Saturday, June 11, 2011

DEEP PURPLE Guitarist On Touring With Orchestra: 'We're Not Going To Change The Songs'

Over the past four decades, Deep Purple has grown accustomed to touring as a five-piece. Suddenly, the band must accommodate about 41 more musicians.

"That's a lot of empty (instrument) cases in the dressing room," says Purple guitarist Steve Morse with a laugh.

Last week, the band behind "Smoke on the Water," "Highway Star" and "Perfect Strangers" kicked off a tour accompanied by string and horn sections, with shows tomorrow in Holmdel, Saturday in Atlantic City and Tuesday and Wednesday in New York. But Morse promises Deep Purple's classics aren't being, well, classicalized.

"This one isn't going to be orchestra-based so much as: It's the rock band Deep Purple playing, with strings and horns being added for some color textures," the guitarist says.

"We're not going to change the songs — I mean, there'll be a few little cameos and features — but the basic idea of the show is: We're doing what we do, and having more texture where it's appropriate."

This isn't Purple's first foray into classical accompaniment. In 1969, the band released "Concerto for Group and Orchestra," an album-long piece composed by Purple's then-keyboardist, Jon Lord. "Concerto" preceded Morse's tenure, which began in 1993. But three current members — singer Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice — date back to the 1969 album. Keyboardist Don Airy, a member since 2002, rounds out the current lineup.

Traveling conductor

Morse reports that a conductor will travel with the band on this tour, and regional musicians will play shows as geographically convenient.

"There are a few shows where they're going to travel a bit, but mostly, it's going to be local," Morse says. "Our arranger-conductor — since he plays violin, actually, very well — will be in charge of making sure they know what to do.

"Most important is keeping them on the beat with the music. A lot of classical players can read music great and everything, but the whole rhythm thing — maybe they don't feel how exact it needs to be to make rock 'n' roll rock."

Since the genre's birth, rock has utilized strings, from the Drifters' "There Goes My Baby" through the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." While strings don't necessarily equate "classical," it is classical players who often play strings on rock songs. Morse's view? It's all music.

"For me," he says, "styles in music are very blurred. I don't see a line, really, defining them. But I know people do, so I try to be aware of them from time to time. Rock and classical styles seem to blend very well. You know, rock has always had the same chords, really, as classical music, the same notes — with the exception, possibly, of some of the bent notes on the blues scale.

"I don't think it's too much of a stretch to combine the two. With most styles of music, it's really more about attitude and the repetition of certain things that define a style. I always encourage people to think of music as just one thing, with lots of variety naturally built in. The best musician of all, I think, is one that has seen and done it all."

Morse points out that he is now the longest-running guitarist in Deep Purple's sometimes stormy history.

"I've been in the most years, consecutively," he says. "And the tour that started almost 18 years ago hasn't ended yet."

MASTODON: New Album Title Revealed

Atlanta progressive metallers MASTODON have set "The Hunter" as the title of their new album, which the band recently finished recording at Doppler Studios in Atlanta with producer Mike Elizondo. Drum tracks were previously completed in Los Angeles at the legendary Sound City Studios where NIRVANA's masterwork "Nevermind" was recorded. Songtitles set to appear on the album include "Blasteroids" and "All The Heavy Lifting".

Speaking to MTV at the Rock am Ring festival (see video below), which took place June 3-5, 2011 in the German town of Nürburgring, MASTODON drummer Brann Dailor described the new material as "a little faster, heavier, crazier… It's all over the place." MASTODON guitarist Bill Kelliher added, "It's a good representation of where we are. There's no 15-minute epic songs on there, but there's a lot of short bursts of energy going on."

He continued, "We recorded, like, 15 or 16 songs. In a week we did all the drums and we spent the next two and a half, three weeks doing all the guitars and vocals. We did it pretty fast and it sounds great."

MASTODON is currently in Europe for a summer-long tour that includes all dates on this year's Sonisphere festival as well as the Rock Im Park, Rock Am Ring, Roskilde festivals and more. The band will also play a one-off show at The Gorge in Seattle on July 30 with SOUNDGARDEN, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, and MEAT PUPPETS.

