It's been a few years since the last album, the latest one being
The Dreams of Men (2005), isn't it about time to make the next
studio album and if so, how far has it progressed?
ALAN: It's been too long hasn't it? We'd originally planned
to have a new album out by last year, but for various reasons that
have more to do with our individual personal lives (rather then
our musical ones) that didn't happen.
Then of course we had to abandon our plan to turn "The
Sentinel" into a stage musical, when it became clear that
Kylie Minogue wouldn't be available to play the lead role.
We did investigate working with Britney Spears, but she wasn't up
to the job - She has some personal problems apparently:-)
A new album IS in the works, but I'm not really in a position to
tell you when it'll be ready. In terms of direction it'll
probably not be TOO much of a surprise. Probably more
Country - less Western:-)
2: How are your songs developed from being a
rough composition to a finished product, such as "Ghostdancers"
ALAN: They all go through a fairly complex and time-consuming
process where an idea is destruction-tested in various styles and
arrangements. In the case of "Ghostdancers",
Graeme and I both wrote different vocal parts and lyrics for the
same basic idea. In the end his version was the one we
pursued. Once the lyrical idea was settled on that then
influenced the final arrangement and sound textures.
The idea of adding Paul's fiddle part came pretty much at the last
minute, but as soon as we thought of it we realised it was exactly
what the song needed.
3: One of my absolute favourite songs in the
neo prog genre is "Fragments of the Sun" which also is
recorded on the "Moment to Moment" album. Out of sheer
curiosity, would you like to share some information on how this
creation came to be? I'd be most grateful for that.
ALAN: That's kind of an odd one in some ways. We had the
idea that we'd bookend the "Beat The Drum" album with
the same musical theme. That's why on the album version you
hear that as the intro before it gradually morphs into
"Fragments". The band kind of jammed the opening
section which eventually developed into the song.
The title and the verse lyrics were actually something I'd come up
with for a different, earlier idea which didn't come together.
Graeme used them for a vocal melody he was toying with and
suddenly we had the beginnings of another track. I hadn't
actually heard the full thing until we tried to record the vocals
(one of the difficulties of me living 500 miles away from the
others). We tried to structure it so it had some
echoes of "The Sentinel" period material - to remind
people of the band's past. That's where the line
"..just like a sentinel." came in. Also the
keyboard figure is deliberately reminiscent of the one in "Rise
and Fall".. I loved how it turned out. In fact I use
that keyboard melody as the ringtone on my mobile phone.
4: It seems as if the whole "neo prog"
family has gathered up in Katowice in Poland (Pendragon, Pallas,
Clive Nolan/Caamora and last but not least NEO). Could you explain
a bit how you all came to shoot your videos on this
ALAN: Well that's not quite everyone.. (yet)!! Basically
it's all to do with the Polish label, Metal Mind. They set
up regular video shoots and invite bands to come and perform
- the result being a DVD. Production costs are currently
relatively low in Poland, which means you can get a very
professional product for a relatively low price.
There was no great plan in our mind as regards making
another DVD - We were very pleased with how "The Blinding
Darkness" had turned out. But Pallas had been
interested in going to Poland for some time, and Metal Mind had
previously asked us come. As I'd already done a video shoot
there with NEO I knew what to expect, and as I was going to be
there anyway for Clive Nolan's "SHE" project, it seemed
the perfect opportunity to bring the rest of the band over.
5: You were one of the first bands in the
neo prog genre, how do you think the regrowth of the neo prog has
turned out and how big do you feel that the interest of this music
ALAN: Well, against the odds, nearly all of us are still
here in one form or another which must mean something. Even
Twelfth Night and Solstice have reappeared!! I don't really
try to analyse it to be honest. I'm not sure whether it's
just pure, stubborn, bloody-mindedness on the part of the
musicians, or the loyalty of the fan-base, but there seems to
remain enough interest in what we and the other bands do to keep
More intriguingly for us, there also seems to be a number of
younger people interested in what we do. I see them
particularly at gigs in areas we haven't traditionally played, and
in their profiles on portals such as Last.FM. I don't see a
major resurgence, but I don't see it withering on the vine either.
6: In these times of frequent
downloading, how do you guy in Pallas manage on the financial
ALAN: That's rather a personal question, but I'll be honest and
say that Pallas has never been a major revenue stream for any of
us. What we make pretty much gets reinvested in whatever the
next project is, maintaining and updating the gear etc.
I have to say that the internet has pretty much become a
double-edged sword for us. It's allowed us to access and
maintain an often thinly-spread audience. But download
culture - particularly P2P torrenting - has become an epidemic
which now seriously damages our ability to bring in any serious
income. I'm not going to get overly moralistic about
bootlegging, cause we've all done it to some extent, BUT the level
of illegal downloading probably now outstrips our legal sales by a
considerable margin. To make matters worse our albums have
been widely available free via torrent even before release.
Both 'The Dreams of Men' and 'Moment to Moment' were available
online before anyone in the band had a finished copy!!!
Now that's not just criminal - it's downright nasty. It
erodes any opportunity we have to reap the benefits of initial
sales. Making an album, or a DVD etc is still a considerable
investment - in time, effort, creativity and love, let alone money.
For some B**** to steal it and give it away (presumably from an
advance promotional or press copy) shows no respect for the time
and effort that we have put into it. Against that sort of
background, it's getting harder to make the sums add up. I
can see a point beyond which it is no longer viable for us to
continue - and it's very close.
7: If I understand this correctly you shot
your video to your show on tha same night as Caamora, where you
also participated. How did you manage to rearrange yourself
between two acts as different as these and on the same night to
ALAN: Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time :-)....
