Gabriel Agudo - interview,
Tomasz Dudkowski: Hello Gabriel. At the beginning, I would like to congratulate you on your very successful album "New Life". You are associated by some listeners with your performances in Bad Dreams, In Continuum or in the live incarnation of Steven Rothery's group, but in fact you are still a relatively unknown character. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Gabriel Agudo: I am a musician, singer, composer, and producer born in Buenos Aires Argentina. My main influences are '70s/'80s. Progressive Rock bands like Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Camel, and Marillion. Rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple as well. The music and mystique of these groups transformed my life, taking me into the magical world of music.
During the 80s and 90s, I played and recorded with several band projects (Jazz-Rock, Blues, Soul, and Funk styles).
I'm the former lead singer and main songwriter of the first trilogy of albums of the south- American prog band Bad Dreams. After my split with that band, I began to work with Steve Rothery and his band as his singer in South America.
I'm one of the lead singers of In Continuum. A project led by my friend Dave Kerzner (Sound of Contact). The project includes Marco Minnemman, Matt Dorsey, Randy McStine, Fernando Perdomo, Leticia Wolf, and special guests like Steve Hackett, Steve Rothery, Jon Davison, Nick D’Virgilio, and Michael Sadler. I recorded two albums with the band. "Acceleration Theory Parts 1 & 2”
I have been working on these two projects (SRB/In Continuum) since 2018. In 2018 I started my solo project. After two years I released my first solo album “New Life” in March 2020.
TD: Why have you decided to make your solo debut only now?
GA: After the split from Bad Dreams, I decided to take some time to think. It was a dark period in my life and my inspiration was blocked. I passed through divorce, bankruptcy, and a serious car accident. My mother's persistent disease (Alzheimer) was devastating to our family at that time. I was completely out of focus, dejected. All this series of events was like a Big-Bang explosion in my life. I remember sitting at my brother Daniel’s piano in tears. Then the first chords and the melody of “Free as a Bird” emerged. In the midst of that chaos, I felt again that "spark" that would reignite me. After that, the melodies, chords, and lyrics began to flow again. That was the kick-off of everything.
TD: You are signing the CD only with your name, why? Weren't you afraid that you might get confused with another Gabriel, the one named Peter?
GA: Not at all. It has never even crossed my mind. How could someone relate my name with a Prog God like Peter Gabriel? The only coincidence between him and me is my first and his last name. (Laugh)
My name is Gabriel Agudo. My logo has my first name as a gesture. Kind of “Hey, I'm Gabriel and this is my work based on my experiences, my particular view of life. I hope that we can make a connection through music and lyrics, and find out that we’re not so different ".
The design of my artist's logo has a mirror effect in tribute to my twin brother who died before birth. He has been a very strong presence in my life.
TD: Coming back to the album - almost every track has a subtitle - Consience of Freedom, Karma, Earth, Enlighment, Love, Universe. In the booklet or inside the vinyl cover, there is a bird-shaped map of the island / continent with the regions of individual consciousness marked. Is it a kind of key to getting to know the title New Life?
GA: So it is. I've always felt that the greatest symbol of freedom is Bird's Flight. When the art designer Javier Lourenco brought me the idea, there was a connection with it. New Life is a spiritual map and that's why it's a conceptual album.
It's the result of my exploration through different levels of consciousness. The overcoming of the "superstition of materialism". My escape pod from the prison in which our body and mind submit.
Pain was the starting point. When we face Pain we all tend to flee, to avoid it anaesthetising the Self. Sooner or later we all discover that pain is a messenger that always challenges us. If we accept that challenge and have the courage to pass through it, on the other side, a new world is waiting for us. The next-door to pain is always a New Life.
We will be aware of Freedom and the power to change our reality by our decisions. On the other side of it is Karma. We will be aware of Mother Earth and the importance of taking care of our Planet. We will be aware of Love and its unlimited power. Furthermore, we will be aware of the Universe finding out that we are not only a drop, we are the Ocean.
The final result of this process is Enlightenment.
TD: You are accompanied on the album by many famous musicians in the progressive world. Rene Bosc, who is the co-author of the music included in it, has become your main partner during its creation, and also played many instruments and conducted the orchestra. How did this cooperation come about?
GA: René Bosc is a great friend. A true magician. An incredible musical mind with his own brilliance. I’m so honoured that he decided to join me on this trip. We have been working together on a special version of Genesis Classic "Supper’s Ready”. Since the first time I played him all the songs, we have had that special connection. We were open to each other's ideas and that’s why the album is a real music exploration. The chemistry between us reflects in the work we did on the album. At the same time, we were passing through a similar period of rebirth in our lives. René is also a virtuoso and soulful guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. I’m so happy that everyone will be able to enjoy his great talent. René and Steve Rothery were the light at the end of the tunnel. They have been with me from the darkest moments to the brightest.
Much of the album was recorded in Paris.
TD: Dave Kerzner is your colleague from In Continuum, and how did two Pendragon members perform on New Life, drummer Jan-Vincent Velazco and, above all, progressive rock icon Clive Nolan?
GA: I collaborated with Clive Nolan on several occasions as a singer. We have built a beautiful friendship all over the past years. I admire his amazing talent and work with Pendragon, Arena, Shadowland, and his solo career. His participation on the album was very important to me from an emotional and artistic point of view.
