Echolyn's disc As the World was the first of the modern prog band recordings I bought at a record store. That was a long time ago. I was pretty excited. But then I still get excited with each new release. We recently chatted...
Jerry Lucky: The new album has been out for a while now…what’s the response been like?
Chris Buzby: Quite honestly it has been so overwhelmingly positive it has taken us all a bit by surprise. We knew we were onto something special with this release, we simply had no idea it would be such a flood of positive and supportive press and sales. We have been a top seller onwww.cdbaby.com almost every day since the June 19th release, digital download sales are up, our back catalog is selling equally as well, and the reviews we continue to receive for the new album are very positive. Many fans and reviewers are calling it our best release to date, others have called it a land-breaking release. Truth be told, we knew this was a special release, as we felt very confident about the music before it came out, but to have the global music scene feel the same way and embrace it as possibly our best release yet has been incredibly rewarding. It is also very humbling to know we still "matter" and carry weight in the progressive music scene after 21+ years together. Best of all: we still have the same magic we've always shared as a band when it comes to writing and recording music together. That part is priceless.
Brett Kull: The response has been overwhelming in both sales and reviews.
JL: Interestingly you chose to call it by the band name although using only lower-case letters…and it’s a two disc set even though it seems you could have fit it one a single disc…what prompted each of those decisions?
CB: Truth be told we struggled naming this album, to the point it was just easier to almost start-over again with this release's title and simply name it echolyn (2012, if you will), as this is where we are now in 2012 as five guys who still love writing and recording music together. I also love the window image on the album cover, as these songs are all about perspective, and when you gaze through any window sometimes you are looking out, other times you are looking in - and everyone who has a window view sees things in their own individual way. These songs have come into existence via the five of us as friends and musicians - each being born into existence from our collective perspective. Thus the title is perfect, as this collection of songs IS truly the sum of its parts: echolyn.
BK: We tried to come up with a clever title but simplicity won the argument this time. This album feels like a nice bookend to 20 plus years of playing music together. Regarding the double disc: the track sequencing is all about the vibe and flow not how much music we can jam on a single CD. This album was modeled on the vinyl medium in its sequencing of songs. I’ve always loved that you could only put about 15 to 20 minutes on a long play record side. It forced you to take a break and it created these 20-minute "worlds of continuity.” Our new album flows like the1970s when we were all kids. Each “side” is between 16 and 19 minutes, each disc is between 30 and 35 minutes, just like all those cool albums we grew up with. Personally jamming a single CD with over 70 min of music is just too much… our first few albums are guilty of this over-indulgence.
JL: I’m interested in how things have changed over the years…how did you approach recording the new disc as opposed to your first disc?
CB: It has always been a "song first” approach to writing, but in reality we have gotten better at that craft over time. We've learned how to get at the essence of a song better as a band over the years - which means each person in the group needs to compromise when writing his parts to fit with the whole. Often times that is very difficult and humbling, but when the creative output is something each band member loves and respects equally, the result is an amazing accomplishment. This most recent release was no exception - hence why 6 songs did not make the final cut, as they didn't have the same "weight of approval" that the 8 that made the final cut of the album did. The reality is, though, that each song written for this album is a great song...hence we've started releasing them as "singles" (the first 2 were released on Sept 19) to make sure they see the light if day some other way than an album release.
BK: Like our first disc we worked on the songs over time, recording ideas as we developed them. The drums were generally recorded first then built upon. Sometimes we had to start over again because the vibe was not right. With that said, we are all much better players now. We would have never been able to play with as much finesse back when we started.
JL: In a broader, general sense, were there ever any changes you made to the creative process as a result of something a reviewer or critic said about the band or a specific CD?
CB: Not for me. I like reading/hearing what reviewers think or say about our music, but I've said this before and I'll say it again: we write music for ourselves first and foremost - i.e. we MUST be happiest with the result first. If the world beyond us likes/loves something we've written = it's a bonus! We have always had that attitude and mindset, and over 21 years it has not wavered or changed. Clearly we gain and lose fans and some fan loyalty based on where our musical bent goes from album to album, but in the end it is a "no regrets" way of writing and releasing albums - which is why I still love each release for what it is/was at the time we released it.
BK: Great question! The answer is absolutely not. We are our own worst critics; the media and fans are nowhere close to the brutal honesty of self-evaluation we impose on ourselves.
JL: When you look back on your recording catalog…there’s some wonderful music there…what disc stands out as your personal favorite? And why that one?
CB: For me it is always the most recent thing we've released, as I get very close and intimate with the music we are currently writing. Looking back I feel our strongest albums, in order, are the newest one (echolyn, 2012), mei, and The End is Beautiful. However, I visit each release often and feel they all capture a time and a place for us as a band of musical friends; thus they each tug at different heart strings when I listen, and I respect and love each one for what it is: honest reflections of our lives together over the last 21 years.
BK: I like everything we’ve done since 2000, especially Mei and the new album. …And Every Blossom is a very unique album and a little gem of originality. All of our albums have nice moments on them that I occasionally imbibe.
JL: I had the good fortune to see you live at Calprog one year (a highlight for me) but you guys don’t tour very much…why is that? And would you like to do more?
CB: Time is our friend and our enemy. We are all very busy individuals outside of echolyn and the reality is that while we make echolyn a priority when it comes to writing and releasing music, the tour element takes even more prep and time (and time away from our jobs and families) so it becomes difficult to sustain a model where we can have both. Thus we have to pick and choose...and a steady paycheck/income to support family always must come first over the glamour (and often lack of income) from touring!
BK: The band was our main goal for 6 years between 1989 and 1995. It is not anymore. I never want to be that broke and in-debt again! I feel fortunate to still enjoy making music with my friends and lots of other people. If I (we) didn’t actually enjoy working together AND each other’s company we would not be releasing albums still. With that said, we all have tons of other things going on but can take a trip to our little island whenever the mood strikes us.