Spock’s Beard Announces Album Release Date

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Spock’s Beard is back.  To be more exact, Spock’s beard is coming back.  The stalwart L.A. based prog-rock band will release its eleventh full length studio release this Spring.  The band’s new album, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep is currently slated to be released April 2nd on InsideOut Music. 

The upcoming release will feature new faces as Nick D’Virgilio has been replaced by longtime member Alan Morse on vocals.  D’Virgilio had originally started out as the band’s drummer, but took over vocal duties after the departure of front man Neal Morse in 2002.  Jimmy Keegan now takes over drumming duties.  Guitarist Ted Leonard will also make his debut on the highly anticipated album.  Speaking of Neal Morse, he actually returns on this record too.  Though, it’s mainly in a songwriting capacity.  Bassist Dave Meros explains how the collaboration with Morse came about.  “Al and Neal are brothers, of course, and keep in regular contact with each other.  What happened was that Al spoke to Neal and told him he was working on some ideas.  Neal said he’d love to help, so Al went down to Nashville, where his brother’s now living, and they collaborated on the songs.”  Meros went on to explain what to expect from the new album.  He described it as being “quirky, edgy, and reminding us [the band] a little bit of older times in the band, but also taking us further forward.” 

The band currently has a performance scheduled for Saturday, April 13th at the Alvas Showroom in San Pedro, California.  The show is a CD release celebratory performance and is the only show currently scheduled.  However, more dates are sure to come.  To keep up with the latest tour news and more from Spock’s Beard, fans can follow the band online at http://www.facebook.com/spocksbeard, http://www.spocksbeard.com, http://twitter.com/spocksb and http://www.insideoutmusic.com.  Fans can also check out the band’s music online through its YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/Spocksbeard

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One on One with Trioscapes’ bassist Dan Briggs

1)  Trioscapes and Between The Buried and Me are as opposite as two bands
can be. So as metal as BTBAM is, you must have been a fan of other forms
of music for a long time.  Have you always been a fan of the Mahavishnu
Orchestra, or was that one song just something that’s always caught your

-I got into John Mclaughlin and Mahavishnu when I was in high school
browsing through my dad’s cd collection. “The Inner Mounting Flame” and
“Bird of Fire” albums were so appealing to me because of the sheer force
of the playing and how raw the unison lines between the guitar and violin
were.  MClaughlin’s playing with Mahavishnu has been an inspiration for
years, and more recently his playing in Shakti is proving to be a whole
new level of inspiration and motivation to constantly pursue new way of
reinventing my playing.

2)  This one’s for all three of you.  The band’s bio states that Dan
actually contacted Walter and and Matt.  When Dan told you two his plans,
what was your first reaction to his proposal?

-Only Dan on this interview, but I had talked to both separately at
different times about playing together, so I dont think it was much of a
shock. The main shock was probably when we were all in the same room
together playing for the first time and realizing how tough some of the
material was.

3)  Trioscapes is being marketed as a jazz fusion band.  But I personally
get a prog rock feel, too.  So how would you guys classify yourselves?

-Yeah I’m not big on thowing a lable on everything under the sun, and with
this group in particular I feel like every song is kind of its own
different thing. I dont think you can really lump the song “Separate
Realities”, which is 11 minutes of mayhem and high energy in the same
category as “Gemini’s Descent” which is kind of “Discipline” era King
Crimson like with a bass drone and a miriad of lush textures thrown over
top. But then I can see how  a song like “Blast Off” lends itself to being
considered more of a fusion song. I dont know, the jazz thing is funny to
us, fusion seems to obvious, progressive rock is a huge part of our make
up…it’s just burst of creative explorations.

4)  The album’s opener, ‘Blast Off’ is a perfect way to open the album.
It really mixes prog rock and jazz fusion seamlessly.  Can you guys expand
on how that song came to life?  Which one of you came up with the original
skeleton of that song? Did it just grow naturally?

