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Progressive Rock Interviews

Paine's Promise

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Veronica Hughes of Paine's Promise From 2006
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at

Can you catch the readers up on the history of the band?
The name was inspired by Thomas Paine, the American revolutionary author of Common Sense and Rights of Man, a kick ass rebel with dignity. Veronica and Daniel Hughes, married since 1994, began the project with a bass playing friend as an instrumental trio in 1996. The need for fully fleshed out songs, including vocals and arrangements that considered the listener, helped to form the project as it is today. We realized there isn‘t a big audience for strictly instrumental music, so we began to write songs that were more radio friendly, but not so much so that we can realistically be labeled as "commercial" sounding. Since we love a lot of progressive rock instrumental bits, we work these kinds of ideas into almost every song. Paine’s Promise in it’s various forms has always been a trio with guitar, drums, bass, vocals, and sometimes keyboards. Adding a fourth member, although attempted experimentally a couple of times, was never really an option for us, as we prefer to try and handle as many of the musical complexities between the three of them as possible.  

MSJ: I know people don't like to describe their music or see it pigeonholed, but care to give it a try?
Paine’s Promise has been described as prog meets power pop, or “radio friendly prog rock.” A similar comparison is as to the progressive rock band Rush. Though we do not consider itself a Rush tribute band, we are strongly influenced by them. My vocals have been compared to Ann Wilson of Heart and Delores O’Riordan of the Cranberries, and the instrumentation has been compared to Rush, Mostly Autumn, Led Zeppelin, The Gathering, A Perfect Circle, and others.  

MSJ: Who do you see as your musical influences, both personally and as a band?
I grew up on top 40 radio in the Motor City of Detroit, but '70’s progressive rock was what inspired me the most. I like music ranging from The Mars Volta, Tool, Audioslave, Garbage, Yes, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Porcupine Tree, classical music (especially Debussy), and lots of others. Daniel Hughes’ first love was of jazz music, but after becoming a big fan of progressive bands King Crimson and Yes, his playing style became more of a fusion between rock and jazz. He likes Rush, Godsmack, Pantera, System of a Down, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, symphonic music, classic jazz, among others.

Dave Siff says a big influence on him was hearing Rush’s Moving Pictures in 1981. The bass playing of Geddy Lee inspired him to play bass himself, and he has been playing in a succession of bands since 1993. Dave likes Lagwagon, Green Day, lots of poppy-punk bands, Coheed and Cambria, Michael Manring, Son Volt, jazz piano trios, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Rush, and “anything with a killer groove.”

MSJ: Are there musicians out there with whom you'd like to work?
Hahaha! But of course. Each of us has a different “dream band” fantasy that would probably go like this: Daniel would have every drummer he has ever idolized assembled into a giant drum circle on a massive stage, starting with Buddy Rich and a slew of jazz drummers, a bunch of rock fusion drummers in the middle including Alan White, Bill Bruford and Vinnie Colaiuta, and ending with rock drummers Vinnie Paul and Neil Peart. I don’t even think he’d bother with other instruments. Dave would totally love being in a Rush tribute band, a Green Day tribute band, or a Motown tribute band. I would put together an ensemble consisting of myself, David Gilmour, Alex Lifeson, Kirk Hammett, Nancy Wilson, and Jennifer Batten on guitars, Daniel Hughes, Neil Peart and Keith Moon and Dave Grohl taking turns on drums, Alice Cooper, Ann Wilson and Aimee Mann on vocals, and all directed by Jimmy Page. Oh yeah and no one playing the bass.
MSJ: Do you think that 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?
No we don’t agree personally and as a band we don’t agree with the position of the major labels. It’s pretty well known that the major labels have a long history of accepting payola and screwing their artists whenever possible, so for them to complain that they are not making the money that they used to make is just too damn bad. Downloading of music increases music consumption and, ultimately, sales. It would be nice if it were all legal and licensed and all that, but that is not realistic at this point. We would like to see downloads more directly benefiting the artists in the future, but for now, downloading increases our exposure.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans taping and trading live shows?
That is a really cool thing.
MSJ: What's on the road map for the future for Paine's Promise?
In terms of world domination? Oh you meant realistically speaking? Well, playing out and writing new tunes, pushing the barriers of what we can do musically, pushing the new album and seeing where that takes us. And continuing with our daily existence, breathing in and out every day.
MSJ: what was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
I can’t really speak for my bandmates about the last CD, even though I’m married to one of them, but the last CD I bought was Alice Cooper’s Dirty Diamonds, which I found to be quite good. What we all have been listening to lately: we all have MP3 players and we have loaded our CD albums onto them and listen to random tracks of everything.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
As opposed to unenjoyment? (I can name a lot of those.) Seriously, the last “big” show we went to (Dan and I) was two years ago to the Rush 30 year anniversary tour. We have passed up a whole bunch of shows we would have loved to have seen since, such as Cheap Trick and Alice Cooper, The Mars Volta and System of a Down, several shows in the last year or so we passed on. Reason being, shows are really expensive! It’s a minimum of a hundred bucks, and we were saving all our extra cash for studio time. Now Dave goes to lots of show. The last couple he talked about were Coheed and Cambria and Thrice.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
We have a good Spinal tap story for you. Once at a venue I can’t remember, the sound guy had enclosed Daniel in these clear acrylic panels to isolate the drum sounds on stage. We’re playing our set, and then the sound guy gets a brilliant idea about running a fog machine, which would have been fine except for where it was placed. It was placed almost right behind the drums, so that all the fog got trapped inside this clear cube instead of spreading around the stage! You can imagine what this looked like - a “cube” of fog behind the rest of the band!
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
Yes, first of all we are not a chick band. Not that there is anything wrong with “chick bands.” We happen to be fans of a few of those bands that use women instrumentalists as a selling point. Second, it is not a freak of nature for a woman to competently play an electric guitar. Guys who say things like, “I can’t believe that’s a chick playing those guitar parts!” Please get over yourselves and realize there are more women guitar players out there than you think. Without naming names, plenty of them are damn good, so look out for them in the future.  

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