|Who are your main musical influences?
My biggest is the Beatles, first. Then the prog guys like Yes and Genesis, ELP, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson. Also, Deep Purple and the Who. And singer/songwrtiers like Crosby Stills Nash and Elton John.
Which song by another artist would you have loved to have written yourself?
So many…definitely “Bridge over Troubled Water” is one…I love that song.
Pick three albums that you would take to a deserted island?
Close to the Edge, Casting Crowns first album, and the White Album.
Can you describe the importance of music in your life?
I love it so much, and still love it so much! I’m so grateful to do music. That’s my favorite thing to do. If I have spare time, I still do it, just to enjoy it. I feel very blessed that I can, and that I’m able to have music be such an important part of my life.
What's the vivid memory of your career so far?
Morsefest 2015 was amazing. I thought of the last Loreo concert doing all of Snow with Spock’s Bear was incredible. The first Loreli concert with Neal Morse dutch band. And playing on the cruise ship with Transatlantic and Jon Anderson.
Which goals in life did you achieve and which ones do you have left?
I’ve gone to some good musical places. My kids are now in college, and going great – that’s a tremendous achievement as father, and a family. And of course the swimming pool in the back of my pickup truck.
If you could start over, would you have approached your carreer differently?
Well…if I could start over, I would have become a Christian much sooner – and not waste so many years drunk, going nuts, and destroying myself…not going anywhere.
Do you have an important topic which you need to share through your music?
I’m trying to share my heart for God – that’s is mainly what I write about, and I hope that people can come into a relationship with Him through our work. That’s my goal…it varies throughout the band, but that’s my goal.
What is your perspective about the musical climate today?
It’s definitely a weird time in music…downloads…the record business is in an upheaval. Nobody knows where it’s gonna go. But there’s a lot of good music!
When and how was the Neal Morse band born?
Well, Mike, Randy and I have been working together since the beginning. And we decided to have a permanent band, and held auditions over YouTube. That lead us to Bill and Eric!
How do you compare your music to other artists within progressive and symphonic rock?
Hmmmm…well, I try not to compare my own albums to each other, let alone other bands. Music is its own thing…I don’t think it does well when you hold it up in comparison. It should be enjoyed for what it is.
Can you tell us something about the different characters in the band?
Mike is a force of music and ideas, and has strong opinions. He’s more than just a great drummer…he’s an amazing organizer and arranger. He’s great at picking the best ideas from everyone, and fitting everything together.
Randy is a wonderful bass player, and accomplished multi-instrumentalist. He’s also really adept at helping to join musical ideas.
Bill Hubaer is another great multi-instrumentalist. He’s also an amazing songwriter and vocalist!
Eric Gillette is not only a mind-blowing guitarist, but also a good keyboardist and drummer. And of course he writes and he sings!
Is anyone superstitious, or having unusual habits?
Well if you don’t wake Mike Portnoy up he’ll sleep until 6 PM…that’s kind of unusual, ha. For me…well, whenever I’m punching numbers on a Microwave, I never do even numbers…I’ll always go to 39 or 49 seconds, but never 40 or 50. I don’t know why.
Can you tell us about the recording process you generally feel comfortable with?
Well, the recording process is pretty straight-forward with most of the bands I do…generally, Mike will lay down the final drums to the demos, and then we’ll do our final parts…sometimes in the studio, and sometimes on our own. The writing process for this one was a bit different. Since The Grand Experiment, we’ve been writing together, as a band. The album started with some ideas I had on my own, and then we worked on them together, along with some that Bill, Eric and Randy had. For our first group writing session, Mike couldn’t join us. Later, I was snowed in, and found myself working on more material. So when we got back together, we had more material than for a single album, and we started talking about the idea of doing a double. It was pretty contentious at first, but I guess sometimes music goes through that process. I guess the short answer is we wrote some of it in the room, and some of it separately.
Is there something like a general theme on this album which is referred to in several songs?
Sure! The album is inspired by John Bunyan’s book, The Pilgrim’s Progress. There’s so much going on in it that both discs of Similitude only cover the first 80 pages!
Can you describe if it is difficult creating an album and still being able to be original and yet also recognizable?
Well, I try not to compare things that I’ve done. Each time you make a work of art, you try to clear your mind of everything you’ve done before—and create from nowhere. The best stuff has to come from a new place, and that’s part of the fun. The best stuff comes when you’re not trying to do something…you’re just throwing things against the wall to see what happens, and that’s the best place to be!
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
I can’t say just one, I guess. “So Far Gone is always moving for me. The idea of feeling that I’ve let down God…it always resonates with me. I also love “Back to the City”, “Freedom Song”, and “I’m Running”.
What are the touring plans to support the album?
We’re doing probably the biggest tour we’ve ever done. You can see all the dates here…
How excited are you to finally bring these songs to the stage?
Oh man, I can’t wait! It will be tough, though. The vocals, especially…there’s really challenging stuff for me to sing. I think the music will carry it…when we play the whole thing live, with all the video behind us…the power of this band, the imagery, and the audience – will be a strong force!
Best personal tour memory so far?
There’s so many! One is Morsefest 2016…that was truly fantastic.
What's the worst memory of being on tour?
Getting sick on the Alive Again tour. I’ve never been so sick on a tour that I had to take myself to the emergency room. The tour manager was in another city, so I had to take myself to a train station, and then the emergency room. I had the shakes…I was really sick and had the flu. It’s the first time I was really aware of being sick while I played.
Can you tell how it feels being on stage?
Usually really good! I enjoy it.
Is there any special preparation you always do just before hitting the stage?
Vocal warm-ups, and I play a lot!
Funniest thing which ever happened to you and the band while being on tour/during a show?
While Mike and I were first playing with Flying Colors, we’d say to each other, “Hey that’s Steve Morse over there.” We couldn’t believe it. That, and Steve has toy plastic ball pits in the back of all his airplanes.