DPRP's Dave Baird speaks with
The Tangent & PO90's Andy Tillison
A new Tangent album without any members of The Flower Kings, could this really be true? We caught up with Andy Tillison to get the story direct from the horses mouth and ended up discussing "Life, the Universe and Prog".
Andy's from Yorkshire, in case you didn't you know...
DAVE: When we last spoke in May 2008 on the InsideOut tour you were forming a collaboration with Beardfish and living in South of France, what changed and why?
ANDY: God. May 2008 - that was outside the Spirit of 66 - on the tour bus where so much happened and went through my mind. I just felt like an alien. I was wandering nomadically both on that tour bus and from gig to gig. I was living with a French lady whom I'd formed a relationship with, after the breakup with Sam, in a small French town, and I knew that I was going to let her down. I hadn't spoken English to real people for so long. I'd had this 100 percent French life that I was still clinging onto and suddenly I was doing this tour with the Tangent - all three of them Swedish, on a bus with two other Swedish bands and a German driver. I have never felt so hopelessly lost and personally inadequate. Things weren't going well with the Tangent band, Jonas and I were really approaching the end of our time together and it was showing. Krister was a nice guy and amazing player but who never had that much enthusiasm for the music - a guy who showed a lot of personal disapproval about me both as a person and as a musician, and Jaime was just stuck in a situation - half way between his friends and me.
That night we spoke was the night that Jonas said something to me which simply made my mind say "this is over". And just a few days later I made some huge decisions at my friend Guy's house. I never went back to France and I decided to end the Tillison/Reingold partnership which had been going since the first album. It was sad, because I really do like Jonas and think he's a fantastic musician, but it just wasn't working any more. Our priorities were just way way different. Not wrong, not right, just different you know? We did our only date after that tour with Beardfish... the guys who I'd spent most of the time with on that tour. I loved 'em and still do, the most important prog band alive. But the most over-riding problem was that I really didn't belong anywhere anymore. I'd taken the easy option of staying in France with someone - because my home in England was gone, and I felt I'd let down my Po90 friends. I was in this "band" that was just me and three "session musicians" - that's all they wanted to be, nothing more. And on that bus somewhere between all those countries we wandered in and out of, I just realised that at nearly 50 I had to really really start again before I was too old to start again, and that's what I did. Got a little flat in Leeds, lived on my own and started to write a new album without the first idea of who was going to play on it. My managers Ian and Michael were really supportive and without them and Guy M, well I have no idea where I would be right now. And then...
DAVE: And then "Down And Out In Paris And London", I suppose that's a self-referential title then?
ANDY: Yeah. "Down And Out In Paris And London". There are so many reasons why it's called that. It couldn't have had any other title. Beardfish and I spent two fairly mad days in those cities, hatching plots and generally enjoying each other's company. We even recorded the sound of a car park, and it's on the album. But I have spent time alone in London, I've had a couple of nights on the streets there, and in France too, if not Paris itself. There was one time when I just ended up sleeping by the motorbike at a service station while I worked out what to do - and other nights still worse. That whole period of my life between 2006 and 2008 when I was trying to work out where I belonged again was a huge conflict of France versus home. Home won, but I upset people and didn't behave as I should. I let some people down. One in particular. Paris, London, France, England. I got sent to do interviews by InsideOut to Paris on the release of Not As Good As The Book, I had this really posh hotel overlooking the square of the gare du Nord - full of colour, life and general Paris-ness: Cafes, bars, tabacs... the whole Paris deal, beautiful, with the Sacre Couer illuminated behind it all. Went away for some interviews... with Ben˘it from Koid 9 (French progzine) - and when I came back the whole scene had changed. All the lights were out and I counted more than 50 people dossed down in sleeping bags on the floor. Remembering how easy it is to end up in that situation, I wrote a song about the two cities that Paris can be. "Perdu Dans Paris" and pared it with a song about life in the less salubrious areas of London like Tower Hamlets, and that's called "The Company Car". The company car is a hearse... Orwell had already given me the title. Nothing to do with his novel though, just my impressions of the same title. I have that affliction of loving two countries dearly. So all that happens is you miss one when you're in the other. I guess you know that David...
DAVE: Well I've no desire to live back in UK to be honest, I met my (Danish) wife here in Brussels and now have three little kids, a big mortgage and guess what, a company car, what have you got against those then?
ANDY: Well as I say the first "company car" that some people will ever ride in, is a hearse. I don't have anything against company cars, just against all cars.
DAVE: Ah sorry, I misunderstood. Be pleased to know that we sold our second car and I bought a bicycle :-) Your activities in London and Paris don't exactly correspond to the vision I have a of a successful recording artist?
ANDY: I am a successful PROG recording artist (laughs) and that's a big difference. But seriously, those experiences were something that just happened after a big disaster in my life you know, not something that regularly happens to me. It was the fact that they happened at this stage in a person's life, when I was young I looked on 50 year olds as kind of respectable people who had everything sorted out. Mortgages, cars, pension plans, the whole shebang. The whole lot went out of the window for me... and I had just a motorbike and a load of synths stuck in a shed in France. My kids were worried sick about me. Be assured that I'm sat here now in my comfortable studio in a nice house in a lovely part of England with a glass of ginger wine. But I will never ever forget how close we all can be from something as violently full of change as what I had in 2006. Quite a lot of the album sees this.
DAVE: So tell us a bit more about the album then - a new bunch of musicians and you play guitar too!
ANDY: Well - highly improbably, this album has turned out to be my personal favourite of all the Tangent stuff. That doesn't mean it's gonna be the best for everyone, but for me it unquestionably is. I started off not really knowing where I was going, or even who was going to play on it. But somehow - this time around I really feel that the songwriting was the best I had done. The basic nuts and bolts of the CD if you like, before all the trimmings and arrangements go on - before all the "musician" bits, I felt I had something warm and melodic. And the new guys really brought that out. Both Jonathan Barrett (bass) and Paul Burgess (drums) are very experienced musicians, and I feel that their approach to the playing of the album was very sympathetic towards the songs themselves. Neither of them were wanting to show the world how great they were as musicians (although in my case that's exactly what they did) and the result genuinely gives the Tangent's songs more breathing space and a more organic feel. I think the album has flow, something I feel we've lacked a little - something I feel a lot of prog bands have trouble with - not because of their inadequacy, but because the task is really really difficult. The album's final shape was aided by the inspiration of a new person in my life. She doesn't play on the album, but there's something there, in the music that she put there. You can't turn it up and down with the mixer, add treble or bass to it - but you can hear it.
