Threshold Ė Marching Towards Progress
By: Kenneth Gallant
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Richard West, keyboardist and a founding member of progressive metal band Threshold. This exciting UK act is bustling under a beehive of serious activity of late; what with the arrival of a new album (March of Progress) and subsequent tour plans in 2013 and beyond. Richard was gracious enough to take some time to chat with Blistering on a warm Sunday afternoon to discuss a wide variety of topics relating to the upcoming release and of the exciting times ahead with the band.
I was stoked when I learned of the news that I would get the chance to interview Richard, and when I asked him what his favorite track on March of Progress was, he was surprised that I came up with that question. He had related to me that out of 15 interviews my question was a first for him. I was beaming with pride after that, so read on and see how the rest of the interview wentÖ
Blistering.com: I know itís been five years in between albums, so what have you been doing in that time?
Richard West: Ah, we have been busy, so I know it seems like a long time. We started off in 2007 with Dead Reckoning and our previous singer Mac [Andrew McDermott] left the band very suddenly and it really through us. It was a bit like driving along at full speed and suddenly you hit a brick wall. It really jilted us and it took a while to get back up to speed again. We kept on touring and we got our original singer [Damian Wilson] back. We kept on going and we decided we would keep on touring for a while. We needed to get used to each other on stage again and we were really enjoying each other, so we concentrated on that for a while.
Then we put together a box set called Paradox so we could go back and revisit many of those demo songs from the 80ís and early 90ís and we re-recorded them with Damian coming back in and our other singer [Glynn] Morgan coming back in too. It ended up being a long and lengthy project and that took us to 2009, when we started thinking about a new studio album. In 2010 we started in earnest, but again it was a slow climb because there was a bit of nervousness of what the new Threshold would sound like. We knew what Damian sounded like on stage singing Dead Reckoning, but we werenít quite sure what his vocals would sound like in comparison to Mac, so we needed to take that into account to make sure the melodies fit. We needed to make sure the arrangements worked for him too, so I think it just took us a while to find our feet.
Blistering.com: So this leads me into my next question about Damian. Is it going well with him since heís come back into the band?
West: Yes, fantastic. Itís very interesting because the last time he was with us was in 1997 and we did the tour then for the third album Instinct and he was a good frontman. Heís a great singer who really pays attention to detail and we would record every show and after the show we would get back on the bus and party, but Damian would be sitting there listening to the shows listening for anything he got slightly wrong so he could do it better the next night. He always had that real attention to detail, but he didnít have a lot of stage experience. In the 10 years that he was away, he did two years as the lead in a top London Musical and then he toured with Rick Wakeman [Yes] and his band, so when he came back to us he was a seasoned professional. He was phenomenal, he commanded the audience and he was brimming with confidence. So having Damian back has been all positive and really good.
Blistering.com: I was really saddened to hear of the passing of Andrew McDermott. Did you keep in touch with him after he had left the band in 2007?
West: Ah, none whatsoever. When he left it was very odd. We spent a long time making Dead Reckoning and he was so positive about it all, we all were actually. We moved labels, we made this great record and we had big plans for the touring, and then five days before our first show was due he sent us a message saying he wasnít coming. He never explained it and he wouldnít let us get in touch with him. I think he knew he did the wrong thing and he felt really guilty about it, but he didnít want to admit it. I honestly donít know to this day what the true reasons were for him leaving because the week before he had been so positive about it. He really didnít want to be in touch anymore, so we just moved on and went our separate ways. It was tragic when we heard the news of his death, though.
Blistering.com: I just wanted to ask you a bit about March of Progress. Do you have any favorite songs on the album?
West: Itís funny, I have done about 15 interviews and you are the first person to ask me this.