Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Enjoying the summer I trust fellow progheads?!  I certainly hope yours is the thrilling adventure that mine is morphing into...these past few weeks have been especially exciting.  The Concert Closet has been privy to some great prog of late while being fortunate enough to get a glimpse "backstage" as it were, meeting band members up close and personal, and finding out first-hand about life in a progressive rock band.

This week the Concert Closet logs some serious frequent flyer miles as the search for all things prog continues the quest...bringing you a relative new comer to the prog garden, whose debut album was released in December 2015.  Come along for the ride as the Concert Closet heads to the Netherlands and some quality time with Projection.

Projection categorizes themselves as a prog band with a "melodic 80's vibe..."  Appealing to my senses of adventure, intrigue, and curiosity, I believe this is a band worth at least a look-see and listen-to, so let us step up to the prog buffet for an introductory portion.

First serving on the platter is a hard hitting tune called "Running Through Time."  The song bursts out of the gate firing on all cylinders and hits you square in the auditory canals.  Vocals don't float so much as they flow down like lava from a live volcano. The drumming is a solid foundation on which the guitars rise up and shout.  The colors on the canvas are bright and loud; albeit tinged with the dark outer edge that comes with running down a dark alley at night.  Projection emits top notes of Asia and Transatlantic on this piece....the digital alarm clock that opens the songs seems to peel back the curtain a la Marty McFly...

The next offering served up is a bit more cranial; a deep cutting tune called "Hypocrite."  Projection opens the song with a soft, music box-like tranquility that belies lyrics strong enough to hammer a stake in the ground without the need to wrap everything in loud, hollow sound that bounces around for no apparent reason.  Projection has a point to make and the guitar strikes at just the just right moments, while the drums once again batter the periphery without leaving you lost and confused. There is an Alan Parsons Project/10CC vibe running through this song...a bit cerebral without forgetting that prog can make you think and tap your feet at the same time.

Liner Notes...Projection is a five man prog operation hailing from the Netherlands and consisting of Herman Wiggers on lead vocals, Peter Pampiermole on keyboards and vocals, Frank van Eerden on guitar and vocals, Jurgen ten Have on bass and vocals, and Richard Immink on drums and vocals. Projection's debut release, a concept album titled "Realitivity," is an impressive opening act.

Concept albums in and of themselves can be difficult to assemble...timelines are important; mood, tempo, flow...it all plays a part.  Of course the listener must be able to decipher what message the music is trying to convey.  Alan Parsons was a master of the concept album, Chris Rudolph from Timelight prefers the listener interpret the music in a way that touches them, and Philippe Longchamps from Atlas Volt enjoys the intimacy of reaching inside the listener's head and touching them with a narrative that drives a point home.  All are valid--and  equal parts difficult and
glorious--if the artist manages to nail it.  With "Realitivity," Projection does just that; they nail it with a sledgehammer.  This album has deep roots in the thought provoking section of the prog garden...not as deep (perhaps) as King Crimson, Pink Floyd, or Genesis--yet.  Remember; this is Projection's initial offering--not their swansong.

The third and final selection for the week is yet one more from a deep, dark corner called "Erase ." The guitar work is almost ghoulish as the vocals entwine themselves amongst the chords.  The drums are softer here...soothing of a sort.  You anticipate a hit to the inside of your head that never quite materializes.  Oh, the tempo picks up; but quickly settles back down.  The haunting background/subconscious vocals continue throughout, reminding you that although there is no one else in the room...you are never really alone.  Learn more about Projection at their website Projectionband. Follow your instinct and your subconscious while you check out their bandcamp page to make a purchase at Projection Bandcamp.  Of course there is always Facebook for those so inclined to keep up with all the latest band info at Projection Facebook, and the last bastion of immediate information, Twitter, where you can connect @Projection_band.

I chose "Delirious" for the clip to introduce you to the band for a few reasons.  First, this song paints an extremely accurate and intricate portrait of what Projection is.  The music rolls through the headphones both purposefully and melodically, like sour cream melting down the sides of a hot baked potato.  Second--and more importantly I believe--the heart and soul of the concept behind the curtain comes raining down like a summer thunderstorm...the struggle to deal with reality as life continues to sling arrows and torment...yet never forget there is always hope if you focus on the light.  Projection has mined a nerve center in the prog garden that will keep you hitting the replay button...