Author Celebrates Prog Rock's History In 'Mountains Come Out Of The Sky' Book

"Mountains Come Out of the Sky", the new book by author and music journalist Will Romano, chronicles the stories of progressive rock's most influential and obscure artists with a passion and knowledge that comes from years of avidly following the scene.

"I grew up on YES, ELP, TULL, KING CRIMSON, and GENTLE GIANT," Romano said. "Prog rock is part of my DNA. Arguably, I do what I do today because of progressive rock."

Romano's love of the genre shines through in his words and beautiful presentation of the book. Every page of the 250-page tome explodes with color and captures the escapist qualities and look of vintage album cover artwork of the 1970s.

"I hope people read and accept this book in the spirit in which it was written: as a celebration of prog rock," said Romano.

The first two chapters of the book describe why progressive rock came to prominence and highlight some of the pivotal historical moments in time, vis a vis the British prog rock movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. The remainder of the book provides specific facts and detailed information about the artists who've greatly influenced the genre.

"'Mountains Come out of the Sky' generally focuses on most of the major prog bands that made an impression on the mainstream psyche," Romano said. "Heck, even the title references the famous YES song, 'Roundabout'. While there are some obscure bands featured in 'Mountains', my hope was to provide a general introductory history of the genre through band biographies, as well as some light musical analysis."

It took three painstaking years, filled with intense research, hours upon hours of tracking down, conducting and transcribing interviews, and, of course, the actual writing of the text, to complete "Mountains Come out of the Sky".

"Waking up at 3 a.m. in the middle of a work week to do a phone interview with Daevid Allen (GONG) sticks out in my mind," Romano recalled. "He lives in Australia, so the time difference was certainly not in my favor. The interview happened prior to his tour with GONG, so I didn't have very many options. It was either get it done now or risk not doing it all. It took some distance from this process to realize just how much my life had been turned upside because of this book. There was a time when a 3 a.m. phone interview with someone on the other side of the world just seemed normal, you know?

"Mountains Come Out of the Sky" features a foreword by the legendary Bill Bruford (YES, KING CRIMSON, UK, GENESIS). "I was thrilled when he agreed to write it," Romano enthused. "I never thought, as a young prog fan and drummer who tried to learn his odd-time grooves, that he'd put his stamp of approval on my work. It's a true honor."

"Mountains Come Out of the Sky" is published by Backbeat Books and is available at Barnes & Noble (retail stores and,,,, and

The book was nominated for a 2011 ARSC Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in the category of "Best Research in Recorded Rock and Pop Music."

Romano has been in the publishing business since the 1980s and has authored two previous books, "Big Boss Man: The Life and Music of Bluesman Jimmy Reed" and "Incurable Blues: The Troubles and Triumph of Blues Legend Hubert Sumlin".

RUSH: New DVD Title Revealed

According to, Concord Records will release a RUSH DVD and Blu-ray titled "Time Machine" on September 27. The disc will most likely contain footage of RUSH's April 15 concert at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio filmed by the award-winning documentary makers Banger Productions from Toronto in Canada, who have received international critical acclaim for their previous movies "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey", "Global Metal" and the RUSH documentary called "Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage".

RUSH's Cleveland performance of its "Time Machine" show was filmed as a tribute to the U.S. city that first played the band's music.

Cleveland is remarkable for being one of the very first U.S. cities where RUSH performed, in addition to being the first city to provide American airplay. This also marked RUSH's first live full-length filming on U.S. soil.

The "Time Machine" tour was an evening with RUSH, where the band performed its classics, gave a taste of the future and — for the first time ever — featured the "Moving Pictures" album live in its entirety.

RUSH bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee recently spoke to The Plain Dealer about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's upcoming 20th studio album, "Clockwork Angels", for which a release date has not yet been set.

