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Etcetera

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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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    Posted: August 30 2010 at 07:49


Etcetera started out as a high school band in Aarhaus Denmark, in 1986. It was a group of friends who, inspired by a Jethro Tull concert, decided to start a prog band. Guitar player Frank Carvalho, and Drummer Johnny McCoy were not only founders, but would also prove to be the only consistent members of the band.


Over the years, there were various incarnations. They played the usual gigs, and managed to record some demos. There was even a stint as a cover band called Dr. Robert in '93/'94. In the later '90s, they had finally amassed enough material to record an album. Being that they were not full time musicians (with regular jobs and families), getting the group together took time. This would prove to be a constant problem, and the reason for the band's instability.

The initial two releases were home made affairs. 1999's "Fin de Siecle" was the first proper release. This was followed in 2003, by the album "Tales of Ardour and Deciet." It would prove to be their last, as McCoy finally ended his partnership with Carvalho in 2004.

I got in touch with Frank Carvalho for the Etcetera story.


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Your biography has been covered in your ProgArchives profile so let's bypass this and go straight to the bagels.

Please give me your (long or brief) thoughts and lowdowns on.......


Etcetera from 1998

"Etcetera" and "Dificult Second" really are only collections of demo recordings. They were and still are made available as a sort of "custom shop" CDs for anyone interested. The CDs are made by me on demand, and demand has honestly been pretty limited. If demand was ever higher, I might have run a proper print batch, but the recording quality really does not hold up. "Etcetera" is a collection of songs recorded in 1987-88 (except one song in 1998). The collection contains songs played by the original Etcetera of 1986-87. The main songs "Dance of the Daemons" and "Experience" were recorded by Johnnie and I, with friends, shortly after Etcetera ceased to play together. We did approach these demos as if it was a proper recording session, but we did not have neither the means nor the skills to produce a proper quality recording. Therefore the production sounds really appauling. Two more songs were rough live recordings of the original line-up, and the final song "Endelave" is a 1998 recording, made by Johnnie and I, of another of the original Etcetera songs. As everyone knows, the late 1980'ies were a time of great hostility towards prog. The music of Etcetera was extremely unfashionable, and eccentric too, so it is no surprise that the original Etcetera never got a chance to record properly. We did send a few demos around, but to no reaction. Therefore the home-made quality of the recordings is all there is. The music of the original Etcetera was a confusing mix of influences. Johnnie and I were probably the most stylistically conscious of the lot, and we often vetoed song suggestions from Michael, when he went too far out a tangent. But looking back at the music we played back then, this mix was typical, and a few things stand out as typical for Etcetera: Jazz and jazz/rock. Anders, and to a lesser extent Johnnie, were into jazz. I am not a big fan of jazz, but nevertheless everything from that time seems to have a distinctively jazzy feeling about it. Jazz was very hip in our circles, which became evident in the music we played. Folk is another influence on Etcetera music. Jethro Tull is definitely to blame here, but Michael, the singer and keyboardist was, and still is, into the folk scene. This influence was also typical for the first Etcetera. I also have to mention that we had a fifth very early member, Lars Sĝgaard, who played saxophone and flute, taking the music further into jazz and folk. The third obvious influence is classic 70'ies prog, and all my songs tended to pull the music in that direction. Classical music certainly also played a part. Apart from the mock-Bach section of "Dance of the Daemons", we made other classic wannabe arrangements. One of these was later rearranged and appear on "Etcetera" as a break in the song "Endelave", where it has received an extra Rick-Wakeman-plays-the-classics twist. Finally we seem to have had a special fondness for arabic scales. I have no idea why. The song "Camel" is the prime example. The early Etcetera was an intense but short lived affair. But all of us felt, and still feel, very strongly about the music we made together and those times.


The Difficult Second from 1998

Breaking up the original Etcetera felt like unfinished business to me. I wanted to improve the prog writing aspect. Anders and I then formed a new line-up with drummer Jens, and we recorded "The Difficult Second" with new material. Michael joined in on the session on the vocals. The recording facilities were the same as on "Etcetera", but I think we had improved both our playing and our production skills a bit. The sound is definitely better on this recording, though still demo quality. (Remember, this was the time when home-recording still required multi-track tape machines and a bunch of - to us very expensive - hardware). Unfortunately the multi-track tapes for both the old sessions are lost. I believe that I could have improved the sound of these recordings a lot. The music on "The Difficult Second" went more in the prog direction. But even so still featured the typical Etcetera traits of jazz, folk and classical music. The first half of "Trespasser" lacks some direction I think, but does sound a bit like Peter Bardens-era Camel, or Caravan - which happens to be very jazzy music too. Then there is a mock-Zeppelin bridge between the first and last parts. The last part of the song is where it finds direction. The arrangements here could well be described to be in the style of early Genesis and PFM. Then there is a couple of folk songs based on acoustic 12-string. Both were written in the first Etcetera-era. After this comes "Suite no 1..." which happens to be only song Anders ever made. I don't know why he never wrote more, because his arrangement is first-class. The song has two themes. The first theme is a mellow song, played on the bass over a very nice chord progression. This piece is again very jazzy, reminiscent of the band "Bruford". Then a bridge with an unusual chord progreession takes the song into the second section, which develops into a classical music/prog arrangement in 7/8. Finally the song returns to the mellow song. The last song is "Erratic Behaviour". Slightly Mahavishnu, slightly Alan Holdsworth. Not as good as it was meant to be.