...and once again seven days fall off the calendar like so much beach sand off your sandals.  Projection cuts deep but manages to avoid any fatal wounds.  One of the pleasures of being the "progmaster" on this blog is the exposure to so many variations of the prog theme.  Projection uses darkness to expose the light; reminding you that while you feel yourself falling deeper into the abyss, there is always hope.

The Netherlands are quite nice this time of year...but alas; the search for all things prog continues on...and so the Concert Closet is preparing to extend the journey once more...until next week...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Timelight...The Album Release and The Interview

As usual, thanks for dropping by fellow progheads!  Been a whirlwind summer so far and I for one hope the festivities continue endlessly.  After checking in with Scarlet INside and Bent Knee, I decided to take the Concert Closet to visit one more prog band who recently released an album.   Trekking across the USA for a look at the left coast, I find myself back in Oregon for an interview with Chris Rudolph and Timelight...and of course some indulging on their eponymous debut album...

As is the case with most of us "logical OCD types," I prefer to start at the beginning.; I believe a small taste from the Timelight buffet is in order to get things started.  The new release opens with a deep, hard-hitting piece called "The Law of Identity."  Layers of guitar begin to hit you as the song opens...gently at first--but watch out for the head-butt!  Drums saunter in as gently as Andre the Giant playing the Tooth Fairy while vocals seem to reign down from above the cacophony. Keyboards? ...wait for it...boom!  Timelight builds a song the old fashion way; one hard-hitting note at a time. Now to get a bit deeper...

Closet Concert Arena:  First off, congratulations on the new album.  I've been wearing out my copy of the CD and the music is really deep; there is an outward darkness that seems to have shafts of light cutting through.  Was this a difficult album to mix?

Chris Rudolph: Thank you Vinny, I appreciate your support of Timelight. Mixing the album was challenging; making the Timelight album was a complex process that had to accurately reflect our musical vision.  The production of an album, and I do mean production in the sense of creating something from nothing as a musical artist, is akin to creating a painting.  The empty screen of the recording project is a blank canvas.  Recording the music tracks is just the first step; more color is added during the mixing process.  Certain sounds get enhanced while others are reduced or even removed.  Timelight's music is dynamic.  There are heavy--or as you say--dark sections bordered by mellower or brighter segments.  Balancing all those sounds and tones did make for interesting mixing.  The goal was to have as much clarity as possible while at the same time an "open" sound that was not overly compressed.  We wanted the tones to be distinguishable even in the midst of a complex musical arrangement.

CCA: The album, in typical Timelight fashion, is laden with heavy riffs and ornate, multi-layered sound.  Where do you draw the inspiration for the music and what artists/bands do you feel have had the most influence on your style?

CR: Timelight's inspirational influences fall into three categories.  First, the most obvious...bands from the "glory days" of prog, Yes, Rush, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, ELP, and many others are among the most important bands that inspired each of us to pursue this music genre.

Second would be the progressive and metal bands of today; Tool, King's X, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Karnivool, and Riverside are but a few of the many I could mention, including some great lesser known prog bands bands doing fantastic work.

The third category is more abstract, but essentially encompasses music and artists not classified as "progressive rock."  French impressionist pianists like Gabriel Faure and Charles Koechlin, classical guitarists Ralph Towner, John Fahey, and Alex DeGrassi.  Also the harmonic conceptions of jazz improvisers too numerous to list here...1970's big band jazz and jazz fusion; all would fall into this category.  Inspiration for Timelight truly is everywhere.  There was never a specific goal to sound like any one band or create a specific style.  We write the music first; the compositions we create dictate the style--not the other way around.  We remain true to our musical integrity, so within an album, and perhaps even a single composition, our "style" shifts in different directions.  In a previous review you described our music as a "prog melange;" that fits quite well.  Every serious musician is influenced in some way by those that came before regardless of style or genre.  One of my favorite quotes is from the late great jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, who said; "Imitate.  Assimilate.  Innovate."  Just three words, but so powerful.  Timelight strives to innovate by blending genres while not being beholden to the specific boundaries of one style or another.

