Always great to hear of a new Canadian Prog band. These guys are from Toronto and they're called Druckfarben. Here's my chat with guitarist Ed Bernard.
Jerry Lucky: First…what’s it feel like to be one of the very few Progressive Rock bands in Canada?
Ed Bernard: Lonely hahaha. Actually, we've discovered there are more progressive bands than we thought in Canada. The David Barrett Trio are all good friends of ours for example. There is a prog festival in Quebec called Terra Incognita. We're playing there next summer. Quite a few prog bands in Quebec, mostly the more metal style of prog. Of course we're very proud of Rush and Saga too. Max Webster had some prog elements as well.
JL: Tell us how the band came to be.
EB: Troy Feener and I have known each other since high school and Phil replaced the original singer in a YES cover band I had in the early 90s. I met Will through a gig with a female opera singer and I happened to mention YES and his ears perked up.
About a year later, Troy organized a Classic Albums Live show playing The Yes Album and Close To The Edge. He contacted me and Phil, I knew Will would want to be involved as well. We added a few more musicians and played the show at the Phoenix Concert theatre in Toronto. I sent an email around during the rehearsals for the show asking who was interested in playing original music and the idea for the band was drawn. We recruited Peter on bass and vocals and started rehearsing at his house and the rest just followed along naturally.
JL: How is it that you guys made the decision to play prog? It’s not like it’s a quick ticket to fame.
EB: This music was something we all have wanted to play for our whole lives. I'd written a bunch of tunes that fit the genre so we started working on those as well as a few sets of classic prog songs. Now that the industry is no longer dominated by A&R and any real idea of commerciality it seemed right to just play whatever we wanted to play. Interestingly, we most likely would never have had a chance under the former business model but here we are.
JL: Inspiration is always a tricky thing…I hear (among other things) at least two versions of Yes in your sound…who were the bands that inspired the Druckfarben sound?
EB: We're obviously influenced by YES, GENESIS and GENTLE GIANT as well as some elements of RUSH, KANSAS and ELP.
JL: What was your first exposure to Prog?
EB: My first exposure to progressive music was definitely RUSH, followed by YES and GENESIS.
JL: I’m always interested in whether there was an “ah-ha” moment, where the light bulb went on and you said…I want to play progressive rock music?
EB: As soon as I heard the mixture of heavy rock with sophisticated arrangements that RUSH offered I was hooked. They were the gateway to prog and fusion and later jazz for me.
JL: I’m making the assumption, Druckfarben isn’t everyone’s full time gig…what does everyone do to actually pay the bills?
EB: I do studio work and production in my studio and teach many instruments. I also play the occasional gig with other people too. Phil plays about 20 gigs a week haha. Troy and Will play for Classic Albums Live and Peter plays with the Dave Murphy Band and the Nomads and anything else that comes his way.
JL: What’s been the reaction to your first disc?
EB: We've had a great response to the first disc. We quickly sold out the first pressing and now are almost on the third. There has been a great response with digital sales as well. Reviews have all been great too. It's interesting to see all the different countries we sell to and do interviews for. The internet has been a definite plus for us.
JL: A lot of bands tell me that the internet has really opened a lot of opportunities for bands like yours. What’s your situation with regard to using the internet?
EB: I guess I anticipated your next question! Like I said above, the internet has been great for us. It gives us the opportunity to actually let people hear us and find out about us. We do most of our sales through a few online record shops and digital distribution sites.
JL: Do you get much of a chance to play live?
EB: We had a house gig at Alex Lifeson's bar The Orbit Room for two years and a prog open jam at a club called Roc N Docs. Those have come to an end for a few reasons and we still do a few shows every few months. We're hoping to get an opening slot on a tour with some of the contemporary prog bands. And we have a few festivals coming up.
JL: What’s next on the agenda…are you working on material for a follow-up release?
EB: The next thing will be our live DVD "Artifact"
We recorded and filmed it at The Mod Club Theatre in Toronto last March. We're finalizing the cover art now and look forward to releasing it very soon. You can check out two of the songs, Influenza and Nat Nayah on Youtube or at our website: www.druckfarben.ca
We started the bed tracks for our new record a couple weeks ago. The songs are written, now it's just getting great performances. It can take a little longer than we'd like because as you mentioned, we don't do this band full time so sometimes the scheduling can be a nightmare. But it will definitely be finished in 2013 hahaha.
This is an important album for us because it shows that we aren't just a fluke or a one off band. We're really excited about the new songs and we think people who liked our first disc will love this next one.
I also have a bunch of songs I'm working on for my record. Busy times.
JL: Lastly then…if you were stuck on a desert island...with no mp3 player…what five discs would you want with you…and why those particular ones?
EB: this is a hard question because my five would change weekly. And no matter what, anyone would get sick of the same five cds. I'd probably start making Gilligan's Island type of musical instruments and play original tunes!
I guess right now I'd say:
1.RUSH-Hemispheres. Just because the music is so heavy yet sophisticated. And it really influenced me when I heard it at age 11.
2. Stevie Wonder- Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants. It's a cliche but Stevie is a genius and this album has it all.
3. Chris Cornell- Euphoria Morning. Amazing record! Every song is great and his voice rules on it too.
4. Leila Josefowitz- Solos. Astonishing solo violin performances of some of the most interesting and technically demanding compositions.
5. KANSAS- Song For America. A strange pick maybe to some but I've been digging this record again for a few weeks. Very moody and progressive and Steve Walsh is great.
Thanks for the questions!