"We've got about seven songs written," Lee said. He added, "When you hear the first two songs ['BU2B' and 'Caravan'], which we're playing live now, they definitely have a heavier sound. It's the heavier side of RUSH in the early going. But when I think of all the songs that we've written already, there's quite a lot of diversity there. I think — I hope — RUSH fans will like it. We're certainly going to work hard to make it a great record, as we always try."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Steve Hackett Weds Girlfriend

British rocker Steve Hackett wed his girlfriend in a star-studded ceremony on Saturday 6/4.
The former Genesis guitarist, 61, married partner Jo Lehman in front of friends and family in Hertfordshire, England.
His Genesis bandmates were on the guest list for the ceremony, along with Yes guitarist Chris Squire and musician John Wetton.
It will be Hackett's second marriage - he was previously wed to Brazilian painter Kim Poor. They divorced in 2008 after 32 years as man and wife.

DREAM THEATER: New Album Title, Track Listing Revealed

Progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER have set "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" as the title of their new album, tentatively due in early September via Roadrunner Records. The CD is currently being mixed by Andy Wallace, who has previously worked with AVENGED SEVENFOLD, WHITE ZOMBIE, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, SEPULTURA, SLAYER and NIRVANA, among many others.

"I'm incredibly psyched with the way this album came out and can't wait to share it with everybody," guitarist John Petrucci, who also serves as the producer for "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", said. "We are currently in the mix stage with the great Andy Wallace and it's all sounding amazing!"

"We have poured our hearts and minds into the creation of this album," keyboardist Jordan Rudess offered. "All the life changing events that surrounded us before, as well as during the whole process, fueled our desire to dig deep within ourselves and create the best music we possibly could."

Vocalist James LaBrie said, "In the grand scheme of DREAM THEATER's career, the last several months have been such an incredibly positive, fulfilling and rewarding experience. The new songs and sound has never been so spirited or rejuvenating. I cannot wait for every one of our fans to sink their audio senses into this batch of tunes."

"A Dramatic Turn Of Events" track listing:

01. On The Backs Of Angels

02. Build Me Up, Break Me Down

03. Lost Not Forgotten

04. This Is The Life

05. The Shaman's Trance

06. Outcry

07. Far From Heaven

08. Breaking All Illusions

09. Beneath The Surface

In a recent interview with Music Radar, Petrucci and Rudess were asked if the band's new drummer, Mike Mangini, contributed to the songwriting on the forthcoming CD. "Mike didn't write with us," Rudess replied. "Basically, we got in the studio and did our thing. We wrote songs and sent them to him. He came in and just nailed his parts. He's incredible. I'm finishing my keyboard parts right now, and I'll go to the computer to see how things are lining up, and I'm just speechless. The guy doesn't mess up!" [laughs]

"We had the demos, had them fully written out, and he learned them and added his own stuff," Petrucci stated. "But every time he would do something, if I said, 'Hey, can you do that again?' he'd do it, and it would be perfect. The guy is… he's out of his mind! [laughs] People are not going to believe how great he is."

"But what's really special about him is, he's not just a technician," Rudess added. "Yes, he plays his parts perfectly, but he comes at everything as a total musician. Everything he does has real soul and a depth of feeling."

When asked how not having DREAM THEATER's former drummer, Mike Portnoy, in the recording and writing process changed the band dynamic, Petrucci replied, "It was a lot quieter. [laughs] Mike Mangini's playing style is different. He plays very hard, but he's got a very deep groove. He almost plays behind the beat just a little bit — even through he's right on the money. He's extremely locked in, but if he does do something technical, he's still right there."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ Confirmed For Germany's KEEP IT TRUE XV Festival

Reunited San Diego, California-based progressive metallers PSYCHOTIC WALTZ will headline the Keep It True XV festival, set to take place April 27-28, 2012 ay Tauberfrankenhalle in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany.

The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


PSYCHOTIC WALTZ's participation in the "Power Of Metal" tour with SYMPHONY X, NEVERMORE, MERCENARY and THAUROROD marked the band's first live appearances in 14 years, and saw the reunion of the original lineup that recorded the group's first three albums: Devon Graves (a.k.a. Buddy Lackey) on vocals, Dan Rock and Brian McAlpin on guitars, Ward Evans on bass and Norm Leggio on drums.