CCA: The album has a bit of a jazzy/fusion feel at certain points; "Mountain Trilogy" for example has a Chick Corea/Weather Report meets Transatlantic/Beardfish feel...can listeners expect even broader expansion as Timelight continues to grow?

CR: "Mountain Trilogy," especially the second and third movements, capture that style nicely.  This composition is by Ron Murvihill, Timelight keyboardist.  You will definitely be hearing more of that and more of Ron's influence on the next Timelight recording.  Before Ron joined the band we had been together as a trio about a year and I had already written most of the band's core material for the first Timelight album.  Once he joined the band Ron contributed some great parts for "Genomes" and "Normalcy Blindness" as well as composing the entirety of "Mountain Trilogy."  The next album will be reciprocate in the sense that Ron has written the bulk of the compositions; there are two more we are writing together.  So yes, without giving away too much, there will be more of that keyboard driven style on the next Timelight album.

OK; my curiosity is piqued...let us check out Ron's brainchild, "Mountain Trilogy."  The opening piece has that smooth, jazzy feel Timelight seems to wear like a favorite old sweater...the drum work manages to wrap itself around those keyboards while vocals swoop in, leave their mark, and move out.  The guitars arrive just in time to pull you in deeper as the music swallows your head slowly and deliberately.  Time changes and mood swings highlight this piece as you sweep across the prog garden, riding high and floating free...

CCA: In addition to Timelight, you have also released music as a solo artist--very good music I might add.  Are you still pursuing both avenues?

CR: I'm glad you enjoy my solo work.  I released my solo CD at the end of 2012.  For that album I sang all the vocals and played every instrument except the drums; Steve Lauer recorded the drums.  While I was pleased with the final production, my specific goals are to make the best music possible...and as much as I enjoy working solo, I prefer the band context with other musicians.  It is my belief and particular experience that working with musicians who are true masters of their respective instruments results in the best music possible vs. a "one-man-band."  Case in point; by any rational criteria you conjure up, the Timelight album is a superior effort as compared to my solo work.  That was the goal--to do better; otherwise what's the point?  Without getting too specific, as a general rule I prefer the group efforts of my favorite progressive rock bands to the solo work of their respective band members.  There are glaring exceptions--of course--but the synergy between band members is so much greater than the sum of its part so to speak.  So while solo albums are a part of my future, they are not a priority at the moment.

CCA: What is the bond that holds Timelight together...apart from playing their respective instruments, what contribution to the whole does each member bring?

CR: We all love progressive rock; we have been listening to it since our youth and it still inspires us...simple as that.  I might also add that we all like science fiction...and good coffee...

CCA: Why Timelight; what was the inspiration behind the name of the band?

CR: Timelight is a made up word that does not exist in the Oxford Dictionary.  The interaction of time and light are at the heart of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.  That sounds way cool for music nerds who also happen to love science fiction and good coffee...it might even make for a good band name.  Nowadays it is almost impossible to find a good band name everyone likes that isn't already taken and the domain name is still available.  The best way to get ahead of it is to make up a word, so we did.  There are also some band name generator programs on the web, which might explain the the name chosen for "Neutral Milk Hotel."  Timelight had no success with this approach however.

CCA: What track on the album is the most personal for you?  

CR: I believe that as both a composer and listener it is more interesting to decipher and derive one's own interpretation of what a song conveys in both music and lyrics.  There may be common themes running through the lyrics; something that might convey a personal meaning for one person or another, including the composer.  That being said, there are songs on the album with special meaning for me.  However; that is filtered through my personal existence and inspiration.  I prefer to let the songs speak to the listener in a way that conveys a unique perspective for them.

CCA: If you could play a live gig with anyone, who would you like to be on stage with and why?

CR: I would love to play with Steven Wilson; he is such a complete musician and I have the utmost respect for him.  I have always been a big fan of Porcupine Tree, and Steven's recent solo works are absolutely superb.  I think "The Raven That Refused to Sing" might be one of my all time favorite albums.  I also admire how, as a mix engineer, he has taken some of my favorite recordings; "Close to the Edge" as one example, an album I have listened to thousands of times, and made it sound new and fresh.  As both a musician and a producer who can integrate so many styles and artistic concepts into his unique vision, there is no equal for me.  I know I would learn so much just working around him, seeing his approach and way of doing things.      

