Arena are back with a brand new album entitled “Double Vision” after 3 years. The new album showcases the band’s “classic sound” and it brings the older days of Arena on mind. The band’s mastermind, composer and keyboardist Clive Nolan talked to Grande Rock and clarified some very delicate matters about the sound, the music and so on…
Arena band pic
Hi Clive… it’s great to have you on Grande Rock again to talk about your brand new album “Double Vision”!
C: Thank you!
What does the album title “Double Vision” declare? Is there any hidden message behind it?
C: There are a couple of references I guess. Firstly, it is a title from the “Visitor” album, and there is indeed a track that answers some of the many questions I have been asked about “The Visitor” over that last 20 years (“The Legend of Elijah Shade”). Also, I had some rather scary eye operations, which affected my ‘view’ on things!
You’re back almost three years after your previous album. What happened during those years and how did they affect Arena’s new album musically and lyrically?
C: We are all fairly busy musicians and it just takes time for us to manage to get together. That time will obviously have given us all time to find new influences and experiences.
What do you think about the album’s music style? It’s kinda “strange” but most of your fans are talking about the band’s “classic” sound and they are glad you’re back. How do you experience the whole thing and what’s your point on view?
C: With this album, we fully intended to look backwards, as well as forwards. I really wanted to reclaim some of the styles and approaches we have employed over the last twenty years or so. It was time for more instrumental work, and a return to the epic structures.
Also regarding the cover artwork, what made you come up with such a cover that’s not that “arty”? I know they say do not judge a book by its cover, but some fans are not seduced by that cover, right? What’s the idea behind it in general?
C: It was Mick’s idea to utilize this ‘optical illusion’. It is designed so it is hard to focus on the face. It’s weird… but because of that, maybe it’s memorable! If the cover disturbs you then listen to the music with your eyes shut!
Please comment on each track…
C: “Zhivago Wolf”: Inspired by a certain memory from early childhood. This song addresses the way that memories can be confused and fused into completely new, but realist memories.
“The Mirror Lies”: Bands and artists that over hype themselves. The audiences that buy into the ‘emperors new clothes’. ‘Nuff said!
“Scars”: I’ll leave this one to the listener…
“Paradise of Thieves”: Imposter syndrome. Despite whatever achievements are made, you can’t help feeling that you shouldn’t be there.
“Red Eyes”: Online grooming… a sinister world.
“Poisoned”: A song dedicated to the people we have lost.
“The Legend of Elijah Shade”: This is kind of a sequel to “The Visitor” album. Some questions are answered, and some new ones are asked.
Do you believe that it’s better to have the whole control of the recordings and the production? Does that work better for the band, regarding the fact that John Mitchell mixed & mastered the album and you and Mick produced it? You don’t change a winning team, right?
C: This works for us. We do change the equation now and then, but this one worked well!
The video for “Poisoned” is already out? Do you plan to release any other lyric or concept video over the next months?
C: I think we will see what the reaction to this one is…
You did some touring the previous months. Are there any plans to give any live shows anytime soon?
C: We had a fantastic tour earlier this year. It was the 20th anniversary of “The Visitor” album so we performed the whole concept, as the first part of the show. This meant we did not feature too much of “Double Vision”, so we are going back out on tour next April with a very different set list, including that “Elijah Shade” epic!
What are your expectations from the new album “Double Vision” and what are those things that you wanna achieve with Arena over the next years?
C: Our hope was that it would be well received, and I think that has happened! There has been a stream of terrific reviews, which is very gratifying. It would be great to build of what really feels like an Arena ‘resurgence’.
So, what’s next for the band? Will you stick to your classic sound or try something new? What do you have in mind generally?
C: I think Arena has and always will ‘sound like Arena’. We are not looking to change we are at heart, but we always look outside for new ideas and inspirations.
What are your personal musical future plans?
C: I am still pursuing the musicals, and there are plans in place to turn two of them into movies, which would be amazing! Meanwhile, Pendragon is busy preparing a new album, and that will be a new big tour!
Which are these things that inspire you to write music and lyrics after all these years?
C: Films, books and life in general. Things just get into my head, and I make a note. I was chatting with some guys in Chicago recently about a little theory I wanted to play with… this became an interesting discussion and could leave to the concept of the next Arena album.
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words:
C: Rockstar: Freddie Mercury
Prog Rock: Genesis
A.I.: Terminator!
Music: Life
Arts: Music!
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
C: It’s hard to choose one! The over use of autotune.
Fill in the phrase… “Prog Rock music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
C: …if it hadn’t been for the development of the synthesizer.
If you had the opportunity to invite any famous person, living or dead, over for supper whom would you choose and why?
C: Beethoven. He has always been a musical idol since childhood… a genius!
What are your views on Artificial Intelligence (and its scary-as-Hell implications!), which is seemingly around the bend and could be fully developed sooner than we think? Are we, as humans, technologically going off the deep end (like lemmings)?
C: I try not to think about it! It’s an inevitable journey that humanity must take, but I think it could be a dangerous one.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
C: Queen with Freddie! If I could go back in time and persuade them to have a keyboard player on stage!
Has the internet changed the ways music should be played and released or not? Is it a “divine gift” or a curse?
C: It seems to have removed any quality control… speak for itself!
If you could be any historical person, which one would you be and why?
C: I’m trying to be an historical person now!
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?
C: “Night at the Opera” by Queen. Epic, intricate, melodic, anthemic and classic.
“Like it or not, I’m the best chance you got”… how true it is! Is this what the world leaders are thinking all the time or what?!
C: Like it or not, I think it might be!
Immortality or Fame & Fortune?
C: If by immortality you mean not dying… I’ll take that!
That’s all for now Clive. Thank you very much for talking to Grande Rock, again. Wish you the best for the future to come. Take care dude!
C: Many thanks for talking to me… see you on tour!