ENTREVUE / INTERVIEW
With: Steve Nardelli
ALBUM REVIEW HERE
Richard Hawey - May 2016
PROFIL - First of all I want to thank you for accepting our invitation to participate in this interview.
PR - The SYN, The story goes back to the mid-60s when you were playing R & B music. Subsequently the orientation of the music style has changed with the arrival of new members including the late Chris SQUIRE. You can tell us briefly about that time and the character that was Chris SQUIRE?
STEVE NARDELLI: Chris Squire was a classic founding member of The Syn in 1965 along with Peter Banks, Andrew Pryce Jackman, Gunnar Hakonarson and of course me. We came about as a result of merging two different bands when we met at a ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition. We started playing Tamala Motown covers and some original songs I had written with Andrew based on three and four part harmonies which became very much part of our sound and which Chris and Peter took with them when they formed Yes. The Syn sound was developed very much by Andrew who was classically trained and in many ways wrote the blue-print for what would become Prog Rock. Andrew also played a huge part in the writing and recording of Chris’s solo album Fish Out of Water. Chris and me were great friends from those early days right through to his sad passing last year, a friendship of 50 years!
The SYN immersed itself in the amazing London music scene of 1965 and very soon we were playing regularly at the Marquee Club which was the centre of all that was happening in the music world. It was there that we played with some of the greatest bands of all time, The Who; Pink Floyd; Cream; Spencer Davies Group; Cat Stevens; Moody Blues and most famous of all Jimi Hendrix on his first ever show in London with the Beatles and Rolling Stones sitting front row in the audience. This is considered the greatest night in Marquee history.
Chris was a brilliant bass player at 16 years old when we started and played the same Rickenbacker he bought with The Syn all his life. It was fantastic to link up with Chris and Peter again in 2003 to create new music in a reformed The SYN.
PR - The SYN is said that history is closely linked to that of YES, you can tell us more?
SN: I have touched on that in my previous answer, founding members of The SYN Chris Squire and Peter Banks were both founding members of Yes. There is a big similarity between early Yes and The SYN which is not surprising, Yes followed on from where The Syn left off. Tony Kaye also recorded with The Syn in the 60’s and both Alan White and Tom Brislin also recorded and toured with the reformed band in the 21st Century. Andrew Pryce Jackman continued to work on Yes albums over a number of years and also with me and Chris via our NarSquiJack company. So yes, The SYN is a precursor of Yes and those links are very deep and have remained over the last 50 years.
PR - The SYN has only three studio albums, we cannot say that you invade progressive archive, do you explain why?
SN: The three studio albums I think you refer to are Syndestructible, Big Sky and the new Trustworks. However, you are missing out Original Syn which is a double album made up of one disc of original 60’s material and one disc of new recordings made with Peter Banks on guitar, Gerard Johnson on keyboards, Martyn Adelman on drums, Steve Gee on bass and me on vocals. The introduction to the album was written by Phil Collins who confides that The Syn were an early influence on Genesis. Then there is the Armistice Day album that we recorded live at XM studios with Alan White on drums.
Add the DVD’s and Live Rosfest cd, our catalogue is certainly growing. Of course the bulk of the recording has taken place over the last ten years, so I have been making up for lost time in between my own very busy schedule in building the first eco town in England.
PR - There has been over the years many musicians who have succeeded in the group, is there a reason or particular reasons?
SN: The SYN has always had a very good reputation as a high quality band and that is because we have always set a high standard when recruiting members. I have already mentioned some of them but you can add Paul Stacey, Jeremy Stacey, Francis Dunnery, Brett Kull, Paul Ramsey and for Trustworks, Moon Safari and Jonas Reingold from the Flower Kings. I am very selective about choosing the right musicians for the right projects and so far I think I have been successful.
PR - On "Trustworks" you are surrounded by musicians of Moon Safari, why them in particular? And Jonas REINGOLD which produces and lends his guitars and keyboards for a song, here there is an important Swedish presence attached to the album?
