Interview with Echolyn,
Interview with Brett Kull, Ray Weston and Chris Buzby
- Hi, first of all, how are you?
BK- Thank you, I am very well and enjoying life.
RW- I am above ground.
CB: Great - couldn't be better; thanks for asking!!
- Could you tell us some words about the band and the story of Echolyn?
BK- I’m very happy to be making music with my friends after 20 plus years. I still feel as excited and elated when composing music as I did when I was 15. The five of us have been great friends since our inception (and even before).
- What are the origins of the name Echolyn?
BK- It’s just a nice three syllable word I made up to represent the band.
- The band splited in 1995-96 and reborned in 2000. Why this return?
BK- We missed each other.
RW- The Sony experience left a bad taste in our mouths. It left us broke, wondering, wandering. In order to grow as people, friends and musicians we needed that time apart.
CB: It was time to start writing music together again after a few "off" years due to the Sony fiasco.
- There are seven years between "The End Is Beautiful" and "Echolyn". Why all this time?
BK- We are all very busy people doing very different things. It’s hard to find the time to make music these days. When we do get together it’s never about quantity but instead about quality of work. We have high standards and sometimes we fall short of those standards. We are smart enough to realize when a song is not working and totake a break.
RW- Life. Our children are getting older. Our jobs are more “important” for us now. It’s harder to get all us together, but that makes the time we do share so much more special.
CB: We took time off following our European tour; started writing, realized there was a lot else to do, and eventually it became a very part-time venture - which made us have to regroup and decide what we wanted this album to become and/or be. Once we got the momentum moving in the right direction we were able to muscle-through the writing and recording process. Bottom line: it is hard to write great music that doesn't sound cliche or tired. We are very proud of how this album turned out because we really worked to make it special and unique and different than anything ever put out by anyone.
- What is your musical background?
BK- I have no formal background, but music has always been innate in me for as long as I can remember.
RW- I began singing in our church choir in the early 70’s .I took piano and bass lessons for about a minute. I started playing live gigs in 1976 and have been hooked ever since.
CB: I was born into a musical family in that both of my parents were singers and my mom played piano. My parents started me on piano lessons when I was 5. I also sang in my church choir for many years (age 7-16), added French Horn (grades 5-8) and Alto Saxophone (grade 4 to present) to my instrumental lessons (and was a performing member of The Philadelphia Boys Choir (a world-renown professional touring choir) for 3 years from ages 10-12. I also participated in every high school singing, instrumental and theatrical ensemble and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition & Theory and Music Education from Moravian College (PA). More recently I completed my Master’s Degree in Music Education at West Chester University (PA).
- What are your influences? And what are your influences for the lyrics?
BK- My influences are generally literature based or in film. Music obviously influences me too. I listen to a wide variety, from classical to pop to jazz.
RW- I would have to say Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Pantera, The Mills Brothers, Nat King Cole, 16 Horsepower, Camel, Crack The Sky. There are a ton of new bands... .too many to mention at this point. Here’s one… Genghis Tron.
CB: Musically my influences are all over the map: Stravinsky, Bartok, Ives, Debussy, Chopin, Satie, Pat Metheny Group, Allan Holdsworth, Radiohead, Dada, Jellyfish, Rage Against the Machine, Van Halen, Sufjan Stevens, Bela Fleck, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Chick Corea....a little bit of everything!
- Could you tell us some words about your albums?
BK – Of course.
RW- The albums we put out in the 90’s were our “childhood”. Cowboy, Mei and The End were our “teenage” years . Echolyn has us being, dare I say adults.
BK- Youthful pretentiousness
CB- in the beginning..., where it all began, sorting it out, the old meets the new
Suffocating the Bloom
BK- Finding our sound
CB- growth, maturity, angst, youthful exuberance, experimenting
As the World
BK – Going to school
CB- biggest step forward as a band, learning to listen more, no holds barred, no compromise
When the Sweet Turns Sour
BK- LeftoverS and getting out of debt
CB- sadness, melancholy, closing doors, complete
Cowboy Poems Free
BK – Reunion and finding newness
CB- fresh start, stories, history and perspective, family
BK – Natural and perfect… fortelling.
CB- travel, time, thoughts, loneliness, internal struggle
The End Is Beautiful
BK – loud, live and full of change
CB- breaking free, challenging life and its meaning, anger, fear, angular
BK – Melodic and sublime
CB- beauty, passion, simplicity, truth
- Why the title Echolyn like your first one? Do you consider this album as a new start?
BK- I consider it more of a bookend to 20 plus years of making music in this band. Maybe it’s an ending, maybe not. The title seemed simple and right, as in no title.
RW- It was meant as bookend.
CB- In many ways it's a new start; it's also a way to reestablish ourselves as composers, arrangers, and musicians. It felt right to name it us, again, 20+ years after the first album that was us, then.
- What are the differences between "Echolyn" and your previous album?
BK- The last album, The End is Beautiful, was a great album, loud, heavy and imbued with angles and edges. The new album contains no “banging” and has a wonderful smoothness and melodic content.
CB- This is simply the next step. We have always been a truly progressive band - this collection of songs is simply our next progression.
- Why a double album?
BK- We’ve never done this before. It was modeled after the 70s doubles we grew up with, meaning, Quadrophenia, Physical Graffiti, The Wall, etc. We were kids then and those albums and many more like them had a feel and vibe I wanted to try and capture.
CB- It felt right to put a break between the 8 tracks; it also then fit perfectly on 4 sides of vinyl!
