Interview Edison's Children
“We influenced each other, using our lifetime experiences listening to and being involved in music”
(May 2012, text by Henri Strik, edited by Peter Willemsen, pictures by Wendy Farrell-Pastore)
In my opinion one of the most surprising releases of 2011 was the album In The Last Waking Moments... (see review) by Edison's Children. This is a collaboration of bass player Pete Trewavas (Marillion, Transatlantic, Kino) with lead singer and guitarist Eric Blackwood. Background Magazine talked to both musicians about the content of the album and their musical partnership. Even Wendy Farrell-Pastore, who was responsible for the fantastic artwork, tells something about the album.
Why did you choose the name Edison's Children for this project? Who came up with the idea to replace the apostrophe sign by a light bulb?Pete Trewavas (PT): “I came up with the name early one morning in Ocean City, Maryland. I had a long list of ideas. The concept behind the name is roughly this: we are all children of the age of the great inventors and Edison's inventions were a huge leap forward for communication.”
Eric Blackwood (EB): “I remember there was this electronic musical gear all around the little beach house that we were recording in, and Pete came downstairs and said: 'Look at all these electronics, man! We're like Edison's children', or something like that.”
Would you please explain how the two of you got together?PT: “We met in New York some four or five years ago and we quickly became good friends. Eric came to help Marillion out with various transport and equipment issues we had. He has been doing it ever since in the USA. The two of us used to hang out in our spare time and there was often a guitar or two around, so we would play and jam through ideas and songs we had or were working on. Eventually it seemed like a natural step forward trying to work together.”
EB: “There was that particular day when we were in Washington D.C. Marillion was tweaking a guitar issue for Steve Rothery. I began to play on one of Rothery's acoustics during the sound check for the Marillion Los Trios tour, while their technicians Roderick and Colin were tweaking the sound. Pete saw me on stage playing, jumped upon stage and joined me on one of my songs playing along on Steve Hogarth's keyboard. I was doing one of my old live songs Stranger In A Foreign Land. I think that's when the idea entered his head that we should start collaborating.”
When did you start writing and recording the music for In The Last Waking Moments...? How long did all the recordings take?PT: “It took a couple of years for us from start to finish getting it all together. We made demos at home or together when we were on the sessions. Then we would both take files home and work on them more.”
EB: “We actually began in the middle of the Transatlantic Whirlwind-tour. There was a two-week break between the American and the European legs of the tour. When the show was over in Philadelphia, Pete came back to my studio to write and record for ten days. We then took two weeks in and around the 2011 Marillion Convention in Quebec, and then finally finished the record in August of 2011 in Ocean City. There we stayed at two different beach homes for a month completing the project.”
Did both of you deliver completely written songs or was all of the material written during sessions?PT: “A bit of both, really. Eric and I both had finished songs for the album. While being together we would re-work those ideas. We change arrangements we weren't happy with. I think we both enjoyed the two three-week sessions we had together toward the end of the writing process. That was when the whole concept and style came together and we found an identity.”
EB: “We actually had a few fully written songs that we played for each other and brought to the project in Montreal and my studio in Sugar Loaf, NY. Dusk for instance, was an old song of mine that I had recorded a version of for a movie featuring some of The Sopranos! Pete and I had quite a bit of other songs as well that we brought to the project in Montreal and the Mt. Saint Sauveur Quebec sessions. Once we started writing together, we got involved in all the new music we did as collaboration. Most of the older music lost its priority and we began to love the new stuff we had written by playing off of each other. In the end almost every song we had previously written was cut from the album and the stuff we wrote in Quebec and Maryland is what actually remained for the record.”
Who came up with the album title In The Last Waking Moments...Does it have a special meaning or a concept? Would you please describe shortly what the individual songs are all about?EB: “I came up with the title based on what the record was starting to evolve into. I don't think we had a total concept coming into this, but it certainly turned into one after Montreal. There are some definite themes; some of them are obvious; others are not. The album has so many underlying premises about us and society that are all nicely tied together underneath a very 'sci-fi' like theme that I'm hesitant to say what each song is really 'all about'. I want people to think about this record, talk about it and figure it out. A lot of it is the way society reacts to people who may have experienced something that's out of the ordinary and doesn't fit in with explainable facts. The world tends to shy away or even turn to whispering and rumour spreading when it isn't something easily understood.”
