Conquering Demons: A Conversation with Gazpacho’s Thomas Anderson

[23 April 2014]

By Jordan Blum

Above: Press photo from Gazpacho.com

Formed nearly 20 years ago by Jon-Arne Vilbo, Thomas Andersen, and Jan-Henrik Ohme, Norwegian sextet Gazpacho currently stands as one of the most unique, talented, and consistently impressive bands in the progressive rock landscape. Often revered for their sorrowful storytelling, inimitable arrangements, and overall bold vision, the group’s releases are always met with plenty of anticipation and praise. Their eight LP, Demon, was just released, and it’s another masterpiece, to put it bluntly. I recently spoke with Anderson (via Skype) about the record, the band, and his freeing yet earnest outlook on life.
 
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Demon seems to be more nuanced and less immediately accessible than your last record, March of Ghosts, which isn’t to say that it’s not as good. I think it just takes more listens to fully grasp. Do you agree?

Oh, absolutely. As I said in the press release for it, it’s more complicated than usual. It was an adventure and a bold move because we’re at a point now in our career where we can have medium sized tours and it all makes sense financially. Sometimes we’re just really scared of screwing things up, but then we thought that our fan base tends to be serious enough about the music to try to listen to something five or ten times to get into it. The album is definitely a grower.

These are people who are very interested in music, or else they wouldn’t have heard about us. If you’ve heard of Gazpacho, you’re someone who is browsing specialized music websites, and you’re of a certain age and level of—well, not education but you know enough music that you’re probably listening to classical music too. If you can handle that, you can handle a progressive rock piece like Demon, although I hesitate to use that term. Would you call it progressive rock?

Well, I guess it fits in some ways, but I think that Gazpacho is one of the few bands that truly doesn’t sound like anyone else. I’ve been covering music for almost a decade, and while I love the genre, I get tired of hearing bands who are just emulating each other. It’s like, “Oh, okay. This band is copying King Crimson and Gentle Giant.” I still dig the music, but I recognize how unoriginal the genre can be these days. Gazpacho is an exception to the norm.

Thank you. Back in 1996 or 1997, I had a girlfriend who worked at Universal Music, and they had these things called Dat Tapes. They were like little cassettes. They had a room full of demos, but they never listened to them. They won’t listen to something you send in the post. Or they’d put it on, listen for a few seconds, and then just mention the band they were copying and throw it away immediately.

I used to go there to get free tapes [laughs], but it made a strong impression on me. The moment you hear who someone is emulating, you instantly loose interest in them, right? If I want to hear a Pink Floyd album, I’ll get one. Why listen to someone emulating them? They won’t be as good, anyway.

So I used to push very hard within the group. I’d say, “Well if we’re copying someone, we’re not doing much at all.” It’ll always just be a pastiche of the band being copied.

That’s true. I hear so much music these days that sounds like imitation Dream Theater. I love Dream Theater, but I don’t want to hear a hundred bands that try to imitate them. That’s why I dig what you guys do so much. It’s a rare gift.

That’s one of our strongest points, I think. I appreciate it.

Ahat’s the concept behind Demon? Is the album simply one piece broken into parts?

I once read that there are 20 million bands working on albums at any given moment, which means at there are conceivably about 100 million people working on songs and releasing them on CD or vinyl or whatever. I always thought that if we were going to make an album and ask for 45 minutes of your time, I better have a damn good reason for it. To spend yourtime on my stuff. It needs to be something that hopefully hasn’t been done before; at the very least, it needs to be interesting.

In the case of Demon, and of all our albums after a certain point, we decided to do loose stories that are written in very open way because your main interests are probably different than mine. If I break up with my girlfriend and my heart is broken, that interests me a hell of a lot, but it might not interest you as someone else living on the other side of the earth. You’ve got your own life and your own problems, so the songs are written with the hope that they can create a mental state within the listener that he or she can dream their own life into. The lyrics are certainly about something—I think some of them are very good about being about something [laughs], but they’re always meant to be loose enough so that if you just lost your dog, for example, it could be about that too if you wanted it to be.

