A CONVERSATION WITH MEMBERS OF NEW JERSEY PROG BAND, 3RDEGREE
September 3, 2015 · by thecarltonboy · in Interviews. ·
The following is an abbreviated transcript of a three-way phone conference that took place on Friday, 28 August, with Justin Carlton of The PROG Mind and 3RDegree’s Robert Pashman (bass) and Patrick Kliesch (guitars) — after first attempting (and failing) to conduct a three-way video chat via Facebook, FaceTime, and Skype. Pat phones from his home in LA.
We join the conversation already in progress…
Justin Carlton: Alright, so why don’t we just kick off? I have some questions here, but you guys can interject at any time — or if you have things you want to talk about that I don’t ask, please feel free to bring it up. To get started, for anyone that might not be familiar with 3RDegree, can you give us a little sound-byte of the band’s history?
Patrick Kliesch: Can you hit that one, Rob?
Robert Pashman: Well, we started the very end ’90 when I got together with our original drummer, Rob Durham. By the following summer, Pat was added to the band and we started playing our first shows, and we put out an album in ’93, and then we almost completed another album in ’95, but we thought it would be a good idea if we got a really good singer for our second album, to step it up a notch, so we got George [Dobbs], and he was added to the band. We broke up in early ’97, and then we got back together… In early/late ’05, we met – uh the original trio met – and said, hey, let’s record some of those songs we never completed from when we broke up – ‘cause we left a bunch of good songs for a possible third album, you know, just sort of laying there. We worked on them while we were broken up, as solo projects, but there was still a whole lot of material.
Rob: We got together and recorded through ’06 and 07, and then in ’08 we released Narrow-Caster, and that’s the first of three albums we’ve made since we re-formed. And each album we try to add more and more people to the people who know who we are.
Pat: [laughs] I thought you were going to say more and more people to the band.
Rob: Well, yeah, that too. Basically, after Narrow-Caster came out, it did better than we thought, but we weren’t sure how serious we were going to be about music or any of it. We weren’t really a live band. We did have some reunion concerts in ’07, but by ’08, about a year-and-a-half later, we really were thinking about playing live. We thought, hey, if we get invited somewhere significant, we’ll see. Sure enough, we got invited to Prog Day in ’09, at which point we had to… what’s the word scuffle? Is that the word? When you have to hurry up to try to do something.
Rob: Scramble! There it is! [laughs] Slightly different definition. We had to scramble to get a drummer, and it was a good enough gig that Pat was going to fly back from LA where he was stationed. So we just had to get a drummer, and we ended up getting a drummer, and we got a guitarist for the east coast as well, in one Eric Pseja, who played with us at the reunion concerts two years earlier. So, basically, there was that, and then the fact that – while we were working on the 2012 album, The Long Division – we saw that we needed not only one guitar slot, but it would be better if we had two, so we added a third guitarist to the band in Bryan [Zeigler], who is new on this recording. So we just sort of, like a glacier moving across a piece of land, we accumulated numbers, going from a power trio to a double trio.
Justin: Excellent. So you’ve got a number of albums under your belt now, you’ve gone through a number of different members, transitions, and things like that… What has kept 3RDegree being different from some other neo-prog bands that are hitting the scenes now?
Rob: [pauses] Oh, are we a neo-prog band?
Justin: [laughs] I guess maybe not necessarily in terms of the genre-specific [implication], but new-wave prog bands that are, you know, kinda hanging out.
Rob: Yeah, I thought that’s what you meant. ‘Cause we’ve never been… [laughs] I’d say I hate to use the word “accused,” but we’ve never been told or accused of being “neo-prog…”
Justin: Of being “neo-prog,” yeah, alright. [laughs] Yeah, forgive me.
Rob: Whatever that is, you know? “Neo…” I mean, we’re considered “crossover prog” at the Prog Archives, which is really a good catchall for a lot of different bands. Uh, Pat, you want to answer that question?
Pat: What was the first part of the question? What sets us apart?
Justin: What keeps you different from other prog bands?
Pat: Uh, longevity?
Pat: I mean, we’ve been around for 25 years, except for the break.
Rob: Yeah, minus the break. And, I think… A bunch of people have said that we do not sound like any other prog bands out there. There’s strict guidelines for prog, and we seem to be breaking every one of those. [laughs]
Justin: Okay. Purposely, maybe? [laughs]
Rob: No, not purposely – just because we have so many difference influences between the… originally it was between the three of us, then the four of us, and now the six of us. But a lot of people would prefer to consider us an “art rock” band rather than a “prog” band.
