Thursday, May 3, 2007

Spock's Beard

@ Wiki
Spock's Beard
is a progressive rock band formed in 1992 in Los Angeles by brothers Neal and Alan Morse. Neal played keyboards and was the lead vocalist, as well as being the primary songwriter; Alan plays electric guitar. The pair teamed with fellow musicians Nick D'Virgilio (drums) and Dave Meros (bass) and released their debut album, The Light, in 1995. The quartet were later joined by veteran keyboardist Ryo Okumoto.

The band played a brand of progressive rock with pop music leanings (drawing much influence from Genesis), as opposed to the hard rock approach of The Flower Kings or the metal feel of Dream Theater. The band is also well known for their intricate multi-part vocal harmonies (such as those found on certain Gentle Giant songs) and use of counterpoint on cuts such as "Gibberish," "Thoughts (Parts I and II)," "June," " A Guy Named Sid Pt.5: Sid's Boy Choir", and "Devil's Got My Throat."

In 2002, the band released the highly acclaimed double-cd concept album entitled Snow, which tells a story of an albino psychic who acquires a messianic following, who spiritually falls and loses the direction of his calling, then to be rescued with new chance to live in harmony. Many listeners and critics have noted the parallels between the storyline of Snow and Neal Morse's own highly-publicized conversion to Christianity.

Following the release of Snow, Neal Morse left the band for a solo career as a Christian-Progressive artist, this career becoming highly acclaimed by the progressive world. Drummer Nick D'Virgilio took over the lead singing and songwriting role, in a move reminiscent of Genesis's drummer Phil Collins taking over from Peter Gabriel. Their first album, Feel Euphoria, has a harder-rocking and more experimental sound than the Neal Morse-led band, relying on Alan Morse's guitar to a greater extent.

In early 2005, after a long writing and recording process, Spock's Beard released Octane, their second album after the departure of Neal Morse. This was seen by many fans as a return to a more bright and epic sound after the previous songwriting differences in Feel Euphoria.

As posted on their website on November 8th: Their 9th studio album was released on Nov 21st, 2006, simply entitled "Spock's Beard"

Alan Morse came up with the name after a particularly wild party, where he remarked to his brother, Neal, "It's almost as if Spock had a beard. Wouldn't that be a cool name for a band? Spock's Beard." Then, when it came time to choose a name for the band, Alan made a list of over 100 names and threw Spock's Beard on the end as a joke, and the band chose it. (In fact, the name may be a reference to the episode Mirror, Mirror of the Star Trek original series. In that episode, four Enterprise officers are exchanged with their counterparts in an alternate universe; the alternate version of Spock has a beard.)

Current lineup
* Nick D'Virgilio - Lead Vocals, Drums
* Alan Morse - Guitar, Vocals
* Ryo Okumoto - Keyboards
* Dave Meros - Bass, Vocals

Former members
* Neal Morse (1992 - 2002) - Lead Vocals, Synths, Acoustic Guitar

Additional musicians
* Jimmy Keegan - Tour drummer
* John Boegehold - Song co-writer
* Stan Ausmus - Song co-writer

Studio albums
* The Light (1995)
* Beware of Darkness (1996)
* The Kindness of Strangers (1998)
* Day For Night (1999)
* V (2000)
* Snow (2002)
* Feel Euphoria (2003)
* Octane (2005)
* Spock's Beard (2006)

Live albums and compilations
* Official Live Bootleg/The Beard is Out There (1996) (recorded 1995)
* From the Vaults (1998) (rarities - From the Vaults, Series 1)
* Live at the Whisky and NEARfest (1999)
* Don't Try This At Home (April 2000) (recorded 1999) (live)
* Nick 'n Neal live in Europe - Two Separate Gorillas (October, 2000) (From the Vaults, Series 2)
* Don't Try This @ Home Either (2000) (recorded 1999) (live - From the Vaults, Series 3)
* There and Here (2000) (live - From the Vaults, Series 4)
* Gluttons for Punishment (2005) (live)

* Spock's Beard Home Movie (Video, 1998)
* Live At The Whisky (Video, (1999)
* The Making of V (Video, May 2001)
* Don't Try This At Home (2 DVD Set, November, 2002)
* The Making Of Snow (DVD, 2004) =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Miguel Farah @ Spock's Beard FAQ
Spock's Beard was formed in Los Angeles in the spring of 1992, as Neal Morse tells us in an interview from "Wondrous Stories":
Well, at first it was just me and my brother Al recording for fun and doing whatever we felt like doing. Then in spite of our pasts, we thought it would be cool to put a band together. This was around the spring of 1992.
I met Nick at a musicians jam night thing. We both were called up to play some blues. I played horribly - he was great. Anyway, I sent him a cassette of the demos and he flipped out over it, which shocked the hell out of me. I mean, I didn't think you could get such great players for a project so clearly uncommercial. And it was pretty much the same deal with the other guys.
We had a different bass player originally and when it came time to find a new guy, Al and I both thought of Dave (we'd known him for a long time). And by God, he wanted to do it! Amazing. Not that we weren't good or anything, but I guess I had just gotten used to people not being into the same stuff as me.
The most incredible was Ryo, he came into the first rehearsal with everything written out and played out the entire first album almost perfectly! At the end we all laughed and said "Dude, I think you got the gig!".

