Interview Mark Price (High Spy)

"We decided to go with the flow and not chase the media, but to let the media chase us"

(November 2013, Text by Henri Strik, edited by Peter Willemsen, pictures courtesy of High Spy)

Unfortunately the British progressive rock band High Spy didn't get the attention they deserve. Especially after the release of their latest effort Ignition (see review) they should have got more recognition within the progressive rock scene. Therefore the editorial team of Background Magazine decided to put them in the centre of attention. Band leader and keyboard player Mark Price was so kind as to tell us a bit more about his band.

Mark Price
Would you please tell our readers a bit about the history of the band and introduce the current members?
Mark Price: “I started the band in 2006. I was looking to join or rejoin bands I had been involved with in the past, and found there were no positions available. So I decided to contact Ade Peddie, to see if he knew some musicians who wanted to join my band. Ade was the first one to join as our vocalist, quickly followed by bassist Lee Weston. Furthermore the current line-up consists of Mark Stokes on lead guitar and Rick Maper on drums. Finally I can mention that Mike Knapper is our live drummer!”

What do you think is the reason that High Spy are still a rather unknown band?
“Since 2006 we have approached many prog and rock magazines and forums; we seemed to be getting nowhere. We decided to go with the flow and not chase the media, but to do what Pink Floyd decided to do: let the media chase them and let the music speak for itself!”

Ade Peddie & Lee Weston
Why has your latest album been called Ignition and why does the album start and end with the sound of cars on a highway?
“The whole theme of the album is about what a second in time can produce from one spark, or one ignition. All the tracks are relative to one second, or one ignition in time. Some good sparks and some less good sparks. There's also a nod and a wink to the film trilogy of Back To The Future. Spot the car on the front cover of our latest album. The reason for the traffic at the beginning and the end of the album is that it echoes the album cover, featuring the collection of vehicles. In each vehicle there's a micro universe, a micro world, a micro time, a micro spark; an ignition.”

I noticed influences from bands like Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. Did they inspire the band and are there more influential bands?
“Our influences vary, but I would say our main ones are Pink Floyd, Genesis, Rush, Marillion and Yes.”

On The Eyes Of The World you used samples of the news reports of the 9/ 11 attacks. Is this song about this specific act of terrorism or about all the violence in the world?
“This track is about the reaction of the world when this terrible incident happened, and it was the helplessness of everyone around in New York and the rest of the world, that we could do nothing to help. From that moment on the world has changed forever. I wrote the song shortly afterwards; it hit a nerve with me personally as I was in the towers of the World Trade Center less than twelve months before.”

The song Mirror Man contains news samples about Michael Jackson's death. Why did you use these samples? Is this actually a song about the King of Pop?
“Yes, it's a tribute to Michael Jackson, who was not only one of the best songwriters of our time, but also one of the best performers. His ideas and concepts broke boundaries within the music industry. True songwriters and musicians would respect what he had achieved in his lifetime. The overall meaning of the track is not only being true to oneself, but to others too.”

Mike Knapper
Is it true that you used a drum machine on Ignition and that only occasionally guest drummer Rick Maper was asked?
“The truth is that Rick Maper played 99 percent of the acoustic and electronic drums on the album. The drum machine only appears at the end of On The Breeze.”

Do we have to take a song called Cappuccino seriously?
Cappuccino is a pop-art mosaic of modern must have culture snapshots; it's a little tongue in cheek perhaps. It jabs at the spoiled people in this world who take so much for granted.”

Was the instrumental tune Arrival meant to be a song about space travelling?
Arrival is as simple as the band has arrived... putting rock back into prog!”

Would you please give a short summary of the other tracks on Ignition?
On The Breeze is about the third world and about us reaching out to lend a hand. Move The Earth is about our singer's daughter, but it could have been written about anyone's daughter or son. Skinny Man is about personal clashes; life is too short to let one person's rage spoil another person's dream. Drowning is written as a soundtrack for a short film, about a person who is stifled by a relationship and drowns in their frustrations, but it's also Ade's fear of falling asleep in the bath...”

Do you consider Ignition as the best album High Spy recorded so far?
“Yes, I think it is, but it took far too long to produce it, because of line-up changes and other outside influences which affected the band. It was an album we needed to produce, to get it out of our system, before we could move on. One of the most rewarding tracks and most popular with the band is Skinny Man. I think it was due to the fact that it took on a life of its own, and we didn't over think it.”
Why did you release the compilation album Rebirth: The Big Machine (2006) as your debut? This production mainly consists of older work.
“This wasn't a compilation in our eyes, but a transition from one era of our musical career to another. It was very much an experiment. This was our foundation; some of the tracks were remixed and re-edited. We felt we had more to say. The tracks are from a variety of mini sessions from different studios, including Abbey Road Studios in London.”

Mark Stokes
I heard that you intend to re-release your debut with bonus tracks? Which track will be added?
Rebirth has already been released with three bonus tracks performed live acoustically on our local radio station. These extra tracks are Clue, Move The Earth and Secret Garden.”

I consider your second album Head For The Moon (2009) to be your official debut. It sounds very professional and mature. What does the album title mean and does it have a certain theme?
Head For The Moon is a line from the track Rollercoaster; the theme is the subject of going mad or going over to the other side. Therefore the title should be Head For Lunacy. This album is our tribute and reference to Dark Side Of The Moon (1973) by Pink Floyd.”

Besides releasing three studio albums you also released several live albums and DVDs. Would you tell us some more of these albums?
“The live albums were just a snapshot of a band evolving through playing live. We captured most of our earlier gigs to show how we were progressing. Likewise our DVDs were produced like a scrapbook, a collection of moments in time. We still have a DVD in production recorded in November 2010, but because of other commitments we hope to release it by 2015.”

What are the short term plans for High Spy?
“We are currently recording a new album, which will feature eight tracks. As yet untitled, the drums, keyboards and guide vocals have all been recorded.”

Thank you for answering my questions!
“You're welcome!”

More info about High Spy on the Internet:
       review album 'Ignition'

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