Here is an interview with Richard West, keyboardist for Threshold since the band's first album. Interview by Vitaly Menshikov (on Friday, May 12, 2000).
VM: Hello dear Richard. Thank you for doing the interview and... welcome to Progressor!
RW: It's good to meet you.
VM: My congratulations on the success of the last Threshold critically acclaimed album Clone.
RW: Thank you.
VM: Please tell me the story of the band. Also why was Threshold named exactly so - can you explain this?
RW: Threshold originally formed in 1988 and spent four years playing heavy metal gigs around the south of England. Our guitarist Karl Groom was also working on some progressive rock projects (Shadowland / Strangers on A Train) with Clive Nolan (Pendragon / Arena), and these influences started to enter the band's music. In 1992 Threshold got a recording contract with GEP (Giant Electric Pea) Records, and enlisted two new band members, vocalist Damian
Wilson and myself on keyboards. I was on tour with Karl as session keyboard player for Shadowland at the time, and I thought he only wanted me to play session keyboards for one Threshold album, but eight years later I'm still here! We spent the rest of the year recording our debut album Wounded Land which was released early in 1993. At the same time, Dream Theater released their excellent Images And Words CD, which also blended heavy metal and progressive rock, and both bands were labelled as "progressive metal". Since then we've released three more studio albums Psychedelicatessen (1994), Extinct Instinct (1997) and Clone (1998), and we're about to go back to the studio to record our next one. All of the albums have been released by GEP and distributed across Europe through Inside Out. As for why the band is called
Threshold, I'm not sure. Possibly we represent the doorway to another world, but I think it's actually something to do with the Moody Blues record label.
VM: It is interesting, why such an excellent singer as Damian Wilson (to be honest, I like his vocal qualities very much) left the band after the debut album, was back for the Extinct Instinct recording session, and left Threshold once again just after finishing it? What is your opinion or... do you know some exact facts?
RW: When Damian left Threshold after Wounded Land in 1993, it was because he was offered a contract to join a band called Lasalle. Unfortunately for Damian the band never released an album, so when he was finally released from his contract he came back to Threshold for the Extinct Instinct album in 1997. Damian had never toured with Threshold before, and I don't think it was an experience he enjoyed very much when we took Extinct Instinct on the road in Europe. When it came to recording Clone, Damian had already said that he wouldn't want to tour again, and that probably helped him to decide to stop doing rock music and start his new theatre career. He's now doing very well as part of the travelling Royal Shakespeare Company, and we wish him every success.
VM: Are you currently happy with the new vocalist for Threshold (please, a few words about him)?
RW: Our new singer Mac is wonderful, we are very happy with him. His singing, his attitude in the studio, his energy on stage, he really feels like part of the family. And I think our fans have responded well to him too. When we played at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany last summer, Mac was voted the best performer of all 100 bands there! He's currently recording a solo album in Germany where he lives, and then he'll be back over in England later in the summer to record the new Threshold album with us.
VM: Which of the Threshold's albums has had the greatest commercial success - I mean by the quantity of copies sold? And which album do you consider as the band's creative peak?
RW: Commercially I think that our second album Psychedelicatesen is our greatest success so far, although I think that Clone was our most accomplished album. When we released Psychedelicatessen we recorded a video, toured extensively with Psychotic Waltz and Dream Theater, and it was at
a time when progressive metal found a new surge of popularity all across Europe. Having said that, progressive metal is still very popular and we're looking forward to even more success in the future. Creatively I think we put a different emphasis on each album but I don't think Threshold has peaked eyt, I think we are continuing to evolve and grow all of the time. So hopefully our next album will be our most creative peak so far!
VM: For some reason on some progressive rock pages Threshold has been compared to Dream Theater quite often. As for me personally, I consider it as nonsense - I don't see any obvious analogies between these two bands. Anyhow, what is your personal attitude to such comparisons?
RW: I agree that there are a number of differences between the bands, and I think we were compared with them because our Wounded Land and their Images And Words were released at the same time and were both named as progressive metal. However, I think that in our approach to songwriting,
our range of influences and the way we use them, there are a number of similarities so I understand the comparison.
VM: There were some rumours about you intending to leave the band, though you are one of its masterminds and former members. How much do these rumours correspond to reality?
RW: The rumours correspond to reality very much, because I started them! Last summer I decided it was time for me to move on and try to realise some of my other musical goals. However, I agreed to play at the two remaining gigs we had last winter in England and Holland, and then I agreed to play on the next album, and suddenly I find I'm filled with such a big new enthusiasm for Threshold that I really can't leave. I will continue to work on other projects too but I won't leave Threshold.
VM: What can you say about the current Threshold line-up? Does it remain
the same since the release of Clone?
RW: Well, yes and no! Our drummer for the last two albums, Mark Heaney, has never toured with the band, so we have a live drummer called Johanne James who has been performing with Threshold for three years. Mark decided to leave Threshold after we recorded Clone, so Johanne will now
continue to be our drummer both on stage and in the studio. Apart from that, there are no other line-up changes planned. Hopefully this will be the Threshold line-up forever!
VM: What's next on the band's agenda? Any other plans for the current year?
RW: This year we plan to finish writing and recording our new album at Thin Ice studios. A lot of the material is written already and we're very much looking forward to recording it. Hopefully the album will be released in the Autumn with a European tour following in early 2001, but we haven't planned that far ahead yet. One thing I do believe is that the new Threshold album will be bigger than anything we've done before. We'll keep you up to date on our website at http://thresh.net, and hopefully we'll be touring somewhere near you soon!
VM: Thank you for doing the interview, Richard. I appreciate your time.