Instrumental prog is by essence a niche genre within an already niche musical market. A glass half empty approach suggests it makes the narrow confines of accessibility even thinner, but from an optimistic and pragmatic perspective, it can be viewed as an equal advantage.
These types of specific genre are predicated and supported by fierce listener loyalty. The relationships are stronger and the engagement with the music far greater.
Local upstarts Kettlespider exist within a genre that is respected yet limited. However, it’s events like the annual Progfest, which give bands a chance to excel. On the eve of their Melbourne show – the band’s first of 2014 – the group is relaxed and enthusiastic.
“It’s a great day for absorbing yourself in what this current scene has to offer,” drummer Simon Wood provides as an introductory comment.
Significantly, the five-piece is ready to hit the live circuit again after a quiet period.
“We released a promising album [2012’s ‘Avadante’] that was very well reviewed by people and then we didn’t follow it up soon enough. In this dog eat dog music industry game, you lose traction quickly if you don’t follow it up,” Wood affirms.
The group has been busy preparing, constructing and carefully crafting new material at Moorabbin’s Black Pearl Studios.
“It’s a good studio. There is a lot of equipment there and you can do a lot of good recording for relative cheap. It was a nice open space because it has that classic recording studio look to it. These days [with other studios] it’s like a tiny little box with a few carpets on the walls. This has some more life to it,” keyboardist Geoffrey Fyfe says.
This Saturday’s set contains dual appeal. It’s the first chance to explore the transition from the studio to the stage. For fans of the band it also presents the opportunity to hear new songs, in a live setting, with a completely revised and reworked set list planned.
“What people are going to hear at Progfest is basically a set of completely new material. I feel as though the new music that we have been writing, which we’ll be performing; it has a lot of growth in the sound. I think we wear our hearts on our sleeves a lot more. There’s definitely a real sense of joy and urgency when playing these songs,” Wood observes.
Moreover, as bassist Colin Andrews notes, the new collection of songs provides a fundamental benefit in reference to an audience response.
“It is also important to move away from playing Avadante songs because the song we’d close sets with was [the title track] and you need a new set closer – you can’t just run the same one forever,” he adds.
Furthermore, the opportunity to play alongside event headliners Closure In Moscow provides its own charms. While on the surface, ‘Pink Lemonade’ was rightfully well-received, in a broader sense, the release also represented the appeal of eclectic and alternative music domestically.
“From what I’ve heard of it so far, it’s a fantastic step in the right direction for them. I feel like they might’ve been teleporting back to the 70’S vibe. It’s very psychedelic and the artwork commands your attention. The songs I’ve heard from it so far are fantastic,” Wood says.
While Progfest is fairly the main topic of conversation, to coincide, the band has recently released a new studio video for their track, ‘Tundra’.
“Tundra started out as G minor, it’s a song based around the G minor chordal motif. It’s a three-part suite of eight minutes that goes through some really interesting progressive movements – a lot of light and shade. It’s a very dynamic song,” Wood says.
The accompanying video was suitable in purpose as an accompaniment to the song itself.
“I think the idea of the video was no one had seen us play live on YouTube, so we wanted to [give them] a sense of what we look like live and how we interact, how we play our instruments. [It’s] a little slice of everyone’s piece.” Fyfe notes.
“People who like prog like watching musicians play – that’s what you’re drawn to,” Andrews additionally states.
For an young band, the ability to work with likeminded aspirants on the video helped with the process.
“The videos were filmed by up and coming Melbourne photographer and videographer, Robert Geary, who I think is going to do great things in the Melbourne media industry,” Wood says.
What emerges is the work ethic is present and the genre knowledge similarly obvious. Following this weekend, the emphasis for the Bayside buys will turn to completing the aforementioned new material, and if Wood’s summary is precise, it stands to create another early and noteworthy chapter in the Kettlespider collection.
“It’s a growth in the sound. It’s integrating new sounds, new production techniques, [and] maturity.”
Kettlespider play Progfest Melbourne this Saturday. Details here.
Tickets via www.oztix.com.au