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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Argos (April 2010)
    Posted: April 25 2010 at 15:09

Argos is a new German band which released their debut album last year. They have just released their new album. Their sound is somewhere between Canterbury, Neo-Prog and Symphonic Prog. But I will leave it to the more able guys in Argos to explain their sound and everything about Argos. 

After some emails criss crossing Germany between the Argos members, they have come up with their answers to my questions. This interview is a collective effort just like I prefer it.

Take it away, Argos !


Argos started as a solo project. Then more members arrived through > adverts and other means. When was Argos set up and by whom ?  

Robert Gozon : definitely by Thomas, I joined shortly afterwards because in 2006 or so we were already playing in a band (Superdrama) together and I figured that he needed someone to sing. That might sound strange as he himself does some singing too, more so on the first album, but I see my contribution now as a singer and composer rather than as a guitarist or keyboard player, although I play these instruments. At the time he set up Argos, he did have *lots of songs* already and we started working on some tracks that developed out of nothing, but usually one of us has the initial idea and then we throw things together and this can take some time - especially when it comes to arranging the music which is mainly Thomas' part (I'm too impatient), whereas I often have a more conventional approach, because I write on the piano or my acoustic guitar.

Thomas Klarmann : In 2005 i started composing music,that was somehow placed between the music that i had been doing with all my former bandprojects . It was a mixture of 70,s Prog ,Jazz and Pop with some modern electronic incrediences thrown in . A year later in 2006 i met Robert Gozon through a mutual friend. Robert invited me to join a project that he was involved in with Robert Stein Holzheim . This project became SUPERDRAMA after we found our guitarplayer Michael Hahn . Apart from the collaboration in this band i asked Robert G. to become a part of my ARGOS project ,which he fortunately did. Next thing that happened was a mail from Ulf Jacobs ,who heard our ARGOS songs on myspace,liked them and offered his services as a "real" drummer. In the meantime ,encouraged by the positive reactions and comments on myspace ,i had started to contact some labels . Amazingly after only two weeks we landed a deal with the Musea Label .At the end of 2009 during the making of our second album, Rico Florczak became the latest ARGOS member.Rico is an exceptional guitar player and a friend/ collegue of Ulf. They both work as music teachers in the "Musikfabrik" Greifswald. At this point i have to thank Michail Gorbatschow and the arrival of the internet because without them ARGOS could have never come into existence as a band with two members Ulf and Rico from the former "socialistic" eastern part of germany in Greifswald and two Robert and myself from the "capitalistic" western part in Mainz.

Ulf Jacobs : I joined this fine band thanks to “myspace”, at the end of 2007. Hearing this fantastic music I suggested to play the drums for the first album. Thomas and Robert replied immediately and so I became the third ARGOS member .

Rico Florczak : When we all met for the first time in January this year it curiously felt like we all had been making music together for a much longer time. We got on amazingly well right from the start.  

Please tell us more about the band Superdrama.  

Robert : About five years ago I wanted to form a new band that would make no compromises at all and focus on progressive rock. Fortunately, I met our fantastic drummer (also named Robert) and within the next six months or so we had a line-up that could play some interesting cover versions of old Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator and UK songs. Soon we began writing our own music, but to be honest with you it takes some time to write and arrange this kind of music and we have full-time jobs, families and all these obligations and distractions (haha), but luckily we're now in the position to play a full set and are currently working on our album that's based on a live recording and will feature about eight songs - we hope to release it around August or September this year.  

Thomas : SUPERDRAMA is a four piece progressive rock band from Mainz/Wiesbaden . The music is in the tradition of the classic 70s Progbands like Yes,Genesis,King Crimson and Van der Graf Generator. The music(mostly long complex compositions) is created by the whole band in the rehearsing room ,exchanging small musical ideas and working on them together,til everyone is satisfied with the final structure of the whole song. Robert Stein Holzheim our drummer ,then mostly writes the lyrics for the parts that require vocals. When playing live we are joined by Thilo Brauss on keyboards who helps us to perform our often complex keyboard arrangements and gives Robert G the chance to focus on his lead vocals duties.  

Just let us run through your two albums because these may be unknown to many of the members in our community. Just give us your opinions and  thoughts about:  

Your first album Argos from last year (2009).  

