Hopefully you recall--and read--my post in January reviewing Falling Edge and their latest release, "Convergence at Fossil Falls." I always seem to navigate the Concert Closet to the coldest geographical spots on the globe in the winter...need to get that GPS fixed. But enough about my aversion to cold weather; let us get right to it with Chris Rupert and peel away a few layers of Falling Edge...
Closet Concert Arena: First, congratulations on the release of "Convergence at Fossil Falls." How have sales been?
Chris Rupert: Thanks Vinny. Sales have been...not bad. Judging by the number of torrent sites I've seen the album at I'm sure we're taking a hit as a result of illegal distribution--which is too bad--because it makes it really hard to finance the next album when you haven't made much (or worse; haven't broken even) on the previous one. Everyone loves free stuff; I get that, but people don't realize that they're killing the industry by not paying for their music. This is particularly true in niche markets like prog that don't typically move huge amounts of product.
CCA: What was the driving force behind the songs on this album?
CR: At the risk of sounding unromantic, there really wasn't any single concept that inspired the songs on the album as a whole. I'm constantly writing things, so when it's time to work on new material I check my stockpile of compositions and pick the ones I like best and will work well together on an album.
CCA: What challenges did you face putting your second album together vs. your first?
CR: One of the biggest hurdles was the lack of a band by the time we got to "Dark Matter." We were getting ready to record "Minstrel in the Corner" and I could sense that something was up with Jim (Walsh, our bass player at the time). We played a gig at the end of November, had a couple more rehearsals, then Jim announced he was leaving the band just after Christmas. We then called Matt (Broadbent, who played with us before Jim joined) and were lucky to get him on board. However; not long after that Steve (Kubica, our keyboard player) announced he was also leaving the band. We finished recording "Minstrel in the Corner" with Kevin on drums, Matt on bass, and myself on guitar and remaining keyboards. In the meantime, we were working on "The Lost Journal, Sex For Sale," and a little bit of "Dark Matter" when Kevin announced his departure. Matt hung around for a short while after, but he jumped ship a few weeks later as well. That left me to write and record all the parts for the rest of the album. The parts for "Sex For Sale" and "The Lost Journal" were already written but not recorded, so I had to record those as well.
Ironically, although it was a lot extra work, the album was completed a lot faster going solo than if we had written, rehearsed, and recorded everything with the band. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and was able to work more consistently by myself.
CCA: Where did the name "Falling Edge" come from?
CR: If you look at a waveform on an oscilloscope, the part of the wave that first crosses the X axis is called the rising edge. The part of the wave after this that crosses the X axis is the falling edge. If you're designing anything that requires a clock signal from a waveform you have to decide which edge of the waveform will trigger the intended response from the system. Kevin and I are both into electronics so we were familiar with the term--and it sounded cool--so we went with it. This was, of course, after trying to decide on about a billion other possible names. People get other connotations from the name as well--one guy thought it referred to a guillotine blade, but it's a lot less colorful than that.
CCA: How were you first introduced to progressive rock?
CR: It was kind of a gradual thing for me. I always thought bands like Yes, Uriah Heep, and King Crimson were cool, but I remember getting more into Yes when I was about 17. Initially it was from hearing them on the radio, which is amazing considering the current radio climate. Basically the more I heard the more I liked, so I started listening to other prog bands as well.
CCA: Who/what do you consider the biggest influences on your writing and playing styles?
CR: I always find this question very difficult to answer. People hear all kinds of things in our music; one reviewer remarked that we reminded him of a band I never heard of before. As for the writing component it's hard to deny the influence Rush and Yes have had, but there are other more subtle things that influence the composition you can't really hear; for example Bach (I've studied and performed a lot of his music on classical guitar) and Zappa. I really think that virtually anything and everything I've ever heard works its way into the songs in varying degrees.
The guitar playing part is similar--I wouldn't say I really sound like any of them--but I was tremendously inspired by Eddie Van Halen, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Howe, Rik Emmett, Randy Rhoads, Al DiMeola...the list goes on.
CCA: If you could play a live gig with anyone alive or dead, who would you like to be on stage with?
CR: Yes--with Chris Squire (no offense to Billy Sherwood).
CCA: How have all the personnel changes within the band affected the band as a whole?
