Andy Tillison - A Music Manifesto

The Tangent tries to exist as a current band in a current world. Although the genre it is associated with has not been part of the mainstream for getting on for 50 years, this band are not a warm nostalgia blanket to take you back to a time when you could smoke in pubs and hospitals. The Tangent is the unfinished business of a musical genre that was ousted by inverted snobbery, ludicrous generalisiation and it's own unsuitablity to fit into the then contemoprary media industry, Andy Tillison explains himself, his ideas and methods and why the Tangent (and Po90 & GFDD beforehand) have made some of the choices they have.

It's important to say that there IS a difference in the way The Tangent works musically together, and the way the lyrics are written and the political viewpoints they represent. The latter of these two sides of the story is different in that it is considerably less democratic in nature. This does not indicate any debate or discontentment (as far as I am aware) but I think it's fair to point this out because.. in more familiar terminilogy "views expressed in The Tangent's music are not necessarily the views of all participating members".

Each person in the band is also the leader of another project themselves and in the case of The Tangent, this one's my baby. I get to define it, what it's about and how that is delivered. Musically the members of the band are free, free to play as themselves not as some underpaid session guys with a worksheet to get through. They mould and shape the music I have written and in doing so they mould and shape me, and what I may do in the future. They make suggestions, we have discussions and occasionally debates about the development of songs.

When it comes to the lyrical content and delivery thereof.. the buck stops here. I wanted the Tangent to be a band that could exist in the Progressive Rock arena of 2002-22 without being exclusively a homage to the arena of 1969 - 1979.

Starting with the singing itself. Although there are a fair few who enjoy my vocals, the fact of the matter is that I am not a trained singer, I have a voice that is a little unusual/gritty/accented, and I do not hold pitch well. There are many listeners of Progressive Rock who find this unpalatable - and many have observed just how much more successful The Tangent might have been if we'd had that "gold standard" lead singer. A David Longdon, a Pete Nicholls, A Steve Hogarth etc. In the end, it's one of those things we'll never know, because it didn't happen that way and it's not likely to.

So why? is it my own ego, Am I deluded enough to think I am a great singer who is in his right place at the head of a reasonably successful prog band? Selfish enough to restrict the success of the band because of this blind ambition? I don't think so, and I'll try to explain..

The songs I write are 80 percent based around a lyrical idea. Not around already written "lyrics" but around an idea, set of emotions, feelings, irritations, concerns and views. The songs are built up instrumentally around these feelings and the whole piece has a meaning "to me" that has been building up to the point where the lyrics get added to the song. These lyrics do not get written down any more. By the time I am ready to think about writing lyrics, part of me already knows what they are. Another part does NOT know what they are, so it's then time to let the subconscious take the lead. I just set up a microphone and just start. This is a technique I read about from the somehat alien world of freestyle rapping - but it was one of the most freedom giving and mind opening epiphanies of my life.

"The words just come out" - it's literally that. It is the most organic, human and natural of processes in the whole of the recording process. It is almost self fulfilling. After writing the music, the lyrics are there, unwritten in my subconsious and I just let them flow. Sometimes, half spoken, sometimes out of tune, often fluffed, many edits, many corrections, but at the moment it's happening it is the coming together of all the ideas that were floating sparks in the Aether.. and the full birth of the song. The singing is the song, the words are spoken/sung by the mind that created it and are the feelings and thoughts of the person who put it together. So at what point does it become logical to hand that over to someone who can just hold a note better than me with a sweeter and more commercially acceptable voice?

So - it also follows that the whole of the buiding of the song from nothing to finished product is as a result of me wanting to say something. That something can be wanting to tell a story about a day when I went somewhere and the things that happened to me. or it can be about something I heard on the news which either inspired, annoyed, outraged or even amused me.It can be a feeling of love, a feeling of anger, worry, regret, concern, sadness or sheer uncensored hope. And - at risk of sounding a little self contented.. I think that most people who have followed the music I have written, these things have all manifested themselves in our songs.

Me. A lot of the time after 9 a.m.

I don't see the Tangent's main role as a political protest band. Far from it. I see it as a band that makes Progressive Rock Music for everyone

..for everyone, that is who is broad minded enough to a) enjoy Progressive Rock in the first place and b) broad minded enough to accept that the person writing the song might have a different world view from themselves and still be able to relate to the music and the message despite being in disagreement with it.

I think most people will realise that I am essentially atheist, left of centre in politics, pro choice, anti war and anti weapons. I detest the imbalance of wealth in the world, I see only one race of humans on the planet, I am an opponent of despots from Kim Jong Un to Xi, Erdogan, Johnson, Trump, Orban and Putin. I find "Democracy" as I would like to see it as nothing more than my own dreams of how it could be. It's reduced to a buzzword used by any twit wherever in the world as some kind of beacon that only the said twit can provide through his/her particular policy There is no true functioning democracy on planet Earth. I deplore all forms of racism, sexism, homophopia, transphobia, enforced inequality and I can't abide the hatred that surrounds these topics. As a result, my use of political protest in music demonstrated itself on the very fIrst release I made in 1987's "Where Do We Draw The Line" where we were singing about the Iron Curtain and Apartheid while these were still active areas for progressive opposition. I have no intention of stopping.

Although this makes me a personal nightmare for many people who fall somewhat more to the right of politics - I still offer them my music as something they may enjoy. I hope that they can be as open minded about what I have to say, as I can about the very American Christianity that Neal Morse puts forward in his intensely voiced and well made songs. His belief is way way at odds with mine - made in the name of and inspired so much by an entity which I myself do not even believe exists. But his passion and his belief are to me, not some hatred arousing traits, rather a belief that brings his music alive to me and keeps me wanting to listen.

Neither Morse, or The Tangent is running for Government.

. Our music will not alter the cost of living, or dictate the immgration policies of nation states. It will not take away your faith in God, nor will it make you find him/her/it. All it might do is help you find your own way in life. This will be by rejecting one direction and discovering another. The Tangent, Neal Morse, The Ramones, The Charlie Daniels Band, Stormzy, Crass, Ted Nugent are all artists with a point of view. These points of view are very very different to one another. But they are all there to find, guide, think about, accept, reject, discard as much politically as musically. You can disagree with my politics and love my music. You can, vice-versa do the exact opposite. You can love both, you can dislike both.

There are many, and I mean many who wish that The Tangent would leave out the politics. "Politics Does Not Belong In Prog " I have often heard, in that mantra which is borrowed from Sport - in which politics does play a part, big time. If "Politics Does Not Belong In Prog" then the people who essentially set up the first archetyplal full on "Progressive Rock Album" - generally (but debatably) thought of as "In The Court Of King Crimson" - made a bad blueprint. The opening track on this genre defining "Ground Zero" record was a song about the evils of war and capitalism, a catalogue of many of humanities failings and a hauntingly accurate look into the future and the Schizoid people we became in the 21st century.

Progressive Rock was BORN in a time of counter-culture. It was synchronous with Woodstock, the Student Uprisings, inspired by the Summer Of Love, the hippy dream, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Greenpeace, Some of the biggest and most revered artists within Progressive Rock have vocied strong political opinions, none more so than the Pink Floyd whose convictions were fully on display from the 70s . Peter Gabriel's social commentary in "Get 'em out by Friday" preceded his many politically motivated pieces on his solo albums, Van Der Graaf Generator's work was full of politics and Hammill's solo stuff even more so. Gnidrilog, Henry Cow, the Art Bears, Univers Zero all had social commentary on full disply in their music.

I've led the band down this particular garden path because I wanted to put Prog's teeth back in.

The Tangent's attitude, sorry, MY attitude, is that this political debate should not be an aspect of Progressive Rock music that is now tamed to give a nice clean and santised product for the much older people who now represent the bulk of its audience. Art is still a hammer. It is something we can use to get a message across to people and make them think about something. Even a mid western American who supported Donald Trump, supports the NRA, believes in God as the ultimate power and feels that the USA has done enough apologising for slavery - can have a copy of "Animals" by Floyd in their collection. In the same way that I have "The Devil went down to Georgia" in mine. (For me, there is no doubt at all. the Devil's violin solo beat the good ol' country boy's solo hands down.) And so for my fictitious mid western American prog fan, he/she may well have different definitions of the Pigs, Dogs and Sheep. But they all got us thinking. And listening to the same music. Wondering at the sounds and going on the journeys. Together.

I want everyone to come on our musical journeys, whether they are NRA members, Peace Protesters, Mullahs, Trans women in Warsaw, Vicars, Ministers in government, Oil Rig Workers, Anti oil Protesters, Punk Rockers, Bankers, Anarchists, Civil Engineers, Supporters of Swampy, Trumpists, Corbynites, Surgeons, Homeopaths, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Bhuddist, Capitalist, Socialist - a love of music is one of the few things that can somehow, just in one area, bring people together. Maybe there is more common ground. Lose the hate. Variety is the spice of life. Diversity is why life is interesting. And Progression is everything.

In conclusion, I can say, head held high, that I have always been a card carrying, badge on sleeve Progressive Rock Fan. It has brought sneers, jibes, fun poking and cape references. I 100 percent believe that there is a future for this music and want to be a part of helping that future to happen. the Tangent, my vehicle for this, made its nostalgia albums 20 years ago. We could have stopped there but on album 3 we began to look at what could still be done with it.. back in 2006. I've led the band down this particular garden path because I wanted to put Prog's teeth back in. And yes, the chance of being bitten/made uncomfortable by the music will turn some off. But it was being made uncomfortable by it that turned me on in the first place. Maybe you too. Peace & Love to all. ATD 2023

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