Robert: We we did the album it really didn't feel as a band but rather as a recording project based on Thomas' and my friendship and love of the music of the prog era. When Ulf, our drummer, joined Argos this changed a bit, because at that time it became clear that we would be able to create something special for he's a brilliant musician and added great ideas (and also backing vocals). The songs themselves, I have to say had been almost finished when he started recording his drums because Thomas had programmed percussion and drums which served as a guiding track for Ulf's work.

Thomas:Our debut features a couple of songs that I had already completed before Robert and Ulf joined. The whole "canterbury souls" suite is my personal tribute to all the great canterbury bands which i love for their unique mixing of jazzy voicings ,quirky lyrics and gorgious melody lines. Then there are two songs ,where Robert had already written the whole music and the lyrics: "a name in the sand" and "further apart". So the overall feel of our first album is not so much that of a consistent band album but more of a mixture between solo compositions showing our individual influences and the collaborations between Robert and myself ,where our individual writing styles begin to assimilate like in "King of ghosts" or "Passing through". 

This year's Circles.  

Robert : I think it's much better than our first album! We spent considerably more time working on the vocals, Rico's guitars are beautiful and the fact that he played these great solos on a number of tracks makes me particularly proud - listening to the album again, I get the feeling that it's not only a collection of songs, but more homogeneous and convincing than our first, even though it's not a concept album. The whole process of writing the songs, recording and mixing them, adding other musicians' ideas was incredibly enjoyable. Of course, it took some time to finish it, but we don't have any pressure, so it's funny that only one year after our first release the album is already out! Maybe this is due to the fact that all of us have so many ideas, sometimes unfinished songs or melodies or rhythm tracks, whatever: we can also start from scratch, so there's no formula or fixed procedure how the songs might develop.  

Thomas : With the addition of Rico as a full bandmember new possibilities opened up for us on the second album. The compositions still draw from a wide range of individual musical influences,but the band as a whole sounds more homogene to my ears thanks to ricos great guitarplaying on the album . This time we also experienced new ways of composing . "Sammelsurium" started as a sequenced melodic riff by ulf together with his real played drums. He then sent me the project files per mail and i put some melodies and chords on top of them ,that are basically variations and reharmonisations of themes we used in other songs of the album. On "Closed Circle" two friends and musicians from Mainz (Michael Hahn and Dieter Gunterman) guested on guitar and saxophone.

Ulf : Regarding my drumstyle, I just tried to play in a kind of “Lamb”- style. For example, I used a timbales set to make the sound very open, like Phil Collins in those days. I hope one day we are invited to play a live show at a good “proggy” place, so I can put up the whole stuff and have some “live playing fun” with it.  

How would you compare those two albums ?

Thomas : In my personal opinion the first one is a little bit more on the experimental and playful side of things and (as indicated through the songtitles) a tribute to our musical heroes of the past. With "circles" we have found a way of creating much more individual music still drawing from these different musical influences we explored on the first album but this time with much more of our own musical signature as a complete band.  

You are contributing with a song on a Flower Kings tribute album. Please  tell us more about this track.    

Thomas : When we were invited to participate on the Flowerkings tribute album it was Robert who quickly came up with the suggestion to cover "Cosmic Circus/Babylon" from Adam and Eve..We all agreed and decided to integrate the instrumental "babylon " into the "cosmic circus" song. As Robert and myself started to arrange and record our parts ,we felt that it would be nice to expand the babylon section with some self written parts that played with the babylon melody and would transform it into other musical areas . I think in the end we came up with a pretty much "ARGOS sounding" version of this beautiful Flowerkings song.

Robert : The idea is to take the core of the song, which is rather simple - it's a guitar song in 3/4 and take the second song as a middle part. We wanted it to sound like an Argos track.  

You are launching an album in the middle of this utterly bizarre Icelandic volcano ashes crisis. Has this hampered your work in any way (like it has with my work) ?   

