EM­PEROR NOR­TON

Young prog­gers take their cues from the clas­sics.

Prog - - Us, Them & You -

THE LONGEVITY and on­go­ing in­ven­tive­ness of the pro­gres­sive genre re­mains star­tling and the cur­rent wave of younger bands bodes well for the genre’s fu­ture. And while these mu­si­cians may not have grown up in the age of clas­sic prog, many felt a se­ri­ous sense of ex­cite­ment when they dis­cov­ered the mu­sic of that era. Em­peror Nor­ton are one such band.

“At the age of 13, I was lis­ten­ing to the sort of mu­sic that a skate­board­ing kid would un­til one day my grand­fa­ther put on Close To The Edge,” re­calls gui­tarist Scott Neu­mann. “He told me to have a lis­ten to it and it just made my mind ex­plode. We never wanted to be copy­cats or be ac­cused of sim­ply par­rot­ing bands that have in­flu­enced us. One of the ways we ad­dressed that was to ex­plic­itly ref­er­ence those in­flu­ences, so for ex­am­ple, there’s a gui­tar line on one of our tracks which is from Close To The Edge. We just wanted to cel­e­brate the mu­sic that we en­joy. But I would say that at no point did we sit down in say the first ses­sion and dis­cuss what mu­sic we wanted to write. We just played what we liked.”

“We all have a lot of old in­flu­ences, de­spite be­ing fairly young for a prog band,” sug­gests singer Matthew Corry. “We take our in­flu­ences from bands like King Crim­son… for me, Frost is a big one… and there’s Yes and Gen­tle Gi­ant. We wanted to evolve that mu­sic as best we could and develop that sound, as that’s the mu­sic that means so much to us.”

Em­peror Nor­ton formed in York at the end of Fe­bru­ary 2017, and qui­etly honed their ma­te­rial be­fore try­ing to develop a mo­men­tum on the live cir­cuit. Their first gig was sup­port­ing Syd Arthur, which Corry de­scribes as a “pretty hor­ri­ble” ex­pe­ri­ence, with a poor sound ham­per­ing their de­ter­mi­na­tion. How­ever, de­spite their trou­bles, the crowd re­ac­tion was pos­i­tive, which en­cour­aged them to press ahead with their ap­proach.

“A lot of the places we were try­ing to get gigs in were re­fus­ing to let us play be­cause we didn’t have a record­ing,” re­calls key­board player Marc Green. “We did a re­ally rough-and-ready record­ing and then got a gig. Then we were all aware that we needed to record it prop­erly be­fore we moved on to the next stage.”

The re­sult is their en­gag­ing, self-ti­tled de­but al­bum, which was re­leased ear­lier this year, and it’s a record­ing that has al­ready gar­nered a num­ber of pos­i­tive re­views, much to their en­ter­tain­ment.

“The feed­back has been un­ex­pected and over­whelm­ing,” says Corry. “We got a com­ment on YouTube where one of our tracks was com­pared di­rectly to 2112 by Rush. I mean, we re­ally don’t de­serve that, but peo­ple seem to gen­uinely like the mu­sic.”

The band have al­ready gath­ered to­gether ma­te­rial for an­other al­bum, which is slated for re­lease next year. RW

“I WAS LIS­TEN­ING TO THE SORT OF MU­SIC THAT A SKATE­BOARD­ING KID WOULD UN­TIL ONE DAY MY GRAND­FA­THER PUT ON CLOSE TOTHE EDGE.”EM­PEROR NOR­TON:THEY LOVE TO GET CLOSE TO THE EDGE…

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