Dear readers, we have the pleasure of offering you an interview with Reflection Club, a very prepared band that offers a Tullish-inspired Folk Prog. The band has released a positively reviewed album on our pages titled “Still Thick As A Brick” which I recommend listening to.
– Hi Guys and thanks for the time you gave us, how are you?
– Yours is a young band, where does the idea of making music come from and why did you choose Progressive Rock?
Lutz: The band is relatively new, but we have all been making music for many years. For me as a composer, arranger and instrumentalist, progressive rock offers more freedom than any other style I know. Hard rock, folk rock, jazz rock, classical music, psychedelic rock, blues rock, ambient music, all these styles – just to name a few examples – can be taken up and combined in progressive rock. Not only stylistically, but also formally, there are no limitations in progressive rock like the usual song format of verse and chorus with always the same time signature and tempo. Instead, different parts can follow each other and thus create completely different moods within a composition with surprising turns. If everything is artfully and variedly interwoven with each other and a good dramaturgical flow results, a great musical trip can be created in which you can really let off steam as a musician.
Ulla: I’m more at home with classical music. Though I do listen to rock and pop music from time to time, I am by far not as familiar in thus area as the others in the band. But many of the quite complex and polyphonic passages on “Still Thick as a Brick” show interesting parallels to classical music, so I feel quite tuned in.
– Your Folk Prog sound follows the 70s style of Jethro Tull in particular, apart from them, what are your sources of inspiration, if there are any?
Lutz: I think there are a lot of unconscious sources of inspiration for me. Besides Jethro Tull, other bands like Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator, Brand X, Pink Floyd, Camel, Caravan, Focus and Kansas have fascinated me with several albums. And this list is only a small part of the wonderful musical universe that has accompanied me throughout my life. I have literally inhaled all this music over decades and that has certainly left traces in our music. What you can actually hear from it, everyone can decide for themselves.
– Your debut album “Still Thick As A Brick” is a tribute to Jethro Tull, but the tracks are original and personal, why this choice?
Paul: We were inspired by Ian’s Thick As A Brick 2. It was his take and response to the original. So we thought, if that’s his take, what would be ours? He brought the Gerald Bostock narrative into the 21st century so we thought we’d do something along those lines but more in the style, especially vocally, of the original album. Ian used themes, riffs and motifs from the original but we had to just take the overall concept and style of that but do something more personal and original. So I guess you could say we are paying direct homage to the style and concept but not the content. Otherwise we’d be paying copyright fees rather than homage!
– The album appreciated and positively reviewed on the pages of our webzine, is a well-made Folk and Prog blend, how do you describe the album?
Lutz: That’s already a good description of our style, although I consider folk as one element among others in our prog sound. I have always been fascinated by bands that integrate folk in progressive rock, like Strawbs, Gryphon and of course Jethro Tull on some albums.
– The sound is intense, varied and personal, the fans were wondering what they areb plans for live performances, if there are any.
Lutz: Of course we would love to play “Still Thick as a Brick” live, although that would certainly be an elaborate undertaking, and additional musicians would be necessary, as I play several instruments at the same time on our debut. But since Paul lives in America and plays in his two bands Jethro Tull Experience and The Fab Three, Ulla, Nils and I have full-time jobs on the side and Nils also plays in his band Cyrstal Palace, this is unfortunately not possible at the moment for logistical reasons.
– The first album showed us a lot of well developed ideas and good technique, many are wondering if there are plans for another studio album in the future.
Lutz: There are indeed. We are already working on the successor. We can only reveal this much: It will be another concept album, which – like our debut – will also be released as a mediabook and vinyl with CD and surround DVD.
– Between the “restrictions” and the demand of the modern music market, how complex is it to offer music of a certain type nowadays?
Lutz: The range of music on offer nowadays is huge and it has long been impossible for individuals to keep track of it all. The competition is immense. In addition, you can listen to thousands of albums for free on YouTube, Spotify or other streaming services, and more are being added all the time. The need to buy albums just to listen to music is thus eliminated. And it’s easy to get lost in the oversupply of music.