Justin: Yeah, I can get that.
Rob: Because we cut our teeth on scene in the New York area in the early 90’s, I like to think that we sound a little different because… although in our teens, you know, we were listening to prog and sort of catching up a decade later, after it had actually been out and been popular, so it was an unpopular thing for us to be in the 80s listening to prog. Although you had YES and Genesis, but it was a different sort of YES and a different sort of Genesis. But, you know, I was listening to Marillion when I was fifteen. I was on top of at least what was going on in the 80s, which was basically just Marillion, anyway. But what happened in the 90’s was we all, but especially Pat with his guitar, were being very influenced by the grunge movement.
Rob: And another element of Pat’s guitar work that makes us sound… a little sunny sometimes, in a good way I guess, is that we’re both really into this band called the Cocteau Twins.
Rob: And the way Pat sort of creates a wall of sound sometimes in certain songs reflects that. I find that influence comes through sometimes.
Pat: I never really considered them my influence, but I can perfectly understand where Rob’s coming from. There’s similarities… it’s like a wash of reverb in my clean sound.
Rob: And the other thing I’ve been saying lately – with regards to where we fit in the genre – is that we sort of… use prog and its many things that it’s known for. It’s sort of one tool in our toolbox.
Rob: So while it’s the biggest tool – it’s like the wrench or the hammer in the toolbox – we also have a mitre saw of other things…
Rob: … like grunge, and an allen wrench of classic Beatles and Zeppelin. And the other thing I would say is just… George. George’s vocals are really… singular, if that’s the term. I really don’t think a lot of people are singing like him, or frankly as well as him, in our genre. A lot of people gave prog hell – especially neo prog and a lot of stuff in the 80’s – for having vocals, you know, that were very staccato in 7/8 and very un-musical, and singers singing about goblins and whatnot, and we stayed away from a lot of that… Although, I mean, we have an album now that’s about the future with an album cover that looks like the Moody Blues, so…
Justin: No, I love the Moody Blues cover, so that’s great. I was thinking, as I was listening to this – and I’ll confess that I’ve not listened to all of your back catalogue, at least, not as extensively as this new album – that the only voice that I could think of that sounds like George’s is the guy from the band Arabs in Aspic. He’s the only one I was hearing any similarities to. He’s got kind of that higher register going on.
Rob: I think you could say it’s just a soulful delivery. Another one of our influences, on the cusp of soul and grunge, is King’s X. We’re all big fans of them.
Justin: Okay. So, overall, has writing been more of a collaborative effort or the work of just one or two of you?
Pat: I would say, up until the point when we split, the four of us – well, first the three of us – would each introduce little snippets of ideas, and we’d rehearse twice a week, so those ideas would be fleshed out in rehearsal. But ever since we broke up and then I moved to LA, we couldn’t do that like we did back then. So my ideas pretty much stay with me, and then Rob and George produce it, and then Rob’s ideas are his, and George’s ideas are his.
Rob: Yeah, we’ve accepted the reality of Pat being where he is, and even the reality of – even if Pat was here – that we have day jobs and we can’t get together as much as we would if that was all we wanted to do. We collaborate, but it’s in slow motion. So, Pat will write and record – and that’s a good thing that almost every member of the band has their own project studio.
Rob: Each has different digital workstations, and we each send everyone mp3s. That’s how we make the album, eventually. We start with the idea and bounce it back to everyone – Pat might have a verse, I might have a chorus. So there’s a lot of that. The writers are accomplished enough that, a lot of times, one guy writes all the music, one guy writes all the lyrics, vice versa, and it all works okay. And then when we get together, it’s really to work on the rhythm section – mostly the drums – to get ready to go into the studio for a weekend to record six songs or so, and then we don’t get together for a while because we’re fleshing out the rest of the track. And then we finish the album and all get back together to start rehearsing – playing our own songs almost like we’re a cover band, because there wasn’t a lot of time we’d played our own parts in those songs with everyone else, since we recorded them on our own. So that’s our reality. We’ve embraced it. I think we’ve made some pretty good albums with that method, and it is what it is.
