WITH AKACIA, replayed by Steve Stortz (italian
by Giancarlo Bolther
The new album This Fading Time is quite different, songs are
shorter and I_ve found it more searching and experimental, can you
tell me more about it, please?
We were trying to do an album with a live feel to it after
the heavy orchestration of The Brass Serpent. Most of the tracks were
recorded live in our practice studio and we did very little overdubbing.
The songs seem shorter in comparison to our first two albums, but
they are still much longer than the average pop song. I think the
searching feel has a lot to do with our own inner searchings and our
meditation on some of the problems of life and the fading glory of
The artwork reminds one of 9/11, and so does the album's title;
what is the message that you want to give?
The cover does tie in very well with the song "In the
Air," which is why we chose that work. The events of 9/11 were
a shock to us and it is only now, five years later, that Mike Tenenbaum
felt ready to put his feelings into song. But tragedy in this world
is not without meaning.
What do you believe about this period, are you optimistic
or do you fear the future?
The Bible clearly shows that things get much worse before
they get better. It's foolish and impossible to predict when the end
times will be, but obviously we are getting closer every day. America
stands to be overthrown as a world power if we lose our faith in God,
and that will be a troubling time for us. Even so, the Spirit will
move in other lands where hearts are more receptive to the Gospel.
History shows that nations rise and fall, so fear for our country
does not necessarily mean that we are pessimistic.
The cover was painted by the legendary Paul Whitehead, how
did you get in touch with him?
Our label, Musea, suggested using one of his pieces for our
cover, so we approached his agent through his website. It is an honor
to use a design from the same artist who created the legendary Genesis
5. You have got a seventies sound, how much tradition and how much
modernity went into your music? The seventies sound is definitely
our goal. We were all raised on Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and the other
greats of the genre. That is the basis for much of the style, although
we do listen to Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Porcupine Tree and
the modern progressive bands.
How are the responses?
We have gotten a wide range of responses, as one might expect.
We enjoyed some success at Mindawn.com with our first two albums and
airplay in several countries. We were especially flattered when reviewer
S. T. Karnick picked An Other Life as the best debut album of 2003.
In your opinion, what are the differencies between your studio
An Other Life grew out of our early practice sessions. We
used music that Mike had already in mind but needed the progressive
touch. Once we saw some positive response and read some criticism
of our music, we embarked on the more ambitious project of The Brass
Serpent which is really more of a concept album. The third album brought
us back to a more organic songwriting style where the music grew out
of practices together.
If I_m right there is a new keyboard player, what can you
tell me about her?
Tricia Lee is an outstanding bass player who also plays improvisational
keyboard pieces. She lent her talents to the third album and her keyboard
playing had a big impact on the direction that our songs took. She
has been a friend of Mike Tenenbaum for a long time and they have
been in other bands together.
Did you play on tour after the realization of the cd? (If
yes) What is that caracterizes your live performances?
We have played The Brass Serpent several times, once opening
for Neal Morse during his last tour. We have not planned a tour to
support This Fading Time because we began immediately with work on
What do you think about the actual progressive scene?
The new ways of sharing music and reaching fans is allowing
progressive bands to flourish like never before. The best music will
eventually rise to the top and gain its proper following. It's a great
time to be a musician.
According to you what developments will there be for progressive
music in the next few years?
Prog fans will probably be able to access progressive music
stations on satellite and through the internet. After mainstream bands
get through with their infatuation with progressive music, it will
be turned back over to the musicians who love the genre.
A lot of old school prog fans hate Dream Theater and the new
prog in general, but others say that there will be no young people
to listen to old Genesis and King Crimson without the Dream Theater_s
popularity, what_s your opinion about?
There's no question that bands like Genesis and King Crimson
can draw their own fans without the assistance of modern bands. The
hope is that if bands make unique contributions, there won't have
to be this incessant comparison of every new album to Foxtrot or Close
To The Edge or Starless And Bible Black.
Everybody links prog music to English seventies bands and
we know very little about the American prog bands (Kansas, Starcastle,
Pavlov's Dog, Happy the Man...), can you tell us more about the '70
prog scene in the USA?
