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The world of

progressive rock music is

full of some really intesting

musicans who don't seem to fit any

one category. That's how I'd describe

ScienceNV. To find out a little bit more about what makes the band tick...I asked them a few questions.

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Jerry Lucky: I guess we should really start at the beginning. Tell us how ScienceNV came together.

Rich Kallet: Jim and I met at theUniversity of Miami and formed a studio recording group during the Fall semester of 1974. I left UM after one year and Jim and I lost contact a few years later. I’d been away from playing in a rock band since 1981 (when I had a band with some medical students back in Syracuse). In the Spring of 2001, a nurse at work who recently started playing guitar had wanted to organize a band to play at the Respiratory Therapy Dept.’s holiday party.  And as an RT, I reluctantly got talked into playing drums. That’s how I met David (whose wife Joyce is a critical care nurse I work with).  That also was my introduction to Roland V-Drums. Shortly afterwards, David and I began working with Larry Jay on a performance for a composition class David was taking at SF City College. From that project, the 3 of us formed a recording project we called The Aesthetic Condition. Around this time I was thinking a lot about whatever became of Jim. I just assumed he had remained in Florida. I Googled his name one night and the first hit was his department web site at Cerritos College inLong Beach. I e-mailed him at midnight and when I turned the computer on the next morning, he had replied back. I think it only took about 6 weeks for the two of us to begin working together on some recording projects.

 

It did not take long to figure out David and Jim would really hit it off. Our first jam session together was on Friday the 13th in February of 2004. That was the day that the cut Number 5 (Really Loud Noises cd) was born and we still have the original take on cd.

 

By the time The Aesthetic Condition finished its second CD (Angels of War) in 2005, the four of us had been jamming together on Jim’s visits to SF. We decided to come together to play at a private outdoor music festival in the East Bay. We worked-up a set of music for the event, but unfortunately the concert was postponed and then cancelled. By that time, we had decided to work together as a recording project. Our first CD (Really Loud Noises) essentially was our set of music for the concert (minus Morning Jump which had to be postponed until our new CD (Pacific Circumstances). Chacooone was not part of the set, but something Jim came up with afterwards. Chacooone convinced me that we had a unique take on prog rock and I think it greatly helped point-out our current direction.

 

JL: How is it that you came to create the type of music you do? It’s not really the most obvious choice for a band these days.

 

Jim Heriques: I never sit down and say ‘Now I shall write the ultimate prog tune”. I write what I like to listen to or what is fun to play, and music with a bit of a challenge—prog—is at the top of the list.

 

Dave Graves: Well, for some of us, it’s not the only type of music we are working on.  ScienceNV is a very original amalgamation of styles where our interests intersect.  Rich is still very interested in Latin percussion; David and Jim have formed an ambient duo (AmbientBlack) to channel that particular genre, and David continues to write for classical ensembles as well.  Larry’s musical background is steeped in jazz and blues.  But one thing we all appreciate is variety and tasteful complexity, and progressive rock is, to us, an obvious choice.

JL: Was there a time where you heard something that triggered a thought in your mind – that said – that’s the kind of music I want to make?

Rich:  That would have been back in high school in 1972 when the guitarist Eddie Hammel (Hammel-on-Trial) and some other upper classmate musicians who I greatly admired turned me and my friends on to YES, King Crimson and ELP. I was 16 and the first record I ever bought with my own money was Tarkus. In terms of rock music, that’s all I ever aspired to be as a drummer.

 

Dave: Some of us really enjoyed the 1970s prog bands, but not all of us.  I think we backed into ScienceNV and decided this is what we want to play.

JL: Were you ever aware that there was a prog community out there?

Jim: Yes, but not to the extent we thought. I knew about Dream Theatre and Spock’s Beard; for a while XM had a station that played old and new prog, but they cancelled it.

 

Dave: Not really!  We are amazed at the size and depth of the community and its websites.

JL: What’s your assessment of the music industry these days, especially as it relates to all the technological changes?

Band: There was a period of about 50 years where a handful of musicians were able to make a decent living off of recordings. That’s a pretty brief historical artifact – barely a fart in the wind.  I love the idea that people can easily get a copy of ScienceNV recordings (at least lo-fi MP3 versions) but of course I would love it more that we’d get paid for most of those listens. I no longer lament this change in our social fabric; gifted and tenacious musicians will still be able to make a living today, just as musicians did in the early 20th century.

 

Larry Davis: I think an important contributing factor is the fact that the music industry failed to keep up with the evolving technology and ignored how customers wanted to access music. The tech savvy music listening audience did an end run creating an environment where free music was an expectation. Musicians that pay attention to their customers and provide music in a form and format the meets their needs will still be able to derive some revenue from their recordings.

