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Topic ClosedKurt Rongey (Underground), Nov 2005

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Kurt Rongey (Underground), Nov 2005
    Posted: November 25 2005 at 16:12

Progarchives Member Juan Mellado has kindly submitted the following interview.



by Juan Mellado

- Five years since your last album "Through And Through". Please tell me what are the principal causes of the delay? And Why the release of a new album was announced more than once during the last tree years

The biggest reasons for the delays were mostly happy ones related to changes in my life. I now have three children I didn't at the time  Through and Through  was completed. Additionally, just after  Through and Through was released, I was promoted to the post of Program Director at the classical radio station I had been working at for several years. It was an EXTREMELY time-consuming job. Since classical music is one of my greatest loves, there was a great deal of satisfaction in the job, but it was many times 7-days a week, with 11-hour days. Bill, John and Matt spent a lot of time waiting for me. Eventually, I voluntarily left that position, and the album would probably still be unfinished if I hadn't had the time during my months between jobs finishing recording and mixing. I'm sure the early 70's were exciting times when bands like Yes, Genesis and Gentle Giant were putting out two albums a year. As much as we'd like to be able to commit the time for that kind of output, it's unlikely any kind of patronage is going to come along to enable us to do it.

- Did you participate in any other bands or projects during this five years?

Not really. Bill Pohl has another side project called Mad Jack McMaddd. They combine fusion and hard rock in a power trio format. I've spent what little time I had entirely on making The Underground Railroad as good as it could be within the aforementioned constraints. More recently, since completing The Origin of Consciousness, I've been trying to complete mixing on a third solo album, entitled  With Form It Threatens Silence.

- Can you tell us when we can expect to hear in your new album "The Origin of Consciousness"? What's the difference between this new album and the first album?.

The Origin of Consciousness is now available from most progressive rock dealers and Sound samples can be heard at  The Origin of Consciousness  is more of an ensemble album than  Through and Through, which was entirely composed and demo'd by Bill and me before any other musicians were brought in. All the tracks on The Origin of Consciousness were arranged in full-band rehearsals and were performed live before recording. While we were able to keep a lot of the musical detail and depth of arrangement that we were driving for on Through and Through, there's now a rock propulsiveness that was probably lacking on parts of the debut.

- What's the band's current lineup?

The same as on  Through and Through. Bassist Matt Hembree, who played on that album, was heavily involved with another band at the time, so he was replaced by Mike Richardson for live performances after the album was finished. Mike played with us at NEARfest 2001. He also came up with some outstanding musical ideas for the album on songs like "Creeper," "Julian I" and "Metaphor." He eventually decided to concentrate on other projects he was involved in, and Matt was able to rejoin for gigging and recording.

- How would you classify your music?

It fits firmly within my conception of symphonic progressive rock. I'm encouraged that there are some people who find hints of "avant-prog" and some people who hear "neo-prog" influences. I would hate to be pigeon-holed into one of those camps, but the more I hear people claim mutual exclusivity for such subgenres as mutually exclusive, the more I'm driven to somehow bridge them.

- How do you think that progressive rock can arrive to a wider audience without sacrificing the quality of the music for the sake of commerciality ?

Unfortunately, most of those who hold the pursestrings of the music industry have determined anything that openly displays exceptional artistry and intellect to be devoid of commercial potential. It would take the sustained effort of daring individuals with enormous amounts of either marketing money or media influence to change that.

- In my opinion your style is very much influenced from Genesis and Gentle Giant. Did this influence happen accidentally or are they kind of role models for you?

They are both huge role models for me. Both have made me weep. Others that have been huge influences are The Enid, Thinking Plague, Hatfield and the North, and more recently Wigwam.

- To me the best tracks to "Through And Through " are "The Comprachicos of the Mind" and "The Doorman". The track "In the Factory" to me are more influenced by Echolyn, what do yo think about this?

I happen to adore Echolyn's music, and I've been listening to them since shortly after their first album came out. Having said that, I personally think "In the Factory" shows more influence from the traditional prog showcase instrumentals, like Gentle Giant's "The Boys in the Band" or Egg's "Enneagram."

- Can you tell us anything about the second solo album by Kurt, "That Was Propaganda"?

"That Was Propaganda" was conceived during the Russian coup of August 1991. I had become interested in the political consequences of individualism and collectivism through reading various libertarian-slanted literature at the time. The developments in the Soviet Union were very emotional to me, and the image of Boris Yeltsin standing atop a tank in front of the Russian White House is burned into my memory. The changing name of the city of St. Petersburg (to "Petrograd," "Leningrad" and back to "St. Petersburg") was emblematic of the struggle for identity on the individual and global level that was being played out daily before our eyes. Musically, I was very proud of the way classical composition techniques and rock-oriented forms of expression came together in a few of the songs.

- Which kind of expectations did you have concerning playing in the Progday 2005?

We've done quite a bit of local gigging in the last few years, but Progday will be the first time we've played to a 100% prog-oriented audience since Cattleprog here in Texas in 2002. Progday 1999 was the first progressive rock festival I ever attended, mostly for the purpose of seeing Thinking Plague. The day we're playing, September 3rd, happens to be my youngest child's second birthday. So I hope The Spacious Mind will excuse me missing their set so we can have a little birthday party.

- How do you see the progressive rock scene in EE UU? Are there many people that listen to this kind of music? Do you know other new american prog bands?

There's a huge number of prog fans here in the US. Unfortunately, I think there are more bands than there are fans. I mentioned Echolyn above. Bubblemath is another recent American band I admire a lot.

- Do you know new or old prog bands from Spain ? Do you have any Spanish records in your collection?

I've heard Los Canarios Ciclos several times and like it a lot. Fusioon's Minorisa  is a very cool album too. I've liked Crack and the couple of tracks I've heard from Iceberg as well.

- What are your plans for the future? How do you see THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD in the next years?

Playing live. Trudging away at another album. I have a large, conceptual work I'd like to do, but it will probably have to wait a few years to even begin.

- What is your impossible musical dream you would like to come true?

For Frank Zappa to rise from the dead.

- Is there anything else of importance or interesting information that you would like to tell to our readers?

Perhaps my next solo album will be available early next year.

Thank you, Juan.


by Juan Mellado

[email protected]

Web site:

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 25 2005 at 19:08
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 11 2005 at 13:09
Well done Juan !!! But there's one little problem, this new album from underground railroad is very hard to find.
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