CCA: Any touring in the works to promote the new album?  

CR: No touring planned, but it would be great to be able to get out and share the music live.  We all have day jobs that render touring impractical.  We have had a number of great internet prog rock radio stations recently feature our music and add Timelight to their playlists.  Given the current state of the music industry, internet radio is  a wonderful option and perhaps the best way for Timelight to share our music.

CCA: What other music industry hats does Chris Rudolph wear?

CR: My primary focus is creating and producing the music of Timelight.  I do enjoy the process of mixing audio.  Generally speaking I like the challenge of taking raw recordings and turning them into something better--maybe even something quite good.  In the future I plan on doing freelance mixing for bands.

CCA: What else does the world need to know about Timelight?

CR: Timelight is musical integrity; we produce music for music's sake, period.  People need to know Timelight is a band committed to producing quality music not confined by the boundaries of commercialism and music industry economics.  Timelight, like so many great lesser-known prog bands, is keeping progressive rock alive and well--and we will continue to do so.

That, as they say, is a wrap fellow progheads.  Timelight is a band on a mission...namely to keep nourishing the prog garden and through it the minds of the faithful listeners.  I chose to wrap the interview with a cut from the album that was quite appropriate given the emotional and honest outpouring from Chris; "Teach Us What You Love." As is Timelight's signature, the song opens on all cylinders and wanders through the prog garden, both taking and giving back.  The vocals waltz across the top as if buoyed by a floating foundation of drums, keyboards, and guitars so entwined with each other you can't drown.  The wisps of organ are a treat for the auditory senses; a bonus to keep you alert and focused. Learn more about Timelight at Timelight.  Please check out more of their music and purchase the album at Timelight Bandcamp.  Keep up with their music and find out what goes on behind the scenes at Timelight Facebook.  Of course you can also find Timelight's latest outbursts and musings on Twitter @timelightband.  Like a fine wine, Timelight is best savored and sipped again and again...  


Timelight is the thinking person's prog band...much to dwell on and ponder long after the laser has left the disc.  The prog garden is made wider and broader by bands like this; unafraid to stretch boundaries, refusing to conform, and simply eager to search out something new for the next  studio session.  The search for all things prog has brought me into contact with great people, exceptional artists, incredible bands, and folks who are focused on and dialed into the music--not the lights, fancy stage props, or anything that would draw your ears away from the sound.

If you  get nothing else from this blog, I hope you sense and appreciate all the different nuances and variations the prog garden has to offer.  Timelight is but one growth in some extremely vast and very rich acreage.  And now, as is my custom, I am off to continue my search for all things prog...until next week...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bent Knee Revisited...and the Release of "Say So"

Welcome back fellow progheads!  The Concert Closet is trudging through the second half of 2016 gingerly--if that isn't an oxymoron.  Going headlong into the unknown with no pre-conceived expectations; just the desire to shed brighter light on each section of the prog garden and expand the search for all things prog.  And of course--bring it to the masses!

This week the Concert Closet catches up with Bent Knee, a band I was recently introduced to and reviewed back in March.  Bent Knee recently released their third album, "Say So" and have been touring of sorts to promote it.

While I sadly admit my recent attempts to catch the band live were unsuccessful, I was able to get an interview with them.  Bent Knee is truly a unique act, and one you do not want to miss...so trust me; the Concert Closet will soon dock in a town where these artists are performing their magic.  In the meantime...cue up the first song from "Say So" and enjoy.  It is a cranial piece called "Black Tar Water," designed to get you thinking.  The vocals cut through you like a thousand shards of crystal...while they pierce and may draw blood--there is so much more pleasure than pain.  The music builds to a crescendo and ebbs back...keeping you on the edge of a seat you are simply unable to remain in.  So let the interview begin...

Closet Concert Arena: Congratulations on the release of "Say So."  This is the band's third album; what separates it from the previous two?

Courtney Swain: I think the biggest separation between the last two albums and "Say So" is we wrote and produced it in a much shorter time frame.  In terms of music and content, it's less bombastic or cathartic than "Shiny Eyed Babies." That doesn't mean it is less emotionally charged; I think there is more dimension and maturity to the expression.

