ThisIsNotAScene‘s Raymond caught up with prog legend Neal Morse for a chat. They talked about his new release “Live Momentum,” and how it was put together. How Christianity has changed his life and music, the side project Flying Colors, working with Mike Portnoy and much, much more…
Live Momentum is about to hit the streets. What brought you to the idea to release such an extensive live document?
Well, actually, I considered not doing it this time, but Mike thought that it would be a very good idea to document the tour and the new band in as good a way as possible. So, it’s Mike’s fault! 🙂
My live albums always turn into extravaganzas though. We do such long shows and then you got a have a tour documentary and all the extras! It’s funny… I always try to make it easier but it always turns into longer and more extravagant packages. Well, I hope the people are blessed by it.
What are your fondest memories of the Momentum tour?
Fondest memories… Hmmmm…. The standout show on that tour in my mind was the Los Angeles show… Also getting stuck on the freeway in the shuttlebus in Seattle was really funny. Seeing Bill come offstage in Jacksonville with little tears in his eyes because he was so moved by the power of God during the show… That meant a lot to me. The audience in Mexico City… And all over really… It was great!
Can you take us through the process of putting Live Momentum together, please?
Well, there was a team of guys that came to the New York show and filmed it and recorded the audio. Then a few weeks later Ron began editing the video together. After that, I mixed the audio in December… It took me about 2 1/2 weeks I think. Then Ron did the first pass of edits of the video. I watched the whole thing many times making notes and changing things here and there. It’s a really long process of watching and editing and listening and changing things. We put a lot of work into this one! Then starts the process of creating the artwork and getting that all approved. After all of that then there was the process of creating the Blu-ray. It’s a really very involved process…
What I really like about Live Momentum is just the sheer energy of the live performance caught on tape so to speak. What is the secret that you transmit such amazing energy?
There’s power in the music man! 🙂 Many times I don’t feel very energetic before a concert… But even at the rehearsals last night… I can just feel the energy of the music and the musicians and… the band is so amazing, it’s really exciting to be a part of it. And, the Spirit of God being part of this thing… The whole thing!… That puts it over-the-top! That’ll just make you come unglued, hallelujah!
You’re a born again Christian. Can you explain what religion means in your life and your music? What pivotal moment brought you to become a believer?
Wow! That question could have a very long answer! 🙂 Well, for the first part of that question I would say that my relationship, not my religion per se, but my relationship with God is what powers everything that I’m doing. I have access to God through Jesus Christ and through his spirit, And that is what inspires all of this music. What brought me to become a Christian, it was a long process actually, so it wasn’t just one thing, but if I had to pick one thing, I would say that it was experiencing The Holy Spirit, in my entire being. I experienced God emotionally and physically and spiritually! It’s kind of hard to describe but you got to experience the Holy Spirit to understand what I’m talking about. Once I experienced that…in all its fullness, there was no turning back!
Do you see yourself as a Christian musician like Bill Gaither for instance?
I love the Gaither vocal band! 🙂 Really. I don’t know… I just consider myself to be somebody who’s doing the best they can to follow the leading of the Lord. And I believe we all have our own callings from God and I’m doing the best I can to follow mine.
In the (prog) rock and metal spheres religion and faith are often questioned, doubted and frowned upon. How do you deal with that as a person and musician?
Well, I seek the glory that comes from God only. You can’t worry too much about what men think and truly serve God… I don’t think you can really do that. And mostly people are very kind really. If you just show love as Best you can, you’ll be amazed who will respond. Everyone’s hungry for the love of God. Whether there into metal or whatever kind of music they’re into. So just keep reaching out and God will a make a way.
In several interviews you mentioned that the Flying Colors project was really different from anything you’ve done before. Care to explain?
Yeah, flying colors was the first time for many things for me. It was much more collaborative songwriting wise and production wise than anything I’ve ever done before. I’d never really been produced before. Everything I’ve ever done I either produced myself or with the band I was working on it with. Also being the second singer was different for me. Or is different for me. But it’s cool! I love it… It’s great to do different things and I’m really glad that God brought me into that project. I think it’s Fantastic!
You have a very close working relationship with former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. How did that develop over the years and why do you like working with him?
Well, first of all, of course, he’s one of the greatest drummers in the world! I mean, just last night at the rehearsals for the tour I was just marveling just listening to him play. It’s such a joy to listen to him. And he has such great energy. But more than that, he’s a great leader, has great arrangement and ideas about everything really, and he’s become a very very dear friend. So I’m very blessed to be able to be with him and work with him.
Finally, what is next in terms of touring and other projects?
After this Tour I’m not exactly sure. It looks like there’s some good new albums on the horizon, from some various different projects, but I’m not at liberty to say what they are at this point. But, be excited! I am very excited about what’s next. God bless you, Neal.