It’s all about my respect for other people’s time. You’re main area of interest when you listen to music is bound you be yourself, because it’s a private moment. You’re spending time in your own head, and you’ve probably got a hell of a lot of stuff going on in your life and in your mind. Stuff you need to digest and think about. Worries, problems, and yeah, happy things too. That’s what you probably want to spend your time on, and that’s why the albums tend to be conceptual and the way they are. Does that make any sense?

Of course. I totally agree with you. I love concept albums, and specifically I love conceptual continuity, like when a melody from one song reappears again 20 minutes later. I’m still discovering these moments on your last two LPs.

I think those are powerful moments because it confirms that we’re still in the same story. I love it too.

So what is Demon about?

Well, I’ll quickly run through the story. I talked to my dad a couple of years ago, and he’s very old. He’s about 83. In the middle of our conversation, he said that there seemed to be this air of darkness or ill will working throughout history and in people’s lives. That sort of creeped me out, and then I saw a really bad film called Insidious later that year. Have you seen it?

Yes, although I don’t remember too much about it.

There’s a scene in it in which there’s a demon in the man’s office and he’s sharping his very long nails. He’s listening to Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe through the Tulips”. He was so happy that bad stuff was going on, and it got me thinking about how if something bad is happening and you aren’t gaining anything from it, yet it still pleases you and makes you smile, well, that’s a fascinating mindset. I have no idea what my dad meant by it, but I think there’s an element of truth to what he said. I later asked him to elaborate on it, but he really didn’t.

He told me about a story he heard when he was in Prague in the ‘70s, about an empty apartment. No one was living in it yet someone found a manuscript about a guy who’d been stalking an evil presence. No one knew if he died or disappeared or what, but that’s what he wrote. For centuries on earth. An evil will working in nature. The manuscript was like a diary; it had calculations and things.

Obviously the man was crazy, but the thought of that manuscript and this guy who thought he’d found the source of this force of darkness really got to me. I went to the band and said, “What if we make an album which would be the diary of this guy. We’ll make the diary and imagine it and make a concept album about it. We’ll base it around evil.” So that’s the long answer. The short answer is that Demon is about evil and our internal demons. Everyone has them.

Unfortunately, I think you’re right.

There’s a bonus track for the album called “The Cage”. It’s about this nagging feeling that I get—and I’m not going to speak for you or anyone else—but I sometimes get this feeling like I’m not good enough. It says, “You can’t speak French. You’ll never make it. You’re not good looking. You’re not a rock star.” I think that that voice is another demon in my mind, and everyone has something like that.

So the album is about two things: the actual fact of what we now call “evil”, which is a redundant term anyway, since the old fashioned, secular world idea of God and the devil is sort of gone now. It’s about bad stuff happening in the world and throughout history, but also about the demons we have inside us. Hopefully, it’s designed so that you can philosophize about the concept of evil, but you can also stand up to your own demons.

I can completely empathize with that. I have that sorrowful, nagging feeling every day, as if whatever I’ve accomplished so far is meaningless and I’ll never do more.

You feel like you’re wasting your life and you aren’t getting anywhere and progress is slow and you should have done more. Are you working hard enough? There’s all this stuff. It’s like there’s seven billion other people, so who are you? Just a grain of sand. I think everyone has this going on.

Yeah, and I think creative minds probably suffer with it more than others. It’s comforting knowing that you know what it’s like, too.

I do. I mean, we aren’t rock stars in this band. We’re regular guys with regular jobs. That’s one of our strengths. I’m living the same life you’re living. We’re the same. I’m not living on tour, which is what some of these guys do. When you’re on tour, life is a bubble, and when you’re in the studio, life is a bubble. That’s the life of a rock star, and I think that regular guys have more interesting things to say about life.

Totally. Part of the frustration of doing what I do is that I speak to people who aren’t nearly as famous or successful as other musicians, but they’re infinitely more talented and worthwhile. It’s depressing.