When we start the recording sessions, we were interested in Japanese drummer Senri Kawaguchi. After hearing Jan’s explosion of talent with Pendragon, the possibility of working together came to my mind. I discovered a phenomenal musician. He’s one of the best drummers in progressive rock nowadays.
Fernando Perdomo is one of the most soulful and talented guitarists in Progressive Rock. He's a great composer and producer as well. He co-arranged and co-produced the song “Angel’s Call”. His work was amazing as he captured the spirit of the song immediately. We are currently planning a new collaboration for 2021.
My friend Dave Kerzner well known as the songwriter, keyboardist, singer and producer of bands like Sound of Contact, In Continuum, and his solo project played a keyboard solo in the song “Karmatic”. His participation was a real joy.
Hélène Collerette is a luminaire musician in the classical music world. A violin virtuoso from Radio France Paris Session Orchestra. She is an outstanding performer. The album also has the participation of the Paris Session Orchestra conducted by René.
French Keyboardist Christophe Lebled who has worked with Jon Anderson also played on the album.
Having Steve Rothery on the album was the realization of a dream. He's from another galaxy. His constant support and brotherhood are some of the greatest blessings I have ever received. His performances on the album are outstanding.
I want to thank Durga Mc Broom, John Wesley, and Michel St-Pere. They expressed their support as soon as the project started.
TD: How did you become a singer in Steven Rothery's group?
GA: It was possible to fill that role in South America’s shows. Steve thought of me, which has been a true honour through these last years. The Steve Rothery Band is a great family. Talented musicians and great people. Enjoyment on/out stage is commonplace.
TD: How does it feel to perform Marillion classics, mainly from the time when Fish sang them? Which of them did you sang the most fun and enjoy?
GA: Considering that I'm a huge Marillion fan, it feels great. It has been an immense privilege to share the stage with God (Rothery) and his angels Riccardo Romano, Leon Parr, Yatim Halimi, and Dave Foster.
Referring to the period when Fish was the lead singer my favourite Marillion albums are “Misplaced Childhood” and “Clutching All Straws”.
TD: The album was released with the support of fans during the crowdfunding campaign and was initially only available to those taking part in it. Now it has been re-released on a compact disc and in two vinyl versions thanks to the Polish publisher - Oskar. How did the worldwide version of your album come to be with us?
GA: The support of the fans was the fundamental stone of the project. Being an independent artist today requires big guts. An enormous financial and human effort too. Signing with a prestigious label like Oskar was great. Now my music is available worldwide on their online store and through distributors. The Oskar edition of New Life on CD and Vinyl by Oskar is a high-quality standard one. I'm happy to be part of the label alongside other great artists of the genre.
TD: On your Bandcamp profile you have published the single "A Last Chance", which is your reflection on the situation in the world related to the coronavirus pandemic. Tell me, how are you doing in these difficult times?
GA: “A Last Chance” emerged as a need to express my emotions and thoughts about this Pandemic. Our human species has been generating hunger, poverty, wars, and environmental damage. This plague has knocked on every door. We find out that the virus doesn’t make difference. It doesn't matter if you are rich, poor, black, yellow, brown, white, young, old, etc...
This Pandemic has generated an increased sense of empathy and equality. So many people have died alone with no possibility to say goodbye to their families. So sad! This should be a milestone for all humankind. We must build a better world for our children and new generations.
About the second part of the question, this terrible situation has forced me to stop. Releasing the album during this Pandemic was insane. Album sales have decreased due to the economic difficulties that most people are going through. Resistance is the only chance. All artistic activities will be the last thing to re-open after the end of this Pandemic. This catastrophic situation has put all the unfairness of the music business at the top. We need a global discussion on how profits are being distributed especially by streaming platforms. It’s unfair how songwriters & musicians have always been receiving the smallest part of the cake.
Against all the odds, this year I was able to open markets for my work worldwide, especially in Japan. My album is distributed thereby Belle Antique label.
Hope that everything gets better by the end of 2021. I wanted to play my music live especially in Europe, and generate work for my solo project and my future team of musicians.
TD: Soon you will release another new single "Voyager", is it a preview of something bigger? New album? What are your plans for the future, not only related to music?
GA: My new single “Voyager” is my tribute to all pioneering space explorers. It has Dave Foster (Dave Foster Band / Steve Rothery Band) as a special guest.
In 2021 I’ll be working on my new album.
We will release with René Bosc a special version of the Genesis classic “Suppers Ready”.
I will also find myself recording the third In Continuum album.
I'll be one of the guest singers in a special Genesis Tribute album produced by Dave Kerzner.
I have a project in the pipeline with Fernando Perdomo also for 2021.
Clive Nolan’s new album “Song of the Wildlands” will be released in 2021. I participated as one of the singers of the Project.
Live shows during 2021 will depend on the vaccine and venues reopening.
April 25-30 2022 I will present my album at the next Cruise to the Edge Festival
TD: Thank you very much for the interview and I hope you will visit our country one day. Would you like to add anything for Polish lovers of your music at the end of this interview?
GA: Steve Rothery always tells me that the Polish audience is great. It's my dream to play my music at your sacred Prog lands someday. Your support will mean the world to me.
Wishing you and your families all the very best for 2021 and hope to see you all soon!