CCA: Your sound runs through many genres...traveling deep into the pores of prog, art, indie, alternative, and avant-garde rock.  How did the sound of Bent Knee evolve?

Ben Levin: Bent Knee started as an electronic trip hop project in which Courtney and I would file share to write.  We made some nice songs this way, but they were kind of vapid and colorless in terms of arrangement.  Our sound started to get interesting when Vince (sound design/synth) decided to record a live arrangement of one of the electronic tunes.  Vince was really into Nine Inch Nails' production style at the time, which took our trip hop sound in a more aggressive and broken direction. We then started playing live a lot, and after a few line-up changes, we solidified the addition of Chris (violin), Jessica (bass), and Gavin (drums).  Chris brought a warm and thoroughly layered ambiance to our sound--a counterpoint to the incumbent harshness.  I think he sort of tipped us into "Radiohead Land" a bit.  Jessica and Gavin have a really special punch-in-the-gut rhythm section going on.They don't write traditional rock parts very often and I think we were all a little conservative when it comes to the use of crash cymbals in our arrangements.  After our line-up was finalized, we grew closer and closer as a unit and started becoming influenced by each other's influences.  Since those influences are pretty diverse, we continue to evolve.

CCA: Was there any connection between band members before meeting at Berklee?

Ben Levin: I met Vince in 2005 at the Berklee summer program; that is before we were enrolled at the school...but I guess it is still meeting at Berklee.

CCA: Bent Knee seems to have a connection with the listener that some bands only dream of.  How do you stay in touch on a personal level with fans and do you feel it is important--or even 
possible--as both Bent Knee and your audience grow?

Courtney Swain: I pack and ship all the physical orders that get placed on our Bandcamp page, and I think I've written five or six hundred personal notes to go with every order.  It took time to do that, but it really mattered to me to connect with the people who cared enough to spend their hard earned money on our music.  In anticipation of the amount of orders we'll get with "Say So," only this week I pared it back to a postcard with a printed message.  But I am still writing in the person's name at the top of the card so it addresses them.  Touring and working in a band can be really tough; a lot of us are often worried about money or scheduling non-band work around the band's needs.  We're incredibly grateful for the support we get from our fans, because it has carried us through tough times.  We try to be vocal about that and share it whenever we can.  We don't put up any fronts when we meet people or when we're interviewed, and we are open to sharing our stories and vulnerabilities. As the band becomes bigger this may become more difficult, but we'll keep trying because we really care about this connection!

Time to tap into that connection and discover why anticipation for "Say So" was so high.  "Hands Up" is another incredibly deep song; there is so much going on with an absolute minimum of structure...absolutely transcending...Courtney's vocals once again perforate with laser-like precision, and the keyboards are so entwined with the strings and guitar...much like trying to pick the fruit out of a smoothie after the blender has had its way...and the drums simply keep it all on a level us mere mortals can barely fathom...

CCA: How did the band come to be known as Bent Knee?

Vince Welch: The name "Bent Knee" has a very specific meaning and origin...but it's a secret so I can't tell you.

CCA: If you were able to perform live with anyone--living or dead--who would you choose to be on stage with?

Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth: I'd love to see bent Knee perform a set with Peter Gabriel.  I think the sonic textures we use would mesh well with what he uses.  Another fun possibility would be to have Bent Knee play background music for Mark Twain during one of his speaking engagements when he was alive.

CCA: What influences your writing; how do the songs evolve into what we hear as the final cut?

Vince Welch: The writing process is typically this:
*One or two band members develop some raw material on their own
*They bring the material in and the band digests it through our convoluted arranging process
*The arrangement is after some time deemed worthy of playing live
*It's further tweaked and continues to evolve as we play it out more.  Occasionally after playing a song out for a while we'll decide it's not working and refine it more in rehearsal; but not usually

CCA: Any plans to expand the current tour?

Chris Baum: Yes!  We will be hitting North America again in August and September after we return from Europe.  Keep an eye on our website for announcements and details.

CCA (subliminally): Please play in the Boston area again...please play in the Boston area again...please play in the Boston area again...

CCA:  What can fans look forward to from a live performance?

Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth: Six sweaty people who are happy to be performing and trying their honest to goodness best to not mess up the tunes and wanting nothing more than to play this music they made and worked really hard on.  We'll bop our heads and make hard rock faces while we sing and drum and strum at varying speeds for as long as we are allowed to.

CCA:  Any tracks on the album that touch a personal nerve?

Jessica Kion: Definitely.  A few tracks are fictional stories, but some explore real relationships in our lives, as well as experiences dealing with mental illness and the strain it puts on family.

CCA: What more does the world need to know about Bent Knee?

Chris Baum: Come see us live, and all will be revealed.

And that fellow progheads, is Bent Knee...more than just a prog band.  Six people working and playing together, bringing music to life unlike any other.  The prog garden is enriched greatly by bands such as this.  Revisit that emotional rush you experienced the first time you realized music was so much more than radio static...

I chose a clip I believe brings a lot of what Bent Knee is to the forefront; a song called "Leak Water." From the moment the song opens the door...you just know--you feel--something is excitedly different here.  Courtney's vocals don't haunt so much as they grab you from the inside and begin to slowly and deliberately flip you inside out.  The guitar work is borderline genius as it creeps in...around the vocals, stalking past the drums...and those drums!  The canvas is streaked with the brightest brights and underscored with the darkest hues...madness and mayhem neatly tied with a bow.


Adhering to the old saying "making hay while the sun shines," the time is now to check out the Bent Knee website at Bent Knee and Bent Knee Bandcamp and splurge on "Say So" and maybe even their previous releases. Follow the band on their journey through the prog garden and around the globe via Facebook at Bent Knee Facebook, and catch up-to-the-minute musings, thoughts, and ideas on Twitter at @bentkneemusic.  Few bands are able to break new ground--and by that I really mean break new ground.  Bent Knee is one such band.  Theirs is a sound Eno would be proud of...think "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" with David Byrne type uniqueness...

Bent Knee is an exhilarating breath of fresh air...so breathe deep fellow progheads!  The prog garden has been expanding as of late, and Bent Knee is a band I sincerely expect to enjoy a bright and prosperous future in the prog garden...their style and approach are a jolt to a genre already breaking the levee with an abundance of marvelous prog.

So the search for all things prog continues as the summer sun begins her annual pilgrimage across the sweltering sky...let us hope that journey lasts as long as the one the Concert Closet has undertaken...until next week...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kevin Kennie, Scarlet INside, and THirty Rivers To CRoss

The two week hiatus has ended...welcome back to the Concert Closet fellow progheads!  As you are probably well aware by now, the search for all things prog has taken to finding bands and artists that are fantastic in their own right, yet receive little to no fanfare.  In other words; the headliners and standard bearers get all the press while so much great prog talent goes unnoticed.

This week, in an effort to expose more great "underground prog" to the masses, I decided to revisit a band that impressed me tremendously when last I was in Scotland.  So to Glasgow I gladly return, this time for a review of the new release "THirty Rivers to CRoss" by Scarlet INside and a talk with the mind behind the madness, one Kevin Kennie.

Closet Concert Arena:  Congratulations on the release of your latest album, "THirty Rivers to CRoss."  Sales are going well I hope?

Kevin Kennie:  Can't say I ever expect sales of anything I record.  There is no doubt that if you look into the modern world of prog rock, very few people are aware of the existence of Scarlet INside. Starting out with no "footprint" or mark in the music world, certain things have to transpire and a lot has to happen just so for all of us in the "business" to reach a point where we have a buying public. However; I have neither the ability nor the wish to be a "businessman."  Scarlet INside is but a small project without financial means or the business acumen to spread the news.  I am quite certain there are many bands in my position.  To borrow a cliche that really sums it up; "success breeds success."

I must also say that the music of Scarlet INside, isolated as it is...can be experimental and indulgent to the point of deliberately inserting ideas and tracks that are "wrong, different, and baffling."  Add to that not recorded in a real studio, thereby reducing sound quality...

I can say with no shame and few regrets; beyond the hope people will like your music, the "BLood" album sold exactly TWO copies...ah well...

CCA: When I last visited Glasgow and discovered Scarlet INside, it was the one-man Kevin Kennie show; what is the current status of the band?

