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Progressive Rock Interviews

Daniel Gauthier

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Daniel Gauthier from 2022
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

I have played music since I was 13 years old.  So, let's be honest, straight at the beginning, I'm seriously getting pretty near from 50 years of rehearsing.  However, I must tell that the real turning point in my musical life was in 2000, when I launched my first 'real' album Above the Storm.  From that date until today, it became much clearer to me that I would be a happier and accomplished man doing music as my daily path.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
I would do exactly what I do and did.  What I mean here is that from the very beginning 'til today, I have been unable to only live by my music fruits.  So, I had to take many, many paths to stay in the middle of my composer goal.  All my projects (CD or DVD) are personal financial investments.  A lot of daily jobs have became necessary to finance the projects and to feed my family and I.  Presently, I'm a warehouse director, but I also have been train conductor, restaurant owner, delivery man and even funeral director!
MSJ: All three of your albums I've reviewed seem fairly different from one another. How do you see them as being similar, and how are they different?
I guess that basically they are not so different.  The fact that many years separate each of them show the composer evolution through time.  But I stay in the progressive music originality and I still trust my goosebumps on arms as an official approval for any musical passages.  The songwriter in me is not different from the man himself, and my albums are the reflect of my very deep emotions : let's say, the perpetual change!
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
I would not be fair starting this answer without naming 'Yes." It's a no brainer.  I started to be interested in music in my teenage listening to Deep Purple Made in Japan, Uriah Heep Sweet Freedom and Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon, but when Yes arrived in my life with their masterpiece Fragile, I was blown away.  I bought a Rickenbacker bass, closed my room door and I stayed there a couple of years rehearsing every note of Chris Squire's riffs.  Then I discovered a more acoustic sound, listening to Cat Stevens or Simon and Garfunkel.  It motivated me to learn and develop my acoustic guitar playing.
MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
I was very blessed by music reviewers from all around the globe.  There is a very unique spiritual connection between some of them and me.  I think they have really felt my honesty and humility in my approach.  So, I've received a lot of very nice comments over the years.  One of highlights was from Progression Magazine in 2000 when they rated Above the Storm 15/16, writing about the album that it was a melodic progressive masterpiece!  But frankly, the most beautiful comment I've received, and still receive, is that my songs are 100% original; you feel my influences, but I've been successful to create my own sound and musical universe. 
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
I'm still dreaming to be able to put my music on stage, but it's a real challenge to put on scene a multi-instrumentalist universe.  We are trying to find people who could be interested by that type of project.   We will put efforts in this new year just arrived to finally achieve this important step. During this time and through my day job, I am already working on new material that will accompany the release of a biography on me, being written by a renowned columnist from the Nice region in France. He wants to highlight, in this biography, the lonely and shadowy journey that I took in the progressive music scene, almost 50 years ago, and whose success and recognition are about to arrive at last.  That project is very special to me, forcing me to revisit some darker moments in my humble career.
MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
A simple word comes immediately in my mind to me about that - cinematographic!  I always want my musical movements to create images in the listener's mind.  I like to use many different moods and make fast and unpredictable changes in order to keep the listener in an area of constant interest,  just like when listening to a movie or a good TV series.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?
Well it's a very good and pertinent question, Gary, right on the timing. Let's say for the moment that a contact is in its development process in order to have a special guest appearance of a world famous artist on my next album.  Sorry, but at the moment I cannot name this person, nothing is professionally settled yet.  But, I’m still crossing my fingers.  Be sure, you’ll be informed as soon as the dream comes true!
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
For an independent artist like me who is all in his project, including financial backing, it is a tragedy. The worst part of illegal streaming or downloads is to subtly install in people's mind that music is free.  I still believe that some listeners, especially in progressive music, want to hold an album cover and read the credits or lyrics. However, sometimes, I just lose hope when I look to the physical sales. Things are moving very slowly, but let’s be positive, just say things are moving.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Well, this is different.At least they paid to see the show and indirectly they are promoting the group in question by posting these images. Also, the video and audio quality is rarely good, so often it creates a taste for getting the official versions. Personally, I am always happy to find out that a fan, somewhere, has put on of my videos online.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Oh my God, I hope your question is a metaphor, because I'm not that type of person who have nemesis and obviously I'm not a Superhero! However, if I was a superhero, I would probably invest a lot of energy fighting the easy money music makers.  Too many times I've heard some songs on the radio or in the television medias which would have never should been recorded.  Worst, they have all the help available from media. A real nightmare for every 'side B composer'...

