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Andy Tillison - The Tangent

Interview with Andy Tillison from The Tangent
by Jean-Francois Poulin at 05 November 2018, 7:49 AM

Progressive Rock has had a storied past and hasn't really been in the limelight these last few years but certain bands keep on getting new material out and putting out some excellent stuff. We lost a number of great Progressive Bands in the last few years but some are alive and well including, THE TANGENT. Formed in 2012, they are releasing their tenth album called ''Proxy'' and Metal Temple writer Jean-Francois Poulin had the pleasure to interview Andy Tillison, leader of the long-standing band.

You guys recorded the album during your last tour with KARMAKANIC, how was the writing and recording process different from your previous albums?

Hi there…  yes, a lot of the new album Proxy came about while we were together on the tour.  It wasn't like we were actually writing the material or recording it though, it was just the fact that we were together, out there and playing shows, doing soundchecks, talking in vans and venues about the music we loved.  And those good times/ shared experiences shaped the way the album formed. Little ideas that developed in a sound check jam found their way into compositions and the characters of the musicians were all taken into account when actually producing the music after the tour was over. We had a really positive experience touring together and it led to a really positive recording process.  While none of the preceding albums have been "negative" - I think the fact that we'd been working live so recently made it a more natural and human process this time. We'll probably try to do it this way again if we can!

I was wondering what was the meaning of the album cover with the pawn on it? And who did the artwork this time?

Well the album is called "Proxy" And of course a Proxy is something that "takes your place" - that represents you. In the worlds many Proxy Wars that are going on now the people actually doing the fighting and getting killed are usually doing so with the backing of much greater powers. Most people agree that the war in Syria over the past decade has all been about BIG countries supporting one side (or the other side) in a "small" war. And of course a Pawn in the game chess is, like all the other pieces, a Proxy. It represents you, the player of this war game. It's an evocative and emotionally charged image, the "Pawn In The Game" and I thought it perfect for the album we wanted to make here.  The cover for this album is my own design, but the photos (including the Pawn) were taken by Martin Reijman, a well known UK photographer of not just Prog bands but nature and landscapes too.

How did you guys collaborate with Goran Edman for this new album? Was it a natural choice being you guys toured with his band?

Yes - the last tour with Karmakanic was a great thing because in the end we just became one team. Two bands, but one team. We even stopped playing separate sets on the tour, just made one good set out of the music of both bands and played them together. Leaving Goran out of our new album seemed to be unthinkable! So of course we involved him. He's been with us at every Tangent gig since 2014. He's also a great singer and he's highly skilled at backing vocals (those big choirs in particular) and we made good use of that!

You guys have had a lot of different lineups throughout the years, was it because of prior engagements of these members with their respective bands?

Yes. In fact you have actually answered the question!! I get asked this a lot of course, and often people think we have lots of falling outs etc, but it's not that at all. Everyone in the band has something going on. Everyone is a band leader and over the years members of the band have played for The Flower Kings, Soft Machine, King Crimson, Maschine, Steve Hackett, Big Big Train, Francis Dunnery, Dave Gilmour and many more. There are a lot of difficulties organising everyone's diaries for this sort of thing and if we had stuck to a rigid lineup we'd never have got beyond our first album. We are here today because we changed lineups.

According to prior information, the band was supposed to be a one-off, how come the band has lasted all this time, did the chemistry operate so much that you guys really loved to be around each other and decided to keep the band running?

I think that the band has lasted all this time and stayed in public affection because we've always had something new to say each time. There are pros and cons of this. The biggest "Con" is that the group never became as big as some others, but the biggest "Pro" is that it didn't spend 15 years just making the same kind of album again and again. Our lyrics have covered more than 40 different topics from really serious heavy political shit through to jokey songs about Bikers and fantasy songs about Prog itself.  We've had a lot of people to be sure, but I think that most people now associate Jonas, Luke, Theo and I with the Tangent as much as with anyone else.. and Steve (our new drummer) I hope will become similarly associated!

Any plans on touring extensively in the new year for the new album?

Next year is a really busy year for Jonas and Luke and we don't know what will happen regarding touring yet. we are not ruling it out!

Any bands you guys would love to tour with in the coming future?

Hadn't really thought about this, but if we were to want to tour with another band we wouldn't really want to be doing that boring support band/headline band thing - if we work live with another band we'd want it to be more focused on ONE show - a great evening out for the audience that was all about something special. So us touring as support for someone like Marillion, then disappear into the dressing room while they play their set - that's not what we are about.  But play with a band like Marillion where we plan an evening of songs that work together, help each other, guest with each other, do each other's sound and think about how to make a unique evening for the audience… that's more the kind of thing I'd be into.  So if Marillion read this… how about it guys?

Any plans on a solo album? I know your first album turned out the be the first release from THE TANGENT in 2003.

Ha ha - I have made a lot of solo albums already. I actually don't make a lot of fuss about them. They are like a little secret!.  I have made FIVE so far and they are the things I enjoy doing the most.  I do them for enjoyment and to make myself happy. A lot of the music is instrumental  and it is often (but not always ) in the Tangerine Dream way of thinking.  I sell a couple of thousand of each and then that's it.

You guys have been at it for more than 15 years and are a very productive band, what's the key of the perseverance of the band after all these years?

I think we have stayed creative by staying as related as possible to the real world. By singing about the world as it is now we have themes and ideas thrown up at us every day. We don't ever have to worry about whether we sound just enough like Genesis to sell the new record.. we have our own particular set of sounds and although you can hear our influences we never sound exactly like one band for more than a minute or so.  We are a "real deal" progressive band. Not a homage or tribute to another band.  On this album we use a lot of Electronic Dance Music. We use politics, we use humour, there's a Barry White sample, we do funk, disco, punk and metal. We do classical and we just try to keep the mix fresh and vibrant. We use musicians of many ages. And most importantly, we don't care what anyone thinks. We just make the music.  And a pleasure to talk to you.

Thanks and its been a honor interviewing you for Metal Temple!

Thank you for your interest and for writing about the music - and bringing it to peoples' attention.


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