Fin de Siecle from 1999

In 1996 I joined with Johnnie and Anders to record the songs "Anagrams" and "Gongtric", for a total playing time of 19+ minutes. After that I suggested to record some more songs, and try to produce a full album. Anders joined for another song, and Michael both wrote a song and added vocals to most of the songs. This became "Fin de Siecle", and it was a virtual reunion of the original Etcetera.

My thoughts on "Fin de Siecle":

"Fin de Siecle" is a more "true" prog album than the older recordings. "Charles Unhealthy Pïctures" starts out in the big way. A bit ELP'ish. But in the second half it takes on another direction with a more jam-like section. This part is more like space-rock and Soft Machine. "Infinite Chords" is melodic and has soft 12-string playing, and ends with a more classically-inspired circular chord progression. This song is in the classic symphonic tradition. "Gongtric" certainly has some Gentle Giant'esqe ideas thrown in, but then moves into a spacey direction with a section in 7/8+5/8+5/8+4/8 that is more in the style of Yes, Gong and the Ozric Tentacles (hence the idea for the song title). There is a hidden reference to ELP and Mussorsky in the song that no-one has ever spotted. "Vuggevise" is Michaels beautiful ballad, with Piano, vocals and a big sounding ending. "Anagrams" is rock-drama with influences from both classical music and the rock cannon, and is the only song I have written containing computer generated lyrics. "Absolute Dance Party III" is a tongue-in-cheek "remix" of pieces from "Dance of the Daemons". 

"Fin de Siecle" is prog in the sense that the music progresses through a series of changes. There are several melodies in there, and the arrangement is in the classic prog traditions of Genesis, PFM and Yes.

I always wanted to use mellotron. On this album I finally got access to mellotron samples. Better than nothing! "Fin de Siecle" was fun to make, and I like the overall result, althought the mix sounds dusty and with little dynamics. We did a lot of - to me - new things with this album. First it was recorded on a combination of ADAT-recorders and an Apple Macintosh. The ADAT broke down at the end of the session, when all the tracks had been recorded, damaging the timecode track. So a D/A to A/D audio transfer was necessary. Add to that the consumer grade sound card used on the Macintosh, and you know why the sound is less than stellar. But again, this was the pioneering times of hard disc recording. I obviously have the original multi-track recordings, and could probably remix the whole affair to great effect. Another new thing was taking the risk of printing and releasing an album ourselves. We made a distribution deal with Record Heaven in Sweden. It was very interesting to be your own record company. Also, the time-to-market was very short, and it didn't take very long before the album reached break-even. Releasing your own low-budget albums has become commonplace now, but was not so much in '98.


Tales of Ardour & Deceit from 2003

I think it is the best album we made. "Song of Marsk Stig" is an epic drama with a storyline from the danish middle ages, and may be the best song I have written. The music is in the vain of both Yes and Van der Graaf, and there are plenty of odd time signatures. The song goes through several phases, reflecting the storyline, and the song has rather hefty dynamic changes. Songs is a melancholic ballad with a touch of Kerry Minnear. "Kentish Suite" is an instrumental homage to Cantebury music. "Lady of Castela" is a two-part instrumental suite over a portuguese medieval tale. It has acoustic moods and symphonic excess. A guitarra portuguesa was used on this song. I have known this instrument since I was a child. "Lament" is... melancholy for mellotrons. Working title was "Sad tron". The tron sounds were sent through a Vox amp with reverb for that extra deep sound. "The Ghost of Yang" is another symphonic instrumental with mellotrons, moogs, polyphonic analogs and the works. "The Exit".. err, the mix went over the top somehow. The weakest song of the album. But each song was meant to be complete and consistent, with its own inner logic, and a lot of energy was put into the arrangements. I was aiming for as few dead spots on the album as possible.

"Tales of Ardour and Deceit" was very hard and exhausting to finish. We set out to produce a entire album. So we rehearsed all the drum/bass tracks, and bought time in a professional studio for the basic tracks. So far so good. Then, the overdubs were made on my equipment, and then we booked some more time at the studio for the mix. We had a different deal with Record Heaven this time, that they would print and release the album, and we had a tentative deadline for delivering the mix in august 2001. However, a lack of technical skill of the studio engineer made the time schedule slide, and when we finally got the mix, the result was really bad. We really wanted to get this album right. So we had to delay the submission of a final mix to Record Heaven, and decided to mix it ourselves. This took another 6 months to complete, as I had to learn the craft of mixing along the way. So we handed the mix to RH in February 2002. Then, much to my disappointment, everything began to happen in slow motion at Record Heaven for another one and a half year. After pushing them really hard, the album was finally released in mid 2003. Then came reports of digital noises on the CD. At that time Etcetera was breaking up.  

