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Glass Hammer Interview - October 12th 2015.

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    Posted: October 11 2015 at 19:54

- an interview by Michael Hodgson -



Twenty three years and sixteen studio releases into their career, American group Glass Hammer have formed a reputation as one of the premier symphonic prog bands of the modern era. Their proper debut in 1993, `Journey of the Dunadan’ sold through limited press exposure and good word of mouth, but it was 1995's `Perelandra' that hinted at the first signs of great potential, and each album since then has shown the group and the various musicians that contribute to the core line up of bass player Steve Babb and keyboardist Fred Schendel becoming more ambitious and growing in musical intelligence and sophistication. `Chronometree', `Lex Rex' and the double CD `The Inconsolable Secret' (perhaps a true modern symphonic prog classic!) were all big leaps forward for the band, and the addition of future Yes frontman Jon Davison for the trio of albums `If', `Cor Cordium' and `Perilous' completed another exciting era of the group. With a reworked line-up now in place that includes Carl Groves (lead vocals), Aaron Raulston (drums), Kamran Alan Shikoh (guitars) and Susie Bogdanowicz (vocals), the band delivered one of their most lavish and sophisticated works this year with `The Breaking of the World'.

October 6th 2015 saw the band release `Double Live’, a double CD/DVD document of one of their live performances from earlier this year, and all the current members were kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions about the set and other general Glass Hammer questions!



It has been seven years since your last live release with the `Live at the Tivoli' DVD in 2008, with no less than six studio albums in that time as well! First of all, starting with you, Steve, why the long break in-between live releases, and why choose now to finally again offer a new one?

Steve: It’s no secret we have mostly preferred to spend our time in the studio, though that changed a couple of years back when we were invited to perform on Cruise To The Edge. We had to transition from a studio drummer to our newest member, Aaron Raulston. Of course we also had to transition from studio vocalist Jon Davison back to Carl Groves and Susie Bogdanowicz.

After the Tivoli show Carl had gotten busy with his own projects, and some other things got in the way of him joining us in 2009. Susie did some shows in 2009 with us for the `Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted' album, then moved several hundred miles down the road in Florida where she got busy raising a family. That’s what really led to three years of focusing on studio work with Jon Davison as our singer. CTTE forced us back into the real world of live gigging. We’ve seen it all as a very positive turning point for Glass Hammer.

Aaron is such a strong drummer that it makes performing a joy, especially for me as a bassist. Carl and Susie are both settled in enough with their own situations that they haven’t minded flying from show to show if necessary. I’m hoping it’s a trend for us. Though it will be several months or more before we try to schedule any live dates. We have a huge studio project underway for 2016. Then I’m sure we’ll want to hit the stage again.



For the tour that this release is sourced from, how many concerts were there all up, where did you play, and how did you feel the shows went?

Steve: One home town show followed by one in Woodstock, New York, followed by an appearance at the New Jersey ProgHouse and another at Orion Studios in Baltimore. A few days later we did the RoSFest show. For Glass Hammer that was a full tour!

I was getting over a bad cold at the Chattanooga show, which I think Carl might have caught as he was sick for the next three shows. We had a blast at those gigs but I’m pretty certain he was miserable the entire time. The band was tight though in spite of viruses. Those things just can’t be helped. Then came RoSFest and everyone was well. Since we were taping that show (and there are a LOT of things that go into doing that) it was vital we have a good performance.

It is a funny thing with RoSFest. We had three standing ovations during the performance and the crowd was electric. Lots of love flowing from those guys!

Of course there were a couple of technical glitches, but nothing serious. That was Susie’s first show with us in over a year and the first time she’d ever done some of those songs with us happened right there on stage. We hadn’t done `If The Stars’ with her in a year, but she knocked it out of the park. Carl was a masterful front man too. This was his best show ever with Glass Hammer.



Does life away from Glass Hammer in the `real world’ restrict the amount of live activities you can commit to? Any there other factors that have to be considered when organizing live performances as Glass Hammer?



Steve: I’m lucky I guess. I never really exist in the real world as I work on Glass Hammer projects in one way or another nearly every day of the week. I’m fairly immersed in Glass Hammer music or promotion.

But we’ve made it a general rule that we will only perform high profile shows and festivals. If we’ve turned down gigs due to other commitments, they usually turned out to be something we’d really rather not have done in the first place.

