Neal Morse Band on the "greatest" album of their career
Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy talk the highs and lows that went into creating the new album by the Neal Morse Band, from studio spats to spiritual journeys…
For those less understanding and appreciative of the nuances of progressive rock, the overarching theme covered on the Neal Morse Band’s new album, The Similitude Of A Dream, might generate unsympathetic snorts of derision. It is, after all, a double concept album with the expansive lyrics referencing John Bunyan’s 1678 tale of Christian redemption, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Covering such a novel, which would appear to be an obvious choice for a band requiring a ready-made tale to fit around their music, was however something that Neal Morse was unexpectedly reticent about.
“I just wasn’t sure if it was what we should do next, or if we should do some big concept album,” he admits. “Somebody sent me a suggestion that I do a concept album based on Pilgrims Progress, which I had never read. I guess that’s because I am now known as the concept album guy, which is funny because in Spock’s Beard, we avoided doing any concept albums until the very end. The book itself is an old Christian book, it’s pretty confronting and frankly some of it is a little corny. But last December, I awoke with music playing in my head. I went to the piano at five in the morning and began to work on these ideas that I was having. I just had this sense that I needed a direction and I didn’t know what I wanted to say. The idea of the Pilgrim’s Progress had kept in my mind and I was in an experimental mode, so I just Googled notes for that book. In January, the band got together to write, I presented all of that stuff to them and none of us were really sure that it was what we wanted to do. In fact, I kind of didn’t want to do it. But as we worked on the music, it just seemed like it was the direction that it all wanted to go. After we began to work on it though, it became obvious that was where we were heading and we just put our full hearts into it.”