NEAL MORSE: 'I have a confession to make!'

NEAL MORSE: 'I have a confession to make!' Hot

Stefan Varga   20. Juni 2011  
NEAL MORSE: 'I have a confession to make!'

Interview

Interview-Partner
Einleitung
Nach fast 8 Jahren ist es endlich soweit: Prog-Ikone Neal Morse hat die Fortsetzung seines ersten Soloalbums produziert: Testimony 2. Nur ein paar Tage nach der Veröffentlichung war er dann auch schon mit seinen Bands unterwegs auf Tournee in Südamerika, Mittelamerika und Europa. Wie er auf die Idee gekommen ist, sein erstes Glaubensbekenntnis fortzusetzen und was ihm eigentlich an Deutschland am besten gefällt, erzählte er mir vor seinem Konzert in Aschaffenburg. Er plaudert aus dem Notenkästchen und lüftet Geheimnisse zu seinem neuen Album. Äußerst spannend und humorvoll!
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Das Interview

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
So, how many interviews do you normally have on tour?

Neal Morse:
Not that many usually, I do most of them on the phone. I don’t know, before an album comes out, in an interview season like usually a month before it comes out ... oh, I don’t know. Somewhere between 20 and 35 or something like that. Sometimes it’s alot! Like four or five a day, but you know, I enjoy it too. I´ve been really enjoying the Testimony 2 one, because you know, sometimes you get really interesting questions from interesting people. Like some lady in Tschechoslovakia – slovakian radio – asking you like „So how do you know God is real?“ You know, stuff like that – You´re like: Wow! Thats an intense question. I´d like to explore that. It can be really good. Makes you think, you know?

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
It does. Why did it take you so long, about 8 years, to release Testimony 2? Why not right after Testimony 1?

Neal Morse:
I didn’t really even think of it. I mean, I had a passing thought about it right after Testimony 1, because I remember thinking about a song about Jaydas healing [his daughter], even at that time. But I never, I didn’t feel like it was the right time for it. And then, after I´d written the first draft in my book over the summertime, in October I finished my first draft of this book I was working on – my autobiography – and I gave it to the editor and then it sort of cleared out my plate to start praying about music and what was to come next. And I had all these ideas that I built up on my handheld recorder for months and months and months. But I was writing the book and so I wasn’t really putting any music together. And so I began to put it all together, record all these ideas onto my big computer in the studio and I was just listening to all that stuff going: WOW! It was just like [psssshhhhhhhhhh] all these different bits and pieces like a big giant mural that didnt make any sense to me. And then I got an email from a friend of mine in Holland, who is here tonight actually, who said, „Have you thought about doing Testimony 2?“

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Who was that?

Neal Morse:
A Guy named Fred Boon, he is just a friend of mine. And he sent me an email out of the blue. He said, the apostle Paul gives his testimony three times in the book of acts. So: dont be afraid to give a testimony again! So I was like: Oh, thats an interesting idea! And I prayed about it for a couple of days and I began to feel that green light inside, I began to feel like that „yeah go go go go“ inside. So then I put it all together and so I started.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
So, how do you like Testimony 2?

Neal Morse:
Oh, I like it alot! I think it came out great! Yeah, I like it alot. I try not to compare, you know, when I was writing I thought, I´d have to get Testimony 1 kind of out of my mind! And the first draft of Testimony 2 didn’t have any bits from Testimony 1 in it at all. Like nothing from Testimony 1 was in it. And then Mike and Randy, when I sent them the first draft of Testimony 2 in December, they were like: „Aww, I am a little disapointed, theres nothing from Testimony 1 in there!“ And so when they came to Nashville in December to record the basic tracks, they were like, „We need to pepper it, we need to put in little bits from Testimony 1 and make it more like a real sequel. And so thats what we wind up doing.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Yeah, I really enjoy listening to the album. I noticed the Spocks Beard theme in „Time Changer“ and it took me like 4 hours to figure out, from where you got that. It’s from „The Water“ from your first Spock’s album „The Light“!!

Neal Morse:
Oh Yeah!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Why did you chose this particular theme?

Neal Morse:
It just occured to us! It happened in the studio with Rick, Mike and Randy. It wasn’t in the first draft. Well we were getting all into this idea of like, what can we throw in here, what can we throw in there. Mike is very big on that sort of thing. Even when you are touring with him, he will be like: „Hey, let’s trow in this little bit of this Yes song in the middle of this thing!“ You know, he really likes to put in these little bits and so I thought that was really cool. I don’t remember whos idea it was, it might have been Randys idea. One of us would go like „Hey, how about...after we do this Spock’s, after I mention Spock’s it would be cool to play a Spock’s thing. What would fit?“ You know, we are in 6/8. [Neal starts to play drums on the table and singing a part of the Testimony 2 album] „Spocks was the new kid in town. Could I still make the grade?“ [Neal then singing the Spocks theme from The Water]. It’s cool to have it beef up, I wanted it to be something from the very earliest period. Something from „The Light“ might have been more recognizable, but I couldn’t think of anything that was in 6/8 from the song „The Light“. But anyway, we just do that in there and it seemed to fit!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Do you remember where you met Mike for the first time?

Neal Morse:
Yeah! The first time we met was in the lobby of the studio in New York, where we recorded the SMPTe album, the first Transatlantic album. We never actually physically met, we talked on the phone and had some emails back and forth, so the first time we actually physically met was in the studio!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
And why do you get along so well, is it just the chemistry thats right or in a musical sense..?

