ScapeLand Wish: High Potential Prog Newcomers

DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean


"Reason" is for me one of the best debut albums of the year. The three piece from the USA did an really great job and so we decided to do an DURP - interview with lead singer and drummer Joshua Ramirez.

Is there a mastermind inside of the band or are you more a "democratic" band ?

No "Mr. Big" running things over here. We are as democratic as they come. We listen to each otherís comments with a great deal of respect for what we all can do. That respect for each other at least, reminds me that any criticism from the other members is ultimately for the betterment of the song not anyoneís particular ego. We are fortunate because we are all older and over the trappings that younger artists in our position usually fall prey to.

How does the songwriting work in the band?

It varies actually. For this album Mike, Kevin, and I would jam while having tapes roll. Ultimately, we would have this backlog of movements that weíd develop into songs. It is a collaborative situation between the three of us.

How would you like to develop in the future? Do you think about changing your style?

Good question! We cannot honestly tell where weíll be musically in the future. The music we are writing now is for the most part, a departure from Reason. We consciously wanted to move on from what weíve already accomplished with this album. Thatís about the extent of willful style changes.

Is there a most important event in the history of the band?

HmmmmÖI guess that would be when we decided to keep to our guns and not think of what people would think of us if we were to add a choir in a section {Reason} or a "Lounge-Lizard" section in a portion of a song {The Heart of the Andes}. That was very important, there is a lot to be said for integrity. You have to be able to live with the part, after that, if they all hate it, your attitude must be, "Oh well, I love it!" Create for yourself first. Satisfy yourself first.

What about your success/feedback in different countries?

Well, the acclaim has been pretty steady, on our website {} we have a "Fans Respond" section as well as a "Review" section where we post both everyday people and industry personnelís responses to the album. We are grateful that we have yet to receive anything negative {crosses fingers}. We are also aware that progressive music is more popular overseas than here in the US, so that factors in the overwhelming response from the outside.

What do you think about the situation of your musical genre in the present and what will change in the future?

Iím not sure my answer will be too accurate simply because I rarely listen to any new music anymore. Outside of what Mike or Kevin exposes me to {Spockís Beard}, I listen mostly to the classic progressive bands or anything new from the proven classics like Yes, Rush {although Rush hardly be considered progressive anymore}. To answer the second part, I hope that music in general becomes more sincere. Artistry, sparkles every once and a while with genuineness. Iím drawn to that.

How would you see the relation between music and lyrics? Some musicians don't care about the lyrics, others understand the music as a vehicle to fit the lyrics....

I think itís very important indeed. Would an artist paint with only half the colors? My philosophy on this subject is strong. Probably because in the music world, I would be considered a "Hummer" someone who does not read or write music. So it made writing lyrics that much more important. Coupled with the influence of Neil Peart, I believe I have a good grounding to structure and content.

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

Not too many, if it comes to a particular sound that someone wants to hear, none. We are all adamant about that. We write what we feel. If one day you hear "pop radio" vibes coming off our records, you will know itís because thatís what we felt like playing. Integrity is what keeps us grounded.

Can you tell me something of the process of creating the record? Were there any problems or went everything well?

Mike can tell you extensively of the recording and engineering aspect of the album since he engineered the project himself. Heís real adept at getting a good sound. My experience was a good one considering it took so long to create, from concept to finished product, almost three years! That was only because we all work nine-to-fives and recorded on average of twice per week.

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

I donít see much of an intrusion simply because we are in the infant stages of mass media. Everything helps at this point, so Napster and the like doesnít concern us much. It actually helps us because we are still relatively unknown. Our attitude really is not to make millions of dollars, just enough to support our craft, travel and play for audiences. Conversely, if we were a major act, I think I would still support Napster. Art after all, should be free, no?

What is the reason that progressive rock in the seventies went so well and now we have only a small scene without attention of most of the media?

This is purely subjective, but I would guess it is because thinking manís music was not considered "Rock ní Roll." The arguments made against Progressive Music over the years unfortunately still holds true today. That is, music should be danceable and fun, not to be taken seriously. When the Beatles and various bands in the sixties began to explore deeper issues, which ushered the whole progressive wave in both technology and spirit. Nowadays, the fire seems to have dissipated, been diluted, or completely extinguished.

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

I am not sure what the question is here; I would disagree with this statement however. We cannot speak for all Progressive Music aficionados.

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

Yes, I think we all agree that an outside producer would help the sound even more, someone who can paint on a large canvas, like the late Bruce Fairburn, or Queenís and Led Zeppelinís producers. With all that music being played, it takes a special ear to pull out all the nuances that can easily be lost in the cacophony of the piece. The large sound of Zeppelin appeals to me (mostly the drums!)

Is each member of the band absolute satisfied with each song of the record?

We each have particular parts which we feel could have been better, I think we always will, thatís the trouble with hindsight. Itís a natural quirk of human nature. We are all thoroughly pleased with the finished product.

What about the fact that a lot of people mean a good prog song must be an long track?

You have to be careful about trying to put a frame around what YOU {the extremist prog fan} consider to be Prog Music much less anything You consider to be Right. Itís a disservice to all those musicians that invented progressive music. Iíll add that if one of those musicians feels that a prog song must be over a certain amount of time, then he is not being a true artist. Artistry by its very nature should never be afraid to be bold and change the status quo. "Progressive Music" the term itself would be a contradiction in terms if that became the popular belief.

Is it more difficult to write a 15 minute epic than an three minute radio hit?

Personally, writing a 15-minute song is harder because it needs to be creative but not over indulgent. Thatís tough nowadays partly because of the ground broken by those early artists. Where do you take it without saying to yourself, "Is this really necessary?"

© 06/2001 Renald Mienert
DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean