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Luminos - 2003 Interview with Lee Williams

INTERVIEW: Luminos (Jun 2003)
Seizing the day and the moment, is Luminos' Lee Williams.
WRITTEN BY: Gdazegod

It appears the Progressive Rock movement is alive and well - still. The lights not yet snuffed out on a genre that has terms such as 'dinosaur', 'prehistoric' and 'retro' applied to it by those who don't know any better. Of course this is a genre where the love of Mellotrons, ARP Odyssey's and the good old trusty workhorse - the Moog synthesizer first came to prominence many moons ago within the progressive rock movement.

However, it's not all about synthesizers and keyboards. A reliance on tight song structure, layered arrangements, multi-part harmonies and virtuoso-type performances by lead guitarists and keyboardists alike, are all ingredients that go toward the make-up of a true Progressive Rock band.

The movement (if you could call it that, considering its style and musical shape hasn't moved at all since the halcyon days of Yes, Gong, King Crimson, early Genesis et al) still has a huge base and following, particularly in the UK and Europe where the love for all things musically complex and challenging permeates like an inverted sine wave leaking from an old Leslie rotating speaker cone.

Each decade since the Sixties has seen has seen numerous acts and artists gain prominence on both sides of the Atlantic. And though we've seen advances in technology that has benefited the genre immeasurably, the musical approach has not moved much. In fact, many believe by staying close to the original roots of Progressive Rock, is in fact some sort of quest toward 'Prog Nirvana'! Admirable concept indeed.

Fast forward to 2003, location Essex, England. We see a new contender on the scene, keeping true to traditional prog ideals from the past. The band Luminos, steeped in tradition, including also the surrounding area in which they live. According to band spokesperson Lee Williams, it's the sort of environment tailor-made for a band like Luminos, drawing inspiration for their music and lyrics. 'Most of the band members including myself live in North East Essex which includes towns such as Colchester and Chelmsford' says Lee. 'This county also has a lot of coastline including the famous Harwich port which has the main ferry to the Hook of Holland. Colchester is the oldest recorded town in Britain and is historically well known for Queen Bodiacea who fought the Romans many years ago. Anni Meehan our lead singer lives in the neighbouring county of Suffolk which is very rural and has some lovely villages. Constable, the famous artist painted lots of the landscapes in this area - it is known as Constable Country.'

The band currently comprises of: Lee on guitars, Anni on vocals, Neville Dean on guitars, keys and vocals, plus William Sargintson on drums. This line-up is a culmination of experience and participation with other bands leading up to this point. 'Obviously we've all been in other bands before including cover bands. I was in a band called Idle Hours during the eighties and nineties, and we did a few gigs over the years. I even played for a gothic band called Cradle of Filth in their early days, playing drums. They are a very big band now.'

Lee mentions that the musical style of Luminos is influenced by many great bands of the seventies and eighties, such as Genesis, Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac and Mike Oldfield. 'They all have well arranged inspirational songs' he says. 'For me the greatest thing about songwriting is to know that my music can be played anywhere in the world and to receive positive feedback from people who genuinely enjoy our music is very rewarding.'

On the Luminos bio, there is also mention of that other pioneering prog rock act Camel. Lee reflects on their obvious influence. 'It's a shame in a way that bands like Camel are classed on prog dinosaurs. They really were pioneers of their time. Many of their techniques have filtered through to prog bands of today - and there's no doubting that we are influenced by them, but in saying that, obviously we want to create our own sound and style.'

In this particular genre, there is that danger of being influenced to that the point of being a copy-cat. It's not just confined to the prog movement, just look at all the bands that have been influenced by Led Zeppelin, or Jimi Hendrix for that matter. 'When you admire bands there is a tendency to go along the route of emulating them' agrees Lee. 'This can be a big mistake. You must create you own style or people will just say 'there's another wannabee Marillion band.'

Earlier this year, Luminos presented the public with their debut album 'Seize The Day'. Promoted and distributed by Market Square Records, the album scored a respectable 8.9/10 here at GDAZE. Lee tells us a little more about the album. 'Firstly, with the band being slightly more mature, the songs tend to be a little more deep. They go back to experiences earlier in our lives and they are admittedly a little on the serious side I guess, but they highlight the fact that you should enjoy life as it comes and not get to wrapped up in trivial things that don't really matter.'

The inspiration for Lee to breathe life into Luminos came after a sad moment in his life. 'The whole project started after the death of my mother about five years ago' he says. 'She was someone who I thought would be around forever - as one does. A while after she died, I was inspired to write my songs and to get on with my music instead of putting it off. Time goes so quickly and if you don't 'Seize the Day', you may never have the same opportunity.'

There is great variety with the Luminos material. In places there is 'ebb and flow', in other places it's quite stirring, and conversely it is tender and delicate elsewhere. The variation between studio and a live setting could present some challenges with material this diverse. I put this issue to Lee. 'It is always a problem to get the same feel for a song live as on the album, but basically you have to treat it in a way that works well live. It might mean that it doesn't always sound quite the same as the album, but as long as you do the song justice - that's what counts. Sometimes a song may work well acoustically on an album, but live it may need a bit more drive.'

As mentioned in the GDAZE review, Luminos could quite easily toggle the fence between folk, art-rock, progressive, celtic and even hard rock. A virtual melting pot. How does the band feel about setting at the crossroads, or country lane intersection as in Luminos case. Lee explains. 'Well yes our music does integrate various genres of music. As an example, some time ago when we were after a drummer, I sent out a rough demo of a couple of songs to a very good drummer in my area, to persuade him to join. He phoned me up a few days later and said that he'd listened to the tape and liked the songs but thought them a bit too 'folky' for his liking. I hadn't really thought about it when I wrote the music, so this was a bit of a revelation for me. I think diversity can work in the fact that you are not pigeon-holed and you could cover say three or four genres of music thus attracting more potential fans to buy the album.'

The band head into the British summer with a few appearances at some Open Air Festivals. Lee mentions that because the Luminos project is fairly new, they could not get into some of the Festivals they would have liked to have played, apparently you have to book up about a year in advance.

Finally, we must make a quick mention of Luminos relationship with their label Market Square Records, and how that came about. 'I firstly found out about Market Square records through a society called the Songwriters Guild, of which I am a member' says Lee. 'There was a column about Market Square and specifically, the sort of music they were looking for - which I thought fitted in with our style. When we sent a demo to Peter Muir, the Director of Market Square, he showed an interest. From there onwards every time we finished a track in the studio, I sent it to Peter. Nine tracks later, we were delighted Market Square decided to take the project on. Peter is a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable man, and has a real love of music and is not just interested in the money side of things. He is honest and straight down the line, so the arrangement is working very well for us.'

Since our review, Luminos have had 'Seize The Day' reviewed in a number of other different places, so the word is getting out, which is great stuff. 'We have had a lot more reviews since GLORY-DAZE checked us out - Classic Rock magazine, Rock Society magazine,, Dutch prog rock com etc, but in particular Luminos and Market Square Records would like to thank GLORY-DAZE for their excellent review of the album.' Cheers - Lee Williams.

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