The New Prog Modernists?
As one of the most well-respected bands of the swinging sixties, The Syn were a regular at the London’s famous Marquee Club, where they opened for the likes of notorious bands as The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream and most memorably, Jimi Hendrix’s first ever performance in the United Kingdom.
In November of this year The Syn “rocked” the Marquee Club again, forty years later since Steve Nardelli and Chris Squire formed the group. The two have re-teamed and they have released a brand new album called "Syndestructible". Last year the band released an internet exclusive, the two-CD set "Original Syn", featuring 12 historic tracks from the Sixties, a new recording of the song Illusion and a new, hour-long interview with Chris and Steve. That album went to UK and European retail outlets last month, featuring two more new tracks: Grounded 2004 and an extended version of the Yes song Time And A Word.
So enough to talk about with Steve Nardelli whose phone call is actually 50 minutes late …
STEVE: “I am really sorry that I've called you late, but the traffic here is very bad at this moment, you know with the fire still going on in Hemel Hempstead. I live about 15 miles from the place where the explosion took place, so…. It is very dark around here and still very chaotic, actually.”
MARTIEN: On the news they stated that it was an accident.
“I have my suspicions, I must admit that I think that it was a terrorist attack, but, hey, you know, they will probably not bring that into the open ...”
So, how was the gig at the “old” Marquee last month?
“Great, actually, it was very well received. It was filmed and it will be released on DVD somewhere next year. It is being produced in the USA as we are speaking right now.”
Why did you decide to make a comeback after 40 years?
“As you know we released the double CD, or better said "the archives collection" as a memorial to our former keyboard player Andrew Jackman, who died in 2003. So we came back together as a band and we decided to record some new stuff as well. Chris got more and more involved again and so we decided to make an entire new Syn album - Syndestructible. We wrote the songs in 3-4 weeks and the album was ready within a year actually. And as you probably know it is/was very well received and that was not planned, ha ha ha… I think that the timing was right and you may not call the album a retro Sixties thing, because that is not what it was meant to be. It was supposed to be an album for the 21st century - and it turned out really great.
"Chris and I did some interviews in the USA and in the January issue of '20th Century Guitar Magazine' there will be a four pages interview, in which the author of that article calls Syndestructible the album of the century!! And that is quite an honor. We tried to mix the best stuff of the Sixties and Seventies and turn it into prog rock for 2005/2006 and I think that we succeeded in that. I believe that many prog bands of today only imitate progbands of the Seventies and Sixties and add nothing of their own. We tried to write songs in a more modern way and we call ourselves prog modernists actually. We try to sound as melodic as possible. In the forums we are often compared with Yes of course, and some people say that the new Syn album is the best Yes-related thing since Relayer, but that is not right of course! The Syn is NOT Yes!! Chris, who of course, played with Yes for many years said that our new album is one of the best he has ever made, so….”
Could you tell something about the song writing process?
“Yes, of course. I have been writing songs for over 40 years, so I know the drill. I had many ideas for lots of different songs and together with Chris we developed those ideas into real songs. Then we went into the studio and the rest of the band joined in to complete the songs that we had structured.”
The lyrics are real Sixties stuff, am I right?
“Yeah, they have a Sixties feeling and that was of course deliberate. It is a reference to where we came from, the simplistic Sixties. In contrast to how the world now thinks the Sixties were really different. Nowadays bands tend to write lyrics with a negative vibe, it is all very depressive and we tried to write some positive lyrics. You know, flower power like stuff, do not worry, be happy, make love, not war and that sort of stuff. Momentarily everybody is just worrying about the future and we wanted something positive. In fact we get a lot of e-mails from vicars and churches telling us they like our positive message.”
Are you a religious person yourself, or ?
“I was brought up in a Catholic way and that stays with you for the rest of your life I think. But we all have our own beliefs and our own gods and the world is divided by religion in our modern society. Seeing that that is the case we probably would be better of with the ideas we had in the Sixties. That is, respect each others beliefs and not try to destroy each other just because you believe in Allah instead of Jesus!”
