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Progressive Rock Interviews

Forever Twelve

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Forever Twelve from 2013

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

Fernando Martinez: I knew I wanted to play drums when I was in my early teens, but didn't really begin seriously playing until I was twenty one. Without any formal training I would practice most every day for two to three hours at a time mostly playing to records and some music from the local rock and jazz radio stations. I eventually would seek out other musicians with the same interests in music to jam with and get the necessary experience to perform and record. I did get to play with various bands in the Los Angeles area and did have the opportunity to perform and record with many very good musicians, but it was around October or November of 1998 that I answered an ad that led me to joining what is now Forever Twelve. I knew right away that it would be a very challenging but a fun experience. I also found the guys to be incredibly talented with great individual personalities.

Steve Barberic: We had an old organ in the home probably before I was born. I remember just hitting the keys and making sounds. I started taking music lessons when I was around nine or ten years old. At age twelve, I discovered progressive rock. I would listen to Yes, Genesis, ELP, Renaissance and Kansas over and over again. I was involved with our church’s music ministry for a while. I have been in several bands playing mostly cover tunes. In 1993, I met Randy Coleman and Kenny Hundt who were local musicians playing progressive rock. We formed a group and started writing original material.

Tom Graham: I have been playing music for most of my life, starting with piano lessons at seven and saxophone in the third through ninth grades. I started playing guitar at 14, and thought that, that was a lot cooler than blowing a sax, so I quit the sax. I wish I hadn't now. Got into local bands in Manhattan Kansas until I was 27, and then moved to LA to go to Grove School of Music, and pursue things in LA. Dabbled in a lot of things until I hooked up with the other members of Forever Twelve.

We have put together three CD's so far, and have a new one being finished up now. It should be done early part of 2013. We have had some changes in the line up and the addition of John Baker at lead vocals, and we are very happy with how it is turning out. It should be an awesome CD - yet to be named.


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

Fernando Martinez: Not sure... I did study some business and finance, but I also liked playing sports and being outdoors – so, maybe something having to do with that.

Steve Barberic: I stay pretty active with a variety of things. The main involvement is with my three and six year old children. I am also an avid "Jet-skier" and go on many three and four day adventure trips. My day-job at Boeing also keeps me busy.

Tom Graham: I would be doing something in woodworking. Actually I am doing woodworking now, as well. I would just be doing a lot more of it.


How did the name of the group originate?

Fernando Martinez: I think the name came about from a discussion about innocence as in the innocence of being child like...

However, for me it became more about timelessness. 

Steve Barberic: I would say it was a long process to choose a name for the band. We went through several name changes including "Licorice for Llama, "God's Monkey" and "Water's Edge". When Randy (Coleman) suggested "Forever Twelve,” all of us finally agreed upon it.

Tom Graham: You know I'm not really sure, other than Steve came in to rehearsal one night and said "lets call the band ‘Forever Twelve.’” We all kind of rolled with it, and it stuck, so to speak.


What's ahead for you?

Fernando Martinez: I'm working on getting ready to record a couple of songs that Steve and Tom sent over. We hope to get them on this next release. Then I will get busy with rehearsal both on my own and with the band.

Steve Barberic: I am very excited about our new album and new lineup. This is some of the best material we have written and I am happy having John (Baker) on-board.

Tom Graham: Making music, as that seems to keep me happy no matter what is going on around me - Forever Twelve, solo, other stuff, it's all good.


I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Fernando Martinez: Symphonic or progressive rock with elements of classical, jazz and fusion seems to describe it well.

Steve Barberic: I guess I don't mind having our music labeled as progressive rock. I tend to bring a retro style to my keyboard playing. Tony Banks (from Genesis) was a major influence while growing up.

Tom Graham: It's definable progressive rock, but I prefer to see it as music on an artistic side.

MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Fernando Martinez: Not given it much thought, but I do remember talking about what it might be like to play with Jon Anderson of Yes fame. But really, there are just too many talented musicians with great creativity that I would like to play with in the future. I'm now more than happy to continue the work with Steve, Tom and John.

Steve Barberic: Phideaux and Pete Trewavas both come to mind. I have met both of them and both are really terrific.

Tom Graham: Anyone who is passionate and energetic about what they are doing. As long as we agree on what the end result will sound like, no matter the style. Personal heroes would always be fun.