Okay, I get your drift. How difficult was it to get the guest musicians on board to work on the album?PT: “Well, these guests are my good friends from Marillion. So I asked them and they very kindly and graciously said yes. To be honest it's an honour and something of a coup to have them all on our album. They are lovely guys and our best friends, so I'm very happy they said yes.”
EB: “I had become rather good mates with them after helping out on several USA appearances. I didn't want the other mates in Marillion to feel this was just all. I wanted all of them involved in what I was doing, because I had come to respect them so much now that I knew them pretty well. They're such terrific people in person and all so talented; it's truly an honour to have them appear on this record.”
Did you ask other musicians to contribute who weren't available or even refused?PT: No, I didn't. I thought that having Marillion was enough. To be honest I would have been happy for it to be just the two of us, as the original album sounded pretty good on its own before the guests arrived.”
EB: “Again, Marillion's appearance is more of an appreciation to some very good mates. This album was already completed by just the two of us, but we wanted our friends to join us on this, so we asked them just for that reason alone. We were pretty happy with what we had done together and didn't really need to add any other outside sources. We were happy, however, to have Mark Kelly bring his good friend Andy Ditchfield from DeeExpus in and Pete's childhood friend Robin Boult. He wrote and recorded with ex-Marillion singer Fish for several years. He plays the rhythm guitar at the end of In The Last Waking Moments...as well as mixing four songs. We should note that John Mitchell (Arena, It Bites) will be mixing and mastering the four new songs of Edison's Children on the new single-EP A Million Miles Away (I Wish I Had A Time Machine).
Did you use all the recorded songs for this album or did you leave some pieces out?EB: “When we showed up at Montreal, we had a nearly fully written album and we wanted to start mixing our 'signature song' Silhouette, which would have turned out to be about 25 minutes long. However, I showed Pete a song that I had begun composing called Fracture. Pete started working on that track and adding things to it trying to figure out the next parts and we kept writing so much that we never went back to any song of the rest of the album. We literally wrote an entire new album from there. Dusk was the only song out of everything we had written before the Marillion Montreal convention to actually wind up on the album.”
Who decided what to sing and to play on all tracks?PT: “Those kind of decisions just get made at the time of each track being worked on. You don't really make conscious decisions; whatever is the best for the track ends up on the final record. It's quite ironic however, that the first bass playing on the album is done by Eric and the first singing by me. We did that deliberately.”
How would you describe the music on this album and what are your main influences?PT: “I would describe it as a rock album with psychedelic and progressive overtones. So think of AC/DC, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Van Halen. Those are the kind of bands we drew from. But truthfully, we influenced each other, using our lifetime experiences listening to and being involved in music.”
EB: “I think we both come from very different backgrounds. Obviously Pete being from England and myself from New York City, but we really seemed to affect each other as Pete was saying. There's something cool in that we were able to bring what we had both become, and turn it into something so different. I myself had ventured away from the progressive world that I had been in for a while and into a slightly harder background in metal and hard alternative. I became influenced and played in bands similar to Tool, The Deftones, Queensryche, Chevelle, Ours and A Perfect Circle. You can hear that in songs like Lifeline and at times it gives our music a progressive, but slightly harder edge which I think is very cool. However, my first album ever probably had the biggest impact on me. My brother bought me Animals by Pink Floyd for Christmas when I was eight or nine years old. I will never forget how much those simple, but beautiful dark melodies in those guitar leads in Dogs got in my head.”
In a way I heard some influences from the music recorded by Hawkwind and early-Pink Floyd. Do you agree?PT: “There you go! A good answer to the previous question and yes, those two bands amongst many more are in our subliminal consciousness. I guess deliberately or not they get used as references to how we want to sound. For example, a band I've been influenced by massively over the years, but always forget to mention is Caravan. Especially for the string arrangements on some of the early seventies albums, but also PFM...”
Who was responsible for the fantastic art work?EB: “Wendy Farrell-Pastore is responsible for the amazing images that appear in the twenty-page Deluxe CD. All of those pieces of art are actually photographs not paintings, believe it or not. She has a tremendous eye for seeing amazing things in stuff that I wouldn't give a second look at!
Wendy Farrell-Pastore: “I think in some of these images, they sort of capture someone who's lost in their own mind... trying to escape, whether it be from insanity or something that is haunting them. Maybe they're not really sure themselves which it is. I don't know if I have an explanation how or why I was able to create images that matched what Eric and Pete were doing. Maybe because I was there from the beginning of all of the writing and recording sessions and I heard all this music come together and understood it from its very earliest levels. The images just seemed to become one with the music. Not sure I can really explain how, but it just happened...”