Yeah, but it shouldn’t bother you too much. Music is a product, so like with all products if you’re going to sell something on a big scale, you need to streamline it and have a huge marketing force behind it. You need to have cash to push it. If we were a soda, we’d be a soda with pepper and ginger; you know, something that would never sell large amounts anyway, so no one would back us and make us big. We’re all happy with that, though.

I think that the people who would want to discover us probably already have because they’ve decided to make music a big part of their lives. They’ve already gone on the internet, and thank god for the internet. If you watch a video on YouTube, you’ll be offered maybe five other bands, and we might be on there, so that’s good. I think we’re being found by the people who want to find us.

I’m always happy to see the press you guys get. I think it’s the struggle every artist faces: would you rather keep your artistic integrity and vision, or sell out to be famous and rich by being generic and easy to take?

We meet a lot of the fans at the gigs and we always talk to them. That’s always interesting and fun, and I notice that I’m having really good conversations with them because they’re unique people. I’d rather have those experiences than play big stadiums.

As for cash, I make enough in my day job, which is making jingles and music for films and commercials in Norway. I don’t need any more. It’s funny to think that I can make more money in one day, with a car ad, than I will with a Gazpacho album. That’s a huge, huge job to do, whereas a car ad might take me two hours or so.

There’s something else driving me other than financial gain. Also, although it doesn’t sound like it [laughs], making those records keeps me happy. I’m a happy guy. I have a great time at it because everything fascinates me. I’m always looking for new stuff and new ideas to write about, and I keep getting them. I’ve got some really strange ideas for an album now, like recording the manuals for vacuum cleaners. They’d be the most beautiful songs you’ve ever heard but they’d be about instruction workbooks. I think that that could be a fun side project.

It’d be quite the juxtaposition.

If you can imagine Jeff Buckley singing “Hallelujah” it’d be with that kind of conviction. It’d be so weird. If I found out it existed, I would buy it just to hear what the hell it sounded like.

Absolutely. It’s something that most people wouldn’t get, but those who do would cherish it. So how would you compare Demon to previous work? I’ve read that you think it’s more complex, which I can see, too.

Yeah, musically it’s more complex, and we pulled off some things that I thought would be quite difficult. For example, the parts with the old 78 gramophone recording. We managed to play along to this woman singing a song called “Have you news of my boy Jack?” which is based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling. He wrote it about his son, who went missing during World War I. I wanted to use sections from that because the deaths from World War I were just so stupid. It was such a meaningless event; there was no point in these guys running off like they’re going to a party, but they wind up dying in the mud. I certainly think the demon was there, don’t you?

It makes sense, sure.


Pulling that off was exciting. I thought that using sections of that beneath a traditional rock section of the track was interesting and difficult to pull off. Also, the last song on the record, Death Room” has dissonant chords and very strange changes, and I remember that when we were making it we said, “Well, that’s the end of the band, guys. We’re done.”

Lyrically, it’s a difficult album because they can be difficult to understand. Every chord and lyric has a meaning, like how there are no deals about death. What’s done is done and you can’t change what’s happened. Elsewhere, the demon comes in and gives you a wakeup call about the fact that there is no holy land or mantra to save you. I suppose he’s the guy we talked about earlier, who says, “You may hope that God will greet you with open arms at the end, but really you’ll just be gone. Have a nice evening.”

It jumps all the time, which makes it challenging lyrically. And again, it’s open-ended. The lyrics will mean something different for you than they do for me. It doesn’t matter to anyone else what they mean to me, and all of these lines together will create a story that’s unique to you, based on your life and your experiences. That’ll be the best listening session for this album that you can have.

The poeticism and universality of it makes it so artistic. It’s an experience.

Last night I was having drinks with my girlfriend and we put on Close to the Edge by Yes. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to it. I imagine that you know that album well; I used to listen to it when I was seventeen or eighteen and I’d go into the woods to smoke cigarettes. It struck me how similar the lyrics of Jon Anderson are. They’re incredible open-ended, and he’s always been mocked because his lyrics are so bad. I mean, if I ask you what you think “Heart of the Sunrise” from Fragile is about, you probably have your own interpretation.

