Williams, Brick (Hourglass) (September 2002)

Intimations On Time

Hourglass (taken at Sundance, Utah; © 2002 Hourglass)The sands of time began flowing for Utah's Hourglass nearly a decade ago, when Brick Williams and Jon Shumway first played in a band together. After splitting, and then coming together again to form Hourglass, the band has seen its share of shifting personnel, though through all the changes, and two albums, at the core remains Brick... The first album, This Lonely Time And Place featured 9 pieces that Williams had been working on for years. The band's second and most recent release is The Journey Into.... The current line up of the band is Jonny Berrett (bass), Chad Neth (lead vocals), Jerry Stenquist (keyboards, piano) and John Dunston (drums, percussion, backing vocals), with Williams on guitars and backing vocals. We had a chance to talk with Williams recently ... here is that chat.

Igor Italiani: Hi Brick and all of Hourglass. Let's start from where you are located, 'cause Utah is not really considered a progressive hotbed right now ... or am I wrong?

Brick Williams: Utah is definitely not a prog-rock area. I think we are the only true progressive band around. There may be some others, but we aren't aware of them. It's mostly punk and alternative type music going on around here. That's good though because it makes us stand out.

II: However, are you working to secure some live dates around the US, just to gain some more exposure?

BW: We would love to play anywhere we can. The only problem we have is the funding to pay for the trip. It looks like we may be able to do some shows in the Western United States in the near future. We're shopping for a record deal right now, and depending on how that turns out, the opportunity might arise.

II: Is there already a live highlight that you would like to recall for the audience?

Hourglass - <EM>The Journey Into</EM>BW: Our CD release show for The Journey Into was a really cool experience. We rented an outdoor amphitheatre on a mountain here in Utah that allows the crowd to look out over the entire city. There was a good turnout and a good response from the crowd. We had a light show and the atmosphere was excellent. Our new material comes off great live and we love to play for our fans.

II: Boys, I know it's very difficult to live exclusively with music today (especially for a promising prog act), so I would like to ask you if you do something else in life, too?

BW: I personally teach guitar lessons five days a week. Some others in the band do some teaching on the side, too. Most of us just have day jobs that we hate in order to make ends meet. Some of us are in school as well. We are just hoping for the day that we can play and write music for a living. But then, who isn't?

II: OK, now let's go strictly to music ...The Journey Into is your first real record, and I must tell you it sounds already professional in a lot of ways. But looking in retrospect, is there something you would like to change?

BW: We would have liked to put more vocal harmonies on the album. We really just ran out of time. Chad joined the band two months before we hit the studio, and was practicing like crazy to learn all the songs and the lyrics. And I must say he did a great job. If we had a bigger budget, we would have spent a few extra days layering the guitar and keyboards. Don't get me wrong; there are a ton of guitar and keyboard tracks on every song, but our budget was limited. There are always going to be minor things that we would change in hindsight, but overall we are very happy with the album.

II: You know, I was really impressed with the songs, which are long but very well composed, with lots of nice melodies thrown in. There's a certain way you always try to follow when you write music or not?

BW: Someone usually comes to rehearsal with a riff or a chord progression and we play around with it while improvising and see what the vibe is and where it takes us. A large majority of the music starts with a guitar or keyboard part, and then everyone creates their own parts based around that. We are very theory driven in this band, so theory plays a huge part in our song writing. How could we not be tough when we have a 27-minute long song? Obviously progressive rock is known for the technical abilities of its players, and we take that very seriously, but music is also about the emotion and the songs themselves. People usually enjoy the song before they appreciate the technical aspects within the song. Listening value is extremely important.

II: Do you think that next time you will compose other songs like the sweet and acoustic "The Circle Breaks"?

BW: Absolutely. Laid back, mellow music is a wonderful way to balance out an album of mostly heavy material. We aren't just about huge riffs and double-bass drumming. Slow songs bring an emotional content sometimes not there otherwise. They are also the hardest ones to write. Music is an art and good art has contrast.

II: Brick, another great aspect of your songs are the beautiful lyrics. Can you tell us something more about them?

BW: They are often very time consuming and require a lot of emotion in the writing process. This isn't always the case because sometimes I just start writing, and before I know it I have a whole song done. In my opinion the best bands out there are, in part, the best because of their lyrics. Creating a story in my mind and then being able to portray it through words has always appealed to me. Or being able to share my opinions on some aspect of life that will affect other people. The biggest challenge lyrically on this album was definitely the song "The Journey Into": first, because it was so long, and second, because I wanted to take the listener on an emotional journey as well as a musical journey. That is what the song is about - the journey of a person into himself to try and find the answers he needs. I have to give a lot of credit to Chad because his vocal performance does the lyrics justice exceptionally well.

II: But the band will try to tackle the issue of the "loved/hated" concept album in the near future or not?

BW: If we could get a few more albums under our belt that we are as happy with as we are with The Journey Into, then it would be an absolute consideration. We love the idea of concept albums and being able to tell a story musically. The lyrical aspect would be another challenge altogether, but it is one that I personally would love to attempt. At this point we just want a little more experience and continual progression in our song-writing skills.

II: Brick, consider for a moment the possibility of having a special guest musician on the next Hourglass record ... who would you pick up?

BW: Milli Vanilli for sure! Seriously though, there are just so many great musicians out there, it's hard to pick one. If I had to pick, I would probably say Steve Lukather. That is the hardest question ever by the way!

II: OK, I think that's all. Thanks for your time and what more can I add ... let's hope Hourglass will soon be able to tour here in Europe...

BW: Thank you very much and we hope to see you soon.

This Lonely Time And Place (2000)
The Journey Into (2002)
Subconscious (2004)
Oblivious To The Obvious (2009)

Added: September 22nd 2002
Interviewer: Igor Italiani

Artist website: www.hourglassband.com
Hits: 770
Language: english

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