I recently had
the privilege of discovering the fine new album http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=41042" rel="nofollow - “Fanfare and
fantasy” by http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=1670%20" rel="nofollow - Comedy
of Errors . Jim
Johnston of the band kindly agreed to the following exclusive
interview for Progarchives. I am very grateful to Jim for his candid
and informative responses.
PA - The new album
"Fanfare and fantasy" was recently released and is already
receiving positive feedback. Tell us a bit about the new album.
- Encouraged by the response from 'Disobey', and with a lot of new
material building up, 'Fanfare & Fantasy' was the next step in
our 're-incarnation'. A lot had happened in my life personally and
'Fanfare & Fantasy' was in a large part an expression of this.
PA - What would you
say are the main differences between the new album and the excellent
"Disobey" released in 2011?
- 'Disobey' has more 'unfinished business' from our first
incarnation. In the intervening years the improvement and
affordability in recording technology allowed us to realise sounds in
a way we wouldn't have been able to do previously. Fanfare &
Fantasy takes us as a band to where we are now and maybe points more
to where we are going.
PA - The new album
has a strong symphonic feel to it. Was this something you intended
from the outset?
- Never was the intent but the particular emotion expressed in the
music and lyrics would always dictate the arrangement. I prefer music
to have a strong narrative drive and try to avoid long passages of
directionless meandering. That said, everything has it's place if
it's appropriate to what you are trying to say.
PA - You wrote all
the songs on the new album, how "complete" were they by the
time you presented them to the band, and how much input did the other
guys have to the final product?
- The arrangement, structure and thematic material are usually in
place and in demo form by the time the band gets to it. The parts I
intend the rest of the band should play are usually on the demo in
'guide' form. Then after discussion and various trial takes , usually
starting with drums, the nitpicking sessions start. As the guys stray
in varying degrees from the guide I provide, I find that often that
some bits have been much improved by their creative input (and some
bits less so!) Together after much blood being spilled, we settle and
agree on what is most effective (and practical) and can start
building the recording. Sometimes as the recording takes shape I will
tweak the arrangement a little here and there. I pre- mix the tracks
and get it to a good balance with level adjustments and panning. Then
Rob Aubrey of Aubitt studios works especially on drums and gets us to
tidy up things before mastering various mixes which again are
nitpicked to everyones satisfaction. The only cost is to our sanity.
PA - Presumably the
material that appeared on "Disobey" was nurtured and
accumulated over a number of years. Were all of the songs on "Fanfare
and fantasy" written since "Disobey" was released, or
do some go back before that?
- Fanfare & Fantasy contains vastly more 'new' material written
since Disobey but there are also bits of thematic material included
which I had written much earlier, parts of which appeared in some
unreleased songs. These earlier ideas have now been re-written and
developed in other ways. I have piles of notes with musical ideas
that I have built up over the years which I'll probably never use.
PA - You have
released the new album independently of any record label support.
What was the reasoning behind this? Can bands such as Comedy of
Errors actually make a living from music these days, or is it more of
a hobby supported by regular day jobs?
- We don't have the luxury of a label to promote and finance the
album for us. However doing it ourselves means I can write what I
want and the band can retain creative control. That is worth more
than anything. The internet has allowed us to gather together many
friends from many countries, who are into our music, and who together
comprise a considerable worldwide following. It has become very clear
that followers of our type of music are more passionate about it than
other genres. Music tends to be more an essential part of their
lives. I am privileged to write music that may have more of an
emotional impact for our listeners than others who may be more
passive about it . I put every spare moment into it as do the rest of
the band. We spend so much time and money on it that we certainly
don't make a living at it. After an initial float, one album can
serve to finance the next. We put everything into it, emotionally and
irrespective of what we can afford, just to get it the way we want.
So it is far more than a hobby.
PA - What are the
logistics of touring in support of the new album?
are still very much a 'live' band and are keen to tour the album. In
our formative years we used to gig incessantly. We've rehearsed a set
with songs off Disobey and Fanfare & Fantasy, and are looking
forward to the coming gigs. I'm told things in the current financial
climate are not so great for lesser-known bands on tour. However
although venues are fewer these days, in the light of Fanfare &
Fantasy's release we are being offered more gigs and festivals. .
Currently we have the following booked but hope to include many more
this year and into next.........
