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Progressive Rock Interviews

Ovrfwrd

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Ovrfwrd from 2016
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?

Mark Ilaug:  Although neither of my parents were musicians, I grew up with a lot of music playing around the home - various styles, from Norwegian folk music, Chet Atkins/Les Paul records. Woody Guthrie, Chopin and Frank Sinatra - a rather bizarre mix of art. When I was twelve, I started playing alto saxophone in school band. I was frustrated rather quickly, as it was not fun reading music and playing within so many boundaries. In addition to learning music theory, I started to learn how to hear notes and intervals, and how to make up my own melodies. At 14, I switched to guitar, and got together with some friends and made a rock band. I took some lessons, but mostly learned by ear. I listened to bands I liked and emulated. As per most teenage-musician-stories, I played and practiced a lot! My home life was dysfunctional and disconnected. In school, I did not fit in. I felt alone and was not very social. I became obsessed with music. The only thing that mattered was guitar…the only people that mattered were my bandmates. All we did was practice- everyday, all day. We wrote our own music. We learned how to record it and we played it live. All through High School, we never partied, we never skipped our band practices (we skipped school a lot…) and we always wanted to get to the next level. We drank coffee (way before it was a thing.) and we played. That was it. Many years, bands, gigs, records and experiences later, I still drink coffee and play. As cliché as it may sound, I think guitar, music and my friends (bandmates) saved me from a lot of poor decisions I would have faced with no musical aspirations and drive.

In 2000, I discovered Indian Classical Music and started studying Sitar. My teacher studied with Ustad Vilayat Khan, a twentieth century legend. I have learned a completely new world of music, tradition, art and culture. I have studied, performed, recorded and taught sitar, (as well as guitar) and I continue to grow and express music. The biggest lesson out of life playing music is how humbling it is to conclude that the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.

The formation of OVRFWRD was part necessity, and part happenstance. A previous band with Rikki Davenport, Kyle Lund and myself (Mark Ilaug) had run its course with a singer/guitar player. The three of us decided to move on with no vocalist, as an instrumental unit. As we started to write, we asked Chris Malmgren if he would play keyboards on the new music. Knowing Chris for many years and playing gigs together, we thought he would be a perfect fit and addition to what we envisioned. As we rehearsed, we asked him to join, and OVRFWRD was born in Dec 2012. Since we have very diverse musical backgrounds, it gives us a broad palate to write and play off each other’s strengths. By far, OVRFWRD is the most fun, mature, talented and drama-free musical ensemble I have been with. We have recorded and released two full length albums, and I don’t think we have scratched the surface as to the music we have in us. 

Kyle Lund:  My Mom just reminded me the other day I had been playing bass for around 38 years. Started in combo cover and original bands before getting more serious a while later. Always in rock bands of different pedigrees. This is my first instrumental band and it is challenging, and I’m grateful to be doing this.

Chris Malmgren:  I started learning piano at a fairly early age and studied classical in college. Along the way, I branched out into rock and blues, playing in a lot of different bands in the 80s, 90s, and 00s, which eventually gave way into progressive.

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Kyle Lund:  I’m sort of known as a guy who can find some good in just about any music. If you are making music, I’m influenced by that act itself and inspired. Bass players would be too many to list here! Very much digging Brian Beller and Nick Beggs lately.

Mark Ilaug:  Guitarists who influenced me at a young age were- Randy Rhoads, Dave Murray/Adrian Smith, Vernon Reid, Ty Tabor, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt. There are many players that I am drawn to like John McLaughlin, Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, George Benson, Les Paul, Al Di Meola, Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa, Guthrie Govan, Ace Frehley, Robert Fripp, Steve Vai, and lots of others…. I don’t think that I sound like anyone in particular. I never tried to copy, but I am grateful to have picked up and learned some styles and techniques along the way in being my own person and musician. In today’s world, it is too easy to see, hear and get the exact music and details of other musicians. I think it can hinder style and uniqueness and the ability to create. It is easy for young musicians to fall too close to their influences, and lack originality. It is important to do art in your own way, and not be concerned about how it is received but only in how you express it. Be honest to who you are.

Chris Malmgren:  I was influenced early on by exposure to music that my parents were into: The Eagles, Billy Joel, Queen, Paul Simon, Elton John, and many others. In high school I dove headfirst into Pink Floyd, Jane’s Addiction and Led Zeppelin, and eventually stretched out into Radiohead and The Flaming Lips. After I got my hands on some Mike Oldfield in the 1990s and started collecting Yes albums, I was hooked on prog!

MSJ:
What's ahead for you?
Chris Malmgren:  I’m just really excited to be alive, writing, recording and playing, and can’t wait to work on another album! I have found the progressive music community to be very supportive and look forward to digging deeper into it, discovering new music and meeting new people! It is a very exciting time for progressive music. 

Kyle Lund:  New music is out! I’m looking forward to playing shows in the near future.

MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Kyle Lund:  We’ve been back and forth. Are we prog? Are we instrumental? Are we art rock? Are we instrumental art prog rock? I’m not sure, but I think we have something that is our own right now.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Kyle Lund:  Yes. We are currently seeking and connecting with peers that hopefully will make us a better band doing shows together. Hoping to make it interesting.
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Kyle Lund:  We just debated for quite a while about “Spotify or not?” We went back and forth and finally decided to get on there. I personally have found a few bands I might have never heard before that I love, which would be tragic. On the other hand the “ritual” of music has gone away for so many. People have it too easy to get what they want when they want. Will be interesting to see in the near future what goes down.