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ will make a couple of European festival appearances this summer, but beyond those dates, it doesn't seem likely that any further live shows will be possible in 2011. The band plans to start creating new material with the hopes of recording a new studio album with the original lineup.

All four of PSYCHOTIC WALTZ's studio albums were released together in a deluxe, limited vinyl box by Century Media Records in Europe. Titled "The Architects Arise: The First Ten Years", this box contains gatefold 180-gram LPs of all four studio records plus their ASLAN (pre-PSYCHOTIC WALTZ) demo from 1986 and the "Into The Everflow" demo. This six-LP box is limited to 500 copies, and the band had copies of the box for sale during the "Power Of Metal" tour. Additionally, 500 extra copies of "A Social Grace", "Into The Everflow" and "Bleeding" were pressed in a different vinyl color and sold individually.

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ's current lineup is :

* Devon Graves (a.k.a. Buddy Lackey) - Vocals
* Brian McAlpin - Guitar
* Dan Rock - Guitar
* Ward Evans - Bass
* Norman Leggio - Drums

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ's last studio album, "Bleeding", was released in 1996. Scott Burns engineered the effort, which was mixed by Dan Rock and Woody Barber.

In the years that followed PSYCHOTIC WALTZ's demise, Rock recorded two instrumental albums with his project DARKSTAR. In the meantime, Norm Leggio and Steve Cox created the band TEABAG, while Buddy Lackey launched his own group, DEADSOUL TRIBE, where he performs using his real name, Devon Graves.

OPETH, KATATONIA: More North American Tour Dates Announced

Swedish progressive metallers OPETH will embark on a North American headlining tour in September with support from fellow Swedes KATATONIA.

The dates are as follows:

Sep. 19 - The Palladium @ Worcester, MA
Sep. 20 - Webster Theater @ Hartford, CT
Sep. 21 - Webster Hall @ New York, NY
Sep. 22 - Webster Hall @ New York, NY
Sep. 23 - Trocadero @ Philadelphia, PA
Sep. 26 - Newport Music Hall @ Columbus, OH
Sep. 27 - Expo Five @ Louisville, KY
Sep. 28 - Cannery Ballroom @ Nashville, TN
Sep. 29 - Amos’ Southend @ Charlotte, NC
Sep. 30 - Center Stage @ Atlanta, GA
Oct. 01 - House of Blues @ Lake Buena Vista, FL
Oct. 03 - Warehouse Live @ Houston, TX
Oct. 04 - – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater @ Austin, TX
Oct. 05 - Granada Theater @ Dallas, TX
Oct. 06 - The Beaumont Club @ Kansas City, MO
Oct. 07 - First Avenue @ Minneapolis, MN
Oct. 08 - Burton Cummings @ Winnipeg, MB
Oct. 10 - Edmonton Events Centre @ Edmonton, AB
Oct. 11 - MacEwan Hall Ballroom @ Calgary, AB
Oct. 13 - Commodore Ballroom @ Vancouver, BC
Oct. 14 - Knitting Factory Concert House @ Spokane, WA
Oct. 15 - Showbox SoDo @ Seattle, WA
Oct. 16 - Roseland Theatre @ Portland, OR
Oct. 18 - The Warfield @ San Francisco, CA
Oct. 19 - Mayan Theatre @ Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 20 - House of Blues @ San Diego, CA
Oct. 21 - The Fox Theater @ Pomona, CA
Oct. 22 - Marquee Theatre @ Tempe, AZ
Oct. 24 - The Complex @ Salt Lake City, UT
Oct. 25 - Ogden Theatre @ Denver, CO
Oct. 27 - The Rave @ Milwaukee, WI
Oct. 28 - Vic Theatre @ Chicago, IL
Oct. 29 - St. Andrews Hall @ Detroit, MI
Oct. 30 - Guelph Concert Theatre @ Guelph, ON
Oct. 31 - Mr Smalls Theatre @ Millvale, PA
Nov. 01 - Rams Head Live! – Baltimore, MD

According to the French edition of Rock Hard magazine, keyboardist Joakim Svalberg (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, GLENN HUGHES) has been rehearsing with OPETH for the past few weeks, but has not yet been made an official member of the band.

