If somebody ever will get spherical to drawing Galahad’s household tree, they could effectively discover it doesn’t resemble a tree in any respect – extra of a tangled bush, a lot of whose branches sprout, blossom, wither and die, then re-emerge additional up the vine.
“We give Sure a run for his or her cash in the case of altering band line‑ups,” admits frontman and sole remaining founder member Stuart Nicholson, grinning ruefully as he sips a lunchtime beer in a central London pub. As we communicate, they’re about to have up to date band pictures taken within the mild of the most recent departure from their ranks, which has been confirmed for the reason that publicity photographs had been taken for his or her tenth studio album, Seas Of Change.
It seems Tim Ashton, who was first a part of Galahad for 3 years across the flip of the 90s and who then returned to the function in 2014, has jumped ship for a second time.
It’s a well-known downside spherical these components. Pursuing a much less commercially profitable model akin to prog in 2018 is commonly a case of arranging gigging, rehearsing, recording and promotion round day (or in a single case, night time) jobs and home commitments.
Nicholson himself manages to steer the ship both facet of working in that the majority rock’n’roll of professions, accountancy, and has immediately travelled as much as London from his Dorset base partly to fulfill with a piece consumer. However the band nonetheless come first. A few of Galahad, over time, have struggled to make the identical dedication.
“Tim likes travelling,” Nicholson says of Ashton, “which is why he left the band within the first place [in 1992]. Then he ended up within the Philippines, and he was nonetheless going again and ahead there for some time, even after he rejoined us. So we stated, ‘Look, Tim you’ll be able to’t hold flitting backwards and forwards and anticipate to nonetheless be within the band. Then final 12 months he had a couple of private and monetary points and he determined to return to the Philippines. He appeared to suppose there was no different choice for him. So we parted firm once more simply earlier than Christmas and now we’ve acquired [erstwhile Twelfth Night and LaHost multi-instrumentalist and singer] Mark Spencer on bass – who, sarcastically, was the person that Tim initially changed again in 2014.”
Such is the tangled net that Galahad weave. However few of their personnel modifications have been as unusual because the departure of founding guitarist Roy Keyworth, confirmed earlier than the discharge of final autumn’s assortment of shorter compositions, Quiet Storms. On the planet of web courting, there’s a phenomenon generally known as ‘ghosting’, the place a correspondent all of a sudden stops responding to any form of communication and mainly seems to be hiding behind a digital couch till the knocks on their door subside and their suitor goes away.
This state of affairs isn’t usually related to bands, however that’s mainly what occurred right here – Keyworth merely went AWOL. And though he fashioned Galahad with Nicholson again in 1985, this wasn’t the primary time he’d executed a bunk.
“He first left in 1998,” Nicholson explains, “straight after we completed recording Following Ghosts, which was weird as a result of we had gigs lined up. However he’s not superb at seeing different folks’s viewpoint. For example, he works nights, and when he first advised me about that, I stated, ‘How are we going to do the band?’ and he hadn’t actually thought-about it. So finally we might solely do issues on Sundays, which is hardly perfect.”
Nonetheless, there was little warning of what got here subsequent.
“We’d simply acquired again from a gig in Holland in November 2015 and he was strolling up the drive together with his girlfriend, and he stated, ‘Let me know if the rest comes up.’ However then all of a sudden he wouldn’t return calls, ignored us on social media, emails, messenger… We despatched him demos of 20-odd tracks together with Seas Of Change and he simply didn’t reply. We despatched him a vinyl copy of [2007 album] Empires By no means Last when it was reissued, and he loves his vinyl. Didn’t reply. I requested him to play guitar on Quiet Storms. Didn’t reply.
“So he by no means really stated he’d left the band. Finally we requested Andrew Wild, who wrote our biography, to see if he might get a response and he advised him, ‘Andy, I’m not within the band and I’m promoting all my gear.’ It’s fairly unhappy, however we’ve got to maneuver on.”
Whereas the demise of such a long-standing working relationship and friendship is all the time going to be a supply of dismay, it additionally meant that Galahad wanted a brand new guitarist. And simply in time to file the extra bold materials we discover on the 43-minute suite that includes new album Seas Of Change, Lee Abraham has stepped in, having beforehand performed bass in Galahad from 2005-2009.
No fewer than 21 folks have been members of Galahad over time (and two of them have sadly handed away). Nonetheless, the trio of Nicholson, co-songwriter and keyboard maestro Dean Baker, and drummer of 30 years Spencer Luckman hold the band’s coronary heart pumping powerfully. And Seas Of Change serves discover that Galahad’s music stays as important and related in 2018 because it has ever been.
This one-track album takes as its lyrical subject material the turbulent instances at the moment going through this nation of ours, as Brexit and its fallout tear on the social cloth of this sceptred isle. The blissful classical piano, flute, sweeping strings and ethereal feminine vocals of its opening passages are punctuated by a classic spoken phrase pattern warning us ‘the logic of energy was shifting in direction of its conclusion’. Then we hear a crowd hush and a toastmaster suggest a toast to ‘whole confusion, served up with a wholesome smattering of understated incredulity, topped off with a heady dose
of utter bemusement’. Hints of black humour however, it’s the introduction to thunderous flashes of symphonic prog over which Nicholson sings, ‘Batten down the hatches, girls and boys, in readiness for the storm forward.’
So, ‘confusion, incredulity, bemusement’… we take it Galahad’s lyricist wasn’t anticipating the referendum consequence we woke as much as on June 24, 2016?
“It does broadly describe my emotions,” he says. “It’s not presupposed to be a political album as such, simply somebody saying, ‘What’s occurring right here?’ It doesn’t make sense: screwing our society, making folks argue with one another… There’s been a lot vehemence and antipathy, and it was very divisive. It really acquired a bit scary at instances.”
Elsewhere, the lyrics trace at the opportunity of social unrest within the wake of all this.
“Yeah, I believed that due to what was being stated, it’d all kick off – the final time that occurred was the ballot tax riots, however there have been instances just lately when it regarded like issues might get out of hand.”
However for all of the drama of the image Galahad paint, there are additionally playful moments. ‘A way of revolution is forming within the air,’ Nicholson sings at the beginning of facet two, accompanied by an arresting synth riff, ‘and the wall of demise is lowered in Parliament Sq..’
An alarming, dystopian picture… or a cheeky nod to the lyric of Genesis’ Fly On A Windshield? You determine.
Nicholson smiles on the point out of it. “It’s a little bit of enjoyable, actually. I all the time attempt to get one thing in to acknowledge the place we’ve come from – generally it’s refined, generally it’s not.”
It’s a mirrored image of a band that also take inspiration from the golden age of prog but in addition sound in tune with Twenty first-century progressive music. The swathes of synth rock and using classic radio samples may remind you of Public Service Broadcasting, however then Lee Abraham’s breathtaking guitar breaks channel Dave Gilmour, and Nicholson’s quivering alto vocals have all the time sounded redolent of Fish, a lot as our interviewee may tire of the Marillion comparisons.
That’s maybe to be anticipated, on condition that Galahad fashioned across the peak of neo-prog within the mid‑80s… then discovered that the bandwagon had already moved on. Or, extra seemingly, they didn’t know there was a bandwagon.
“We didn’t really learn about bands like IQ and Twelfth Night time or Pendragon once we began – it was nice to seek out on the market had been bands enjoying that sort of music, however we simply occurred to be influenced by the identical bands as them.
“However our timing was really crap!” Nicholson laughs. “By the point we made our first album Nothing Is Written in 1991, a lot of the bands that adopted Marillion had pale and labels had been not taken with prog.”
One path to additional publicity for Galahad that Nicholson briefly explored was an unconventional one – in direction of the tip of 1988, he auditioned to be Marillion’s singer.
“Yeah, that’s 30 years in the past this 12 months. Christ!” he says. “After Fish left, I naïvely thought I might hold Galahad going and nonetheless be part of Marillion. However I didn’t even anticipate to get an audition – my demos had been horrible. To make my tape, I sat by my music centre with a microphone, and had Marillion information on the left hand facet and my vocals on the proper hand facet – as a result of that was all I had! I sang to Kayleigh or one thing and despatched it off.
“Amazingly, they requested me to return as much as London to audition. However that was additionally surreal as a result of it was the day of the Clapham rail crash, and I’d chosen to drive as much as London and never get the practice that day. I used to be sat there ready to audition with all this carnage on the TV, and I’m going white, considering, ‘That would have been me!’
“Anyway, the fellows had been all actually pleasant, and we tried out a couple of songs – Forgotten Sons, Blue Angel, Bitter Suite. After all, nothing got here of it, nevertheless it really ended up being good publicity for Galahad and it resulted in us getting our first gigs in London on the Royal Customary in Walthamstow.”
Nonetheless, Galahad nonetheless confronted an uphill wrestle to seek out an viewers.
“There was no web so that you wanted press protection,” Nicholson explains. “However the music papers wouldn’t contact us, and we weren’t rock sufficient for magazines like Kerrang! and Metallic Hammer.”
Youthful self-belief is a robust pressure, nevertheless, and after the web made it simpler for progressive artists to seek out their market immediately, Galahad discovered a brand new lease of life, likely helped by promotion in magazines like this one.
For all his fears for British society surrounding Brexit, Nicholson sees constructive indicators for Galahad and British prog within the years forward.
“We’ve had our greatest ever suggestions by way of social media, and we’ve had sturdy pre-orders for this album – with over 50 per cent on vinyl! We’re doing black, turquoise and an image disc and a few persons are ordering all of them…
“Individuals are much more broad of their tastes than they was once we began,” he provides, “and extra ready to hear. That stated, I nonetheless like the thought of belonging to a little bit of a tribe, and the prog scene is a bit like that – in a constructive manner, I believe.
“The music is spreading and I take my hat off to somebody like Steven Wilson – I by no means thought a band of this technology can be fashionable sufficient to fill the Albert Corridor. Issues like that give me hope for the long run.”
And even when Galahad’s line-up continues to resemble a recreation of musical chairs, you believe you studied that with such a decided driving pressure behind them, they received’t be disappearing off the radar any time quickly.
This text initially appeared in difficulty 86 of Prog Journal.
Leave a Reply