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Topic ClosedMark Colton of Credo, April 2006

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Tony R View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Mark Colton of Credo, April 2006
    Posted: April 21 2006 at 14:18
Prog Chick has kindly provided us with another new interview:
Interview with Mark Colton from Credo


PC: Is it hard to motivate yourself to record new album after an eleven year gap?

MC: It’s not hard, but it’s rather different. The pressures in my world are different now compared to 11 yrs ago, I have a wife, and two young boys, and for someone who is a possibly a better front man than a singer, I rely very much on  a stage persona to get the act across, and especially having built up a following after “A field of vision” , if you listen to afov on it’s own, there are some really great songs on there, but our band is at its best live, and we had a line up change which took us to a different place, we are all the same people, its just that we all have different pressures to what we had 11 or 12 yrs ago, and that’s the difficult bit, it’s a bit like getting on a bike, once you get going again its not that difficult.

PC: Do you get to the point where you think, well its 11 yrs, we’ve all got jobs and families, do we really need to do this? Is it hard to get over that hurdle in the beginning?

MC: In all honesty, I think we all got to a stage where we all thought that the album would never come out! There was a period when the only time we all got together was for our annual Christmas dinner! The five of us used to sit around eating turkey and saying “c’mon we gotta do the album this year!” “Yeah yeah, ok, see you next Christmas!” and that was about it! We are very fortunate in a lot of respects, Mike Vary has the studio at home, which gave us the opportunity to work much harder on Rhetoric than FOV, the only down side is that I think it made us incredibly, not lazy but it stretched things, we are not full time musicians, when you think of 11 yrs you think, phew! That’s a long time, but four evenings would probably equate to a hortish day in the studio, but the time you get there, you’ve unwound from your day at work, you’ve had something to eat, you’ve warmed up, you record half a verse and its time to go home! So its slow work, yes 11 years IS a long time, but if you added up all the recording time, I don’t think it actually took such a long time to record! We were all busy doing other things!

PC: How important was it to you personally that it was recorded?

MC: It became a real mission in the end, it’s fairly well documented that I was seriously ill for a time, there were definitely times lying in a hospital bed when I couldn’t imagine getting out of bed again, let alone getting onto a stage again! IT was a real mixture of relief, excitement and fear when we knew the album was finally going to be released. Everyone who had heard it was saying “yeah this is great!” but your close circle of people always do, and we knew we had recoded an album that sounded like it could have been recorded 12 yrs ago, it has a very ‘neo’ early/mid 80’s sound to it. Looking around, I didn’t know if there was a market out there for it, especially when I was looking at what other bands are doing now, you know the American influenced stuff, the spocks beard type stuff, a lot of bands want to stick some DT sounds in, and that’s not what we did. I think it was very nerve wracking because we were opening ourselves up to a lot of abuse really, which if I am honest our collective egos might not have been ready to take if I am totally honest.

PC: Neo prog does take quite a bashing in certain circles doesn’t it?

MC: Yeah! It’s great that isn’t it?

PC: Why do you think that is?

MC: I think English people, when they think of prog, think of what the rest of the world thinks of as neo-prog

Yeah, I think you are right; it’s that prog-snob thing I think! It seems like the world hates prog, but prog seems to hate neo prog, its seems to be the b*****d offspring of the b*****d offspring! Its one of those things that folk either love or hate, I think reason some folk can get a bit snobby or elitist about it especially recently is that, we discovered that Rhetoric is actually very accessible, one review called it music you could play to your bird or your mum! If that’s wrong, well so beit, and if that’s a characteristic of neo prog, you know people can listen to bands like Pendragon, Marillion, it’s not just for the prog elite, these sorts of bands have sold in huge numbers, and being successful does not mean that the music is bad or any worse or something, but it becomes more popular, and its popularity is why it takes a bit of a bashing! I like my music to have a bit of a tune, some good melody, rather than sounding like 5 blokes playing different bits of tunes and all finishing at the same time……… if your lucky! If it wasn’t for neo prog, whatever people think, it gave the genre a whole new lease of life in the 80s, god only knows what would have happened to prog as a genre if those bands had not emerged in the 80’s, it would have ended up with the total comedy value that glam gets these days! It is a genre that in its widest term has managed to survive kind of 35 to 40 years

PC: What do you think of the current UK prog scene?