A photo of Svalberg in the studio with OPETH during the mixing sessions for the group's new album, "Heritage", can be seen below.

Keyboardist Per Wiberg, who joined OPETH in 2005, was relieved of his duties in April as part of a mutual decision with the remaining members of the band.

OPETH vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt released the following statement on the matter: "Well, it's been somewhat of a revolving door of members during the last couple of years, and now Per is no longer a member. [Martin] Mendez [bass], Axe [Martin Axenrot, drums] and Fredrik [Åkesson, guitar] and I came to the decision that we should find a replacement for Per right after the recordings of the new album, and this came as no surprise to Per. He had, in turn, been thinking about leaving, so you could say it was a mutual decision. There's no bad blood, just a relationship that came to an end, and that's that. We wish Per the best, and he did a splendid job recording keyboards for the last record, which stands as his final recording with OPETH."

OPETH will release its tenth album, "Heritage", on September 20 via Roadrunner Records. The CD was produced by Mikael Åkerfeldt and was recorded earlier this year at Atlantis studios (formerly Metronome studios) in Stockholm. Mixing duties were handled by Steven Wilson (PORCUPINE TREE) and Åkerfeldt. Longtime collaborator Travis Smith also worked with Åkerfeldt to create, design and execute the album's artwork, which can be seen below.

"Heritage" will be released in several configurations that will certainly incite the interest of OPETH's legion of fans, known for their passion for collecting and collectibles. The album will be released as a standard version; as a special edition loaded with extras; as a box set exclusive to the Roadrunner and the band's own official Omerch webstore; and as a double LP. There is something for every OPETH fan, thanks to this variety of options.

Commented Åkerfeldt, "It will be our 10th album/observation. I dig it; we all do. In fact, it feels like I've been building up to write for and participate on an album like this since I was 19."

Åkerfeldt went a little deeper and described the music contained within "Heritage", saying, "It's quite intense at times in some 'old' murky way, and quite beautiful and stark at times, if I may say so myself.

"It's obvious I'm going to say nice things about it since I wrote, basically, the whole piece, but I guess it will raise a few eyebrows and it certainly is an acquired taste.

"I think you'll need a slightly deeper understanding of our music as a whole to be able to appreciate this record.

"I've realized my influences for this album are so diverse that I can't really say what it sounds like.

"If I can compare it to any other band, it would have to be OPETH, but it's different from the stuff we've done before.

"I've listened a lot to ALICE COOPER for the last year, yet I can't say it sounds like 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'.

"I hope you'll like it once you hear it."

"Heritage" track listing:

01. Heritage
02. The Devil's Orchard
03. I Feel The Dark
04. Slither
05. Nepenthe
06. Haxprocess
07. Famine
08. The Lines In My Hand
09. Folklore
10. Marrow Of The Earth

Monday, June 6, 2011

CYNIC Continuing Work On New Material

Guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal of the reunited progressive rock/metal band CYNIC has issued the following update:

"I've been working away in the home studio writing lots of new songs and keeping off the grid to stay creatively focused. It's safe to say that CYNIC already has plenty of material for a new record, but something keeps the inspiration going to write more. I feel like I'm on for the ride and just seeing what manifests as a result of sitting on the train and looking out the window.

"As we move further along and closer to 'destination recording,' the album will start to shape itself and the appropriate songs will be chosen.

"We're looking at late summer/early fall to enter the studio. At the moment, I have no idea when the record will be released. Maybe later this year or early next. We're also in communication with lots of fantastic new musicians who will be involved.

"I can already sense this next album is going to take our listeners on a whole new sonic adventure that words cannot yet describe. I say this because the work is feeling based and there's a lot of life poured into these embryos that will speak for themselves when heard.

