Steve Thorne

Steve Thorne is one of the frankest and most straightforward guys when it comes to progressive rock music. He is true to his beliefs, he likes working alone and with a little help from some very significant friends… he continues creating and releasing beautiful music works. People should support genuine musicians that deliver albums that the well-advertised ones, by major labels, can’t reach in any part most of the times. Steve’s latest work is magnificent… so we contacted him in order to find out what lies behind his creativity and for his great music friends that are participating in his new album…

Hi Steve… I’m glad we finally got the chance to talk for your new work…
S: Thanks Thanos, we got there in the end.
So, three years after “Into the Ether”… you’re back with “Crimes & Reasons”. What has happened throughout these years and you got the inspiration for the new album?
S: To be honest I was going to make “Into The Ether” my last album. The cost for that album seemed to spiral out of control. Added to that, the illegal download culture had a very detrimental effect upon me. I decided in the end to continue but, play most of the instrument myself with, very few guests. The songs on the new album “Crimes And Reasons” are the result of that endeavor.
Once again, you’ve got some great guest appearances on the album. I believe that these musical touches the guest musicians, Nick D’Virgilio, Tony Levin, Gary Chandler, Martin Orford & Bob White, have added to the album are enough to make the final result even more exciting. What do you believe?
S: Yes, absolutely. The guest musicians definitely add hugely to the end result. They are all exceptional players and great human beings as well.
How did you convince Martin Orford to participate in a music work after almost 4 years after he called it quits? Martin is an old good friend of Grande Rock… and I’m glad to see him back… even if it is only in a couple of songs.
S: Ah yes, Martin has been a lot more active than you might think. He was very willing to add some lovely flute parts for me. We have a very good friendship and mutual respect musically. I think he needed to escape from certain negative elements of the business generally. He’s a brilliant musician and, I hope to work with him in the very near future on my next album. (i.n.: so glad to see that Martin is active and back in the game…)
Although you prefer to write, play, record all the music by yourself… it seems that you always are in need of some good friends right?
S: Yes, of course. I am very insulated and need other players to, add their personalities to a few songs. Nick D’Virgiliois especially needed as, I can’t play drums to save my life. Tony Levin is of coarse a unique and special talent who. Has played on all of my four albums.
OK, let’s focus on the new album. Why did you name it “Crimes & Reasons”?
S: Actually the album was called “Bullets And Babies” right up to the eleventh hour. Something about the title just didn’t work. My wife actually suggested to change it to “Crimes And Reasons”. My artwork guy, Paul Tippett was also kinda struggling for a cover image. The title definitely suits the tracks on it more comfortably I think.
The cover artwork… reminded me of an old “hand cover” book… or something like that. How is it connected with the album title?
S: Yes, once the title was decided, I suggested the old worn law book look and, He sent the image to me with 20 minutes and, it was exactly what I wanted. There’s no big connection really. I just wanted it to be simple and direct.
Can you tell us a few things about each one of the songs and the musicians that are participating as well?
S: “Already Dead” (with Nick D’Virgilio):
Ok, “Already Dead” is driving rock thing. Lyrically, it focuses on the TV/Computer junkie culture. I play everything on it but, the drums. They are played by the brilliant Nick D’Virgilio. Nick’s drumming really is exceptional and adrenaline filled. Doing the sessions with him is a real treat and lesson in pure talent and professionalism.
“Bullets And Babies” (with Nick D’Virgilio, Tony Levin, Gary Chandler):
This track is one of my favourites on the album. The contrast between sections is dramatic and Tony Levin’s playing along with Nick D’ Virgilio’s is a superb combination. Gary Chandler is a very unique guitar player and he adds to the general tension of the piece. I was very pleased with the lyrics I wrote for that song as well.
“Crimes And Reasons” (with Nick D’Virgilio):
“Crimes And Reasons” is very different for me. The rhythm is quite unusual and very difficult for a drummer to play smoothly. Nick does this effortlessly with, amazing groove and feel. The lyrics focus on the needless food shortages that happen in many countries, year on year.
“Everything Under The Sun” (with Martin Orford):
This track is very melancholy and emotional. The words speak of a woman whose husband is killed in war. Martin Orford’s flute part is really beautiful. I handle all the other instruments.