The guitar was a major risk! I bought the guitar (a cheap Yamaha) for 20 Euros in a bric-a-brac shop... it didn't work but I fixed it. I've played some ham fisted guitar parts all my life, but never really learned much about the instrument. As the compositions were built up, while no guitarist had been recruited, I suddenly started thinking, "what if I tried to learn this thing?" You know... a bit like Fripp got Boz Burrell in to play bass in King Crimson, and had to teach him bass. I was also really impressed by a retired Vicar who'd (in his 70s) suddenly taken an arts degree and started producing some really good contemporary art. So I thought, "why not have a go?" and that was a risk, but I like risks. Doubtless there's a few "guitar police" out there who now hate the album because they have different priorities when listening to an album, they need to hear certain skills manifested and to be dazzled by ability. But for me, learning to play this guitar, exploring its sounds and possibilities became the nub of what I was doing, it focussed my inspiration, gave me new ideas and kept me fresh. It's only logical that that would happen isn't it? Sure, there's a guitar solo (in "Where Are They Now") that Roine Stolt or Jakko could have tossed off in a blink of an eye. It took me a week to do. A whole week trying to play a 30 second long solo. But what I learned in that week I will have for ever! And it gives me something that all musicians need to have, a certain pride in an achievement... the accomplishing of something you haven't really tried before. As I've often mentioned in interviews before, my original background in music was in punk rock, the idea of doing the guitar parts for this album was (if not stylistically) very in tune with the positive punk ethic of "trying hard". There's lots of negative punk ethics like "who gives a shit?", but I never subscribed to them anyway. I should say though, that the beautiful guitar work in "Perdu Dans Paris" is not me. That was my good friend Jakko who stepped in to help me out.
DAVE: I'll be totally honest that it hadn't clicked that it was you playing and I didn't think "OMG WTF?" neither so I guess you did a decent job! Actually the opening guitar immediately reminded me of Mark Knopfler in it's style and production. So after it fell apart with "The Swedes" how did you go about getting these guys on board, and is this the start of a stable line-up?
ANDY: Well thanks for the roses. I think we'll agree that "I got away with it", nothing more. There'll be a new Tangent guitarist real soon, and I'm really excited about that. I had already worked with Jonathan Barrett before. He was originally with Po90 on the first two albums, and I'd always regretted his departure. He's an astonishingly good player with a real feel of his own and a glorious touch on the fretless bass. We've known each other for years. So when he said he was interested I was delighted. And he in turn knew and had worked extensively with Paul Burgess - so in a way I got my rhythm section on one phone call. Pauls' worked at a really high level, he's done Tull Live, Camel (Stationary Traveller, Pressure Points) - he's played drums for 10cc since the 70s and he's still doing it, and stuff like Joan Armatrading and more and more. He was great fun to work with and as I said earlier demonstrated a real affinity with the music itself. Stable line-up? The Tangent? Who knows!! Paul's really busy with 10cc... can't see him cancelling one of their tours to come and play the Boedirij for one night with the Tangent :-). We may have to use our phone book to get the drummer we need, and Jaime Salazar is still open to playing with us. Rock fans do tend to like this stable lineup thing... something that isn't actually QUITE as important as is seen to be. Prog rock bands like Yes and Crimson have never been stable, where as others like Rush have. Proggers work with all sorts of different people and there's loads of logistical stuff that gets in the way, like tours with other bands - and day jobs too!! The Tangent isn't 4 guys who grew up together and played in a garage when they were young. It never can be that, because it just didn't happen that way. I always hope that the sum of the Tangent's contribution will be calculated on the music it made, regardless of who was in it at the time. We are more like an orchestra or a football team. We are the Tangent, who-ever we happens to be.
DAVE: That's true - Jon Anderson always said that "Yes" wasn't so much a band but a concept that gets passed around many people, even now down generations is seems. So still the session musician concept then rather than a band. How do you go about developing the songs in this type of group?
ANDY: Well so far I have written nearly all the material for the band since day one. Sam Baine wrote a couple of songs and Theo wrote one and co-wrote the big title track of "A Place In The Queue" with me. The rest is my own work. However, the way I work with the musicians is to let them take the music and interpret it the way they feel. I don't dictate what they should play, rather give suggestions and see where it goes. I said to Jonathan just before we started, "this is your album too, play what you feel needs to be there". If you have chosen the right musicians, that technique will work. After all, Jonathan knows an awful lot more about what a bass can do than I ever will, so it's simply a matter of trusting and handing over to someone you believe will take care of it well. In the Tangent and Po90 I have been blessed with such people since day one. Guy M usually plays a big role in throwing heinous criticisms about the songs into the pot with lists of improvement that need to be made. I put quite a lot of importance in that. This album though, Guy was really busy with his own stuff so we didn't have as much time as we'd have liked for all the bickering, (laughs) but in the end I kind of stood in for him and bickered at myself, pretending to be him. I kind of knew what he'd say already. Anyway, all in all, the songs are mine, but the band is the band. These aren't Andy Tillison solo albums - because the input from the others is far too great for me to take all the credit. Besides which nobody would buy them.
DAVE: Geoff Feakes, a DPRP colleague actually wanted to know what Guy does on the album as he can't really hear his contribution.
ANDY: Well I know that Geoff is a big Manning fan. He'll be pleased to know that Guy was working very hard on his own stuff and what is coming from them will be really good. Guy's on this new Tangent album, it's understated stuff but it's there and it play its part. His focus is mainly on his own project these days though - this is a problem that's common to loads of members of The Tangent, we've shared people with Gong, Soft Machine, Manning, The Flower Kings, Van Der Graaf, 10cc, Karmakanik and numerous solo projects. Ya know, everyone has their own bee in their bonnet. Me too. I have two, Po90 and The Tangent.
DAVE: In the opening track, "Where Are They Now" you bring a lot of characters from earlier Tangent songs back to life?
ANDY: Yes, and why not? It's actually something that just seemed to flow from what was happening in my life. The first three Tangent albums were all made in a life that was organised, happy and content. The fourth album was made in complete pandemonium, and here I am now rebuilding everything, and once again happy about my life and my future. Looking back at those albums is looking back over a huge gulf - and like I mention before you can never know what the end of the story is. And I realised that lots of the stories I've told have changed... that the banker/business man who cared for no-one and nothing but himself in our 2004 song "The Winning Game" is now on the sharp end of the stick, hated by so many, losing a lot and being affected by forces he cannot control - my kids have grown from riotous teenagers into professional people in that short window of the Tangent's existence, so the songs "Darkest Dreams" and "Place In The Queue" needed updating. My own story had changed, and Earnest the pilot character from "In Earnest" died, after having had a stroke. There will be those cynics who say "Andy has no new ideas", but I think development and expansion of an idea is as valid a move as a new idea altogether. I like the way the Tangent moves forwards, backwards and sideways across its own mission statement. I don't think this new album is a great push forward, it was never intended to be. It's like (someone even wrote this in a review of it) closing a chapter in order to open another one.