Justin: A bit of a Transatlantic thing going on. Okay, do you want to talk a little about the new album itself? I’ll just go ahead and say that I love it. I’ve probably listened to it about 12-15 times now, I appreciate the nuances of it, and I’m working on a review that I’ll hopefully publish not long after this interview. I’ve also seen the glowing reviews from the ProgArchives… although it seemed like Donald Trump didn’t really care for it too much when you polled him on it recently.
Rob & Pat: [laughter]
Rob: [Trump voice] You guys were horrible.
Pat: [Trump voice] You didn’t sing about border patrol.
Justin: [laughs] I’m amazed you were able to get in touch with him, frankly. So what would you say has made the album so successful right out of the gate?
Pat: Well, each album kind of rides on the success of our previous album. We didn’t get much success for Human Interest Story, so when we re-formed and did Narrow-Caster, there was a really small amount of people who knew about us from the 90’s, but Narrow-Caster was a better album than Human Interest Story. We built a small but loyal following from that. And then when we did The Long Division, at that time we thought it was our “masterpiece,” and we built off the success of Narrow-Caster. So I think every album we do is better than the previouS one. And we certainly gained a lot of new fans with The Long of Division. So the fact that we gained a lot of fans from that and [the fact that Ones & Zeroes] is definitely our best album has a lot to do with the current success. Plus, Rob’s been pounding the digital pavement trying to gain as much exposure and publicity as he can. Kudos to him – I mean, he’s really the marketing guru of 3RDegree.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, I’m good at certain things, I’m not good at certain things. Facebook feels really comfortable to me, and we have our e-mail list that we send sparingly – we don’t want to spam people too much. Pat’s probably handling Twitter in the future. I’ll just reiterate that we spent all of ’08 and ’09 just on just getting our sea-legs. We spent a bit of money on advertising just trying to get our name out there. And it hardly mattered that we were a band in the 90’s. We were really thinking about changing the name of the band because there’s a lot of other “Third Degrees” out there, even with the same spelling. But Pat’s sister came up with our logo and we’ve been pretty anal about making sure our logo changes color but never shape. We’ve even gone back to our second album and added our artwork back in on it. So we’re trying to get people to have some visual cues. It’s seems like you get a really intense 3-6 months of “look-at-what-we’re-doing” when you put an album out. Similarly when you’re doing a lot of live shows. So yeah, every album keeps bringing fans, and you hope they keep on ‘til the next one. I don’t know that many people who hear our new album and say, “I liked your last one better.” There’s a few, but it seems like everyone is agreeing with us – that we’re getting better at what we do, as songwriters, as engineers at recordings, at mixing – the mixes that we’re putting out there… And then there’s 10T. We are now on a label with this album, so [there are benefits that relationship engenders]. We’ve been with them for about two years now.
Pat: They re-released a digital version of our second album [too].
Justin: Oh, okay.
Rob: When we were still in The Long Division mode, we signed with them, and [10T] carried our album. They didn’t really do much in the late promotion, though. Right now, basically, the album’s available at Bandcamp because a lot of people love shopping there, but the album’s pretty much available through [10T] – they do all our fulfillment, and then of course it’s everywhere else: prog retailers, iTunes, Google Play, everywhere.
Justin: That was actually going to be one of my questions: what’s the experience been like moving over to 10T?
Rob: I think there might be some bands that might find 10T or any other label to be something that would really be a big change for them, because there’s nobody in the band who feels like doing any of the business side of things. Like, if their music is really good and they don’t want to do any of the business, the label can be the main voice. I believe I have a partnership with Steve over at 10T, and a sort of friendship has blossomed, but we’re really working together on this album. He’s doing what he does and there’s a little bit of overlap with how we decide where we’re going to put our advertising efforts and whatnot. Yeah, we’re working together nicely.
Justin: It seems like from what I’ve been reading about what you guys have been doing, it’s kind of like an independent band operating with the partnership of a label as opposed to coming fully under a label’s management.
Pat: That’s kind of how it feels, yeah.
Rob: He doesn’t make us do things. He just knows how to release an album well. We thought we did. [laughs] Having an album on a label means somebody believes in you enough that they’re putting a little skin in the game, spending time – not so much money – but they’re definitely spending time. You could make it so that they share [expenses] with you, but most people just record for whatever [cost] and make the CDs, and then the label throws in a little something.
