Interview: 10Q’s with DAVE MEROS (SPOCK’S BEARD)

Spock’s Beard release their eagerly anticipated new album ‘Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep’ through Inside Out on March 25th. Here we catch-up with bass player Dave Meros…

1. What are you currently up to? 

I am currently trying to sort out work permits, tax exemptions, 100 problems related to the CD preorder, bulk CD manufacturing and shipping problems and whatever other wide and unexpected assortment of problems that can get thrown at me.  I have no idea how I became the lucky guy to always seem to have to take care of these things, but it has taken up a very large percentage of my time for the last few months.

Someday I hope to have a little time to learn the songs that I’ll have to play on the upcoming Europe tour, which runs from May 02 through May 19.  We also have a couple of Los Angeles shows on April 13 and 14.

2. This is the first album recorded with Ted Leonard and Jimmy Keegan. Did they bring their own ideas into the album and how have they settled into the band?

Yes, they both really contributed a lot.  Ted especially, by contributing two songs that he wrote entirely by himself (Hiding Out and Submerged) and writing lyrics to a 3rd (Afterthoughts).

Jimmy had lots of great drum ideas and vocal harmony ideas as well.

3. Could you take us through the new album ‘Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep’? (e.g. ideas behind the songs etc)

 

 

 

 

- Hiding Out was a song that Ted had written a couple of years ago and his intention was to use it on a solo CD that he was planning.  When he joined Spock’s he “spockified” that song and submitted it for the CD.

- I Know Your Secret was a song that I wrote with John Boegehold that started out as a demo of mine that was much different sounding than the final version.  My original demo was MUCH heavier.  We had to lighten it up quite a bit to be appropriate for Spock’s Beard, and a big part of that was changing the drum pattern.

- A Treasure Abandoned was a song the Al wrote with John.  It started with a theme that Al had written many years ago. . .late 90s  (I remember playing bass on an early version of that back in maybe ’97 or ’98). . ..and John filled in the rest.  I love the way this one turned out, it’s one of my favorites on the CD

- Submerged is the other song that Ted wrote years before joining the band.  It is actually on his solo CD.  It’s not particularly prog rock or something that you’d typically hear from Spock’s Beard, but it’s a great song, and when we were choosing songs for the CD Al heard it and went absolutely crazy for it.  We all really liked it actually, so we went ahead and re-recorded it.

- Afterthoughts is of course one of the quirky “Thoughts” style songs with the vocal round and odd lyrics.  This is a song co-written by Al and Neal Morse during a songwriting session that they had a few months before we began to choose songs for this CD.  They wrote the music and Ted wrote the lyrics for that one.  That writing session also produced Waiting For Me.

- Something Very Strange was written entirely by John Boegehold, and was the first completed song submitted for the CD.  There were a lot of ideas floating around and some unfinished song demos, but this is the first one that everybody said “OK, THIS is going to be on the CD for sure”.

- Waiting For Me was the other song written by Al and Neal Morse.  It’s very reminiscent of vintage Spock’s Beard and is the single long track on the CD.  When I first heard the demo I was convinced that it was TOO reminiscent of old Spock’s, almost to the point of being caricature, but once we all played on it, it was obvious what a cool song it was and how powerful it was.  It’s now one of my favorite tracks on the CD.

Bonus Disc:

- The Man You’re Afraid You Are is a song that Al wrote with his writing buddy Stan Ausmus.  The first part is a rock tune with a lot of swagger that alternates between time signatures.  It then goes into a part that we affectionately refer to as the “porno” part, then into a really quirky proggy section, then a very Beatle-esque ending.  How’s that for a description?  ha ha!   If you haven’t heard it, I bet you’re curious now.

Down A Burning Road is a song that started off with a big guitar theme written by Al then completed by John.  A really cool track, I love the choruses.

Wish I Were Here started off as a demo of Al’s that was basically just a wild guitar riff supported by bass and drum parts.   That song was not even close to being finished when it was recorded and it was basically constructed and arranged in the studio.   And for those of you who would ask me the significance of the lyrics ”TV with Dave” I actually don’t know. .. I’ve never asked Al about that.   I think Dave is just a name that fit the song well and vocally you can add a lot of sarcasm to it.

Something Very Strange (Sanctified Remix) is an alternate version of the song on the main disc, and I really like this version. .. maybe even better than the one on the main disc.  More groove, and cooler sounding.  Not as prog though, so it went on the bonus disc.  I could actually see this one getting a little mainstream attention.

Postcards From Perdition is a song that you’ll only find on the Limited Edition, which is available only by ordering on our website www.spocksbeard.com   It’s an instrumental track written by John Boegehold, really high energy and very “cinematic” sounding.

4. You are on tour for most of May. How do the band go about compiling a set list and will the new album feature heavily on this tour?

The first goal of touring is to promote the new CD, so we try to do a lot of that.  We’re doing six of the seven songs from the main disc, and probably part or all of one of the songs from the bonus disc, we’re still talking about that one.  Then of course we can’t get away without doing some of the older ones, so we’re throwing a nice number of those in as well.

Actually, the tour will be probably slightly more than half new material, then slightly less than half older stuff.

We compile a set list by just throwing around ideas. . .not too formal of a process.  If somebody really wants to do a particular song that goes on the big list, then we find out how much time we have to work with and work backwards from there, cutting the list down until we fit the time that we have.

5. What prompted the move to use Indiegogo to fund the mastering and how did it go? Is this the future for bands using their fans to fund a new album and then releasing it later via a record label to a wider audience?

We tried the preorder last time using our website, but we receive payments through PayPal, and they don’t allow a preorder to go for more than 30 days.  Our preorder for “X” was about six months.  They got wind of that and froze our account for six months, which was not a good thing. . .at all.

So to avoid the PayPal Police this time we first tried to establish a direct credit card portal on our website, but that turned into a multi-headed beast that became a situation where we would have had to basically pay somebody to rebuild our entire website and install a new web store, etc, etc, so we just went with crowd funding, mainly because we were seriously running out of time to get something up and running.

It seemed easier at the time, although trying to make a crowd funding site function as a web store created its own set of problems that we had to deal with.

Crowd funding, or any other form of independent fund raising is becoming more and more of a necessity for bands.  Long gone are the days of adequate recording advances from the record label, so we either come up with 2/3 of the money that it takes to record the CD on our own, or we just stop recording. .. the choice is as plain as that.

It’s a hassle for us, the record label doesn’t like it, but there is no alternative for us at the moment.  It’s getting harder and harder for bands in the “middle range” like Spock’s Beard is to survive in today’s social, technological and economic climate.

 

 

 

 

 

6. How important is social media like Facebook and YouTube for getting the band’s music more widely heard and known?

I don’t know. .. everybody makes a big deal about Facebook, but I haven’t seen any changes in our CD sales or concert attendance since Facebook exploded onto the scene, so I personally think social media a bit of an illusion, but I could be wrong, and I know that there are lots of individual cases that have made significant gains from social media, but as far as Spock’s Beard is concerned, we’re still looking at the same old numbers that we were looking at 8 or 10 years ago.

7. Neal (Morse) has a hand writing on the new album. Does Neal come in with ideas for songs or do the band have a song idea that you think would benefit with input from Neal?  

It was Al that had a couple of musical ideas that he presented to Neal, and then they worked together on them. Both songs turned out great, so maybe we should do more of that in the future!

8. Going back to High Voltage back in 2011. What was it like playing live again on stage with Neal? Any chance you may tour with him again perhaps playing a classic album for the main part of set as many bands seem to like to do now?

It’s always great seeing Neal, especially when he can come on stage with us and run through a song or two.  He was a big part of all of our musical lives and I regard him as a great friend and one of the more influential mentors in my life.

As far as doing a full tour with him. . .I can’t rule that out, and there is nothing that would prevent that from happening, but I don’t see it happening.  We’re all way past that fork in the road and well on our own paths.

As far as playing a classic album as the main part of the set. . .right now, with a new CD out, that’s not the purpose of touring, and we seem to only be able to tour WHEN we have a new CD out, so again, nothing making that impossible but I don’t see it happening.  (We’ve tried to tour in between CDs, but promoter interest always seems to be lower in between CDs, so it hasn’t worked out)

9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

Anything that doesn’t involve solving problems and stress.

10. Anything else to add and a message for your fans…

Many thanks to all that had the faith in us to buy the CD on preorder, months ahead of even hearing the first notes.  We are very lucky to have your support over all these years.  And for the rest of you. . .check out the CD and come see us on tour if you can!


David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.


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Featured Albums w/c 6 July (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MANDOKI SOULMATES Living In The Gap (Red Rock Production/Cleopatra)
12:00-13:00 MAGNUS KARLSSON’S FREE FALL – We Are The Night (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BEN REEL The Nashville Calling (B.Reel Records)

Power Plays w/c 6 July (Mon-Fri)

ZENITH MOON Gypsy (Golden Robot Records)
RARITY Leave It Alone (New Damage Records)
THE RISING I Want You (indie)
MANDOKI SOULMATES Young Rebels (Red Rock Production/Cleopatra)
LA GUNS Well Oiled Machine (Golden Robot Records)



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One Response to Interview: 10Q’s with DAVE MEROS (SPOCK’S BEARD)

  1. Pingback: Gig review: SPOCK’S BEARD The Garage, London Tuesday 7th May 2013

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