(Progressive Newsletter Nr.62 05/08)
excerpts from an interview with Steve Negus (Drums)

Since when did you had the idea of doing a solo album?

I think most musicians think about recording a solo album at some point. The real desire for me to actually do it came about in 2002. I was writing music for Saga but the band really wasn't interested. It was actually quite frustrating being excluded from the whole writing process with the band. I ended up playing on the tracks that they had written to a drum machine and my heart really wasn't in it. Al Langlade, a singer friend of mine had moved away to Thunder Bay, Ontario, about a thousand miles north of my home town of Hamilton, Ontario and we had kept in contact over the internet. I sent him a couple of the musical ideas I had written for Saga just to keep him up on what I was doing, and he recorded vocals on one of them. I was floored when I heard what he had done! It was absolutely fantastic. That song became the title track for the new CD, "Dare to Dream". After I officially left Saga in the summer of 2003, Al and I continued to exchange ideas over the internet. I would put together musical arrangements in my studio at home, and Al would send those back to me with sketch vocals on them. We pieced together the whole CD that way.

With whom did you work on this album and why did you especially chose these musicians?

I originally played everything myself and Al recorded all the vocals. He has a similar computer setup so exchanging files was no problem. Once we had the arrangements together, I started to bring in other players. Daryl (Jim Gilmour) from Saga sent me a piano part for "Dare to Dream" (also over the net) and later he did the solo exchanges for "Lust". I kept almost all of the keyboard parts that I had played as well as the acoustic guitars. I went into the Jamhouse, a local studio to record my drum tracks as well as guitars. I had an old friend Mark Severn come in and play the guitars for me. He did an amazing job! Some of his solos are absolutely brilliant. I still find some of them hard to listen to. It gets me very emotional and I miss him. Two weeks after he finished the recordings, he was killed in a car crash...he fell asleep at the wheel of his Corvette coming home from a gig. That was July 1st, 2006. I had just returned from seeing Saga play at a local park here in Hamilton and I got the call the next morning. It took me quite a while to get back on track...his loss was devastating.
While I was recording "Dare to Dream", I was playing locally with some good friends in an eight piece R&B band called Powerhouse. Some of those players also appear on this CD. John Willett recorded a flute part for me on "Catch my Fall" and Phil Kott (guitarist), came into the studio to record "Epitaph for Mark" which is the last track on the CD...just a lonely single guitar playing the chords from "Dare to Dream". Phil knew Mark as well, so it seemed appropriate to have him play that dedication as the last music to be heard on "Dare to Dream". In the latter stages of recording, I was starting to organize the live band. The loss of Mark was a big setback. I checked out many guitar players to try and find someone who could do justice to Mark's performances on the CD. Finally, I found Kelly Kereliuk, another local guitarist. He is an amazing talent and has taken over where Mark left off. I had recorded most of the keyboard parts for the CD, myself, but I have an old friend, Matt Whale, who plays extremely well, so I brought him in towards the end of the recording process to lay down at least a few keyboard parts and to prepare for playing with the band live. Ian Nielsen (bass) and I have been playing together on and off for many years. He was the natural choice to handle the bass playing duties on the CD and also in the band.

In which way was working on your solo album different to the work with Saga?

Well, I didn't want to just make another Saga CD, so Al and I were exploring other areas of music which I think is quite evident in the songs. There are elements of Saga, but there are different elements as well. It is not a show-off drum record. I was more interested in writing good songs and I think we have accomplished that. I'm a groove type drummer and I really think that Saga had lost sight of that. Some of the drum machine patterns they used were so stiff and not very inspiring to play to. With Saga towards the end of my days with the band, it was like being a side man. I was excluded from the writing process, and I was just playing on the songs that the others had written...hardly satisfying.

Is there something like a message or a kind of personal reflection hidden in "Dare to Dream"?

Yes, the message is...don't be afraid to go after the things that are important to you. Life is too short not to do that. We all need to "Dare to Dream".

How important was it for you to cover a good mixture of styles or did this just turn out naturally?

I made the kind of album that I would like to listen to. I am not really influenced by trends at this point in my career and yet I do have many influences musically. This was a chance to explore some of those areas. Having such a great singer to work with really made a big difference too. I love the character that Al has when he sings. That definitely had an influence on the kind of songs we were writing together.

Had you also in mind if the fans of Saga will like and buy your album or did you just record what you like?

When I started to record this CD, I wanted to get back to writing songs...not just some prog-rock jam with vocals on it. I still feel that the singer and the vocals are the most important thing. I definitely approached "Dare to Dream" that way and I think that is what the Saga fans loved about the earlier Saga albums. I was involved in the writing of the old Saga music and that comes out in my writing here. I'm not trying to copy myself, I'm writing new music and this is the way it comes out. I need new challenges. To make this CD is exactly that.

What's different about your drumming style, that makes your signature so easy to recognize?

It is really hard to pinpoint what makes my drumming style so recognizable but it probably comes from my R&B background. The groove is the important thing and that comes more from the hands than the feet. Double bass drums can be impressive when used with taste, but many prog rock drummers have a tendency to over-use them. I am known for my hi-hat work. I guess that's one of the things that is recognizable in my playing.

Finally one question to your old band: do you think that Saga will continue after Michael Sadler has left the band?

I would think that the Crichton brothers will continue to make music with Daryl, but I don't know if it is really Saga any more. They will probably continue to call it that but for me the old Saga days are over. Thirty years is a long history for any band. I have definitely played my last Saga show.

Kristian Selm
Quelle: http://www.betreutesproggen.de/pnl/index.htm?/pnl/intnegus.htm

twitter button
facebook button
pinterest button
gplus button