Justin: Alright. So, I think I remember reading, Pat, that you and George kind of spearheaded the concept for Ones & Zeroes.
Pat: Yeah, we did. We never initially set out to say, “Hey, the next album let’s do a it futurist album.” It sort of organically fell into place. There were two songs that were left off of The Long Division, that had that theme, and that was “What it Means to Be Human” and “The Gravity.”
Rob: And “More Life.”
Pat: And “More Life” as well. During the recording sessions of The Long Division, those songs were recorded.
Justin: So “More Life” came before “Life?”
Rob: Yeah, “Life” was actually… It’s funny, now that I think of it, “Life” was the last thing recorded for the album – it was recorded early this year, I think. And it’s sort of a reprise almost. To us, “More Life” is the real song and “Life” is like the tease.
Rob: It might feel different for people listening to the album because one comes before the other, but [“More Life”] is the only song, writing-wise, that predates even the band getting back together. Back in 2004, me and Eric Psjea had a side project, and that song was the last song on a 5-song EP we released. And I championed it [for Ones & Zeroes]. The version that 3RDegree did turned out a lot more energetic and frenetic, versus the original version that had a looser, more acoustic feel. It was a total accident – when we recorded the drums, everyone had too much energy, we didn’t have a click… Not that it’s a bad song – we all love it – but it just didn’t capture that feel that the original version had. So when we decided to do a more acoustic version, at the very end of recording Ones & Zeroes, I had started the demo here in my little home studio office, and we liked the tempo that I laid down, and it was actually even more of an acoustic, laid-back, tempo, and Pat put it in a different key that actually matched the song we knew it would come after. So there was a lot of thought [put into it].
Pat: Yeah, as a matter of fact, I tried three different ways to make it sound open. It’s in the key of F, and “More Life” is in E with open strings strumming, and when I first tried playing it in F, I was like, “Man, this sucks….”
Pat: It just doesn’t ring out naturally when you’re trying to change chords. So I tried pitch-bending it in ProTools, I tried de-tuning it on my guitar… and it was either George or Rob who said, “Dude, just buy a capo.”
Justin: [laughs] That’s great.
Pat: And I had never bought a capo before, so I did that and I was like, “Oh my God!” capos are immediately my friends! So it wound up being a capo in F, and that let me ring out the chords nicely. And because that trails after the end of “This is the Future,” which I did that nice little bridge segue, going into “Life,” it worked really well.
Justin: That’s funny. Believe it or not, when I was listening through the album, I was thinking that “Life” sounded… because the refrain is the same words but the melody is slightly different, and I was thinking that that one sounded more like a reprise than “More Life” did, so that’s interesting that I was thinking that and it’s actually how the recording process went.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, George took the melody and sort of took liberties with it and wrote a whole new lyric. And it obviously repeats. So, you’ve got basically five songs [on Ones & Zeroes] that were written post-Long Division.
Justin: So the theme was something that developed as you were writing some other songs and then you brought it together into the concept that it became.
Rob: I think after we knew we were pushing off “What it Means to Be Human” and “The Gravity” [from The Long Division] we all agreed that we wanted the next album to be a concept album – before any of the new songs were written. So we made it our intent to create, thematically, every song about some kind of concept of what we think the future [in] 10-15 years will be like.
Justin: Okay, so without giving too much away, it seems like Ones & Zeroes’ central question has a lot to do with the fact that, as we seek to advance, what we can do with technology and the biotech aspect of that… I mean, the central question seems to me, to be: do we, in fact, become more sub-human than ultra-human by transcending our limitations. Is that an accurate assessment of the theme you were working with?
Pat: Yeah. “What it Means to Be Human” captured how I was feeling about where we draw the line between us and when technology will… you know, if in fact we do achieve the singularity and even, in addition to that, where’s the line drawn between us and the other normal animals? What does it mean to be human? Is it our souls? Is that what differentiates it? And if we ever do achieve some kind of ultra-AI, will they ever have the ability to have souls? That’s speculating way, deep, deep, deep into the future. But that’s kind of where I was going with that concept. “What it Means to be Human” is the one that dealt deeply with that theme, but the rest all touches upon on what technology will do to us as human beings.