MC: I think the whole scene is in a really bizarre place I don’t think its too different to where it was say 12 yrs ago personally, I think you have your premier league bands, Pink Floyd or genesis really; if either were to reform, they would sell millions of albums, hundred of thousands of people will pay tens of thousands of pounds to go and see them. Then you have the first division, of Marillion or Jethro Tull, who can go out on tour and play the Hammy Odeon, (or whatever it’s called these days!) and play a decent sized tour and people will go buy the albums and they will sell good units. Then you have the like of IQ, Pendragon, possibly Magenta, that kind of level and that is pretty much the order of things 10 or 11 yrs ago. There is a lot of nonsense talked about prog, but ……..I think the genre can rejuvenate itself, there seem to be a lot of young bands coming thro, like PRR, it depends what your view of prog is, I think in a lot of instances the term prog conjures up a lot of stuff that sounds really dated! And that coming from a bloke who has written an album that sounds like its 12 yrs old! But I think the biggest danger is if people don’t get to hear it, what we discovered with RHETORIC is, we have played it to people who would not have a clue what prog is, and so we have exposed ourselves to a different type of audience by playing some charity gigs, and the nights we have done that we have found we have sold more merch than we have on any the prog events we have played at! We have had more folk signing the mailing lists and we have had I think a more sustainable response, and people come to more and more gigs, and then these people want to know what other bands there are out there playing this kind of music. It goes back to the mid to late 80s when I was in a band called “A Casual Affair“, and we genuinely thought we were the only band out there playing this kind of music before we discovered this underground scene and I think that at the moment there are so many people working in isolation that if one of the bands could break through, it doesn’t really matter who it is, then I think that will be good news for everybody.

PC: Do you think the genre labels are a handicap then?

MC: Well being in a band called Credo, for those that know it, they think of the Fish song and think oh yeah a big fat bloke who sings a lot, so they know what to expect with us!!! I don’t think it has the stigma it had a dozen years ago, if you go to ebay and search for prog, you get loads, you get prog, neo prog, and you get progressive house, and progressive RnB and in the end, there are so many genres and sub genres that people don’t isolate themselves within these genres so much these days.

Most people I talk to they say, oh, what’s it like, I say “melodic rock, sounds a bit like genesis/PF” and they always say “oh yeah, I like that” but if I had said “prog” they would shrug their shoulders and not know what I was talking about! But because we have exposed ourselves to some different audiences in way of some charity gigs, well we have had some very successful gigs with prog audiences too, but we’ve had a lot of younger kids coming to the gigs, buying cd’s and stuff, which is really nice to see, and all this makes you think, if you can get the exposure then people will buy the cd. Whether you will ever hear Pendragon, IQ, Arena, Kino, Credo or whoever being played on R1 though I just don’t know, but does any one take notice of that any more any way? Maybe radio 2 would be a good place to get air play. One of the interesting things from my perspective about the industry at the moment is that you’ve got a generation of musicians that are knocking around the prog scene in general, and the age of the people following, well we come from a generation of people who collected music, they enjoy the process of discovering a new band, hunting the music out, and actually getting the product in their hands, a physical thing, the album cover, the whole thing, I am really gutted that they don’t make LP’s any more, I remember going into places like Harlequin records, Our Price, Andy’s records and buying albums because I liked the cover, albums that I would never have discovered and still enjoying 25 yrs later, albeit listening on cd now rather than on vinyl I think mp3 is really convenient, I have a massive collection of mp3, but if I hear and mp3 that I like I will always go and buy that album, I like listening to pod casts, it offers you music you wouldn’t normally get to hear.

PC: So what next for Credo?

MC: Well in another 12 years, Tim and Jim are going to be 60, so we decided that it makes sense to get the next album out before then! It would nice to see if we can get two albums released on the same label, we have a five year deal with F2 probably incase one of us dies!

We’ve started writing music, we’ve got a few bits, whether they will end up as one song or 5 different songs I don’t know yet, one of the advantages of not being particularly well known when Rhetoric came out is that we haven’t had a peak in sales, its been consistent, almost from day one, so we have no reason to doubt that that will continue, we are going out to do a mini tour with Landmarq which will be a laugh, we’ve got a couple of other gigs coming up, yeah so a few gigs, finish the album, and by the end of the year I want to be in a position where we can think about start recording, and take it from there really.

PC: 2 albums in one decade?

MC: Yeah! Two albums in one century! That was part of the cunning plan you see, we wanted to say to our kids that we had a recording contract that went over two decades!

I think now we have a generation bought up on dance music where the artists and the bands are disposable; there is no longevity in what they are doing. I don’t get the whole DJ worship thing; I mean they just play records! We can all do that!

I worked in the music industry for 20 years, and I saw the impact that downloading had on the music industry, it has absolutely decimated the recording industry, totally decimated it! The industry has bought a lot of this upon itself, it has not looked at longevity, it looks for the fat buck, and it used to be an accepted fact that a band might take three albums to establish itself, but now you have a cat in hells chance of getting a three album deal! They have no longevity! I look at the TV culture, switch on Saturday night to popsatr/idol or whatever, these guys often don’t have what it takes, ultimately they are money making puppets, they are not given room to grow or mature, then its about downloading tracks, its not about albums anymore, it is very dangerous. If someone had said to you r3 or 5 years ago in the uk that ‘our price’ records wouldn’t exist anymore, you would not have believed them, places like ‘Andy’s records’ they have disappeared, its incredible. The big music stores don’t even rate music that highly anymore, go to a HMV or Virgin mega store and you see DVD’s and game consoles stuff, the music is tucked away! Supermarkets selling albums for Ł8.97, well they can afford to do that, they are making maybe 1 pence per album, but it gives punters the impression that the shop is cheap or good value, so they flock in. It damages the music retailers who sell an album at a “normal” price. It means that the ranges available are limited, it means that there isn’t choice to browse, the industry got lazy, it bought this on itself, there are no longer any ‘event’ releases anymore, the big companies got greedy, they got lazy.

PC: Who in the progressive genre or outside it do you admire?

MC: I admire musicians, or authors or poets that can generate something that can move me, something emotional, that it what we like to think we are trying to do with Credo; we want to touch some feeling and emotion. But who do I like? In prog, well I’d have to say Pendragon, Barclay James Harvest, I can escape with that the same now as I did 20 or 25 years ago, obviously Pink Floyd, Genesis, all era’s of Genesis, it depends on my mood but I can enjoy the recent stuff as much as the old stuff, in fact in some moods I prefer it. Does that make me unusual? But then in the right mood I can lose my self with “The Lamb”

PC: Do you think that albums like “the Lamb” makes prog more accessible to guys rather than girls? Because of the stories that run thro albums like the “the Lamb”

MC: I dunno, I think the prog gigs where you see a lot of girls are the bands that have good tunes! I like a good tune, you can’t beat it! Interestingly enough, and this will look stupid in print, but I think here are a lot of similarities between prog and country and western, the way a story is told, there are a lot of analogies between the two. There’s a thing with prog about some kind of supposed intelligence, the high brow public school image and that kind of tosh, and it puts people off. Also, with the best will in the world there is not many sexy prog musicians is there? Look back at those heady mid 80’s days, band like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were massive, truly massive, and there gigs were FULL of women!!! Maybe prog just tends to attract train spottery blokes!

Jim’s [Credo guitarist] eldest daughter is 18, she has been taking the Credo album to college and a lot of these kids come to the gigs, they really enjoy it, I don’t think kids today are as hung up on genre as we were, when I was young we wouldn’t listen to The Who because they were seen as a mod band, but now I think kids listen to more variety, and that we do have the internet to thank.

PC: Angelina or Jennifer then Mark?

MC: Angelina definitely!


Thanks Mark, I look forward to seeing a new album before another 11 years then!




Edited by Tony R - April 21 2006 at 14:31
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stonebeard View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 21 2006 at 17:18
Clap Yeah!
Mark sounds like a really nice guy!
Thank you for another brilliant one, Prog-chick! Lamp
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 24 2006 at 17:22
Good interview Prog- ChickClap I agree with Marks asessment of the music industry, smart man.
Spending more than I should on Prog since 2005

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 25 2006 at 03:08
Mark has worked in music retail for many years, (although he now does something different) he has a lot of experience on that side of the fence.

And yes Stonebeard, a really nice guy! Although we totally overdosed on cafeine during the course of this interview!

Great fun, top bloke!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2006 at 15:33
I agree with him on many subjects, however, I don't think prog would look dramatically different now if Neo-Prog hadn't exploded in the 80's. But then again, we could be listening to different music... Wink
 -- Ivan
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