Alias Eye: New German Hope Of Prog

DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean

Interview

How does it came to the name of the band?

An alias is a name that you chose for yourself which is not the name given to you by your parents. Alias Eye ("I") addresses the problem of finding one's identity in modern life.


Are there earlier releases? What about the label, the success?

We recorded a demo called "Beyond the mirror" in the year 2000 which was very well received by the press throughout the world. That demo finally got us our record deal with DVS Records. Now that we've recorded "Field of Names" it looks like the album will get quite a bit of promotion; hopefully things will go well!

Is there a mastermind inside of the band or are you more a "democratic" band?

We usually work on songs together ("Field of Names", "Driven", "River Running)", but sometimes one of the band members writes a whole song on his own ("Premortal Dance" was written Vytas Lemke, I wrote "Just another tragic song"). So I guess you could call us a democratic band which also displays slightly authoritarian tendencies. :-)

How did you come in touch with your current label?

We sent DVS Records our demo "Beyond the mirror" and they really liked the music. I guess "Premortal Dance" was their favourite tune, so it was well worth recording the 3-track CD.

How would you like to develop in the future? Do you think about changing your style?

Well, it's difficult to say for sure. If you change your style completely, the fans who enjoyed your last CD won't be too pleased with the new road you've taken ; if you don't develop at all, they might turn away from you all together. We'll just go on writing the music we like and see what happens!

Is there a most important event in the history of the band?

We'll, I guess you could call the 2. Eclipsed Festival on the 27th of October in Aschaffenburg together with The Flower Kings and Mostly Autumn an important event...we're really looking forward to it!


What about your success/feedback in different countries?

Promotion has started in Germany and Holland, most other countries will follow in the next months, so we can't be sure yet about reactions from abroad...let's keep our fingers crossed!


What do you think about the situation of your musical genre in the presence and what will change in the future?

My hope is that progressive rock will broaden its horizons, allow for changes from outside and return (or maybe move towards?) to what progressive should really stand for. At the moment, my feeling is that progressive rock refers mostly to retro rock - rock of the 70ies - and continues to regurgitate elements of music that have already been there.


How would you see the relation between music and lyrics? Some musicians don't care about the lyrics, others understand the music as a vehicle to fit the lyrics....

I think lyrics and music should combine to make one whole entity. However, I understand perfectly that some listeners don't really care about content and focus more on the melodies.


What kind of compromises would you make to push your career?

Wow..you mean sell out? Never! :-)
I guess you just have to go on doing your thing and hope that people appreciate what your doing....there are never any guarantees in the music business.


Can you tell me something of the process of creating the new record? Were there any problems or went everything well?

You usually start with a few basic tracks (keyboard) onto which the drum tracks are layered. Bass follows, then guitars, further keyboard tracks and vocals. It took us 5 months to record "Field of Names"; we spent a lot of time arranging the songs, changing and adding elements until we were all satisfied. Thank god we had a good producer - Christian Schimanski - who had a good grip of what we were aiming for musically.

 

How would you describe your relation to new media as internet, virtual reality, mp3...

We use the internet extensively to promote this album, I guess we are moving away from print media and into the virtual domain of the internet...I only hope that the excess of information won't actually drown out the individual elements of a band, song, lyric, etc.


What is the reason that progressive rock in the seventies went so well and now we have only a small scene without attention of most of the media?

The counter revolution (punk etc.) did away with the heady music of the 70ies, today's pop culture is renowned for its shallow nature. People don't seem to be willing to live music anymore, it has become a passtime, in one ear and out the other, I don't think music is a way of life anymore, it has turned into a status symbol.


Progfans are ignorant and narrow-minded. They live in the past and don't care about the meaning of the word progress.

Sometimes. Some prog fans seem to think that they are the last remnants of a dying race that has to protect the whole grail (prog-rock) against invaders (mass media) from outside. It's a matter of pride. Loyal fans are essential and prog fans are the most loyal of all. I just think that our music needs to be alive, needs to be able to feed on other music genres.


So you could have the possibility to make this record again. Would you change anything?

Only the vocals :) Seriously, we are very pleased with the album, I don't think I could take the strain of recording it AGAIN!


What about the fact that a lot of people mean a good prog song must be an long track?

I don't agree. That's part of progressive rock's problem at the moment. You shouldn't have to fulfill certain criteria in order to be a "legitimate" prog song. Prog rock is not about complicated metres, long instrumentals etc. I think we should focus on melody rather than on technical wizzardry...in a way, it's all been done before, and done well.


Is it more difficult to write an 15 minute epic than an three minute radio hit?

No. I would say that it's much more difficult to write a short, catchy tune than a long, winding epic. Long epics usually sound contructed, as if a band sat down and said: "ok, we need a complicated break here, any ideas?"; "Oh, what about a complicated rhythm part over here.?" I don't like writing that way: a song should remain a song at all times. It's much more challenging to write a short song that will remain interesting and not dry out after 10 listens...Most of the radio tunes we hear today are boring or lose their charm after a short while.


How is the feeling singing together with your father on a track? Is he more proud about you or you about him?

Both. I really love his vocals on the Beggars Opera albums and he enjoyed singing on "The Readiness is All" immensely. We had been planning to sing a duet for some time and this was the perfect opportunity.

What instrument do you use on the title track, it sounds like an accordeon?

Yep. Vytas' first instrument was the accordeon; so it just felt right to combine the heavy rock elements with a more folk-oriented accordeon melody.

But the solo sounds strong like "Hotel California!

The Accordeon solo? Ah, I see what you mean. I don't think Vytas was thinking of the Eagles when he wrote the solo and anyway: the heavy funk rhythm doesn't really sound like Hotel California, does it? Even so: Hotel California is an excellent tune and if you think parts of "Field of Names" sound like that classic song, we can only be pleased!

Who is Timo Wagner and what about the decision to use an sax for one track?

Timo is a friend of mine who plays in many local latino bands. The bass groove on "The Readiness is All" had a sort of latin vibe so we decided to build on that...and what instrument sounds more latin than a sax? (Besides the obligatory percussion)


Do you try to play your songs live exactly in the same way as on the album or do you like it to improvise?

No, the arrangements stay the same. It is very difficult to play all the instruments that you hear on the album but we do our best. Vytas even grew an extra arm so that he could play more than two keyboards at once...

The perfect prog album is quite simple: you only have to play complex, melodic and dynamic rock with an own identity. How far are you from this kind of album?

Mhhm. We are really pleased with the album and wouldn't change a thing. We aren't really a prog-rock band, we just try to write the music we ourselves would enjoy listening to.

Please tell me something about the poor genetic material project?

Poor Genetic Material is an ambient pop project of mine. Stefan Glomb and Philip Jaehne are a perfect team and can create very interesting and relaxing soundscapes. It's a real challenge singing something completely different than what I usually do.


© 08/2001 Renald Mienert
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