“We didn’t set out to create a commercially viable record,” says Perfect Beings guitarist Johannes Luley with carefully considered defiance.
Limelight: Perfect Beings
Former Moth Vellum man returns with an ambitious new band.
“We just love music, we’re uncompromising, and we’re just happy if people enjoy what we do.”
It’s that carefree air of confidence this LA band possess, along with their knack of mixing progressive complexities with modern melodies, that’s starting to generate interest in their self-titled debut. Luley, who previously worked with San Francisco prog band Moth Vellum before their 2010 dissolution, has constructed a hugely talented and experienced group of musicians. Drummer Dicki Fliszar played with Bruce Dickinson’s solo band, bassist Chris Tristram worked with Slash, and the addition of Ryan Hurtgen’s distinctive vocals was another inspired choice.
“I wasn’t actually a big prog rock fan before Johannes introduced me to the genre,” admits Hurtgen. “I was a big Genesis fan as a kid, but I was always into indie rock and worked as a songwriter in Nashville. So when Johannes approached me, I immersed myself in the prog rock scene. I’d wanted to write an opera for a
long time and I felt that prog was a genre that embraced such ideas.”
Indeed, with the singer having recently worked as an editor for Suhail Rafidi’s sci-fi novel TJ & Tosc: A Field Guide For Life After Western Culture, he felt that the issues raised in that book would provide the ideal match for the ambitious yet accessible music the band had been creating.
“The story was really ingrained in me,” says Hurtgen. “We thought it was the perfect platform and we could write a prog rock opera based on this futurist story of love and humanity. I’d written some demos and brought them to Johannes. We’d then rip them apart and add sections, and all of a sudden this whole puzzle came together. So we had a great framework to work with.”
“For me, as a teenager listening to progressive rock, I always needed to have an accessibility to the music, no matter how complex it was,” adds Luley. “It has always been important to me to have a vocal melody to attract me to the music, so you had accessible moments that leave you more open to listening to more complicated arrangements. That was what we were striving for with this record.”
Perfect Beings are also determined to ensure that their live show is a match for their expansive musical ambition. Admitting an admiration of Peter Gabriel’s often bizarre live appearances, Hurtgen has started to wear eerie masks and costumes on stage to enhance the lyrical delivery.
“The hardest thing on stage is wearing the bubonic plague mask,” he deadpans. “That has totally tripped me out as it’s so dark and evil, but as an artist, I feel I have to make a statement. There have been some people who have seen it and they’ve been really offended, but that complements the technical music the band are playing. I really believe that every musician in the band is incredible. So, for me, it’s like the ultimate rock show.”
Ryan Hurtgen (vocals), Johannes Luley (guitars), Dicki Fliszar (drums), Chris Tristram (bass), Jesse Nason (keyboards)
A startlingly original collision of Yes, The Beatles and Flying Colors
Perfect Beings is out now via My Sonic Temple Records