CR: I suppose there are good things and bad things that resulted from the revolving door of musicians we've had in our line-up. The obvious drawback is that it takes forever to get anything done; every time someone leaves it takes a while to get the new guy up to speed, plus you lose that familiarity you had with the person who left. That time thing has certainly been a problem, particularly with our first album. That album took so long to complete I forget how many years it was. Compare that to the new record: By the time everyone left in April or so of 2014 we had already been working on it for about a year and the only song we had recorded was "Minstrel in the Corner." We were actually working on that song while recording the first album. It was a lot of extra work for me to complete the rest myself, but the entire rest of the album was complete in a little over a year. I would really rather have a band, but things got done quicker without.
On the positive side, the constant infusion of new blood means the sound is constantly changing and evolving. While some may see that as a drawback--in some ways it is--the band (and the music) is constantly forced to re-invent itself, which I believe is a good thing. Like the saying goes; "It's hard to get out of bed when you sleep in silk pajamas." Comfort can be one of the most toxic components of the human experience. With our seemingly never ending line-up changes, Falling Edge has always been challenged.
CCA: OK, time for a quick Falling Edge fix. This is a song from the band's first album called "Crippled By Fear." I chose thins cut for several reasons--not the least of which is the irony in the song title. Falling Edge, whether it be Chris with or without band mates, is anything but what the title implies. As you listen to the smooth sounds flowing through the headphones, you get a sense of serenity and peace--not chaos and panic.
CCA: There is a dark feel to the new album; lots of personal stuff in the lyrics?
CR: That's because there is actual Dark Matter on the album (laughs). Seriously though, some of the stuff is more personal than others--I'll leave it to the listener to figure that out. I will say I'm not any of the characters in "The Sniper, the Piper, and Me." Some of the songs, while personal to some degree at least, also address some of the more universal experiences of the human condition. I think most people have felt like the minstrel or the hero in "The Lost Journal" at some point in their lives
and--sadly--far too many have learned the message of "Sex For Sale" after it's too late and very difficult to rectify the situation.
CR: By now I'm sure most people have figured out Falling Edge as a band no longer exists. After surviving years of personnel changes I'm the only one left. I plan to continue writing and recording new music which will be much in the same vein as what I've done with the band in the past. I've been approached by a couple of people who have expressed interest in filling the places of my departed band mates...in any case, I've gotten used to this level of instability, but we'll see what happens...
CCA: When is the world tour scheduled to start?
CCA: Check out the continuing saga of Falling Edge and make a purchase of either or both releases at http://www.fallingedgemusic.com/. There is a Facebook page where you can keep current with Chris and learn more about where Falling Edge is headed at
https://www.facebook.com/Fallingedge/?fref=nf. For those of you so inclined, you can also follow Falling Edge on Twitter @FallingEdgeband.
Well fellow progheads, that's a wrap! Falling Edge is definitely a band with a back story. I mentioned in an earlier post that the band took a page from Yes' playbook on how to recruit and hold on to band members--but I was wrong. Falling Edge is light years past Yes as far as putting a revolving door on the rehearsal studio. I also mentioned Falling Edge was a conundrum--and on that point I believe I was dead on. This is a band that had members fleeing faster than flies at a swatting contest. The crazy part is that although Chris said Falling Edge no longer exists, I believe he is wrong. Chris Rupert is Falling Edge just as sure as I am the Closet Concert Arena.
Progressive rock is so much more than a genre, and that is what separates it from the rest of the pack. In all the interviews and music reviews I have done I notice one common denominator--an absolute love for the music and the inability of the artists/musicians to do anything else. Go back and read about how Chris finished the album alone. There may have been tension among the players, maybe feelings got hurt, perhaps even a major difference of opinion about how the songs should be recorded or mixed; I don't know. What I do know is Falling Edge managed to produce two very good prog rock albums against all odds, simply because one person had the passion, the heart, and the drive to see the project through to completion.
The prog garden is blessed with rich soil because so many artists leave no emotion untapped and nothing is off limits. I sincerely hope Chris is able to reassemble Falling Edge, but if that doesn't happen I really want to hear the solo album that comes out as a result--there is some real prog there just waiting to be recorded.
Next week the search for all things prog will take the Concert Closet to another port in another country where the story will be painted with different colors on a canvas dripping with different emotions--and I can hardly wait. This is why I prog...until next week...