Thomas : Musea finished the manufacturing of our new album just in time before this unexpected crisis . But if our new album doesnt reach gold status in the next two months i certainly will have to put the blame on these damned vulcanos in island with their unspeakable names ;-)

Robert : no, not at all - what is more problematic is that Thomas and I live in Mainz (near Frankfurt) whereas Ulf and Rico live and work in the Northeast of Germany, so we don't get to see each other that often - and, mind you, we don't take an aeroplane for our meetings. In fact, there has only been one so far, so our usual working process is to send lots of E-mails and mp3 and stuff, but that's okay.  

I have so far only heard your self titled debut album and I think that album can be compared to Caravan, Frost* and Flower Kings. But how would you describe your own music and who would you compare yourself with ?  

Robert : Ask Thomas! I had never listened to Caravan or Frost before. Flower Kings yes, I do like them. But my personal influences are rather singer-songwriters like John Lennon, Peter Hammill or David Sylvian. Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, IQ - great bands, as a keyboardist I would rather opt for Tony Banks than Rick Wakemean, though. Maybe you hear more of these influences in Superdrama...

Thomas : Beeing aged 50 I m the "old school progger" in ARGOS, who lived through the "Golden Era of Prog"in the 70,s .Thats why my personal compositional contributions to ARGOS are probabely influenced by 70,s artists like Gentle Giant,Bo Hansson,Fruupp,Camel ,Caravan and Hatfield. But of course i like to listen to new bands like Frost,The Tangent,Air,Jaga jazzist,Flowerkings or Echolyn ,who themselves are obviously inspired by these great 70,s Progbands.  

How is the gigs situation in Germany now and how is the music scene in general ?  

Robert : Bad! With Superdrama we play two or three gigs a year and Argos is not a live band but a studio project (we might do this in the future - if someone kindly asks us....)  

To be honest, it's rather disillusioning, because the classic prog people would rather stay home listening to the music with their earphones on than go out and see a relatively unknown band. This has changed for the worse in the last ten years or so, no doubt.

Ulf : Fortunately I play live with a quite famous band called Mutabor, so I`m on tour 50 days a year. But, as I told you before, it would be great to play some shows with Argos. I`m sure, it could be successful.  

Just to wrap this interview up; what is your experiences with the music  industry ?

Thomas :For a band like ARGOS composing music that doesnt fit into the mainstream theres a good and a bad side to things concerning the music industry . The good side is : Through the Internet its easy for us to reach possible fans all around the globe. We can do the promotion for our albums through the ARGOS myspace page and we can have the full artistic control by producing and developing our music without any outside producers or a labels with commercial interests that could cause pressure on us . The bad side : Nowadays you have to come up with a professional sounding product,perfectly mixed and mastered .Labels like Musea dont have the money anymore to provide you with some financial backing for the production of your music. This means that you have to deal with the task of being your own sound engineer,producer and cover artist to minimize the costs for the product that will be released hopefully to a small but dedicated worldwide fanbase of prog lovers.  

What is your five alltime favourite albums ?   

Thomas: Besides the usual "progfaves" such as : Close to the Edge, or Selling England it has to be : England : Gardenshed Hatfield and the north : The Rotters Club Caravan : In the Land of Grey and Pink Fruupp : Modern Masquerades Pulsar : Halloween

Robert: Beatles: Revolver, Genesis: Selling England and Trick of a Tail, Blumfeld: Old Nobody (German), Van der Graaf Generator: Godbluff, XTC and Pet Shop Boys are great too, but it#s hard to pick only one album.

Rico: Jeff Beck -Guitar Shop Transatlantic -Bridge Across Forever Jeff Buckley -Grace (in my opinion one of the best albums of all times) Frank Zappa -Joe`s Garage Pain of Salvation -Remedy Lane

Ulf: Genesis: Lamb, Trick and Wind, Steve Hackett: Please don`t touch, Phil Collins: Face value, Marillion: Brave and Peter Gabriel: Up see, it`s nearly Genesis stuff only.

Anything you want to add to this interview ?  

Thomas: If your not my mum and still have worked your way through to this point ill express my deepest respect and sympathy.

Thanks from all of us to you Torodd for doing this interview with ARGOS  

Thanx to Argos for this interview.

Their PA profile is here and their home page is here

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 27 2010 at 15:59

really nice guys from my home country ... 'Circles' is highly recommended!

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