"I'm a fraud Mike Portnoy!" Bellerophon's shocking confessions
Old meets new for these ambitious, Kent-based prog fans.
There’s a lot to be said for getting your band name right. It’s hard to believe that the Floyd would have made such an impact if they’d stuck with The Screaming Abdabs, or that Radiohead would have been cool if they kept On A Friday. So Kent-based rising stars Bellerophon have surely won half the battle already. Their band name suggests mighty monster-slaying Greek heroes or famous ships of the line from England’s naval heyday. It indicates ambition and big ideas. And, with epic tunes likes White Whale and Slippers, it seems they’ve the music to match that ambition.
For a band that describe their oeuvre as ‘Neo-Electronica-Digi-Folk-Symphonic-Guitar-Prog’, they’re remarkably self-effacing. Part of the answer to this lies in the length of time that some of Bellerophon’s band members have been in the biz. Founder and guitarist Tobias Van De Peer has been playing since the 90s and bassist and keyboardist Iain Cobby paid his dues gigging with tribute acts. “In the 90s I was an acid jazz musician. I toured with Jamiroquai!” says Van De Peer, smiling. “You go where the work is.” After 10 years working in a post-Kraftwerk band together, Cobby and Van De Peer decided to play what they love.
“We met and bonded over prog,” says Van De Peer. The natural step for the duo was to create a band that made a joyous, mellotronic sound, and they found the group to help make it happen. Caitlin Merrison brings distinctive alto vox and songwriting skills to the mix, while Steve ‘the fox’ Sly supplies the guitar pyro. Genial, beardy drummer Mike Orvis brings influences from the techier end of prog. Indeed, Bellerophon create an impressive tapestry of influences, including first-wave acts like Yes, through to 80s neo-prog and more modern tech prog, with even a touch of old school hard rock.