IZZ: Moving Forward
After the stunning debut “Sliver Of The Sun” the american based Band IZZ now is back with an new album – “I Move”. And again the guys did an really great job.
Here is an interview with Tom and John Golgano for DURP.
What happened in between this record and the record before?
Tom - Well, at first, much time was spent getting the IZZ name out there. We were a new band trying to make a name for ourselves, so we promoted Sliver of a Sun through regular gigging in and around the New York City area.. I’d say that we started writing and recording material about six months after the release of Sliver. From that time until the release of I Move we had written and recorded roughly two hours of music. Halfway through the recording process, we finalized in our minds that we wanted to get a concept across in our next release. Thus, much of the music that we had written, that had nothing to do with the concept, got temporarily put aside. For reasons of being succinct, we decided that we could get the concept across on one CD. So, to answer your question, we were recording non-stop!
What about the changes in the lineup? Paul is a full time member now and Philip left?
John – Well, to put things in perspective, Paul joined the band shortly after Sliver of a Sun was released. So, I think we in the band kind of feel that he’s been here all along.. Philip left the band basically for musical reasons. I think his musical path somewhere started to diverge from the goal of IZZ and so he went on to pursue other things. That’s kind of when I took on the bass full time and then Paul came in to solidify things. To the people following the band just by our CDs, I think it seems that Paul has recently joined, but in reality, Paul had been playing live with us for some time before I Move was released. "I Move" is sort of Paul’s official debut as a full time member and I think anyone who listens to I Move can hear the amazing impact he has on the music. Paul has a unique way of approaching the guitar. His solos are so melodic and memorable. The amazing thing is that many of his solos on I Move were improvised and yet they sound like they have some kind of song-like quality to them. I think that’s just part of the way Paul plays his instrument. He’s a great songwriter and just an exciting, virtuoso guitarist. He’s definitely infused a lot of energy into the band.
What¹s your opinion to line-up changes generally?
John – Anytime
you have an organic change in the band, there will be some effects because of that
change. So, when Philip left, things
were definitely different for a bit.
But I think it’s clear on I Move that Paul has brought a new dynamic to
the music and has fit in perfectly with the band. Also when Paul took over guitar, it allowed me more of an
opportunity to focus on writing and playing bass as well as continuing to
contribute some guitar work. So all in
all, things have definitely worked out for the best.
What does the title of the record mean?
Tom It is such a simple fact, yet its meaning is so encompassing. As simple as the words are, “I Move”, they seem to embody all the feeling one experiences going through this life of movement. The definition I like for the word move is, To be moved emotionally. The character is being moved through different emotional music situations. “I Move”also represents the significance of music’s ability to emotionally and physically affect the listener. Music changes people, it moves them to feel, to want, to know, to see and be affected by the invisible movement. Music is not visual, so when one moves to music or is moved by music, they are reacting to what they hear, not what is seen.
Can you give me some more information about the lyrical concept of “ I Move”?
John – The concept of the lyrics is an exploration of the current “corporate-processed” music scene and the compromising effects of profit over the lost freedom of the art of music. There are really many undercurrents going on here. Actually, it’s very multi-faceted and something we hope the listener can apply to him or herself.
Tom – Music is not visual! One does not move to what they see, they move to what they hear. “I Move” rejoices in music for music’s sake - we move to the sound!
Can you tell me of the process of creating the new record?
Were there any problems or went everything well?
John –. In fact everything went quite smoothly. The earlier developmental stages of the concept were points of discussion but we were on the same wavelength concerning all the musical ideas. Actually, I think “I Move” is very revealing. The music that was created embodies all of our individual personalities. I think one of the great things about IZZ is the way we write music and create our sound. It doesn’t matter who has written the song, because at the end of the day, really, IZZ wrote the song. Everyone in the band adds their own vision to the song and so really what you have is five people being creative together. This process can happen in several ways. There were some songs such as “Star Evil Gnoma Su” that we all just locked ourselves in a room and wrote together. Then after we had everything written, we went in a recorded it. On other occasions individuals would come in with nearly completed songs and then each members musical style and personality would be infused.
How would you describe the development between the new
record and the record before?
Tom - The biggest difference between this record and the last is that with "Sliver" we had just formed the band and so we started writing and recording material. We put together a collection of songs. That was Sliver of a Sun. This time we set out to create an album, and then soon we realized it to be of a conceptual nature. The other big difference between I" Move" and "Sliver" is the addition of Paul Bremner. The impact that Brems has had on I Move, I believe, is self-evident. Otherwise, we had the same mentality for both albums- write and record interesting and creative pieces of music. That is always going to be the goal whether it is a twenty-five minute piece, or a two- minute compact idea.
Will you present the new material during a tour?
John – Touring is something we’re exploring now for the near future. Right now, we have been and will continue to play in the Northeast of the US to promote I Move. We will also be playing at ProgWest 2002 in California later this year in November. We do feel confident that at some point in the near future the time will be right for us to embark on a full-scale tour of either Europe or America or both.
What about your success/feedback in/from different countries?