Mark Ilaug:  A very complicated topic. The industry that once backed artists, albeit for profit, now has little control over distribution. I think the invention of digital music has greatly impacted the music world in an adverse way. One of the resulting problems is that the consumers’ appetite and interest is no longer great enough, and it can’t or won’t support the arts. The transport of digital music has become too easy. The lack of control was never in the artist’s hands in the first place, but selling music was the main channel of income, and the record labels had control. They made money, and artists had a way better chance. The result of all of this is a market where the generalized end user evolved into entitled, spoiled and lazy consumers who want more for less. Music is so easy to get for free, and it is perceived as a victimless crime to steal. In addition, the “face of digital music” is usually big corporations (iTunes, Spotify, Big labels etc.) not artists trying to make a living. When artists do come out and speak against illegal downloading, it is usually a multimillionaire, commercially successful super star. Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions to protect everyone’s artistic integrity, there is not much sympathy given by the consumer. It is a digital DIY world, and you are on your own. It is the world we live in, and there will always be people willing to do it for free and those who stand-up and demand what they are worth.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Kyle Lund:  Well after having said that I think the Youtuber and all that is pretty great for seeing live music. I have no problem with live music trading, recording, etcetera.

Mark Ilaug:  As an artist, I am okay with people recording shows because they came out, bought a ticket and are probably going to be, or already are appreciating and supporting the music.  But coming from the previous question about illegal acquisition of music- currently we have a market that is financially dependent on live performance. That market is flooded with more artists than audiences willing to see them. Are people not going to the live band experience because of video on the web? I am not sure. To me, there is nothing that could replace seeing a band live and watching a performance in person.

Chris Malmgren:  There are certainly two sides to this coin. On the one hand, I love the high level of accessibility for music, in that you can just about hear whatever you want, wherever you are. One positive aspect to this environment of prolific streaming is that it creates exposure opportunities for so many artists that would otherwise have no avenue for connecting to potential listeners. I love going onto Spotify and just surfing through unknown music!

Having said that, music has been trending toward falling by the wayside in terms of focus. It’s quite often relegated to the background in society. Sitting down and actively listening to an album from start to finish is a lost art, which I feel is starting to come back thanks to a vinyl resurgence.

As an attorney, I understand and appreciate the legislative intent behind Copyright law. It is important to have a system in place to protect artists and their intellectual property. It can be very tough for an artist to make a living, and protecting their IP is sometimes the only way for that to happen. Even wealthy bands should be protected. They have the same rights as any other artist.

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Kyle Lund:  Kanye West. He stands for everything I cannot stomach in “music” these days. I know it is not of my generation, but I don’t get him or his “music”. As for giving him a supervillain name…why bother?
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?
Kyle Lund:  Fun! After a few Beam and Coke’s the following concert does already happen in my headphones. The artists as follows: Gino Vannelli (soul prog number one);  a re-formed ABBA, a re-formed Supertramp performing Breakfast in America,  a re-formed Porcupine Tree, Opeth (playing Heritage in full), Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Stevie Wonder performing Talking Book or Fullfillingness First Finale for the finale. Only problem is anyone within earshot would have to hear “isn’t this the best?” every five minutes.

Chris Malmgren:  Wow, assuming the musicians need to be currently alive and active…off the top of my head, it would have to be in the Austrian Alps (I once attended an unforgettable rock festival there), with The Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction, Radiohead, Steven Wilson, and Rush!

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Kyle Lund:  Just bought the new Baroness Purple. Like these guys. They are growing on me. Discovered Sweet Billy Pilgrims Motorcade Amnesiacs around four to five months ago. It is my favorite record right now. Love this band! Also like Opeth’s last record and anything Mastodon. I think they are getting better and better.

Mark Ilaug:  David Bowie- Blackstar

Vinyl- Iron Maiden, Book of Souls.

Chris Malmgren:  Last purchased CD was Heretics by Dream The Electric Sleep, and most recent vinyl is James Horner’s soundtrack for Wrath of Khan. Lately have been listening to Stick Men’s first album, Soup.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Kyle Lund:  I’m re-reading The Mighty Fitz. It’s about the sinking/aftermath of the Edmund Fitzgerald - pretty gripping stuff.

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Kyle Lund:  The Aristocrats…mind blowing.
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Kyle Lund:  Way too many to mention. Gino Vannelli gets the most odd comments when I post something. I think he is incredible. Brother to Brother is a soul-prog masterpiece. There, I said it!

Mark Ilaug:  No, if I like something I have no guilt about it.

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Kyle Lund:  How about this? Back in my cover band days we were playing at a club in Iowa. We played “War Pigs.” Right when we hit the last power chord/note of the song the power went out in the place. And I mean every light in the place. We couldn’t see a thing. It was our last night too. This ended the gig. We had to load out in complete darkness from the club. It was very difficult to say the least.
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?
Kyle Lund:  My Dad, Jimi Hendrix, and Hunter S. Thompson
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Kyle Lund:  Salmon on crackers, prime rib, Summit Pale Ale and chocolate/chocolate cake

 

 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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