The core group of Fred, Alan, Aaron and myself have to commit to a couple of rehearsals per week as a group for several weeks. When gigs are coming up I personally practice bass two hours per day and I’m sure the other guys do about the same. It’s a big commitment and time taken away from our families at this point in our lives is a big consideration. So I just don’t say yes to every opportunity that comes our way and make certain it is worth bringing up to the band before I even mention it to them.

I toured relentlessly in the 80’s and have no desire to relive the experience. A handful of high profile shows are much preferred over badly run affairs or speculative trips to other shores with no guarantees of compensation. Which is to say that we’re still waiting on a serious offer to perform in Europe.

If Glass Hammer has performed an event or any gig really, you can count on this - the promoter of the show has it together and takes great care of the band. Our guys and girl deserve it, just as our fans deserve the best from us.



`Double Live' has a simple and direct title, with fairly obvious cover art as well! Did you ever consider giving it a more typically proggy self-indulgent or play-on-words title (Transatlantic's `KaLIVEoscope, I'm looking at you!), or some typically surreal proggy mind-bending artwork?!



Steve: Seriously I played around with those ideas but came up with nothing I personally found appealing. `Double Live’ sounds big, like something a 70’s arena band would release. It’s kinda retro in that respect, and of course we are also kinda retro in our approach to prog. We’ll save the proggy, self-indulgent titles for our studio projects. We’ve already got a one word proggy title for our next concept album and haven’t even written any music for it yet!

As for the art, it seemed like a waste to do a live album and not show the band. I think Carl, as our resident mad-viking front man looks fairly epic on the cover. He stands about six feet four on stage and dwarfs everyone.

So this package and cover is just up front and in your face - just like the music. And I should say the sound of Glass Hammer live is much different than the studio version. Much more raw and full of energy.



Since the previous live release, the studio discs have covered everything from the (very underrated, in my opinion!) Susie Bogdanowicz-focused `Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted', the trio of Jon Davison-led albums `If', `Cor Cordium' and `Perilous', and the `rebooting' of the band with the returning Carl Groves since `Ode to Echo.' That's a lot of ground to cover, not only musically but in the added attention it brought the group (due to Jon D's eventual association with a fairly obscure unknown forgotten prog band from the Sixties called Yes)! On settling on the track-listing for this album, did you ever feel the need to essentially play `catch-up' and try and squeeze in parts of all of those discs?

Steve: We were playing other tracks from `IF’, `Ode To Echo’ and `Culture of Ascent’. But the RoSFest show is locked in at an hour and half. We went over that time of course, but we tried to do a show that fit what we’d agree to do for them. So that meant certain songs had to go.

Also there are certain songs that would be difficult to do, either because it was written for a different singer or the studio versions weren’t translating all that well on stage. So we picked the songs that we felt that particular audience would really appreciate and that we knew we could kick butt on. And it worked out great.

The show builds with some great melodic tracks from `The Breaking Of The World’ and `Shadowlands’, then picks up intensity with `The Knight Of The North’ and `If The Stars’. We close with `Time Marches On’. That last half of the set should leave our fans floored, or at least I hope it does! It’s a truly epic selection of songs for the last half of that set. Prog Magazine said it was the boldest set of the weekend and that is primarily due to the songs we chose for the show.



Earlier this year, you released a superb new album `The Breaking of the World', one that really rewards listeners for taking the time to play it constantly and discover just how subtly complex and involved it is. Not only is there a lot of vocal variety, but musically it's far more ambitious and exotic with the addition of flute, violin and more acoustic guitar than perhaps heard on previous albums. Did these qualities make it difficult to perform any of that album live?



Steve: We’ve learned not to stress out so much about having to omit parts, be it instruments, backing vocals or layers and layers of guitars. If the song is good, the song will shine through. So we pick the ones that are playable and that we feel comfortable with. If it’s just not happening with a particular song on stage we’ll drop it. We took a stab at playing `The Gray Hills’ from `Ode To Echo’ a few times but it just never came together - probably because all those layers were actually necessary to make it happen. Either way, it just wasn’t moving us and we dropped it. We picked three from `The Breaking Of The World’ that we anticipated fans would really like. In hindsight I’d probably have chosen `North Wind’ over `Mythopoeia’, because the fans really dig that track. But I thought `Mythopoeia’ was a cool tune and had a lot of dynamics that would work well on the stage in front of an audience.

But was it difficult? Not really. `The Knight Of The North’ is the real beast in the set and due in no small part to the length of the track (over 25 minutes) it is a very daunting track to attempt, though hugely rewarding when we pull it off well.



How did you come to pick those three particular ones to represent what the latest studio album had to offer on `Double Live?

Steve: Well I’ve sorta explained `Mythopoeia’. It was all about dynamics for me. `Nothing Everything’ just had a great groove throughout and we picked it for the opening song of the set. `Third Floor’ was chosen before we realized the fans were really into it. It showcases everyone and is such a quirky track that we had to include it.


That last one is generally considered to be a bit of a firm favourite of fans already, and with good reason! Endless symphonic instrumental passages jumping back and forth, a lovely variety of vocals from Susie, Fred and Carl conveying a baffling fantastical story which is both oddly romantic, slyly humorous and perhaps even a little darkly obsessive! Care to explain to fans what it’s actually about, and how you felt this live version turned out?

Steve: I thought it came off live as the one song that sounded the closest to the studio version. We are all very happy with how that one turned out.

As to the silly story of elevator love…We were playing in Quebec last year and the hotel elevator spoke in a very sexy French voice, you know, telling you what floor you were on. We were there for three days and found out on the last night that all the guys had kind of developed a strange crush on that voice. We were sleep deprived during this discussion mind you, waiting to catch a cab to the airport. So we were all just laughing about it and it turned out that Alan had recorded the elevator saying “Third Floor” on his phone. That was the floor our rooms were on. We determined it had to be a song and Fred took the challenge and came up with the most absurd thing we’ve ever done! He and Alan wrote the song. I think Alan had already started the music in his hotel room. We do so much serious music that it’s a real treat when we can do something like `Third Floor’. We’re all really a bunch of jokers in this band and if people could see us behind the scenes I think they’d either get a good laugh out of it or maybe just think we were all just a bit mad!



I’m putting in a request next time for Susie’s `Haunted’ off the recent album for a future live performance! That track is a real standout not only for her voice, but it shows the band playing with careful restraint, knowing when to keeps things simple and just deliver a piece with great taste. It feels like it could have easily fit in perfectly on the second disc of `The Inconsolable Secret'! `Haunted’ could be a very moving solo showcase for Susie on stage, so any chance it might show up in the future?



Steve: Alan wrote all of the music for `Haunted’ and I did the lyrics. But it’s probably the first song Alan composed the music for with no input from the rest of us. He’s younger than us, so has a different view of prog and writes from a completely different perspective. He needs to do more! I’d love to do that one live if we could do some really creepy lighting for it.

The next time we play out we may attempt an entire album - so I’m not sure what songs we’d have time to do. But if we do another set of songs from several albums I’ll put it on the list for consideration for sure!



It’s nice to see such a wonderful epic in the form of `The Inconsolable Secret’s `Knight of the North’ performed again on one of your live releases! How do you feel about this version compared to the one from the `Live in Belmont' DVD where the band was backed by a 150 piece choir?

Steve: We pulled `KON’ back out for Cruise To The Edge two years ago and I wondered if it would be lacking in epicness without the choir. But no, not so much. Having a huge choir backing GH was always a dream of mine and we got to do that twice. It’s an honor, really, to know that many people were pulling together to create something magical for the audience and for the band. Technically it is very hard to do and very hard to record correctly. I wouldn’t rule out that we would do something like that again one day, but it is hard to get the sound of the singers over the sound of the band.

The band really loves to play `KON’, and it’s probably one of our favorite things to do live. But even without the choir we had technical difficulties during the RoSFest performance. We were able to get around those and no one will ever notice, but we certainly were aware of it. No one wants to stop fifteen minutes into a twenty-six minute long song to make adjustments or work out the kinks. So its a nerve wracking experience when Aaron counts us in and we all let it sink in that come good or bad, broken strings, blown tubes or glitchy computers - we won’t be stopping for nearly one half an hour later. It is kind of our version of thrill-seeking. Lots of adrenaline is pumping and the chance to crash and burn in front of the most critical audience on earth is ever present!



