Bryn Schurman: Hey , this is Bryn Schurman on the Eleventh Hour and I have a very special guest on the phone with me; I’ve got Nick D’Virgilio from Spock’s Beard
Nick D’Virgilio: Woohoo! How’s it going?
BS: I said that right? Is that Virgilio?
ND’V: Yeah. D’Virgilio.
ND’V: Yes, it’s a pain in the butt, that name let me tell you.
BS: You’ve got an apostrophe for extra flavor points. Cool. I guess my first experience with her band was when I saw the DVD Don’t Try This at Home and I thought, “hey, that drummer can sing pretty well.” Now you’re fronting the band. How big of a transition was it to go from behind the throne to center stage?
ND’V: It was kind of half and half. I mean, I’ve been singing and doing performing and that kind of stuff my whole life, so being in front of people with a microphone wasn’t a big thing. It was just making sure that I was doing my band justice and still giving a good performance, and you know, entertaining the people, kind of a thing. Yeah, after a couple of shows to get my feet wet, it went fine.
BS: And how did you get your new drummer Jimmy [Keegan]?
ND’V: He is a local. I’m here in LA, and me, I’ve known Jimmy for years in the cover band circuit, just around town, that kind of thing. I knew he could sing really well and he had a high voice, because I sang all the high parts back in the day. So, we tried him out and he was into the music and he came in and he kicked ass right away. It just kind of worked out nice and simple because he’s here locally and all that.
BS: And I guess we stage-diving credentials kind of helped with that too?
ND’V: We didn’t know anything about his stage-diving credentials and now it’s kind of a thing. (Laughs) people keep putting their hands up and he dives off the stage. It’s really funny. He’s got no fear.
BS: It’s very odd to see that at a prog show.
ND’V: Yeah, you’ll get a few different things in a Spock’s Beard gig, not your normal prog thing.
BS: I’ve noticed he seems to be taking over the drums for you and then you’ll come back and play. There wasn’t a lot of tandem drumming other than the duet. Do you ever Thrak-out live?
ND’V: Yeah , totally. It depends on the material also. It’s just how that set on the last tour worked out for the DVD, but it’s fun to do some stuff together. We are going to do a couple of things on this upcoming tour that are a little more intricate, longer lasting unison drum fills and kind of fancy bits like that. We’ve got a couple things worked out.
BS: Any fan interaction with choosing your set lists?
ND’V: A little bit here and there. We took some things into consideration. [phone drops out momentarily] We also had to take in the time to learn things, and if everybody can do it all. I think we got a pretty cool, rounded set for the upcoming tour. A bunch of old stuff, and a bunch of new stuff too. A few things we haven’t done since — God, I don’t know — the late 90s. So it should be fun.
BS: I like how on the DVD you did one of Allen [Morse]’s solo songs, Return to Whatever.
ND’V: Right. You know, he’s cool for the thing and he made a good record. It’s a little spot to let him shine and do his thing. It was fun.
BS: The last studio album you’ve done… I don’t know if you’d call it self-titled or monogrammed? It just seems a bit out of place. Usually you get your self titled album right off the bat…
ND’V: Yeah, we did it the opposite way.
BS: Nine albums in ?
ND’V: Nine albums, right. (laughs) yeah, I don’t know. We couldn’t think of a good title and we’ve never had a self-titled record, so we’d say “What the heck”. Genesis did it like ten records in or something like that. We figured it was okay.
BS: Speaking of Genesis, I was just checking on your Myspace and I found a nice little cover version of The Colony of Slippermen.
BS: Is there more along those lines that are going to be released on an album or an EP or something?
ND’V: We’re trying to do the whole record. We’ve already started talking to a couple different record companies about it. It’s just a matter of getting some funds. We already have a budget, people lined up, and all the songs charted and the horn arrangements for other tunes and stuff. So we’re trying to do the whole thing. That’s true, it’s proving to be a little bit kind of hard because we had a deal and it kind of fell through and we couldn’t get the money, now we’re trying to get the money back and then uhhhhggh. But, hopefully we can get that done by the end of summer, really. That’s what the plan is.
