Fantastic Dreamer is a substantial work, filled with progressive elements both familiar and possessing TCP’s distinctive flair. Opener Schizoid and Guntrip addresses the relationship betwen a psychiatric patient and his therapist, Tarnecky’s Peter Gabriel-meets-Fish theatrical vocal delivery backed by Wright’s grungy King Crimson-ish guitar work is both unsettling and awe-inspiring. In the Movie of You features Tarnecky’s wistful take on the golden age of Hollywood and how stars once were bigger than life. Devotee explores the unconditional love between a spiritual teachers and his student.
“There are also implications for the [common experience] of humanity, where each of us is faced with the choice between living your life ‘up’ or ‘down’,” expands Tarnecky on his concept behind Devotee. “It kind of ties into the TCP logo of those who want to contribute and those who want to take away and be negative.” Says Tobias, “Henry writes all the lyrics and is very poetic. He writes in multi-layer meanings.”
“There is that multi-dimensional aspect,” adds Wright, “but Henry still puts syllables together so they flow smoothly. I had written a bunch of songs that I thought would be instrumentals because I thought there would be no way anyone could ever sing to them. And then Henry shows up with an MP3 [with added vocals] in my email. I thought, ‘How could those songs ever be without vocals?’”
Due to Tarnecky’s singing style and the group’s symphonic instrumental arrangements, TCP gets pegged stylistically as melodic neo-progressive both by fans and critics. Band members consider the tag irrelevant.
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Tommy Hash: When looking at both albums, what is it that you set out to do musically with Fantastic Dreamer as opposed to The Way?
Jack Wright: Probably the biggest goal for 'Fantastic Dreamer' was to give it more a sense of cohesion. Although greatly valued, we cut the number of guest appearances and more focus was placed on the contributions of the core members. We started with a list of other goals but once the creative process started, the songs took on a life of their own and we went wherever they took us.
Blake Tobias: I think a bit of the cohesiveness also comes from a more guitar-centric approach on this one. Also, earlier in the album cycle we had already tackled Vision, a composition that Glenn (Arpino ) brought in, which with the other earlier songs began to set a real nice tone for the album.
Tommy: What about the lyrics?
Henry Tarnecky: TCP allows me total freedom to go in any direction when it comes to vocals and lyrics as was the case on The Way. That being said, on Fantastic Dreamer, I applied my usual lyrical technique which consists of developing a deep intuitive connection to the tracks and working out the lyrical subject matter based on visualizations or images I perceive as inspired by the emotion of the music. When that connection occurs, the lyrics flow from sourced experiences, real emotions, and simple “why am I here” soul questions, plus just about everything else that goes on in a person’s life or perceived world from birth to death and beyond!"
Blake: The confluence of the vocal lines and lyrics Henry creates becomes a major feature of our songs. He's always finding ways I think are impossible."
SoT: Ok, let's talk about Fantastic Dreamer. Would you describe it as a concept album, or is it more of a collection of great songs with similar intentions?
Henry Tarnecky: Fantastic Dreamer is more of a collection of great songs, although there are some common lyrical threads that tend to weave through a good number of the tracks. These threads instinctively and intuitively probe the purpose of human life, love and the spirit element beyond the flesh or tangible world we see, because it might be said that this entire human experience is very much like a Fantastic Dream!
SoT: What are your hopes and expectations for Fantastic Dreamer?
Blake Tobias: I'm hoping that it gives another reason for prog fans to listen to what I believe is the unique sound and style we offer. I think it's pretty hard to confuse us with any other band out there.
SoT: I am so glad you guys found me. Normally I have to search for bands as good as yours. Describe your market outreach strategy, because I know few bands that have your skill.
Blake: Thank you so much....there are certainly a lot of talented bands out there. From an outreach standpoint we just make sure our web site and social sites, such as Facebook, are kept current and that we are interacting with fans there. As for market strategy, we don't have any tricks up our sleeve. 10T Records takes care of most of the marketing stuff and promos. My thought is that in the end, hopefully our music rises up enough to be a word of mouth sort of chain reaction. One thing is for sure, almost all prog people know other prog people and make their feelings known!
SoT: Schizoid and Guntrip really kicks Fantastic Dreamer off well. But this song feels and sounds so different from the rest of the album. Was that intentional?
Jack Wright: "S&G" is a little different than the rest of Fantastic Dreamer... but not really different from other TCP pieces. It would probably fit nicely between He's Like You and Heavy Billy from our first album. It was Blake's suggestion to start Fantastic Dreamer off with S&G and I thought it was a great idea. Kinda gives the listener a little "smack in the face" you know... to get the blood flowing and listener alert for a continuing musical excursion....
SoT: If it's ok, let's talk about your first album, The Way. You Can Never Know is another great statement on life. That pause for "Are you still there?" was cool. It works perfectly with the song structure. Who was inspired to create that cool moment?
Blake: That's all Henry who's got total carte blanche with all lyrics. He has such special creativity and intuition with those things. If I remember correctly, Henry once questioned whether that phrase should be taken out – Jack and I were emphatic: "absolutely not!". We loved it when we heard it. I think everyone does.
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Progressive music is musical freedom. In some ways it can be considered the Anti-Pop ; a revolt against the notion that music should be made to fit some formulaic need for the chronically impatient general populace, or should be fully absorbed on the first listen. In this respect, progressive is more akin to classical composition than to radio friendly songs the broadcast industry has pushed for so long.