Diverting from the live talk for a second, in regards to `The Inconsolable Secret', it's definitely one of your absolute standout releases. It just may be a bit of a classic of modern symphonic prog, and it seems to be a favourite amongst longtime fans of the group. Not only is the first disc of two lengthy epics stunning, but the second disc of mostly shorter pieces has a beautiful variety that holds up as its own standalone album. Is there any chance, in true prog fashion, that we may get a direct `sequel' to this album? I know, Steve, that you wrote a fantasy poem that the album was based on, so is there more inspiration, both from a musical AND written point of view, to explore the concept further?



Steve: As a matter of fact we are talking about something like that right now. I have the outline for a story, and have written lyrics for two songs which I’ve handed over to Fred for musical ideas. It will not be `The Inconsolable Secret Part II’, though it will likely be set in the same world as Lirazel’s. We’d rather this new project stand on its own though, so it will definitely not be a continuation of the same tale. Fred, Alan and I have all talked about the success of `The Inconsolable Secret' and we know that our fans like really huge, ambitious projects like that. Perilous certainly seemed like it fit the bill to us, but fans are only now really beginning to understand how deep that album is. So we’d like to do something truly epic and are taking a pause while we mull over exactly what form it will take and how we can take full advantage of everyone’s talents. No one wants to dive into this quickly as it is a big commitment. But if we decide to move forward, we will begin in earnest very soon.

There is certainly some magic with `The Inconsolable Secret’ and that is not something you can just make happen.

But I’ve always believed if you set the goal very, very high - even impossibly high - then the odds are with you. Of course we try to create something special every time we do an album, believe me! But the appeal of the epic concept album is undeniable.



Back to the new live disc, you perform the wonderful `If The Stars' on this album, a song associated with the Jon Davison-led era of the band, and Susie and Carl completely reinvent it and makes it their own! With them delivering the track this time, was it intimidating to try and present this new version?



Steve: Jon helped me to write `If The Stars’, and we would love to perform it with him some day. But no, we don’t think about things like that. Carl has been performing The Knight Of The North with us since 2006 but it was originally Walter Moore who did the studio version. We’ve got great singers, always have. It was too high for Carl to tackle all of it, and too low for Susie to tackle the verses. Jon has that range of course. So Carl and Susie do a marvelous job together, and frankly, we don’t hear it any other way now. I don’t even expect it to be a jolt to hard core fans of IF. Carl and Susie are a natural for it. They would have been singing it back in 2010 except Susie moved away and Carl was working on another project! That’s part of what led to finding Jon.


Did Jon Davison's participation in his time with the group bring a new audience and added attention to the group because of his connection with 'a certain other band'?

Steve: The attention we got due to “the other band”, I think that’s a misconception with a lot of people. It made a headline or two, and I suppose new fans came on board. But Glass Hammer is a much more successful band that many people realize. Consider the entire project was launched on QVC in front of millions of people in 1993. That was major exposure, even if it was unconventional for a prog band. In 1993 there was no conventional way to launch a prog group though! We did an ad campaign too that put us in big magazines and got the name of the band out to a lot of people really fast. But that was then.

We aren’t represented by one of the bigger prog labels, so the hype machine isn’t constantly cranking out news or press. Yet Glass Hammer has been steadily gaining ground (and holding it) every year since its inception and I see no indication that that will change.

We have a true grass-roots following of loyal fans who get what we do and are on board for more. I can’t say enough good things about our fans. Many of them have become good friends through the years.



Glass Hammer has really offered a wide range of different sounding albums, so be honest – do the lazy and inaccurate `Yes clone’ comparisons really get on your nerves?

Fred: They do at this point. We always had Yes as an influence but only one of many. We got a little cheeky when Jon joined and did `If’ which was a bit more on the nose with Yes-type sounds but it still didn't sound like anything they would actually do. But the last couple albums I don't think have anything to do with Yes.

Steve: I’ve also read reviews that claimed that some song I’ve written was "clearly influenced" by some band I’ve never even heard. That bugs me. From my perspective, the reviewers who just cannot avoid mentioning Yes in a Glass Hammer review have revealed a disturbing, obsessive fascination with that band. It creeps me out, after reading it over and over and over again. If I was in Yes I’d be a little creeped out too. It’s just weird at this point. We don’t sound like Yes.