DAVE: So, are all these characters based on people that you know?
ANDY: Some yes, some no, some half and half. I obviously have to say that myself and my children are people I know. The banker in "The Winning Game" is just a generic character, imagined - but I have met such people. People in a rush, hoping for a good deal, a good bonus, people who exploit things without ever realising what it is they are exploiting. I think the systems of exploitation are so well trodden and disguised these days that all of us are capable of falling into it. I am just as guilty as anyone else. So that character is really just a kind of front for something we all do.
"Earnest" though is a real character - but I should really say "characters". There was a man I had the pleasure of knowing called "Earnest". He was in the RAF during the war, and I have spent a few evenings talking to him at a Radio Amateur's club that I was a member of in my home town of Otley in West Yorkshire. He was a very gentle man, polite and very interesting. However he had lost a great deal of his memory of his more recent life, and most of his memories were of a horrendous war. His life as a grocer after the war had so faded within his mind that it hardly seemed to exist. Seeing him pushed out of the way at the bar by young men was very affecting, bearing in mind what roles he had played in even their lives. At the same time I was fortunate enough to speak on my radio set to one of the original Dam Busters. A man who had spent much of his life regretting the fact that HIS bomb had failed to breach the Sorpe Dam. He was a remarkable character. Since the original song "In Earnest" the actual "Earnest" himself had a stroke in his bathtub and was there for some time before anyone found him. He was then transferred to a rest home where he died a few months later. This needed somehow writing into the music. But most of all I wanted to express wonder about the Dam Buster. A television programme flew him back to the sites of his crashed friends Lancasters, and he stood on top of the Sorpe Dam and looked down from it - still intact. He was taken to meet the people and families that lived below that Dam. Families who would never had existed had his bomb really exploded that night. He was intensely moved, and I, the weaker of the two, was in tears watching the programme. It was like all the strands of his life story had suddenly become frayed a few hundred feet above that Dam in the 40s, and equally suddenly been re-woven together in 2008 in the same place, far away from his home. I was stunned. I somehow had to finish the story... and that's what I did.
DAVE: During the war he was only defending his country against a greater evil, to then come back fifty years later and say "Look at all the people you could have killed". That's not really fair...
ANDY: "Fair"? What happens in wars is hardly a fair thing to start with. I was impressed with this man's ability to deal with what he was confronted with, and to make realisations about things he had done. He met and spoke to contemporaries, ordinary German folk who would have died had his bomb worked that night. They treated him like a friend. They shook his hand. He met German people who every year took flowers to the crash site of a Lancaster that had come to kill them, he said on the top of the Dam that he had spent his whole life regretting his "failure" that night, but for the first time in 60 years he was glad the bomb hadn't gone off. None of these innocents were to blame or to be blamed. They were all part of a madness, all doing their best to get through that madness. Their powers of forgiveness and understanding were something that we in these generations must learn from. If you are asking me if the programme they made was "fair" - putting him in that position - well it probably wasn't. I think a lot of TV programmes and newspaper articles put people into very unfair situations - something I do my fair share of singing about. However, regardless of how fair or not fair it was, the man was totally and 100 percent honest about his feelings, and he came out of it exceptionally well. He and the others I saw interviewed on that programme are of a type that may never come again. The bravery of forgiveness is possibly one of the greatest braveries one can manifest.
DAVE: So, one can assume that you were taking Paroxetine at some point?
ANDY: Paroxetine - yup. Been there. It's an anti depressant drug that I hate. I still have to take it because it's got horrendous withdrawal symptoms. Even though I'm happy as hell. I took it on recommendation of my doctor in the bad days of 2006, and wish I never had. I'm on a tiny dose these days that hardly affects me, but when I was on the big dosage, well there's this period when you feel better, but all the colour and dynamics start to fade out of your life. The lyrics to the song do reflect that.
DAVE: Everyman's Forgotten Monday, this track I remember you played live in 2008, then it was called Burma though?
ANDY: "Everyman's Forgotten Monday" is a bonus track on the European limited edition of the new album, yes. I'm not too sure I understand all the bonus things, but I was asked if we had a "bonus song", and we did not. What we did have was this track that we'd recorded for a special "fan-only" album that we had recorded for people who helped us over the hurdles that came up when SPV records went into whatever it is that businesses go into when they are in trouble. So I did a special remix of the song, and in tribute to Rick Wright, used a lot of Floydy keyboards sounds with particular reference to "Welcome To The Machine" That's very much a once-only thing, because the Tangent has always sought to avoid Pink Floyd in its sound, not because of any dislike, simply because there are enough Floyd tribute bands and so-close-they-might-as-well-be-tribute-bands out there to populate a small country. This is a very old song, dating back as far as 1988 when we recorded it under the name "Gold, Frankincense and Disk Drive" for our second LP "Lifecycle". it was written after having watched a Sunday night semi-religious programme about world affairs called "Everyman". It had featured a special report about the plight of the people of Burma under a repressive and very cruel regime. The value of human life was so low there, and the horrors that the programme presented were so intense they made me feel physically ill, yet the next day hardly anyone else had seen the programme "Everyman", and the mainstream news and current affairs programmes did not pick up on the story. Burma simply wasn't strategically important enough to create the kind of fuss that would be given to a wealthier nation.
We revived the song on the 2008 InsideOut tour because of a natural catastrophe that took place in Burma which only went to show that in all that time nothing much had changed, that the people still lived in not just misery, but fear too. The military leaders of the country wouldn't even let aid into their country, so frightened were they of spying and people learning the hideous truths. The original song was of course played by a politically charged and very punky anarcho band and did use liberally the word "fuck". Although most Tangent songs don't need to use such language, somehow when re-inventing the song, I felt that to smooth it out, self censor etc would be to dilute the anger which I felt about it, and to dilute the urgency of what needed to be said. So, improbably, we end up with a lot of "fucks" on a Tangent album. I have no idea at all whether it's for this reason that it hasn't appeared on any US editions (that dreadful Eminem character seems to be able to swear as much as he likes). I'm not too understanding of US language censorship, but I do know that the bulk of negative criticism for our political messages in both Po90 and The Tangent comes from the US - that's always puzzled me because the Americans write the best political protest songs in the world.
DAVE: I heard about that fund-raising CD you did about two days after it was announced and by that time it was already fully subscribed. So one hell of a response, but it must have been a stressful time for the artists on the label?
