David Minasian has been involved with progressive music projects over the years notably producing and directing DVDs for the well known UK Symphonic prog band Camel. He is the producer and director of over 60 film and DVD projects, including Camel's highly acclaimed concert DVD "Coming of Age". David kept a low profile concerning his own music until the release of his symphonic prog album in 2010, "Random Acts of Beauty".
David has been playing classical piano as early as the age of five, and it wasn't until he turned 15 that he was asked to become professional by his piano teacher who had been with him 10 years. David had film projects and other interests and decided to quit his piano lessons. An obsession with film making replaced his piano lessons until he heard on the radio The Moody Blues' song "Land of Make Believe". David was intrigued by the style of the track with its juxtaposition of flute, guitar, melodies and mellotron. He bought "Seventh Sojourn" and "Blue Jays" albums and began to write his own music in a similar style. The result is two albums so far.
I got in touch with him through Shawn at ProgRock Records for his story
Your biography has been covered in your ProgArchives profile so
let's bypass the biography details. But which bands were you influenced by ?
I began classical piano training at the age of 5 and this greatly
influenced my taste in music. I remember being drawn toward more
adventurous, melodic, orchestrated styles of music as a kid. The
first thing I heard that really caught my attention was the Moody
Blues. From there I began to investigate other symphonic oriented
progressive bands such as Camel, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull,
Renaissance, Strawbs, Barclay James Harvest, Amazing Blondel, Kayak,
and Focus. Keyboardists such as Tony Banks, Mike Pinder, Rick
Wakeman, Ton Scherpenzeel, and Woolly Wolstenholme all had a big
impact on my playing and arranging style.
You were previously involved with Camel on some DVDs and you have
also done a lot of other DVD projects. What started the process of
being behind the scenes to suddenly stepping into the spotlight on
your own and when did you realise that you needed to express yourself ?
I don't mind being behind the scenes and I really don't need to be
in the limelight. I've always had two loves - music and films, so
I'm equally content doing either. When I was trying to determine my
career path in the 80's, I tried to get a record deal. You can
imagine how interested the record labels were in my prog demos
during that period. Ha ha. Let's just say it was a whole lot easier
for me to find work in the film industry. Occasionally, in my spare
time I would record the odd album or song here and there, but it
wasn't until the internet came along that you could actually record
something and release it without having to get the approval of some
A&R moron. And with Pro Tools you can get amazing digital quality
audio without spending $100 per hour on studio time like in the old
days. Recording Random Acts of Beauty was incredibly fun, easy to
do, and a truly wonderful experience, And working with Andy Latimer
in this capacity was of course a dream come true.
Your first album Tales Of Heroes And Lovers from 1984 disappeared in
an onslaught of pop and metal. Please tell us more about this album.
Is it still available or is Ebay the only hope ?
I wasn't able to secure a recording contract back then so out of
frustration I decided to record the Tales album independently. Like
Anthony Phillips' Sides album, the first half contained a couple
attempts at hit singles while the second half was more progressive.
Although we were using state of the art equipment and keyboards, it
didn't end up sounding like an 80's album at all... fortunately.
Nothing ever really happened with the album even though college
radio seemed to like it and a video for one of the album's tracks
got played on MTV and some other music video programs around the
country. It only appeared on vinyl and has yet to be released on CD.
There's not many LP's around - I've got a few left somewhere. If
there's a demand for it, we'll look into re-releasing it. There's a
couple of nice things on it but Random Acts of Beauty is waaaaaay better.
You recorded an album's worth of songs under the moniker Plan B as
the follow up to Tales Of Heroes And Lovers. Why was it shelved and
is there any chance we will see this album released?
The Plan B project was rather stressful in that the music was not
what I had hoped it would be. It would be my final attempt at
getting a proper recording contract. The project was originally
going to be produced by none other than Patrick Moraz. There was a
small window of time that he was available and we weren't able to
nail down a schedule before his other commitments with the Moody
Blues took over.
Bartholomew Bishop whose wonderful band Providence
had previously been signed to the Moodies' Threshold label was a
good friend of mine and was responsible for getting the project off
the ground. He put me in touch with his brother Rand Bishop who was
a staff producer with Pasha/CBS Records. Bart also teamed me up with
a wonderful singer from Australia named Chris Lloyds and Chris and I
became Plan B. Rand (hit songwriter for Toby Keith) ended up
producing the project. We got to work with some great musicians
including guitarist Tim Pierce (Michael Jackson, Bruce Sprinsteen,
Goo Goo Dolls), bassist Jim Johnson (Alan Holdsworth, James Taylor),
and guitarist Teddy Castellucci who would later go on to score all
of Adam Sandler's films. We recorded at Herbie Hancock's home studio
among other studios in LA. For reasons I didn't understand, Teddy,
who I thought was a great guitarist, was asked to leave. The powers
that be seemed more interested in making Chris into a pop star,
which he certainly could have been, than marketing he and I as a
duo. So I started feeling very out of place. The music turned out
very, very pop oriented and held little interest for me. I had no
control. Eventually things just seemed to fizzle out and Pasha
decided not to release the material. Believe me, there's no reason
to try and get any of this stuff released.
And then........ nothing except from your continued work with Camel
and others. Why this 20+ years long silence ?
Well actually, I did record another album in the mid 90's called
It's Not Too Late with another singer named William Drews. And I
also wrote the main theme for a Kris Kristofferson movie called The
Joyriders. I was also very, very busy with other film projects. I
knew at some point I would eventually do another album, it just took
awhile to find the right time.
Your second and most recent album Random Acts Of Beauty was released
to the joy of the ProgArchives community earlier this year. Please
tell us more about this album.
I spoke with Andy Latimer for the first time in quite awhile back in
January of 2009. We discussed getting Camel's Opening Farewell DVD,
which I had produced and directed, finally released. During this
call he also encouraged me to record a new album. So I got my studio
set up in June of 2009. The first track I recorded was Masquerade. I
sent him a rough copy to get his opinion and that's when he very,
very kindly offered to play on it. My 20 year old son Justin and I
worked together on the remainder of the album and we had an absolute
blast doing it. Both Andy and Justin took this album to a level I
had never dreamed was possible.
Here comes the Spanish Inquisition like part of this interview: What
is your creative process from coming up with a theme/riff/idea to
you get it down onto an album?
It's quite simple really. I get an idea, sit down at the piano, and
write the chords and melody to the song. I can usually hear the
arrangement in my head as I'm writing it. The words always come
last. The words require some work, the music doesn't. Writing songs
is simple - it's the recording and marketing that takes up all the time.
Just to give those of us who are unknown with your music a bit of a
reference point or two: How would you describe your music?
I like to call it melodic melancholic lushly orchestrated
classically-tinged symphonic rock. If Tony Banks, Justin Hayward,
Andy Latimer, Anthony Phillips, John Lees, Woolly Wolstenholme, Rick
Wakeman, Mike Pinder, Steve Hackett, Peter Bardens, and Ton
Scherpenzeel all got together and recorded the ultimate album in
1975, this is what it would have sounded like. So if you're a fan of
early to mid Genesis, classic 7 Moody Blues, BJH as a 4 piece, early
King Crimson, Renaissance, Strawbs, melodic Floyd and of course
Camel then you might like it. Lots of piano, oboe, cello, trebly
bass, and soaring guitar leads. Mellotron from start to finish and
lots of harpsichord which gives everything a medieval feel. A few
heavy parts but mainly very dreamlike. Andy Latimer's guitar solos
and vocals on the track Masquerade are truly goosebump enducing as
are Justin's leads on Blue Rain and Summer's End.
Sorry about my ignorance, but do you have any plans to take Random
Acts Of Beauty out on the road and do gigs or is your work studio only?
I would love to do some live shows. Nothing's been set up yet. Not
sure if my schedule would ever permit something like a real tour,
but I'm open to the possibilities.
Are you now involved in any other bands or projects?
By the time you read this, Camel's new DVD The Opening Farewell
should be out. It's a good one! I might do a project with the
Moodies later this year.
What are your plans for the rest of this year and next year?
Lots of film projects on the horizon. I'll begin thinking about
writing a new album sometime next year. I know I'm going to regret
saying this but I have spoken with one of the icons of progressive
rock and he has agreed to work with me on the next album. It's a
ways off so we'll see if that pans out.
To wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to add?
I want to thank everyone who has been so encouraging during this
wonderful journey over the past year and I truly hope you all enjoy
the album. Let me know what you think.
Thank you to David for this interview
His PA profile is here and his homepage is here