ENTREVUE / INTERVIEW
With: The Band
ALBUM REVIEW HERE
Philippe André - February 2020
Profilprog (PP) : Hello Guys and thank you for giving us your time to answer our questions
Final Conflict (FC) : Hi Philippe, it’s great to be asked!
PP : You took almost eight years to release the new album, what are the reasons?
AL : Life, personal problems and tragedies got in the way. It’s difficult to be in a creative frame of mind when your home life is so difficult. The sound of FC is defined by the individual contributions of the core band members. We took the decision to delay the album so that all the core members could contribute. It’s what makes the FC sound so unique
PP : This is the second part of the Artisan concept, what does it consist of ?
AL : The first album in The Artisan trilogy introduced the concept of The Artisan, a character struggling in a world dominated by mercenary and financially based decision makers. Once Return Of The Artisan had been written it was clear that a story was unfolding and I had a number of lyrical ideas that I wanted to explore around the concept. The second album has a darker side to it which was not a conscious decision but a natural progression to the story. It was quite an emotional moment when all the mixing and mastering had been finalised and I listened to the complete album and heard the story. Its always hard as a musician to listen back to your own work as so much has been put into it you can sometimes lose the feeling of the songs and concentrate too much on technical issues. For me personally Rise is so much more than a collection of songs!
PP : Do you think you will write the third part before the age of eight ?
SL : We always intend to be more productive, but sometimes life just gets in the way. We work hard to make every track on every album the best it can possibly be and this has always been much more important for us than being prolific. But we certainly intend it to take much less than 8 years for the final chapter! Andy already has a number of working song titles that sound really interesting and we are really looking forward to start the writing process.
PP : Henry Rogers is no longer your drummer, why ?
SL : FC is pleased to have been instrumental in recognising Henry’s talent and introducing him to the world of progressive rock. As his professional career developed he wasn’t able to devote enough time to FC so we discussed and agreed it was time for him to concentrate on his career. We have used another young drummer on Rise (Eden Longson) who we all think has done a brilliant job. Its really refreshing to work with these young guys not forgetting Baz (Elwood) as they bring a completely different vibe and direction to the songs. It also helps to keep us oldies on our toes!!
PP : What became of the first musicians of Final Conflict ? Mark Price, Tony Moore and the others ; for Chris Moyden, I know....:(
BD : FC has always been about the music. Sometimes there are musical differences and it is better to move on when that happens. We now have a core of musicians in the band that get on both personally and musically, which definitely shows in the music. Chris Moyden was a huge loss to us, as a friend and musically. Life brings many problems and we try to keep the band as happy as we can and support each other as friends.
PP : Are the compositions collegial ?
AL : Yes, we write as a band. Individual band members do bring partial or in some cases fairly complete song ideas, but they are always developed further as a band. We will all get together at the Gaolhouse and review any ideas that we have been working on individuallywhich can sometimes be challenging as everyone has their own ideas of how a song should sound. Brian and myself will usually decide who will provide the vocals to a track as we have contrasting styles that suit different songs. Its always a sense of relief when the rest of the band like what you have done and I like to think that we all respect everyone else’s input…..even if sometimes we don’t personally agree with it (laughs)
PP : Who sings the most as a lead ? Andy or Brian ?
SL : We try to share duties equally between both Andy and Brian. There are some parts of songs that suit Andy’s voice better than Brian’s and vice-versa. There are many times when both sing together. Really it’s what suits the song best.
PP : This is the group's first album where I find Steve Lipiec as present, what do you think ?
BD : Steve has been with the band since 1989 and has been a key part of the sound of FC over the years. When you have a musician with Steve’s talent and creativity it should always be a focus within the writing process. I think that Steve has really pushed himself on this album with his different sounds from piano to Hammond to moog and strings. Brilliant!
PP : Do you like the scene, do you think you can play the trilogy of the Artisan live ?
SL : The live scene for progressive rock music has always been challenging. It is difficult to make the sums add up financially, particularly when performing outside the UK. If we are offered a gig we generally will try to do it, even if it doesn’t make sense financially, as we love performing and we know that our fans are always eager to see us.
PP : What are your professions outside Final Conflict ?
SL : Andy supplies medical equipment and services, Brian is in maintenance, Baz builds and sells bicycles, and Steve is now retired. All quite far removed from music but necessary in order to live. Also new equipment is very expensive and we always want more (laughs)
PP : What are your passions outside of music ? Football for Stoke City ?
SL : I particularly love walking and photography and obviously music.
AL: I’m a keen wildlife enthusiast and really enjoy the great outdoors. I also still like to ride my Harley Davidson when the English weather allows me to. Music has been a massive part of my life since I was young and I still love locking myself in my home studio and plugging in my favourite PRS and strumming away for hours. Oh and I also like beer (laughs)
BE: Mountain bike riding is a real favourite when time permits. I also like gaming and going to the gym
PP : Have you ever played with other formations or in other projects ?
SL: I played with many bands prior to joining FC.
AL: Both myself and Brian were in a band pre FC that was a really old school heavy metal band. Brian one day told me that he knew a keyboard player who wanted to join. It was around this time that Pink Floyd and Marillion were prominent so we kind of made a natural transition to a more progressive sound. We did release a track that was covered on a vinyl compilation album pre FC and you can really hear the beginning of our writing and musical style.
BE: I’ve played in many function bands over the years but FC is the only original material band that I have been involved with. Its so much more satisfying playing your own songs especially when you see people enjoy them
PP : We are in 2020, very few musicians manage to make a living from their music, what do you think ?
SL : We agree. We have all put our own money into the FC project and our own Gaolhouse Studio over many years. We certainly don’t make a living from it. That is why we mostly have day jobs. This does give us a certain freedom as we don’t have to be commercial or see pressure from a record company for quick releases.
PP : Is the Internet good or bad for you ? Are you still defenders of the physical cd or do you prefer digital now ?
SL : There are so many opportunities for promotion on the internet, but it is also the case that there is more music out there than ever before, so it is even more difficult to make a name for yourself, and certainly more difficult to make money from your music.
PP : Are you still defenders of the physical cd or do you prefer digital now ?
SL : We still prefer to put out music out on CD, as we believe many progrock fans like to have the physical product. But we do embrace the alternative of digital download for those who prefer it. With the resurgence in vinyl who knows what the next album format will be?
PP : What do you think of the comeback of the vinyl record ?
AL/SL : I think its really interesting. We have always had debates within FC of CD versus vinyl and their individual merits. Even more so than the CD, the vinyl record has a physical presence and recollects the joy of buying a new record, and studying the artwork and lyrics, etc while listening to the music. We can understand the attraction for a certain type of person that values a physical object to admire, that also has a function which is playing music. I also think a lot now is around convenience. I cant remember seeing anyone walking down the road playing a vinyl album, whereas now you can store thousands of songs on your phone. I still have all of my vinyl collection at home from when I was a teenager through to the age of the CD but in all honesty I haven’t played them for years as I have them all on CD
PP : Have you or do you have any musical favorites in recent months, progressive or another ?
SL : We are discovering exciting new music all the time. We never lose interest in the old favourites like Genesis, Pink Floyd, Marillion, Rush. But there is a lot of great newer music out there, like Steven Wilson, Greta Van Fleet, Airbag, Flower Kings - so many to choose from.....
PP : A big thank you for your collaboration and all the best for Final Conflict
FC : Many thanks from FC for the opportunity and the interest in the band and our music. We hope this will been interesting to your listeners and readers. Keep up the great work!