In october 2001, Tiffany D'Virgilio (Nick's wife) was asked "How did Nick and Neal meet? What was your first reaction when you heard the Beard?" in Thoughts. This was her response:

OK-well it was about a million years ago. Seems like it, but I think it must have been 91 or so. Nick had been going to these musician jams in town. Sometimes I'd go, basically it's a ton of musicians in a room and they all take turns jamming on stage. One night Neal was there with Al and so was Nick-they all wound up on stage at the same time and hit it off. Neal told him about the demo he had and asked if Nick was interested in a prog thing. So Nick and I trekked out to this little house Neal was living in at the time, I think in Santa Monica. Nick ran in and picked up the tape and we got back on the freeway and he pops it in. The Light starts playing and by the time Senor Velasco hit, Nick and I looked at each other and said...You have to be in this band!
Maybe one or two comments wavering between weird stuff, and this guys is a genius!
So Nick joined. They used to practice in Neal's little garage/studio and I would go hang and sit on the couch. (I was a very dedicated musician's girlfriend and would go to most of his gigs and some rehearsals. My dad had lugged me around to all of it as a kid, so I was used to it, and sometimes it was the only time we would get together with my school schedule) So the Beard was born. They named the band "One" which no one really liked and did a couple of gigs. I still remember most of them. Different bass player who always told raunchy stories. Much different than Dave!

Later, she added:
Really one of those memories I'll never forget. Driving along the 60 freeway tripping out on Neal. We could not believe anyone could write something so cool and amazing. If you all could have seen the looks on our faces. We were both so blown away and Nick was playing cover bands-so this was something so different and so like the kind of music we loved. Our mouths were kind of gaping open and we both just thought the same thing.
Very neat moment for both The Beard and for Nick and I. Who knew it would become a second family for us all those years ago. Sometimes I feel like we have been together forever. Being 20 feels like forever ago.

Spock's Beard had an offer from a small prog label, but -after months of negotiations- they chose to make the album themselves. In 1994, the band went into the studio and recorded their debut album "The Light", which many critics have called the best progressive album of the decade.

Then in 1996 the band recorded their second album "Beware Of Darkness", mixed in part by Kevin Gilbert. They then signed to JVC/Victor in Japan and GEP in Europe, and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing. The band then went on to form their own record company, RADIANT RECORDS, to handle all their releases in the U.S. - "The Official Live Bootleg", being their first, followed by "Beware Of Darkness".

In May 1997, the band made their second appearance at Progfest in Los Angeles, California, where they premiered "In the Mouth of Madness" and "June" (from their then-latest album, "The Kindness of Strangers"). Both songs were well received, especially "June" which drew a standing ovation from the Progfest crowd.

In October 1998, Spock's Beard released a rarities album titled "From The Vault".

In November 1998, Spock's Beard released a live album in Europe, titled "The Beard Is Out There". The track list is the same as their previously released "The Official Live Bootleg", with one additional track (Fire/Waste Away).

The fourth studio album is titled "Day For Night" and was released on March 23rd, 1999.

Spock's Beard then did a short Eastern U.S. tour, including headlining at NEARfest (North East Art Rock Festival), on Sunday June 27, 1999. They also toured Europe in September, 1999.

In 25 april 2000, another live album, called "Don't Try This At Home", was released.

During august 2000, the band performed as openers for Dream Theater in the second leg of their Metropolis 2000 US tour.

The fifth studio album, "V", was released on August 22, 2000. It premiered at The Troubadour, for the Pre-Progfest show in August 31. This gig is considered as one of the very best the band have delivered.

During november 2000, two more live albums were released: "Nick 'n Neal - Two Separate Gorillas" (acoustic shows by Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio) and "Don't Try This At Home Either!".

"All on A Sunday", a CD single with reworked versions of some of its songs, intended for European radios, was released in may 2001.

In 21 july 2001, yet another live album, called "There And Here", was released.

The latest studio album, "Snow", is slated for release in august. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Where Did The Name "Spock's Beard" Come From, Anyway?
In an interview Dave Meros did for a Dutch prog magazine in May, during Progfest '97, he said:

In the beginning, we had the name "One", but we were always looking for a good, serious name. We could never think of one. As a joke, the name "Spock's Beard" always came up. In the end we thought why not, it sounds funny. Besides, it doesn't matter that much what name you're using. Pink Floyd is actually also a very funny name.

Neal Morse's version:
As far as the name goes, our current story is that Nick had a really weird Dog named Spock who had some sort of facial hair problem...... but don't hold me to it.
Neal's comments from an interview with Martin Hudson, editor of 'Wondrous Stories':
As far as the name goes, I think it was pretty much Al's idea. It was/is a joke name, but when we were choosing a name, you know we all had these serious names and all, but we liked Spock's Beard the best.
Actually, the most plausible reason seems to be another one: in the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror", a transporter accident sends Kirk, Scott, McCoy and Uhura to a parallel universe, where the "local" Spock has a beard (it's a pretty good episode, by the way). Here are two images from that episode, so you can see for yourself:

Some two weeks AFTER that last paragraph was written by the FAQL maintainer, Neal Morse spilled the beans in an interview for Detritus:
Actually, it was my brother Alan's idea. We were having a really weird night, up at a bar in Mammoth Mountain, Calif. Just one of those weird nights with a lot of very strange people. Alan was like, "Man, it's like we're in a parallel universe--it's like Spock has a beard." There's that one episode in a parallel universe and Spock has a beard. It was one of those late night, "Oh, wouldn't that be a funny name for a band".

As you can see, the most obvious explanation turns out to be the right one! =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Spock's Beard - In the mouth of madness

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