THE MIGHTY BARD
Blue God And Other Stories
(IME Records)

 

Over in the U.K, the band known as The Mighty Bard are carrying on the tradition of progressive rock with fine results on their 2015 CD Blue God And Other Stories. Going on ten years as a band, The Mighty Bard was formed by guitarist Dave Clarke and keyboardist Neil Cockle and is currently a six piece with the band rounded out by Gavin Webb (vocals), Mark Cadman (bass), Andy Dovey (drums) and Mark Parker (violin). Speaking about the process during the recording, Neil Cockle tells mwe3.com, “The majority of musical ideas come from myself and Dave, but the whole band has an input at the later stages of song development, when things start to get ‘serious’, when we think an idea is worth pursuing! Sometimes, the song is still evolving at the recording stage. Someone might play something when we’re recording, that will spark an idea for someone else.” The sound of The Mighty Bard explores the domain of progressive rock while implementing a more harder rock edge, yet it’s done very tastefully and the progressive elements seem to win out over the harder rocking elements. Perhaps the coolest thing here is that The Mighty Bard sounds like they’re having fun playing their progressive rock meets hard rock mix. Pundits might notice historic U.K. bands like Jethro Tull and even Pink Floyd as influences but even with all these past influences creeping into their sound, The Mighty Bard makes a unique prog-rock statement of their own on the creative and engaging Blue God And Other Stories. www.TheMightyBard.com





mwe3.com presents an interview with
THE MIGHTY BARD



mwe3
: Can you tell us where The Mighty Bard comes from in England and some history of the group, for instance when the band started and how the band evolved to where it is today?

The Mighty Bard:
Dave: It’s a very long story! In summary, Neil Cockle and I met in 2004 and recruited Cad (Mark Cadman) on bass and Gavin Webb on vocals. Our original drummer, Aleem Saleh was eventually replaced with Ian Sands, who drums on half of the tracks on the CD, but not before we’d got Mark Parker in on violin. Andy Dovey, who drums on the other half of the CD, joined us about a year ago. We are based around the Thames Valley in the south of the UK, south east of Oxford, north west of London. If you’ve seen the TV show “Midsomer Murders”, most of that is filmed around Bard Country. Very English. Good pubs!

mwe3: Who wrote most of the music and lyrics on the Blue God And Other Stories and who do you work with as far as getting the sound you want on to disc, including engineers, arranger / producers and mastering engineers?

The Mighty Bard:
Neil: Other than the lyrics on the actual tracks “Blue God” and “Maybe”, which are both written by Gavin, all the other lyrics are written by Dave. The majority of musical ideas come from myself and Dave, but the whole band has an input at the later stages of song development, when things start to get ‘serious’, when we think an idea is worth pursuing! Sometimes, the song is still evolving at the recording stage. Someone might play something when we’re recording, that will spark an idea for someone else.

Cad: We record the instrumentation ourselves at our rehearsal studio. The upside to this is that we are under no pressure to work to a deadline, so we can experiment and be as creative as we like. The downside to this is that we are under no pressure to work to a deadline, so things can take quite a while before we’re happy with the end result! Generally, we will put down a rough guide track, to a click, all of us in the same room together. At that point, the structure, the arrangement, is fixed. Then, sometime later, Andy will put down his drums to the click and the guide backing track. Then I’ll do my bass. And it gets built up from there, over time. The vocals are done at a separate studio with our good pal, Russell Gates. Russ helps out with harmony suggestions and so on. Of course, in the process, we might realize that something isn’t quite working somewhere, and we might need to re-record a few bits. When that’s all done, the files are taken to another good friend, John Watt, who (with guidance from Dave and Neil), engineers and mixes. Finally, it’s off to Mastering World in Wales for mastering. Eventually, a CD emerges. Having said that, whether you like the music or not, you can’t argue with the sound quality. We think it’s superb quality.

mwe3: The CD starts off with a great instrumental called “Before...”. Is it an overture to the rest of the album? How do you feel about recording progressive instrumental rock?

The Mighty Bard:
Andy: “Before . . .” was previously a “stand alone” track that, we realized one day, fitted perfectly as an album opener. A top quality, 4 minute instrumental. We aren’t an instrumental band, though, and the lyrics are a strong part of our music. Whilst we love the instrumental aspects, the lyrics and the vocals are always the icing on the cake. We do try to leave the lyrics open to different meanings, so we love hearing fans interpret what the lyrics mean to them. As we all enjoy playing our gear, we do have extended instrumental sections in some songs, and they are great fun to play, but too much instrumental music can get tiresome!

mwe3: Is there a concept in play on the Blue God CD? Who is the “Blue God” on track 2 and what kind of statement are you trying to make? Also you guys look like comic book superheroes on the CD cover art. Do you wish you might have been born in 3015? Are you all into Science Fiction?

The Mighty Bard:
Gavin: No concept, as such. “Blue God” is a story about an unsuitable pawn maneuvered into power by political scheming, then incompetently using that power, which attracts unwanted attention from a powerful enemy. On one level, it’s a science fiction tale and the Blue God is not a person, but a power source. We hope to tell the full story, maybe in a music video and there have been suggestions of a sequel. As with most lyrics, it is best left open to interpretation as to what messages it might convey. It has nothing to do with marijuana!

Dave: Some of us have a soft spot for 1950’s sci-fi films and comics.

Neil: And some of us don’t!

Andy: Well said! I had an idea of us gigging on the moon in old-fashioned space suits, fighting off gribbly space monsters. This is depicted on the album artwork, as imagined by the wonderful Mr. Ian Legge! Our music can be viewed as quite serious and we thought that this might show a lighter side to band. When we are working on the music, we work hard, but we also have a lot of fun together... typical English humor, mainly revolving around taking the piss out of each other!... and we wouldn’t want listeners to think we are too straight-faced...

As far as being born in the future, it might be interesting to see where the human race goes to, if it eventually matures, but so far we’re quite happy with our personal slot in the history of mankind.

And yes - more than half of the band are big sci-fi and fantasy geeks.

mwe3: After the music and the lyrics, how does the Mighty Bard work on developing the song melody and arrangement? What’s the process of getting a track completed?

The Mighty Bard:
Mark: The process has changed over the years, it usually comes from a musical or lyrical idea, with Dave and Neil developing it, along with maybe Cad and Gavin at an early stage. Too many cooks can definitely spoil the broth! But, quite often, accidents or just plain old-fashioned jamming around with a track can change its personality quite drastically. For us, the recording process is where the track is finally solidified with a lot of work, shaping and crafting going into the instrumental sections, solos, and vocal harmonies.

mwe3: Track 3 on Blue God “Maybe” sounds psychedelic. Is “Maybe” the single from the album? Backwards guitar loops near the last chorus? Maybe is such a helpful word sometimes.

The Mighty Bard:
Gavin: “Maybe” wasn’t intentionally a ‘single’, although we agree it does have that feel. Believe it or not, when we write, we try not to overwrite, if a song feels complete in a short poppier format, then that’s how it will stay. “Maybe” has always been a crowd pleaser... it’s even been used as an ‘our song’ at a fan’s wedding – that blows our minds, and it’s possibly more accessible than some of the other songs.

Dave: Funnily enough, it came close to being dropped as we had been playing it for a long time and just couldn’t get the right vibe, but John Watt, our engineer/mixer/producer, breathed new life into it for us and having the wonderful Cat Dove singing backing vocals helped, too.

mwe3: “Heart Of The Strangelove”, track 4, is an interesting song. I thought it had a slight Jethro Tull edge to it. Is it a statement about the music business or about life itself? “You think you deserve your fate”... great line.

The Mighty Bard:
Dave: Someone else has recently compared us to Tull, which is very complimentary. “Strangelove” isn’t about the music industry, it’s partially about the British culture of celebrity worship, and the media’s need to build up an individual and then subsequently tear them down, and also about certain poisonous relationships, to a degree. Again, people can draw their own meaning from the words.

mwe3: “Bird”, track 5 is a humorous tale that turns into a parable of sorts. What does the “Bird” symbolize?

The Mighty Bard:
Neil: “Bird” was a song that grew lyrically over a number of years, the ‘bird’ was a real wild bird that lived with Dave and his wife Linda for a while until it was eaten by a cat... that story will be a new song called “Cat” (joke!) The song is really about the changes a person can go through in their life, the different stages of their development, sometimes completely unrecognizable to the previous stage. Talk to Andy about the changes he’s gone through since his stroke and brain surgery a couple of year ago. He now thinks he’s a drummer!

mwe3: Track six, “No Flesh Is The New Dream” is another Blue God highlight. This is the kind of song that could only have been written from a 20 year perspective. “Dreams are the new truth” indeed. “Simple flesh and bone” to feed the machine.

The Mighty Bard:
Dave: That’s a highlight for us, too. It was a big step forward, both lyrically and in regard to pure song-writing. The core lyrical idea was written under the bed sheets on an iPhone late one night (that’s rock ’n’ roll for you), with a strong melody and idea of song shape, which was sung to the band at the next practice. It came together very quickly and sounded strong right from the start. The chorus section came a little later, and the instrumental outro and solos at the end developed with playing the song live.

