Pallas might be an unknown to most of
our readers, but they have been around for a very long time, and
is an important part of the small, but very strong British
progressive rock scene - Pallas is however from
. I've put a few questions together for them...
Kenn - "The Dreams of Men"
is the follow up to the highly acclaimed "The Cross & the
Crucible" album - how hard was it to make a worthy successor?
Alan: Well, we were aware that "the Cross...” was a
strong album and we did wonder how we could follow it. We realised that whatever we did had to be at least as good
and hopefully a bit different. Because of that we probably spent
longer than usual on building up a store of ideas before we
finally focussed on developing the tracks for the album. Nearly
everything went through several re-writes and re-arrangements.
decided that we wanted to make the album a bit more "energetic"
sounding; A bit more drums and guitar. But other than that things
kind of forced their own flavour. For quite a long period it wasn't really clear what shape
the album would take, and it was really only as we got to the end
of the recording sessions that it became clear what the album
would sound like
Kenn - What are the biggest
difference between "The Dreams of Men" and "The
Cross & the Crucible"?
Alan: I would say it just has MORE of everything. It's much
heavier in places… It's also more grandiose and orchestral in
places. There's more of an obvious celtic feel to some of it as
well. We've tried to make every second of every track count.
There's layers of detail there which will take many listens
to become clear. If you liked "the Cross...” then you'll
find "Dreams" familiar enough to follow, but it does go
off on some weirder tangents: - including Folk, Opera and
Kenn - You have been around for ages,
but "The Dreams of Men" is only your 5th studio album.
Are you perfectionists, or why are your releases so far between?
Alan: We are a bit perfectionist to be honest. Things have to
FEEL right before they come together properly. It's not that we
don't work at it, but things have to achieve a certain momentum
before they reach critical mass.
is not a full-time occupation for us these days, so it also has to
fit around the other demands in our lives. We had a 12 year gap
between records up till 1998, so bearing that in mind, we've been
quite productive in the last 7 years, with 3 studio albums, 2 live
albums, a DVD and an out-takes and rarities compilation. We're
certainly not lazy!! :-)
Kenn - Your music has always been
very emotional, but what emotions do you think describes your
music the best?
Alan: I think the overriding emotion that communicates itself
with our stuff is a kind of grandiose melancholy. We do big music, but there's always a hint of darkness and
sadness about it. It's
not often happy, cheerful music. We're just miserable gits really :-)
Kenn - You took almost 12 years off
between 1986 and 1996, why and were you active in other bands in
the years between or...?
Alan: To put it simply, we ran out of money and had to find
other ways of supporting ourselves and our families. We left EMI
because we were dissatisfied with their handling of us. We almost
secured another major deal, but that fell through at the last
moment and the economics of the situation just became unworkable.
We kept in touch, and gradually tried to get another album
together - we must have demoed about 3 albums of material - but it
never seemed to quite work.
I think it was only when Ronnie (keyboards) rejoined that
the magic seemed to return.
of us dabbled with other musical projects - but none of them were
particularly serious. Pallas was always our first love. Niall (guitar) has been working as an engineer and
producer, so has played on all sorts of stuff, as well as doing
some touring playing guitar for a major Scottish folk singer. I
played some guitar and sang in a Blues band. Very different, but
lots of fun.
Kenn - The British progressive metal
scene has a small but very faithful following around Europe, why
do you think that is... and how do you do outside of
Alan: There's always a market for good music - whatever
label's applied to it. I guess we're fortunate that we built a
fairly sizeable reputation in the 80's, and much of that audience
has stuck with us. It's a similar story outside of
Europe. The band's name is
recognised and we attract an audience based on that reputation. The fact that the last 3 albums have been well-received
means that we're also attracting a wider audience that had no
previous direct experience of us. This is particularly true in the
USA, where having good local distribution means we're getting out to
people for whom we were a band only previously available via
expensive imports. They're certainly taking much more notice of us
than they did before.
Kenn - Let's speculate, you've been
offered a chance to tour the US along with Pendragon and Arena to
promote British progressive rock - how well will it do, and is
there an audience for such a tour?
Alan: I have to say that a triple bill such as you describe
probably wouldn't be that attractive to us. Maybe touring with one
other band might be nice, but otherwise it's asking a lot of an
audience, especially if it's places we haven't been before. The
market is more fragmented than the European one, so a tour of that
type would be difficult to make economic.
per se is quite hard to sell to the wider American public, so a
package tour wouldn't necessarily be a draw. Working within a more
"rock" context might work better, doing a tour where the
bands have crossover appeal in to more than one genre. Perhaps we
could tour with Slipknot and Green Day? :-)
Kenn - Do the bands from the scene
stick together or are you fierce opponents?
Alan: I wouldn't say we're fierce opponents, but there is a
sense of healthy competition :-) We don't really see ourselves as
part of a scene to be honest. I think the geography (being
Scottish) makes us feel a bit apart, but we've also always felt
ourselves to be more of a "rock" band than a truly
"prog" band. Having said that, we have pretty good
relations with most of the major British bands. We run into
each-other from time to time and do each-other the odd favour here
and there. How many other bands are likely to have a set of Moog
Taurus pedals when yours are sick?? :-)
Kenn - What are the immediate plans
for Pallas - will you be touring?
Alan: We're doing a short tour at the end of January, mainly
centred around Germany. We're also planning a few short bursts of dates throughout the
year, including a visit to the USA. Unfortunately no plans to visit
yet - but we're open to decent offers :-)
Kenn - Name an album, person or event
that has had a huge influence on your life ... and why?
life-changing album for me has probably got to be "Selling
England By the Pound", by Genesis. I don't tend to listen to
them much now, but when I was 15 someone lent me that album, and I
was entranced by this weird noise. The fact that the singer had a
similar range to me meant that I found myself singing it quite
comfortably. I'd never thought of singing before then - and I
obviously didn't have the voice of a Coverdale or a Plant. So I
guess it's all ultimately Peter Gabriel's fault that I'm doing
this at all!!!
Kenn - Last question - do you have
any famous last words for our readers?
Alan: If you haven't heard us - and you like your rock to have
a bit of a challenge to it, or you like your prog to include a bit
of heart and soul, then give us a try. If you have tried us and
you like what you hear - then many thanks. Hopefully one day we'll
be get to see a few of you somewhere in Denmark.