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Progressive Rock Interviews

Frogbelly and Symphony

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Frogbelly and Symphony from 2015

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

Ray Rizzo: Nurse

Ben Trott: Postman

Liz Hanley: some kind of guidance councillor

Tom Hanley: Carpenter / Cab Driver


How did the name of the group originate?

Tom Hanley: On this tour we met a bar man with the image of a frog tattooed on his belly. We liked it so much, we projected the image back in time to our former selves. We were pleasantly surprised.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?

Tom Hanley: Patti Smith, Sandy Danny, Bugs Bunny, Scott Joplin and Janis, too, Miles Davis, Prince, Def Leppard, Nina Simone, Ambrosia, Yes, Bob Dylan, John Zorn, Lou Reed, Frank Harte, Harold Faltermeyer, Glenn Gould, Glen A. Larson, Led Zeppelin, Ash, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady, Martin Bisi, David Bowie, Alison Kraus, Richard Thompson, Brian Wilson, Fleetwood Mac, Free, Lau, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Slayer, Sepultura, Jenny Lewis, The Meters, Supertramp, The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Tricky, The Kinks, The Who, Woodie Guthrie, Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash, The Spin Doctors, Blind Melon, REM, Grandmaster Flash, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Queen, Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of The War of the Worlds, Björk, Slint, Frank Zappa, Nina Hagen, Jim Morrison and the Doors, AC/ DC, The Animals, Machine Translations, Robert Wyatt, Paco DeLucia, Django Reinhardt, Can, Astor Piazzola, The Clash, Kaizer's Orchestra, Motorpsycho, Travis Meeks, Morgan Fisher, The Divine Comedy, Van Dyke Parks, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Stevie Wonder, Wevie Stonder, Tom Huber, Will Oldham, The Cardigans, Blur, Pavement, The Spice Girls, Chris Whitley, Karate, Nick Cave, NRBQ, Jack White, John Williams, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone, Johann Sebastian Bach, The Beatles, to name a few...

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Tom Hanley: Our release show for Blue Bright Ow Sleep at Rough Trade New York City on Mar 18th, twelve gigs in UK and Ireland, a summer tour in the US and more shows in Europe later this year.
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Tom Hanley: You don't have to be illegal anymore to be a hindrance or a fan.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
Tom Hanley: We appreciate the recording of shows and the sharing them on Social Media.  On the other hand we love it most when people experience our music first hand and enjoy a good show without a device in hand.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Ray Rizzo: Bourroughs' The Plasma Suckers

It could be a certain kind of liturgical singer.

Ben Trott: A guy with a funnel for a head and no ears, a not even musical alien who smells bad.

Liz Hanley: People who don't listen.

Tom Hanley: I'm probably my own arch nemesis. Does that make me a superhero?


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?

Tom Hanley: We already did it. We're called “Frogbelly and Symphony.”
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?
Tom Hanley: Martin Bisi, Blackbeard's Tea Party, Outroads, Owls of the Swamp, Woodmiller, Binoculers, The Gloaming, Hippie Diktat, The Dry Heeves, Daymaker, Secret Friends, Blackbirds of Paradise, Nat Johnson, Christina Courtin, Jeffrey Lewis, Hayman, Friends of Batman, Sam Amidon, The Funk Mafia, Landlady, Mira Lu Kovacs, Steve Allen, 9 Volt Haunted House, Brian Straw, The Still Tide, Leyla McCalla, Steel City Rhythm, Rumpus, The Cult of Dom Keller, Veda Moon, Latin Playboys, Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra and the Tralala Band, Lauds
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Tom Hanley: Bob Dylan Modern Times
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Ben Trott: Charles Dickens Bleak House

Liz Hanley: Patti Smith Just Kids

Ray Rizzo: David McCullough The Great Bridge

Tom Hanley: Blaise Pascal Human Happiness

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Tom Hanley: Cheap Trick, on our stopover in Las Vegas
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Tom Hanley: Christina Aguilera “You're Beautiful,” Duran Duran “Ordinary World”

Ray Rizzo: Chick Corea Electric Band, Faith Hill “Cry”

Ben Trott: Rhianna “Only Girl in World” or whatever that song is called and Shakira

Liz Hanley: Taylor Swift, “Shake it Off”

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Tom Hanley: The third time we got pulled over on this tour, the cop came to our window and said: “Sorry, I just got another call, I’m gonna let you guys go.”
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?
Tom Hanley: Bill Murray, Edgar Alan Poe, Linda McCartney
MSJ: What would be on the menu?

Tom Hanley: Bi Bim Bap and a mix of sour mashes



MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at
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