KK: Scarlet INside as a project was a decision I made after many years of playing what I call "the same ol' stuff;" Saturday night bands, cover bands, rock bands, show bands, blues bands, singer/songwriter...you get the idea.  I decided to let the music I always wanted to write, play, and record come out of hiding.

It was never meant to be a solo project but I was unable to persuade others to join the fun.  Feeling as they did that it was failing to be popular music; not wielding to the wants of the listening public...or maybe it just wasn't their "thing!"  Recently I have played/recorded as a trio which was more "rock style" with prog weirdness...as a solo act with as much "proginess" as I could get my hands around...and as a duet of full blown Scarlet INside.

Currently the situation is complicated; I have been working with keyboard player/composer Brian Johnson for the last three years.  We operate as a duet and play as many live gigs as possible.  In a trade-off of sorts, I sing the vocal tracks on his solo album and he plays keys/tech/computers/ backing tracks for Scarlet INside.  However; neither of us in the other's band...we do what we do and this odd arrangement works for both of us at present.  I would like to have other members of the band but it simply hasn't worked out.  Quite the conundrum...being unknown makes it difficult to attract
people--because they don't know who you are...

Time to check out what scared off Kevin's mainstream musician friends...so a little taste from the current release called "PLease Let Me Be Asleep."  Scarlet INside has a definite affection for the dark side of the prog garden; the images are vivid and quite full-bodied...you can almost feel that unwanted hand on your knee.  The bass line is haunting while drums and guitars tap at the back of your skull a bit delicately, as though attempting to break through without being obtrusive.  The vocals cut like a dull knife through a frozen stick of butter; not exactly a gentle exercise but fitting the mood. Kevin channels Jamie Muir for a while as he draws sound from virtually everything and
everywhere--and it works perfectly.  Don't be scared; the evil genius really is harmless...

CCA: Your music has a dark, ominous quality that somehow manages to stay on the right side of morbidity. How do you balance the dark with deep thought and not  fall into the abyss?

KK: As I said earlier, Scarlet INside is most definitely an indulgence.  Rather than dwell on ideas of what music should be, I let what's in come out and work on arranging it into working--or as is the case at times--non-working tracks.  I have been told that that my music, and in particular my lyrics, are dark and focus on death and evil; many times this is deliberate.  The first "BLood" album was decidedly about darkness and horror, while the second focused more on things that were personal to me; happy and bittersweet memories that I love.  I do enjoy upbeat, happy music...I just don't seem to have any in me...

CCA: TRTC is no exception to the darkness...I am actually sensing a concept album dealing with death and the hereafter told from the point-of-view of the gatekeeper.  Where do you go when writing and do you draw from real life experience?

KK:  Originally "Rivers" was not meant to be a concept album, but it became clear as I wrote that many ideas were similar.  The title represents the number of years since I originally formed Scarlet INside and the bridge of each year that had to be crossed.  I originally intended it to be the title of a "Best Of" album I had hoped to release last year on our 30th anniversary.  But like most things I attempt, that idea fell flat due to outside circumstances.

The concept/story behind The TWisted BRaids of CHance" tracks is that of a single (perhaps lonely) subatomic particle flying through quantum space until it chances upon a cloud of collected particles. Here it encounters/smashes/destroys/creates/becomes anew...and flies off once again into the vast spaces between matter.  Both a positive view of the creation of the new, and the loneliness of the singular.  The remaining tracks are individual but absolutely of the Scarlet INside variety...

CCA: What is the back story to the name of the band, "Scarlet INside?"

KK: The name was borrowed (???) by our original drummer and co-founder Drew McKinlay.  It was taken from a song by Clannad, an Irish band we were very fond of.  The song was about a character named Will Scarlet, a man filled with intense and dark anger over the murder of his wife. To us it represented that we are all the same inside; same color, same mind...therefore the same people.  That and the capacity for bloodletting everyone possesses within themselves.

With that lurking around your cerebral matter, time for a taste of "THe TWisted BRaid of CHance (i) ALone I TRavel."  As the song opens, you feel  as if you are about to enter Hannibal Lecter's private basement studio/laboratory...and the emotional intensity carries into part (ii); "OPening the Scarlet DOor."  Here Kevin put voice to the darkness, and in an odd way you almost feel secure walking through the cobwebs.  The guitar and drumming are dialed right in on this piece; the mood is set...and as the canvas drips the sounds enter your head and simply play off each other.  Scarlet INside has mastered the art of squeezing musical sound from any inanimate object, which makes this piece even more impressive.

