Interview with The Tangent (February 16th, 2006)

This Swedish-British prog contingent - The Tangent - is one of many bands with connections to The Flower Kings. They have just released their 3rd album through the InsideOut label, called "A Place in the Queue" - we have put a few questions together for him.

Kenn - "A Place in the Queue" is the 3rd The Tangent album, it has just been released, but what kind of expectations do you have for it?
The Tangent: Expectations are usually an entirely relative matter for a Progressive Rock band. Although we certainly don't expect the album to become a world bestseller, our hopes are that we can be seen to have developed and worked hard to achieve a good album. I'm hoping that this album can establish the Tangent as a real unit, rather than as a side project to the other bands we are involved in. But I don't expect us to be living it up in Monte Carlo.....

Kenn - What do you think set "A Place in the Queue" apart from "The World That We Drive Through"?
The Tangent: I think that all the Tangent albums so far are related to each other. For me, each one has been an improvement in the actual compositions/song writing them. I think that somewhere on our second album "The World That We Drive Through" we DID lose a little of the joy of playing that we presented on our first CD, even though I preferred the compositions on the second. With "A Place in the Queue" we really did work hard to try to get that joy back into the music, and with the new compositions I think this has worked. The new line-up of the group has brought a freshness to the sound, and despite Krister Jonsson's amazing abilities, he's somehow managed to let the rest of the band breathe, so the keyboards and sax can play much more interesting and fulfilling roles than on our previous albums. This isn't a guitar album, it's not any single instrument... it's a band record. Stripped of most of the famous people, perhaps this is what was always at the heart of The Tangent.

Kenn - If you should suggest one single song to understand the full The Tangent musical potential, which title would you choose and why - my choice would be the title track off the new album?
The Tangent: My TWO favourite pieces so far are "The Winning Game" from our second CD, and "In Earnest" from our latest one. Both of these give a full range of what the band is all about. Lyrically both of them examine what I consider to be injustices from an emotional and honest point of view, and musically both songs have a wide range of moods and styles that they use to convey the lyrics. On the whole it's "In Earnest" that I am most pleased with, the way it fuses 20th century style classical structures, mixes them with Rock and Jazz has been a challenge, challenging to create in that it's hard to make sure fusions like this don't sound as though they are just stuck together with glue for the sake of it.

Kenn - How did you end with a name like The Tangent, is there some deeper story behind it?
The Tangent: The name is really a little joke or pun. A Tangent (in English) is a geometrical term that refers to a line that touches the circumference of a circle. My other band is called "Parallel or 90 degrees" which of course is also a geometrical theme. In English we have a phrase which is "To Go off at a Tangent". This means to do something different from what you normally do. At the time of writing the first album, with Po90 still making records a the time, this recording was really me, going off at a tangent, and so the name stuck.....

Kenn - I hear a lot of 70ís influences with bands like Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson and Yes coming to mind, am that far off, and what else inspires you when you write songs?
The Tangent: Well, we do wear our influences on our sleeves, I can't deny that. Of course you have mentioned three bands there in your question, without whom we simply wouldn't exist, but then again neither would a lot of people. The fact is, we are honest about this where a lot of bands aren't. I find it quite difficult to imagine that Radiohead would have ever sounded the same without King Crimson and to an extent Peter Hammill. I've been influenced by all sorts of music from both within and without progressive rock since I was 12 years old. I've enjoyed punk, jazz, thrash metal, classical music from Baroque to the present, and even out and out pop stuff like disco. Music is a great thing to love, and there's an awful lot of it. People often accuse me of being a bit "retro" with the Tangent. it's a shame that so few people know my work with Po90, which I never considered to be retro at all. The Tangent is just one part of what I have done, and yes, it does, undoubtedly take much of its inspiration from the English progressive rock scene of the 1970s including the Canterbury stuff. Its music I felt needed a new chance to be heard, and when I'm playing it, it certainly doesn't feel as retro to me as Green Day............

Kenn - Do you feel that your sound will evolve in some different direction, in the future, or will you still follow the same path?
The Tangent: I do hope that the group's music will evolve. I think it already has, but of course we are still working within the same overall area. I don't see much point in trying to deliberately move away from this area and just piss people off - after all there are many other areas I can work in with other bands and projects - I'm hoping to have PO90 back together again this year for example. I'm planning to make the next Tangent album slightly more experimental. Still based around our main ethics, but there is something that I would actually rather like to try which has, as far as I know, not been tried before. It's something I can't disclose because I don't want someone else moving in on the idea before we do it. Suffice to say that I want to create a Tangent album that will sound like a Tangent album and no-one will notice what the experiment was until someone points it out to them and then they should say... ' oh yeah!'

Kenn - What inspires you when you write lyrics?
The Tangent: Ummm... everything?... Subject matter used by The Tangent so far has been: The medical condition called "Night Terrors",-- the "Canterbury" rock bands of the 1970s, -- Progressive Rock Music itself, --- the way the third world is dependant on the western stock exchange, ---- the propagation of radio waves, --- fear of the dark, ---- finding fantasy worlds right here in the real one, ---- the way our War heroes are subsequently forgotten and how they feel about that, ---- the way no-one actually seems to listen to an individual, or even a large group of individuals, ---- being bullied at school for liking prog rock,--- falling into line and just accepting what we are told to do by the media or our bosses, and --- the massacre in Beslan. Quite a few topics there. Its things I mull over in my head that I might have seen on the news, things that annoy me. People I meet (like Earnest) who make me see something new in life, experiences from the past like "Lost In London" or just a fantastic sunset can set me off.

Kenn - I really like the artwork - is there a story behind that?
The Tangent: Yes there is a story, but the story is the work of Ed Unitsky who is entirely responsible for the amazing artwork we use. For this reason we are one of only a handful of bands who actually credit him for his work as though he was actually a musician in the band. We consider Ed to be in effect a member of the Tangent so important is his contribution. If you want to know the story, Ed is the person to ask, and he will be very happy to be asked.

Kenn - Any touring plans for 2006?
The Tangent: We have a few dates lined up already, a couple of festivals, and our first gig in Yorkshire, England, Sam and my "home" even though we live in France . we are putting more gigs together of course. All the information is at the website at www.thetangent.org We're really looking forward to playing again because the "Drive Through" tour was a real lot of fun.

Kenn - Letís speculate - you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice - who would be your ideal touring partners?
The Tangent: Ha!!! we can have anyone right??? It would have to be Yes.... just imagine if I could pick up some more skills off those guys. I think their audience might find us entertaining too. So, if you are offering, we'd be happy to play with Yes!!!

Kenn - Name a person, event or maybe an album, that have had a big influence on you life, and why?
The Tangent: Although Peter Hammill, Jon Anderson and Keith Emerson are obviously big heroes and influences, I think the turning point for me in the whole way I saw music was meeting a man called Danbert Nobacon. He was a member of the anarchist rock band Chumbawamba and he came to my studio to make a solo album called "The Unfairy Tale". It was an album about social injustice and album about the way is controlled by large companies and financiers. Unlike a lot of the other anarchist bands Chumbawamba and particularly Dan had a beautiful way of expressing their points without shouting all the time. Dan's album owed as much to Milton's "Paradise Lost" as it did to "Stations of the Crass". It was working with Dan that made me want to make my music have a meaning as well as just entertain people. most people know Dan through the famous song "Tubthumping" or that he through a bucket of water over an English Politician, however, there is a lot more to him than that.........
 

Kenn - The internet is a very important source for many music fans - how do you use the internet and how important is it for you and other bands, and whatís your opinion of Napster etc.?
The Tangent: For us the internet is not just a way of marketing and keeping in touch with fans, although of course we do that and it's very very useful and has really helped in the development of the continuation of progressive music. For us, living thousands of miles away from each other, itís an all important tool with which we can actually work together on the same project. Jonas, guy and I (France, Sweden And England) can discuss and make decisions on arrangements in minutes rather than days - Guy recorded overdubs in England on the same day that the album was finished in France . It's remarkable. It's just as important to us as the mellotron was to the early progressives.

Kenn - How do you feel about the progressive rock scene at the moment?
The Tangent: Pleased that there is so much happening with so many artists. Pleased that there are still people out there who want to hear the new music. Sad that so many progressive rock fans dream only of Genesis reuniting, a band who have made very little great music in the past 30 years. Genesis was great for 6 years. The Flower kings have been great for 12, but all everyone seems to want is to see Genesis play again, they'd fill stadiums and the Flower Kings might fill a few nightclubs and of course the Tangent will fill a few less nightclubs!. It's such a shame. A lot of prog fans simply won't listen to the new groups.

Kenn - I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with?
The Tangent: Thanks to all sites, reviewers and contributors to any medium that promotes and supports progressive rock music. We could not exist without you.

The Tangent - A Place in the Queue

Album available on InsideOut Music.

Click on the album cover to see more info on The Tangent.