Fred, we'll come back to you again soon, but we'll talk to some of the other members of the band now! Carl, not only are you now fronting the band live and in the studio, but you've been contributing both musically and lyrically to the last few albums. As Glass Hammer is somewhat considered to be Fred and Steve's `baby', what is the experience of collaborating with them been like?



Carl: In some ways it's easy. Most ways. In other ways, it's really tough for me. I'm usually a "lyrics first" kinda guy and Fred and Steve are usually "music first" kinda guys. Which means we've been fairly successful at marrying lyrics I had with music they had. Both of my contributions on the new album were like that, in fact. I had next to nothing to do even with the melodies--I sent lyrics and I got a demo of what the song was gonna be like. Other songs have been a bit more difficult. I think "Garden of Hedon" from our previous album, "Ode to Echo" was probably the best example of how a good system doesn't always work. I pretty much had the lyric and when I got the music I went overboard and wrote all these wonderful verses and choruses and bridges and such...only to find out that about half the places I'd written melodies to were slated for instrumental development and/or soloing. So there are certainly both perks and drawbacks.

I think another perk is that my lyrics and Steve's lyrics pretty much reside on opposite sides of the poetic spectrum. So the listener gets a nice, wide range of style on a GH album. Steve is Old School when it comes to the words he chooses and the way he uses them. For you to "behold" the flower, for example, he'll give you a glorious metaphor for its beauty. I, on the other hand, will rip off the petals and leaves and ask you to chew on them. But overall, I think the experience has been positive. I'm certainly proud of the stuff we've released that I had a hand in writing.



Alan, you've delivered quite a rich assortment of guitar sounds over the course of your albums with the band, is it ever a challenge trying to replicate the same variety of guitar styles when performing Glass Hammer pieces live?



Alan: It’s definitely something that's considered when thinking about what material goes into a live set. Since I've been with the band contributing parts and song ideas we've usually made it a point to keep the album guitar tracks realistically manageable as far as one player executing live rather than utilizing a whole lot of layering or a bunch of different sounds on one song. When something does involve impractically quick changes between electric, acoustic, or classical guitars it's either one we don't end up playing live or some small concessions have to me made like staying on electric for a short acoustic break rather than switching instruments back-and-forth onstage.

A good example of this kind of logistical challenge is the middle section of `The Knight of the North’ which Fred actually wrote and originally recorded in an altered tuning that's not used on anything else. Because it's such an iconic part and we're usually having to travel light as far as equipment I might choose to dedicate an acoustic guitar to that special tuning and sacrifice one or two other smaller bits on other songs. Hopefully one day the technology will get even better at providing viable solutions.



Aaron, as the current drummer, how have you enjoyed your time so far with Glass Hammer?



Aaron: I've enjoyed every minute being in Glass Hammer!! I've felt like my family and I was accepted from day one. Even after meeting Susie and Carl for the first time, it was like I had been in the band for years.


In what ways does the group inspire you musically?

Aaron: The biggest thing that GH has helped me to do is rehearse on my own. To say that this music is challenging is an understatement. Whether it's songs from their back catalog or the songs that I've been a part of from `Ode to Echo' or `The Breaking of the World', I have to be on top of my game when it's rehearsal time and when it's time to perform for audiences. I've always thought of my role as a drummer to be the bandleader. It's my job to lead the others into the next section of a song or even to bring emotion into a song with dynamic changes or by pushing or pulling a tempo the slightest little bit. If I am not on top of my game, then the rest of the band suffers. That applies in all musical aspects, whether it's in GH, at church, or playing in a big band doing jazz standards.


Aaron, are their any particular Glass Hammer pieces you especially enjoy performing live, and why?

My favorite song, by far, is `Knight of the North'!!!! It has everything that a drummer, who loves a challenge, could want! It's 26 minutes long... Has a ton of dynamic changes... Lyrically tells a story that even the drummer has to help tell with his instrument... Several meter changes... And even a little section to get my funk on haha!!! But that end section takes the cake! Getting to build each musical phrase and then Fred hits the organ!! That gets me everytime!!


Now some questions for the leading lady! Susie, now that you’re able to recommit to the group again, are there any particular pieces that you love performing, or any that you hope you get a chance to perform live in the future?