Rob: Yeah, George wrote “Circuit Court” just about the lack of privacy and the way we’re all gridded. Even though the guys spearheaded this concept, I ended up pitching in a song for this album based on my reading that I was inspired to get into, and I really took to the ultra-AI [concept] – the song “The Best and Brightest” is about the ultra-AI – which is kind of akin to the nuclear arms race, and it’s thought that America and China are the two nations probably moving toward trying to find some sort of Terminator-like ultra-AI. Getting into something that really backfires, to say the least. Eric worked on “More Life,” but also pitched in for a lot of “Life at Any Cost,” which is the song probably the most about the living forever ability.
Pat: There’s about three or four big recurring themes on the album. Life enhancement, life prolonging… Life expansion and enhancement – that’s one of the big ones. You hear that in “Could This Be the Future.” He talks about… “I’d be a fool to not upgrade.”
Justin: Yeah. “I never thought my contentment could come from a transistor.”
Pat: [laughs] Yeah, that was actually my line.
Justin: Oh, was it? Well it’s a good one.
Pat: Well, thanks. I just come up with the little gems and let George run with the rest.
Justin: [laughs] So, if you can say there’s a story to the album, at the heart of it is this Valhalla Biotech, which…
Pat: Yeah, yeah. Rob, should we give away the genesis of where the Valhalla idea came from?
Rob: Oh, yeah – it’s in my song.
Pat: Yeah, so, Rob had written the “Best and Brightest,” and it was almost a throwaway line for him – “Valhalla.”
Rob: It was literally instead of just going “ah-ah-ah.” I said the word “Valhalla,” and recorded it, and it ended up being so appropriate.
Pat: It struck a chord with me and George. We were like, “We love it.” You know, just the idea of what Valhalla is – the hall of the gods, and eternal life – so we thought that Vahalla Biotech is such an appropriate name for that company, because it’s about prolonging life. At least, that’s one of the main things about it. So when we started this album, it didn’t have the antagonist or whatever Valhalla Biotech is – the omnipresent mega-conglomerate. It was about halfway through the recording of the album that we said, “Hey, let’s turn this into, rather than just ideas about the future, let’s turn it into a fully conceptual album with a running theme and narratives.”
Rob: We also purposely encouraged each other to write little pieces of music that end each song to transition into the next song. So, just when you think the song’s over, there’s little things that sort of, maybe don’t always go right into something, but just serve as just a palate cleanser. And what you’ll see on Volume II, is that some of those palate-cleansers… song connectors… We tease some stuff on the second album. And on the second album you’ll hear call-backs to stuff on the first.
Pat: Yeah, as a matter of fact, at the end of “The Best and Brightest,” you might not understand why it’s written that way, but it’s really a theme from a song called “Logical Conclusion” that we’ve postponed until Volume II.
Justin: Oh, okay. Alright.
Rob: I assume that question’s coming. [laughs]
Justin: [laughs] Yes, yes – that’s one of my questions we’ll get to. It seemed like there ended up being almost a jingle for the Valhalla corporation with all the warbly sound effects that were going on there.
Pat: Yeah, I tried a few jingles. I tried basing it off of the opening chimes of “The Gravity” – with those keyboards?
Pat: ‘Cause I knew I wanted a jingle. So I tried that first. But then Rob or George or both of them – no, it was George – said “Do the jingle based on Rob’s ‘Valhalla.’” You know, [sings] “Val-hall-a…” So I did that.
Rob: So not just all the song connectors, but all the sound effects stuff – a lot of the people talking and all the jingles, which are slightly different every time: sometimes the talking is over the jingle, sometimes you hear just the jingle between songs… We tried to make it so that it is different, so you don’t hear that jingle the same way every time – too many times. We were really careful not to go too overboard with the concept, and it kind of contributed to us making the album a little shorter.
Justin: So can we talk about Volume II?
Justin: So your Bandcamp said it’s coming out in 2016. Is it going to be a sequel per se, or is it going to be a little more like Pain of Salvation’s The Perfect Element where there’s a “Part II” slapped into the liner notes [of Scarsick] and it’s just loosely connected?
Rob: You won’t be able to listen to both albums back-to-back, you won’t happen. I guess it’s like Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. What do you think, Pat?
Pat: I guess in the true narrative storytelling sense, that’s what we’re doing, but there’s no timeline. It’s not a story with a beginning, middle, and end. We’re weaving together ideas by using the Valhalla Biotech to tie it all together. So yeah, most definitely [they] will reappear on Volume II, but there’s no central character who’s going to die at the end.