How would you describe your music and which bands would you would compare your music with ?  

The early Etcetera was very strange and would incorporate anything between Cantebury, heavy rock, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Camel, Pink Floyd, Mahavishnu, Zeppelin and scandinavian 70'ies pop. The "real" albums are more consistent - possibly because most of the song has the same songwriter. So for "Fin de Siecle" and "Ardour" the relevant points of reference would be Genesis, Yes, ELP, Camel, Gong, Soft Machine, King Crimson, PFM, Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf and Pink Floyd and many more. My apologies for such a massive list of references, but I think you will agree. The sound is mainly based on the classic instruments; Hammond, Moog, Rickenbacker bass, mellotron and acoustic guitars. There is the occasional saxophone or flute. So the sound is classic rather than modern. Another consistent feature is the odd time signatures and sections of pompous sound.  

Etcetera was disbanded in 2004. Do you have any plans to reform or do you want to leave it like that ?

I did not expect to do more after 2004. But recently Johnnie and I got in touch again and as it happens we are currently recording base tracks for a redo of a number of the original Etcetera songs. The idea is to get Anders and Michael in on the project, to add their parts. We figure that the old songs were essentially good, but badly need some rearrangement and a much better production. As we are able to do that now, I would expect some really nice new versions of the old songs to come out of this project. However, I still doubt if there will ever be an actual rehearsing and gigging band. Demand for live renditions of our songs has not been spectacular. Of course, if we got an invitation to a festival or something. Notch, notch!  

What is your experience with the music industry and is there any plans to make your four albums available again ?  

So far, our limited experience with the recording industry has been that for small bands like ours, the best thing is to do it yourself! Be your own record company, and make distribution agreements. Small bands like ours thrive in the "long tail" that has emerged with the internet. Small productions aimed at a specialised audience, sold through specialist networks is a business model that works. Also, while producing your own albums will require an initial investment, it is also the best way to get a revenue of the sales. Leaving production to a record company leaves you with little profit from your work. This is also important because to make a proper album you will throw in an inproportionate amount of work. Maybe your project just about breaks even, but you have spent so many hours doing it that it will invariably have taken your time and attention off other things. So it should pay off - at least just a bit. The music business thrives on people willing to throw vast amounts of time and their own money into their projects, with little in return. I still have some copies of the to last albums available, but they will only be reissued if there is some interest in a reissue. But now we are working on the re-recording of some of it.  

Is there any unreleased live recording or studio recordings left from Etcetera ? If yes, any plans to make it/them available ?

Right now we are re-recording the old Etcetera songs, and the base tracks sound really great so far! But I don't know what will happen next with these recordings. If time allows, and we can find a proper distributor, we might make it an album. But I will definitely not go through another Ardour-period again. Music must be fun to make. There are a few odds and sods lying around, but very little of studio quality. A song called "Ocean" was left over from the Ardour-sessions though. I finished the overdubs in 2005-6 and this song has been freely available for ages from our web site. The web site in fact has tons of Etcetera recordings available. I once put together a selection of pieces from rehearsal jams, and this selection found its way to one or two people. These jams come from the 2002-04 period that also spawned some very creative jams, and show what Etcetera could have become. I think it had potential to become a much more modern music than the almost dogmatic prog of the albums. Some of these jams have also become the basis of a few new songs. There is also a sound board live recording I think from 2002 with the trio, but this one would need some serious work as the keyboards gradually disappears and becomes inaudible during the set.  

What was your best and the worst memories from Etcetera ?

The troubles of releasing Ardour, and the band falling apart during 2002-04 was the worst. I gave up my musical ambitions there, and lost contact with Johnnie for several years too. There are many best memories to counterbalance though. One of the best was playing in Göteborg, Sweden for GARF. We had a combo with hired keys and bass player, but the music really came alive. We played "Dance of the Daemons", "Trespasser", "Gongtric" and "Anagrams" and the music really worked live. We have a bad V8 video of the event. If anyone in Göteborg has any footage from that event, I would really like to have a copy. Otherwise my most fond memories relate to the days of the early band. The excitement, the tension and the strive to writing better songs. That was a special time.  

Do you have any contact with the ex Etcetera members and what are they doing now ?  

We never lost contact. I have been in contact with Johnnie most of the time. Johnnie works as the editor for a publisher of manga cartoons. Anders and Michael live in the other end of our country, but we have never lost contact. Anders is a chemist, and plays jazz as the bass player of a local big band. And Anders is also one of my closest friends. Michael is a psychologist, and works as a private consultant. We also meet occasionally. He sings with a local folk combo.

Anything you want to add to this interview ?

There is a lot of information and a wealth of music to be found at the band site:  http://212.242.106.33/~etcetera/


Thank you to Frank for this interview

Their PA profile is here and their homepage here


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