Interview Red Sand (Simon Caron)

"Pink Floyd is one of the biggest bands on the planet and I feel proud of paying tribute to them"

(September 2020, text by Henri Strik, pictures provided by Simon Caron, edited by Peter Willemsen)

Red Sand are a French-Canadian prog outfit founded by guitarist Simon Caron. The band released their debut album in 2004 called Mirror Of Insanity. Beside Caron the band consists of vocalist Stéff Dorval and drummer Perry Angelillo who replaced Danny Robertson. Back in 2012, I had an interesting interview with Simon Caron. Since then lots of things happened to the band, so time for Background Magazine to have an update with the band leader about the albums they released since 2012 including their latest and ninth album, a masterpiece called Crush The Seed.

In 2013 you released Cinéma Du Vieux Cartier an album devoted to the world of movies. Right? Can you explain a bit more about the conceptual story and what the paintings on the cover mean?
Simon Caron
Simon Caron: “I've always been passionate about old horror films made by people like Alfred Hitchcock and James Whale. I like adventure movies as well like Robin Hood and Superheroes. My favourites are Spiderman and Batman. So there's a mixture of a bit of everything on that cover that my daughter Pennsylia drew. By the way, the original is even nicer than the album cover.”

Drummer Danny Robertson was replaced by Perry Angelillo and singer Steff Dorval returned replacing Mathieu Lessard. Why this line-up change?
“To cut a long story short: this line-up changes were necessary. It's not easy keeping a band together while living through diverse situations. Some musicians prefer to put energy into cover bands and play shows with written music parts. Steff has been in Red Sand since 2005 and will hopefully be there for a long time. Perry Angelillo played on the first four albums and today he regrets not having stayed with the band considering our full potential. He works hard with me in promoting the band and so he takes a lot of pressure off my back. Keyboardists are difficult to keep; a lot of work goes into programming sounds, etcetera. On bass, I found André Godbout, a guy who plays admirably good. He respects the recorded bass parts and the overall vibe of the songs. So far, this current line-up of Red Sand is the best one.”

1759 was released in 2016. Can you to tell me something about the concept of this album? Is it about the British troops go ashore at France's North American territory and begin the siege of Quebec City in 1759?
“Exactly, the concept deals with the British taking over the French.”

Again there was a line-up change. Long-time member and bassist Mathieu Gosselin was replaced by André Godbout and drummer Danny Robertson left after one album to be replaced by Luc Colletta. How come?
“André Godbout has never recorded bass tracks for Red Sand, but he is the bassist for the live shows since the 1759 album. I have been recording the bass parts since 2016. At that time Perry refused to stay in the band because he was earning a living playing in cover bands. I called Luc Colletta who was a friend from way back; he did a great job on 1759 and Forsaken. As far as Danny Robertson is concerned, I prefer not to comment.”

For this album you took over the bass parts and you didn't play any keyboards. This time that was all done by your daughter Pennsylia. Right?
“Not exactly, concerning the bass parts it was my second album. Pennsylia played ninety percent of the keyboard parts and I did the rest.”
Fom L to R: Perry Angelillo, Simon Caron and Steff Dorval

FoRsAkEn was released in 2019. The album was dedicated to your brother Richard who died in December 2018. How big was the impact of the loss of your brother and did this have anything to do with the album concept?
“My brother has always been a precious help to me. He was always there in any given situation. Yes, I do miss him. My daughter Barbara wrote the lyrics for the album, and even though the concept is about another subject, the album is dedicated to him. He was always very supportive throughout my career.”

In my opinion FoRsAken is a very strong album and one of your finest albums to date: a pure neo-progressive rock album in its finest form. Do you agree?
“Well, of course I agree. All of the composing, arrangements and production was done by myself except for the lyrics written by my daughter, and that is a good thing! I composed all of the instrumentation including the drum and the bass parts. The keyboard parts were mainly done by Pennsylia and the mastering was done by S. Desbiens. I'm very satisfied with what he did.”

The last three albums Cinéma Du Vieux Cartier, 1759 and FoRsAken have all amazing sleeve designs and illustrations. Very much in the same way as you have them on the albums released before them. Who was responsible for this great art work?
“The sleeve design for FoRsAken is a picture I took in Germany. The designs of the other albums you mentioned were drawn by Pennsylia.”

The Mellotron and bass pedals are all over the place on FoRsAken and the album is packed with amazing guitar and keyboard parts. Did you all this by yourself?
“I record all of my albums in my home studio. Pennsylia played the majority of the keyboard parts. I played the guitar and bass tracks and I also wrote the melodies and vocal parts during the writing process. I then transfer the songs to Perry and Steff for them to learn and record their parts, but the vocal melodies remain original as intended.”

You already released two DVDs: Live Au Cabaret Du Liquor Store (2008) and From Quebec To Germany (2017). Now you have released your third DVD Live Salle Sylvain Lelièvre and Art Rock festival. What's the difference between those three releases and why didn't you release anything so far on Blu-ray?
“The idea of a new DVD was simple. Ten years had passed since our first one. Furthermore, I was proud to have my daughter playing with us on this one. No Blu-ray for now, but that's certainly possible in the future. ”

Live Salle Sylvain Lelièvre and Art Rock festival contains only one hour of footage of the Salle Sylvain Lelièvre concert and half an hour shot at the Art Rock festival. Why didn't you use the footage of the entire shows?
“I think that the quality of both the show in the Salle Sylvain Lelièvre and the one in Germany is less good. However, I still did put two pieces of the latter show on the DVD.”

The new and excellent album Crush The Seed seemed to be inspired by the music of Pink Floyd. Were They Born Like That reminds me of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. And Human Claim tend to several songs which you can find on their album Animals (1975). Songs like Pigs and Dogs come to mind. Can we see that as a tribute to this great band or was it just coincidental?
“No, it wasn't. I have always dreamed of doing a song in the vein of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. After visiting the city of Dachau, Germany I had everything in place to compose a long piece of music. Pink Floyd is one of the biggest bands on the planet and I feel proud of paying tribute to them. We are very thankful for the music they have brought us over the years.”

You released Crush The Seed only one year after FoRsAkEn. Do you have so much inspiration? Why did you release both albums in succession so quickly?
“Ever since Red Sand played in Europe we had such positive reactions that it has been a source of inspiration for me. We love our European fans, and every place we've visited in Germany was great. Dachau has left me lost for words; it must have been such a nightmare for the people who suffered in that concentration camp. There's so much to see and learn on your continent! Wow! It's truly inspiring.”

In the interview Background did in 2012 you told us that it's very difficult to perform in Europe, due to the lack of contacts and money. You would like to visit Europe and expect invitations for live shows. In the meantime you did some concerts in Europe. What happened?
“Udo and Uwe are responsible for giving us the chance to play in Germany. Our next tour will be in Germany as well and also in your beautiful country. We owe an enormous thank you to our Dutch fan Ada Vierwind. We are very anxious to play for you live. Steff is a very theatrical frontman and we have worked hard on captivating our fans from beginning to end, like a movie you can't walk away from. We will also play Mirror Of Insanity in its entirety plus some other surprises. Come see our show, we promise that you won't regret it!”

Finally, do you have anything to say to your European fans who are going to see you very soon?
“We are looking forward to play for you and meet you all in the Netherlands, and thanks again to our dear friend Ada for her help, devotion and love.”

More info about Red Sand on the Internet:
       Red Sand Website
       review 'Music For Sharks'
       review 'Behind The Mask'
       review 'Crush The Seed'
       review DVD 'Live Au Cabaret Du Liquor Store (2008)'

       Interview Red Sand 2012

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2020