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Fernando Martinez: Since it can potentially get the music to more people, it can be of help to the career of musicians. However, if there is no income from the work and the product is not being created for free, then the money has to come from somewhere. In other words, there are costs associated with the production of the material at every level. Whether it is for instruments, recording equipment, rehearsal facilities etcetera, etcetera…not to mention the time involved. Chances are the artist without upfront money will be earning the money in other ways to pay for these things. Having said that, I think most people create and play their music for the love of it and not for the money. But if the financial rewards are realized, then that can be beneficial to everyone.

Steve Barberic: I think it does hurt musicians overall. It may help getting your name out there and hopefully it might generate some sales.

Tom Graham: I think it's both. The Internet opens the door for a lot of different artists and wanna be artists of all kinds. The problem of illegal downloading obviously hurts the artists’ ability to make a living. I guess you can't have it both ways.


In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Fernando Martinez: Again, this could benefit the exposure of the band and I'm pretty much ambivalent about it. I would hope that the performance was a good one.

Steve Barberic: I welcome fans recording our shows.

Tom Graham: I don't have a problem with it as long as it's just cell phones, or the such. The quality is not there. It's good to have fans that care that much about what your doing.


If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Fernando Martinez: With music being such a subjective thing I can't really think of anyone in particular. I guess the big music labels as a whole have probably been the biggest set backs to many in this field.

Tom Graham - I wouldn't have an arch nemesis in the music business. I would be more apt to go after Wall Street, and some of the players in the financial world, who seem to think they own everyone.


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?

Fernando Martinez: When I saw the Yes reunion tour that was about as close as to seeing my ultimate band. The level of musicianship on stage that tour was pretty amazing.


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?

Fernando Martinez: Yes, Genesis, Rush, E.L.P., Jethro Tull, King Crimson Gentle Giant, and of course Forever Twelve.

Steve Barberic: Anglagard, Echolyn, Phideaux, Marillion, UK, Yes, Marillion, Genesis and us. If I was in charge, of course I would be playing.

Tom Graham: Tangent, Banco, Marillion, Zappa plays Zappa, Eric Johnson, Dixie Dregs, reunited Yes, reunited Kansas, reunited Genesis, ELP, and us.


What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Fernando Martinez: I think it was Rush - Vapor Trails. Listening mostly to jazz and "ambient" music

Steve Barberic: Phideaux's Doomday Afternoon

Tom Graham: Albert Lee - saw him at the LA Guitar fest in Redondo Beach. It's country picking at its finest. I love any great guitar players.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Fernando Martinez: Last time I had a chance to vacation and read they were Hemingway - "The Old Man and the Sea,” Hemingway - "For Whom the Bells Toll" and Neil Peart - "Ghost Rider.”

Steve Barberic: I don't think reading "Winnie the Pooh" to my kids counts. 

Tom Graham: Not enough time, and it reminds me that I probably should get glasses.


What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Fernando Martinez: It may have been the "Baja Progg Festival" a few years back.

Steve Barberic: Roger Water's The Wall - absolutely amazing! 

Tom Graham: Peter Gabriel in Vegas. What a great show playing So in its entirety, and other great tunes.


Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Fernando Martinez: I guess it would be the pop music from the 70s.

Steve Barberic: I do listen to "New Age" on occasion.

Tom Graham: There are no guilty pleasures. It's whatever makes you feel good at the time.

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?

Fernando Martinez: Professor Joseph Campbell, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku

Steve Barberic: Keith Emerson, Tony Banks and Rick Wakeman 

Tom Graham - Anyone who could either answer or help come up with solutions to the world’s many problems.


What would be on the menu?

Fernando Martinez: Cuban food

Steve Barberic: Tuna fish. Because I'm sure none of us would want to tune a piano during dinner.

Actually, we would dine on fine Indian food.

Tom Graham: Whatever food that could help us achieve the answers we seek. So far I haven't had it. (laughter)

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Fernando Martinez: Thanks for your interest in the band. Stay open to the "creative spirit." Be well!

Steve Barberic: I am just happy to be able to still play music I enjoy.

Tom Graham: Keep your minds open, there are lots of different ways to see life, family and music. You’re not the only one with an opinion.

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at
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