Justin: Nobody’s going to get his hand cut off and it will later be revealed that it’s his father who did it…
Pat: Yeah. But then again, maybe!
Rob: Half of it, or what we think is half of it is, [already] done. We actually have four tracks that total 24 minutes that are totally mixed and done. And one of those is maybe not going to see the light of day, but definitely three out of four of those will be on the next album. Because we so get into this and there are so many more aspects that all tie together into this two-part album, it’s a little bit scary because we haven’t set a deadline for ourselves, but we have set a subject and a place to put our songs into. I guess somebody could write something completely unrelated and it’ll get pushed off until a future album – just like these songs were. But we’re trying to write another 25-30 minutes of music for Volume II.
Pat: Because we’ve had like three years to work on this album, we opened up a band thread for everybody on Facebook, and we just throw out ideas and articles that we read about – futurist ideas, spanning from any of the future thinkers like Ray Kurzweil –and post them for the band members to read. And if we all like it, we’re like, “Yes, let’s use that as a theme for a song.” We could write like ten more quality songs because there’s so much to write about, but we’re not going to.
Rob: I think we’re burning ourselves out right now.
Pat: Yeah. [laughs]
Justin: That’s a topic you can lose yourself in for a long time.
Rob: Yeah, definitely.
Justin: Okay, so let’s talk a little about live stuff to wrap up. So you guys are going to be headed overseas pretty soon, right? You’re going over to UK I saw and somewhere else.
Rob: Yeah, we’re going to UK at the end. The main thing that this tour is built around is the fact that we’re playing a festival in Wales – a summer’s end festival, which I think it’s eleven years old now. I think it’s the longest-running prog festival, at least in England if not all of Europe. So, figuring that we go over there to play for however many hundreds of people go to that, we then backtrack from there to play other dates in UK and then France, Germany, and the Netherlands. They’re spaced out a bit so that we get some downtime and spend some time in Belgium. Anybody who knows the band knows we love beer. We actually made a band beer.
Justin: Oh did you? Excellent!
Pat: We did. Matter of fact, I had just brewed my own beer recently, so that makes three out of the six guys beer-brewers. I’m starting my second batch next week.
Justin: Okay, nice!
Pat: We’re going to brew another beer for the Ones & Zeroes album. For our last album, The Long Division, we brewed a beer called “Cautionary Tale,” which was the title of a track from Narrow-Caster. The funny joke is that it was a Belgian-style beer, and its name was spelled “T-apostrophe-A-L-E” [Cautionary T’Ale], which in Belgian would mean “The Ale,” so it’s a “caution” about ale. So it had many meanings, because it had a high alcohol content.
Justin: Right, right. It was its own warning.
Pat: It was. We have another clever title for the new one we’re going to make, but I’ll keep it a secret for now.
Justin: Okay. We’ll have a reveal later. So you’re going to be on the road. Are there any noticeable acts that you’ll be playing with that you know of at the moment?
Rob: Yeah. At the festival, we’re playing with Pallas who were a pretty big 80‘s neo-band. And then prior to us on the same day are Light Damage from Luxembourg, and The Fierce & the Dead from the UK. But there’s another eight or so bands that are playing the festival as well. Prior to that, we’re playing with Credo and Introitus, then we’re playing three dates in the UK with those two bands, and then with them again at the festival. We’re playing by ourselves in the Netherlands, but in Germany we’re playing with Neo Prophet, and they’re from German. Then we have a bunch of American dates with another bunch of bands.
[See below for full tour schedule]
Justin: Okay, so I have just one more question – kind of a fun question. I think, by nature of being prog bands, we all have to have some high-maintenance members, so who can you indict as the high-maintenance prima donna of 3RDegree?
Pat & Rob: [laughter]
Pat: They’re all the most… EASIEST members I’ve EVER worked with in all my life.
Rob: No seriously, though, we get along pretty good. There can be a lot of butting heads [in bands]. You’re a guitarist, right, Justin?
Justin: Uh, I don’t know if I can call myself that, but I play keys and guitar behind Geoff and Steve. They’re the leads. I’m kind of an auxiliary guy.