Do you think that there is an afterlife?
“Wow, that is a heavy question on an ordinary Monday, right? Well, I believe we all have a soul and that there are two entities, and that sort of thing, but an actual afterlife, who knows, I hope so, of course, ha ha ha…”
Who does the distribution and are you quite happy with the way it is going now?
“In fact, we did not really have a record deal as an aim, so we brought the record out on Umbrello Records, which is in fact our own label, so we have it in our own hands. The distribution works great as we work with amazing guys at Universal, SPV and Warner, so no problems there. The CD really does well in the USA and also in the UK the sales figures are as we hoped; 25,000 worldwide is a great success and that is even more than the last Yes album ...”
So, we will be seeing the Syn on tour in Europe as well?
“Absolutely. We will be coming to Europe in the spring of 2006, playing gigs in Germany, France and The Netherlands of course. You know that you are a small country, but the Dutch music market is one of the biggest in the world and that is truly amazing. The Dutch audience was always into rock music and therefore we are really looking forward to playing there again. However we will be having some trouble putting a band together because Jeremy Stacey (drums) will not be available as he will be on tour with Sheryl Crowe and his brother Paul (guitar) will be in the studio producing the new Black Crowes album, so…. We need some decent musicians for the band to go on tour.”
May I suggest Alan White as a drummer…..
(after a long silence)…
”Is this a guess, or do you know this, because you are actually very close, ha ha ha….”*
What is your favourite song on the album?
“Some Time, Some Way” is my favourite, as it is a basic song, well structured with great melodies that turned out sheer great in the end as a true progressive rock song as it was planned. “The Promise” is also a song I am really proud of, in fact it is a brilliant song.”
What sort of music do you listen to at home, which bands do you like?
“I like, uh, what is the name again…… British band…..uh…..”
“Yeah, that’s the one. Great band, great vibe, great music. I also like Radiohead, Oasis and I still like Bob Dylan, ha ha ha, sorry about that, but I like him a lot, still…. But, you know the good stuff does not get any airplay. The only music you see on TV is that Pop Idols shit and rap music! You never hear/see a decent prog rock band on the radio/TV, sad but true.”
I hope that the new Syn is not a one-album project…
“No, it is not, we are already working on new songs and a new album. Seeing that Chris has enough free time – there are no Yes plans – we can focus on the Syn and hopefully lots of people will come to see us on tour and also buy the new record.”
Thanks for your time and lots of success with the “new” Syn.
“Thanks, mate, it was nice talking to you and see you on tour.”
*Since this interview, it has been confirmed [DPRP News] that Alan White will play drums on the Syndestructible US tour!
Photographs - © 2005 The Syn
Gerard Johnson | Martyn Adelman | Chris Squire | Steve Nardelli
THE SYNDESTRUCTIBLE TOUR DATES:
Sunday - 8th January 2006 -- New York City, NY -- Joe's Public Theater
Monday - 9th January 2006 -- Alexandria, VA (DC) -- Birchmere
Wednesday - 11th January 2006 -- Chicago, IL -- Martyrs
Thursday - 12th January 2006 -- Chicago, IL -- Martyrs
Friday - 13th January 2006 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Shank Hall
Sunday - 15th January 2006 -- Cleveland, OH -- Beachland Ballroom
Monday - 16th January 2006 -- Philadelphia, PA -- World Cafe
Tuesday - 17th January 2006 -- New York, NY -- BB King's
Thursday - 19th January 2006 -- Boston, MA -- Somerville Theater
Tuesday - 14th February 2006 -- Portland, OR -- Aladdin Theatre
Wednesday - 15th February 2006 -- Seattle, WA -- Tractor Tavern
Sunday - 19th February 2006 -- San Francisco, CA -- Cafe du Nord
Tuesday - 21st February 2006 -- Hollywood, CA -- Knitting Factory
The Syn Official Website
DPRP Review of Syndestructible
DPRP Concert Review of Marquee Concert - 15 November 2005