Susie: There are a few songs that I would love to do live again that would require more musicians and vocalists on stage. Those are `Further Up, and Further In', `When We Were Young', `Having Caught a Glimpse', and `Lirazel'. It would be fun to do `Hyperbole' with our current line up. I was really giddy to be able to sing on `Knight of the North' at RoSFest this year. It is definitely one of my favorite GH songs.


Susie, as you don't have as much to do with the writing and studio production side of things, how important is singing live with the band to you, and what do you try to achieve with your performances?

Susie: Singing live with GH is a blast. It isn't that it is of more importance to me, but it is the cherry on top. We don't perform live often, so it is a real treat when we do. As a vocalist, I am the messenger of these incredible lyrics and poems and epics. That is what being a singer is all about...portraying the depth of the intent of the song writer. I truly feel what I am singing. I am the story teller. I hope what happens during a live performance is that the audience connects and is moved by the music.


When you do go into the studio to record your vocals, do you ever `butt heads' with Fred and Steve and have your own ideas about the direction a piece can go? In other words, do you get to offer your own ideas and suggestions about some pieces, or are you happy to simply deliver the vocals?



Susie: Fred and Steve have always been very open to my ideas, if or when I have them. That being said, I am not a progressive rock composer. I completely respect the art form, it just isn't one that comes naturally to me. It's like having a sculptor contribute ideas to a painter. I very much trust Fred and Steve, and they have the same faith in me. I don't necessarily have the same trust in myself - that I would do anything better than those two guys. That being said, if I sit with a song for a while, I am able to tweak lines to my liking. That happens quite a bit. The guys will give me a possible melody line, but they want me to make it my own.


Carrying on from the previous question, do you have any ambitions to offer your own compositions to future Glass Hammer studio albums?

Susie: I do not have any ambitions to offer up any "Susie" compositions for the Glass Hammer family, but I am looking forward to collaborating with Kamran (Alan) on a tune here and there. We have similar musical tastes, and we want to play around with some of those ideas. I am not sure how we can do that living 500 miles apart, but where there's a will...


Back to Fred, as one of the core members of Glass Hammer who creates a great deal of the music, when you write new compositions do you naturally assume you will be singing what you write? If not, seeing as how GH often has several vocalists on some albums, how do you go about assigning it to the member of the group you feel would perform it best? For instance, `Sand’ off the latest album seems like a very personal lyric from you, yet Carl is given the lead vocal.



Fred: Quite the opposite; I naturally assume I will not be singing what I write! We have a guy (and often a girl) in the band who's paid to sing better than I do and I write with them in mind. Every now and then I'll take a few lines just to keep my hand in. I'm flattered that `Sand’ sounds like a personal song but it really isn't for the most part, although lines and ideas probably creep into any song that are personal on some level. But I don't mind that Carl and Susie and others are going to sing that stuff; they make it their own.


Spill the details, Fred, are there any examples where any members past and present have fought over who got to sing a particular piece?! Dish, dish!

Fred: Not that I can think of. We try and give parts to the best singers. I go through a lot of trauma and worry any time I decide to try and sing a part, like `Third Floor’. I only did that one because our guest singer dropped out and it seemed like the guide track I had done wasn't terribly bad, and we wanted a character different from the others in the song.


Fred, are there any genre styles, be it metal, jazz, etc, that you would like to incorporate at some point in Glass Hammer that you feel the band haven't touched on much yet? Even just re-listening to the belated release of your first studio recordings with `One' reveals electronic elements that the band have not really used again since.



Fred: We do like a lot of electronica and it's possible that more modern synth elements may come back in to our sound in places. It just depends on how we feel as a band at a given time. I've been on an almost "no synth" kick for a few albums. We have to be very careful; `Three Cheers...’ was not well received and that was our attempt at going in a somewhat more modern direction. `One’ was a product of the time we did it; all we owned was a Roland D-50 and a Boss drum machine! We're not going metal; it's done to death by people better at it than us. What we do like are more stoner/sludgy early Black Sabbath riffs. I'd like to have more of that and I think Steve would too... done on a fuzzed out electric piano.