Sure. His words are extremely spiritual, so it’s a reflection on the person who hears it if they can connect with it, or if they just dismiss it as too fanciful and silly.

It’s very visual, and if we wanted to make fun of him, we could easily do it. We would laugh our heads off if we wanted to take them that way, so you have accept that he’s going to say some strange stuff. If you try to get into it, you might have a good time and you might learn something.

You can always make fun of something and put it down, especially with people who open themselves up like he does. But if you give him a chance, he’s got something to offer. I get a lot of satisfaction from most of the Yes albums, and of course it’s because of the mix of music and words. When they get a great fit, it’s beautiful. Of course, sometimes I’m not sure what it’s about, but if I like it, I like it. It’s that simple.

And Gazpacho’s vocals are very unique, especially with the harmonies and falsettos. You can grasp the emotion without necessarily knowing what the lyrics are or what they mean.

It’s the same thing. It would very easy to make fun of it. A lot of people have said that our singer was a girl around the time of our first album. It is what it is and if people don’t like it, that’s fine.

I’m not sure why they would have an issue. Jan-Henrik Ohme has such a distinctive voice.

He grew up loving The Rolling Stones, so that’s where he got his falsettos from, and then he moved into all sorts of weird music. There’s an Old World air about him, as well as a Berlin vaudevillian thing. Sometimes it’s almost like a musical when he lets himself go. It’s a very particular sound for a rock album, and it’s a very recognizable voice, at least to me. It’s capable of carrying very strong emotions.

I think a lot of prog bands dismiss the importance of vocals because they’ve got these very strong egos between the guitarist and the keyboardist and the drummer. They’ll say, “Okay, finish your singing because I’ve got a solo coming up. Get it done. We’re all waiting for the guitars to start.” That’s such a shame because in my experience, I think 99 percent of people listen to the vocals, and maybe just the vocals. Most people probably can’t tell the difference between a bass guitar and a six-stringed guitar.

All That's Needed Is One of Those Stage Hypnotists

That’s what makes bands like Gazpacho—which are really most of the bands on Kscope—so exceptional. You guys aren’t interested in speed or flashiness. It’s all about serving the vibe and message of the track.

It gets repetitive, and when I do listen to stuff like Dream Theater, which I rarely do, it is fun to hear how amazing these guys are with their instruments. But that’s a bit like going to the circus and seeing how someone can balance 18 plates at once. It’s great, but it’s not what I’m looking for all the time.

I think that’s really true with music, which I think is still the shortcut to the soul. You can go to your shrink and talk to them, but music can also get in there and do stuff. I’m sure it applies to you as well. You know how powerful music can be, and I think it’s the closest thing we have to magic. That may sound a little goofy, but it’s really a shortcut into someone’s emotions.

It can definitely be more than just sounds and vocals and lyrics. It can change your life.

It really can, and trains of thought are like that, too. You could have calm thoughts for a moment and then jump to something very heavy a second later. It could flutter all over the place, and “Death Room” is very much like that because we wanted to get inside the mind of the demon. I would imagine that a demon has very quiet moments while also having moments of wild anger.

We wanted to make it very dynamic and change quickly, which has probably confused some listeners, but not as many as we thought. And I want to take back what I said about this being our most complicated record, because we’ve met people who think it’s not complicated at all. They say that it’s one of the catchier records we’ve made. We didn’t think it was [laughs].

March of Ghosts had a profound effect on me, especially the opening of the last track, when the first riff on the album comes back and things come full circle. It made me smile.

It’s a warm feeling when things come back again. It’s like “I’ve been on a trip and I can see my house again.”

I really admire that about the way you guys compose. You’ll throw in a couple measures with horns and then another timbre for a few seconds. Sometimes it ventures into new genres for a few moments. It’s always changing, and it’s very bold. I can understand why some people wouldn’t “get it”, but that’s what makes it special.

Yeah. Our violin player was on a website—he plays Irish violin in an Irish folk group on the weekends—and he was in this forum for people who are into that music. “Mary Celeste” came up and someone called it, “The most unfortunate version of Irish jigs ever made” because it broke a hell of a lot of rules. They have a hell of a lot of rules for how to play these jigs, and we broke every one of them [laughs]. It was funny because they just murdered it. They said it was an insult to folk music and Ireland and everything. We had a great time reading that one.


