TONY MENOWN: Cohesive Suite of Music

Tony Menown

Springfield, Missouri based singer-songwriter Tony Menown has been actively pursuing his solo career since 2015 and the release of the debut EP Sacred Ground. His first full length album, Too, broke in 2018 and showed a developing style of music that mixed Americana, folk, and progressive rock. Now two years later, Menown has launched his sophomore full-length Illumination which features guest appearance by keyboardist extraordinaire Derek Sherinian.

“New Days, New Ways” single was featured on Progotronics 27, and in the interview below Menown tells us about his project, the album, and more.

Define the mission of your project.

Over the years, I had written several songs that didn’t fit on my more band-oriented projects. The goal was to assemble all of these outliers into a cohesive suite of music. In doing so, I realized that, as a whole, the material leaned towards a progressive rock style, which has always been a passion of mine.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent album “Illumination” and the themes it captures.

Sequencing/flow is something I’ve always noticed on records. Lyrically, there is a theme with this album, so I tried to develop that narrative while leaving it open to the listener’s interpretation. The theme is very much centered around personal responsibility for the actions in one’s life.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Illumination”?

The overall message is one of hope. The very first track presents the protagonist in a difficult situation. As the album progresses, the character looks at his own actions and attempts to move forward with grace.

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

I can’t read music, but I play several instruments. I made detailed demos as the album was being recorded to get the other players honed in on what I was after.

Tony Menown - Illumination

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Yes, I very much wanted to contrast light and shade, fast against slow, and major versus minor keys.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

The vast majority of the record was tracked in my hometown at Generous Groove studio in Springfield, Missouri. During quarantine, I had to have a handful of local players track remotely via the internet. That was also how we flew in the parts from my session player friends in Southern California.

How long “Illumination” was in the making?

Although some of the songs were nearly 15 years old, the actual recording process took just over 18 months.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Flower Kings, U.K., Beatles & Byrds.

What is your view on technology in music?

Technology is a wonderful thing, so long as it is used to enhance the human element of music making.

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

I believe so. This is an extremely difficult, largely unprecedented time in our world. If anyone can get a sense of hope listening to this record, my mission has been accomplished.

What are your plans for the future?

We performed the record live in a smaller open air venue for a CD release show. I have been playing a lot of the record in my solo & duo gigs, as well. I have started demos for my next record, and it appears to somewhat in the style of Illumination, but within a more jazz-oriented context.

Illumination is out now and is available from Amazon here.

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