Interview With THRESHOLD’s RICHARD WEST

Threshold

Every once in a while there appears an album on the progressive metal scene that breaks the monotony of the releases falling under the recycled category. Following all the success that surrounded their previous study effort, UK progressive metal veterans, Threshold, have put out For The Journey, an album that takes where March of Progress stopped. Having said that, the band’s this year instalment shapes to be another gem in almost 30-year long career.

Speaking about the evolution between the two records, keyboardist Richard West comments: “I feel that For The Journey is polishing and perfecting of our sound. To me the new album sounds a lot tighter, more focussed and more cohesive as a record. I think it’s one of the strongest albums we’ve done.

The creative process for For The Journey started after the band completed their March Of Progress tour in 2013.

We carried a lot of momentum into the process. I think we were very much “in the zone” immediately and the ideas flowed smoothly for us.

Threshold - For the JourneySpeaking about the song structures on the new album, West says: “Threshold songs are always carefully architected, we’re not the sort of band who jams in a rehearsal studio together to come up with ideas.

Most of our songs are born from several days composition in a studio, usually Karl in his studio or me in mine. The full band doesn’t perform the song until the composition is complete,” he continues.

Once the song is fully written we start the tracking process in the studio, starting with drums and then bass, guitar etc. Then we usually split into two studios so I can work on the vocal editing and additional keyboards while Karl‘s working on more guitars and solos. At the end of the process everything goes back to Karl’s studio where he works on the final mix,” he acknowledges.

The title of the new album comes from the idea of songs for the journey of life. “Many of the lyrics explore the more challenging aspects of our human journey such as honesty, forgiveness, repentance and perseverance,Richard states.

For The Journey was produced by West and guitarist Karl Groom. “The goal was to make the ultimate Threshold record, something that sounded like a wonderful hi-fi experience and flowed perfectly from the first note to the last. And I’m very happy with how it’s turned out,West reflects.

Most of the lyrics on For The Journey were born from personal experiences of the band members, both good and bad. “Sometimes you have to go through those challenges before you’ve got something new to say. Hopefully some of those experiences will resonate with other people and mean something to them too,Richard admits.

According to the press release for the new album, it is advised to leave the term prog metal at the door. “Being categorised as prog metal is obviously a great way to reach prog metal fans, but it probably also marginalises us from a broader audience of hard rock fans. But at the end of the day our two strongest components are and metal and prog, so we’ve not suddenly changed our colours.

West says that it is their individual independence that allows Threshold’s music to emerge. “At the songwriting stage we’ll mostly sit at home or in a studio alone, working on the songs for hours until we’ve completed a composition. And then at the recording stage our band members do a wonderful job of understanding the composition and making it happen,” he continues.

Interview with Threshold keyboardist Richard West

Asked to reveal their way of determining when a piece is complete, Richard admits that he does not know the answer.

Usually at the start of the writing process you know what sort of song you’re going to compose, whether it’s going to be a compact single or a long progressive epic. And then you work until that idea is fulfilled. Sometimes a song might change during the writing process, but normally you know what you’re hoping to achieve before you start.

We always hope to write something that’s never been heard before,” he enthuses. “That’s part of the beauty of creating art and what separates it from commercialism, that freedom to explore and create something new. So whether we’re progressive metal or hard rock or whatever we’re considered to be, we still want to push the envelope in terms of composition and sonics within that world.

He hopes that For The Journey is Threshold’s most ultimate record so far. “But we’re all on a journey so I’m sure there are more ultimate things to come,” he continues.

On our efforts to introduce as many new artists as possible to wide audiences through the Progstravaganza compilation series, Richard concludes: “It’s always hard for new bands to get heard, so Progstravaganza looks like a good way to get your music out there.

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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