You have to take the negativity with a grain of salt, of course. The people that appreciate it cherish it. To me, it’s life-affirming; I feel happy knowing that music like this is being made. It’s that simple.

They’re happy discoveries. It was like that with me as a kid when I would discover bands, and then I realized that there are other people who feel like I do. At first you feel like you’re special and maybe alone with it, there are lots of people like you. You’re a novel person.

My father turned me onto early Genesis and Jethro Tull when I entered high school. I remember trying to get my friends to listen to A Passion Play. Again, a lot of people just couldn’t appreciate it, which is their loss.

Oh, yeah. It’s a fantastic album. Did you ever listen to The Chateau D’isaster Tapes, you know, the first attempt at that album? It’s a great album too, and I can’t understand why they scrapped it. A Passion Play was a big deal for me when I was around 17. I used to listen to it on my way to school every day. It’s mind-blowing. My favorite part is the piano intro [sings opening lines]. That’s got some vaudeville musical touchesm as well.

It’s so far removed from even Thick as a Brick, its immediate predecessor. It’s more artistic and experimental.

The problem was that Thick as a Brick took off immediately. It was huge, even in America. They were filling stadiums at that point, and after writing something like that, whatever you do next is going to be heavily judged and ridiculed. People will automatically think it’s a step down, so then they made The Chateau D’isaster Tapes, which was great but they were unsure about it so they dropped it. As you said, they made A Passion Play as artistic as they were allowed to by the record company, because if it failed and people said, “You’re new record is shit,” they would’ve just said, “Well, it was an experiment in art.” That’s how they got away with it and were able to move on.

You write most of the updates on the websites, right? You’re the spokesman, and it’s endearing to see how open you are about what’s going on behind the scenes, what you guys like to do, etc. There are so many musicians who don’t seem to care at all about having an open line of communication with their fans. They’re too secluded; for example, there are so many Facebook sites run by other people. They’ll write about the artist in the third person, and it’s very hard to get in touch with the actual person. How important do you think it is to be available to the public?

I think it’s very important. For one thing, we’re regular people and we want to be seen as regular people. We don’t want to be seen as rock stars. Like I said earlier, I’m just like you. I’m a normal guy. Once we get rid of that whole rock star thing, we can talk to each other like normal people. I want the Facebook updates to be something people want to know about.

I think a glimpse into the lives of the people making the music is great; I still go on people’s websites sometimes; for example, I used to love going on Kate Bush’s website and reading about her summer vacations. I don’t need to know intimate details, but I like to know what you’re up to as you’re making the record. That’s the reward you get for being on a place like Facebook. You get the info that we have. We don’t keep any secrets; why should we? Here’s the info and this is what we’re doing. We hope you’re happy and we love you all, which we do. 

This might sound a bit weird, but I think that whenever someone is listening to our work and make up their own experience, I feel like we’re all in it together. When you listen to March of Ghosts, you’re adding so much to it that it’s like you made half of it anyway. We’re all just friends.

That’s a great way to look at it. I mean, I never know how an interview is going to go, so I’ll plan a series of questions and hope that the person I’m speaking with goes off on tangents that lead to other points of discussion. It’s very tedious to simply have Question A answered and then Question B answered without any deviations or elaboration, you know? I could ask you the same questions you’ve been asked a hundred times, but it’s better when it’s informal and friendly, like it is here.

Yeah. Then you get the “yes” and “no” answers, which are terrible [laughs]. I used to be a promoter for indie music, and I remember thinking that if you’re going to do an interview, the job of both people is to get something good for the article. That’s the idea, and of course any interesting conversation is fun and juicy. You’ve got to have something to work with so people want to read it.

True. A lot of interview questions are already answered on the artist’s websites, among other places. It’s better to just let it flow naturally. For example, you’ve said on the website that the chord progressions on this new record as “hell”.

