Interview with TURNING VIRTUE

Turning Virtue

Turning Virtue are an exciting new formation in the US progressive rock scene. Having recently opened for Haken and Thank You Scientist, they’re poised to make some impressive waves in the future. Their recently released A Temporary Human Experience deftly pairs the progressive alongside the darkly melodic, and covers a lot of territory all around. Thanks again to Turning Virtue for taking the time to respond to this interview!

First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to respond to this interview. Is there any way you could succinctly describe what your project is about to those who may not have heard your work before?

DPA: This project is about writing songs. The best songs we can. Fast, slow, heavy, mellow, it’s all good and it all has its place. We try to blend the rhythm, harmony, and melody with the lyrics and the vibe or essence of the tune to come up with our songs.

Davey K: The really cool thing is when I’m writing this stuff there are no parameters, it’s all about the moment… a feeling.

What is the story behind the band’s formation?

Davey K: Here’s the story; Dpa and I have been playing together since high school, from 2006-2011 we decided to take a hiatus to decompress. In 2011 I felt renewed and overtaken by this urge to write an album, but before getting the guys back together I decided to enlist my all time favorite drummer the one and only Mark Zonder. Once the guys heard the tracks with Mark on them we were off and running. We were a band once again!

What is the concept behind the band’s name? Turning Virtue as a name seems like it could be interpreted in many ways potentially.

DPA: It truly can be interpreted in many ways and that’s what we like about it, it’s always moving. The concept behind TV is really what You make of it. Literal, figurative, allegorical. We will provide the words and music, the listener can take them and make them their own from there.

What’s the process of songwriting and composition like for Turning Virtue?

Davey K: Almost always starts with an acoustic guitar and a couch, being comfortable seems to make the ideas flow.
I then get with my engineer Spicoli and put the outline of the song in Logic. And it ends with amazing musicians putting their own lovely flourishes on each song. Whether it be lyrically or musically, I’m truly lucky to have such wonderful bandmates.

Do you have any favourite songs from your new album, A Temporary Human Experience?

DPA: My favorite tune is Box of Disappointment. As soon as Dave started playing the few ideas he had, it hit me straight away. I was so psyched, I went home and blasted out the lyrics in 15 minutes. I also really dig Salty Tears.

I really like the title of your album, A Temporary Human Experience. Taking on something as big as life itself for your album’s concept is appropriately ambitious and simultaneously fitting. Is the album conceptual at all? Is there an overlying theme behind it?

Davey K: Thanks, so glad you like it. We were hopeful that people would take some time to dig into the title and maybe the imagery that is throughout the albums packaging.
Here is a bit of what I was thinking while writing the album.

Let me start by quoting some Carl Jung.

“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”

Now taking it one step further, coming to the realization that we are more than our body, we are more than our possessions, more than our friends, and so on. That we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but that we are divine beings, spiritual beings, having A Temporary Human Experience.

This is eye opening, life changing, transcendent stuff. It was firmly embedded in my thinking while writing this album.

One of the things that really strikes me about the album is the range of styles you’ve put to the test. Do you think this eclectic approach is a central part of the band’s identity? Are there any particular styles you would like to capitalize more on with future albums?

Dpa: Our style comes from writing uniquely for each song. We might have Carl play a jazzy line somewhere, or we might just fusion out a whole section, depending on what we think works best for the overall feel and need of a song. As far as musical styles, we’re pretty open to anything, and will happily engage in any exploration on any theme.

Davey K: Could you imagine the lyrics of Dreamin’ with the musical treatment of Box? I can’t, that’s why I feel that eclecticism will always be a part of Turning Virtue. It is our vision of progressive.

You have an incredibly high-profile list of people working with you on this album. Tim Palmer (who mixed the album) has worked with Bowie and Porcupine Tree, while Andy Vandette (who mastered it) has helped out the likes of Rush in the past. It also goes without saying that Fates Warning’s Mark Zonder on the drums is another great addition to your crew. How did you get in touch with all of these people? The fact you managed to network with such talented icons is impressive by itself.
What advice would you have for other musicians and creative individuals?

Davey K: You have to believe in what you are doing, believe that you have written the best songs you can.
And If you truly believe, then you owe to yourself to try and collaborate with the best.
That was my approach; was I nervous? Yes of course, who the hell am I? Davey K from Buffalo NY with no real credits to my name, but what is the worst thing that can happen…they say no.
So I set forth with that mindset to get these unbelievable talents to work on ATHE.

As I stated earlier it started with Mark Zonder and his belief in our songs. When your favorite drummer in the world loves what you are doing it builds your confidence and esteem to try even harder, to become better, and push the envelope even further.

So as the recording process was getting near its end I began looking for someone to mix the album.

Let’s see; How about Tim Palmer; he worked with Bowie, Plant, Porcupine Tree, sure why not!
Tim Palmer was my first choice, and I really had no back up plan. Probably not a great idea putting all your eggs in one basket!
I was hugely enamored with his mixing because of the diverseness of the bands he has worked with. Talk about an eclectic catalog of artists.
I really wanted our album to sound unique from song to song and I knew that Tim could and would do that.

Tim was very busy with many projects in the queue so we exchanged emails for a number of months and magically one day he asked if I still wanted him to mix the album, uhh…that was an emphatic Yes!

Now I’m not sure how many independent/unknown bands Tim works with, but I’m sure it’s not many. So we feel really blessed that he took us under his wing.

One last note on my experience with Tim that might help other unknown bands moving forward. Tim called me after he did the first mix for Box of Disappointment. He was in his car on his way from ’62 Studios and I will remember what he said for the rest of my life, he said “David, you write good songs”
So this whole thing is about writing good songs, weird isn’t it. Haha.

As for Andy VanDette he has mastered so many greats, including remastering the Rush catalog.

So I bounced the idea of Andy mastering it off of Tim and he said Andy would be a great choice.

I really love the way he mastered our album in that he really let it breathe, it is an album of dynamics and we wanted it to stay that way, he concurred.

Also Andy is a Buffalo boy so that makes working with him that much cooler. No pun intended.

What lies in store for Turning Virtue in the future?

Davey K: Due to the paradox of time I try not to look too far into the future. Looking ahead removes you from the present and makes life fly by.
With that said an audacious attempt at a real national tour for 2017 is at the forefront of our thinking. We will give it everything we have and see what happens.

What have you been listening to lately, otherwise?

DPA: I’ve been listening to a lot of Zappa and old Genesis. I also like the new stuff from The Pineapple Thief, Haken, and Leprous.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: