If you are at all familiar with the Canadian progressive rock

scene, it won’t come as a surprise that out of 10 provinces (aka States) the one province of Quebec boasts more prog bands than

all the other nine provinces combined. Why this is so is cause for much debate, but let’s just say we’re proud of it. This month I’d like to introduce you to yet one more French-Canadian prog artist by the name of Daniel Gauthier who’s just released his third CD entitled The Wish.

Jerry Lucky: You’ve recently released your third album entitled The Wish…what’s the one thing you want progressive rock fans to know about the new CD?

 

Daniel Gauthier: Well, this is a very important album for me. It celebrates my 35th anniversary as a music composer and it represents the materialization of a dream I’ve had since my childhood. I produced this album with one very particular aim in mind: to perpetuate the musical energy of the major progressive bands of the late 70’s... I hope that these types of music fans will say, “Hey, you own Dark Side of the Moon, Close to the Edge or Selling England by the Pound, then The Wish is a must to complete the collection.”

 

JL: This is very much a solo effort, a one-man-band and yet it sounds very much like a full group performing. Was there anything you did in the studio or in the writing to emphasis that approach?

 

DG: I think the point where I succeeded the most was in transposing myself as a new band member each time I had to record a part. The word I repeated all through the recording session was “FOCUS”. When I was ready to record the acoustic guitars, for example, it was the guitarist who performed in the studio and not the bass player or the composer. I listened to the songs as a guitarist and performed it as if it were a “live version”.

 

JL: Your previous album Above the Storm came out in 2000, what have you been up to over the past eight years?

 

DG: Well the road has been pretty hard (again and again !!!) ... After the success of Above the Storm, I tried to find some financial backers for the project to perform my songs live. However nobody believed enough in my show concept to join the team. So in 2005, I realized that the road to The Wish, the album, would be longer than I expected. So I decided to release a CD/DVD single of the title song “The Wish”. This project was formally produced to let fans know my project was still going ahead. Then I took a one-and-a-half year program in music recording and producing processes. This course helped me produce the album The Wish.

 

JL: What can fans of Above the Storm expect to hear on the new disc, that’s different from that disc?

 

DG: Above the Storm is a nice album. I still enjoy listening to it, and I still receive many positive comments about it. But if I may use the analogy of the painting process to compare the two CDs, I would say that Above the Storm is a painting which uses a very specific colour range. But The Wish is more colourful, exploded. I think it is an album that covers a wide variety of feelings. Maybe because its production process was much longer than “Above”.

 

JL: Now while you have been a musician for 35 years, I’m guessing music isn’t something you do full time. What does Daniel Gauthier do for a day job?

 

DG: Strangely Jerry, I could say that my music is my full time way of living. But, to be honest, I still can’t afford the “life’s fees” with it. To buy the bread and butter, I have to do a night shift as a newspaper distributor, seven nights a week! This very tough work schedule gives me the time I need to produce and promote my musical project during the day!!! Some call it PASSION, but you could also call it madness (lol)! And, let’s be honest, my life partner, Lucie, helps me out incredibly.

 

JL: Let’s go back to the beginning. I know your website has a history, but I’m wondering what was the first prog band you ever heard and what was the experience?

 

DG: I came from the very small town of Abitibi, in northern Quebec, and it was difficult to access new album releases. But at that time, we had an older friend who was connected to the progressive movement of the 70’s. I still remember when he introduced me to Yes’s Fragile in 1972. That album definitely changed my life. I bought an old bass and started practicing it. About ten months later, I could play Fragile on the bass. The same friend kept challenging me. He said, “Well, you can play Fragile on the bass, but what about Mood for a Day”?”  So I bought a classical guitar and went back into my room for another three months! I think that my solo multi-instrumentalist approach was born there!

JL: Had you started playing music before that time?

 

DG: No, I started in 1972. One year later, when I was thirteen, I joined my first band, called L’Odyssée, as a bass player.  We were a cover band, performing Bachman Turner Overdrive and Beatles songs for parties in high school.

 

JL: The promo material talks about the British prog scene influence, from bands like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd, what was it about the music those bands created that proved to be so inspiring?

 

DG: I can’t hide that my main influence comes from Chris Squire’s bass playing. When I went to clubs to listen to bands, I was interested by the bass environment but I found it a little bit boring. I was telling myself, “There must be another way to play bass.”  The guys could play the entire gig on only four frets! But when I discovered Fragile, I found my answer. Then I discovered the musical universe of Genesis and Pink Floyd and the lyrics instantly touched my soul. I really felt this musical style was for me.

 

JL: The progressive music scene has always been quite healthy in Quebec, more so than in other parts of Canada. Why is that?

 

DG: Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe because we often feel different as a nation. I don’t want to get into the political aspect, but we are a small nation developing between two major ones. Maybe this feeling of “marginality” connects to the ideology of progressive music, which also develops within the “big” commercial market. There could be a similarity in both approaches.

 

JL: Would you say that it’s easier to be a prog musician in Quebec?

 

DG: I couldn’t answer for my colleagues in the rest of Canada, but my answer is definitely no! The journey of a progressive songwriter in Quebec is very hard. In fact, mine has been ... First, it is pretty hard to create a band, I mean to find musicians who are willing to put the effort into a project which is always on the edge. And it is almost impossible to find financial backers to produce the ideas. There are very few progressive radio shows ... Television shows? Huh, just forget it!  Then, you have to be very strong to stay on your path, and I think this rule also goes for prog musicians, wherever where you come from.

 

JL: So you don’t get much exposure from the traditional mass media?

 

DG: No. Local radio shows are our “valued partners” in promoting our albums. The problem is that they generally reach a smaller crowd than the traditional ones, even if their shows are high quality. We (the prog musicians) should be very grateful for their important support. I am.

 

JL: Does it matter that you perform in English?

 

DG: Not really. Of course some people reproach me for it. But my answer is always the same: I don’t decide anything. The fact is that the inspiration comes sometimes in French, sometimes in English. I let the song and its energy decide. It’s a question of the music’s timing. I am at the service of the song.

 

JL: I notice you were also working on a francophone project, what’s the latest there?

 

DG: The album is already pre-produced, which means that I have enough original material to record it. Originally, I planned to release the two albums at the same time, “The Wish” and “Derrière le Masque”.  However, the money issue has made me slow it down. But I am planning to release it in 2009. But at this point, that’s still a “wish”...

 

JL: Is it in any way progressive?

 

DG: Yes, it is a continuance of my musical universe. I should say that it will be more acoustic, but the style of the music is still 100% “dg”. I wrote the songs while I was producing Above the Storm and The Wish, so I was inspired by that type of writing. I think that my fans won’t be put off kilter by the music on “Derrière le masque,” even the English-speaking ones.

 

JL: So what’s next on your agenda, any tours?

 

DG: Actually, I am in a discussion with a filmmaker to create a “one man show concept”. I can’t really tell you any more about it now, but I can say that if we succeed in getting all the pieces together—the equipment, the money and the partners we’ll need—it will be amazing ...  I’m dreaming about it! And I’ll definitely let you know.

 

JL: Thanks Daniel and best of luck with The Wish.

 

DG: Thanks to you, Jerry. It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to have this discussion with you. Wish you the best and thanks for your involvement on the prog scene.

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Daniel Gauthier
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