April 2013 - The Wesley Centre, Maltby, Nr Rotherham
are on sale now from the Classic Rock Society Website at £12 or £10
May 2013 - The Electric Garden Prog Festival 2013
TBD - Check Electric Garden Website for information as it becomes
hoping to soon confirm a summer gig locally in Glasgow as we look to
fill up our schedule.
in the year we are playing Sun 29th September 2013 ‘t Blok –
Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel in the Netherlands. Around the same time we
should confirm some more gigs in the Netherlands , Belgium and
be able to confirm soon a UK festival in November. We'll keep things
updated on our website comedyoferrors.org
PA - Looking more
closely at the new album, the track "Time's motet and Galliard"
combines an instrumental and a quasi-folk piece. The motet section is
noted as being "after Talilis". Is this a tribute to
Tallis, inspired by his music or based on a Tallis composition? Tell
us a bit about how the "Galliard" part came about.
- I have always been fascinated by renaissance polyphony. Thomas
Tallis in particular wrote many beautiful motets and the motet in
this track is a 'take' on one them using themes which appear in Spem
in alium, a 40 part motet written around 1570. The Galliard is a
pastiche on that type of 'dance' tune from the late renaissance. I
like using the sort of chord progressions and syncopations they used
in those days and giving it the 'COE' treatment.
PA - "The
cause" appears to be a stark condemnation of religious
intolerance, especially of the type that still blights the west of
Scotland and Northern Ireland. The theme can of course be extended to
religious bigotry the world over. Is this an issue you feel
particularly strongly about?
JJ - 'The Cause' is a meditation on the same troubles which appear in
different guises all over. The world is such an idiot.
PA - The three
founding members (Joe, Jim and Mark) are playing and singing as if
you have been performing regularly together for many years. Are you
surprised at how well you have come together after such a long time
and by the quality of music you are now making?
- We all get on so well. With Bruce and now John , we all feel we
have known each other for many years . A dry Glasgow sense of humour
of the absurd has served us well. We also have a total lack of
reserve in offering our opinion. A common interest and purpose in the
music has forged a camaraderie in the blood spilled in recording an
PA - The sleeve
image was conceived by yourself and realised by Joe James. Tell us a
bit about the inspiration behind it.
- At first , the graphic designer came up with many different sleeves
all which would have served well for any album . The problem was that
though the designs were all slick, polished and professional, they
were empty of meaning for our specific album. The sleeve is such an
important part of the creation that like the music and lyrics, the
cover too should have a strong relevant unifying connection ( whether
subliminal or otherwise) . Many hours were spent working on the
symbolism, the colours and the layout just right. Everything on the
album sleeve means something. For me what this album 'means' is too
personal to go into in great detail here, but of course the whole
point is that everyone can draw their own parallels and meaning of
their own .
PA - John Fitzgerald
is credited as contributing backing vocals. Tell us a bit about his
place in the band now.
- We had been helped out by Hew Montgomery playing bass for live gigs
while we didn't yet have a bass player. Mark Spalding our lead
guitarist had recorded bass on both the Disobey and Fanfare &
Fantasy albums because John Fitzgerald had joined too late to do all
but backing vocals for F&F . However on the vinyl edition, John
plays bass on the bonus track, a new version of 'Time There Was'. He
lives around the Glasgow area and being a great bass player and all
round good chap he ticked all the boxes.
PA - I know you have
misgivings about the the early albums credited to the band that
appear on this site. Would you like to put the record straight about
these albums? How do you feel now about the music they contain? Have
you any thoughts about compiling some of them into an official
- We had recorded some demos in the eighties......you know.... the
ones done to fruitlessly send to record companies. Not great quality.
We had then progressed to a vinyl minialbum to give us some
'credibility'. The master tape for this was lost. A French company (
I'm not sure if they are still in existence), cobbled together a
release from these early cassette demos and a recorded tape made from
playing the vinyl minialbum. Some nice wee melodic ideas are there
but we certainly do not regard this as an official, sanctioned and
authorised release. Still regard Disobey as our debut album and
Fanfare & Fantasy as our second.
PA - What is the
future for the band? Can we look forward to a third album in say
another two years?
would hope it would be sooner than that. I have gathered together a
lot of material which will be the basis of the third album ,the
centrepiece of which will be a very long epic track. It'll take a
fair bit of working out and getting the band to work on it, but
that's the best part of being in a band. Meanwhile we can't wait to
get gigging and getting the word out about the new Fanfare &
Fanfare album. The early reviews on Prog
Archives have been better than we could ever have hoped and for that
we are very grateful .
– Many thanks for a very interesting and informative interview Jim,
good luck with the fine new album!
collage created by Jim Johnston from photos taken by:
All photos of John (bass player) are by Sam Holt.
Black and White photos are by Steve Moffitt.
All other colour photos are Billy Hepburn/MusicPro (UK)
website - http://comedyoferrors.org/" rel="nofollow - http://comedyoferrors.org/
by Bob McBeath (Easy livin), March 2013