Appeared in "Kloid 9", written by Patrick
Copied below is the text to a new echolyn interview with Brett & Chris (with additions from Ray and Tom) for a French Magazine - we hope you enjoy it!
*This is the English version, before it is published in French*
1) Today, it seems that we could speak about two Echolyn periods. Indeed, three albums studio represent each one of these periods. What do you think of this way of seeing? You see a difference between "post 1995" and "after 2000"?
BK: Yes, of course there is a difference. I hope we have gotten better at our craft. I always want to do that. Life and music have taught me so much. I hope to have more understanding of them as I get older. Pre-1995 was our 20's. After 2000 was our 30's. You are a different person when you are in your 30's. Every decade is different as we get older. I think our youth had a certain (youthful) pretentiousness to it. We really tried hard to be different. Now I just want to write a great song (whatever that may entail).
CB: Yes, there is a huge difference. I feel that we are more aware of what it takes to write a good song/album, and we work harder at getting to the essence of a good song better as a full group. It sometimes takes longer with 5 people adding input, but in the early years Brett and I tended to do most of the actual songwriting (the music), and while it usually went faster, it wasn't necessarily always best for the song.
1a) I understand better why the style is more direct today. When we are young, we like going towards the extreme. In 1995, I was also 26 and I wanted strong emotion in listening prog music. Echolyn discovery was a great moment for me (i'm also a Gentle Giant fan).
BK: I got into Gentle Giant in 1989. They are one of the few "Classic Progressive bands" That I still find newness in. I know for a fact that Derek Shulman is a fan of our music... I have sent him our latest album.
2) What do you think of the groups which practically began at the same time as you? The Flower Kings, Spock' s Beard, the Swedish groups like Anekdoten, Anglagard, Landberk?
BK: I liked Anekdoten. Landberk and Anglagaard were also kind of cool. We played and hung out with Anekdoten and Anglagaard. Nice folks. The Flower Kings I never liked and Spock's Beard I never liked. Not my cup of tea.
CB: I don't really listen to any of these groups. While people have played me various recordings/songs from each over the years nothing ever grabbed me enough to want to buy, or get into, an entire album.
2a) And yet, you begin with the idea to make also songs. In FK and SB we too guess influences. To them, it is always the same recipe. But, effectively, you are more in the climates which moves closer to you to swedish groups. I always thought that the music of the pré 95 period sounded more europeen than American. You are more an "american rock sound" now. What do you think about that?
BK: I agree that we sounded a bit more European in the early days. You tend to show your influences more when you are young. As we get older we have developed our own style based on our experiences... which are American ones.
CB: I feel creative artists are always being influenced by what is around them - whether they want to acknowledge it or not. The biggest challenge I find is continuing to be original in the face of so many "new" artists simply re-hashing what has already been done. Nothing drives me more crazy than hearing a writer say they're "influenced" by another band or artist and upon the first listen of their "original material" it's obvious that not only are then influenced by that band/artist - they sound (or are trying to sound) exactly like them. What's original about that?
3) At the beginning, what did you want to look like ? a "progressive" group of which it finally commercially does recognize the music or rather a "pop rock" group ?
BK: Neither. We always just wanted to connect with people and try to do it in an original way. It's always been about the song not the style of writing.
CB: We just wanted to write original music - truly original music - not derivative, contrived, borrowed or cover tunes..so what we ended up becoming was indeed echolyn - a band comprised of 5 individuals who together contribute to writing truly innovative, different, original, truly progressive music.
3a) You also had references, no?
BK: We had our influences when we started. I liked early Genesis and Marillion at the time. I quickly out grew Marillion though. We were into Pat Metheny and Alan Holdsworth for our early albums too. For "As The World" we were into Jane's Addiction, Alice n Chains, Rage Against The Machine and other contemporary artists.
CB: My early influences (high school through college) were basically contemporary classical composers (Stravinsky, Bartok, Ives, Messiaen, Debussy) jazz artists like The Pat Metheny Group, Chick Corea, Allan Holdsworth, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and then a bunch of contemporary rock and popular artists like Bruce Hornsby, Rage Against the Machine, Dada, Steely Dan, Alice in Chains, Jellyfish, Jane's Addiction, etc. I also went through a serious "80's rock coming-of-age" stage with Motley Crue, Ratt, Dio, AC/DC, Kiss, Loudness, Van Halen, etc. Wow, the thought of those bands and albums bring back some memories! ;-)
4) I am personally very nostalgic of piece like "Here I am" where lot of things happen in only one rather short piece. During the concert of Verviers (Belgium) I hesitated to shout "Here I Am" to hear it once again. When we listen to Finneus Gauge, it seems that it is rather Chris Buzby which was at the origin of this form of complexity in the writing? Am I wrong?
BK: In that case your wrong. I pretty much wrote the form to "Here I Am" with Chris filling in the blanks. Finneus Gauge's style has nothing to do with the way we all write together. You'd be surprised at our writing process. We all contribute to the whole picture. For Finneus, Chris wanted to really pursue that sort of writing but as I said it has no bearing on our process. "Here I Am" was one of those tunes that I had where I played it for Ray on the acoustic and he worked out the lyrics. We then brought it to the band as the last song we wrote for "Suffocating The Bloom".
CB: Brett actually had the original guitar chords for this one, but I tend to be the one who brings the more adventurous harmonies and dissonances and creative harmonic "rubs" to add to the mix..and I get hell for doing it all the time, especially from Brett! However, I feel the addition of a 'jazzier' element has definitely solidified echolyn's sound over the years, and in my years with finneus gauge that was probably very apparent as well....that project was a purposeful approach of "music for music's sake" - I'm glad you liked it! With echolyn, however, we have found a good way to define our songwriting style by the balance of what each member brings to the group. In a song like "Here I Am" the chorus sax line, middle organ breakdown, and cycling chord changes before the return to the intro theme at the back-end of the tune are all "Buzby" musical passages..but together with the Kull opening riffs, Paul's driving rhythmic force, and Tom's great bass chops, and Weston/Kull vocal lead lines we create a sound that is "echolyn." Brett is definitely more of a riff/chordal writer where I tend to be more adventurous in the harmonic/contrapuntal lines department. I've also found that when writing as a group I tend to write many alternative parts very spontaneously (almost like free-writing) while Brett likes to work on a section many times over and over, either alone or in quiet, without distractions - it's those personality traits that make us "tick" as writers, and as a band. That process, and each of our individual ways of writing, is what has always given (and continues to provide) an original palette for our writing together as echolyn. Over the years we've each "saved" many songs because we were able to either come up with something-on-the-spot or work on something away from the band at home that best fit the need of the song at the time. It's a process that continues to work for all of us.
5) The common point between all the echolyn albums remains the developed sense of the melody. I believe that you have an important role in echolyn to defend the melody.
BK: Well, the melody and it's relationship to Harmony are what attract or turn off most people sometimes. The Rhythm and Lyrics have to support those two things. They all affect each other. I think that a strong melody and developed sense of harmony are seriously lacking in music, (Im not an expert by an means). Not enough good singers out there, just posers that put a bad tune to bad words. They really don't try hard enough. The study of melody and harmony holds great interest for me. Ray is great at coming up with new melodies that really anchor a song.
CB: That's great that you see/hear that! We all work hard to make sure that whatever we write there is always a strong sense of melody - even if the melody is adventurous or challenging. In the end it is the melody that defines any song, and it is underpinned by the harmony, rhythm and many other assorted musical devices.
6) That made ten years that I listen to echolyn. And I always remained convinced that "Suffocatong The Bloom" and "As The World" (which you release this year in remasterized version) are among the best discs of all the sophisticated musics, not to say progressive, of all times. Be able to you it to compare them compared to "Mei" or "The End Is Beautiful"? How do you consider them today?
BK: Brett Kull's comments on echolyn releases
Thank you very much, Patrick.
Here's my take on our albums listed from worst to best.....
7. echolyn (debut), 1991
Song writing- Poor, derivative
Sonic quality- Poor
Notes: This album, though heartfelt and honest sucks
6. Suffocating The Bloom, 1992
Singing- Poor To Average
Lyrics- Poor to average
Song writing- Poor to Average
Sonic quality- Poor to Average
Notes: The fact that this album captures us finding our style saves it from truly being bad. We were experimenting with 12 tone music (which no one was doing) and really finding our stride. Although a bit pretentious at times there is a certain realism that was captured; us against the world and holding on to youth in the face of growing up.
5. As The World, 1995
Singing- Good to excellent
Playing- Good to excellent
Lyrics- Good to excellent
Song writing- Good to excellent
Sonic quality- Excellent
Notes: This album was a big leap for us in every facet of being a musician. Glenn Rosenstein (our producer) taught us a lot, to say the least. We had also learned much from our last album on our own. When I listen to it the only thing I don't like is the speed of some of the tunes. Too many notes played way to fast and without the warranted feel. "Entry..." and "Habit Worth Forming" are some of my favorite Chris tunes. Ray also brought both to life with his words. Very Intense! There are some great moments on this record that are very original and still untouched! More "twelve tone" in "The Wiblet". Very thought-out to say the least.
4. Cowboy Poems Free, 2000
Song writing- excellent
Sonic quality- average
Notes: This was our first mature effort. Everyone's playing had improved quite a bit. I am re-mixing this album because it deserves to get a bump in sound quality. The new mixes really bring out the energy of the tunes. The lyrics also are some of the first where we stepped outside our selves to touch something deeper. I really like the theme of this project and many of the songs are my favorites to play live. There are some great textures and improvisations on this CD; areas where we had not gone before.
3 ....And Every Blossom, 1993
Singing- Average to excellent
Lyrics- OK to excellent
Song writing- excellent
Sonic quality- excellent
Notes: Our great hidden treasure and only four songs! One of the most original CD's to come out in the past 15 years. I don't know what we were doing but every note and chord was a true adventure into new territory. No one in the progressive community can come close to the originality of this recording. I'm so glad I was able to remix it for the "box set" and bring out the subtleties of the songs better. When I listen to it it still sounds fresh and new.
2. The End Is Beautiful
Singing- excellent and inspired
Playing- excellent and inspired
Lyrics- excellent to inspired
Song writing- excellent
Sonic quality- The best
Notes: Paul's drumming blows away anyone I've played with and heard (except maybe John Bonham!) He doesn't over play and lays in the coolest fills on this CD. He is very underrated and under appreciated by the drumming community. We cut this live in the studio. The energy comes from the 5 of us playing together in a room. We wanted to do an aggressive, angular album and that's what we did. My favorite echolyn song is on here, "The End Is Beautiful," another Chris tune. Ray truly shines and prooves once again what a great and versatile singer he is. His melodies are the reigns that hold the songs from lifting into outer space!
Singing- excellent and inspired
Playing- excellent and inspired
Lyrics- excellent and inspired
Song writing- excellent and inspired
Sonic quality- excellent
Notes: This holds the #1 spot for me. Writing and recording this music seems like a big dream to me. The playing is very natural for us. The themes of love, redemption and hope all are tinged with a darkness that is evident in the music. We captured a feeling and vibe that is beyond us on this recording. The song took over and we just closed our eyes as it lead us on a journey. Again, no one has the balls to release a full CD (50 min) with 1 track on it! The complexity of this piece is in it's simplicity (if that makes sense). A true original. It is hands down my favorite song to play live because of it's flow and story. When we were learning songs for our European tour and pulling our teeth out trying to remember old stuff and figuring out how to play the new stuff this felt like an old pair of shoes that just slipped back on. I still have not gotten tired of listening to this CD.
CB: Chris Buzby's comments on echolyn albums
So glad you like them all so much, Patrick. Here's my take on our album releases.....
echolyn (debut), 1991
CB: An early, derivative collection of songs of us trying to find an original "voice." Mainly this album is full of "Brett songs" that have other parts incorporated "into" them. The redeeming track for me is "Shades" as it is the first true collaboration of writing styles that started to hint at what was to come of the echolyn sound and style on STB.
Suffocating The Bloom, 1992
CB: A HUGE stretch for us all as we dove into writing as a band headfirst and headstrong. This album is one of my favorites as it solidified "who" echolyn was and what we were going to become. I was thrilled to bring my many classical approaches to several tunes and was really glad to incorporate arrangements of 'classical' instrumentation in songs like One Voice and Reaping the Harvest. This album also allowed me to bring my newfound love for 12-tone and atonal music to the band in writing the "Suite for the Everyman." It was a real experiment in helping my bandmates 'trust' the new sonorities of dissonance and unstructured sound, and a real challenge for us to write an album that embraced this sound as one we were not only comfortable with, but truly enjoyed playing.
....And Every Blossom, 1993
CB: A breath of fresh air for the springtime album release...this album best captures the natural way we write music - acoustic guitar and piano with added percussion, strings, winds, horns and vocals. The playing/performances are not excellent, but the songs are really good.
As The World, 1995
CB: ATW is probably my second favorite echolyn album..next to TEIB. I feel it opened new doors for us musically as we were writing it, and it definitely pushed each of us to our limits - both good and bad. In the end it stands as a testament to a group of guys who were willing to take a chance at a time when music was very commercial and corporate..we didn't care what people thought, we were just determined to write al album that would last a lifetime. I feel we did that and more.
Cowboy Poems Free, 2000
CB: This collection of songs is the most honest collection of music we've ever written. As we were literally reforming as a band during the writing of this album following years apart pursuing other musical aspirations, I really look back and remember enjoying working together a lot on this album. The writing process felt very "grassroots" and real for this album, and we didn't seem pressured by anything other than writing the best album we were capable of. I still like listening to this album a lot! It speaks to me lyrically and musically as it reminds me of days gone by, and the ways in which we can remedy situations by embracing them head-on.
CB: The most adventurous thing we've ever done, I have a hard time thinking of this as an album, for while it is, to me it is simply one of our best songs - ever! Even though it took about 6-7 months to write (getting together 1-2 times a week to work on it together) the writing process was very natural..the piece fell together in a way that felt right, and the themes are so interlocking and justified it still makes me smile when I listen to it and think of all the ways in which parts weave themselves in and out each section - some obvious, others not. It is truly an album/song that I feel will continue to find new fans for echolyn, as like a good book, it grows on the listener more and more with each listen.
The End Is Beautiful 2005
CB: Perhaps because it is the most recent this album is the proudest echolyn album I've been a part of. Once again, similar to ATW, we all took creative leaps of faith with our writing, playing, lyrics and vocal lines, and I feel the output of TEIB screams original, worthy and different. I hope this album breaks us into a new fanbase of listeners, as I feel it might generate new recruits of echolyn based on its originality and more rock-approach to songwriting.
RW: Ray Weston's comments on echolyn albums
Ranking....worst to first...
When The Sweet Turns Sour
And every blossom
As The World
The End Is Beautiful
To be honest I can not listen to our first 3 albums anymore. It hurts. To qoute our good friend Paul, "If it sucks it sucks," and they do. As Brett stated, everything about them is bad. However, they do represent some of the strongest years we have had together as a band. With the release of ATW we were more mature. Our words, along with the music got right to the point without dicking around. For me this should be considered our first album.
With Cowboy Poems, Mei, and The End Is Beautiful, there isn't a weak moment.... anywhere. I listen to these albums all the time. Cowboy Poems when I am nostalgic, Mei when I need my special dark place and The End when I need to leave my dark place.
TH: Tom Hyatt's Comments On echolyn albums
1. ....And Every Blossom, 1993 - Although "Lunch in the Sun" is one of my favorite echolyn tunes, the rest of the CD for me was too lofty and happy happy. I like angry, negative, and cynical. The CD simply is not what I'm into.
2. When the Sweet Turns Sour - Represents a tough period for me personally. Some of the songs were outtakes from ATW. I came back post departure to record for "This Time Alone" and "Currents of Me". I still like those numbers, although, I'm not sure I could perform them. I rarely listen to WSTS, just because it marks a personal defeat for me.
3. Debut - We all had a lot of growing up to do. Bare in mind, this is the first CD from a band that was (and still is) trying to be one of a kind. The CD is derivative, and just sounds like kaka. My bass playing (Peace in time, Clumps of Dirt, Great Men) is busy, sloppy, out of time, and sounds like it was recorded unplugged. Most of the songs are friggin hokey (Meaning and the Moment, Breath of Fresh Air, Peace in Time, Until it Rains). Others are failed attempts at bombast (Great Men). Still, "Shades" is a personal favorite. One of my favorite of Brett's guitar solos
4. Suffocating - This is where we had gotten more of a grip on who we were. The songs were less derivative and had more direction. The bass playing was still too sloppy and out of time, but now it sounded like it was being played through a cheap amp rather than unplugged. I was still too busy and high up on the neck, but I think the ideas were better than the debut. Overall, the songs were very heartfelt and I still take a lot of pride in the ideas and conviction. I think "Suff" was the first true echolyn CD.
5. As the World - ATW, thanks to Sony and Glenn Rosenstein, marked an extreme step up in the audio quality of the music. The writing was more mature, although, I think the arrangement still had a lot of ADD. The transitions are pretty abrupt. Lyrically, I think Ray and Brett were leaps and bounds beyond any previous work. The subject matter was VERY deep but much less pretentious then the earlier CDs.
6. Cowboy Poems Free - Echolyn traded in chops and transitions for maturity and listen-ability. The songs convey the passion of the lyrics without the musicians stepping over each other. "Too Late for Everything", 1729 Broadway, 67 Degrees and "High as Pride", are among my top 10 Echolyn songs of all time. Lyrically, there is a defined storyline to each song but still a lot of room for the listener's imagination as well.
7. The End is Beautiful - TEIB is a slight return to the early echolyn days. Sort of ATW written by wiser more secure musicians. I think the sound quality is superior to anything one might hear on a major label release. The singing is just amazing. I think Ray and Brett really brought this album to life. The lyrics are daring, realistic, and sometimes unsettling. I like that kind of intensity. The horns really give the songs a soulful Chicago-ish urban quality that sets the music apart from anything the band has ever done. "Arc of Descent" and "Love Sick" are also within my top 10 favorite echolyn songs.
8. Mei - Not just my favorite echolyn CD, but one of my favorite albums period. I rank it up with, Pink Floyd's "Animals," Radiohead's "OK Computer," and "Physical Graffiti" from Zeppelin. I'm actually glad I did not play on Mei, because I can actually enjoy it as an objective listener. The lyrics are extraordinary and open-ended. The playing and orchestration is ingenious. And since my first listen it has kept me riveted for the duration of the song. On it's own, Mei, to me, is a ground-breaking rock-n-roll classic. A true definition of what progressive music is.
7) Do you not be afraid to be only catalogued as progressive group and to be compared for example with english neo prog scene néo progressive (Marillion, IQ, Pendragon)?
BK: Yes, we are afraid to be compared to those bands. I don't think we have anything in common with them. We are a progressive rock band from America. I think IQ is horrible, regressive and derivative. Genesis already did that guys, and they did it really well! Pendragon, blah, sounds like bad Marillion. I don't listen to Marillion any more but I did like them at one time. I moved away from their sound as I got older though so I don't know much about their new stuff. I've heard bits but It didn't do any thing for me.
CB: I like being called "progressive" in the truest sense of the word, but to be lumped in with bands I really don't like or listen to sometimes confuses me, as while I sometimes hear scant similarities, I don't see where our styles are truly comparable in the big picture.
8) Do you know the other American groups like Thinking Plague, 5UU' S which are much inspired by contemporary classical music?
BK: I do not know those bands. I've heard of "Thinking Plague" but not their music.
CB: I've heard of those bands, but unfortunately have never heard their music I do think it's great that they are inspired by contemporary classical music though, as I feel there is much to glean and learn from the classical masters who wrote/are still writing in that style.
9) Are you still interested by the activities of your old references (I think of Yes for example)?
BK: No not at all. We listen to bands that are exploring new areas of recording and song craft . "Yes" is living in the past and still playing "All Good People." I listened to Yes when I was 17 years old in 1984. I've moved on. I still Like "To Be Over" and "Awaken"
CB: Not really. While I saw, for the first time, both Yes and King Crimson perform live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland 3 years ago, I would not consider myself a huge fan of their music. I do own a Yes best-of box set (I think the songs off of Relayer and Drama are my favorites) and I also own Larks's Tongue and the 2003 album release by Crimson (The Power to Believe) - which I think is excellent!
10) Once more, you want with "The End is Beautiful" to distinguish from your preceding album. It sounds more direct and seems at the same time rather close to the post '95 period. The chorus (multi vocals) are more present there for example.
BK: We used to hide the vocals because we couldn't sing and the words sucked. Now it's different. It's one of our strong points, not something that should be hidden in the mix. "The End Is Beautiful" is a more direct album because of it's live recording and song arrangement. There is space when needed, like a sherbet in-between courses, but on a whole it is an urban assault vehicle playing chicken with the listener.
CB: Vocals were always a strong part of our writing style since Suffocating the Bloom - it just wasn't until ATW that we really allowed them to take a forefront role in our writing style-especially in the mixing process where they were brought up closer to the volume of the other instruments. TEIB continues in that tradition in that the vocal parts are really just extensions of the instruments - adding texture, harmony and depth to the song in moments where it is the desired effect - like the choruses of many songs.
11) It was a great pleasure of finally seeing Echolyn with best its form in Europe. Do you think you'll go back there quickly?
BK: We'd like to go back again one day but we shall see. It was a beautiful experience that we shall always remember.
CB: I'd love to go back again one day but first we need to promote the new album (TEIB), pay off our debt and bills from the trip, play some US and Canadian shows for those fans, and then write a new album. So we're probably looking at a 2-3 year time frame before we'd consider going back again..we also all work day jobs, some in the band have children, and we all have monthly bills to pay, so we have to balance all those priorities into the equation as well. The tour itself was an amazing experience that I will never forget!
12) Are you already an idea of the next album?
BK: No not at all. We are still hyping this one. I'm working on an album for myself at this point. I hope to have it done soon.
CB: I've started writing music for the next one (or perhaps a Buzby solo release?), but I know we need to promote TEIB first and foremost. We'll probably play some shows and focus on promotion first before we tackle anything new... maybe by the summer? Who knows?
BK: I hope you enjoyed my honest answers.... remember they are just my opinions and don't have any bearing on the opinions on others:) !!!!
CB: Thanks, Patrick, for the opportunity to answer your questions. Thanks also to all of our European fans for attending the European shows and for our worldwide fans for their continued support of echolyn!Back to Article Listing