"I'm always amazed at how living life informs the art so directly and yet we have no power over it. The songs have a directness and urgency unlike anything we've done before due to a bountiful influx of concentrated life experiences.

"Thank the universe for the gift of music.

"I am so absolutely grateful to be alive and to be able to share the potency and beauty of music with you. In the meantime keep spreading the love and thank you for taking this journey with us."

CYNIC last year parted ways with bassist Robin Zielhorst and guitarist Tymon Kruidenier due to the "logistical challenges of maintaining a band that is half based in The Netherlands and the other half in the United States" (drummer Sean Reinert and Masvidal live in California).

CYNIC last fall completed Decibel magazine's inaugural Hall Of Fame tour. Historic in every sense, the trek, dubbed "Re-Traced / Re-Focused Live", saw the band performing Hall Of Fame album "Focus" in its entirety, along with tracks from the group's lauded second album, "Traced in Air", and more. Direct support came from progressive masters INTRONAUT and DYSRHYTHMIA.

In May 2010, CYNIC released a brand new EP entitled "Re-Traced", featuring reinterpretations of four songs from the group's critically acclaimed "Traced In Air" album as well as a previously unreleased song.

Sunday, June 5, 2011



Ohio's premiere progressive rock festival, OhioProg, announces its inaugural year. OhioProg is set to take place over three days, September 7, 8 & 9 of 2012. An exceptional line-up has been assembled which includes a Friday pre-show, "A Tribute to the Classics," and a Saturday & Sunday full-day main event.

The schedule features the Yes cover group Going for the One, and Script for a Jester's Tour, a Marillion tribute act featuring original Marillion drummer Mick Pointer and Nick Barrett of Pendragon. FM, a regrouping of Cameron Hawkins' Canadian progressive rock act, will headline day one of OhioProg 2012. 2011 marks the 35th anniversary of the band's inception. Headlining day two of OhioProg 2012, Dan Swanö and brother Dag Swanö return from Sweden to bring their progressive rock act, Nightingale, back to the US for their second ever appearance, their first since 2001. Mick Pointer, Clive Nolan, John Jowitt, John Mitchell and Paul Manzi round out the all-star cast of the veteran UK progressive rock band that is Arena. Jowitt returns to Arena on bass and the band will have a new album under their belt before OhioProg 2012. RC2 from Barcelona will be making their first US appearance at OhioProg 2012. After nearly 20 years together, Persephone's Dream of Pittsburgh will be making their first ever northeast Ohio appearance at OhioProg 2012, as will Maryland's Orphan Project. Connecticut based band, After the Fall, have regrouped for an OhioProg 2012 appearance. After the Fall's last release, "kNOwleDGE," came out in 2005. Additionally, hailing from Florida, progressive rock festival veterans, Cryptic Vision, return to the festival circuit with a new album forthcoming, the third album in a trilogy started in 2003 with "Moments of Clarity". Additional acts will be announced in coming months.

OhioProg 2012 has turned to Kickstarter to help ensure its success by rolling out a "Pledge Your Ticket" program. By pledging at various tiers you can secure a ticket of your choice to either the Pre-Show or Main Event, or both. A number of rewards will be given for specialized pledges, and patron tickets are available for those who wish to have first choice of seats. Pledging begins September 2nd, 2011 and is a great way to show your support to the progressive rock festival community even if you are unable to attend the festival. Pledges start as low as $1, and even non-attendees can walk away with an OhioProg 2012 program, poster, t-shirt or limited edition compilation by pledging at the appropriate tier. Pledges will fund all aspects of the festival including all operational, marketing, and transportation costs. "Pledge Your Ticket" funding goals must be reached by the end of the day on November 30th, 2011. Pledges will only be processed on November 30th if the festival reaches its funding goals. If funding goals are not met, the festival will be cancelled and pledge funds will not be processed.

The location for OhioProg 2012 will be released in the upcoming weeks. More information and news on OhioProg 2012 can be seen at the festivals website, Any questions may be directed to Latest updates on OhioProg 2012 can also be found on our Facebook page, our mySpace page, or by following us on Twitter @OhioProg.