Yes, they can be. You see, we’re idiots. We really are. You’ve got maybe six chords in one section, and then maybe you move on and then come back to those six chords. Sometimes when we come back to those chords, we’ll choose four different ones. You have to sort of unlearn what you learned the first time. You have to remember it but you also have to learn the new ones, as well as when section A comes and when section B comes.

Also, to change the sounds of the keyboard, I’ve now created this [shows a keyboard with labels on each key]. Here are the strings for “Hell Freezes Over”, and I can’t even read what this one says. This one is “weird” because it’s sound effects. We’ve got all of these sounds to bring along, and the only way to remember them is to right them on the keyboard. 

Of course with this new tour, we’ve got to redo the whole thing, so I hope this stuff comes off [wipes at keys with tissue], which it doesn’t seem to be doing [laughs]. Oh, yes it is! Again, we’re idiots for doing all of this for live shows. It’s really hell on earth.

It sounds challenging, but it’s got to be worth it.

It is. What would be really cool is to bring along one of those stage hypnotists. You would show up at the gig and they guy would say, “Okay, one, two, three, now sleep,” and you’d fall asleep and we could just hang around and drink beer for two hours. Then he’ll say, “Okay, you will now remember having been to the greatest concert in your life. One, two, three, and wake up!” You’d think we just blew your mind. It’d be nice to do it that way, but I guess for now we’ll have to play some songs [laughs].

Yeah, at least for the moment. Speaking of constructing these songs, what exactly is the process for writing and arranging them? It seems so meticulous.

We always start with either a jam or a musical idea, and a lot of those I make on the keyboards in my bedroom. We’ll get together and work on an instrumental; we always start with an instrumental, and once we establish a mood that we want to explore, we’ll bring in Jan-Henrik to try to make vocal lines over it. If it works, we’ll see it through. About 50 to 60 percent of our songs are killed right there, because if he doesn’t have a good tune to put over them, they’re worthless.

Once we’ve got his tune, we put it over the instrumental and change the instrumental to fit his tune. If it’s a tune that should last for three minutes, that section will last for three minutes. Once that’s done, Jan-Henrick and I sit together and say, “Well what the hell is this song about?” We always try to dream what words will fit, and we make sure that the final lyrics fit 100 percent with the demo. That means that although the lyrics are extremely important to us, they’ll always be written so that they fit in the rhythm and they have the correct amount of syllables.

Then we record them, and once that’s done and we’ve got a long piece of music, we’ll build sections around to see how it all works from start to finish. We try to get some instrumental bits in there, which is always good to underline the story. Then we add sound effects if needed and record drums and bass. Finally, we’ll spend about two months mixing it all.

That sounds like a very detailed process, Thomas.

It’s hell on earth, but it’s the only way we can do it. It’s a lot of fun, though. I mean, some people go off and play computer games, and this is a lot like that. It’s a challenge, just like anything you do, but when you get it right it’s deeply satisfying.

Sure, and the music is known for being very bleak yet beautiful. Where does this tone come from? On the website you’ve joked about never writing any happy pop songs, not that anyone would want you to.

That’s a good question because I’ve thought about it a lot. As I said, I’m not a depressed person; I’m very happy, really, but I think that maybe I’m happy because of how magical music can be. Again you have the connection to therapy. I think that the darkness comes from the fact that dramatic music in minor keys are more beautiful than what you’d call “happy music”. I can’t think of any music that I would classify that way except for maybe circus music. I mean, what is happy music anyway? Can you think of any?

Not really, but it depends on what you classify as “music”, as opposed to empty, sensationalist stuff.

Even if you look at hit singles these days, a lot of them are in minor keys. The other thing I find to be satisfying in music is power, and once you’ve added minor keys and power, you’ve established that this is basically about something monumentally important or sad or both. Once you’ve established that, you need to have a concept that fits it in some way. I think that’s why it becomes so bleak and depressing is because that’s the music that we find most beautiful. If we didn’t find it beautiful, it wouldn’t interest us, and it wouldn’t hold our attention long enough to warrant spending such massive amounts of time on it.

Would you say that the aesthetic and ambition behind Gazpacho has changed a lot over the years?

It’s changed a bit. We had no idea that it would become—I don’t mean to sound like an idiot, but we had no idea that we would ever find our own sound from the Night album onwards. We also realized that that is incredibly rare; we never dreamt that we’d be able to do that, and that’s what I’m most proud of. The ambition was to write some tunes and have fun, and now it’s to make the perfect album, which means the perfect Gazpacho album.

We’ve realized that we have the power to do some really good stuff, and we’re only now scratching the surface of it. We learn something new with every album, and like the rest of life you’re always learning something. The day you stop learning is the day you’re dead. Now the ambition is to make even better, more powerful stuff, and that’s what’s probably changed since the start.

I think you’ve easily succeeded, to put it mildly. You’ve mentioned before that everyone in the band has a day job outside of Gazpacho. How do you guys manage it all?

That is also hell on earth, but not for me because I run a studio. I own a studio as a composer, but for the other guys, who have real jobs with real bosses, they have to take vacation time just to tour. They also need to buy a lot of flowers and gifts for their girlfriends. I have a daughter, and once you have a kid it’s a full time job itself, so if you’re going to go on tour for a few weeks, you need to have a very understanding girlfriend.

It’s a massive undertaking to get this planned; even if we wanted to have a meeting, we have to get six guys’ calendars to match up for just one day, which is almost impossible. Sometimes we have to book things three months in advance to just have that Thursday evening to meet. It’s difficult, but again the only way to keep ourselves grounded and have a life like anyone else is to do it this way.

Fortunately, it all ends up worthwhile. So do you have a favorite Gazpacho record?

It always varies; I’ll go through phases of not listening to it and then I’ll pick one and think, “Wow, this is good.” Of course Demon is my favorite now, but forgetting that one I’d say Tick Tock. I rediscovered it a few years ago. Once an album is done, I’ll listen to it when I rehearse and then I’ll let it go because I’m done with it. I didn’t listen to Tick Tock for a long time because I was unhappy with the mix, but when I picked it up again I found that the mix was fine, and it’s a really good album with some great moods and beautiful tunes. The lyrics are strong too. It’s just been remastered too and released on Kscope as a vinyl album, as well as a CD coming in June. You’ll have to get them to send you a copy.

Definitely. I’ll try my best. That’s all the questions I have for today. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

Sure. Thank you as well. May I show you one more thing, though? If you’ve been reading the website, you’ll remember that I said that my daughter gave me a Justin Bieber doll. Well here he is [shows a large doll]. It’s all true.

It’s eerily accurate, actually.

It is, isn’t it? She listened to Demon as we were making it and she thought it was “so damn boring.” She was singing some Justin Bieber song from the radio and I said, “Don’t ever sing that one,” and of course once I said that she bought me this. She’s six now, and she’s a big fan of my jingles, like singing jingles for malls. A lot of them are in the style of ABBA, and she loves those, but not so much with the Gazpacho stuff.

Hopefully she’ll grow to appreciate it one day.

Yeah. I can promise that there will be no Bieber in this house by then. I think that pop music is going in a terrible direction.

It goes back to the typical conflict of artistic integrity or easy sales, like we talked about before.

How do you get a kid into prog music? Where do you start? Maybe A Passion Play. It’s got some silly bits in it. We’ll make a deal: you do the interview for the next album in a year or two or however long it takes, and I’ll try to get her into it [laughs]. Next time we’ll speak, we’ll see how it went. “Getting Kids Into Prog”; that’d be another great article for you to do.

Jordan Blum holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is the founder/Editor-in-Chief of an online literary/multimedia journal called The Bookends Review. He specializes in progressive rock and also writes for Delusions of Adequacy, Examiner, and Sea of Tranquility. Finally, he records his own crazy ideas under the pseudonym of Neglected Spoon. When he's not focused on any of that, he teaches English courses at various colleges. Feel free to contact him.


Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/180190-conquering-demons-a-conversation-with-thomas-anderson-gazpacho/