John – We’ve
been thrilled that we have received an overwhelming positive response to the
new album from all across the world. I think the key for any musician is to
find people who are open minded and who want to hear something different and
unique and emotional. It’s been a great
pleasure to find some of these people in countries such as Germany where we’ve
gotten a lot of very positive feedback. We’ve also had great response from
France Poland, The Netherlands and Japan. I think Europe and Asia are wonderful
places to be if you are a lover of adventurous music. Luckily for us we’ve also
found some of these people right here in the US. We really enjoy the music we
create. It’s a great honor to be able to share this music and hope it moves the
listener as it moves us.
Why are some tracks linked?
Tom – Actually, three quarters of the album is linked. The reason for this is because as I stated earlier, the album is of a conceptual nature. By linking songs you create a continuous thought process which helps the concept to flow more naturally. This technique has been utilized before on many concept albums that have come before.
John – We also
wanted to encourage the listener to experience the album as a whole. I remember the first time I heard “The
Wall”. I couldn’t just stop listening to it.
The record itself almost forced me to listen to the whole thing at once. And that was definitely a defining moment in
my musical development. The first time
hearing “The Wall”. Wow! I was floored.
Some drum sounds are very electronic?
Tom - One reason is because we love the juxtaposition between the acoustic kit and the electronic kit. Whereas Brian Coralian also plays acoustic drums on this CD, one of his calling cards is his electronic sound (some of the more modern electronic drum sounds were used to musically explain the concept).Greg DiMiceli plays solely the acoustic kit. Having these two sounds aside each other is very powerful and allows us to treat each piece and song for its individual needs.
Your songs are very modern, there are not many retro influences
Tom I sort of disagree with this. The entire second half of the CD is actually quite “retro” in the traditional progressive sense. The first half of the CD has a more modern sounding edge for conceptual reasons. Additionally, IZZ cannot be pidgeon-holed. We refuse to be. Part of being an adventurous musician is being open to whatever style happens to be coming from your heart at any particular moment in time as long as it is of quality. Progressive music can be classical, jazz, pop, rock, country, avante guard, funk etc..... I can’t help but bring up the Beatles’ “White Album” and Emerson Lake and Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” as the role models for this way of freethinking.
Something else to keep in mind is that when Yes, ELP, Genesis, and Crimson first invented Progressive music, they were using the modern music of the day as the groundwork for their sound. In order to stay vital and progressive, we believe that bands cannot fully ignore some modern sounds. Yes, ELP, Genesis, and King Crimson certainly did not. In fact, that’s one of the reasons Tony Kaye left Yes. He didn’t want to use the synthesizer, which back then, was considered to be a part of that modern sound.
Does the progressive rock category fit for IZZ?
Tom - A progressive musician should be able to utilize his or her entire musical vocabulary. Should we ignore the fact that we grew up in the 1980’s and 1990’s? Our entire musical vocabulary comes from the 1960’s right through the millennium and it whips right back to Ravel, Gershwin, Mussorgsky, Copeland, Miles Davis, and Beethoven. Progressive music should progress, not rehash!
John – It’s
hard to pick one category and just lump IZZ in there. But if there was ever a category we would fit into, I guess it
would be progressive, but in the purest form of the word. I think sometimes when the word Progressive
is used, what it really means is Re-gressive.
For music to be truly progressive it needs to be vital and it needs to
offer something to the listener that the listener has never heard before. It is
a sometimes complicated, sometimes simple style of music but it is always
interesting and best of all there is complete freedom of movement.
You cover many styles is it hard to make to album
Tom Once again, I refuse to be pigeonholed. IZZ music just is. Whatever form it takes is not decided by us, it is decided by the song or piece itself. Take for example the Beatles’ “White Album,” “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” and “Revolver.” All three of these albums are considered to be three of the greatest albums of all time, yet every song on each of those albums respectively is totally unique and completely different from any of the other songs. There are no stylistic boundaries on these albums, nor are there any in Progressive music. Do” Honey Pie” and “Helter Skelter” belong on the same album?
Is each member of the band absolutely satisfied with each song of the record?
John – In the
earlier stages of the album, there had to be some discussions concerning which
songs would stay and which would be put aside. But once the direction was
realized, we pretty much agreed with all the song selections and their
arrangements. I really think that all of us feel very satisfied with the way I
Move turned out. The thing about I Move
is that we look at the album as a whole and not just a collection of individual
Was it your
intention to handle all the production, distribution and management things
yourself or is it because you couldn¹t get a record deal.
John - Yes, it
has always been our intention to handle everything ourselves. We have very
strong feelings about maintaining our musical integrity. All our energies have
been directed toward making ourselves self sufficient enough so that we could
operate under complete artistic freedom. We’ve never focused our energies to
pursuing a record deal. Maybe one day when we have time we will.
What about you’re future plans?
John – We are very much into promoting this new CD. “ I Move” has generated so much interest in the band. We are really quite overwhelmed by all the enthusiasm. And we have a lot of fans that want to see and hear the music live. The music is very emotional and powerful. It is meant to be heard live. So we are in the process of scheduling shows and appearances. We are also writing new material.
actually have quite a bit of very good material for another album. However, it
is too soon to make a decision about another CD. You know, we’ll probably be
trying something altogether different the next time.