ANDY: It was a very stressful time for us and everyone else, and also for our label InsideOut. I think a lot of people were prepared to "give up" on them at this point - things did look a bit bad. The recording sessions which had already been booked were all about to be cancelled, and the album would have had to go onto indefinite hold. We took a lot of out-takes from previous albums (including a 20 minute song which would have been on the new one, had it not been for its somewhat controversial nature) and some parts of a "shelved" and unreleased Tangent album that never was "Le Massacre Du Printemps". It sold out in 48 hours and was posted to over 50 countries around the world. All you have to do is make an album like this and you can guarantee that those people who have it will say "it's better than the official release" - read one of those this morning on "Progressive Ears". But most importantly, our fans paid for the hire of the studio, musician session fees and a very good round of sandwiches from "Subway". We mentioned as many of them as we could by name on the sleeve of "Down And Out", and gave up 2 pages of the booklet to them. We are incredibly grateful for that, because the new album came out on schedule. Exactly as predicted before the SPV problems. I think it was a whole question of the fans, a record company and a band all trusting each other. We all won! There may well be another release of that album in a slightly different form in the future, the demand for it since we sold out is rather convincing us we ought to do it, we get enquiries every day... We've asked our subscribers if they mind us taking another bite of the cherry, and typically, nobody is in anyway opposed to it. Our fans are great people, very loyal and very enthusiastic about what we do.
DAVE: Well fortunately InsideOut got rescued and you discovered you have a lot of people that believe in you, that must be quite humbling. I do wonder though as the nature of music distribution changes that this doesn't become more prevalent?
ANDY: It was indeed humbling. That recording session was one of the most intensely "We'e gotta get this right" sessions ever! It's very difficult to predict what will happen with the music industry and where it will end up going. Where prog rock will go within that is also difficult to predict - it's at a very difficult stage at the moment, both commercially and artistically. Downloads, social networking and free communication have undoubtedly created many more opportunities for prog rock, but what happens next is not as clear to predict as what has already been was to predict. I think I got my predictions right as far as HERE, but where next is difficult. Very difficult.
DAVE: Coming back to the CD, one track we didn't touch on yet was "Ethanol Hat Nail", the Canterbury Sequence Part 2. This is quite a technical piece...
ANDY: Well, yes it is technical, and it's really because it was written in a different way for me. The actual piece was started in France as just a piano improvisation. I didn't do counting, just had a flat metronome beat behind me and played what I wanted to play. The result is there was never any formal time signature and as a result of that it was exceptionally difficult to piece together into an organised piece of music with 5 musicians in Warrington a year and a half later. Questions like "What key is it in" and "What's the time signature" left me flapping my hands in ignorance - because I don't read or write music properly at all. In the end it was just a great team effort that got the song through the recording phase. I don't think we'll play it live though, we can't get hold of enough exotic drugs to contemplate that. Somehow though, we managed to turn it into a nice catchy song in places. That does rather please me!
DAVE: It gives the band a chance to stretch their legs and strut their stuff a bit - on all the other tracks the instrumentation is perhaps more laid-back than previous Tangent albums, but that's clearly not due to a lack of ability on behalf of the musicians.
ANDY: Well, not wanting to criticize your impressions - but I sometimes feel that the abiltity to be more "laid back" demonstrates a further level of skill that often lacks in modern prog. I've always believed that it's as much about what you don't play as about what you DO play. This new rhythm section have really, really respected the songwriting, and have delivered (as far as my ears are concerned) far more space for the songs to work in. The Tangent has never been one of those Liquid Tension Experiment thingies, you know, I'm not that good, and I'm not that interested in being that good as a musician. I want to play well, develop and write good music with whatever talents I have, but showing off my chops to people isn't what either of my bands is about. Compare Paul Burgess' playing on this new Tangent with Mike Portnoy's on the new Transatlantic. Portnoy, a brilliant drummer, manages to totally desensitize the music with a blitz of dazzling ability to hit hard and play fast. Burgess relaxes into the vibe and thinks about where the melody is going. When we gave him his big drum break in "Paroxetine" he certainly showed his class, but he didn't insist on any of that kind of stuff in the rest of it. Jonathan Barrett thinks two or three times before doing some techno nonsense, and usually discard the idea in favour of, once again, the song.
DAVE: I don't feel criticised, you just reinforced what I was thinking. And now the Flower Kings link is totally severed too and the whole sounds is quite different.
ANDY: Here's a huge division of opinions!! We have one group of "critics" on a particularly snotty forum that is a sort of cess-pit of prog rock grumbling and discontent. They advocate that our music hasn't advanced at all or changed sufficiently to make us valid to them. At the same time they are saying that the new album is like a return to the first, the same guys are arguing that we're not as good because we don't have the Flower Kings guys with us any more. That's a kind of circular debate really. Some forum contributors are like those guys at football matches who always assume that they know a lot better than the manager, and who would have had Gerrard on from the start and left Beckham out of the lineup. They support certain musicians like football players and bands like teams. And in the end, we all have to ignore it and assume that either everyone in the world hates us, or at least assume that at least 60 percent of the forum is made up of other up and coming bands who want to diss us under a pseudonym (not the DPRP of course!!). I think that the Tangent's sound is bound to shift with our ever-changing lineup. Yet I'd argue that its compositional makeup remains steady and focussed on the band's primary aim which is to make relevant commentary on contemporary things, through a backdrop of well crafted and adventurous progressive rock music. In Yes the transition from Bruford to White played a major role - but I don't think that Yes stopped being Yes when that happened.
What's really likely to change is the way people see us. And here we have two camps, the football-supporter camp will probably have a field day saying that we are rubbish now, and the others realising that eventually we have taken a stand and declared independence. That we can exist alongside the Flower Kings as two viewpoints on similar ideas. When I first saw the Flower Kings, I cried with real tears, because I thought what they did was so, well... beautiful. I bought their entire back catalogue the week after. They became heroes of mine, people I really respected and loved. It was actually as big an honour to work with them as it was to work with Dave Jackson, who I've adored since I was 12 years old. But five years into that relationship I realised that I was never going to be a real Flower King! They were friendly but not really totally convinced about The Tangent. I'd hired them, right from day one, and I had paid them for everything they had done and at good rates too for a nobody like me. I still owe some of them money. I hoped that as the band progressed we'd grow better relations, and although I got on very well with Jonas, Roine and Jaime, I became aware that the cultural divide between them and myself, despite their excellent English, was wide. My background in English punk rock did not mean a great deal to them. I didn't know if the music we made together meant anything at all to them, and I still don't. I don't know how much the lyrics meant at all to them... So a lot of it goes back to that tour-bus where we first did an interview together David, where I felt like an alien in my own band. The formal decision to part company was taken just after the tour ended. I totally respect all the guys who worked with me during that time, they gave me a chance and opportunity that I could never have had. Their involvement gave me the success that I got. I would have nothing without them. And now it is time to ask the fans what it is they were supporting, some musicians from their favourite band - or The Tangent, no matter who's in it! Regardless of all the forum accusations of making "a safe album" - I think that we have taken some major risks here. I will continue to be a fan of the Flower Kings, and look forward to the pleasure of buying their next album as a fan, not as someone who works with them.
