Originally written for Prog Zone Magazine in April 2013.
While many progressive rock bands owe a debt to the classical and jazz music that came before, few were as successful at combining both styles simultaneously as the French band Magma. Their unique sound arose from the brain of drummer, vocalist and main composer Christian Vander in response to the death of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Coltrane’s themes of spirituality and transcendence (most obvious in his later albums A Love Supreme, Ascension and Meditations) persist throughout all of Magma’s works, even as their sound changed to further incorporate classical and operatic influences – those of Carl Orff in particular. Vander unified these influences with an ambitious sci-fi concept that lead to the most controversial aspect of Magma’s sound. All the albums (excluding a one-off flop in the 80s) are sung in Vander’s invented language: Kobaïan.
I originally interviewed Tony Levin (King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment, Peter Gabriel) back in September 2013 for Prog Zone Magazine. He took time off his tour with Peter Gabriel to answer a few of my questions about his latest album – a collaboration between Levin, Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater and Marco Minnemann (whom I recently interviewed), titled Levin Minnemann Rudess. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to pick the brain of one of the greatest bassists around, only to be topped a month ago when I actually met Tony and several other King Crimson members during their tour of The Crimson ProjeKct.
Back in August 2013 I interviewed Steven Wilson for the (sadly now defunct) Prog Zone Magazine, to promote his upcoming Australian tour of The Raven Refused to Sing (And Other Stories). That concert may have come and gone now (and what a show it was!) but there’s still some interesting stuff to be found in this interview.
For those not aware, Steven Wilson is musician, producer and all round prog-rock polymath. Looking back at his body of work – his solo material, his original band Porcupine Tree, collaborating with Swedish prog metal titans Opeth and remastering old progressive rock classics – it’s not too surprising the man has a lot to say and it was a pleasure to be able to have a chat with him.