Cad: We really fleshed that out (lol) during the recording process with a very strong interplay between all the instruments during the solos section at the end, orchestrated around Andy’s fills and accents. It’s terrific fun to play. Great groove.

mwe3: Track 7 “Placidity”... is more laid back than the other tracks except when that killer guitar solo comes in near the end. The element of surprise. The lyrics are very metaphorical and very aquatic in imagery.
The Mighty Bard:
Cad: “Placidity” is another lyrical highlight for us. It took a number of years to get exactly the right feel for the whole song, especially the ‘Apollo’ section and, again, it improved immensely on recording. It’s a plaintive ghost story, full of loss, longing and symbolism. It’s an unusual song structure, basically all the same verses, with a section in the middle with the solo lifting it up, and a relaxing, almost ambient playout.

Mark: We love playing with different song structures, the ability to be unpredictable is quite important when writing in this genre, we believe. Like we previously suggested, it’s how the song feels to us that is important, we find that intangible ‘something’ that makes it right for us. We put a lot of importance on our lack of a formal musical education, and feel it allows us to come up with that ‘stream of consciousness’ writing that give us our greatest ideas. We do so many things that would formally be thought of as ‘incorrect’, but result in what feels right for us.

mwe3: “I Know” kind of sums the album up before the closing underture instrumental “...After”. It’s like an epic suite but it’s kind of very sad. You guys like writing sad and deep lyrics. Also is “After...” considered an underture or closing to the CD?

The Mighty Bard:
Dave: The lyrics to “I Know” aren’t intentionally sad, it’s just what has come easiest. The songs are about eliciting emotions for us, and so far these have been the most natural to produce. That’s not to say any of us have particularly dark or hard lives, maybe it’s just harder to write convincing happy lyrics that have any real validity to them. Having said that there is a song currently called “Silver Cloud” destined for the next album that is very positive and optimistic, which we hope still has a ‘genuine’ quality to it. Whilst many of the songs are stories, they are all draw on real moments and feelings in our lives.

Neil: It was during the final mixing, and working out the album track order that produced the “Before . . . After . . . ” bookends. I think it was Cad that suggested putting the track that turned into ‘After . . .’ at the end of the CD. There was lots of fun messing around with reversed speech, reversed instruments and foreign languages. All a tip of the hat to early ELO tracks of course! The little soundscapes connecting tracks, that Dave came up with, gave the album a complete feel, and improves the listening experience, in our opinion. To get the best out of it really requires the listener to play the whole thing through, beginning to end, “Before . . .” to “. . . After” without a break. Hey, it’s only 59 minutes out of your life!

mwe3: For the gear head out there can you tell us something about what kind of gear you used to recorded the Blue God album?

The Mighty Bard:
Andy: Well, for the real gear geeks, there is a full kit list on our website (www.themightybard.com). Knock yourselves out, guys! Neil has an almighty bard collection of keyboards, including a Yamaha CP70 and CP80 which give a great sound to the piano work. He also uses a Korg Trinity and Moog along with some soft synths on the album. Dave mostly uses an Ibanez or Strat, through an old Burman or Fender amp, a Tanglewood 6 string and Washburn 12 string. I think he even dusted off his old flute for the CD. Mark has a couple of different violins, one an octave lower and he exclusively uses Tanglemuch cables, pretty much the only endorsee in the UK, I believe. Cad has his bass and bass pedals and I have an endless supply of things to hit. Oh, and Gavin has a microphone.

mwe3: Can you tell the readers about any new plans for writing, recording and also live performances planned for 2015?

The Mighty Bard:
Neil: We have most of the material written for the next album, and will be recording it over the next 6 to 8 months, for release in early 2016. The first track to be recorded will be “Black Train”.

We have a few festivals organized for 2015 and are trying to ramp up the gigs at the moment. There is a three date mini-tour being talked about for Scotland in September. We are also planning some cyber gigs this year, to be broadcast via www.stageit.com, so fans all around the planet can get to see us live. All the dates will be listed on our website when they are confirmed.

All: In finishing, it’s worth mentioning that we are an entirely self-funded band, and the cost of producing the CD has come directly out of our own pockets. As does all of our promotion, marketing, etc. So, any monies from the sales of the CD will go right back into the production of the second CD. So, please don’t copy it!




 

 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com
Send to
: MWE3.com Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066

E-mail: mwe3nyc@gmail.com
New York address (for legal matters only)
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151

 
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
 

 

Copyright 1999-2015
MWE3.com - All Rights Reserved