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Topic ClosedKerry Livgren (Proto Kaw/Kansas) Jan 06

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Kerry Livgren (Proto Kaw/Kansas) Jan 06
    Posted: January 29 2006 at 06:20

The story of Proto Kaw is very peculiar. It started when Kerry Livgren, one of the key members & guitarist of American progressive rock band Kansas, released some early demo recordings of Kansas under the Proto Kaw moniker. The line-up of this early version of Kansas was very different from the Kansas we all know, leaving  Kerry as the only surviving member on the Kansas debut album.  Between 1971 to 1973 the band made several studio recordings which had never been officially released. Finally in 2002 “Proto Kaw - Early recordings from Kansas” was released. Many people were surprised by the diversity in the music. Soon most of the original members of Kansas/Proto Kaw were recording in the studio for the first time in 30 years. They recorded a brand new album   “Before became after”. This became one of the best progressive albums of the post 2000 years. At the end of January 2006,“The wait of glory” was released and the band is currently on tour to promote the album. When I heard these guys were doing a gig in Belgium I wanted to talk to Kerry Livgren about the band, the new album & of course Kansas. Many thanks to Garion81 who helped me to get in touch with them. I talked to Kerry Livgren prior to a Proto Kaw live performance at “The spirit of 66” a music club in Verviers, Belgium. While we were talking the other members were sitting next to us and this gave me the opportunity to ask singer Lynn Meredith about his musical career in the last 30 years…. Several hours later the band got on stage and blew me away. Listening to an album of Proto Kaw is satisfying but seeing the band perform live is an unforgettable experience…I was amazed by the jazzy jam sections during the extensions of the tracks.  

 

How is the response to your new album “The wait of glory” ? 

 

Very difficult to tell because it just came out today so we haven’t really heard too much but we hope it’s going to be good. The band took a lot of effort in it. It took us almost a year to complete it. We’re hoping for the best.

 

How did you decide to record “before came after” which was a brand new album ? Did it have something to do with the public response to the demo album ?

 

The first album was what the band was thirty years ago. After this album came out and there was so much interest in it, we had a reunion where we all got together and we wondered what would it have been like if the band had stayed together. Well the only way to find out was to get into the studio and record. We decided to give that a try and it kept growing and growing and next thing we know we had an album. The record company ‘inside out’ was very interested in it and so here we are.

 

How do you experience this time ? In the seventies Kansas turned gradually to a stadium rock band and now you ‘ve started all over again with Proto Kaw. How does it feel ?

 

I had a musical career but this is like starting all over again, which is very fun, I like it and we have to take it one step at the time. We believe in what we’re doing and we’re trying to play in front of as many people as we can at this point. I’ve seen it all before but for me the best part of the Kansas story was not after we’ve been successful, it was working our way up to get there. The struggle & the challenge of that was more fun to me. Once you become popular everything goes automatic and it’s a bit easier to get tired of it then it is when you’re on the edge, when you really have to work for it.

 

When you started composing songs for “the wait for glory”, did you use any material of the pre Kansas time like you did on “before became after” ?

 

One part of one song is based on an old idea all the rest is new.

 

It seems there’s two styles present on the music of the two last albums, some songs are build upon the melodies like “Nevermore” while others show the experimental side of Proto Kaw like “physic”. I have the impression some tracks were born during jam sessions…

 

One thing that we do is the jamming part of the band. We’ve just as comfortable being called  a jam band as we are a progressive band. We do a great deal of improvisation live, everybody got a lot of room within the songs to solo, we tend to expand several sections where the musicians take off on solo’s. That’s one aspect of the band. It’s a little bit harder to capture on cd. You almost have to see us live to experience that. 

 

 

When I listen to “the wait of glory”, it comes across as a calmer album than “Before became after”. Do you recognise this ? Was it your intention ?

 

No, nothing of the album was intentional, everything was purely natural. What came out of me as a writer, what came out of the players as they performed on it. We just really didn’t have a specific concept that we wanted to accomplish.  In some ways it’s perhaps a little slower at some parts but more intense, specific when you see it performed live. We try to be truly progressive. The words means continuing change. It doesn’t mean to stay in one place. Many progressive bands become very predictable because they don’t really change their style. If we wouldn’t change we wouldn’t be a progressive band.

 

How important are the lyrics for the music ?

 

Very, they’re part of what the song is. It’s very difficult to separate them for me as a writer. Music and lyrics are one thing. Music is a form of communication above speech. When you combine that with speech there’s a very powerful message. Sometimes you hear a song where it’s obvious the lyrics don’t really matter. Anything could have been said. Our music is not like that. Music and lyrics are very much tied together

 

I know you’re a Christian. Do you try to put these messages in the lyrics ?

 

Yes and no. If Christianity  is good news, you want to tell the people good news. I want to do it in such a way that they discover it for themselves. Sometimes if you make the message to direct, it’s not as adventurous as you have to dig for the meaning and there’s an element mystery in there and that would appeal to me if I was looking. Christianity is full of mysteries so there’s no end of material to work with.

