ENTREVUE / INTERVIEW
WITH: KHALED LOWE
ALBUM REVIEW HERE
Fred Simoneau - Avril 2016
PR - Good afternoon Khaled, first and foremost we would like to thank you for taking some time off your schedule and talking to us today.
KL – Thanks for having me, and thank you also for your time; it’s very much appreciated.
PR – We have some questions, and the first one is about your recent touring dates with the Von Hertzen Brothers across the U.K. last March. Could you tell us how the overall experience was and how the audience reacted?
KL – The tour was truly wonderful! The audiences every single night of the tour were very appreciative of our craft; we met some very nice people at every show who had some very complimentary words, we also sold out of all of our CDs so we must have been doing something right I guess!
PR – Some months have passed since your appearance in “Cruise to the Edge” last November 2015, where I personally met you. Would it be a true fact saying you and the band have been extremely busy lately?
KL – And what an experience that was! Yes; we flew back from Miami and went straight back into the studio to finish writing and recording our album, “Threnodies”, it was a process that took almost three months from inception to the final, finished product. After we finished the album; we shot a new music video for the band, sorted out a new record deal, did the UK tour with the Von Hertzen Brothers and confirmed a couple of festivals for the summer.
PR – Now, let’s talk about your brand new album “Threnodies” which will be released on April 22nd. How did you guys come up with the album title?
KL – Without going into specific detail, we lost some people close to us before and during the album sessions. On a wider scale, we also lost some legendary figures in the music scene (David Bowie, Keith Emerson, Lemmy, just to name a few… That and the fact that innocent people seem to be passing away left, right and centre… “Threnodies” seemed an appropriate title to commemorate the deceased.
PR – With such a title, would you consider your album “Threnodies” to be melancholic and very emotional lyrically and musically? Maybe even more than “Illusory Blues”?
KL – It’s a Messenger album; it’s bound to be emotional! J “Illusory Blues” was very personal to myself and to Barnaby (other singer/guitarist), lyrically and musically… “Threnodies” is much more general; not to say that it’s any less emotional, but lyrically, the content is about what’s going on around me rather than in my own head. Musically, we’ll always be ‘emotional’, whether we’re playing folk or heavy rock.
PR - Correct me if I am wrong, but would you describe the music in this new record to be leaning towards a more psychedelic and little less folk sound?
KL – I guess so. That wasn’t intentional. The first record was written by me and Barnaby and arranged and produced by Gomez. The second album had a lot of contributions from Dan and James as well. We’ve been used to playing gigs in an “electric” style rather than acoustically, so I guess it just flowed more naturally in that direction for this album. The first time round, Messenger was merely a name for the collective of ideas; we’d never played a gig, we weren’t really considering forming a band, and thus were more at liberty to utilize session musicians (violin, flute, etc.) When we formed the ‘band’ after the first album, we realized we needed to be able to translate these ideas in a live context, so we concentrated more on writing arrangements that we could play live perfectly; instead of figuring how to transpose a violin melody into a guitar part or a piano part.
PR – If you were to compare your previous releases with this new album, how will it stack up against them?
KL – I think the first album and this new album are different entities, but I also think that’s a good thing. Sure thing, we’re bound to lose a few listeners who were primarily expecting a “folk”-tinged sound, but by the very nature of ‘progressive’ music, we’re bound to keep changing…
PR – Was the track selection an easy process? Were there songs that didn’t make the cut for the album?
KL – The track selection and ordering was not an easy process; we had a friend from Century Media records actually choose the track-listing for us. It’s difficult to detach from something and give it some space to look at it with fresh eyes or to listen to it with fresh ears if you’re there in its presence 16 hours a day, 6 days a week… There was one song that didn’t make the cut.. A song called “Genevieve” that you’ll probably never hear! It wasn’t a bad song; it just didn’t sound anything like Messenger in 2016, musically or lyrically.
PR – How is it, with today’s reality in the music industry, to write and create an album in 2016.
KL – It’s not easy; studio time is not cheap, especially when you’re fussy like us and need to use decent equipment for every part of the process… Luckily our drummer Gomez is a highly respected producer and has his own studio, Orgone, where we recorded both our albums. So he cut us a deal. We all have jobs outside Messenger, but luckily, we all work either for ourselves or for very understanding companies who will give us time off for recording and for touring.
PR – Some will say that Progressive Rock music is dying, what would your answer be in reaction to this statement?
KL – I think that’s nonsense. “Progressive Rock” can encapsulate such a wide range of genres; everything from Kate Bush to Radiohead to Yes to Opeth… In the UK, there’s an official Progressive chart for albums; Prog magazine is very successful, and there are music festivals appearing all over the globe that are exclusively dedicated to Progressive Rock. It’s alive and kicking! And for good reason! People are starting to get bored of mass-produced, unchallenging and pointless music!
PR – How did your presence playing at the last “Cruise to the Edge 2015” impacted the future of “Messenger”?
KL – We made some very good friends (fellow musicians and fans) and we finally played a show outside Europe. So the seed is planted! Hopefully we can get over to the US and Canada soon! That would be a dream come true for us!
PR - You guys didn’t wait long between your first and second album. How do you balance your music creation with other obligations – mate, children, job?
KL – We have very understanding friends, families, partners and employers! And when you enjoy something as much as all of us do, it doesn’t feel like hard work!
PR – I can only imagine how positive it is to work with “Inside Out”. Can you give us more details about how your collaboration with such a prestigious music label came to fruition?
KL – Gomez was the initial point of contact, as he deals with the management side of things. I believe the first meeting was after our set at Roadburn festival in the Netherlands a year or two ago. They’ve been truly amazing in their attention to detail; from press/PR through to the aesthetic detail of the finished product. They’re extremely professional but still laid back and helpful and it’s been an utter joy working with them!
PR - What are your plans in the immediate future?
KL – Our new album is out on the 22nd April worldwide, we’re going to hopefully announce a UK tour in support of that very soon; hopefully some dates in Europe as well. We have a music video coming out soon for the first track of the album; “Calyx”. We’re also appearing at the STONE FREE festival in London, alongside Alice Cooper, Rick Wakeman, Marillion, The Darkness and a few other bands. We’re also playing the Leafmeal festival in Germany later in the year.
PR - All good things come to an end and we ran out of time, but before concluding this chat I would like to wish you the best with this new release, and hope to see you performing live sometimes soon in North America, specially here in Quebec City! You have the final word…
KL – Thanks so much for your time; have a wonderful weekend and I hope to see you soon in person; hopefully with the rest of my band and a show to play! All the best my friend!
PR – Have a great day and thanks one more time.