Neal Morse talks to DPRP about his latest Release "ONE"
MARTIEN: One is Neal Morse's second solo album after he left Spock's Beard. In our Round table review we (that is: Tom, Dries, Ed and yours truly) all concluded that One is of course not a bad album, but if Neal goes on like this the "ratings" for future albums will definitely go further down the hill... Most of us had the "been there, done that feeling", most of the stuff on One is something that we have already heard before too many times by now. In fact you could say that there is no real progression in the music of Morse. Neal is really repeating his own music on the new album, so my first question (when I have a talk with Neal for the fourth time in three years) is why the progression in his music has come to a halt. Why do you keep rehashing the same old ideas over and over again?
NEAL : "Well, that's a nice way to start this interview... But I think that you are right actually, originality is perhaps not my strongest point, ha ha ha... Well, in fact, if I was a writer for a music magazine I would probably criticise myself because I really understand the fact that people say: "you have done that before already", or "we already heard that melody on another album". But, hey, give me a break here, I am doing the best I can and I still hope that the listeners enjoy the new album. All of us are just human beings doing the best we can. A lot of composers/musicians start to repeat themselves after a couple of years. Even great composers like Bach, Beethoven or Mozart are "guilty" of repeating some of their musical themes and arrangements. What is creativity anyway, do you have to come up with something completely new all the time? I do not do it on purpose; it just comes in when I am composing new material. I really like to grow, or be more progressive; the question is: how can I achieve that?"
"Hearing this answer I really think that it bothers you, have you already got questions from other reporters about this or not?"
"To tell you the truth, not really. You are the last one for an interview on this day and I have not had a question like this one. I am a bit more relaxed doing interviews now, I only do 3 or 4 interviews a day nowadays and I actually had some nice conversations with people now. In the past I did too many interviews, back to back, and that did not work. So, let's have your next one then, ha ha ha..."
"Is there a connection/link between Snow (the last Spock's Beard album), Testimony and One?"
"Not really, no. Of course there is a sort of the same concept on all of the three albums, namely: salvation. And the lyrics are slightly related to each other, but a real connection, no. "
"What is the concept of One?"
"Well, in fact it is the story of Mankind, One tells the story of the lost son. Actually I really had no idea how to call this album. Mike liked the title One so we decided to take it, but it was not my idea. By the way I also not liked the name Transatlantic; I have no idea who came up with that one...."
"In fact, just as on the other solo albums you did almost everything by yourself again. Why did you decide to choose that approach?"
"I like to keep everything under my control, ha ha ha, just kidding there. Actually on this album I took a more collaborative approach on this album. Portnoy and George contributed a lot on One, musically speaking that is. One is therefore a lot faster than Testimony and it has a more live feeling than my previous one. I still think that Testimony is really too slow, just the CD that is, the DVD is great. No, Mike and Randy really contributed to this album and I think that you can hear that as well. I wanted them more involved in this project and it really turned out great in the end. As you know I pray a lot and I prayed for this album as well; I prayed for inspiration and I am still seeking God's will in my life. In fact he kind of showed some resistance in making this album; with Snow God really resisted in making that album.... But in the end God helped me to finish One and it is still hard to explain to other people how this works. I always run in the morning and during that run I talk/pray to God and he gives me instructions for the day so I know what to do actually. But the collaboration with Mike and Randy was really great, they were the perfect guys for this job".
"What are, musically speaking, the differences between One and Testimony?"
"One is definitely heavier than Testimony, just listen to one of the heaviest tracks I have ever composed: Author Of Confusion. The guitar sounds on that piece of music are almost like metal, mostly because of the amps we used. But actually this complete album has a distinct band vibe and lyrically I am also completely satisfied".
"Tracks like The Man's Gone, Cradle To The Grave and Father Of Forgiveness are kind of retro, song writing stuff, how do these fit in with the rest of the album?
"Well, it's a story and some consider these songs to be the so-called resting points of the album, but gathering from the way you ask me this I assume that you do not really like these songs?"
"In fact, I do not. Yes, you are right, to me they are just average rather boring fillers on this album..."
"Seeing as I spoke to you several times before I almost knew that you would not like those songs and of course everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, so for me that is no problem. But, returning to your original question I would like to add that I had a different idea/concept about this album actually. But, I really love the sort of Genesis (the Bible part, MK) beginning of this album. If you listen to the messages in church then you know that God exists in the mind of men, God is where it all started from. But nowadays men make their own reality; if you just believe then you can do everything, but the Bible says something different!!! That is something I strongly believe in and the lyrics on this album make that perfectly clear, so..."
"Something completely different now, why did you decide to include a bonus disc with four covers on it? As you also already know that I hate covers...."
"Ha ha ha, I really do appreciate your honesty, but we just did those because we had an extra day in the studio because Mike is an animal and he really pushes everyone to work very hard and to get the job done as fast as possible. In fact, we also enjoyed it very much of course, it is always fun to do some "lighter" stuff in the end, I especially liked doing the U2 cover Where The Streets Have No Name."
"The Testimony Tour was very short, will be there be a more extensive One Tour, or maybe no tour at all?"
"I really do not know at this moment. Of course we love to come to The Netherlands again, I really love Tilburg and Amsterdam. I really appreciated the fact that our concert was voted The number 1 concert of the year by the DPRP site, thanks again for that honour."
"Okay, an easier question then, will there ever be a next Transatlantic album?"
"You know the proverb: never say never. So, I think that it is not totally out of the question, but there are no actual plans in the near future for a new Transatlantic album, although I know that a lot of fans would like to get us started there."
"Finally, I would like to ask you if you are happy with the fact that the USA has to "deal" with four more years of George W. Bush?"
"Ha, ha, nicely put! I was not surprised that Bush won the elections again, although my wife thought that Kerry would win. I really expected him to win, he was very popular after 9/11. And maybe a stronger candidate than Kerry could have beaten Bush, Kerry is too distant, people have no real relation to him. But, in fact I see politics quite different since a couple of years: I really thought that the debates were actually really ugly.... Finally it all comes down to the spirit of men and so my mind is somewhere else most of the time. My hope definitely lies in the spiritual world, but that is not something new, ha ha..."
"Thanks again for your time."
"Thank you for your patience and your always intriguing questions."
Interview for DPRP by MARTIEN KOOLEN
Round Table Review of ONE
The Official Neal Morse Website