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Melomaniac View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Karl Groom, Threshold
    Posted: August 07 2007 at 10:22
As promised earlier, here is an interview with workaholic Karl Groom, founding member and main songwriter for Threshold and producer at Thin Ice Studios, amongst other things.  Here he shares his thoughts on Threshold's latest album, Dead Reckoning, and on the band in general.  We had a few e-mail exchanges before he could find the time to answer these questions, but being the gentleman he is, he did so with class and interest.
 
I sincerely hope you all enjoy this !
 
Melomaniac
 
 
 
1 - Now that your first album with Nuclear Blast Records is out, how do you and the band feel about your new label ?

 

We had to negotiate a new contract and I think it is important for a band to move on every now and again to find a new approach and working method. We did not actively look for a new label, but NB came to us after finding out we were up for contract renewal. They put up with us negotiating the contract for about six months and are still positive and looking for ways to get the most out of the new album. I am not negative about Inside Out and would like to thank Thomas for the work he put in for Threshold, but unless a band like Threshold continues to evolve I can’t see it surviving. I want to continue to make music while I feel passionate about it, so we thought NB would offer us a step up and a lot better distribution, whilst still maintaining full artistic control. The last three CDs all sold just about the same quantity, so we need to make some changes to ensure the long term future of the band. I guess we will find out more about the label after the “honeymoon” period.

 

2 – Nick Midson shines by his absence on ‘Dead Reckoning’ ; can you tell me about his departure from the band and if the door is open to him for an eventual return ?

 

Nick has found it harder and harder to go off on tour each year. We spoke about this and I didn’t want to force him to do something he is not ready for. So he is taking a break this time around to decide if he wants to return for the long term. I still see him as we’ve been friends a lot longer than the life of Threshold and we live close by. In fact he came around last night and he is already missing being in the band and talking about starting to write some music for a new album. I’m glad that he took a break rather than made a decision to leave.

 

3 – Has Nick’s absence influenced your songwriting in any way ?

 

Nick has not written so many songs on recent albums, so I guess his absence has not affected me in that way. However, his playing and just being in the band has always been a major part of Threshold as we are the only remaining original members. I look forward to any future contribution he has to make with the band.

 

4 – Dan Swano contributed his death metal growls on ‘Slipstream’ and ‘Elusive’.  Was the inclusion of death metal vocals in Threshold’s sound something that came naturally or was it suggested by your new label ?

 

We already had the growling parts for Slipstream and Elusive at demo stage, but found it hard to find someone with the right voice to carry it off. I remembered Dan Swano from a few years ago when he came to visit while I was working on a mix of another band and knew he produced that kind of music. We contacted him to ask if he knew anyone who could do the vocals, although I had no idea Dan could growl himself. The next day he sent me loads of files with different options he had worked well into the night on at home.

 

The point of adding this kind of thing to these two songs was to create more contrast in the music. I don’t think we have suddenly turned into that kind of band, but it’s good to bring new elements into the music.

 

5 – The lyrics throughout ‘Dead Reckoning’ are far from being as politically engaged as in ‘Subsurface’, even though many fans and reviewers thought that the lyrics to Subsurface were one of it’s many strengths, if not highlights.  Has the band consciously shied away from the engaged lyrics ?

 

Not really. We said what we had say about this kind of thing on Subsurface and it’s good to look at a new theme for Dead Reckoning. The new album is about navigating through the storms of life, so there are lots of references to flying and other forms of travel. Also it’s sometimes about the chances people are not willing to take and later regret. The title is also a navigation term in flight for determining your current position based on a previous known position, speed, time travelled and heading. It’s strange that Nick should miss out on this album because he has a love of flying and aircraft in general.

 

 

6 – I often hear or read how people think of Threshold as « Britain’s answer to Dream Theater » ; to what extent do you agree or disagree with that statement ?

 

It’s something a lot of journalists seem to say about us before even hearing the music. A bit like sports fans talking about a player they have heard about through reputation, but not seen playing. Someone must have said it first and then others take the lead. It’s true we are labelled progressive metal and have a keyboard player in common with them. Also we probably started around the same time before the genre became over populated. However, there is a huge void in the styles of the bands and the way we write songs. Being compared will not do us any harm though as they are a great band and I admire the way they have managed to keep going over the years.

 

7 – It is no secret that the band has gone through many line-up changes in the past, more often than not changing drummers and singers, and more recently your bass player ; has there ever been a point where you thought things would’nt work out ?

