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Progressive Rock Interviews


Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Tony Waldman of Edensong from 2016
Edensong just released a new album. What makes it different from your previous work?
Years in the Garden of Years is a more collaborative effort than our previous work in terms of musical composition. Whereas the Fruit Fallen was James Schoen’s baby, the new album has given everyone in the band a chance to write and arrange. Because of this, the album has an even more eclectic sound than the older stuff. The new record has also shown a heavier side of the band and is Edensong’s first concept album. 
How is it similar? 
It is still very much eclectic progressive rock. Like our previous work, there is experimentation with exotic world instruments, complex passages with both folky and heavy sounds, lots of dynamics and layers, and that same orchestral vibe which incorporates flute and strings. It’s been the same rule on all the albums: There are no rules – just to write music that stirs something in us.
Do you have any projects going outside Edensong?

We all have musical and creative things we do outside of the band. From recording other bands and artists, to writing solo / cover albums, to setting up improv shows, to teaching, and to getting involved in comedy skits / videos, we all like to branch out and have other outlets besides Edensong. You may see more of this in 2017. Feel free to research our individual names online and see what else we are up to!

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

For me personally, I’d like to do more acting and comedy, particularly voice acting and making more chaotic humor videos. I know that James once told me that if he wasn’t in music he’d probably want to write, create, and direct films. We all have day jobs, some more flexible than others, and they include everything from education, to marketing, and recording music.

Who would you see as your musical influences? 
Metallica, Rush, Dream Theater, and Nobuo Uematsu have been some of my main influences. In terms of drumming, early Lars Ulrich, Neil Peart, Mike Portnoy, and Dennis Chambers have been major inspirations.  In addition to the artists mentioned, you’ll hear everything across the album from Jethro Tull  (oh, yes, that flute!), King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, film and game music, and many other influences. Some of us have even studied world music and it shows on our new album with the use of Indonesian gamelan and hang drum.
What's ahead for you?
We just finished filming a great music video in Vermont and would like to release it sometime in early 2017. There are also some festival dates we have booked in May: Rosfest in Gettysburg, Pennysylvania and Terra Incognita in Quebec, Canada. I think a tour is inevitable with this new release, so we’d like to do something next year in North America. If the chance ever comes to play in other continents, we’d like to jump on that! We are very interested in taking this band as far as we can go. 
I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
On Progarchives, we’ve been placed under the "Eclectic Prog" category, and we definitely agree with that. We strive to be diverse in our sounds and instrumentation on the records, so we are happy to be in this category. However, if we were to expand upon this, we may describe ourselves as "eclectic orchestral progressive rock with metal influences". James Schoen, TD Towers, and I used to play in a heavier progressive group in our teen years, so have tried to bring some of those elements back.
Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
We’ve been lucky to share the stage with so many great bands so far, both established and underground. When we saw Beardfish on the Progressive Nation cruise, I think we all agreed that it would be fantastic to do a show with them (but they unfortunately disbanded recently). Consider the Source, Thank You Scientist, and Haken would also be great bands to do something with.
Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

It’s definitely both a help and hindrance. Of course, we prefer streaming to illegal downloading, but the idea of free music has the potential to boost an artist’s popularity and get more exposure. If a very popular artist chose to share something of ours from spotify or a youtube link, it may mean more visits to our web pages and a rise in sales for music / merch. By the same token, these things can hinder sales and discourage opportunities to buy both digital and physical albums. So, it’s important to limit streaming as much as you can but have some out there to let people easily share it.

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
It’s definitely not James’ favorite thing because he’s a bit fussy about recording quality. The perfectionist in him would rather have control of what’s out there and not have people’s first exposure to the band be something that is not our best. I agree with him a bit, but it’s also nice to see people recording and posting stuff, especially if I like the performance or I want to relive the night that just happened! 
If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why? 
As a kind of joke, Devin Towsend would be a great and hilarious nemesis. We saw him at Progressive Nation at Sea and he was tearing into the crowd and making fun of the prog scene (which seemed in jest but with lots of passion). He gave off this totally over the top evil villain vibe, and it would be fun to create our own puppet mascot and have it fight his (Ziltoid). He’s definitely entertaining. We’d only want to joke fight with him and then become comrades and put on a glorious puppet show.
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? 
For me, it would be nice to see some of my favorite musicians from different rock sub genres so that it’s a challenge for them to adjust their styles and reconcile their differences. I’ll throw in Steve Morse, Russell Allen, Chick Corea, Victor Wooten, and Jimmy Chamberlain. It’s hard to imagine what they would sound like, but I’m just so curious about how they could find that balance!
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?
Although they may never play again, it would be great to have Rush headline a music festival. On top of that, we could throw in Pain of Salvation, Thank you Scientist, The Tea Club, and something wild like Consider the Source! A diverse lineup would be very satisfying.
What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately? 
James has enjoyed Opeth’s new album Sorceress. We’ve all been singing some selections from Infinite Spectrum’s Haunter of the Dark release on our car trips to far away gigs (we’ve just played a couple of shows with them recently). Thank you Scientist’s and The Tea Club’s new stuff has been awesome too!
Have you read any good books lately?

I read Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle recently, and it may have been one of the most powerful experiences of my life. It creates such incredibly vivid scenes in my mind that I can not only see but hear - totally dreamlike! It also leaves a lot of plot and philosophy open to interpretation – something that makes you think! It is definitely an epic surreal novel that I recommend.

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
James and I saw Martin Barre together for a tour supporting his new album. He was great to watch in a very intimate room of about 100 people, and we got to meet and speak with him. Jethro Tull is one of our favorites, but it was also nice to see him branch out and do some solo stuff.
Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

I try not to be guilty about any musical enjoyment, but there are definitely two genres I like to listen to that most of my other bandmates aren’t really into: neo-classical shred and power metal. I really enjoy Tony MacAlpine and Jason Becker (among others in the shred genre) as well as Sonata Arctica and Masterplan. Music with strong well crafted catchy guitar melodies and choruses with soaring vocals and solid double bass patterns just gets me pumped and lifts my spirits.

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
In 2002, the series of first Edensong shows were epic plays with over the top costumes and theatric speeches (interspersed with music). Audience participation was encouraged and there were lots of laughs and bizarre moments.  In 2006, we played at a strip club for five people. There was also a recent show in New York City where we were booked with several hip hop acts, and the venue basically felt like a club scene before we went on. You just can’t forget shows like these! The last two shows have found us avoiding Spinal Tap moments, but we always feel like the next one could be lurking around the corner.
If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining? 
In terms of musicians, I’d love to do this with Bach, Paul Gilbert, and Billy Joel. I just feel like I would get along with all of them and there would be great musical and philosophical discussions and debates (and jams). If I could add some non-musicians, it would be my deceased grandfathers (one who I never met and one who I barely have any memories with), and an old childhood best friend of mine who passed away about 10 years ago (Peter Harrison).  
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
New York pizza, Swedish Fish, and Gin and Tonics. I want to see Bach consume all of these things in some kind of Bill and Ted moment.
Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there? 

Please support touring bands who don’t make a living with their music. It’s great when you buy their albums and go to their shows! Also, let’s try to build a world of empathy and unity! Creating diverse communities is one way to do that and music can be a great unifier for this!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 6 at
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