At the last page of the booklet the words 'you switched ON' have been written. What did you mean with these words?PT: “That is for you to decide. We can't tell you what will be thinking of while you listen to this album, we can only predict what may or may not go through your mind at the time. It's like an experiment and is very interesting for us to see what everyone discovers in the album and finds out about themselves.”
In the booklet you introduced your 'inaugural fans' followed by several names. In what way did they help you?PT: “Our original fans pre-ordered the original single download of Dusk, became 'inaugural fans' and bought a T-shirt to commemorate this moment on the day of 11-11-11 and got the ball rolling, so to speak. They showed faith and enthusiasm for a new project and they were the start of the bigger picture.”
Do you think that people who like the music of Marillion or Transatlantic may be disappointed after listening to the album since the music tends to a different musical style?
PT: “Interesting question. I would hope that fans of Marillion and Transatlantic would give it a few listens to get into the whole, both musically and conceptually. I'm very proud of this album and I like the fact that it explores musical fields I haven't been before. I never wanted to copy either bands. I can just make another record with either, which I'm incidentally doing with Marillion at the moment. I wanted to make a statement. Do something new.”
How did the press and the outside world react to the album so far?PT: “People who have heard the album mostly loved it and we have had favourable reviews online and had radio stations playing it across Europe.”
EB: “There's been a little controversy because some critics want an album they can fully understand in one listen. We didn't write that kind of album. This isn't something you're going to completely get the first time you listen to it. We didn't want to write a pop album; we wanted to take you back to the days of vinyl where you could find a dark space, some good headphones and get taken away for 72 minutes. In those days this would have been a double record set. In the CD-booklet you can get lost in with intense images and lyrics and liner notes and all that juicy stuff that you used to see in the records of olden times. There's even sounds and background noises and things embedded into the mixes so that every time you listen to it, you'll hear something you never heard before. Put on some candles and some headphones and listen a few times and soon... it will click and you too will 'get' it. In the five months since its release, Edison's Children has seen eight different fan clubs on Facebook from eight completely different parts of the world all talking about the record, in their own native languages which is truly amazing. And the critics that really gave it a chance and a real listen have said some of the most amazing things that I've ever seen written about any record! I think we were anticipating a good response, but I don't think we ever anticipated that...”
What do you think of the album yourself? Did it turn out the way you planned it?PT: “It turned out way better than I hoped. We had a couple of really good friends. Marillion-producer and engineer Mike Hunter and Robin Boult mixed different tracks for the album. Mike did the rock songs and Robin mixed the more acoustic songs including the second single A Million Miles Away (I Wish I Had A Time Machine).
Can we expect a second album of Edison's Children? Do you have plans to perform the music with a live band?PT: “We have plans for a second album, but it will take time. I have commitments with Marillion as well as touring with them.”
EB: “We also need to see that fans will come to support this band. There has been some illegal downloading and that isn't supporting, in fact it's quite the opposite. That may be something a major label band could survive, but it's just Pete and myself here. That's all... You can download the record legally from our Facebook official band page (see below) for little more than a Starbucks Venti Mocha Latte. It's really not that expensive compared to other records out there and the actual CD is so nicely done and has some really exciting liner notes and lyrics inside as well as Wendy Farrell Pastore's amazing images. The quicker we get our fans to rally together and support us for one hundred per cent, the sooner we can make another record and tour this one.”
What kind of future plans do you have?EB: “Pete is working with Robin Boult on their acoustic project which is just fantastic. I think I know every note of the five-song EP they released last year called Acoustic Industry. Marillion's new album Sounds That Can't Be Made is already in pre-order on marillion.com. Edison's Children have just released four brand new songs on the new single/EP A Million Miles Away which is mixed and mastered by John Mitchell, so there's new music for you all right now on our website (see below), including an amazing new song which will bridge this album with the next one called Haunted Memories. A sort of autobiography if you will... I'm also working on a solo album. This actually is a culmination of a lot of my former works that aren't easy to get. A lot of fans have asked for it, so I'm going to try to put it all together in a single cohesive album on which people can hear the past, the present and maybe even the future...”
Thank you for answering my questions.EB & PT: “Not at all, it's our pleasure.”
Edison's Children Website
review album 'In The Last Waking Moments'
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013