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 know I'm gonna be all but original in my answer, but I would reunite my favorite lineup of Yes : Anderson, Wakeman, White, Squire and Howe.  I've saw them a couple of time and this is, from my own opinion, the best musician lineup I ever seen.  I even had the opportunity to meet them twice in person, and these incredible moments are still in my life highlights.
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?
I would play again the nostalgia card.  I would call that festival 'The Great Progressive Band Farewell Tour."  Of course important members of each band left us, but I would suggest, per example, that Pink Floyd play some of their master songs with Rick Wakeman on keyboards, I would try to reunite the original lineup of Genesis, with Mike Portnoy on drums, Yes with Geddy Lee on bass, etcetera.  It's easy to dream that it could be a real magical tour.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I just bought a CD from Angelo Badalamenti, the music score for the David Lynch's movie The Straight Story. This composer is one of my favorites.  His melodies are strong, and he has a perfect knowledge of music emotions. Although his style is miles away from my progressive music perspective, I am really touched by the moods he creates. In the last year, I haven't listen much of other material, because when I'm producing new albums, I want to make sure that I am not influenced by any other sounds or ideas.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I read a book my biograph author sent to me.  It is called "La Pente" (the slope) from Bernard Deloupy.  It is the story of a man who faced bad luck after bad luck.  But it is strangely a book of light and hopes.  I also read a biography about Jean-Michel Caradec, a songwriter from France who has died very young at his very beginning of success.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Due to Covid, I haven't seen or been at a show for a too long time. But I have bought my tickets for the upcoming show of Steve Hackett, next March in Montreal. He's revisiting Seconds Out from the original Genesis era and the musician lineup with him is just awesome. Can't wait to be see and hear!
MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Of course I remember, let's say that the bar has been placed very high as a first one. It was Yes in 1979 at the Montreal forum. They played on the round stage. They played a lot of songs of Going for the One and Tormato. The band was at their peak. It was memorable. I remember I had to drive 14 hours, back and forth, to get in Montreal.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
Oh my god, yes. I am a real gear freak. For my recent albums, I did upgrade my computer and soundcard interface for my home studio, got an Apollo X6. I also bought two new acoustic guitars to get a more pure sound.  My choices went to both Taylor six and 12 string guitar. To be able to have two type of bass sound, I've added a Fender jazz bass, Geddy Lee's model to complete, the setup with my old Rickenbacker 4001.  For the keyboards section, I bought a Moog subsequent 37 and a rackmount Roland Integra 7 module for more natural sounds of strings and brass. Could continue for pieces and pieces. The only stop is my credit card limit! 
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Not really. I try to be respectful for all types of songs - not always easy, but... In order to answer your question, I can say that I really appreciate songs from Joe Dassin (a French singer from the 70s) which I often play in my car. I also have a 'best of' CD of the Bee Gees which I like to listen, mostly in summer time!
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Last year, my girlfriend was invited to be at a family meeting outside. It is an annual meet and greet her family is having with people from many regions of Quebec and even from the States. She asked if I would be willing to play some songs for them. I said "yes, it could be fun." So I prepared a short set of songs, adapted for acoustic guitar performance, of Supertramp, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd, Simon and Garfunkel, etcetera The day came, and I brought my guitars down there. There was a little stage in place. I installed myself without any presentation and just started to play some chords as a warmup. Nobody listened. So I've put a bit more volume and energy and I started to play "Give a Little Bit" of Supertramp. I've experienced the same result, no one gives a s**t, they were just continuing to talk between them! I remember I had a quick look to my girlfriend next to the stage. So I've started "School" of Supertramp. Same thing, except for the guy at the right of the stage who seemed to really enjoy what he was listening. After "School," I started "Wish You Were Here," but people were talking louder!  Didn't finish the song, get off the stage and took the guitars back in my car ... finish my beer and we're going.  Embarrassing you say!
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?
Definitely Chris Squire would be the first one to be invited. I would like to tell him, face to face, how he teached me the bass playing over my early years. The second one would be Milos Foreman, the film director of One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest.  I would like to ask him how was the shooting mood of so many epic scenes in this masterpiece. The third one would be the Great Muhammad Ali. I read his biography and I am really impressed by this man greater than nature.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
One word - pizza!  Oh okay, a second one - beer!
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Just want to take time to salute the works of people like you, Gary, who invest so many efforts promoting progressive music all around the world. Progressive rock is a music that moves in the shadow most of the time, out from the 'official big media." You guys are important cast of light on musician paths.  Without your precious help and continuous interest, who would talk about new artists to discover like me and so many others?  So, thanks again for all you do. And you, the solid base of fans of prog movement, be proud to be the ones who still ask for 'off road music." Continue to buy real CD or vinyl albums, continue to hold in your hands real album covers, continue to go to shows; you are right. And above all, dare to discover news!
MSJ: This interview is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.
 
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