Rob: Oh, okay. Well, we have three guitarists and Pat does a lot of writing, so when any of us writes something, it starts with the writer, and we make sure to get Eric and Brian involved first. Inter-personally, that’s been biggest challenge, but we’ve been going for about two years with that setup in a pretty good manner. But it’s not like all the members of the band have immense amounts of time to put into it. They kind of accept that somebody gets to something – somebody has three months while someone else is busy – everybody just does it when they can do it. And it works out okay. Especially with Pat not playing live with us, he can put his efforts into different aspects of the band. He gets the head start on most of the writing and he’s been the one who’s writing the most for the second volume of the album. I mean, everybody over here on the east coast is really into playing the live shows. For three months now we’ve been pretty focused.
Pat: For me, it’s really frustrating because all I can do is write. So I keep asking, “When are you guys gonna get me stuff that we can work on together?” And I feel so isolated over here. [laughs]
Rob: To Pat’s credit, he just did a video for us. His day job is video editing amongst other things. That really comes in handy. I mean, I do editing too, but I just dabble. He did the promo video that was just released yesterday, so we’re trying to find venues to stick it. It’s an interesting video because, right in the video, merch pops up and you can buy CDs and shirts out of the video. It’s really cool.
Pat: Yeah, the company I work for holds a patented technology where you can buy merchandise inside the video player. So I was like, “Why am I not using this for my band?” Bands and musicians are the perfect entity for this type of technology.
Justin: Absolutely. Especially in the age of YouTube.
Rob: Yeah, so Pat doesn’t always have to be writing. There’s less sexy things that need to be done.
Justin: [laughs] So Pat, will you be able to go to the UK shows?
Pat: No, no. I have my 8-year-old kid I have to watch. [laughs]
Justin: Yeah… Parenting duties should probably come before band duties, I think.
Pat: Rob was trying to coax me into going, and I’ve never been to anywhere in Europe, and I was like, “This is the trip of a lifetime…” But I can’t do it.
Rob: And our other guitarist Eric, he just doesn’t get enough vacation time. So basically, I got us the festival, and then I said, “Who’s coming?” We stretched it out to twelve days – two solid five-day blocks. To me, that’s maybe half the vacation time I get in a year. For everyone else, it’s the entirety of their vacation. George and Aaron in particular. I really give kudos to them. This tour, we’ll get a third of whatever comes in since we’re playing with two other bands, but there’s no real promises. It looks impressive. Just the fact that we’re doing it, to the fans and all the people in the prog world. It’s another big thing next to signing with a label. It’s just showing that we’re serious about what we’re doing. We’re putting out some decent stuff and dong something.
Pat: Please think of me….
Rob: So, you saw the Prog Archives thing, Justin? That’s really freaking us out a little bit.
Justin: Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Rob: Yeah, it’s pretty solid. I mean, we think over time it will subside and we’ll drop, but I can’t see us falling out of the top 10 of the year when all is said and done. But being ahead of Steven Wilson right now is kind of cool.
Justin: Yeah, that’s not too shabby! So that’s pretty much all the questions I had for you guys. Was there anything else you want to chat about?
Rob: No, I think we covered it all.
Justin: Well, I’d ask you to send me a bottle of that beer you’re making, but you can’t really ship alcohol in New Jersey.
Rob & Pat: [laughter]
Justin: So that’s great. Alright, well thanks so much. I really appreciate you guys carving out the afternoon to do this. Nice talking to you guys!
Pat: You too.
Rob: Take care, Justin, and I’ll see you soon!
3RDegree – Ones & Zeros Tour 2015
Sep 12 Bestbar New York City USA w/The Yellow Box, Anton Roolart, John Galgano & IZZ members, PiXPRNC
Sep 20 ‘t Blok Nieuwerkerk aan den IJsel NETHERLANDS
Sep 24 das Rind Rüsselsheim GERMANY W/Neo Prophet
Sep 26 Bar Baroc Paris FRANCE
Sep 27 The Talking Heads Southampton England UK W/Credo & Introitus
Sep 29 The Musician Leicester England UK W/Credo & Introitus
Sep 30 The Bedford London England UK W/Credo & Introitus
Oct 3 Summer’s End Festival Chepstow Wales UK W/Pallas, Discipline, Light Damage, The Fierce & The Dead
Oct 17 Orion Sound Studios Baltimore MD USA
Oct 24 XO Lounge Philadelphia PA USA W/The Twenty Committee & Orpheus Nine
Nov 1 NJ Proghouse Dunellen NJ USA W/TBD
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