-“Blast Off” and “Curse of the Ninth” were two songs I brought in early on
that were pretty much finished compositions. When I went to Georgia to
play with Matt for the very first time, he played me this crazy beat that
he had written, I jotted down the time signatures and wrote a line to go
along with it and it became the post-solo section outro for the tune.

5)  Speaking of a prog vibe, I noted in my review that I felt a kind of
Liquid Tension Experiment/Attention Deficit feel.  Are the three of you
fans of progressive rock?  If so, do you have any favorite prog bands?

-All of us have connections to different progressive rock bands. Alot of
my favorite music falls into that category, so there’s quite a few…to
name just a couple though, obviously King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant,
Yes, Dream Theater. More recently, Astra, Unexpect, Sleepytime Gorilla
Museum, Field Music, Pain of Salvation, etc…Matt’s a huge King Crimson
fan, Bill Bruford is one of his main drum inspirations. We all obviously
love forward thinking, interesting music.

6)  Getting back to Dan for a moment.  You’re also a member of Between The
Buried  Me.  they’re going to be out on tour this Summer.  Has it been
difficult trying to balance that tour with potential new dates with

-Nope, it’s very easy. BTBAM’s year gets laid out way in advance so I’m
able to fill in the gaps whne I can.
7)  Staying on the subject of BTBAM, it’s an N.C. based band.  Did that
play a role in Trioscapes recording “Separate Realities” in Winston Salem?
What led you to record it at The Basement Studios?  How did you come to
your choice of producers?

-Jamie King has had a hand in every record that I’ve done since 2005. All
the BTBAM stuff, my other band ORBS, and now Trioscapes. It’s a comfort
thing recording with Jamie, and I was curious to see what he could do with
Trioscapes. We wanted to keep it simple and present like how you would
hear the band live. The only real overdubs we did were a few layered bass
distortion lines and doubling a few sax parts with flute. Aside from that
though, it’s just the songs the way we’d play them live and Jamie captured
it really well.

8)  “Separate Realities” has been received to pretty positive feedback
from every direction.  Considering that, do the three of you see the band
working on another record any time in the near future, or do you see this
simply as a one-off record?

-In the near future, no because we will be touring on this record for a
while. We all have a few little things written though. I’m sure we’ll
start throwing around ideas before too long. And no, this is not a one-off

9)  What would you say is your favorite song off of this album?  Songs
aside, do any of you have any favorite moments from the recording process
for this record?

-Walter and I tracked “Gemini’s Descent” together and that was really fun.
We turned the lights down and did about 5 or 6 different takes and then
that was it. We wanted to capture the vibe we had while jamming it at the
rehearsal space. I’m really excited to finally play the song live, we’ll
be playing our full album at our CD release shows coming up next week. I
can tell you that “Separate Realities” is maybe the most stressful song
I’ve ever played live haha, but it’s also one of my favorites. Super high
energy and just non stop. I’ve never had to be so locked in to every
single second of music like I am when playing that.

10)  The video for ‘Blast Off’ was so simple.  But it shows you guys
really getting into the groove of the song.  It’s proof that the K.I.S.S.
formula works.  So came up with the idea for the video?  How did you
decide on using Symmetry Studio for the video?

-Our friend Johnny Davis runs Symmetry Studios, he tracked Matt’s drums
there for the record and they sounded awesome. He’s a super talented
engineer and being that he’s a friend we knew it’d be easy to set up. We
actually went down and played the whole album, not just “Blast Off”. Those
videos will be available before too long. There were just no live videos
that had popped up that were a good quality, so we thought this would be a
good representation for people that haven’t been able to see us live.
Although, there’s much more energy live.

11)  I’ve got one last question before I have to go.  As well received as
Trioscapes is already what do you see the future of this band being?

