What are your musical influences?
Constantin: King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, Yes, Genesis –
Kyree: And a little bit of Kate Bush as well.
Are you answering this for yourself, Costya, or for the entire band?
Constantin: I’m answering for the entire band. Nickelback… *sarcasm followed by laughter* That’s just for me.
Which band (or bands) introduced you personally to prog?
Kyree: I’d say I got into it accidentally because many years ago when I first came to Toronto, and I became part of a band called Angry Shoppers, and they were all big progheads. That was sort of progressive, jazz, quirky pop. It was kind of wacky. And then I was in another prog band after that.
Constantin: For me it was Pink Floyd. I’ve been learning to play guitar by picking up Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, and yeah, that was essentially it.
Les: Originally it was The Beatles’ White Album. But mainly it was Yes that brought me to prog music.
Marcello: For me, I think, the first time it was PFM [Premiata Forneria Marconi, Italian progressive rock band] in the 70s. That was probably mid-70s. And then, like, late 70s/early 80s I discovered Close to the Edge by Yes. I discovered Bill Bruford, and Phil Collins with older Genesis.
Iggy: For me, yeah, I guess Pink Floyd would be the first one. And later on – Yes, Kansas, King Crimson.
What does music, and specifically progressive music, mean to you?
Constantin: Emotionally I just like the sincerity of it, because the majority of people who play it, don’t play for money. It started out ’cause we wanted to get chicks, but then we kinda grew into it more and more…
Kyree: I did it to become rich and famous! And to get chicks as well, yeah.
Alright. For each of the instrumentalists, and perhaps for Kyree as well, what is the most favourite instrument or piece of music gear in your possession?
*a pause and some voiced hesitation among the band members*
Les: They’re all favourite! There’s no favourite…
Marcello: The latest one!
Constantin: Maybe Marcello would be the best one to answer, he has built his own drumkit, right Marcello?
Marcello: Yeah, it’s pretty awesome to play. *loudly and sarcastically* I am master of woodworking!
Kyree: I’m in love with my SHURE-58.
What are some of your hobbies? I know that Marcello, like you said, is into building drumkits and woodworking and stuff. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Marcello: Well, yeah, that isn’t really a hobby, it’s a full-time job. It’s another form of art for me. And I enjoy working on machines. I like the sound of machines.
Constantin: Well, the hobby is intricately connected to music – I build musical equipment. I started doing it because I had no money to buy it and I kinda knew electronics a little bit.
Iggy: I like drinking.
Constantin: He has the youngest liver of us all.
Kyree: Cracking really bad jokes. I kill plants – I try to garden but I kill plants. I’m always writing poetry and weird stuff. Oh, and making films.
Les: I guess I like painting my treehouse.
Tell me a little bit about your upcoming EP – I know that you have a release coming out soon. How did the recording process work for you guys, was it different from when you recorded Good Things?
Constantin: This one, so far, was probably the best organized one that we’ve ever done… It was all kind of handled by one pair of ears [Half Past Four worked on the new EP with recording/mixing/mastering engineer Mauro Giammarco]. The amount of time devoted from him was ridiculous. And he had a very easy way of explaining it, too – he’s like “I’m feeling this”. I’m like, “Why?”. He’s like “Listen to it”. And then you understand why he’s doing this. So one thing is that the whole album was done with one engineer. The other one is that the songs were shorter and the songs were written quicker. We figured we would do an EP, so that’s another thing that’s drastically different. Also this is the first one where we have a song written by someone else. It’s a cover of a Max Webster tune called “Toronto Tontos”. We just kind of… felt that Max Webster is undeservedly underplayed on the radio. And it’s a rocking tune, so we figured we would do it and include it on the album. I’m singing the lead on that one. Basically, out of five tunes, only three are sung lead by Kyree. “Mood Elevator”, is sung lead by Les.
How does the writing process usually work?
Iggy: Kyree usually writes all the lyrics.
Kyree: I get help from the guys sometimes.
Iggy: And we write all the music together, somebody brings a riff and we try to add stuff, add parts to it.
Kyree: I mean, I bring lyrics, I kinda bring in poetry or a verse or whatever. “One Eyed Man” was based on a poem. As far as the music goes, everybody kinda writes their own parts.
What’s your favourite venue in Toronto (to either play or attend a show)?
