Interview with keyboard player Thomas and drummer Lars of Gazpacho by Danny on February 5, 2011.It has been three years since I had a spontaneous interview with Gazpacho during the Loreley festival. A lot has happened during that time, so there was a lot to talk about during this interview in “De Boerderij”, just before their gig on February 5th, 2011. Thomas (keyboardplayer) was already there, offering me a drink, while the new drummer Lars entered. Thomas
Let me introduce you to our new drummer, Lars. Our previous drummer met a girl in Italy and when she got pregnant, he stayed there with her. So Lars joined us. He’s an incredible drummer. He has no problem to play our music. OK, can’t wait to see him play tonight. And the rest of the band, of course. But let’s talk about the new album first. It’s a concept album? Thomas
Yes. The idea for the different masses for Atropos on the album was to have this man who moves to a lighthouse and these are his attempts to write A mass for Atropos. I think that it’s important that we are trying to show that he is trying to write this mass and these are unfinished pieces. That’s why they are so short. He knows that it isn’t working. He tries another one and that one’s not working,… So, it’s impossible to write a mass for Atropos.And “Missa Atropos”? Thomas
That’s his final attempt. It’s his finished piece.But the final attempt comes between part 2 and 3? Thomas
Yes, because he is still not satisfied with it. The lighthouse is the mind. And you won’t be able to reach out from within your mind, no matter how hard you try.
Atropos is one of the tree fates from Greek mythology. Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Lachesis measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring and Atropos was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of each person’s death.
The album is also about leaving everything behind. Because I’m sure that every man and every woman has thought about, at some point in their life, what would it be like if I left and went to Cuba, or live in the woods. Every single person has sensed that.So the album is not negative? Thomas
It’s not negative at all. There’s a melancholic feeling in it, but not negative. Lars
The melancholy is that we are all doomed to never fully get to know each other.But it’s darker? Thomas
It’s much darker. It’s a darker place to be. Who came up with the idea for this concept? Thomas
We always write the music first and then we ask ourselves, what does this music sound like? Because it has a certain melancholic atmosphere. And it’s important to find something fitting. While we were making the album, I read a book called “Solitude” by a man called Anthony Storr, a British psychiatrist. He has written about how many famous people from the past have chosen for solitude. I thought it was an interesting concept. Solitude is almost seen as negative now. If I want to be alone, they ask me: “Why don’t you want to be around other people?”. People who prefer to be alone are seen as weird and strange.
And then there’s the lighthouse. The lighthouse is the mind. When I come home from work, I sit down and watch TV, like a zombie. You’re not there. Your body is there, but your mind isn’t. The whole band knows this much about the concept? Thomas
For the lyrics, it’s usually me and Jan-Hendrik, who get together. What are the numbers you hear during the little masses? Thomas
The numbers are in the first and second one. These numbers are from original spy recordings from the cold war. Spies were sending messages over the short wave radio. They used a recorded voice, so nobody could recognize their voice. Didn’t Porcupine Tree use that too? Thomas
I just heard that during a previous interview. I haven’t listened to Porcupine Tree. I put it on the album. I thought it was a great metaphor for this whole idea of communication. The possibility of communicating with someone with only coded numbers. I was thinking of using them to play the Lotto. ;-) Thomas
You should do that, but you have to do that every week. You can never stop, because if ever they come in, and you didn’t use them that week!! Like every band Gazpacho has been categorized from the beginning. And your style was called progressive emo rock. That was an advantage at the start, because a lot of progressive rock fans know you. But isn’t that a disadvantage now to get through to the mainstream? Thomas
I think Lars should answer that, cause he’s new to our music. Lars
When I got the new music, I thought it was interesting and it didn’t come across as progressive as in the original term. I think a lot of bands struggle with that labelling because when you hear the word progressive you think about ELP and Genesis. There’s nothing wrong with these bands and I like them too but you sort of think of the seventies. I think progressive should be “thinking forward” and not looking back at the seventies; That’s the term. Progressive now is more like nostalgic. People have so much need for labels. It’s easier to call it post-progressive, or neo-this or whatever. It’s again a communication thing from the bands to the listener. Maybe it’s the length of your tracks, although they are shorter on the new album, or should I see that as one long track? Thomas
We see it as one long big song. We had so many ideas for the lyrics on the album. Originally, it was one title, with subtitles but we got complaints from people with mp3 players. Lars
You have to listen to the whole album. If you take out different songs, you miss the whole concept. It’s one of the most difficult albums I’ve ever listened to. That’s the problem because people put it aside after the first time. And you should carry on, because it’s so rewarding. Lars
Actually, I have that lots of times, with albums that were too difficult when I was younger. And I didn’t get it and I put it away. But years later, I brought it up again and I got so much more out of it and it became one of my favourite albums. And this album has that potential. When Yes released “Tales from Topographic Oceans”, people thought: “Oh God, it’s two songs”. It was too much information, but it became a classic. Same with “Supper’s Ready” from Genesis. Thomas
I bought “Close to the Edge” because I knew the name Rick Wakeman. And the first time I listened I only heard “Ti tuu ti tuu tuu ….” and I said: “What?”. I thought there was something wrong with the record. But then I listened to it and listened to it and it’s an excellent album. Does it make a big difference to be on a big label now? Thomas
It hasn’t made a difference yet, because it only just began. Missa came out too early for them to do a great job on the promotion. They are working their asses of to get it done as good as possible. We get the full push for the next album. But I think it’s going to make a big difference. It has a certain level of quality. A certain weight. Are you famous in Norway? Thomas
No, not at all. We can’t even tour in Norway. It’s a too big area to cover for a small amount of people. You have a song called “Vera”. Who is Vera? Thomas
There’s a book by Katherine Anne Porter called “The Ship of Fools” based on an old German poem “Das Narrenschiff”. It tells the tale of a group of disparate characters sailing from Mexico to Europe aboard a German freighter, the Veracruz. It’s the passengers' unavailing withdrawal from a life of disappointment, seeking a kind of utopia. You should write a book about the theme of your album. ;-) Thomas
No, we don’t need to write a book. You should write the book. If an album gives you images, if it makes you remember something from your childhood and if it makes you feel something, you didn’t know you felt than that’s what important. That’s the idea. I see there’s only time for one more question. Is there anything I haven’t asked and you wanted to tell the listeners? Thomas
All the music is about you and the listener, not about us. These are albums that are supposed to be used as a magic ocean bringing out things you haven’t thought about for a while. All the stuff that you are losing going numb and being tired. That’s the whole point. Lars
You have to feel the things you are not able to communicate. I call it The Feeling. And that’s why we are doing it. That’s the magic. That’s our message.