-We’re going to go hard and do as much as we can when I’m free and not
busy with BTBAM. We have a tour confirmed for September that we’ll
announce soon, some stuff in June/July that’s being worked out, and
hopefully a full US in November/December. If we all exist past doomsday,
then I’m sure we’ll have alot more in our future.

Queensryche still shows its “dedication” after thirty years

Thirty years is a long time for a musical act of any kind to make music.  Very few acts can brag taht they’ve been around for three decades.  Seattle based prog-rock band, Queensryche, is one of those bands.  The band celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2001.  And it did it in fine fashion with the release of one of its best releases to date in “Dedicated To Chaos”.

“Dedicated To Chaos” is the band’s thirteenth original, full length studio release.  That’s not counting its covers album, “Take Cover”.  It’s also one of the band’s best records to date, right after “Hear in The Now Frontier”.  It’s a solid album from beginning to end.  Musically, it takes the best elements of “Tribe”, “Q2K”, and “HITNF”, and combines them together for what is one of the band’s most accessible, radio friendly albums to date.  That’s not a bad thing, either.  In an industry in which acts come and go with the changing of the seasons, this release is more proof that Queensryche still has plenty to offer.

The band’s new album has had its detractors since its original release this past June.  But most of the album’s detractors are those who expected it to be like so much of the band’s other, heavier guitar-driven records.  The same thing happened with fellow prog-rockers, Dream theater, when they released their 1997 album, “Falling Into Infinity”.  But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any band making itself commercially viable.  Sure the lyrical content is nothing new for any musical act of any genre on “Dedicated To Chaos”.  But that doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that Queensryche has crafted an album that will have its own identiy among the band’s catalogue of albums. 

Queensryche has released more than its share of quality albums over the course of its three decades in the music business.  From “Promised Land” to “Empire” and all the way back to “Rage For Order”, every one of the band’s releases has been a new listening experience.  And while lots of people have come out against “Dedication to Chaos”, the band’s newest release is still a great new listening experience in its own right.  And those who listen all the way through, will appreciate it.  They’ll understand why it is one of the band’s best albums, regardless of its detractors.  Even if it turns out to be the band’s last, it’s a great way for the band to go out.

Animals as Leaders are leaders

Animals as Leaders has got to be one of the most bizarre, yet impressive bands of 2011.  There is no band like them out there right now.  The band’s new release, “Weightless” proves that.

One wouldn’t imagine that combining elements of Meshuggah, Nevermore, Dream Theater, Joe Satriani, and so many top name progressive rock acts would turn out too well.  But somehow, Tosin Abasi (founder of Animals as Leaders) has done the unimaginable.  He has crafted an album that crosses the lines of the rock world more than any other artist in the progressive rock world.  And he does it in impressive fashion.

Right from the opening strains of ‘An Infinite Regression’, trained audiences will instantly think of famed bassist Jaco Pastorius.  And while the 8-bit video game sounds may leave some audiences scartching their heads, those who wait will be rewarded with quite the musical adventure.  It kicks into high gear with a very Nevermore-esque sound that doesn’t try to outdo the revered Seattle metallers.  From there, it keeps that same peculiar experimental feel with ‘Odessa’.  ‘Odessa’ starts off with those same 8-bit video game sounds before breaking into something akin to Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci. 

That same Dream Theater feel continues on until ‘Do Not Go Gently’.  This opus starts off with a nice jazz bass intro beofre kicking things way into high gear with a blatantly Meshuggah-esque sound.  And there’s plenty more where that came from.  Now, for those who want something softer, AAL offers that too in the form of:  ‘David’ and ‘Espera’.  Those two pieces are as quiet as this album gets.  The rest of the album is a great aural adventure through the world of progressive metal.  It’s one of those albums that unless it’s bought or downloaded audiences won’t be hearing it on any radio station.  That in mind, not only is “Weightless” one of the best metal albums of 2011, it’s also one of the most underrated.  For any purist metalhead, this one is definitely a must.