Interview With Psychotic Waltz

My interview with Psychotic Waltz is originally intended to be solely conducted with Devon Graves, the band’s charismatic singer and occasional flutist. The whole band joined in, so it turned into a very lively conversation with guitarists Brian McAlpine (B), Dan Rock (DR), drummer Norm Leggio (N) and of course Devon Graves (D). We talked about the band’s reunion, the timeless character of their music, Devon’s activities with Deadsoul Tribe and The Shadow Theory and their collective dislike of being called “progressive”…

Alright guys, time for the first questions. How did the Psychotic Waltz reunion come about?

B: The time was simply right to do it. For all the time that went it made sense to everyone to do this reunion. It’s all for the music, we still love it and people want to hear it.

D: It was about getting all the original members back. We wanted to do it a long time ago, but now we finally had the right opportunity to do it.

Albums like A Social Grace, Bleed and Mosquito still sound remarkably fresh, despite the fact the material is over 15 years old. How come?

D: Brian put it well in another interview that we consciously managed to stay away from clichés.

B: Good music is timeless, regardless the period when it’s written. When material from Mozart is played by an orchestra is still sounds great. The same goes for old Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin records. It’s like time captured in a picture, it has the same effect on you.

D: Some of the music you’re listen to reminds you of a specific time and place. The music I was into before Psychotic Waltz started had a certain set of rules. You had to dress into a certain way and you had to move your body in a certain way. I come from the old school where everybody has his own act and sound. We’re trying to bring that together again.

DR: Keep your answers short Devon..

You’re currently touring with Nevermore and Symphony X as a part of the Power Of Metal package. Despite your history and a certain cult status you’re pretty low on the bill. What do you think of that?

DR: It feels perfect. We’re just where we are supposed to be. Some of the die-hard fans feel like we should be headlining, but that’s not the case. Nevermore and Symphony X are doing their thing nonstop for years. Moreover they have a bigger fan base than us. It would be silly. This tour gives us the opportunity to play our old songs in front of their audience and gain new fans as we go along. It’s simply the perfect opportunity for this type of reunion tour.

Is there any new material on the way?

DR: Yes, the idea is to work on new material when we get home from this tour. We actually started to work on some new material, but it didn’t get far yet.

D: The objective of reuniting was to write new music. We had to rehearse the old songs when we got an offer to do this tour. The agenda changed a bit, so new music was put on the back burner. It will be our number one priority when we get back.

So what can we expect?

B: It will sound like Psychotic Waltz!

D: Let me put it this way. If your wife is having a new baby you don’t expect me to ask what it’s going to be like? Even I don’t know. Every time it’s a surprise what these guys come up with and that’s what I love about it.

Let’s move on to your own solo projects. Devon, you’re the most prolific with Deadsoul Tribe. In all essence it’s your solo project, because you wrote and produced all the music. Now you’re simply one of the guys in a band where everybody contributes their parts. Which of the two situations do you find more exciting?

D: At the time I set out to do Deadsoul Tribe I was really craving to do things my way and I had a lot to express. Now that I’ve done my bit with this type of music I was finally ready to be in a band situation again. That’s why I started The Shadow Theory, my other band. I didn’t had an idea that we would come together again. I wanted to have a band with quality players who were better than me. Simply people who could bring something I couldn’t do on my own. That I found really fresh and inspiring and that’s still where my heart lays today. I still going to continue with these guys (referring to the other Psychotic Waltz members.ed)

So how are you going to balance both bands?

D: Psychotic Waltz is my priority now. I learned on this tour where I belong. This is done by popular demand. The people made it clear that’s where they want me to be and this is where I want to be myself. Having said that it takes time these guys time to write new music. In the meantime Demi Scott, the main composer for The Shadow Theory, has probably written enough material for the second album. The last time I emptied his hard drive he had 45 songs written. So by now there will probably 45 songs more written. So when I get home I’ll start working on the Shadow Theory material and wait with the other PW guys come up with. There’s no stress or strain on my time. I have enough time to do all of this.

Generally speaking Psychotic Waltz is considered to be a progressive rock/metal band. What does the so-called “Progressive” tag mean to you guys?

D: It doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. I wasn’t in this band to make progressive rock or metal. It was just about taking our influences which comes from old rock, before the term “progressive rock/metal” was invented and take it to a heavy metal context and bring it the next level as far as we could. We do have certain elements which can be described as progressive. If we are a progressive metal band, we’re certainly the dark horse of the progressive world. I take progressive metal as having this positive and uplifting sound and we always had more of melancholic vibe. That’s where I find my joy in music. We have dark chord structures and weird subject matters and I feel very uncomfortable being called “progressive”, but that’s the only place where they can put our music.

N: When you play in odd time signatures as we do at times or musical changes here and there people tend to call you “progressive”. It’s just a label, same like death metal or black metal. They want to feel good about putting something in a certain category and we simply don’t fit into that. In the old days there wasn’t a band sounding like us, so we even toured with death metal bands..

Alright guys, time for the final question. What is the biggest Spinal Tap of your career?

D: The most embarrassing thing I can think of when we played somewhere in Germany. I was doing some flute playing and I did my little tribute to Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) by  standing on one leg while playing. It looks easier than it actually is and I’ve never done this before, so I felt down on my ass on the stage. That’s bad enough. At the same time I knocked over this bottle of water which poured all over the stage. With one food I managed to unplug Dan’s guitar cable to his wah-wah peddle so suddenly he didn’t have any sound. That’s not easily covered by something, so yeah that was pretty embarrassing.

DR: Strange, I can’t remember that happening.

N: Perhaps for the better…

Written by Raymond Westland

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