Zen Carnival: Similarities to Genesis

DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean


What does the name of the band mean?

"Zen Carnival" is a typical kind of name for a rock project as it was chosen in order to create a specific mood, although it does attempt to describe an ideal that we, as a band, would like to achieve, that is an "in-the-moment" creative spontaneity in a mood of play.

How would you describe your music?

The music of the current album, "Inheritance," does cover a wide range of sound overall, but it definitely fits into the Classic Progressive formula. The music is however, changing, and likely will be quite a bit different on the next release.

If people say, there are similarities to Genesis - how do you handle this? What about the influence of other artists to you?

We would say that they are right about that comparison. All of the musicians in the band were tremendously influenced by Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson. However, the individual band members all have specific interests that range widely from the classic prog thing, and we all do spread these ideas around the group. We probably examine everything with the exceptions of (probably) really twangy American country music, John Phillips Sousa, and polka.

Is there a mastermind inside of the band or are you more a "democratic." How does the songwriting work in the band?

We attempt to create a communal approach to writing and arranging, and I think we are successful at that. Everyone writes. If one of us has an idea they throw it out to the rest and it gets turned inside and out and usually mutates into something bigger or gets trashed. The arranging is purely by concensus. We split all the credits to keep this approach intact.

Tell me something about the lyrics! Can you give me some liner notes to the songs of your record?

The song BIGSKY is a true story about a man and a woman who gave up their conventional lives and hit the road, travelling for a long time in search of a place where they could call home; at the end of their journey they pass through a long canyon, cruising fast on a desert highway, then breaking into the landscape of Bigsky, Montana, where they find that special place to put on the brakes for good and hang out. The rhythm section creates a "driving music" back beat, and, combined with ethereal keyboard and atmospheric guitar sounds, we hope the listener can feel the wind in their hair.

TIGERS is a heavier rock song about those things and times that get your heart rate up, and the aftermath of survival. This has an "alternative" sound, heavy guitar riffs, and breakneck electric bass playing.

The heavily classical music influenced ROYALTY has a Celtic twist in its middle, and harkens lyrically to the grace and subtlety of yesteryear, qualities that seem lost in modern times. Believe it or not, this tune was primarily written by the drummer!

In the deep 3D stereo rock ballad WATER'S EDGE, a man who travels the world returns to his home to find all he believed in long gone, but through this change he finds inner strength anew and reinvents himself.

The title cut, INHERITANCE, is progressive rock to the core, no apologies given. This tune clocks in at about 14 minutes and is apocalyptic in theme. This is a fantasy tone poem about worlds' end at the hands of humanity itself, rather than the wrath of God. Perhaps it is a Gaeia theory metaphor, perhaps the result of a bad hangover, whatever, but we hope that it will give any avante rock listener an earful. It spans moody sweet to heavy dissonant in tonality and is heavily influenced by the greats of the 1970's.

How would you like to develop in the future? You wrote about changing the style...

The newer things that we have written have evolved spontaneously into a different sounding music, primarily related to the added influence of Mike James on keyboards. We can't really describe the sound but it is more current tonally and is influenced by 20th century neoclassical and groove musics.

What about the response on your record - I loved it, but the rest of the world?

The obvious problem is with the production of "Inheritance." It was recorded on minimal hardware in a home studio. Critics have appropriately commented on this. Any future projects will sound much better.

What kind of compromises would you make to push your career?

For us, we would believe that it would only be financial; ie, quit our day jobs and make less money in order to get the music out by performance. For ZC, we could never commercialize the sound.

Where did you get your inspiration?

We can say that we have all been playing music for a long time and for us it is a way of life, something that must be done. The mood of a snowy day in the mountains, the sound of a killer synthesizer patch, a grooving drum set rhythm, and many other things, will give us our ideas. With artists there is no way to not create art and stay whole as humans.

How would you describe your relation to new media as internet, virtual reality, mp3...the pros and the cons......

All of the new media are pro's as far as we are concerned: more power to the people, more dialogue, more art getting out directly from the artists rather than through big business.

So you could make a choice, with which band would you like to play live on stage, for example as support?

That is a tough one. Each member has a different response and the progressive greats mentioned above are included, as is a full fledged orchestra. Really, performing with like minded individuals who can listen, give, and take, in an artistic fashion, is the thing to go after.

Progfans are ignorant and narrow-minded. They live in the past and don't care about the meaning of the word progress......

I guess there are some that simply like the sound of the older stuff; we can all probably think of a recording that is timeless and hard to improve on. Perhaps it is OK to like only certain things. Freedom to like and listen to what you want is good. For some, the newer sounding music may not be right for them.

So you could have the possibility to make this record again. Would you change anything?

We would change the recording hardware and we would have used EQ a little more on the mastering, but the overall music we think holds up.

© 07/2000 Renald Mienert
DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean