We can certainly say that The Sea Within is an extraordinary band, I read that it all began when you had a conversation with the boss at InsideOut Music, about putting together a new band. How does a conversation like that go?
I had a chat with Thomas Waber, (boss at InsideOut Music), we'd been talking earlier about the idea of putting together a new band. I wanted to move on with new collaborations after twenty years of Flower Kings. Naturally I asked The Flower Kings bass player, Jonas Reingold, to join and write songs together. I had been 'friends' with American keyboardist Tom (Brislin) since meeting backstage at a Yes show, after seeing his synth pyrotechnics with Yes 'Symphonic', and with Camel, I was convinced. I'd also been in contact with 'Aristocrats' drummer Marco (Minnemann) for a long time; I first heard of him fifteen years ago and asked him to tour with The Flower Kings around 2009 but he got the gig with Steven Wilson. Then, when we discussed ideas for singers, Daniel's (Gildenlöw) name came up, he has such a great range and dynamic voice and we've worked together on and off over the years. Looking now at this prospect maybe he wasn't the right person for the line-up but what he contributed to the album was great, he just does not fit in this kind of environment with many chefs and multiple ideas and he deals with some weird prog-phobia. Also added later to the bands line-up for live shows was vocalist, guitarist Casey McPherson of 'Flying Colors', 'Alpha Rev', who also sing a couple of songs on the album.
What you've created with The Sea Within is certainly not ordinary, the album is not only a great listen, but it also doesn't really sound like any other band out there. Was that a conscious decision, or is that the result of very talented people writing music together?
I'm not the right person to tell, I'm too close to the material and the writing process. But I certainly hope it sounds different than other bands. We wanted a fresh start, not a new The Flower Kings, Spiraling, or Pain of Salvation. I think that, after a lot of turbulence, what landed on the record was a fine mix of everyone’s ideas. The tension did bring some interesting mixes of styles.
There was more than enough material to fill two cd's with music, was that something that was planned or did you just end up writing so much material?
Well, there was even more but we couldn't record all the ideas, simply down to time and money. We knew that the record label would ask for "bonus" tracks so we planned on record at least 60 min or more. In the end there were big discussions about what songs were most relevant and what we wanted to present, so we left it to the record company and they decided this running order. I think it flows well but personally there might be songs from the second disc that fit better on the first etc.
Besides the fact that everyone in the band has an impressive resumé, the guest artists are not the first the best either. Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) and Jon Anderson (Yes) both have a small part on the album, how did you go about getting them to participate?
Well, it was easy. We just asked. Jordan was actually involved in the very first embryo of this band but had to step down because of other commitments. He kindly added piano to one of my songs. Jon Anderson is always open to work, I just sent him an mp3 file of the song and asked if he had time to contribute. I expected an email answer in a few days and then send him the real files, but overnight, within 10 hours, he had sent me already plenty of vocal files and ideas and good luck best wishes! So I didn't even have a chance to send him lyrics or be more specific of what I had in mind, it was great, very "Jon". He is always full of energy and a great inspiration. Always.
You will be touring, unfortunately without Daniel but you have a great vocalist stepping up in the form of Casey McPherson. How did Casey come into the picture?
Casey came in once we realized that Daniel did not want to tour or be part of future with the band, I suppose we should have seen the warning signs but it was a mess with many bosses, or none. Casey was also in the cards in the very beginning so, in a way, he was in the plans even before Daniel, without knowing it.
What can we expect from the live shows?
Well, we have played one show already, at the outdoor prog festival in Loreley Germany. It went well, we had a great time rehearsing and playing together.
Can you already tell if you are visiting the Netherlands?
We'll see in the future how things shape up but it now looks more likely that we do album number two with this lineup and move the touring to later in 2019. For a European tour I'm positive we'd play either at the Boerderij or the 013, it's a given.
What's next in your agenda?
For me personally I'm just about to release an album ‘Manifesto of an Alchemist’ on Inside out/SONY, it will be out November 23rd. So now I'm in a daily interview flux. By mid-November I'm already out with the band playing Flower Kings Music in South America and Mexico, and then starting a tour end of November in Europe together with Spock's Beard. Read more about all that on my website.
A question I ask all the people I interview is how they feel about the changes in the music industry in the last decades, specifically the rise of streaming platforms such as Spotify. Getting your music 'out there' has never been easier, a record label is no longer a necessity to publish music. The people, in general, are also buying less and less music and instead are opting for streaming platforms such as Spotify, Deezer, or even Youtube. Unfortunately it's a well-known fact that lots of plays on Spotify don't necessarily translate into a solid stream of income for the artists. This means that it's getting harder and harder for musicians to make a living out of selling music, but it's also easier to get music produced and discovered. What's your take on this?
Well, I enter this phase in life with an open mind. To be 100% truthful, yes I realize there is a lot of complaining about Spotify etc. but my reality has been changing for the better the last fifteen years. Maybe because of the number of projects or bands I have been contributing to, but I make more money from royalties all sorts than ever. So, either I am lucky or I happen to sell enough and be in a genre (prog) that doesn’t really suffer from things like Spotify. Maybe our fans keep buying vinyl’s, CD's, special packages, and many buy directly from the artists. I try to stay busy and to create on constant basis, I always welcome new collaborations, and with the technical set ups with my own studio I have freedom and access to recording new material at a twenty-four seven basis. At no cost (besides tech updates). So, I frankly feel that the positives outweigh the negatives right now.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Anything you'd like to mention to our readers?
You are welcome!