BS: Do you often do cover songs with the Beard?
ND’V: Sometimes… sometimes for sure. We’ve done crazy covers in the past. Space Truckin’. We did do a Genesis tune way back, Squonk, back in the day. And then we’ve done David Bowie songs and we jam out whatever sometimes. It gets kind of weird. (Laughs) You never know what Al’s going to start and we kind of just go into it
BS: I’m a little curious on how you got to collaborate with John Boegehold.
ND’V: Well, he’s been friends with Dave [Meros] for a really long time, back in the 80s I think when they met up. John’s been in the music business — and still is — he does stuff for film and TV sometimes and he’s written tons of songs. So they were friends, and kind of just over the years, we all became friends, and then when there was the band change when Neal [Morse] left, Dave and John were collaborating and jamming on some ideas and stuff like that, and then he just morphed into a writing partner ever since.
BS: Any story behind the latest epic from your new album? [As Far As the Mind Can See]
ND’V: It’s actually — from what I can remember because it’s been a while now — unlike the epic on Octane, which was definitely a story from beginning to end, but this one was supposed to be more proggy in the fact that it was a bunch of tunes connected together. You kind of make the story up as you hear the lyrics. It’s weird, I know. I didn’t write the lyrics for that. (Laughs) That’s kind of the gist behind that one.
BS: I see are going to be touring with Britain’s *Frost in the next couple of months-
ND’V: Yeah, it will be fun…
BS: And also you have an appearance at the Three Rivers progfest in August.
ND’V: Yeah, our one American gig. It’s sad. We’ve got to play some more.
BS: Ah, too bad. I was just checking to make sure there wasn’t anything still in the works.
ND’V: Well, we’re always trying to. For us right now, it’s a matter of logistics because Ryo [Okumoto] is living in Japan and it’s making it difficult to coordinate and get him back over for a little bit of this and then his work over there. Ah! it’s intense. It’s a little crazy at the moment. So, we’re trying. Hopefully we can get some more stuff booked but at least we have that. It should be a fun weekend full of prog. Lots of prog. It is a prog festival, oh boy. It is not ashamed. It’ll be good.
BS: Any interesting tour stories from the last couple of months?
ND’V: Not really. We’ve just kind of got back together. I’ve been traveling and doing a lot of drum clinics and stuff like this, but as far as the band’s concerned, no, nothing.
BS: I see on this tour that you have a lot more dates overseas than here. Is there a bigger reception overseas as far as the fans are concerned?
ND’V: Yeah, well… our label is German and we’ve just sold most of our records over there over the years, even when Neal was in the band. We have a good following in America. We pull good audiences in New York and LA and San Francisco. It’s just such a big country that it’s tough when you’ve don’t got much money on touring to go tour America. It’s tough. And, like I said, when half the band lives overseas, it’s really hard, so it’s easier for us to book a tour in Europe for us. How this tour coming up worked out is we’ve got an offer to play a couple festivals in Germany and then they just booked other dates around it. So it’s just a little bit easier to do it over there.
BS: Anything you’d like to say about the DVD just titled Live?
ND’V: Creative title, huh? Yeah, it’s our first DVD as the new lineup and we’re excited about it. We finally have something documented. It was a fun night of music… and everybody should go buy it and I hope they enjoy it.
BS: It has incredible video quality. I was watching it this morning.
ND’V: A small company in Holland filmed it and did all the editing and stuff. It came out really cool
BS: It seems you do a lot of your live albums in the Netherlands for some reason.
ND’V: It just sort of works out that way.
BS: Nothing to do with Amsterdam?
ND’V: Amsterdam is a fantastic city, I must admit, but Zoetermeer is not very close. We do things in other parts of the country too.
BS: Any last words for the listeners?
ND’V: Thank you for the support, keep the faith, and hopefully we can see you all soon.