to chase. We spend a lot of time working toward something, like money, fame, power, etc... so this song is about getting things to last forever. Making your environment feel eternal, instead of being so fleeting. So it's about getting to the place with the things that do matter. 
MSJ: Will there be any touring? 
Yes, and we're all excited to play live, but I can't say when until I know.
MSJ: Do you have a favorite Spinal Tap moment?
I have a lot of those, my favorite moment of the PG-13 nature. I was doing a Prince Hoot night, and I looked down half way through the show and noticed my zipper was open and hanging out for all to see.
MSJ: Can you talk about some of the tracks, starting with the amazing “Kayla?”
Neal came up with the title, lots of vowels. The sound of the lyrics derive an emotion, and for me personally, I think about having a daughter and watching “American Idol” and looking at this element that happens to women, and I want to mend what I see as broken. This is about the message we can send to them. To help them make the right decisions, and all the things we do as men to tell them that. It's the struggle to help a broken woman see herself in better ways. I was almost going with a vampire seeking redemption and want to become mortal again, so that's where it all started. What we rely on as humans isn't free to be all. Finding our way through the mess of it all is what it's all about.
MSJ: “The Storm”
This song was done fairly quickly, as most of them, but lyrically, I had a hard time with this song, to the testament Peter Collins and Neal Morse. We had to make a song that was congruent, and I worked so hard on it. I don't think I finished it, but we're all very very proud of that tune, as we put a lot of  effort into it and the challenge of it was not sounding contrived and keeping life to it. Michael Brower really did a great job in mixing it all and keeping it together. We wrote in the studio, by the time I came up with my parts, some of them had to be done again, so we realized where what came along.
MSJ: “Forever in a Daze”
Musically this is one of those times when I'm singing on what I've never sang over before. I worked real hard on the verse. I was drawing from things like postal service. But the drums are tricky, sort of David Grey-ish with a rolling beat. It's one of my favorite melody verses. I opened the guitar, which worked well but I think Steve Morse had my back on that, to tell you the truth. It isn't necessarily funk, but it does contain elements that add up to it either way.
MSJ: “All Falls Down”
Another one that I had never done anything like before, but in contrast this is me putting a melody on a very complicated melody that Steve Morse wrote. I was going with an operatic element against that. The concept was fairly easy because the song felt aggressive enough.
MSJ: If you could be any superhero for a day, who would you be and why?
Probably one of the guys in Flying Colors. Yeah, any one of them for obvious reasons.
MSJ: A few words about living in Austin, Texas?
I've been in Austin for about eleven years. They have a great culture. Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink. Love it! Lots of bands, etcetera, I'm amazed every time I go to a show here.

 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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