Jerry Lucky: Ok…first things first…is it a band named Wilton Said (taking your name) or is it you Wilton Said with a band? I just have to know.
Wilton Said: its Wilton Said… (my name) with a band. I am the band leader, the main songwriter and do all the organization for the band. On a few occasions I have performed solo with acoustic guitar as Wilton Said...
JL: Let’s go back to the beginning…tell us how you got involved in music…describe the scene for us.
WS: I've always enjoyed music. As a young child I banged along on pots and pans to my favorite Beatles and Bay City Rollers albums. At 8 I started taking beginner piano lessons but then abandoned that for baseball and karate. At 12 years old I enrolled in the school string program and learned Viola which I played throughout high school. During that time I also started teaching myself beginner guitar and later took lessons learning jazz styles and theory. In my 20's I went to York University in Toronto and got a degree in music with an emphasis on composition styles.
JL: I’m guessing you weren’t thinking in terms of progressive rock music, were you?
WS: At the time I wasn't thinking of this genre, but in hindsight I can see how I was steering towards this genre. I always liked music with huge textures such as orchestral soundtrack music. My favorites were the Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtracks by John Williams. I was also a huge Beatles fan in my pre high school years. During high school I was into some of the new wave of the 80's such as Duran Duran and Billy Idols Rebel Yell. I later developed a taste for metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Put all these early musical experiences together and progressive rock was the next step.
JL: Did you ever have, what I would call a “prog a-ha” moment where you said…that’s the kind of music I want to write?
WS: There were a few. As a guitar player and writer it was Rush's Hemispheres, Genesis Suppers Ready, and Marillion's Fugazi album. As a vocalist it was Kate Bush's Live at Hammersmith video and her album The Dreaming. Marillion vocalist Steve Hogarth has also given me these "prog a-ha" moments with his dynamics and emotion. I often channel him when I'm recording and singing live.
JL: What was your sense of the prog music scene at the time? Toronto isn’t exactly a hot bed of prog!
WS: When I formed my 1st original Proggy band (Crisis Ten) which I played guitar in, there didn't appear to be too many other bands doing the same thing. I think it being the 90's, most bands were channeling Nirvana and other Grunge Alternative bands. So there wasn't any prog scene.
JL: Your music has a lot of quirky influences, if you had to describe it to someone…what would you say about it?
WS: I think the quirkiness comes from some of the jazz vocal training I took. I learned that melodies don't have to be based on the roots, 3rds or 5ths of a chord structure. They can be based on the 7th, 9th, or 4th, all dissonant tones. As a result I don't think my vocal melodies always go where one might expect.
JL: Is there a typical approach you guys take when it comes to writing? How much of the music is all you and how much do the other members contribute their ideas?
WS: 99% of the writing both music and lyrics are done by me. The 1st two recordings were mostly me on all instruments except drums so I had total control over the textural parts. Later on when I got a more consistent band, I would make a rough demo for them and they would learn the song from that. Individual nuances and parts would be arranged by the particular member. For the last release Half Life, I didn't make any demos and opted to jam ideas out with the full band and let the nuances and dynamics develop in a more organic live setting.
JL: Over the time that you’ve been around, the internet has really come into its own…how has that played into your hands?
WS: It's been great with regard to getting people to hear my music. But of course the curse is that everyone else and their dog is doing the same thing, so there's much more competition in getting one's music heard. Also, I know that this may be blasphemy to some, but I actually don't mind mp3 downloads. I've released the odd thing here and there as a download only release and it really cuts down on the cost as there is no overhead of CD manufacturing. Let's face it, many people buy a CD and then upload it to their computers anyways. Facebook and Twitter have been useful in getting the word out about my music and shows. Another big advantage of the internet are the video sites like YouTube. Last year I had a video made for the song Pretty. It used to be that after spending all that money on making a video, one had to try and get a TV network to play it. Now thanks to YouTube, Vimeo and a host of others, you just upload it and send people to the site to watch it. In both cases with video and music distribution, the middle person has been taken out.
JL: What about any live gigs…are you guys planning to hit any prog? Do day-jobs get in the way of the live trail?
WS: The band and I do play shows but not on a regular basis. We're all in our 40's with day jobs and most of the people that do come out to the shows are also in a similar demographic. As a result I usually book earlier Sat or Sun shows at a nice but smaller venue. But like anything, over playing in the same area can wear out your audience hence the sporadic playing schedule. Booking a show at any other venue gives you a weeknight at 10pm or later and that's just not beneficial to us anymore. So now, we play about 3 or 4 times a year, get a nice size audience out and have a great time.
As for day jobs getting in the way, mine and Guitarist Chris Reid don’t as we're in a 9 to 5 type of job. I'm a preschool teacher and he is a dental technician. Bassist Deb Ray who is a Bio scientist of some sort, and drummer Richard Rizzo an accountant has less flexibility so I book around their schedules.
On a related note, we will be playing on Sat June 8th in Toronto at The Black Swan where we'll be doing 2 sets of original Art Rock. More information will be available at www.wiltonsaid.com
JL: Lastly then…the desert island disc question…if you were stuck on an island with only 5 CDs…which ones would they be and why those ones in particular.
WS: First off, I love albums which are eclectic within its genre and I believe most of the ones below fit that category.
Kate Bush - The Dreaming - I think it's her most experimental album and there is so much going on in the mix and production that I always hear something I hadn't heard before. Especially while wearing headphones.
The Beatles - White Album - It's extremely eclectic with great songs on it. The heavy Helter Skelter on the same album with the jazzy whimsical Honey Pie is fantastic. I could never get bored with it. My favorite Beatles album.
Judas Priest - Sin After Sin - Not so much a metal album as an Art Rock/Hard Rock release. A great set of songs which showcase a few different types of hard rock styles. You have the proto speed metal of Sinner and Call for the Priest, the groovy Raw Deal, mixed with the melodic ballads of Last Rose of Summer and Hear Come the Tears. Very dramatic.
Genesis - Trick of the Tail - The opening number of Dance on a Volcano is worth the whole album. That is one messed up song. Yes it's in 7/8 but each verse has the drum accents in a slightly different place. Also the vocal melody is all over the place. It's probably their most experimental song ever (not including Who Dunnit which is crap). The album is also eclectic with heavier sounding numbers like Squonk up against the jazzier Robbery Assault and Battery, and the softer Mad Man Moon and Ripples.
Rush - Hemispheres - The first side suite is an all-out Prog Rock assault. Those time signatures are wild and crazy and changing. It seems that every note, beat, fill and sound is crystal clear and in the exact place it should be. It's my favorite Rush release and I even rate it higher than "GASP!" Moving Pictures.
Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice - Jesus Christ Superstar - This was a huge influence on me when I started singing. I wanted to write my own rock opera and ended up using the music for The Butterfly Plague concept album instead. I like that this album was a full on Prog Rock album but didn't appear to be marketed as such. It has everything one could want in Prog, odd time signatures, longer songs, reoccurring music and lyrical themes and motives. It's fantastic.
JL: Thanks again
WS: Thank you Jerry for giving me the opportunity talk about my music and history to your readers.