Constantin: It used to be Clinton’s. There was a sound engineer there, his name is Fletch, he doesn’t do it anymore. But for the longest time, every time we played at Clinton’s, it was, like… I cried at the end of the show, because I could hear everything and I could hear all the mistakes that we make. And it made us better musicians through that, you know.
Kyree: We’ve been enjoying playing the Bovine lately. I’d love to play the Mod Club one day.
What was your most memorable concert experience?
Constantin: When we played in the States, when we were playing ProgDay . Everybody stood up and started singing, it was so weird. We were playing “Biel” [from the first album, Rabbit in the Vestibule]. And people got up, and they’re, like, singing with us, you could see that they’re singing correct lyrics. That was kind of freaky, but then it was over, it was like “Oh my God… we’re kind of famous!”
Kyree: It was a good feeling.
Constantin: We’ve been chasing it since then…
Who are the people that inspire you? Any people that inspire for any reason, not necessarily musicians.
Kyree: I’m a huge fan of a wonderful writer, he’s in a lot of really great comedy, his name is Simon Fraser.
Constantin: Adrian Belew inspires me. You look at him, he’s almost 70, he’s on stage, he’s jumping around like a 22-year-old, he’s happy as if he just took a pill, he’s creative, he’s on the ball with the latest technology.
Les: I say Barack Obama… *laughter ensues within the band*
Kyree: We love our prime minister, Justin Timberlake [sic], he’s a wonderful prime minister, he brings love and courage and respect and… I love it, maaan!
Iggy: For me? Isaac Asimov.
Kyree: I like Tina Fey. She does it all.
Constantin: And she does it well, yep.
Marcello: I don’t know who inspires me. A lot of my friends inspire me, but as far as famous people, I don’t know.
Fair enough. What would you say is your own personal favourite song from your own catalogue?
Constantin: “Dwayne” – Ballad of Dwayne’s Plane. That song is just so fun.
Iggy: Maybe “Poisoned Tune”.
Les: For me it’s “Johnny”.
Marcello: “Johnny”, “Missing Sevenths”. I really like “Twelve Little Words”. They’re all fun to play but that one just… seems to have a sweet spot, you know what I mean?
Kyree: Off the first album I like “Poisoned Tune”, “Biel”, and “Strangest Dream”. Off the second album, “I Am Lion”, “Good Things”. I like them all, you know, they’re pretty meaningful to me in a lot of ways. I love performing “Rabbit”. I like “Poisoned Tune” because of what it’s about, and how diverse and interesting it is. I mean, it’s hard for me to pick one or two.
What do you do right before you go on stage? Is there any band ritual when you’re about to play?
Constantin: Les smokes a joint… Kyree flexes. I just frantically check that everything is tune, and nobody spilled beer on my pedals, ’cause that happens more often than you think.
Marcello: I like to warm up on the practice pad.
Kyree: We don’t really have any rituals, like sit in a circle.
If more people listened to prog, how do you think it would change the world in 10 years?
Constantin: I would say, it would definitely change the landscape of the music market in general. There would be more people who can play their musical instruments really well. I think more people would be playing violin, flute, oboe. Like, prog is not so focused on just your typical bass, guitar, keys kind of thing. In ten years if prog is popular, we’re all gonna wear silver chains…
Kyree: All we know is one thing – Half Past Four could be playing Europe if we had enough money to tour there, so I’m just saying.
Since you guys have been around for some time, I’m assuming you’ve done a number of interviews at least, was there ever a question that you hoped you would be asked, but no one actually had the chance to ask you?
Kyree: Yes, one question we always want to answer is, “Would you like this spare million dollars we have?”
That would be one heck of an interview.
Kyree: No one ever asked it!
How do you see the future of the band’s career?
Constantin: We’ve been discussing this one. We’ve been answering this question ourselves… to ourselves, fairly regularly. We don’t see ourselves not doing what we’re doing right now. It’s… call it a habit, call it a hobby, call it self-destructive addiction that costs money out of your bank account and keeps you away from your family and whatnot, but we just like doing it so much. We’re doing it because we like to be doing it. Of course it’s nice to be appreciated, so we hope that in the future more people would be enjoying the music.
Half Past Four was interviewed by Serge T, Interviewer 5/4 FEST 2016