Once I realised quite how complex and taxing my involvement in the
"SHE" show was going to be I did wonder if I'd taken on
too much. I'd actually been rehearsing with the "SHE"
team for three days before the show, which was pretty tiring and
challenging. It was a great experience, but all of us knew
we were operating at the edge of what was possible.
The others kept asking me how I was going to cope with a Pallas
show as well, and I just kept saying "I'm trying not to think
They were very different animals.. On the day itself, I was very
torn between spending time with Pallas, and with the "SHE'
team - Don't forget I had two sets of soundchecks as well!!.
In fact, we had a complete dress-rehearsal of "SHE" in
Getting on stage with Pallas was actually a real release. I didn't
have to think too hard about what I was doing - it was all pretty
natural stuff. I could just enjoy it. The "SHE"
gig needed much more concentration both in terms of singing and
presentation. I must admit that by halfway through act II, I
was getting tired. By the end I was just glad to have
got through it. If we do it again - and there is some talk
of that - then I won't be bringing Pallas along :-)
8: An unforgettable DVD release to us fans
of neo prog is with the constellation NEO, we simply have to know
how it felt to participate with such amazing musicians!
ALAN: ..And such an honour for them to be allowed to play with me!!
:-) Actually the idea for NEO grew out of a conversation
Jowitt and I had a couple of years previously, where he asked me
if I'd be interested in doing some gigs with Peter Banks playing a
mixture of early 'Yes' material and some of our own stuff.
That never came to pass, but he came back later with the idea of
what I've called 'The Brit-prog Karaoke band".
Basically we're our own tribute band. It's mainly about having a
bit of fun, but it was kind of weird hearing different guys play
the Pallas stuff - as it probably was for them hearing me do a bit
of IQ and Arena. They're all obviously great musicians, but
they do play things a bit differently from my lot, and the
non-verbal communication on stage was also a bit different to what
I'm used to . Keeps it interesting though, and they're good
fun to be around.
9: After all these years you've played
together, can you give us some "behind the curtain"
information on the bandmates' attributes or characteristics if you
will, that makes you function so well together?
ALAN: Well, it's like a family really. We all understand
eachother's foibles and weaknesses, and no one member's ego is
allowed to get too big. There's a shared sense of humour,
which helps. In terms of dishing the dirt I can
exclusively reveal that they're all pretty damaged in one way or
GRAEME has a real thing about rubber, leather and body-piercing.
It makes travelling through airports an interesting experience.
NIALL has to be kept on tranquilisers most of the time, because he
hates travelling and gets hysterical on the bus without them.
We have to work out the doses quite carefully so they wear off in
time for the gig.
COLIN: has been a transvestite for a number of years, and spends
most of his free time hanging round the docks in Aberdeen - where
he's quite well-known.
RONNIE: He's the Svengali of the group - the evil mastermind
behind the whole operation. He's got a really wicked temper,
and to be honest the rest of us are so scared of him we just do
what he says.
I , of course, am perfectly normal :-)
10: As usual when it comes to DVD
production from Wyspiański Theater in Katowice, the quality
is excellent as well as the sound. It would be nice to hear a
little about the cast behind the production of "Moment to
Moment" such as how many cameramen, audio personell, the
ALAN: Well, to be honest, I met very few of them, but it was a
large team. The facilities were provided by Polish TV's
outside broadcast unit - so the local equivalent of the BBC.
There were, I think, seven cameras - including a motorised robot
along the front of the stage and a jib camera on a boom that swung
up into the theatre roof. Very impressive. I didn't
actually meet the director or video editor, but I gave copious
notes to both, before and after the show. I'm glad to say
they responded pretty well to what I requested and I'm very
pleased with the finished product. When not doing Pallas I
actually work for the BBC as a producer so I do have an idea of
The sound was mixed by Niall and Ronnie at The Mill, so we had
control over that. Mike Bentley also provided the artwork so
overall we had quite a bit of influence in how the final product
11: How well do you feel that the
audience responds to Pallas in form of singing along and such?
Also, how was the atmosphere?
ALAN: You can't really see it on the DVD, but the audience was
extremely enthusiastic, and we really enjoyed playing for them.
To answer your question more generally, it varies place to place,
night to night. Mostly we try - and succeed - to get
people involved. It often depends on the nature of the venue.
For example if the audience is seated or standing.
For example last summer we played one night in Glasgow where we
had 300 people going crazy and sweat was running down the walls.
Niall said it was like playing in a shower. The next night
we played for the Classic Rock Society in the north of England.
They seemed less responsive in terms of jumping up and down, but
they voted the show their "gig of the year" in their
annual awards. Go figure!
12: The choice of tracks for this DVD, what
is the thought behind it?
ALAN: Well, we needed to include what we'd been playing from
"The Dreams of Men" and also wanted to avoid repeating
too many tracks that people might already have from 'The Blinding
Darkness" DVD. We'd also played some gigs with the
band's original singer, Euan Lowson, where he'd sung a lot of
stuff from his era of the band. Indeed at one point we'd
thought that he might join us for this recording. So with
those criteria in mind we found ourselves with a set that
encompassed both the most recent and the earliest stages of the
band's career. Oddly enough they seemed to fit together
13: Now that you've teased us all with
this DVD concert, are there any plans for further shows and is
there a chance that they would be performed somewhere near the
little country in the north, called Sweden?
ALAN: Well we decided at the end of last year that we wouldn't
play any more gigs until we had the new album finished. But
we've already broken that decision as we're now going to play at
the 3rd Art-rock Festival in Eastern Germany at the end of June.
Spock's Beard, Frost* and RWPL are also on the bill that night, so
it should be quite a giggle.
Other than that it's heads down to get the album done.
However, we always like going to new places to play, so if any
promoter wants to get us over to Scandinavia they should get in
touch. The band's based in Aberdeen, so it's not really that
We thank you for your time.