- What are the best double albums you've listened?
BK- Physical Graffiti, The White Album, Chicago II are some of my favorites. Oh, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is pretty cool too.
- Why a vinyl edition?
BK- For that 70s experience I mentioned above. There is a flow and limitation to vinyl that CDs don’t have. That appeals to me.
CB- We always wanted to release our music on vinyl; just a bucket-list promise we made to ourselves years ago and Chris Topham from Plane Groovy made it happen!
- Could you tell us some words about "Island". It's the longest track of the album, and the first one. Why this choice?
BK- It’s a biographical song not unlike The Cheese Stands Alone on “As The World.” It uses the Island as a metaphor for the band.
RW- Island is a loose biography on the band.
CB- It was the last song written for the album; it sums us up completely. Many have called it mini-mei; it is simply us writing music for music's sake. I think it makes an uncompromising statement as the album opener.
- What is your working process?
BK- We get together and try individual ideas to see if they take root. We just want to make a song as good as it can be and open up the heart of it.
RW- It varies from song to song. Someone may come in with an idea that we bash around for a night. After a night of pummeling we usually can tell if it’s worth keeping. Needless to say this album had a lot of those nights.
CB- CB: Someone brings an idea to the table; we hash it out as a band. We work on lyrics and melody lines + arrangements. We usually record a demo or 2 to make sure tempos are OK and the arrangement is OK. Eventually we track a final version: drums and bass first, then keys, then guitars, then vox - then overdubs (strings, aux percussion). Then it is mixed multiple times until we all "sign off" on it.
- Is your working process different between a short track and a long one?
BK- I don’t think so. We still have the same goals.
RW- It depends. Songs tend to led us down different rabbit holes. There’s a feeling you get when you know you’re done. Sometimes you are in and out in under 3 minutes. Then you have Mei.
CB: I would say no. The rule is: our songs aren't allowed to suck...and we've written long and short songs over the years that did - so they never got released!
- What is your opinion about progressive rock now and so, rock industry? Have you some good advices about recent releases and new bands?
BK- Music in general is easier to find, make and distribute these days. I think that’s a good thing. It’s really changed the face of the music industry Because music has become more independent there is a greater blurring of styles. To me, that’s a cool and progressive thing to do. With that said, progressive rock needs an infusion of that global variety. We are not living in 1972 anymore and much in the prog genre sounds dated and stylized rather than open and new.
CB: I'm not too up on the progressive rock scene - I just like music that moves me - emotionally, spiritually, or physically (makes me want to throw things!). If music is written and performed honestly there is bound to be an audience for it. We try and do that - I hope (and know) there other bands who believe and support that belief as well.
RW- There are a bunch of cool new bands out now. “ this town needs guns”, “periphery”, “dry the river”. I personally like heavy, fucked up shit.
- I read somewhere that there was some videos of the recording process.Could we see them someday?
BK-If there is anything noteworthy and interesting in the video recording we’d love to share it.
CB: Perhaps....we have a lot of material to sort and sift through. Never say never! ;-)
- What is the signification of the cover?
BK- Simple and evocative. What do you think it means?
CB: Windows are fascinating in that they can be opened and closed; clear, frosted or covered with curtains, drapes or nothing at all. They also show perspective, depending on whether you are looking in, looking out, or some form of both. The music on this album does many of those things to the listener, so it worked well with that imagery to make that our album cover.
- What's next for Echolyn after this album? What are your projects?
BK- I’m not sure at this point. We’ve talked about playing some shows and working on some videos… but it’s about finding the time to do it right.
CB: We are all staying busy with families, day jobs and side projects (some musical some not). only time will tell what is next...but we hope to still be releasing some music and additional fun things for our world-wide fans!
- To finish, I would ask you some questions like in the show “Inside the Actor Studio”. The questionnaire concept was originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot, after the Proust Questionnaire. So, now, it's a classic part of AmarokProg's interviews. What is your favourite word?
BK- ChiaroscuroRW- Yes
CB- poop (and it's a palindrome)
What is your least favourite word?
CB- knee (to hear it said without the k is a waste of a good k!).
What is your favourite drug?
CB- coffee (fully caffeinated, of course)
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
BK- Fearlessness, truth, and a good book.
RW- Lesbians, lots of them.
CB- composing music
What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
BK- Orthodoxy, close mindedness, intolerance, politics, bureaucracy.
RW- Bad opening bands.
What sound or noise do you love?
BK- A distant train or airplane
RW- The sound of bottles in a cooler.
CB- cicadas at dusk
What sound or noise do you hate?
RW- A car horn
CB: car horns
What is your favourite curse word?
RW- FUCKINGPIECEOFSHIT, all one word.
CB- aw shit!
Which man or woman could be on a new bank-bill?
BK- No one
CB- Pat Metheny (and his hair!)
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
BK- President of the USA.
RW- I don’t know. I have done everything I have ever wanted to. This may sound corny but to have the band as a full time thing again would be cool.
CB- radio announcer/Disc Jockey or airline pilot
What profession would you not like to do?
RW- Hardwood floors (again).
What vegetable, tree or animal would you like to be?
BK- A Sycamore tree in a big open field.
Rw- I have been a mallard in a previous life, so , maybe this time around a hippo.
CB- a Whippet (dog) - they are the fastest domesticated animal in the sighthound family
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
BK- Religion was a bad idea, right?
RW- If there is a “god” he would say... ”sorry I didn’t make your dick bigger”
CB- "What up, yo? Wanna hear some echolyn? It goes to 11!!"