A few months ago we reviewed a debut album from UK prog band Pilgrym, a release so surprisingly strong that we were compelled to get in touch with the band for more insight on the splendid CD Pilgrimage. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo had a chance to catch up with keyboard player/singer/guitarist Andy Wells about this exciting new band.
Sea of Tranquility: Can you tell us how the band came together, who is currently in the group, and what were you all doing previous to Pilgrym?
Andy Wells: Tony Drake (guitars, vocals)and I met several years ago in a music shop, both browsing for new gear. I heard Tony mention the band Greenslade and commented to him that it was a name not muttered very often amongst musicians these days, we just kept in touch and met up now and then for a drink.
Eventually I asked him to put down some guitar on a few tracks I was recording and his playing blew me away, the rest is history, we delved around for like minded players and Pilgrym were born.
The band now consists of myself on gtr/vox & keys Tony gtr/vox, long time friend Kevin Mulvihill on drums, Oliver Drake on bass, Emma Pearson on keys & Rob Jarvis on keys gtr.
Tony has worked as a session musician for many years prior to forming Pilgrym. He has worked with other named musicians such as Bill Nelson (Be Bop Deluxe), Iron Duke and even auditioned to replace Greg Lake as bass player / vocalist in King Crimson but was turned down by Bob Fripp because he was the wrong star sign.
SoT: Wow, I bet most of our readers are going to be surprised to hear that!
A.W. : I'm sure! Kevin Mulvihill has also worked with many top bands over the years and now, aside from Pilgrym, drums in a 20 piece big band jazz outfit.
Rob Jarvis like, myself is also a music teacher part time, and works on film and TV soundtracks.
Oliver Drake also plays bass in Annihilator when not working with Pilgrym.
Emma Pearson is a full time student at the moment, doing a degree in music technology. That covers everyone!
SoT: The music on Pilrimage is very rooted in classic 70's prog rock, yet has a healthy dose of 80's melodic pop hooks. What are some of the bands influences that helped shape your sound?
A.W.: I don't really listen to others while in the writing process but I suppose the bands I listened to as a kid will have an indelible stamp on the sound we have. PFM / Greenslade / Asia / King Crimson etc. I think blocking my mind off from any outside influence helps create the sound that Pilgrym achieve. I don't want too many influences involved because I think any new music should move forward with a minimum of reflection on other people's styles to create individuality and fresh music for the future.
SoT: You use a wide variety of vintage and modern keyboards on the CD-can you talk a little bit about your gear, and what are some of your favourites?
A.W.: In the studio we have a Hammond B3 with custom 200w Leslie speaker, Mellotron Mk 400,Wurlitzer EP200a, Roland super JX10 / JX3P, EMU Emulator Mk2, ARP Oddysey, Mini Moog, Yamaha SY99 & E-Mu Vintage keys [ new ].
I love the Hammond but the Tron is a bitch to play and very temperamental, and the Moog very rarely stays in tune for long. The King of synths in the studio is the Roland super JX 10. It has an extended 76 note semi weighted keyboard which plays more like a piano and gives me extended range for more expression. It's also the midi platform for all the synth's in the studio with midi capability on it's own as a synth it's also a monster sound wise basically it's 2 JX 8's piggy backed together with 4 separate synth outputs for each timbre. Like I said, it's a monster synth and my all time favourite!
SoT: Who came up with the concept of the artwork for the CD? It's a wonderful yet mysterious piece of artwork!
A.W.: The artwork is done by a good friend of ours from New Jersey USA. His name is Lee Gaskins, quite a genius, www.leegaskins.com [check out his sites]. I can't remember how Lee came across my work but I remember him giving me a call to say he would be interested in designing some cover art. The Pilgrym album fit the bill perfectly. After listening to rough music of tracks to be included on the Pilgrym album, Lee was inspired to do the cover. He is busy at the moment designing the cover art for the new Pilgrym album, 'The Great Divide'.
SoT : Ah, that will segue nicely into a question I have for you a bit later. Does the band get to play live often?
A.W.: Live work so far is limited, but we are in rehearsals to do a full show. We have done some support work in the UK and recorded 'Reborn' off the album, at one of the shows. We want to get two albums under our belt before any full scale live performances; it will give us a better choice of material to draw from.
SoT : Your songs seem to have a quality that would lend themselves perfectly to a live setting, with lots of strong chorus' that the audience can sing along to. What songs are you planning on playing live?
A.W. : We will perform all from Pilgrimage plus some of my solo stuff and material from the new album.
SoT: Do you and Tony Drake share the song writing duties, or is it mostly you who writes the material?
A.W.: Song writing is mostly done by myself as Tony is busy working on his own solo album at the moment. I'm hoping the rest of the band will contribute some input to maybe the album after The Great Divide as most of the material is already written and formatted.
SoT: What decides who will sing what song?
A.W.: Mmmmmh !!! Total democracy, but it's usually me as I work in the studio at ridiculous times and when I've finished the vocals everyone seems to be happy with them and we tend to keep them as they are. Tony will be contributing a few more vocals on the next album. We have an acoustic track called 'TheHere and Now' which I think Tony's voice will lend great character to it being more balladie than mine.
SoT: How about the current prog scene-are there any current prog rock bands that you admire?
A.W.: I listen to a lot of classical music, but I think bands like Porcupine Tree carry on the progressive tradition very admirably. I like Neil Morse's writing and also admire him as a musician. I have also heard the Flower Kings but don't possess any of their albums yet, might have to look for one.
SoT: Now we get back to the follow-up CD, which you've mentioned will be called The Great Divide-is there a timetable for that and what can your fans expect as far as the music goes?
A.W.: We are currently in Hydeaway and Holy ground studios recording material for the next album , and I think listeners who liked the first CD will be very pleased with this one as well.
SoT: Sounds good Andy, we are looking forward to it!