Editor’s Note: It was fantastic talking to a prog legend in Neal Morse for Madness To Creation. Neal Morse(Neal Morse Band, Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic) was getting geared up to play a show in Denver, Colorado and we kept the interview relatively brief, which I tend to do, especially if a vocalist has to perform that same night. We discussed “The Great Adventure”, the singles “I Got To Run” and “Welcome To The World”, and what each member of the Neal Morse Band brings to the table in their songwriting. Fans can find Neal Morse Band at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Thank you Neal for taking the time with me!
Neal: No worries man! How are ya?
Madness To Creation: Good, how’s the weekend?
Neal: Good, I’m a little tired from life on the road, doing five in a row, but I’m recovering. It’s all good.
Madness To Creation: How have the shows been going?
Neal: Been great, the shows have been amazing! The audiences are great.
Madness To Creation: What is your favorite thing about performing live?
Neal: My favorite thing is feeling the emotion of it, I believe it’s the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God touching us all together in the room, and the power of the music and the lyrics. When you see people of all walks of life really moved, it’s really a phenomenal thing to be a part of.
Madness To Creation: Would you say that’s what the song and video “Welcome To The World” is talking about?
Neal: “Welcome To The World” off of the album is telling a story, and at that point in the story, where we’re getting to know this angry son whose father left him in the city of destruction, the chorus in “Welcome To The World” would be the people in the city of destruction saying, “Welcome To The World where everything is negative”, you know how like people in the world are just like talk about how every day is just bad and how bad things are, that’s what is going on in “Welcome To The World”.
Madness To Creation: Is that something that is concerning to you how divisive our media and society seems to be these days?
Neal: I don’t think about it too much, but we are all affected by the negativity in the world, but there’s a lot of beautiful things also, and that is what we are focusing on.
Madness To Creation: How has the response been from the fans for “The Great Adventure”?
Neal: Really good! It seems to me that people are really loving it, we’re loving playing it, it’s great, we’re very blessed.
Madness To Creation: Take us into the studio for “The Great Adventure”, what was the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of creating the album?
Neal: It was tough because the band didn’t want to make a double and didn’t want to make a sequel, and I didn’t really want to either, I didn’t want to fight them on it, so we did a version of the album as a single and not as a sequel, so we recorded that whole thing, and then I listened to it and lived with it for awhile, and it just felt like that it wasn’t everything that it could be, so I did a whole rewrite on my own and presented it to the band later on and they liked it, and we wound up creating a whole new album from that together. What I had done was I had taken a lot of stuff that we had written together, sliced it and diced it and put it together in editing, so it was difficult, but it worked out and Mike(drummer) thanked me for sticking to my guns and we are glad that the album is what it is now, but I don’t want to give the impression that I wrote it, it was majorly a collaborative team effort.
Madness To Creation: Based on each member of the Neal Morse Band, what is their main strength in terms of songwriting and arranging the music?
Neal: Each guy has their area. They will tend to bring in whole sketches of new things. Bill(keyboardist) has a great melodic sense and a great way of arranging, he has a real good feel for seeking things out. Mike(drummer) has the ability to bring in the material that is really amazing and picking all of the best stuff from everyone else’s demos and things and finding ways to put it together, and he’s pretty critical of creating that flow. Randy(bassist) brings in a lot of riffs and things, sometimes he has lyrical ideas as well. Eric(guitarist) is who we look to generally for the heavy stuff, if we need a heavy riff, we will look to Eric, but that’s not always the case because one of the main themes on the album is “Eric’s Theme”, which is a very beautiful theme, so he writes all kinds of music as well.
Madness To Creation: That really gives us a snapshot of what Neal Morse Band is all about, would you say the songwriting approach is different from Spock’s Beard or Transatlantic?
Neal: With Spock’s Beard, we really didn’t rearrange my stuff very much, but a lot of times with Spock’s they just did the stuff the way that I did it. I used to do much more developed material, I pretty much would demo the whole thing down to detailed vocals or whatnot. The Neal Morse Band is much more collaborative outfit.
Madness To Creation: What are some big plans coming up for Neal Morse Band?
Neal: We are going to Europe to tour this album. We will also be playing Morse Fest at the end of August, although that hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m sure everybody knows already. We might do South America also, other than that, we don’t know.
Madness To Creation: What is your favorite place to play in Europe?
Neal: There are so many good places to play. Probably Tillburg in Holland is one of the best anyway, we always have a great crowd there, it’s a great venue with great people, with really great sound, lights, and videos.
Madness To Creation: Have you played South America before?
Neal: I played there twice now, once with Transatlantic and once with Neal Morse Band. It was amazing!
Madness To Creation: What was your main takeaway from South America?
Neal: They’re really crazy! They sing all of the themes, I remember when we did “Into The Blue” by Transatlantic, they were all singing it at the top of their lungs.
Madness To Creation: Can you take us into the other single “I Got To Run”?
Neal: It was one of those songs that we wrote together in the room as a band. Lyrically, what’s happening is that there’s a lot of commentary about what’s happening in the world, and the chorus has the main character saying and realizing that he’s gotta get out, he’s had enough of all of this hypocrisy, it’s called the craziness of modern life, he’s ready to get out and go seek something else.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add?
Neal: We felt like “Similitude” was a high watermark for us, but playing it every night was really special, that was two years ago. With “The Great Adventure”, I’m so thankful because it is a companion piece, it is at the same level as “Similitude”, it just touches me every night. Every night that we play it, I almost cry every night because it’s so beautiful. I’m just so thankful that God allowed this opportunity to perform this music, and seeing what a great band it is, I couldn’t be more happy. I also have the Waterfall App. I started this app called Waterfall, it has “The Great Adventure”, “Similitude Of A Dream”, all of Spock’s Beard’s stuff, fans can check it out at www.waterfallstreamingapp.com
You can also go to www.radiantrecords.com and there’s a link to it, that’s probably easier.
Tue. 3/26- 013 in Tillburg, Netherlands
Wed. 3/27- Rockhal Esch Sur Alzette in Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Fri. 3/29- Kantine in Koln, Germany
Sat. 3/30- Viften in Copenhagen, Denmark
Sun. 3/31- Stora Teatern in Goteborg, Sweden
Mon. 4/1- Skandiascenen in Stockholm, Sweden
Wed. 4/3- Heimathafen in Berlin, Germany
Thu. 4/4- Markthalle in Hamburg, Germany
Fri. 4/5- Hall d/Werk 2 in Leipzig, Germany
Sat. 4/6- Progresja in Warsaw, Poland
Sun. 4/7- Sono in Brno, Czech Republic
Tue. 4/9- Technikum in Munich, Germany
Wed. 4/10- Z7 in PratteIn, Switzerland
Thu. 4/11- Ninkasi Kao in Lyon, France
Fri. 4/12- Live Music Club in Trezzo sull’Adda, Italy
Sat. 4/13- Salamandra 1 in Barcelona, Spain
Sun. 4/14- Sala Mon in Madrid, Spain
For tickets and further information go to www.nealmorse.com/live