 

Of course it’s a bit depressing when someone leaves and we have experienced this recently with Mac not showing for our festivals in Slovenia and Germany a couple of weeks ago. The fact remains that Threshold have never been beaten by this and it just strengthens our resolve. For me, if the songwriting and arrangements remain of a high standard I am happy to continue making the music I love. Peoples circumstances will change and some are not committed to a cause with very little reward but the band continues thus far!

 

8 – Which Threshold album do you consider as a turning point for the band, when things fell into place, and which is your favorite ?

 

Wounded Land was always going to be the turning point because we had not considered things serious until that point. Nick and I just wanted to write some songs and when Tony and Jon turned up we were able to play them live. Of course we played a lot of covers to get gigs as well, but we never sent off a demo to a record company yet. From a production stand point I think Hypothetical changed things a bit and we have been trying to raise the bar each time since. Also Johanne (James, drummer)’s style of playing had quite an influence on the way we arrange music now. My favourite album will always be the most current recording as most musicians will tell you. Also I usually enjoy playing tracks live that we have not performed for a while.

 

9 – If I am not mistaken, you are partners with Clive Nolan (keyboard player for Arena) in Thin Ice Studios, where you record, engineer and mix many projects ; I suppose this partnership was born out of a necessity for both your bands and side projects ?

 

The partnership was formed when we met while both session playing for a band called Whistler’s Mother. He had keyboards and a sequencer and I had basic recording equipment. We made some demos and got 2 projects signed to a Dutch label within six months. Then we invested the recording budget in further equipment. Since then Clive has lost interest in the  recording side and mainly concentrates on his own writing projects and playing for Pendragon, Arena etc. I love the production side though and am constantly busy in the studio apart from writing and touring with Threshold.

 

 

10 – Do you mostly write new material between tours when at home or on the road ?

 

I always take a few months just before the recording to write for Threshold. I like this method as it represents a period of time for each album and the way I feel. It is one way to try and keep things fresh and not repeat yourself. I will never use material that did not make a previous album. If it was not good enough then, it will not be good enough a year or two later.

 

11 – All musicians have influences ; who are yours and your bandmates’ ?

 

Threshold started with Nick and I liking bands like Testament, Metallica and Deep Purple. Jon brought influences like Rush, Pink Floyd and Genesis. Richard enjoyed Queen and now Steve has a love of jazz. However, I hope that Threshold has a distinct style of it’s own because that’s the only way to survive more than a couple of albums.

 

12 – Can we expect a North-American leg of your upcoming tour ?

 

We were due to take the Edguy tour this year, but unfortunately Johanne had some previous commitments and that went by the wayside. In any case we are now touring Europe during part of that time. We will play ProgPower USA in October and still hope to make something happen next year with a second leg of the Dead Reckoning tour.

 

13 – Last question : what’s in store for the future of Threshold and how are things looking up since Dead Reckoning’s release ?

 

As ever Threshold have had difficulties to deal with and Mac seems to have departed the band without even talking to us. As he just gave us a short email 4 days before a festival we have managed to get original singer Damian Wilson to do the rest of the years dates with us. We are having great fun and Damian sounds excellent on the new songs. He will also perform with the all star thing at PPUSA and it’s good to work together again. 

 

Thank you so very much for taking some of your time to answer these questions !
"One likes to believe in the freedom of Music" - Neil Peart, The Spirit of Radio
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 07 2007 at 13:37
Nice one Melo, Karl is one of the unsung masters of modern prog.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 09 2007 at 11:21
that's a really interesting interview...many thanks indeed for your work....Clap
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 09 2007 at 11:30
Glad you enjoyed it folks !
 
Karl is a really, really nice guy.  I got in touch with him when I learned that Nick temporarily left the band and  I proposed my services as a replacement guitarist.  We've been in e-touch since.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 09 2007 at 20:38
Nice read, thanks Melomaniac.
 
I believe Karl is not very amused by Mac's sudden decision to leave the band, but I admire his restraint in commenting on the situation.
 
Also good to hear that Nick Midson might just return to the band if all works out well.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 11 2007 at 20:05
well done ... such a cool interview Thumbs%20Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 17 2007 at 18:03
great read...... interesting mix of fonts......Karl is one of the toppest of top blokes there is out there in in the world!



Edited by prog-chick - August 17 2007 at 18:04
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