Neal Morse:
Well, there is multipal levels. Musically we just work really really well together, and of course he is one of the best drummers in the world, if not the best. He is amazing! But it’s more than that. He is an amazing arranger and producer. What he brings to the table is much more than drumming. You know, alot of arranging and things. And also our friendship has grown, we have become really good friends he has become a very faithful and very dear friend of mine aswell.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
I noticed at your shows, you are switching instruments ALL THE TIME! How do you manage to keep that in mind? How do you rehearse that? How do you remember? Was there any time, when you forgot about it?

Neal Morse:
Sure! I have to train myself: When I sing this line, its time to go get the acoustic guitar or „Baby I’m comin´ home!!“ Take the guitar off – get ready for the next part. As I am rehearsing for the tour, I set all this stuff up and I drill it all and still of course I make mistakes from time to time, but you just drill it and then count on god for the rest!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Yeah, and you get better from time to time!
How do you manage to keep most of your records to a 80 minute limit? Ist One, Sola Scripture, The Whirlwind, Testimony 2, they are all like between 78 and 80 minutes. Is that random?

Neal Morse:
Well, it just seems like ... we just go until we reach the limit. [big laughter!] Some of the albums like the One album: „King Jesus“ should have been on the One album but if we put that on that, we would have to make it 2 discs and I didnt want to make it 2 discs. So we made it up on this track but really perhaps it should have been just one thing.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
So how many hours do you rehearse your own songs? Do you forget your own songs?

Neal Morse:
Ohhh, yeah, I forget my own songs like mad! If I don’t rehearse them, I have to drill the lyrics! I drive around and listen to it over and over and over, I still can’t get all the words right to „Oh Lord, my god“ because they change all the time... I don’t know how many hours, but I spent many many weeks preparing for this tour, programming all the sounds, drilling it all and you have to get it in your hands, you have to get to a point where it flows, without you thinking about it. So, then you can actually enjoy it.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
And how many hours do you just practise your instruments, your voice? You play the piano, the guitar, bass, you sing...

Neal Morse:
It depends! Since I play music for a living, I am usually playing alot. Sometimes I practise a classical piece that I am learning, like the intro to „The Seeds of Gold“ I started practising that in march, because I knew: This is gonna take some serious finger training to do this live! Because I have a confession to make: On the record I did it hands-seperate! I didn’t do it together on the record. So it’s actually, do it together on the record, you know some things like that are gonna take some serious practise. But most of the time I was kind of going with the flow: If it’s writing season, then I am writing alot. I go through seasons. Touring season – then I am preparing for the tour, then I am touring, then after that, I am gonna do some worship services and thats a whole different kind of preperations. It just depends on what season it is.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
That brings me to my next question: Seeds of Gold reminds me of Bach, the intro. So would you prefer Bach or Mozart?

Neal Morse:
Do I prefer Bach or Mozart? Wow! I think if ... I love them both. I love them both. I didnt use to appreciate Mozart so much, because it was a little to pretty for me or something. Most of the mozart I heard was rather light. But I love Mozart. Its such a nice feeling in the home when you put on Mozart, isn’t it? My favorite probably, if I’d have to pick a classical composer, it would probably be Beethoven, because he has the best of both worlds, I feel. He has the beauty and the passion, and the power aswell. Bach is incredible of course but it maybe a little cerebral for me.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
What are the differences in touring with the european and the US band?

Neal Morse:
Well, it’s different bands, different people. We spent three days rehearsing with the US band and I spent only 2 days rehearsing with the europe band. It was supposed to be three days, but I slept during the first day. So well, basically the europe band works as Collin puts the band together and they learn everything, they practise and practise and practise and then they get together I think for three or four days, before I showed up. So they have a good solid week of rehearsals and it’s just a matter of doing all the homework.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
And what are the differences in touring around in South America, the US and Europe?

Neal Morse:
As long as they all have a Starbucks and they take my Starbucks Card, I am good. There was a Starbucks right down the street from the place in Mexico City and they took my Starbucks card, so I was well! It’s really fun doing this. Its kind of like going to a whole bunch of different restaurants or something of all these different ethnis groups and all these different countries.

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
So you do get to see alot of different places?

Neal Morse:
Yeah! People are SO different! Europe is amazing, because you can go 100 kilometres and you go from Italy to Switzerland for example. You know, the italians are like REALLY self expressed! Really Loud! And they are singing along with every riff! And then you go a few miles away and you are with the swiss and they are very quiet and they are very much listening... but I’ve learned to appreciate all the different people and all the different cultures. It’s awesome!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Ok, last question: What is your favorite „thing“ in Germany, in terms of food or no speed limits on highways...?

Neal Morse:
Wow, my favorite thing in Germany .. I love Germany! And its hard for me to pick ONE thing!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Or two things?

Neal Morse:
Or two things! Maybe the scenery and the people first. I really love the german people. And the castles and the scenery, it’s so beautiful! The rhine, I mean, walking along the river in Aschaffenburg, it’s just like wow .. it’s just a beautiful, beautiful place. The food – I love the german food. I love the street food too, I like Döner Kebaps, I like the italian food here, its great, I think the food here is excellent. Really high quality. And: the bathrooms are very clean! You have to pay for them, but its very clean. A very clean country! I appreciate that too. You can count on things to run and work and people are conscientious about making things are done correctly and I apreciate that. We love it!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
I even payed 1 euro once to go to the bathroom here in Germany.

Neal Morse:
Well I wish, they would do that in America, because most of the time the american public toilets are just like trash! They are filthy, it’s gross! I’d rather pay and had it be clean!

Stefan Varga (Hörspiegel):
Well, thank you very much for the interview, enjoy the show, God bless you and your band.

Neal Morse:
Yeah, you’re welcome man, thank you, God bless you!

[at the end of the interview the band was rehearing „We all need some light“ in the other room]

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