Fred (and Steve!), continuing from the previous question, despite progressive music listeners seemingly assumed to be the most accepting of new musical styles, of artists experimenting with their sound, and so on, do you and Steve feel pressure to deliver something to them that is more obviously `prog rock' or `symphonic prog' when perhaps you'd rather be playing around with your sound a bit more?

Fred: Yes and no. We have a reputation for changing sounds from album to album but we can't go too far; people do want a symphonic style at the core. We can't put a DJ in the band, probably. Some of that has to be left to the kids that grew up with it and understand it on a cellular level.

Steve: Fortunately we really like symphonic prog. I would certainly experiment more if I truly felt free to do that. But we could always do that under a different band name. We did other electronic albums under the name TMA-2 back in the 90’s.If I were a Glass Hammer fan I’d expect the band to deliver a certain kind of sound. I don’t blame them a bit.



With creativity, inspiration and productivity being at an all-time high for Glass Hammer, `Double Live’ seems like a fine way for the band to ride out 2015 with. You dropped a little hint earlier of a starting point for your next work, but any other clues of what we may see from Glass Hammer and it’s various members next year and/or in the near future?



Steve: I can tell you what we plan to do, though plans change as new opportunities, challenges or hurdles present themselves. So I can't be held to any of this! We plan to move forward with the band exactly as it is now - Fred, Alan, Aaron, Carl, Susie and myself. In what amount to pre-production meetings Alan has expressed the thought that if we are to pull something off with the epic scope of The Inconsolable Secret, the writing should be centered around Fred and myself, as it was then. I think that's just to get the ball rolling though because I'd love to have Alan and Carl contribute as composers. I can tell you that Fred and I have both started writing new music and I've got lyrics in the works too. We also want to approach the recording of the album in a totally new way. The energy of Glass Hammer live is something that is hard to capture in the studio, but we think we have a way to do this. I won't say more at present except that we should be experimenting with this very soon to see how it will work out.

Everyone has had a nice long break since last May. It's a good thing because Glass Hammer is about to get very busy in the studio and out of it as we focus on the 2016 project. We raise the bar for ourselves each time we start an album. We're going to raise it very high this time.



Glass Hammer – Steve, Fred, Susie, Carl, Alan, Aaron – thank you so much for your time!



*****

Interviewed conducted by email between August 31st and October 5th 2015.

Band website: http://glasshammer.com/ - Buy `Double Live’ and other Glass Hammer albums/merchandise here!

Some listening:

Promo video for `Double Live' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR9OX2Z_SAQ

Two promo videos for `The Breaking of the World':
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPw6EKLkzcU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnlGwSq6kho

My review of `The Breaking of the World’ - http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=1458270

******

Published 12th October 2015.

Edited by Aussie-Byrd-Brother - October 12 2015 at 08:06
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Finnforest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2015 at 20:22
Wow Michael.  That is one hell of a nice job.  Beautiful, manClap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2015 at 23:38
Thanks, Jim, too kind of you!

I don’t know about your experiences when you’ve done your interviews in the past, but I know after all the work is done on it, I’m utterly fed up and cranky with it for several hours after it! You go round in circles looking at every detail making it look right, driving yourself mad and overthinking little details! I think it came together fairly well, so that’s a relief! Much appreciated again, my friend.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Meltdowner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2015 at 04:46
Fantastic interview Michael! Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2015 at 07:54
Fabulous stuff Clap.  A thoroughly interesting read.

Nice work!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AEProgman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2015 at 08:08
Bravo Michael, Bravo!Thumbs UpClap

Great work in getting inputs from all the band!  Nice question on seeing what other genres of music they would like to venture into their sound, interesting Fred's remark on wanting to add some stoner/sludgy Sabbath riffs.  Can you imagine that mixed in with their symphonic work with Susie's vocals. Big smile

Always liked the story of the elevator song....LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2015 at 08:10
Thanks, guys I was lucky that all the band members gave such terrific answers, it was just my job to join all the pieces together after that!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guldbamsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2015 at 08:35
I'll echo the guys; great interview Michael. Goes to show that it really pays off when folks immerse themselves in their work
“The Guide says there is an art to flying or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

- Douglas Adams
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2015 at 18:13
Thanks, Dave! Yes, it's a little easier when you're a little obsessive about the body of work!

