When I put my copy of Foxtrot away, it was to make room for new things in my life, for new music, new songs for new times.
Push the boat out a bit. Then pull it gently back in. This IS a Tangent after all and we don’t know where we’re off next time. Last time we went LARGE. “Le Sacre Du Travail” was an enormous project – the whole Classical Rock Sinfonia thing was something that had been boiling up inside me since I was 17 years old and probably even before that. To look back at our “ancestors” though – they too would switch from the gigantic concept album back to the basic song set. And it’s time for us to do just that.
I am probably happier with “Sacre” than any album I’ve ever made. it was the achievement of a lifelong dream, a big accomplishment for everyone that worked on it. One thing it wasn’t though was FUN. It was never designed to be Fun, either to listen to or to make. Out on the road with the band in 2014 WAS Fun. It had been a while since we’d trodden the boards and the greatest realisation for all of us playing for the two bands Karmakanic and The Tangent was that, “The Tangent is still, at its heart, a Rock & Roll Band”. Doesn’t matter how complex, bonkers, ambitious or pretentious we get (and we do) – what made the Tangent the Tangent was that.
I was 54 back then, and I’m 55 now. And one thing I know about myself is that I don’t wanna stop that Rock & Roll feeling, even though the days of its dominance are fading into the manuscript of history. I’m around the age of a High Court Judge. I’m older than The Prime Minister of the UK and the President Of The United States. I am eligible to join SAGA (a group for the over 50s). In a few years I’ll be entitled to travel on buses for free. I should be on the board of directors for some company, playing golf at the weekends and I should have a lot more money than I do.
F*** all that. Sorry to my kids who are gonna inherit a bonkers record collection and a few old synths instead of a Jag and a country pad. One thing that I simply can never ever ever regret is the life I have had in music. It has been enormous Fun, it has lasted me a lifetime and I never got sick of it. It started off as some mad chase to be a pop star and trying to “make it”. When these two aims did not come off as intended I realised that failing at something can be infinitely more fun than succeeding at another. So I decided to stay just to annoy everyone.
Progressive Rock was/is for me a pretty burning concern. It is BY NO MEANS the only kind of music I listen to, but it has provided me with a helluvalot of pleasure over the years and I’ve always wanted to partake in the movement that created it. And when in 1994 some new bands appeared to vibe up the scene it was possibly the best thing that could have happened. I happily bought into it, got involved in it and just LOVED it. All over again. SUBJECTIVE OPINION ALERT!!!! It meant that I could, at long last, put away a lot of those “second division” prog albums – the ones that didn’t really move me that much and which I only listened to because it seemed like there was only a finite amount of Prog you could actually hear (which in itself was wrong – but the net wasn’t ready!). I mean, “Foxtrot” as an album is great. Know it back to front. I’ve heard all the puns, all the tunes and can sing it backwards in the bath. And when Spock’s Beard and TFK turned up in the 90s, I could at long last put the damn thing away. I haven’t listened to it since except when a track has made it onto Cliff’s show now and then. Gimme Transatlantic any day of the week. they’re real, and can play concerts without needing a private militia. They actually make good records too.
There’s a sadness about it all too. Since the formation of Po90 in late 1994 – 20 years ago, despite the many successes, triumphs, failures, disasters, fallouts, new relationships – 20 or so albums, tours in Europe, gigs in America, Canada, Russia and more, the large wedge of the Progressive Rock Community still sees me (and Neal, Roine, Jonas and the rest) as “Johnny Come Latelys”. The story of The Tangent and its formative bands goes back as far as 1980 – that’s 34 years and several of the songs that are part of our repertoire to this day were written in the 1970s which takes us back almost 40 years. I left school in 1977. A year that all fans of Prog know spells Death. Like Stephen Lambe says in the opening line of his book “Citizens Of Hope & Glory – The Story Of Progressive Rock”…
“I Missed It”
The Tangent have never had the chance to play some huge outdoor festival as the sun sets over a magnificent rambling country estate in the Home Counties. There have never been jams in the car park to get home after our gigs. A performance by the band has never dramtically increased the number of hitch hikers on British Roads during the weekend of the gig. The band has, to our knowledge, NEVER had airplay on the BBC, NEVER had a review in any of the daily papers. And.. this is where it gets a little more serious.. other than one phone call from Richard Sinclair (Caravan, Hatfield & The North etc).. in 20 years of following in the footsteps of the originators, NOT ONE of the people from the original progressive era has ever been in touch, invited us to do a gig with them, told us they like the album or even deigned to say the words “I’ve heard good things about you”. Not one.
But – that’s not why we do this is it? Of course not! This isn’t all for a pat on the back from Steve Howe or summat. It’d be nice, but hey, it’s not why we’re here. If it was, we’d have given up years ago. But, as the third and fourth wave progressive bands flounder in an apathetic world, we could do with some nice showcase gigs with the older guys. And they seem to have not realised who WE (broad WE) are. Maybe it’s the ego of having once been feted Rock Stars, maybe it’s just apathy, maybe it’s just not realising, not being able to see the wood for the trees. But WE – from Magenta and Big Train.. to Tangent to TFK, from Maschine to Credo – we fulfil a very important role to the bands who came before us.
We Are Their Legacy
Their legacy is not the DVD of some concert they did in Italy to four million people who had to watch the whole thing on a screen. It’s not the 4th crucial digital remaster of their classic album from 73. It’s not the questionable reunion album they made in 2007. Their legacy is made by the people who followed them. I believe it’s time they helped us out, got involved and help us try to keep their amazing ideas alive way into the future.
Imagine what it must be like. For the Tangent, standing on a stage in front of 200 people if we are having a good day, with a lineup of musicians as strong as can be imagined. Knowing, just KNOWING that despite all the music we’ve released over the past 10 years, epics, rockers, love songs, sinfonias, instrumentals and electronica – all we’d have to do is play “Watcher Of The Skies” and we’d bring the house down. If we were to just play a set of Genesis songs we’d more than double our audience overnight. if we did it for a few months we could have nice living wages.
But we didn’t do that – though sadly there are others who did. When I put my copy of Foxtrot away, it was to make room for new things in my life, for new music, new songs for new times. And when I hear new progressive music… sure I hear the influences. I hear part of a continually evolving cycle. I am not hearing Genesis. I am hearing their Legacy.
If you, dear reader, have reached this point in the story, then there’s already hope. Support us. tell people about what we’ve done. And by that I mean The Tangent and all the other newer bands that would turn you on. If you, like me are in late middle age, I hope to convince you that you need a new song in your life. That “Supper’s Ready” was written by teenagers, and it’s time to hear what adults do.
“Let’s engineer a breakdown, let’s get lost on new ground, tell our friends what we found, – searching for the Spark In The Aether” The Tangent. For 2015.