Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Squids Are Alright!

It's been almost a month since I posted last and that's only because I've been so busy! The good kind of busy. Running a sound company and being in a rock band isn't easy! It's like juggling squirrels that bite while chewing gum and talking on the phone at the same time (while balancing on one leg and hoping across a busy street!!!!). Lots of details... but I won't bore you with that! I'll just give you the highlights!

Sound of Contact - Dimensionaut

Got some cool news coming with regard to the label we've partnered up with for Sound of Contact, the band I'm in with Simon Collins. We've recently announced that John Wesley (touring guitarist for Porcupine Tree, Fish and others) and Jonathan Schang (who is touring with his band District 97 and John Wetton) have joined our touring line up of the band this Spring for some dates in Europe as well as a one off in Montreal opening for the band Marillion. Let me tell you more about how all of that came to be! A cool backstory for anyone who would be interested in reading some obscure blog from a guy named Squids anyway.

When we first started working on the album in 2010 I had made friends with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. He was interested in using Sonic Reality and IK Multimedia software and from there we got into some talking about music. He was working on his second solo album "Grace for Drowning" and shared some work in progress tracks with me which I thought was incredibly cool. I ended up playing on a 20+ minute song called Raider II for him. When it came to our material he gave me some really helpful advice with regard to guitar sounds and shared his opinion about various things. What a deluxe sounding board I had! 

Then, when I went to see Wilson's band Porcupine Tree perform at Radio City Music Hall in NYC I met John "Wes Dearth" Wesley. He was incredible in the show and a really nice guy. I eventually worked with Wes with my project "Sonic Elements" and he sang and played guitar on tracks like "Tom Sawyer" which featured the drums of Neil Peart via his sample library with my company called "Neil Peart Drums by Sonic Reality". Ironically, Wes is friends with Neil but he's never played music with him until this "virtual session". Here's the song if you want to hear it! It also features Billy Sherwood (Yes, Circa) on bass, me on keys (and I took the liberty of doing a keyboard solo at the end! haha). 

Wes is also friends with the guys from Marillion. He used to tour with Fish and he's worked with all those guys in different capacities over the years. But, that's not the only reason behind us opening for them on their Marillion Weekend event in Montreal. I met Steven Rothery, Marillion's guitarist, on Facebook after working with Hannah Stobart who was a guest vocalist on our album (and Hannah was previously in a project called "The Wishing Tree" with Rothery). Confused yet? So, that was a few years ago and we talked about the possibility of us playing at a Marillion Weekend event then. However, we weren't ready to release our album and tour yet. Now we are and I reached out to Steve again thinking maybe we could join them on some gigs later this year. After talking it over with his band he came back to me offering an open slot at the Montreal event. That's coming up soon! March 24th. Fortunately we'll all be in North America this month rehearsing (down in Miami) so it seemed to work out great! What a cool gig to kick off Sound of Contact live! We're all really excited about it and I've been getting into their new album and digging back into their back catalog lately. A true honor to be part of their special event... and I look forward to watching their show the night before! 

I had a nice email chat with Nick Davis, who has produced/engineered bands like Genesis, XTC and also Marillion. He mixed our album and was pleased to hear all the good news from the album's imminent release to us opening for Marillion at the end of the month. We might mix some bonus tracks over in the UK at Genesis' studio The Farm. Something to be released later in the year... we have a handful of tunes that didn't make it on the album. 

Also joining us on the tour is Jonathan Schang from District 97 who I met on a music forum called Progressive Ears. He was already touring with his band and special guest John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Asia) the same time we were going to Europe to tour with Spock's Beard and Beardfish. So, we've got him joining us for a week on drums then he plays with D97 and Wetton and then on the 18th of May we all play at the same venue in Zoetermeer. Pretty crazy! Crazy in a cool way. It's going to be an adventure... and certainly worthy of some Squids Travel Blog posts so expect more out of me as we go here! 

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