SN: I met Moon Safari when both they and The Syn played Rosfest in 2009 and I was very impressed by their outstanding 4 and 5 part harmonies. I had the idea for an album of operatic grandeur in my head and they fulfilled the vocal elements perfectly. I met them again in their home town in the far North of Sweden, Skelleftea, and played them the songs I had in mind for the album. We demoed a couple of tracks and it was immediately clear we could create a good album together. Over the next 3 years I would travel up to Sweden between our very busy schedules and we would develop and demo the songs until we were satisfied it was the right time to start the actual studio recordings.
Although my first attraction to Moon Safari was their brilliant vocal harmonies, what I soon found out during the recording processes was what brilliant all-round musicians they are. They played a big part in song development and arrangement and wrote a mass of grand musical parts right across the album culminating in what I believe is one of the finest ever recorded guitar solos that is the finale to the album, written and played by Pontus Akesson. The other Moon Safari musicians are Simon Akesson(keyboards), Petter Sandstrom(guitar) Jonas Lundgren(drums) and Johan Westerlund(bass), all outstanding musicians quite apart from the extraordinary harmony arrangements created by Simon.
Jonas Reingold was a friend of Moon Safari and had worked with them before and he was suggested as the right person to record the all-important drum tracks of Tobias Lundgren. Jonas did such a great job I asked him to produce the whole album and over the next year he worked closely with us to build and finalise the tracks. His input was a very important element both as a musician and producer in the completion of the album, I believe he helped make a good album a great one. So yes, there is a very strong Swedish element to this album, in fact 6 Swedes to 1 Englishman. Sweden is a very beautiful country with a fantastic musical heritage which has created some of greatest musicians in the history of music.
PR - The writing of the compositions according to the book's explanation, a collaboration between members of Moon Safari, and you. How was that period?
SN: Again, I have referenced this in my previous answer. I had written the basic songs and together we would develop them over a long period of time because we were based in different countries, but would only work when we were in the studios together and we all had very busy schedules to coordinate. We created high quality demos that formed the foundation of the tracks by the time we took them to the final recording stage. I wrote all the lyrics but Moon Safari’s musical input into the song creation was immense, a true collaboration.
PR - How long did you work on "Trustworks"?
SN: We first met in Skelleftea at Christmas 2009 when I played them some of the songs I had written for the album. The album was released in April this year, six years in the making, so it was grown organically, it had plenty of time and space to develop.
PR - If you have to sell us "Trustworks" what would you tell us?
SN: I asked someone who has the album and is known as the Queen of Prog, Janet Lynne Mocarsky, to answer that question and this was the answer she sent me:
‘Trustworks by The SYN, the band that gave birth to Yes and a cornerstone of the progressive movement, has had a profound effect on me, but not just me, many others too have told me they play it over and over again. It makes me feel good, hopeful for our future. The musicianship is outstanding and the message and the vocals by Steve Nardelli are clear and sincere. I believe this is some new type of Prog music, it has a conscience and possibly even healing waves going on. Something I can’t put my finger on, something spiritual and helpful, positive and grand’.
PR - Are there any planned shows to promote the album?
SN: Yes, Chris Colbourn at Concerted Efforts in Boston are currently working on shows in America for this September and we are planning shows in England and Europe. We are also being booked for festivals next year already and have offers from Japan to consider. It would great if we could get to Canada as well.
PR - The world of music is changing, according to you it's for the better?
SN: I think it’s better than it was, but the world of music collapsed under the weight of the download for free internet boom and television talent shows. I feel it’s finding its feet again, musicians and the record companies are learning to adapt to the internet revolution and to take the benefits it offers and as a result music is getting interesting again.
PR - Is the Internet a good tool for musicians?
SN: The internet is a window to the world, the greatest communicator imaginable. Music is created to be heard and there is no better vehicle to do that than via the internet. It is inexpensive and immediately accessible.
The new entertainment media excitement is focused on streaming, less than 50% of music that people buy currently is cds and that percentage continues to fall rapidly, the internet is king! I always feel that the greatest compliment anyone can give to a musician is to listen to their music and the internet creates the perfect window for that to happen, that is what we make music for.
PR - You have the last word ...
I’m very proud of the 50 year history of The SYN, of all the music I have created with so many great musicians in the band and now Trustworks, a true progression with The SYN spine running through it that respects and honours our legacy.
Thank you for this interview that I have been very pleased to take part in.
PR - Thank you!