STRANGE CONVERSATIONS: Prog Without the Pretense

Strange Conversations

Strange Conversations is a progressive rock project by two brothers, Joseph and Jeremy Haynes, who has recently completed work on their new concept album entitled ‘Blase’ Faire.’ The band took a part on our recent Progotronics sampler, and we talked with them about the new release, the message they want to portray with it, and more.

Define the mission of Strange Conversations. 

Growing up in the same house, we were both always super musical. From Saturday night jam sessions on a 1st-generation electronic drum kit and keyboard together,  to writing songs, there was always something musical going on. When we decided to finally do a “real band”, we knew we wanted to take the varied musical influences we shared, Motown, prog rock, piano pop, metal, and everything in between and layer them on top of the 70s, 80s and 90s sounds we grew up on and write accessible, intelligent , deeply personal songs. “Prog without the pretense” is a phrase we use sometimes, We believe that It is possible to write smart and thoughtful “progressive” music without a lot of instrumental “noodling”. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good 20 minute epic, and we have our own 12 minute piano prog “epic” on this album, but we also love a nice concise rock song!

Tell me about the creative process that informed your upcoming album “Blase’ Faire” and the themes it captures.

We developed the music and lyrics for this album through the magic of technology living 1000 miles apart. We would write some on our own but deliberated obsessively to ensure that neither of us were ten steps behind or ten steps ahead. Beyond one trip that Joe took to Jeremy’s recording studio in New Hampshire, everything came together through the wonders of online conferencing programs and file sharing resources.

From growing to find acceptance in our father’s death, to the rollercoaster of personal success and failures, the thematic structure of this album truly focused on emotions – the good, the bad, the twists, the turns – the ever-revolving ferris wheel at the center of the circus that is life.

Strange Conversations - Blase' Faire

What is the message you are trying to give with “Blase’ Faire”? 

Simply said, take the ride of life not with the expectation that you know exactly what’s going to come next, but rather with an open mind that lets you see things differently with each experience.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Because our lives aren’t very stationary, a lot of ideas and concepts came on the go. Because of that, mobile devices were a major player. Often times, on my lunch break from work, I would sit in my car and write on my phone – saving every word that came to mind in a Google Doc that was exclusively reserved for Strange Conversations. So that we could constantly play show and tell with one another all the while being as far away from each other as we were, we would share the document so that everything was always available for us to observe and modify on the fly.

I would also use audio-recording programs to trap vocal melodies for songs and save them in the same document – as well as different stages of mixes for each song so that we always knew exactly where we stopped and where we needed to begin.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Without question. We are perfectionists and audiophiles at heart. We made it a point to make sure that every single word in every single song had its purpose and place – and the same goes for the music. Everything on this album had an organic recipe to it. If we were unhappy with what came out of the oven, we scrapped it and rewrote the recipe until it was something that we could digest over and over again until the end result was nothing but pure satisfaction.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Evolution. After our first album, “Teaching Me To Fish”, was released, we focused on evolving to the next place. With the first record being a parallel circuit – about Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man and The Sea” and how it connects with our late father, his life, and our experiences with him – we wanted to further develop each track on this record so that they had their own natural identity. Going back to the theme of emotions, every song has something unique to take from it – depending upon the person that listens to it.

How long “Blase’ Faire” was in the making?

We released the first album at the end of 2018 and spent a few months letting it marinate – marketing it and essentially basking in accomplishment. There was no greater feeling than seeing that album turn from words on paper to what it became. That was a high that neither of us felt before and one that we wanted again, so we right back into writing mode at the end of February and started to put those ideas into writing in March. We have since wrapped up the writing and recording and are in the final mixing/mastering stages with an official November release. In all, it took us close to a year to finalize this one.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Everything from Faith No More, to 90′s rock bands like Gin Blossoms and Jellyfish, to The Beatles and The Beach Boys, to Spock’s Beard, and even singer/songwriters like Jason Mraz and A Great Big World. We are not wired to conform to one specific style of music because there’s great things to showcase in all genres – and this album is no exception to that rule.

What is your view on technology in music?

It’s vital for a long-distance concept like Strange Conversations; flying from Georgia to New Hampshire, vice versa, or even meeting in between is just an ideal concept that we have the means to consistently pursue. Therefore, technology acts like the adhesive that keeps everything together. I don’t think we would have lifted this off as smoothly without the internet, mobile devices, and computers to aid us in doing so.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Yes, but I see all music serving a purpose beyond music. I see our music hopefully influencing others to create, take risks to do what they want to do in this life. I hope to see our music help others feel things when they think it’s wrong or untimely to do so.

What are your plans for the future?

Much like our plans were after releasing the first album – to evolve. I am already tinkering with ideas for the third album  - as is Jeremy – because this was a band born from passion for music. Passions never die. If anything, they continue to move forward towards the next destination. The beautiful thing about the destination is that it doesn’t exist yet. It’s a place that we will create from foundation up, meticulously with no other purpose but to find that same level of satisfaction again.

For more about Strange Conversations visit their website, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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