Hi! Tell me about SETH. Why did you decide to name the band with such title? What kind of ideas do you explore?
Seth began in the early 1970s as a cover band with a few originals thrown in and quickly became all original before the decade was out. My idea, as a cover band, was to play more deep album cuts by what was considered to be FM bands mixed in with some AM music that was on the charts. That way playing some originals was not so obvious. It definitely worked, but I’m not so sure you could do that now. The name “SETH” came from the books by Jane Roberts who was taken over by a personality who called himself Seth. Very interesting reading. With Apocrypha I have switched over to the Egyptian God Seth, which opens up a whole new avenue of ideas mixed with a new world of relative artifacts and symbols that have captured the imagination of man for centuries. I have tried to explore different types of musical styles with the intent of fusing them together or at least putting together a compilation of different approaches to music. I try not to write the same song twice.
“Apocrypha” album was released last year. How does that make you feel? Do you feel you have put album into masses without any wishes to change something now?
Well, it was released at the end of last year, so it is still new. We also had the first Seth double CD released about 2 years ago on Minotauro Records as well. It’s obviously a great feeling to have your music released internationally and to catch the interest of people like yourself and to work with great people like Glenn and Marco at Minotauro Records. I am one of those people who is constantly writing, so putting together any compilation of songs always means that something got left out for whatever reason that may be. Lately the main things I have been working on are somewhat long and very classically oriented to the extent that I have composed a concerto in 3 movements for guitar and orchestra, plus a song or two with my Maria doing vocals and flute. And of course some more rock orientated stuff. So I wouldn’t change anything about this project, but at the same time I work on changing what hopefully the next one will be. I think listening to Apocrypha in a certain frame of mind can enhance that frame of mind, which even I didn’t realize until I was in that frame of mind, if you know what I mean.
Tell me more about “Apocrypha”? Album ideas etc…
Like I mentioned earlier I have been writing some classically oriented music which takes a lot more time to write and arrange. I have not forsaken rock but I do like to venture into other areas. Apocrypha is a compilation of some very new music and some older music that I knew should be heard. The kind of music that friends etc, heard for years have enjoyed listening to over and over and have suggestions as to what I should do with them. Like Quadragy, that was thought to possibly be soundtrack music for nothing in particular. I just liked the way it flows and leave it open to interpretation. Playing the newer songs with Billy Lee Bedwell on drums definitely gave me some new ideas as to where to go from an arrangement point of view. I think focusing on Seth from an Egyptian point of view, gave the music a very visual aspect that everyone can relate to as well.
Where do you take all inspiration from?
My inspiration is derived from the composers that I know have reached a musical plane of existence that is untouchable. Mozart, Charles Ives, Stravinsky, J S Bach, Gustave Holst, etc. Some modern day composers that you can put in that category, but there aren’t many. And of course emotions and personal observations that have to do with every day life. All good or great music comes from a definite place. It doesn’t have to be complex it just has to be genuine, which seems like a good idea, but it is all too rare.
In your opinion, what is the best way to define SETH’s sound?
The sound of the band changes with the progression or degression of life and its influences. It will always be diversified in its approach to what you hear, but I think the intensity of the specifics is the variable factor that is by nature unpredictable. I don’t think we can come up with a word or a phrase to describe exactly where the band is at any given time. The term “rock” applies but I think “fusion” as an all encompassing term may be more accurate. When you hear Apocrypha or the first Seth CD on Minotauro Records you will know what I mean. We can all agree that it is a form of rock, but it isn’t always that definitive form. I don’t want to be pigeonholed, and so I choose not to be.
So, are you on hiatus now, just relaxed and looking for album feedbacks, or did you started to compose new stuff immediately?
I don’t think that creative minds have the ability to rest. I know I can’t. I keep searching for the lost chord. That one combination of notes that makes everything else a little inferior, no matter who wrote it. Plus playing live shows always ignites the spark for other ideas. I hope that I don’t go to the extent that I lose listeners, but that I bring them to a place neither one of us have been before.
What are your main musical influences? How huge is their influence in your sound?
I try to derive ideas wthout copying them. Alan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, Tony Iommi, Cream, Gentle Giant, Mick Ronson, Rod Price, Peter Haycock, Leslie West, Captain Beyond, Ritchie Blackmore, Spirit, Alvin Lee and all of the other obvious big guns from an era when you automatically knew who was playing within a few seconds. Those are the players I personally respect and look up to, whether certain institutions wish to acknowledge them or not. How in the world do bands that are obviously not in the rock genre get recognized before Ritchie Blackmore or Leslie West or Alvin Lee? The Moody Blues still haven’t gotten their awards, but less successful or less influencial bands have? PC run amok through total and very obvious musical ignorance. Just my opinion. Why not Jazz players at this point. They have more in common with rock than some people that have been publicly recognized. I would like to think that all intricate and thoughtful music has shaped my ability to transfer thoughts into a cohesive form.
Is there some well-known musician in particular that you would like to use in one of your upcoming albums?
Yes. Jeff Berlin, and possibly Billy Cobham, even though I love playing with Billy Lee Bedwell on drums. We have an incredible musical connection that can’t be bought. The thought of collaborating with J S Bach, Charles Ives or Mozart and introducing electronic sounds to their acoustic orchestral compositions is a very enticing pipedream.
What is your personal strategy for making your music heard by a larger audience?
It’s always about visibility, promotion, airplay and targeting a specific audience. Sometimes playing less than acceptable music can generate a larger audience for a short time, but they can be fickle. Long-term prospects for any band is to create an atmosphere where people keep coming back because no-one does what you do, because no-one can do what you do. Playing live, playing live, playing live and selling our cds, coupled with as much airplay and live shows we can get is the order of the day.
Do you have any other hobby beside music?
Playing music is not my hobby, it is my life, but I know where you are going. I constantly try to get better at all of the instruments that I play. Right now I am learning Eruption by ELP on keys. Keith Emerson passing with such relatively little notice compared to some of the other people who are only pop stars is a modern day explanation of why we still don’t know where Mozart is buried. And the treatment of Greg Lakes’ passing in the daily press was and remains nauseating. Is musically-socially oriented commentary a hobby? If it is then I guess that would qualify. I would like to believe that I understand the power of meaningful compositions and the people who execute them.
Are you all supported by your relatives towards your devotion to music?
My beautiful parents have always been behind me, they bought my first instruments for me. But most of the others, not so much. You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family. Accident of birth is sometimes reduced to its common denominator. I have no regrets, I am powered by a much stronger force than they can comprehend. My Maria, who is also a musician, is always there for me. So I think family is a relative term. I consider my friends in music family as well, because we are always pulling for each other. Everything else barely fits into a thimble.
How’s the metal scene in Boston right now? Is it easy to play gigs, to buy records etc there these days?
I left the Boston area over a year ago. Whatever music scene still exists, it is disheartening shadow of its former self, with no real signs of returning to what it once was. My wonderfully talented friends who still live there are finding it very difficult to ply their craft. Some schools have long been a factory for disillusioned players who think going there is their salvation. That is not to say that some incredible people don’t teach at those institutions and some great players don’t occasionally come out of there, but as a rule that is not the rule. But there are other schools that have a much harder curriculum that produces better players with probably less venues to explore. I never went to any of them, but I have played with people that have been there. Just my personal observation. Record stores, like music stores are being heavily affected by the availability of online shopping. As a rule the music scene in Boston and the surrounding areas are pretty much dead because of cultural changes and very restrictive laws. You live in Europe, you know what I mean. Where I live now has a much healthier music scene and no snow.