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The Tangent

A little over a year ago I wrote a review about the album ‘The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery’, which was an excellent album by the British band The Tangent. I was surprised to see that the band had again released an album this year, this one named ‘Proxy’. It used to be the case that a band had a new release every year, or every two years, but nowadays three or four years between releases is not so unusual. But fortunately the quality of 'Proxy' did not suffer from the quick release, again I was happy with the result. I wanted to know more about the album and some of the interesting lyrics. Band leader Andy Tillison answered my questions and I found some of the answers quite surprising.

By: Leon | Archive under prog / sympho metal

I believe congratulations are in order on your new release 'Proxy', only a year after your last album 'The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery'! I think it's incredible that you've produced an album in a little over a year with a high quality level, how were you able to this so quickly?
Ok Leon, hello and thanks for the congratulations. Actually, it's a funny thing is "time" with music, because it always looks strange because of release dates. Our last album 'The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery' was released in July 2017 sure, but it was almost finished before Christmas in 2016, and was started in June 2016. So we began to record 'The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery' two and a half years ago, and ‘Proxy’ has just been released. We started recording that one a year ago. We finished it in May. I'm writing new music now and of course, that may see the light of day in 2019, 2020, 2021.. depends on how long it takes. Don't forget that it's not really unusual. Between 1970 and 1973, Yes released The ‘Yes’ Album, ‘Fragile’, ‘Close To The Edge’, ‘Yessongs’ and ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’. Not bad!

You yourself had recorded the drums for 'The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery' but on 'Proxy' you've found Steve Roberts (Godsticks) willing to take up that role. Was it a given to hand this role over? And how did you go about recruiting Steve for that role?
Yes- I wasn't particularly interested in being the Tangent's drummer, and Prog fans don’t like electronic drums. They like electronic orchestras, electronic flutes, all manner of sounds but they just don't get on well with electronic drums. Probably because they didn't exist in 1972. They think it's "fake" but they love mellotrons which are fake. They like Hammond Organs which are not real organs and they like electric guitars which are not natural sounding guitars. Weird. I never understood that. But, I like working with drummers, and I particularly like working with Steve. He's great, understands my music and its roots better than any other drummer than Tangent has had (except Tony Latham who unfortunately never recorded with the band on a studio album)

I personally really enjoyed Marie-Eve de Gaultier's role on 'The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery', was she always meant to be a guest musician or were there other factors that prevented her from participating on 'Proxy'?
I did want Marie Eve to participate in future recordings, but life didn't let that happen this time. I offered her parts on the album and she chose not to do them this time. I too thought she made a big contribution to 'The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery' and am thankful that we got that chance to work with her.

I have to say that I particularly liked 'A Case Of Misplaced Optimism', you've basically created a jazz/soul song on a progressive rock record, and I love it. How did this song came to light?
We jammed about with a riff a bit like this while sound checking at Oberhausen in 2017. We didn't record it, but I remembered the feel and hammered something down on my laptop in the hotel later that night. Tangent has always been interested in soul/funk music and all the musicians enjoy working with that vibe. I liked using Richard Barbieri sounds on the keyboards and Jamiroquai brass sections together on the same record. I don't see that any of us need to keep following Genesis to make Progressive Music.

What are the lyrics of 'A Case Of Misplaced Optimism' about?
They are about something personal. You have asked the magic question, and nobody has (so far) asked this question. Perhaps they wanted to but did not dare ask! So, you get the first time I have ever answered the question!

It's basically about the fact that I always wished I was a woman. In a time when that was not something you could admit to. So I have always had something hidden about my personality that I never told anyone about until that song. And you happen to be the first person to ask what it's about. So now you know! I am not homosexual, but have been secretly Transvestite for a whole lifetime, since I was a little boy. In 2018 this is not a big deal any more. I regret that I was born at a time when it wasn't okay to be who you wanted to be. I regret that I never had the chance to be young and female. To me that's a major tragedy - and I cannot be the only one of my age who has repressed this for so long.

(Note from the editor: Given the nature of the answer we wanted to follow-up with some additional questions but due to the Christmas period we are unable to do so on short notice. Hopefully we will be able to follow-up on this early next year. In the meantime, we wanted you to have access to the interview.)

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A similar thing happens on 'The Adulthood Lie', except then you go into the direction of progressive dance rock. 'The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery' already had some dance bits and pieces in there, but I feel that it's much more represented in 'The Adulthood Lie'. In prog it's not really common to hear this, what made you go into this direction?
This was a desire to write what I considered to be full scale epic prog Rock using a different set of techniques and sound palettes. The song is conceived in the same way as most Tangent epics with themes, developments, re-statements, recapitulations, improvisations and song sections - but we just used a different set of influences to make this from. It's like I said on an advertisement for the album... You can make the Eiffel Tower out of Bamboo and it will still be beautiful. So we made Prog Rock out of Electronic Dance Music. And I think it worked and there will be more!

What are the lyrics of 'The Adulthood Lie' about?
This is a song that regrets that for a long time I thought only about Prog Rock and missed a lot of other things that perhaps I might have enjoyed. In this case it's obviously the fact that I never went to a Rave, missed those experiences which people from that generation tell me were utterly amazing events. The song goes on to explore the way so many of us switch off to new ideas after we have made the jump from late teens to late twenties, we become adults and somehow we often stop trying to stay in tune with the way art and so many other things change around us..Often thinking that all change is bad. But there is still time for all of us, no matter how old, to discover new things and open our eyes once again!

I love the simplicity of the album cover, although I wonder what the inspiration was behind it. My guess is that it signifies that we are all but pawns. How far off am I?
I think you're close to the mark but that pawn has so much to say for itself. It’s a great, great, photo by Martin Reijman. That pawn looks Vulnerable, but it looks small, it looks strong, determined, it could be responsible for taking the Queen down, it could even become the Queen, and it could win the game. And of course a Pawn is a form of Avatar or, in another word, a Proxy.

You did a tour with Karmakanic through Europe last year, also visiting the Netherlands, how was that? I believe you didn't really play as two separate bands but as one big band, playing from both repertoires.
I loves the Tangekanic tour, the collaboration was fantastic and it made me want to write for the band. Yes, we couldn't see the point of doing two sets as two bands any more, all the music was "ours" it's Jonas who writes the Karmakanic, and Me who writes The Tangent, but we all played it together. So we made one band out of it. There was no headline, no support, we were just together. That was magic.

Do you have any plans on going on the road again to support the release of 'Proxy'?
At present No, we will look into this of course, but for now I am busy with family business and a whole load of other stuff. You haven't heard the last of us though!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, any final thoughts that you'd like to share with our readers?
Thanks for the questions and your interest in our band.

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