So it’s really not easy to earn money with music nowadays. But it wasn’t in the past either. In the past, if you wanted to release your own album, you only had a chance if you found a record company. Because only a (big) record company usually had all the financial and logistical resources at its disposal that were unavoidable for the creation and marketing of an album. These included the recordings in the recording studio, the producer, the graphic artist and designer, the mastering, the production of the sound carriers, the distribution to as many record shops as possible, the sampling of radio stations, advertising, reviews and interviews in print media, gigs at festivals or even entire tours. And even then, only very few bands were granted such a coveted record contract, which sometimes had to be paid for by the bands with a meagre share of the sales of the record. It was also not uncommon for record companies to decide on the selection and order of the titles on the respective album and to exert influence on the artistic direction and image of the bands via the producer, which did not please every musician. If you also played progressive rock, this was – at least in Germany – almost hopeless from the end of the 70s onwards.
Nowadays, however, there are completely different possibilities for musicians, which allow them to produce and distribute albums completely independently of record companies and central distributors. Thanks to the immense development of digital technology, high-quality studio technology in the form of virtual mixing consoles, multitrack machines, effects units and even virtual instruments can be obtained relatively cheaply compared to the corresponding hardware. Studio technology that would have cost a fortune in the past has long been available as software with a corresponding sound card for a few thousand euros in a PC.
Inexpensive image editing and DTP programmes can be used to create professional artwork for covers, posters and advertisements. Via Bandcamp, Amazon, online music shops and the band’s own homepage, the recordings can be distributed worldwide relatively easily and cheaply. For reviews, band articles and advertisements, one can turn directly to music magazines (print edition or online), as well as to numerous online radios for the most diverse music genres. Further advertising can be done via numerous social networks. Music videos can be created relatively cheaply and easily by oneself with smartphones, system cameras and editing software and published on Youtube or other video platforms.
However, this freedom is also associated – apart from the expenses – above all with a lot of work. Getting to grips with all the different areas takes a lot of time and perseverance.
– What advice would you give to artists who would like to propose Prog Rock both today and in the future?
The same one I would give any musician: to make music when the desire comes from within. It’s a great feeling to follow this passion. Although progressive rock is still a rather small musical niche, it is a very lively one, with new bands popping up all the time and fans all over the world following it closely. For example, there has long been a well-connected prog scene on the internet with numerous web presences, in social networks within many groups supported by music magazines. I can only advise prog musicians to be present there. If a band puts a lot of energy into their music, but only half-heartedly takes care of public relations, it would be a shame if many a great piece remained hidden from the interested public.
– We leave the last question free, as usual in our interviews, giving you the opportunity to talk or tell an anecdote or a topic not touched upon in the previous questions.
Ulla: I can share a little anecdote with you. Lutz wanted to revive the sound of Thick as a Brick in his compositions on our album, and the flute öfter takes Center stage. Fortunately, he didn’t ask me to play exactly like Ian Anderson. I wouldn’t have managed his very special style even if I had wanted to. The flute passages were difficult enough to play as it was and I had to get used to this style. Although I thought I was slowly getting the feel of it, I wasn’t sure if it was really what Lutz had in mind. During this time I got a surprise visit from a friend, while the rough mix of “The Club of Hopeful Pinions” was still playing in the background, which I listened to often for backchecking. “Hey you listen to Jethro Tull” he said in the middle of the conversation, “I wouldn’t have thought so.” I just said that I listened to a variety of music and quickly changed the subject. I was glad that he didn’t ask about the album on which the song was on, because our project was still top secret at that time. In any case, after that I was somewhat reassured about my flute parts.
I want to thank the band for the nice interview full of interesting ideas and anecdotes, as well as for the time dedicated to our webzine. We wish you the best in your career, Prog On.