Hey Karl, your new album is now out in every country of the world. The reviews of the press overall were – as far as I can see it – absolutely great. How were the reactions of the fans so far? Do they like it as much as the press does?
Fans of Threshold have been waiting for a long time for this album and the reaction has been more than positive. I guess we thought there would be those that remained unconvinced because of the change in singer, but that has not been the case. I went beyond what I would normally do to make sure there was nothing left to chance in this production. We felt so strongly in the quality of material and could not let anything go unchecked.
How important is it for a band of your reputation to be liked/ to be reviewed good? Do you care about the (good/bad) press reviews or the numbers of selling? Or is it more important that your are satisfied with the work you have done?
The reviews have never been this good. In fact, the owner of Nuclear Blast told us that Threshold are their first band ever to score 10/10 from German magazine Rock Hard. The first part of the process is to feel inspired yourself about the songs, but it is important that your music connects with others as well. The whole point of making music is to communicate and convey emotion. I love to write and perform, but without there being an outlet, the point would be lost. So the best feeling in the whole process is to know that you created some reaction and made a difference for somebody listening.
Coming to “March Of Progress”, the first thing you see in the store or on a website promotion your album is the amazing cover-artwork. Who did it and what's the meaning where is the connection to your music?
The artwork is from an Italian artist called Davide Nadalin, who also worked on the cover for our last album “Dead Reckoning”. We allowed him total freedom to interpret the theme of the album and we love what he’s done. The album covers topics for personal strengths and weaknesses along with complacency and how that affects what we have worked so hard to achieve. Final song The Rubicon is musically and lyrically a song about Threshold, looking back over what we’ve done. It also quotes some of our other albums for those who can spot the references.
“March Of Progress” is the first album since “Extinct Instinct” in 1997 with Damian on the vocals. Were there any differences in working with Damian and recording the album with him compared to the recording process Mac used to do?
The two singers have quite different voices and I thought that a number of people were almost expecting an average performance from Damian. His only previous appearances were on older albums, where we had less production knowledge and equipment compared with today. Bring him up to date and both the recording quality and his performance have been transformed. I believe Damian gave a superb performance on this album and is clearly the best singer I have ever produced by some way.
For Mac, he will always be fondly remembered for his unique tone of voice and his charm. It was dreadful to hear the sad way he passed last year at such a young age. He was an important part of Threshold’s history and I have many happy memories from our time together.
For me the new album is a way more melodic than the previous one. Would you agree? Was there any specific purpose to go that would or did it just flow in this way?
I would agree and the cover artwork depicts the atmosphere on both albums very well. Dead Reckoning is a cold hard riffing attack with stark sounds in places. March of Progress brings much detail and colour with real warmth. To go further, there are more progressive arrangements in places that were edited out during the recording of Dead Reckoning. I still think that was the right decision for then, but it suited the feel of March of Progress to keep all these parts.
The lyrics are – as on every other album of yours – very strong and meaningful on “March Of Progress”. What is for you as the guitarist more important – a good riff or good lyrics?
Our albums are always written music before lyrics and the whole Threshold sound was built on riffs. After that I build in the layers as the tracks are arranged until we have a whole demo before the lyrics come. Most demos are pretty much what appears on the final album with all the drums, bass and keyboards precisely recorded. This is important so that the band members know what exactly was in my head with the whole song. Often Johanne or Steve will come with some alternatives that are better, but at least they know where I started.
Lyrics are a key element to the way Threshold started too. We wanted them not to be an afterthought, even if they come last in the writing process.
With 70 minutes playtime “March Of Progress” is a very long album. Are you not afraid to scare of people by giving them so much complex music at one time (Some bands would have made a double album or even two albums out of it) or do you think your listeners can handle that much?
I believe that the Threshold audience is well established after so many albums. From what I see, they are not a bunch of people with short attention spans. We never restrict ourselves to conventional ideas and I think that is part of where the term progressive comes from. We just looked at all the songs we have and realized they all fitted on the album and were the quality we wanted for the album. Also after having 5 years between releases it was good to give plenty of new material.
At the end there's the obligatory question about a tour. Do you have any plans yet?
Now we are booking a tour for Spring next year and summer festivals. In the meantime we will spend the end of the year writing for a new album. That might sound odd because this record only just came out, but we don’t want to leave it another 5 years to the next one.
Thanks for answering my questions! The last words are yours!
I want to thank fans of Threshold for all their support over the years and that has enabled us to keep releasing albums. I look forward to being on tour again.