CCA: The artwork on your album covers is very distinct, unique, and really nails the connection to the music. Who is the artist?

KK: All of the artwork to date is a digital compilation of photography; I use whatever free or inexpensive digital artistic programs I can find on the Internet.  However; the photos for "The Fall" were taken and arranged by me.  I have also used the photography of Scarlet INside co-founder and drummer emeritus Drew McKinlay.

CCA: If you could play a live gig with anyone living or dead, who would you want to be on stage with?

KK: My musical heroes are the people who have said, "What happens if I hit this?"  The man I most admire for doing just that is Peter Gabriel; I would love to work and perform with him.  On guitar, I would love to have David Gilmour--just to hear him up close...or John McLaughlin, although I am sure I would never be able to keep up with him.  As for someone no longer with us; perhaps Frank Zappa and/or Alex Harvey.

CCA: How has the music of Scarlet INside evolved album to album?

KK: My first Scarlet INside abum, "The Fall," was a four track EP.  Spanning time from that release to the current TRTC has been a lot of experimentation, advice given (both heeded and ignored), and following ideas and thought processes to their ultimate conclusion.  To me, the experiment--the attempt! was what mattered most--not the product of a song that people would "like."

CCA: You describe the band  as "semi-prog, multi-genre."  Can you elaborate?

KK: Although Scarlet INside can be fitted within the prog framework (perhaps no other genre would have us); no music style, type, or genre is exempt.  My personal musical tastes run from classical to world, pop synth to industrial, folk to funk...I am as happy with Mozart as I am with Motorhead, and as likely to listen to Barbra Streisand as I am Black Sabbath, or Classical Indian as King Crimson.

I have used the term Sui Generis to describe our music.  Essentially it means singular, one off; however for us it also means the track we are about to play sounds nothing like what we just played, nor will it sound like the track we follow with.  May not make us popular--but it does satisfy the soul...

CCA: What else does the world need to know about Scarlet INside?

KK: Scarlet INside the band will continue in one form or another.  I have enough material to release at least one more completed album, although I would prefer to go into the studio and work with composers to get the best out of the music.

We are preparing for some live shows, probably in Glasgow to start and hopefully we will spread out a bit wider as the tour progresses.  The suggestion was made to release a "Best Of" album, but of course there are differences of opinion as to what tracks or styles it should be comprised of.

I am considering releasing a new album of acoustic material under the name Kevin Kennie (Scarlet INside).  I am also trying to determine what style of music to turn to next...I have so many half-finished ideas and new things to learn...

Well fellow progheads, that was quite a learning experience.  Scarlet INside redefines "avoiding the mainstream."  Kevin has much going on and a lot more in the hopper waiting to be shown the light of day--or perhaps the dark of night...Scarlet INside may be dark, ominous, and even a bit morose--but don't let that force you to look away and miss some intriguing music.  Kevin has found a way to pull life from death and sound from the void that exists in the outer reaches of the prog garden.

Normally I would post a clip for your perusal and listening pleasure; this week I decided to let you listen for yourself and make a purchase if you are so inclined...surely we can move more than TWO copies!  Check out "THirty Rivers To CRoss" and more at  Scarlet INside Music.  For those who enjoy the many mood swings a prog band has to offer, you will not be disappointed.  Also check out the band's Facebook page at Scarlet INside Facebook, and of course you can keep up with the latest from Scarlet INside on Twitter at @ScarletINside.

A different journey this week fellow progheads; another tangent road traveled.  I know you will agree Scarlet INside lives on the dark side but thrives in the light.  One more fascinating "fun fact" about progressive rock; there is no hemming it in.  Unafraid to venture into sections of the prog garden previously unattended or with few visitors, Scarlet INside invites you--with sincere excitement--to hazard a walk through deeper growth.  Besides; how many prog bands list Barbra Streisand next to Black Sabbath?

Time to take the Concert Closet and the search for all things prog on another leg of this unending journey.  Not sure where I will end up but I am sure it will be worth the trip...until next week...