Neoprog : Hello John, how are you? 2015 will be a year of big releases for you: Arena with The Unquiet Sky, and of course Lonely Robot, Please Go Home. Are you not feeling too busy?
John : Hello, I’m very well thank you, how are you? Not too busy really, when you consider that music is all that I do.
Neoprog : Lonely Robot is a long expected project. When was the idea of this album born and why?
John : I’ve been meaning to do something on my own for quite some time now. The thing that brought it to the front of my mind was John Beck going on tour with Fish. We were writing another It Bites album but it wasn’t really going brilliantly and when John got his new touring gig, that sort of made me rethink things a little.
Neoprog : Please Come Home is a concept album, about humanity, with a science fiction theme inside about lost civilisations technologies. Can you tell us how you came to the idea of this story?
John : It's just the title really. Lonely Robot. It sort of defines us as a people. We have a need to belong and feel attached. I for one don’t believe the human race is from this planet originally and it would certainly explain a lot of things if we were in fact from elsewhere.
Neoprog : Playing with you, we find two Frost* members, Jem and Craig, and many famous guests like Steve Hogarth or Heather Findlay. What did you tell them for them to participate in Lonely Robot?
John : I just wanted people on the album who I have always wanted to work with. It just so happened they all kindly agreed. I didn’t really explain the album to them, I just sent them individual songs, it just so happens those songs all work together quite nicely.
Neoprog : Steve Hogarth, Marillion’s frontman, in backing vocals, playing piano, why this nonsense 8-) ? Is it Steve’s choice?
John : Nonsense? Why is it nonsense? I asked Steve to play piano on two songs because he is a very very good pianist and it’s his first instrument above singing. I didn’t suggest he sing backing vocals on the session, that was Steve’s idea and who was I to say no, and jolly fine backing vocals they are too, I am grateful for both contributions.
Neoprog : We could say that Lonely Robot is a mixt of influences: Kino, Frost*, It Bites, Pink Floyd and maybe Peter Gabriel’s OVO. Did you want to write prog music at the begining or did it come naturaly?
John : It probably sounds like Kino, Frost* and It Bites because I have written for all those things. As for Peter Gabriel, I’ll take the comparison happily. As for calling it prog music, I just see it as film music with an epic quality and a rock guitar lol. By all means call it prog though, it is what I enjoy doing though.
Neoprog : Please Come Home is a really nice album, cinematic, atmospheric, prog and nervous, sometimes with your inimitable guitar riffs. Was it difficult for you to write alone this time?
John : No, far from it. It’s the easiest, most fun and enjoyable experience I have ever had. It was like being 16 years old again with my first 4 track recorder. I was full of wonder once more.
Neoprog : I remember, one day, you said to me (maybe was it a joke) that you were fed up of always being chosen to be the singer of the band (except in Arena of course). But in fact, you are still singing, even for Please Come Home. So, do you accept now your status as frontman and lead singer?
John : I guess so. Singing is just something else I do. I hope I’m gradually getting better at it as the years go by.
Neoprog : Can we talk about your former projects, The Urbane or Kino? What about them? I have memories of you, playing with Kino ten years ago in Karlsruhe, as opening act for Spock’s Beard, a fantastic show and album. Why did it stop?
John : It stopped because in my mind it fell far short of the expectations I had of it. I was younger and way more naive. Being in a band relies on all members caring as much about it as you do. When that isn’t the case, you tend to stop caring about it yourself and it’s time to move on. As far as I’m concerned, we made one fairly good album and I’m happy to leave it at that.
Neoprog : You’re going to start a long tour with Arena in March (we will see you in France Chez Paulette), will there be a Lonely Robot tour too?
John : I might do a few gigs if there is a demand for it. I think the scale of the album needs to be reflected in the live show, though. I’d rather do one big concert than twenty ones in small clubs. It’s cinematic music and at the very least it needs to be heard in a cinema lol.
Neoprog : To conclude, can we expect a second Lonely Robot album after Please Come Home?
John : I hope so. Let’s see what this one does first.
Neoprog : We wish you great success with Lonely Robot. Thank you for your answers and your time.
John : No worries, and thank you.
Rédigé par Neoprog le 06/02/2015