DAVE: Yeah, I can imagine a lot of people picked up on The Tangent in the first place because of the TFK connection - myself included, but at the end of the day the main sound component is your voice, your keyboards, your compositions and your lyrics (with a few exceptions), so taking such a stance doesn't make any sense at all.
ANDY: It's nice that you acknowledge that, but nonetheless there are people who will inevitably feel that their own involvement with The Tangent is now something we have to work for, now the Flower King guys are no longer there. It's worth remembering that there's a lot of vocal people who don't like my voice and do tend to say so with an alarming (at first) and tedious (after five albums) regularity. Just today though I saw a guy responding to one of those threads saying he thought my voice was individual, and what he was looking for was individuality. So I'll buy that. But none of these guys are going to stop me singing, lets face it. They might not like Brad Pitt's face, but that's not going to stop him acting, is it? My own view of The Tangent's music is that like Spock's Beard or the Flower Kings themselves, well you know we owe a huge debt to the 70s, sure, but we sound like US, like Beardfish sound like Beardfish. There are large numbers of bands who sound like other people. I can think of bands who are hardly distinguishable from Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson, Renaissance goes rock (every single band in Britain this year (laughs)). We have huge debts to other artists, sure - but I think we can claim to have certain things which are our own. We sort of sound like Van der Graaf crashing into Camel on a road in Canterbury on the way to Sweden in a van with some daggers and a Hammond organ. At least not many others do that.
Renaissance. That's why we had punk, to get rid of them. It worked, now what's gone wrong?
DAVE: Good question, what did go wrong back when punk started up?
ANDY: Prog Rock went out of favour because it got itself into trouble. It started to get too big for its own boots. In 1976 you couldn't join a rock band unless you had an LRAM diploma in music and know how to whip off a Rachmaninov
piano concerto and have a curry at the same time. The music became empty, the law suits more frequent, the live shows more and more ludicrously expensive. I, as a real lover of all things prog, welcomed punk with open arms because prog was to me going down the toilet. ELP had become laughable, Yes distant, Pink Floyd untouchable and Genesis were well on the way to being something else. In 2009, 16 years after the first Flower Kings album, there's more prog CDs released every year now than were albums made by all the bands of the 70s put together.
DAVE: Just to round-up on the Flower King connection... Last time we spoke you were missing the "true band" feel and the cultural background correspondences, but I suppose you wouldn't rule-out working with these guys again though?
ANDY: No point in ruling anything out. They are amazing musicians. Ya know, prog rock revivals are the biggest part of the business these days. Transatlantic have shown that. Even humble little Po90 have done better for a 7 year split. We've sold more Po90 albums in 3 weeks than we did of the entire sales of our last album. I guess that someone might invite us to do and "original line-up plays The Music That Died Alone" in 20 years time, and only the drummer will do it, because he thought of the name (he didn't, that was a thinly veiled dig at someone else). They'll get someone to imitate me and everyone will complain that he's not bad enough as a singer. However, they'll headline every festival going for a couple of years with "Zoltan Csorsz's Tangent" and no up and coming bands will be able to get gigs. No - seriously, of course I would love to work with these people again, but it didn't work out well for me in the end, and just as importantly it didn't work out well for them either. I am at my happiest in Po90 with my friends at the bum-end of the bill in a small festival. Then we can take the piss out of the oh so serious bands like The Tangent. Tangent gets me all stressed!! But you never know, the new line-up might be a load better live. Of course, it might be shit too. Oh god. I hope you're going to let me cut some of this out.....
DAVE: Cut the interview, no way, this is pure gold! Could you ever have imagined everything that has been achieved by The Tangent 10 years back?
ANDY: No, I'd never have dared to dream it. The Tangent project took me from being a kind of respected nobody to a platform where I was being spoken about in the same sentences as people I loved and listened to. That part of The Tangent was a magical experience for me. We ended up coming second best album of the year on your site, with our first album, second only to Neal Morse who by that time I'd been listening to for the best part of 10 years. I'd been reading DPRP as a fan since you kicked off. I was genuinely bowled over, amazed and quite humbled by it. But I think a lot of us were back in those days. Since that happened I've seen lots of bands mobilizing their fans to "vote for them" in polls, using internet social networking to get people to rally around etc. I can't say that I blame them, but in the end it's honesty to yourself that counts. So we've never done that. I do frequently fill in the DPRP poll, vote for what I liked in the year. I've never voted for myself or any of the bands that I work with, and we have never requested that anyone vote for us in a poll and I remember receiving a letter from your boss Bob Mulvey who even commented on this fact. Strangely, I was amazed to find out that other musicians DID vote for themselves in polls. I must be terribly terribly naive. Saddest of all was last year when I ran into a thread on the mailing list of a band who I like, a whole strategy of who NOT to vote for had been compiled, in order to put that band on top of the tree in the DPRPoll. We were one to not vote for. I guess that will be down to managers etc., but I'm glad my manager doesn't make me do that.
Recently I've noticed a sort of weird attitude among some of the newer bands, bands who are emerging during the time of the X-Factor, which like it or not is pervading the modern scene in all spheres. I was at a festival with Po90 earlier this year and a new band kicked off the day on the Sunday morning. I remember thinking to myself... hmmm, not bad... will check them out... that's a good start (and that process with a new band can really be the beginning of something fantastic). The audience seemed to share my opinion. A few days later, having subscribed to their news feed on facebook, well I became dismayed with the exaggerated reports of their "triumph", the posting of their videos all over the place and quotes like "we are gonna be a ferret at the heels of the other bands". It wasn't long before I switched their news feed off! Thing is, I'd have been interested, but they overdid it, and forgot that most important thing that is the 2 way street of band/audience. Their good experience at the festival was as much down to the excellent
bonhomie and enthusiasm of the audience. They evidently didn't see the applause as something given, but as something they were owed. And the quote about ferrets at heels implies a competition, a contest, a faceoff between bands (someone started a Transatlantic v Tangent poll the other day - ridiculous, how could we ever win? Why would we want to? If we did win what would we have proved? Nothing) - and these ideas are Cowell generated nonsense. Never mind the bloody Tangent, BEARDFISH are the ones who matter these days - they are a band who were so quiet and modest when they first appeared, their website was utterly useless at the time, they simply and calmly played their music, didn't shout loud. Their music did the talking not the social networking spams.
