Prog pop may not be the most obvious combination in the music-fusion canon but forward-thinker Easton Guillory is not putting on the brakes on his creative train. Ahead of his new EP, End of Walls, we got chatting to the man himself to find out more…
RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?
Tricky one. I find myself going back and forth between a classic 70s-ish prog album like Gentle Giant’s Power and Glory, Bowies Hunky Dory or literally anything by King Crimson, and a more modern vibe like Alt-J’s first two albums or a selection of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. If I really must choose I think it would have to come down to a Radiohead album, choosing between them is like making me choose between my children (cats).
At the time of first listen I’d say the album that gripped me the most was Hail to the thief. A really great balance of tricky time signatures, everchanging modulation and general proggy vibes but delivered in a manner that is approachable by your average joe and not too scary on first glance. The range of instrumentation and general soundscape between tracks I also find interesting, almost an homage to how they have developed throughout the years since Pablo, giving hints of punk rock, electronic, heavy rock, orchestral etc. Always maintaining a very clear Radiohead sound and compositional approach.
RR: How did you first discover rock music?
I was pretty late to rock music to be honest, growing up the only music that was played in our house was traditional English or Gaelic folk music which was down to my mam, she’s a mega ‘folky.’ By the time I was a teenager and finally got my first electric guitar and started receiving lessons, my teacher introduced me to the world of classic rock like Gun’s N Roses, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin etc. Although it wasn’t until I came to Leeds to study music at University that I truly found my own musical opinion and fell in love with all things proggy and weird.
RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?
I think every genre has its good and bad artists, and rock is no exception, however I do genuinely feel positive about the future for rock. The rise of bands such as Black Midi and Black Country New Road is extremely exciting for noise/prog rock and rock in general as I think they are really going in their own direction and bring a sense of originality, which gets harder and harder every day.
You have Richard Dawson with his last few albums, a strange mixture of folk-esque lyrics with very proggy composition and often quite purposely harsh performance giving it the very rawest of feels. The new band The Smile is also very exciting, again using typically very proggy compositional methods like crazy time signatures and sudden modulations, but with an overlying sense of punky jazz?!? I think underground scenes in cities across UK are getting more impactful so bands with your smaller ‘cult’ followings are getting more recognition in the wider community and it’s something I personally love to see.
RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?
It’s gonna have to be Radiohead. They were the band that made me seriously fall in love with music and set the foundations for my musical opinion as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, the way they can disguise very proggy and general unconventional compositional techniques within user-friendly rock music is baffling. When you see your none musician friends nodding there head along to a song in 13/8 you know something has been done right. I’m almost always surprised when I actually start to analyse a Radiohead song because it always ends up being way more complicated than it sounds.
I read somewhere recently that Radiohead were defined as ‘stealth prog’ which I just absolutely loved because it explains this entirely. Radiohead are the kings of stealth prog, and that’s why they’re my favourite band.
RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?
Yes like I mentioned earlier I have hope that the growth of underground scenes and smaller cult followings will bring forward these more unconventional bands/artists and more styles of music are being accepted into the mainstream media.
RR: Progressive pop is such an interesting and unique genre label, what made you want to produce music within this sphere?
At the risk of repeating myself, the whole idea of having unconventional, proggy ideas within a nice, easy sounding package is something that really appeals to me. Being my debut EP I want it to be accepted by a wider crowd but I’m also really not one for a 1, 5, 6, 4 progression if you feel me.
Personally I never listen to lyrics first in a song, I’m always drawn to the music and the lyrics come entirely second, which is parallel to how I write music 90% of the time. I wanted the music to be the main interest in my songs, however I still wanted to tell my story therefore the music needed to make way for that. This balance of trying to make the music interesting whilst not being too overwhelming for the lyrics to have actual meaning and impact, resulted in this Prog Pop blend.
RR: What was the general songwriting process on the EP? Were there any challenges to overcome?
It was a long and slow process the production of this EP. As usual, time and money was the main issue throughout the earlier stages and not to mention F*king covid and lockdowns. I worked in a restaurant as a waiter doing long hours for minimum wage while trying to find the time and money to work on this EP. It got to the point where I was pretty much ready to give up and pack it in due to how expensive it was turning out to be.
I then received the tricky news of my grandmas passing which I struggled with for a while and took some time off from music. We have a very big family with not a lot between us but when we sold our grandmas house we all got a share which finally gave me the financial boost I needed to record and produce the EP once and for all. She was always very supportive of my musical endeavours and turned out to be the sole reason I was able to take them further, even after death.
Easton’s new EP ‘End Of Walls’ drops 05/04/22!
Connect with Easton Guillory below: