We were lucky enough to catch up with THE LACONIC following the superb release ‘Amor Fati’. Enjoy the full interview below!
‘Amor Fati’ is a brilliant album; why release an album over singles or an EP?
Thank you. ‘Amor Fati’ has an extended piece, ‘Refuge’, which is almost 20 minutes long, and I nearly did release that as an EP. However, it fits well with the other tracks, and the album would have been light without it. Also, managing the production of an album and an EP would have been more work. Finally, I’ve always been an album-oriented guy. I like something I can listen to from start to finish. A meal, not a snack. And as a creator, I like to fuss over track order, which you can’t do with a single.
What’s the music scene like in Chicago in 2023?
I’m the worst person to ask. I don’t gig, and I go to shows rarely anymore. I’m too damn old to stand for three hours and deal with other people. When I see a show, it’s usually at Martyr’s or Reggie’s, both small venues, and I can sit down at Reggie’s.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
A friend recently said it well, not in his own words, but Neil Peart’s: all this machinery making modern music can still be open-hearted. ‘Amor Fati’ is instrumental music rooted in the progressive tradition but not stuck in it. And yet it’s at least 120 degrees away from, well, I won’t name specific bands, but the dominant style in instrumental prog is technical, virtuosic, and cold, and it doesn’t interest me at all. ‘Amor Fati’ is evocative and emotional. It’s sort of technical by most standards, but not by prog standards.
Who are your musical influences?
Tony Banks, since I was about ten. As a kid taking piano lessons and wishing I knew how to play rock rather than classical music, or better yet, rock music with a classical sensibility, he was the man. His chord progressions still fill me with wonder. Chris Squire, since I was about twelve; his voice and melodic, ringing bass guitar still gives me chills. Trevor Rabin for about as long, for his sense of melody and evocative guitar lines, and I could say much the same about Steve Rothery. Donald Fagen, who with Walter Becker, made incredible music happen without playing every instrument. And Markus Reuter, of course, who produced ‘Amor Fati’ and taught me and advised me through its creation.
Who are your non-musical influences?
The Stoics. My wife. My older brother.
What scares you most when releasing music?
At first, I was scared that no one would listen; now, I’m scared that someone will listen.
I’m joking, of course. Mostly. My proper goal is to make music that I love, and how it is received doesn’t matter. But I’m human and can’t help but fret a little, whether it’s about being ignored or about attracting attention.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
There is more music than there are ears to receive it. Which is a good thing in itself, but it’s got to be hard if you’re trying to make a living at being a musician. It’s not sustainable, and the whole industry has to change in a fundamental way. I have a theory about what has to happen, but I won’t go into it now because I’d have to work out the reasoning to a certain standard before I’d feel comfortable presenting it, and that will take too much time right now. But the punchline is: I’m the future of the music industry. I’m not the producer; I’m the product.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
Get a good mentor. And have a full-time job that will support you. Which means you’ll have two full-time jobs if you do it right. Sorry, I know it sucks. Then make the music you want to make. That you have to make.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
Achieve some small degree of external success and respect. I can hope for that, but it’s not really up to me. More importantly, write and release a third album, which I have already started. That is within my power.
FVMusicBlog April 2023