To play to a real progressive rock crowd is one of the greatest privileges an electric musician can have. So many musicians are ignored, young indie bands fighting problems in half empty venues, musicians having to play background music to diners and drinkers. At a good prog rock gig you can sometimes hear a pin drop in the quieter moments in your set. Yet the applause at the end can be tumultuous. This dynamic is unreachable in so many areas of music, and small though the crowds may be, they are like gold. Every time I get to play in front of people like that, I feel that it is ME who's being treated, not them. A very long answer to a very short question perhaps - but I still feel the whole Tangent experience to have been a major privilege, something I never saw coming, and when the "ferrets at our heels" have won their competitions and beaten us to a pulp, it will be something I will still treasure all my life. Those years when I got to actually stand on the stage and play to the people who were at the same Yes gigs as I was when we were a little younger. Wow.
DAVE: One of the things on the new album that really struck me with the sound is the lush, warm production, that's quite different from certainly the last few albums. Did you do all the mixing yourself and did you explicitly approach it differently?
ANDY: Ah, mixing and mastering. Such a difficult thing. When you start to do a mix of what you've recorded, the possibilities of what you can do with it are literally infinite. I've been working on production since the mid 80s when I owned and ran a commercial recording studio in Leeds. In those days I was mainly recording punk, goth and thrash metal and that kind of production was wildly different to what had to be done with The Tangent. At the beginning of The Tangent, I was so impressed with the sound of the Flower Kings that I placed myself in their hands. Although I did the final mixes, I was sending all the mixdowns to Jonas, Guy & Roine, later to Theo and Jakko - listening to their feedback and altering it accordingly. When they were happy, I was happy. And this continued, right throughout The Tangent's career until this one. And here I stopped and thought, "I'll try this one myself". I've done so many recordings for so many people now, that I do know what to expect when asking clients and fellow musicians for their opinions on a mix. Most members of the band will be pre-occupied with their own sound, whether their part is loud enough, the right tone etc. One memorable and poignant dispute about a mix was with Po90 in the late 90s. Everyone in the band got to hear the mix, and every single member said that they couldn't hear their own parts well enough. That meant that the guitars, the bass, the drums, the other keyboards were all not loud enough. As there were hardly any of my keyboards in the song, I was compelled to ask "Well if you can't hear yourself, what can you hear?" I decided that the answer to the question was that what they could hear was in fact "Parallel or 90 Degrees". I therefore decided that the mix was right.
In a prog rock band there's usually a clash of views about the foreground sounds of guitar and keyboards. There are moments in songs where both the guitarist and the keyboards player will feel that it is their part that needs to be taking the lead role. On this album, there was no clash at all, because for the most part, the guitars and the keyboards were being played by the same person, who was subsequently doing the mix. It meant that during the mix, the three egos of composer/guitarist/keyboards player were all perfectly attended to. The mix of "Down And Out" is something I'm very pleased with. I feel that the final CD production is slightly too bright - but that's easily remedied by the listener with a tone control, besides which there are many people who will disagree anyway. Yes, I think it's quite lush and warm - kind of analoguey - sounds like it's coming off a nice studio reel to reel. I think that sound is as much down to the new rhythm section as much as anything I did - but once I'd got that feel I followed it. I wanted "Down And Out" to have a kind of "night-time in the city" feel about it and I did work with that in mind. I think there's a conflict of interests in prog rock production, the search for perfect sound balance and clarity is often the great goal - the Flower King oriented Swedes are amazing at that kind of thing. But if your are trying to create moods and cinematic experiences, sometimes a warm fuzziness, letting the colours run together and blend is also valid. I always try to remember that a CD is not in fact loads of sound waves coming out of the speakers. It's 2 soundwaves, one for each speaker. If they both sound good, that's in the end, all you have to do.
DAVE: Well "fresh" would be my description rather than "bright", but for sure it sounds quite organic too. I think Jonathan's deep bass adds a lot to that. You said earlier that you had a "shed full" of synths in France. Is it real synths you're using here or soft-synths? I hear some Mellotron too which I can't recall hearing before on TT CD's?
ANDY: Well the shed full of stuff is now in England and regrettably for Sally it's a bedroom full at the moment. I have a stage piano, my old trusty VK7 organ a Juno G synth a 1972 Minimoog... yawn. I used to hate those interviews! Some boring musician making me jealous. I love soft synths, all you need is a plastic keyboard for 200 quid and some good free or cheap software. I have a fantastic Minimoog programme that is so good you cannot tell the difference between that and the real one. There are some ultra-fusspots who say that you can, but I can't and I own both. My Minimoog is here these days for nostalgia purposes, but I think I'm going to sell it in the new year in order to make the Tangent's live setup more practical. I'll be sad to see it go, but not sad to never have to carry it again. I think music technology is absolutely amazing, and the critics of it who say that it just isn't the same would probably have moaned that Keith Emerson's trumpet synths didn't sound as good as real ones. Once again... yawn. Get on the beam! We're still playing here, still putting our fingers on guitars and keyboards and playing. The Tangent, as most prog bands, aren't cheating. Yeah, I use a mellotron sample system, "Not a real one, just a sample" I hear some people say disappointedly. A mellotron IS a sampler for chrissakes!!! And made a great noise because it wasn't very good at doing what it was supposed to do. It did something else. Now all we have to do is sample it doing something badly with something that does it well and we have a great way to have a mellotron and a whole spine all at the same time. I Love, love, love old keyboards, but in the end I'm a musician wanting to deliver my best abilities to the audience out there who deserve that. So I will use the new technology to make that possible. Without cheating at all. Every note ever played by the Tangent was played not programmed, both live and in the studio.
DAVE: I have a M-Tron Pro myself so I'm totally with you! I kind of miss the old days when Rick Wakeman would list all the synths he used on a certain track. I don't know how you think about it, but a Moog, Hammond, Mellotron, they're individual instruments in their own right and I don't like to see them bundled under "keyboards". So on the album it's soft synths? I think you've stepped back a bit from the almost cheesy sounds you sometimes on NaGaTB, that sort of 80's thing, here you've reverted to more classic samples, especially on the Moog - the patch on "The Company Car" is pure Keith Emerson :-)
ANDY: You're right, I did go for some big 80's stuff on NAGATB, the only thing I'll say is that it wasn't all my idea. I mean, every so often I like to try doing something different, and everyone should. I remember just playing the organ riff (what was an organ riff at least) for "A Crisis In Midlife" on a sound that was more like the classic fat polysynth from Van Halen's "Jump", it was one of those things - very alluring and tempting. In the end, I'm glad we did use it. It made "Crisis" sound less like another "GPS culture". It gave it a sound of it's own. The real Minimoog did get fired up for "Down And Out" and it did a couple of little licks here and there. However, most of the work was done on the Minimogue VA plugin including the line you mention. I usually programme the thing up myself and have all the knobs controlled by my master keyboard, so I can still alter all the parameters in real time on the instrument I'm playing which keeps the art of a synthesiser player alive. It's a different discipline to other keyboards, and sometimes despite the use of good sounds on other records I hear, I don't hear expression of the synth. If I were to criticise Neal Morse for anything (my second favourite keyboards player of the past ten years I may add, he is SUPERB) it would be for having a very stodgy and very static synthesiser sound. Which nonetheless has become very much identifiable with him so perhaps I should shut up and let him teach me!!!
As for the "listing all the instruments" bit, well, I veer towards just saying "keyboards" these days. The massive lists of gear on album sleeves were one of the things that got prog into trouble with the press, and I don't want to be responsible for that happening again. So, no capes for me. Take your point though, but if I were to list all the different "instruments" I'd played as if they were all actually here in the studio it might read thus: (just for the DPRP)
Roland VK7 Organ
ARP Odyssey Synthesiser
Fender Rhodes Stage 73 electric piano
Wurlitzer Electric Piano
Moog modular system 1
Solina String Machine
Steinway Concert Grand Piano
Electric Guitar and Vocals
CD sleeves are not that big!!
DAVE: So what happens next?
ANDY: Well the band will gig, at least once as far as I can see. We're doing the Progeny Festival in May here in the UK. We'll be looking to come over to Holland Belgium and Germany, France too with any luck, but all that has to be organised around whichever 70's bands are having a re-union at the time (sorry to be cynical). I am planning on working on another Po90 album in 2010 - working title "The Blue Screen Of Death" , gigging with that band too. I'm probably going to somehow get caught up in the recording of Manning's next album although thankfully they do at last have a new keyboards player, and Guy and I are composing some stuff together. Depends on other schedules, his as well as mine. I don't see that Paul Burgess is going to be able to do any touring with us because of the 10cc schedule, but we do have other options. We're also going to be talking to some great guitar players over Christmas. Looking forward to that. And of course, in 2010 I will start to think about what The Tangent will do next. I know enough about that to say that it will be quite different from "Down And Out" - I'm thinking a lot more rocky and urgent. Think Hemispheres in the modern world. Maybe. Maybe not.
DAVE: What about Beardfish collaboration then? It's clear from what you've said that you really admire them and you looked happy together on stage together too, but it seemed to fade away?
ANDY: Truth be told it's exactly the opposite of "fading away". Beardfish has just broken through into the premier league if you like, and deservedly so. And there's the guy who makes Neal Morse my second favourite keyboards player in recent years. Rikard is just fabulous and has the experience and hands of some of the greats within that body of his. The whole project was supposed to take place this year, but what with the projected and sadly cancelled US Beardfish dates with Dream Theater, the Inside Out/SPV problems, and the recording of the Beardfish album, we'd have been waiting until 2010 and we simply could not do it. The concert where Beardfish became the Tangent in the UK was without doubt the most enjoyable gig I have ever played. I love those guys, they are a great band and they have nothing but respect from me. I think they will do just fine without US, but I really really hope we can work together again.
DAVE: I must admit I didn't get the chance to hear their new CD yet, that's the problem with being a reviewer, at any point in time you have the one CD on repeat for a month... What are you listening to yourself at the moment?
ANDY: At present I'm just enjoying listening to music in general again. I don't listen to much during my recording spells. I seem to have become entranced by an album by Pendragon called "Pure". I have never given any time or interest to this band before and I am beginning to feel guilty. I find "Pure" to be very close to my own heart - a "real life scenario" album about real things and real people - particularly Nick Barrett, and his lyrics have seriously impressed me. It wasn't what I was expecting at all with a name like "Pendragon". Consequently my ignorance has denied me this pleasure. In fact it's rather held me up on getting into "The Incident" by Porcupine Tree, I just can't take "Pure" off for long enough to get into something as evidently important as a new PT album - of whom I've been a gig going fan since 1994 (9 times now I think).
One constant album over the past few years for me has been Ian Brown's "Music Of The Spheres" album which I have just been in love with since I first heard it in 2001. La Torre Della Alchimista from Italy are still always among my favourites, their album "Nova" is simply wonderful. But I'm a big Italian prog rock buff since I bought "Per Un Amico" there in Rome on pre-recorded cassette when I was 14 years old. I now have tons of Italian prog to wade through, and absolutely love doing so. Sally and I have recently been listening to Area, who are/were a mad jazz fusion band from Italy at the same time as the others. Still got me Radiohead albums on rotation, enjoy Muse a lot. Still have a passion for Oasis, had a lot of Mahavishnu on recently, catching up on stuff I kind of overlooked and I really enjoyed "Birds Of Fire" just a week or so ago. Heard the new Transatlantic album and enjoyed it though I don't think it will ever get me the way the first one did. Beardfish obviously. Essential. Think the French band Taal are amazing. I'm not particularly excited about the last few year's British crop, there's an awful lot of this 4 men and a beautiful lady stuff going on. That's not to say that ALL those bands are a bad thing, just that there's an obvious formula in play here and a lot of it's not working for me - it's seemingly popular with others, this didn't happen by accident! Certainly don't want to include Magenta in this bracket because they are a real deal prog band IMO, there are too many people seizing on that formula without having anything like the talent or ideas base of that band. They (Magenta) must be well cheesed off. I am looking forward to hearing this new Big Big Train album, but haven't done so yet.
As with no doubt many of us, my fingers do tend to select a lot of familiar old favourites, and Sally and I do enjoy our Genesis, Yes, Van Der Graaf Generator and ELP albums. She's introduced me to some new stuff (like the Taal) and I have her too - the Canterbury bands is a lesson in progress. We went off to see Gong and Hillage just the other week, great night. Surprising how often I still listen to the Flower Kings, a band I consider just as good as any of those classics I mentioned before. Did the whole of "Unfold The Future" this week, still as great as ever and up there in my "Tales From Topographic Oceans" hall of fame. My penchant for good quality 70s disco rages on, Earth Wind and Fire being among my favourites. Then I'll blow my head off with some Opeth and/or early Voivod stuff. I don't listen to punk as much as I used to, I kind of grew out of it a bit, or at least I grew into something else. I still admire that "go for it" attitude that it had. I am very good friends with a very young indie pop group from Wakefield in West Yorkshire. They are called New Vinyl and they will be famous one day. I played with them for a good while, and probably I am destined to be waving the few photos of the "older man standing at the back" - at my grandchildren and saying "look who yer grandad used to play for" rather than trying to convince yet another generation that prog used to rule the world. At night I love my Phaedra/Rubycon era Tangerine Dream and the Future Sound Of London. Faithless I find fascinating, and my favourite song of all time is "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - the Diana Ross full orchestrated version with spectacular key changes and tight stabs at the end.