We're still discovering the full breadth of the American
prog scene of the '70s. A lot of the best music is hard to find and
can be expensive too.
You spread religious messages with your lyrics, usually there
are very few artists that mix christian lyrics with prog music, (I
know Neal Morse, Kerry Livgren-Proto Kaw, Saviour Machine), how did
you get the idea to play "prog christian music"?
We're all Christians in the band and since music is a spiritual
medium, we want our music to convey the spiritual message about Christianity.
If you look up the CPR compilations, you'll see there's more of a
Christian representation in progressive music than you may assume
The Christian music industry is very limited in the type of sound
that they are willing to market, so we figured we would try to reach
the progressive fans directly without going through strictly Christian
Can you tell me more about the CPR project and its aim?
There are two aims. First, we want the Christian music fan
to gain exposure to progressive music, which is not available through
most of the popular Christian radio stations and record labels. Second,
we want progressive fans to have a taste of the music that people
of the Christian faith have been making.
Could you tell us which were the ways Jesus has changed your
As Savior, He has given us a chance to live our lives free
from the debilitating guilt of our sins. As Lord, He has given us
a command to go out in the world and tell everyone about Him. He has
been very good to each of us throughout our Christian lives, providing
for our needs and directing our steps. Without him, we would be living
our lives for ourselves, rationalizing our own selfish behavior and
suffering the consequences of unforgiven sin.
How hard it was to manage an artistic career with your belief?
It can be tough in the progressive world. Christian music
labels want nothing to do with progressive music and some prog fans
complain that they don't want to hear about Christianity in our lyrics.
We're never going to be rich and famous, but that's not our mission.
It seems that the interest for spiritual belief is increasing,
do you feel the same?
That's a tricky subject. There always seems to be increasing
interest in "spiritual" matters, but that is not really
the same as interest in Christianity. Most of the increased interest
is in areas that are traditionally labeled "occult" like
astrology, New Age beliefs and so on. Just because you're feeling
"spiritual" does not mean you're getting close to God.
All of us have had some hard times in their life, but Jesus
teaches us how to face these moments; can you tell us about yours,
Some of us in the band have struggled with finances, but
with prayer and faith all our needs have been provided for. Poor health
has been an issue also and God has provided healing and peace. Twice
God provided exactly the right solution to an issue of child care
for one of us.
What do you think about the attitude that links hard rock
and heavy metal with evil contents?
Christian history is full of stories about music that was
rejected based on its form rather than its content. Ultimately, content
is what matters. There are some heavy metal songs more glorifying
to God than some of the hymns sung in church. Naturally, since heavy
metal has attracted musicians anxious to sing about evil, there is
a stereotype about that music. However, bands like Bride, Messiah
Prophet, Vengeance Rising, Deliverance and Bloodgood have created
powerful Christian music.
In your opinion can the lyrics really influence the young
Yes. You would be surprised how often lyrics come to mind
when people are trying to take a decision. Lyrics can also reinforce
attitudes about lifestyle choices, attitudes towards authority and
the meaning of life. Aristotle wrote that when the modes of music
change, the fundamental laws of the state change with them.
What kind of feedback are you getting back from the messages
in your albums?
Some detest the Christian message. Some put up with it but
want us to tone it down. Some ignore it. Some are encouraged by it.
We pray that some are hearing it for the first time and are eager
to find out more about it.
Are there some critics that have hurt you in some ways?
No, everyone is entitled to his own opinion and not everyone
is going to enjoy our music. We take criticism as an opportunity to
improve. The only thing we won't compromise on is our message.
A lot of people think that following Jesus is like losing
freedom, what is your answer to that?
The Bible says that without Jesus, we are slaves to sin.
In other words, we sin whether we want to or not. We sin even after
it stops feeling good. We cannot quit even when we are tired of it.
It is the human condition to be a servant to good or to evil and we
would rather be slaves to Christ than to our sinful nature.
Do you have a word of hope to end this interview?
Jesus knows you and what you need and he wants to do great
things for you and for the Kingdom of Heaven. Let Him. Seek and ye
Reviews (in italian): An Other Life; The
Brass Serpent; This