Kepler Ten

Kepler Ten is a new British band that likes to blend several music genres together. That’s the best characteristic in their music. The band consists of three multi-instrumentalists that wonderfully combine all their talents for well-made & brilliant music. Grande Rock had a chat with drummer & lyricist Steve Hales in order to get to know everything about this budding newcomer…
Kepler Ten band pic

Hi Steve, it’s good to have you on Grande Rock. First of all, do give a brief bio of the band. How did it all start and when?
S: Hey Thanos, thanks for having me on. It all started 3 or 4 years ago. The three of us came together to form a Rush tribute band, R2. We all knew of each other from previous projects and as Rush fans we wanted to see if we could rise to the challenge of putting on an authentic show. Once we had come to terms with all of the extra instrumentation and technology involved and we had played some successful shows we looked at each other and said, “why aren’t we using all these tools to write our own songs?”. That’s where it all began.
Which are your and the other guys’ music influences? Was it easy to blend those influences together? Did you have a chat about which music direction to follow in general or what?
S: We didn’t have any discussions about a direction, we just started writing. There was no target audience in mind or even any release plan. We just wanted to write music that sounded good to us. It was fun just bringing stories to life. No idea was too crazy to try. Influences are bound to emerge of course and we have such a range of genres that have played a part in all of our developments. James loves his Rush and Yes, Richie has his blues and hard rock and I’m as happy chilling out to Steven Wilson as I am blasting Rammstein in the car! We just let all of our influences combine and very quickly the songs began to have a life of their own.
Now that you debut is out, what are the band’s next steps?
S: We are already a long way into writing the next album. I don’t want a long gap between releases and we have been swept along with writing again. We are also very busy rehearsing and arranging live shows to support “Delta-v” and are looking forward to playing in as many places as we can.
How did you come up with the name Kepler Ten?
S: Finding a band name is a tricky task. We had been trying to find something to call our new project for a couple of weeks when I noticed one of the science feeds talking about NASA and the Kepler missions. The Kepler 10 star had hit the news when it was discovered that a large nobly “Mega-Earth” planet was orbiting it. It was the first big Kepler story that captured our imaginations and it really heralded the beginning of this new understanding and identification of so many planets that could support life. It felt like the start of something big, so we thought yeah, Kepler Ten. It fits!
Were you in search for a label for quite some time or it didn’t take you that long to sign to White Star Records? Had you thought of releasing your stuff independently at some point if you weren’t offered a good label contract?
S: With the way the music industry has changed in the last 20 years it was actually our initial intention to release it ourselves. We like to be very hands on with everything and that doesn’t generally play well with record labels who may perhaps want to just take your product on and never really have much to do with you. Then in a flash it all changed. Out of the blue James saw that a brand new label had been set up by John Mitchell and Chris Hillman. We already knew of John through Frost*, It Bites and Lonely Robot and their vision sounded very exciting. So I gathered up all of our info and songs and sent it all off to them. They heard it, liked it and following an initial meeting in the pub we all knew that we wanted to work together. Sometimes things just come together like that. The pieces fit together and puzzle gets a little easier.
What does the album title “Delta-v” declare?
S: “Delta-v” (pronounced Delta ‘vee’) is a mathematical term for measuring the change in velocity or acceleration required to complete a maneuver, such as changing direction. This term really encapsulates the album, the recurring theme of which is coming to terms with things and then making a change. It also applies nicely to the final track of the album – “Red Skies Rise”, which is our little space drama.
Do give us a hint about each track…
S: “Ultraviolet”: The power of the sun and our dependence upon it.
“Time and Tide”: Fate can swing both ways.
“The Stone”: Three scenes. Three lives to come to terms with.
“Swallowtail”: Torn in two by grief yet surrounded by beauty.
“In The Sere and Yellow”: Looking after our home is our only priority.
“The Shallows”: Eternal self-doubt.
“Red Skies Rise”: Seven last throws of the dice.
Where did the recordings take place and who produced the album? I’m aware that John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*, Lonely Robot) mixed & mastered the album. Did you have in mind to cooperate with John regardless of the label thing or not?
S: We recorded everything ourselves at James’ studio. It was part of the experiment to see what we could achieve ourselves. We were at the point of considering mixing engineers for the final mix when we came into contact with White Star Records. At the initial meeting John said that he would be interested in mixing “Delta-v” and that was music to our ears. We had lived with these songs for a while, so we were prepared for the fact that entrusting someone with the final mix was going to be rather stressful, but not so with John. We were very familiar with a lot of his work and trusted him completely. He just knew exactly what was needed. He channels some kind of voodoo magic and the songs bloom into something bigger. Quite an amazing experience really.
In November 2016 you released the first single & video for “Time and Tide”. Will there be any other lyric or concept video out anytime soon?
S: We want to keep content flowing as much as possible and are currently looking at the follow up video to “Time and Tide”, which will likely be a lyric video. There should be more visuals to come after that too. Exciting times.
Are there any plans to give any live shows at some point soon? I guess the UK comes first and then in Europe, right?
S: Yes absolutely. We are in talks with various people about festivals and tours at the moment. In the meantime we will do a few one-off warm-up gigs. One that is already arranged is at the Talking Heads in Southampton, UK on April 29th. We are looking forward to eventually playing in as many countries as we can.
Being a trio, how easy or not is to play your music live?
S: It is tricky and in addition to the actual playing there are a lot of technical challenges. Managing where we are on stage at any given moment, so that we can access keyboards, bass pedals, effects, microphones etc.. Changing patches, bringing in sequencers and percussion effects, all whilst putting a show on for everyone... it takes a lot of thought. Swearing at midi devices seems to occupy quite a lot of our time too!
How would you describe your band’s music style to someone that has never heard of your before?
S: I would say we are a melodic hard rock band with progressive elements.
Which are your expectations from your debut album and what do you wish to achieve with Kepler Ten over the next years?
S: There are no expectations, only hopes. More than anything the hope that people simply enjoy “Delta-v” and that they can either rock out to or lose themselves within the songs. What would we like to achieve?... Touring and more recording. Playing in Europe, the US and even further afield, and making our live show a great experience together with releasing many more albums.
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! Do you believe that the best prog rock era was during the 70s? Why do bands draw inspiration from the bands of that time even today?
S: I think the 70s was when Progressive Rock actually did the bulk of its “progressing”. It was the era of the Prog Gods... Genesis, Floyd, Yes, Rush, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Kansas, ELP and on and on. They defined themselves creating seminal works in the 1970s. Albums that remain as vital today as when they were released. This is why they form the pillars of many modern bands’ influences today, often without them even being aware of it. This isn’t to say that the 70s is my favourite decade of prog, but for me it was when the musical walls were smashed to pieces allowing more experimental artistry to emerge ever since.
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
S: Musicals. Don’t get me started.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
S: I would have liked to have been in Alice Cooper’s band when he was chopping heads off on stage and all that crazy stuff. What a blast!
Which are the best 3 Prog Rock albums according to you?
S: Rush – “Hemispheres”, Pink Floyd – “Dark Side of the Moon” & Dream Theater – “Metropolis 2: Scenes from a Memory”.
Fill in the phrase… “Prog Rock music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
S: keyboard players forcing guitarists to share their space.
Top 3 sci-fi movies of any era?
S: “2001 A Space Odyssey”, “Alien” & “Star Wars”…
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
S: “Moving Pictures” by Rush. Lyrics, music, performance... utter genius.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
S: I’m not sure that you can represent the whole of humanity’s music with one album, so I would give our new alien friends “Ziltoid the Omniscient” by Devin Townsend, so that they will know exactly what to expect from us!
Put together the best prog rock line-up of all time. Who plays what?
S: Vocals – Russell Allen
Additional vocals – Ninet Tayeb
Guitar – Guthrie Govan
Keys – Tony Banks
Bass – Chris Squire
Drums – Gavin Harrison

Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
S: Cristina Scabbia…
Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in rock history?
S: It’s so hard to pick just one of each but two of my all-time favourites are Ronnie James Dio and Ann Wilson.
Which is the drummer who influenced rock music the most?
S: Neil Peart for his drumming and lyrics.
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
S: Aside from the obvious gambling advantages I think traveling into the future would be either bewildering or tragic. Imagine the changes that have happened to our way of life in just the last 100 years. Now imagine traveling 100 years into the future. I struggle to program my cable TV programs, so I can’t see me coping with flying cars and cyborg augmentation. Then again perhaps the Earth is a barren, lifeless rock a hundred years from now and I’d have to return to the present day with that knowledge! Traveling back in time however does interest me. To witness events that have helped to forge our present day would be fascinating. I would go back to watch the building of Stonehenge as there is something very dodgy about all that business.
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms? The other guys from the band?
S: That’s easy, wine consumption alone makes me Tyrion, James would be Jon Snow, all dark and brooding yet knowing nuthin’ (lol sorry mate) and Richie would be the Night King – likes leather, doesn’t say much, probably best not to piss him off.
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react? J
S: I’d open every one of the mint condition, unopened “Living Dead Dolls” that she collects, pull off all of their heads and mount them in their very own Traitor’s Cloister!
We’re done Steve! Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Wish you the best for the future to come. Take care dude!
S: Cheers mate. My pleasure.

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