Of all though now, as I mellow out into my fifties, I seem to take more pleasure from one artist than most, that being Joni Mitchell, her voice strong and clear, yet tender and introspective. Rarely affected by passing fashions and musical phases, her music remains timeless within my own little life span. Along with Peter Hammill she has provided me with my own desire to write words and music since my teenage years. There are six lyricists who I can always trust to come up with the goods. These two I have just mentioned, along with Roger Waters, Roy Harper, Bob Dylan and Guy Manning who will probably feel quite chuffed to be (justifiably) at the end of such an illustrious sentence. That'll be Shepherd's Pie 'round at your place mate, please!
DAVE: Jim Corcoran, a DPRP colleague, asks what happened to your "Second Thoughts" project with Davy O'List...
ANDY: Davy O'List is a hero of mine, and I have indeed done a lot of work with him towards a new album, but things were just not working out so that's not really on the radar at this time.
DAVE: You seem to spend a lot of time putting your voice down. Are you just poking a bit of fun at yourself or is it something that keeps you awake at night?
ANDY: You probably don't read all the Tangent reviews of course, and why would you. Unfortunately for me, I do and the number of people who say how much they hate it is really quite amazing. Particularly on American fora. I have seen "AT sounds like a strangled cat" and "Why doesn't he get someone who can actually do the job" etc. Happens all the time. There are on the other hand, folks like your good self who make it worthwhile doing. And although this bad feedback over the years does get disheartening, I have never stopped singing.
DAVE: I think I'm almost done, is there anything I didn't ask about that you want to say? How about God? Neal Morse has a lot to say on the matter, all that Old Testament stuff. It's the main reason why I rarely listen to his albums any more...
ANDY: God! Well I must say I'm in agreement here. I loved Neal's early stuff with the Spock guys and hold the first Transatlantic album up as one of my favourite prog albums of all time. I'd even admit that it was that album that made me want to do the Tangent in the first place. It still gets me every time I hear it. I think that since that album its become a more and more diluted story, having heard echoes of it now through the last couple of albums that Morse did with Spock, the second album by Transatlantic and all the Morse/Portnoy albums that have followed. I really don't like the religious element myself, I want to make my own choices about that - I recognise that there are a good few who'd say the same about some of the things I discuss in my music. I wish he'd managed to just turn the religious volume down a bit more on the Transatlantic "Whirlwind", where I think the lyrics are weak in content and overbearing in intent. Daft really because Roine Stolt is a great lyricist who can write lyrics that Morse could sing without offending his sensibilities.
I'm an Atheist myself but don't want that to become a part of my agenda. I am more concerned with what is politically carried out in the name of religion than criticising anyone's personal belief. That was pretty obviously covered in a song we did called "Follow Your Leaders". My own personal religious views were dealt with (rather poorly) in a song song on our second album called "A Gap In The Night" which I consider to be the worst thing we ever did. It failed totally to make itself clear, pussyfooted around the issues and failed really to make any useful comment about what it was I wanted to say. A grade-A mess-up, which has led me to think it's better to leave religion out of the music. I reckon Mr Morse should follow suit, the guy's a genius being held back by an albatross nailed to a cross. Manning (who's not religious) did a really good religion song called "Understudy" on his Bilston House album. I think that worked a lot better than either my attempt to say why I don't believe, or Neal's attempt to say why he does. Guy doesn't try to do either which is what makes him such a royal pain in the ass. He just doesn't try anything, just comes out with lyrics to die for while he's eating a cheese sandwich. If he writes a song with a boat in it (and he does this from time to time) he knows all these fabulous nautical metaphors and terminologies, he's familiar with the whole bloody vocabulary of maritime history past and present, can lyrically refer to every single part of the boat by its correct name and yet he'll run a mile if his son asks to go in a pedal boat at the local lido. Last time that did happen, I had to go on the boat with his son while Guy smugly looked on and ate my cheese sandwich and probably wrote a song about medieval crusaders on their way back from Jerusalem. He was waiting when I got back to shore with an Ice Cream and next years album neatly tied up with a bow. I think he wrote a lot of "Number 10" during the little bit of spare time he had in a nice sunny field in Yorkshire. He very rarely gets quiet and idyllic moments like that, but this one he only got because I once again had taken the fall and was busy retching my guts up on Britain's most vicious rollercoaster as chaperone to guess who? Guy's son. By that time he'd dreamed up this sort of Greek love story that kind of swung Homer, DantÚ and Virgil together into a modern love song with overtones of Dorian Gray. Makes me sick does the man!
DAVE: Well then I think that's everything?
ANDY: Well - it seems like a goodbye. I will miss you! However, the experience has been amazing - very cathartic and self revealing. You can be assured it's the only one like this. During the course of the interview, the album has begun to blossom out there, with reviews piling in and appearing on people's favourites lists. It is an amazing experience every time it happens, and of course I spend a lot of time dreading that next time it won't happen. In the end it's, as I mentioned before, a two way street. The Tangent, or any other band can never become more important than the people who support the movement to which the band attaches itself. The enthusiasts, the writers, journalists and photographers, the record companies and above all the fans are what keeps this little corner of the world music stage filled with individual, bizarre and eccentric characters. Prog Rock is everything from Rick Wakeman with King Arthur on ice with an orchestra and choir, to the gaunt and stark Hammill bashing a piano on an otherwise "empty stage". So to everyone who comes, everyone who buys the records, everyone who writes about them and everyone who spends hours listening to long haired middle aged men talk, I on behalf of The Tangent and hopefully everyone else, thank you for reading this far.
DAVE: Thanks Andy, talking to you like this has really opened new pleasures in the album for me, I'm sure others will get the same reaction!
The Tangent - Official Website
Po90 - Official Website
2008 iOFestival Interview
2008 iOFestival Concert Review
DPRP Interview with Andy Tillison - 2003
DPRP Review of The Music That Died Alone (2003)
DPRP Review of The World That We Drive Through (2004)
DPRP Review of Pyramids And Stars (2005)
DPRP Review of A Place In The Queue (2006)
DPRP Review of Going Off On One (2007)
DPRP Review of Not As Good As The Book (2008)
DPRP Review of Down And Out In Paris & London (2009)