JL: Explain how a typical ScienceNV song comes together. How much of it is composed, how much is improvised and so forth.

Jim: It really depends on the piece. On Pacific Circumstances, Quadrapole was entirely improvised; Dave wrote the bulk of The Oraborus, and I wrote the bulk of The Devil in Witches’ Toes. Dave provided the thread for Billy Burrough’s Brain and I provided the threads for H1NV7 and Morning Jump and the band took them from there. Then for Conflicted Dave and I collaborated a lot.

 

Dave: There has been no consistent formula.  For example, some of the pieces on our newly-released album started as riffs and we ended up writing some melodic lines to accommodate the riff (H1NV7, Billy Burrough’s Brain).  Others were completely written out, with minimal improv (Conflicted, The Ouroborus Variations).  Danse Macabre uses the full orchestral score and Quadrapole was completely improvised. 

JL: Is there such a thing as a ScienceNV musical philosophy?

Jim: Nothing official. Give everyone room enough to stretch, have fun.

 

Dave: We really don’t take ourselves very seriously.  That frees us up to do some pretty weird stuff.

 

Larry: We very much enjoy the creative freedom this allows. People have told us that the great fun we have making this music comes through in the recorded performances.

JL: Even though there’s no question about the band’s rock credentials, there is a pretty strong classical influence that runs thru your compositions, more than many prog bands. Where does that come from?

Rich:  That is from Jim and David with my and Larry Jay’s complete blessing. I’m thrilled about our direction and the type of prog rock were creating.

 

Band: Jim, David and Rich have all written and/or played classical music: orchestra, opera, etc.  David in fact was a composer with the Berkeley Symphony for two seasons and still writes full orchestral scores with a San Francisco orchestra. For a time Larry was really into classical guitar and still enjoys classical music and opera. We all really enjoyed working up prog versions of Bolero for our last album and Danse Macabre in the past year.  We hope to work up Holst’s Mars for our next album – should be a lot of fun.

JL: Prog people seem to be more than willing to listen to something new and different and looking at your website you’ve been getting a good reaction from the prog community what about elsewhere?

Dave: Our albums have a considerable variety of music on them.  Outside of prog circles, people usually find at least one cut that they enjoy, but rarely the whole darn thing. 

JL: Based in San Francisco have you been able to get out and play live?

Rich:  Our performances have been very limited and in small, private venues

 

Dave: We’ve managed to play live infrequently.  We have two major impediments: day jobs and distance.  With the exception of David, everyone else has some day jobs that suck up a lot of time.  And while most of us are up in San Francisco, Jim lives in Orange County. Every few months, he packs up his truck with all of his toys and makes the drive up here.  To a certain extent, those two challenges will always make our live appearances difficult.

JL: Have you had any offers to play any of the growing number of prog festivals yet?

Jim: Not yet, but that’s OK with us. We can’t afford to take time out of our day gigs to travel much. We have talked about it, though; it would take massive planning.

 

Dave: Nope.  But we’d really need to work our live act back up, especially the new studio pieces, if we were going to play at one of the festivals.  Another problem is Rich injured his arm last year and is recovering from surgery.

JL: So now with two discs under your belt, what’s next on the agenda?

Rich:  We’ve begun preliminary work on our third cd.  Unfortunately, I tore a tendon in my arm and haven’t been able to practice since July. So things are on a holding pattern. Hopefully, I’ll be back in the studio this coming Spring.

 

Dave: A third.  We are already working on a 5-movement piece (The Ring Cycle) using planetary moon themes, and a neo-baroque piece that will have a string trio.  And our faux classical piece for the upcoming album will be Mars. 

JL: Lastly – my desert island disc question – if you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 5 discs with you, which ones would they be and why those ones?

 

Rich:  That is a very cruel thought…but it’s certainly better than being Tom Hanks with that stupid soccer ball! 1-Dvorak: Serenades (+ Romance in A), 2-Puccini: Madam Butterfly, 3-Rahsaan Roland Kirk:  The Return of the 5000 lb Man, 4-Gilberto Gil: Parabolique, 5-King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King

 

Jim: 1-The Who: Quadrophenia, 2-Kate Bush: The Hounds of Love, 3-Oingo Boingo: Only a Lad

4-Yes: Close to the Edge, 5-Genesis:Foxtrot

 

Dave: Yes – Close to The Edge – lot of themes, never tire of it.

 

Larry: Wishbone Ash – Wishbone Ash – (1970) made heavily instrumental rock interesting and one of the first bands to feature great dual guitar harmony work.