“Fadeaway (with Bob White, Tony Levin):
“Fadeaway is a very aggressive song lyrically. They are written from the point of view of an anti-establishment thuggish, anarchist. An imaginary one and, not my own personnel view of course. laugh
Tony Levin plays his trademark “chapman stick” instrument with amazing effect. The music is funky but very minor and punchy with dark chords.
Bob White is a close friend and local drummer who, I’ve been wanting to work with for years and never quite got round to it “till now. I’m very pleased to have him on one of my albums at last.

“Moth To Flame” (with Nick D’Virgilio, Martin Orford):
“Moth To Flame” is pure “Progressive Rock” in the old sense. The track is actually, a continuation of, an earlier theme. It is linked to the track “Julia” from my first album, “Emotional Creatures, part 1”. “Julia” was about a woman, escaping from an abusive relationship. “Moth To Flame” deals with her previous day, before actually running away from that relationship and, the emotions involved in those situations.
Nick’s drumming is sublime and Martin adds a small piece of flute. The main feature musically I guess is, the end guitar solo that I handled. It’s quite classical chord wise and seems to capture a certain atmosphere.
“Blue Yonder” (with Bob White, Gary Chandler):
This track is probably the nearest song I’ve ever written to a “single”. It’s quite mainstream and, easy to absorb. Bob White’s drums are smooth. Gary Chandler’s guitar solo, at the end is really melodic and emotional. The lyrics are based on teenage runaways.
“Making Plans” (with Bob White):
I play everything but drums on this track. From a songwriting point of view, I’m very proud of the track generally. Bob’s drums are again, great and perfectly executed.
“Modern Curse” (with Nick D’Virgilio):
This song is very high tempo and again, quite aggressive. The lyrics deal with the absurdity of, the wreckless and pursuit of money that exists in this world. Nick’s drumming is tight and exitingI handle all the other instruments.
“Distant Thunder” (with Nick D’Virgilio):
This one is the nearest thing to, an epic I’ve ever written. It is very long and indulgent for me. It travels through three or four movements and, builds to a crescendo. Once again, I play everything but, drums. Not gonna go into dissecting the lyrics. I’ll leave it up to the listener to decide what it’s about.
Where did you record the album and who is responsible for the mixing, the production and the mastering? You did achieve a very smooth and clear sound, which I like it a lot.
S: Most of the album was, recorded in my own studio. The drums were recorded at Aubitt studio with Rob Aubrey which is, very nearby to me. The mixing took place at Aubitt as well. The production is all mine with Rob twiddling the buttons for me of course. Tony Levins parts were recorded by himself at his home studio and sent through the net. I’m glad you like the production. I tried my best and paid, close attention to detail, hopefully.
What are your expectations from this album? Do you believe that you can reach a wider audience with this work?
S: I really hope so. I think audiences, other than so called “Prog” fans would enjoy a lot of the material on all my albums. I don’t really class myself as purely “Progressive” and never will. I don’t mean that, I don’t like the purest prog bands and artists out there.
I have written that “this is your strongest effort thus far” in my review… Do you agree?
S: Well, that is always my aim. I believe it’s pointless to continue unless, that is the case. I always push to improve on the last effort, no matter how little. Thank you very much for saying that, by the way. (i.n.: you’re welcome dude…)
Your music has many elements from various music genres… and although it is kind of straightforward for the progressive rock freaks… it is also overly prog for the melodic rock/pop-rock ones. Thus, how would you describe it to someone that hasn’t heard anything from you before?
S: That’s always a difficult question for me. I’d like to think that, my music is an original take on “Progressive rock”. I’m primarily a songwriter, first and foremost. My main strength is, good songwriting.
I like the very smart orchestrations your songs have a lot. Do you believe that’s the secret to make a melodic prog rock album more appealing?
S: I write songs very easily and naturally. The orchestration is where I really brainstorm and work hard. The melodies and lyrics are always the main priority for me. If you get that part right, the rest will follow suit with, careful thought and endeavor.
I strongly believe that you should have gained more recognition over the years… but do you think the fact you’re going solo and are not giving any live shows… has taken you back a while? Anyhow, the music is wonderful and that is what’s left in the very end.
S: To be honest, I’m not that driven to want to play live. I’ve been on a fair few tours in my time and found, it made me feel ill and exhausted. I certainly don’t feel the need to have my ego massaged as, many musicians seem to.
My facination with music is based around being creative, writing and recording my material.
If not playing live has held me back in some way, I’m quite happy and unconcerned by it to be honest.
(i.n.: that’s a very direct answer indeed…)
Have you ever thought to form a full-time band all these years so that you can give more live gigs as well? Probably, you prefer your musical individuality… huh?
S: Look, I may well do something like that at some point but, I’m not currently planning to. I do like being a lone soul you’re right.
What’s your opinion of people downloading free music from the Internet? What shall an artist do in order to avoid losing money and time?
S: To be honest, I’ve now chosen to completely ignore that fact. There’s absolutely no point in getting angry about it. That particular Genie, is out and not going back in the lamp. People that get their music in this way are not true music fans and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
Is Internet a good promotion tool for every band out there after all or it has both helped and harmed bands and the music industry in general?
S: It’s really a, double edged sword. Yes, it’s incredibly helpful but also detrimental in many ways.
How good is the fact that a whole generation learned to hear music via MP3’s (that have such a bad quality) and they actually believe that music is only in mp3 format… and nothing more? Maybe some of the younger guys won’t even own a single CD! That’s gonna be a boomerang in the end… what do you think?
S: Yes, I know, you’re right. I come from the generation that bought vinyl albums. I have a yearning for those days to return. I think that those kind of people are really missing out on something. It’s their loss. (i.n.: you’re so right Steve… hope these days will come back… anytime soon…)
And some weird Questions now!! What are those bands that stigmatized the progressive rock movement?
S: That’s a hard one. I’m not really sure.
If you could put together the best prog rock band in the world who would participate and why?
S: Phil Collins, Tony Levin, Tony Banks, Steve Wilson and Andy Latimer.
If you could be a member of a 70s prog rock band… which one would it be and why?
S: Definitely Genesis. They were absolutely brilliant in every way. I’m talking original line-up here.
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
S: “Selling England” by Genesis. The songs are amazing. The artwork is perfect and fascinating and seems to absolutely fit the music.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music evolution, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
S: “Dark Side Of The Moon” by Floyd.
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
S: The obsession with some bands and artists with the internet, blogging and generally blowing their own trumpets. I find it distasteful and crass at times.
Is fiction part of reality… or reality is fiction’s flaw?
S: Sorry, you’ve lost me there. (i.n.: no pro dude…)
How can a band differ and separate itself from the thousands other bands out there… that due to youtube, myspace, facebook… are “bombarding” the fans with new music and info every minute…?
S: That’s just it, there is far, far too much out there to take in. It’s difficult to separate, the good from the bad. Too much info, too many bands, too many blogs, downloads and complete bollocks to handle.
How can computers affect and help music? Will there be humans playing musical instruments in the next decades?
S: Well, nearly all music is produced on computers now for better or worse. To be honest, I prefer the sound from analogue equipment that was used in the 70s. I’d love to do something on the old tape systems again sometime.
What do you think of the economic crisis that’s threatening people’s lives over the profit of some rich men? Do we need a revolution again?
S: The thing is there’s always been a sickening amount of greed and abuse from the elite rich of this world. My own political system is completely sick and corrupt as they are in every capitalist country. We’re led to believe we have “Democracy” but, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We have three main parties here in the UK. This is designed to make people think they have choice. The truth is they are one organization called “Parliament” with a complete monopoly. Revolution is probably inevitable at some point in the future. (i.n.: if you wanna see some truly corrupted politicians… come to my country please… not even Chuck Norris can take care of these sick governments that have destroyed us…)
Is the European Union condemned to fail in the end? That would probably cause a worldwide domino of destruction at any level…
S: This Europe thing is all the idea of politicians. Nothing to do with me. It will fall eventually I’m certain. What the consequences are I neither know nor care.
Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
S: Bill Hicks the American comedian who, spoke the truth in such a funny way.
Who is your favorite fantasy author and why?
S: Tolkien who wrote “The Lord Of The Rings” His attention and detail was incredible.
If you could be born as any famous person in history who would it be and why?
S: Winston Churchill to, feel the satisfaction of the war being over against the Nazi Germany, all those years ago.
Imagine that your wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react? J
S: Very badly indeed wink (i.n.: bet you do so!)
That’s all for now Steve… Thank you very much for this interesting interview... Please leave a note to Grande Rock readers… Take care!
S:  Thanks Thanos, it’s been a pleasure answering your questions.

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