Hope you're good, man
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2015 at 05:18
Mike, you're amazing !!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2015 at 17:44
You're way too kind, Tom!

I don't often do interviews as there's a lot involved in getting them to come together successfully, but the band all gave such terrific and well thought-out responses that it made my job much easier!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2015 at 02:47
Are they going to do any more vinyl releases ??
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guldbamsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2015 at 08:59
Originally posted by Aussie-Byrd-Brother Aussie-Byrd-Brother wrote:

Thanks, Dave! Yes, it's a little easier when you're a little obsessive about the body of work!

Hope you're good, man

I think it says something about your work, when you are able to pull in someone like me, who's tried several times with Glass Hammer but they just don't do anything for me. I still very much enjoyed the interview. 
Now that is a sign of quality right there my friendClap

I'm doing good thank you - as a matter of fact I was just proposed to at work today. This little 4 year old girl caught me completely off guardLOL




Edited by Guldbamsen - October 14 2015 at 09:06
“The Guide says there is an art to flying or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

- Douglas Adams
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2015 at 11:20
Originally posted by Tom Ozric Tom Ozric wrote:

Are they going to do any more vinyl releases ??

Very good question, Tom, I'll get in touch and report back with their answer!

I know it might be a bit tricky, because many of their albums run to the 55-70 minute mark, which is always hard to spread out over vinyl without leaving a spare side here and there!

But Hopefully `yes' at some point, more modern prog bands than ever are putting out the vinyl editions!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2015 at 11:27
Originally posted by Guldbamsen Guldbamsen wrote:

Originally posted by Aussie-Byrd-Brother Aussie-Byrd-Brother wrote:

Thanks, Dave! Yes, it's a little easier when you're a little obsessive about the body of work!

Hope you're good, man


I think it says something about your work, when you are able to pull in someone like me, who's tried several times with Glass Hammer but they just don't do anything for me. I still very much enjoyed the interview. 
Now that is a sign of quality right there my friendClap

I'm doing good thank you - as a matter of fact I was just proposed to at work today. This little 4 year old girl caught me completely off guardLOL




Cheers, mate! Yes, I assumed knowing your tastes that they wouldn't do much for you (that's not a slight at you in any way, my friend, I just know what you're not usually keen on), but I also had someone else mention to me today that they don't know much about the band but found that the interview reads rather well and breezy, and that the band gave great responses. So I'm happy!

Oh, congratulations! Looks like you're in it for life now!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guldbamsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2015 at 11:47
LOL Yup....even if I'm not seeing anyone at the moment, i still am getting all the love I need. Hugs are plentiful.

...and if I may say another thing about your write up, then it's that most real music fans generally enjoy reading about music if it's done well. I love reading about music - even the kind I don't particularly enjoy. I've watched ABBA documentaries and music connoisseurs herald Celine Dion as the best thing since sliced bread....and I still rather enjoy watching it (if it's done well). Same way with interviews. That's why I know more about Coldplay's inspiration than their actual output.


“The Guide says there is an art to flying or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

- Douglas Adams
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 18 2015 at 04:01
Originally posted by Tom Ozric Tom Ozric wrote:

Are they going to do any more vinyl releases ??

Tom, got this from Steve Babb of Glass Hammer:

"The vinyl label called Plane Groovy put out `Perilous' on vinyl. If another vinyl label is interested we'd surely consider it. But we have no plans for starting a different business (which it is btw). His best bet is to ask Plane Groovy for more."

There you go, mate, let's get onto them to hint at wanting to release some more vinyl!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 18 2015 at 04:59
^ Yeah, like Chris Topham is gonna say "there's this vinyl nut called Tom who we must press Glass Hammer vinyls for"........I guess it all has to be profitable. Look at Xavier Phideaux and his Snowtorch vinyl - probably sold a few dozen and that's it........though I think GH would sell well........
BTW, Perilous is an absolute luxury to have on vinyl, not a dull moment throughout, and I like Davison singing, I don't find him 'shrill' at all.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie-Byrd-Brother Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 18 2015 at 05:26
I don't know, the guy might go `That vinyl nut Tom needs some more Glass Hammer LP's, we'll make it our very next priority! To the pressing plant!!!'
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 18 2015 at 07:03
......not only GH, but more Magenta as well !!!
Dunno why CD's don't mean much to me.........
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