 

 “On the eve of the great decline” seems not a very optimistic lyric ?

 

It would be sad that the two songs that I end up being famous for is “Dust in the wind” and maybe this one. The lyric of “Dust in the wind” is very sad but it’s true. I feel the same way about “On the eve of the great decline”. There’s a possibility that the song could be used in a motion picture or something and if so, it could become very popular and I would be known for writing these very sad songs and of course I did write them but the fact is I also write very optimistic songs. For some reason people don’t notices those as much.

 

I will stand by what I say in that song. If I look around to the world today, we see everything changing. Nations are changing, the weather is changing, … It seems like we’re standing at a point in time when some great change is about to occur. Many people feel this and I just put it into words. Those people were real. Even though it’s perhaps not the cheeriest. If you focus on just one song, yes it sad but if you look on the whole message overall it’s very hopeful.

 

Lynn Meredith is a splendid singer, didn’t he sing in the time between the first phase of Kansas  & Proto Kaw ?

 

Lynn :

I only sang for a brief period after Kansas broke up and I went into a different career little after, divorced myself from music altogether until 3 years ago. When we went into the studio and record, it really didn’t hit me at the time. We started doing recording and when it became time for me to sing many of the guys had already put down some great parts. What I didn’t realise is there was a little bit of nervousness cause everybody worried whether I still could sing or not. If not, soon they had to find a new singer but it worked out fine.   

 

What happened to Brad Schulz, he was one of the original guys ?

 

Yes he was one of the original guys. We discovered as we started to work more and more and rehearse more and more that it was going to be a problem not with Brad as a person but Brad lived in Idaho and that’s 1200 miles away from where we are. So it just couldn’t work and finally we realised that we had to ask Brad to move to Kansas or somewhere nearby if he wanted to stay in the band. He decided he wasn’t ready to do that. So we found another Kansas drummer who had already worked with our bass player. Mike Patrum fits in the band perfectly. So we’re quite happy.

 

Like on some Kansas albums you are the only composer in Proto Kaw. Doesn’t anyone in the band has the urge to contribute to the compositions ? 

 

We never talked about that. I’m sure If anyone did compose there’s an open door to do that. I seem to be going through a period in my life where the music is just poring out and it’s a lot to handle just to do what I come up with. I suppose if there was more there would be more to handle but I would be interested to see if anybody wanted to do that.

 

About Kansas : You wrote all the music for the latest Kansas album “Somewhere to elsewhere” but you didn’t tour with them ? Why ?

 

When the band decided to do another album I said I would love to do another album but there’s some things you should know. The first thing was it had to be recorded in Kansas. The band is named Kansas but we actually never recorded an album in Kansas. We done them in NY and in other places around in the states. So they all came into my studio and worked there. I wrote all the music for the album and played guitar and keyboards but it was very clear from the beginning that I wasn’t going to tour with the band because to do that would take all my time. I would have no time left for my family and for the farm I live in, I enjoy being a farmer and I constantly write new music in my studio. So I said there’s no time for the touring. They were fine with that, they said “Let’s do it anyway”.

 

Will you work again with Kansas in the future ?

 

Never say never. There’s no plans at the present but who knows ?  

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 29 2006 at 09:22
Thanks that was very interesting , I liked  the ending where Kerry says never say never
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 29 2006 at 13:17
... great work Fishy!
"Death to Utopia! Death to faith! Death to love! Death to hope?" thunders the 20th century. "Surrender, you pathetic dreamer.”

"No" replies the unhumbled optimist "You are only the present."
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 29 2006 at 14:07

Congratulations!! Very Nice Fishy.  Great Job!!!!! 

 

 



"What are you going to do when that damn thing rusts?"
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 29 2006 at 16:17
Well done Fishy!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 29 2006 at 17:12
Top marks! Very interesting
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 29 2006 at 21:13
I'll add my . Good stuff.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 29 2006 at 22:00
Great job. It's great to here a new interview from one of my favorite
composers.
One likes to believe
In the freedom of music
But glittering prizes
And endless Compromises
Shatter the illusion
Of integrity
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 01 2006 at 10:30

That was wonderful!!!

I believe Kerry is one of the last true keepers of the prog flame.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 04 2006 at 06:57
It's good read things like that
www.progshine.net
website dedicated to Progressive, Podcasts, reviews, news and interviews.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 06 2006 at 01:32

Fishy, I met with Dutch over the weekend.  He said you were a class act and the nicest journalist that met with them in Europe.  He said you were well prepared and they were very impressed.  I'll post more about my experience this last weekend at the U.S CD release party in another thread.  Just thought I would pass along those sentiments to you.

 

 



"What are you going to do when that damn thing rusts?"
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 17 2006 at 13:36
 YOU DA MAN,fishy...................
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2006 at 06:48
well done.I really enjoyed,because LIVGREN is one of my fav musicians!!!!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2006 at 18:58

New interview here, Protokaw back from Europe...

http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 18 2006 at 23:46
I like Tormato, so shoot me! Every person in the world can't think the same.
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