Exclusive Interview - Steve and Fred

GHfan.net: Glass Hammer is a pretty cool band name, but few are aware of what it exactly means. Care to enlighten us?

Steve: Simple really; just a name we liked and chose. It came from the title of a book by Jeter, though we never read it :-) It is at that.

Fred: It's vaguely pretentious but nice sounding

GHfan.net: So which one of you is the hammer, and which is the glass?

Steve: Better question: who is the ass and who is the ham?

Fred: There ya go

Steve: But then I can be both of those...

GHfan.net: I see. :D How do you go about writing a song? Is there a particular process involved, or is it different every time?

Steve: Fred - take it :-)

Fred: It mainly involves waiting for a good idea. I kind of hear it in my head and then work it out, but it usually evolves in the process. When you start hearing things they go in different directions

GHfan.net: So the music usually comes before the lyrics?

Steve: Normally, music first.

Fred: I never write lyrics until the end

Steve: Heroes and Dragons, a recent exception. Though Middle-earth Music is about half and half.

Fred: And the Tolkien stuff - it usually works the other way too

GHfan.net: GH has definitely changed since JotD. One thing in particular that stuck out to me is the vocals. What inspired the idea to go from mainly having a lead vocalist to having the Lex Rex blend of harmonies?

Steve: I'm not sure we've every been satisfied with our vocal approach until lex rex. We don't like the 'front man' thing. Too 80s and predictable.

Fred: It seems to work better; we don't feel so strongly about how we sound as soloists. We like to blend

Steve: Variety :-)

GHfan.net: So we can expect more of these types of vocals in the future? Or will you be moving on to something else?

Fred: You can't expect anything from the future. You just have to wait and see- we don't even know

Steve: There are plenty of lead vocal spots on the new album, but lots of harmony too - as well as choral stuff.

GHfan.net: You both are involved in a lot of other things in addition to GH: Somnambulist, Wyzards, TMA-2, Tracy Cloud, Eric Parker, David & Goliath... Not all of them are very proggy. Obviously, you're an excellent prog band, but if you weren't involved in that, you've shown yourselves capable of other styles. Which do you think you would choose?

Steve: We're involved in other projects - but those tend to be clients. I like the folky Christian stuff we do with Eric. But I don't like any other type of 'popular' music enough to be involved. I like prog :-)

Fred: I would probably practice recorder more and join a madigral band

GHfan.net: You're working on a number of GH projects right now, I believe. Can you tell us what GH fans might expect to see in the next year or shortly thereafter? (We better than to trust your time estimates by now. ;-))

Steve: Our timing is dreadful. For certain, a new album called Shadowlands. Most likely a live DVD we'll record in September. Maybe a live album from NEARfest 2003. That's it for now.

GHfan.net: A live album from NEARfest. How will that work? Did you get a good quality recording of it?

Steve: We don't know yet. We're at the mercy of the studio that taped it.

Fred: We're waiting to be sent the tapes. Hopefully it sounds OK.

GHfan.net: And the DVD would be of your performance at Rhythm and Brews?

Steve: Yes, if all goes well there.

GHfan.net: So what about Shadowlands? We know that it's not a concept album and that it's musically better than Lex Rex, according to earlier comments of yours... Can we squeeze any more info out of you?

Steve: Sonically better - musically too I'd say.

it's in the same general style though, just refined a bit perhaps

Steve: Thus far, no guest musicians - just singers. There is one short 'concept' song about a horse that eats people. Fred added some harmony yesterday and it really sounds great. Very vocally complex - "Run Lissette".

GHfan.net: A horse that eats people. Sounds very interesting!

Steve: The girls get bigger parts on this album, and so does Walter.

GHfan.net: Girls, meaning Flo, Bethany, Susie, and Sarah?

Steve: Susie mostly, Sarah does a lot of backups. We haven't worked Bethany in yet. Flo has a solo too.

Fred: Every song is pretty strong on this one- there's really only 4 main pieces. Just like a good classic prog album :-). Maybe there will be five... We're working on something

GHfan.net: Still in the "idea" stage, or do you have lyrics yet?

Steve: Still just an idea. And barely that. We'll know before the day is out about the new song.

GHfan.net: What's the significance of the album's name?

Steve: There's one song called "Farewell To Shadowlands". Otherwise, just a cool name that seems to fit the music and the album. True Fred?

Fred: Yep. I think it fits the sound of the album

Steve: I agree. We had other names, but none worked like Shadowlands.

GHfan.net: And now to satisfy the hobbit fans: You've mentioned before that you were writing some more Middle Earth songs for the RotK premiere. Have you finished any of them?

Fred: About five are pretty solid

Steve: There'll be around 6 more we hope.

Fred: We haven't arranged anything but the tunes are there

Steve: And the lyrics.

Fred: Well, yeah, we had those before the tunes :-) I meant as a whole

GHfan.net: Are these more inn songs, like the first half of the Middle Earth Album, or more of the studio songs, like the second half?

Fred: It's all singalong stuff, the "live" sounding songs, the inn type songs. They'll all be fast because the crowd in Toronto wants to dance

GHfan.net: So 11 more fast inn songs... Are you planning to release a CD of them?

Fred: I'm sure we will... Maybe even a really "live" CD from the Toronto gig. That could be cool, with a couple hundred actual people yelling at us *g*

GHfan.net: "More ale! More ale!"

Fred: We're making sure that they all know the drill

GHfan.net: Any new and interesting stories? Steve, you mentioned something about having more Silmarillion type songs - would that be on this album or possibly in the future?

Steve: Well if we do Silmarillion songs, they'll go on another Middle-earth Album. We may record the Toronto show and release it as a live album, so they may show up there. Or another option would be to record the group during rehearsals for the show, and release that as an album. I just don't know yet. But they won't show up on Shadowlands. As for the stories, I've added to the myth of Balin Longbeard in one song, and in another I've come up with a King and a magic ax. This may be Balin as well.
I've done a very hobbity song about the fall of the Witch King. Its hobbity in so much as it has a very simple way of explaining how the Witch King was defeated. Its a fun song. Here's a bit from one of the Silmarillion songs. It doesn't have music yet though.

Past Anfauglith and then beyond
Glaurung dreamed of Nargothrond
As the serpent's thought did roam the world afar
For one man he searched the earth
For his doom would bring him mirth
Oh to slay the hero, Turin-Turambar

GHfan.net: Fans from San Francisco to the Netherlands have been dying to see you live. Any plans for touring in the future?

Fred: We'll see what Steve says... I say there's little chance of touring *in the future*, but we're primed to do it right now. If we could work it out I'd go to Holland in a heartbeat and play. SF too!

Steve: Matt and Walter are both ready to tour, and would really love to. I think Fred and I aren't as opposed to it as we once were. I would have no problem doing some shows next spring and summer. But nothing is planned right now. If the right shows come along, we'll strongly consider it.

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