Citizen Cain has existed since 1982 and of course you have had your rough times, including a band break up. Have you always kept faith in Citizen Cain and do you consider it to be the same band?
Cyrus – No, the early citizen cain lacked the key ingredient ie, the keyboards. When stewart bell joined the whole arena changed radically allowing for new beginnings.
Stewart – We are very different now from the first band, they were also a 3 piece but their style was quite unique, more rhythmic and dark, almost punky at times. The drummer would play occasional keyboards but they mainly composed their songs with guitar, bass and drums compared to the keyboard laden music we are producing nowadays.
Skies Darken can be seen as your glorious return after ten years absence. I have not read any negative critism about your new album and many people eager to rediscover your elder work. How is it like to be welcomed again by an area that might have misunderstood your music for more than 30 years?
Cyrus – Personally I have been misunderstood since the day i was born! i think that for so long there has been this GENESIS tag (the plague) of that particular field of music, so there are times when our music may not have been as open to the ears as it could be, there are aspects of all kinds of music in all prog, nothings new, how can it be.
Stewart – I agree that many were put off by what they considered yet another genesis clone but it is also the very thing that got our foot in the door of the prog scene. In a bid to lose that tag we may have gone too far from our roots but with this album I believe we have found a perfect balance. Personally its all about the feedback for me, a great review will always bring a smile to my face, if ive made a few people happy with my work then I’m quite satisfied.
When I listened to your new album I was struck by the huge progress you made in your compositions, which sound very well-thought. It seems to me that there is more balance in your music, it sounds more mature. Have you spent the last ten years growing mature as a band or as a person?
Cyrus – None of the above, there was an agreement between us that skies darken would be written as one song from start to finish which is what it is? lyrically i felt that an unbroken chain would be stronger than segments like a lot of individual pieces with there own agenda. The difference is skies darken would continue its theme through out the album, its much easier to focus on one piece.
Stewart – Well I disagree with cyrus on that one, I have spent the last ten years discovering myself.I was forced to come face to face with myself, to take a good hard look at who i really was and what i really wanted. To realise that everything up to that point in my life had been the result of a lifetime of conditioning. I wasn’t who or what i wanted to be and i had to take responsibility for the way this world had made me turn out. I was given no choice but to grow up and leave my past behind and that, I believe, is reflected in the spirit of this album. The music was heavily inspired by the turmoil I went through and I feel that there is more emotion in the music than there has been in the past because of this. I think all in all it really helped me find the balance that the music was lacking before this album.
After a couple of changes in your line-up you have become a band with three members. How did you write your new album, what is the role of each member of Citizen Cain in the process of songwriting? What was the reason you started working on Skies Darken and how long did it take before you were satisfied with the result?
Stewart – On this album I wrote all of the music. Cyrus helps with the arrangements of the songs, usually this is done so as to get his vocals to fit in but he also advises as a constructive critic when it comes to song structures. Phil plays what he’s given which is pretty difficult for him at times as the guitar parts are written on keyboard so a lot of the fingering is very different from his usual style. He considered having an extra finger grafted on while learning the material for the last album.
Your early work draw the attention of your listeners very strong to their quaint, surrealistic artwork. From your album Playing Dead on, you have never used that style again. What was the reason to leave this style and what’s the story behind the artwork of Skies Darken? By the way, the font you choose for your accompanioned text is barely readable. What was the reason to choose for such a font and lay out?
Cyrus – There has been no deviation from the style of the other artwork, the art for skies darken is what i wanted, more space starker simpler images, it for me it relates perfectly what i wanted. The font? Big mistake!
In the lyrics of Citizen Cain are a lot of references to the ancient Greek mythology to be found. What’s the attraction of these themes for you and what’s the link to the subjects of the songs at your new album?
Cyrus – I like the poetic flavour of myths, they relate knowledge from a time far removed from us. The big big questions, who are we, what are we, where are we from, and WHY? That is skies darken.
Your beautiful song ‘Fountains Of Sands’ contents the following text: ‘ Someone said That Heaven’s all around me, someone said through sin you go to hell, but aready we’re here. Which filosofy lives behind this text? Do you live in a real hell on earth?
Cyrus – The world is but a dream, we live in empty space, and in that space we are only dreamers, its not a philosophy, its a truth, the whole universe is pure energy, consciousness. We are the seeds of that mind, but something interrupted our growth, our awareness, and that is what owns us.
The lyrics or the atmosphere of Citizen Cain always seem to contain something sinister or even wicked. I learned that you have the filosofy that the dark side of people must be chaneled to avoid excesses like like murder and war. What is the role of the music of Citizen Cain in that process?
Cyrus – No i certainly would not agree with that quote ,and i don’t believe that we can change any thing. We are driven like sheep to our pens, we don’t choose anything, it only seems like we do. Fate. Our only hope is to look upwards, our habit is too look down into hades and what do you see? Your feet! As far as wicked or sinister is concerned, man is riddled with it . You cant speak of light without knowing of the darkness.
In future your audience will have the chance to rediscover your earlier work, as your label F2 will release them again. Can you advise which album or song we have to pay special attention to, as we have missed another masterpiece of Citizen Cain?
Stewart – Playing Dead is the closest you will get to the new album although it is a lot more complex and, musically, it is relentless. There is very little space on that album and it is constantly changing so it makes for difficult listening, it’s a slow burner but for those who wish to invest some time in it the rewards will be pleasing, I would hope. For those who prefer the genesis/ marillion influence in our music I would recommend Somewhere But Yesterday.
I can imagine that you are very busy nowadays. Your new album caught a lot of publicity and the first edition even has been sold out. Ofcourse you know that our world is going to end 21 December 😉
How will you spend your time from now to that day? Do you have some concrete plans for the comming months?
Cyrus – I think the idea of the word catastrophe at the end of the mayan calender in 2012 is like a wake up call, truly a WAKE UP, the end of some great cycle and the return too the original source of our being. We will waken up or at the very least 2012 will herald the advent in the evolution of our personal and collective consciousness.
What will i be doing? Working on my solo album (ARCULUS).
Stewart – Not so busy with the new album to be honest, the record company deals with all the promotion etc. Not sure how the sales are going, sold out simply meant I was waiting for a new package of cds from the record company before I could ship any more orders unfortunately.
I too am working on a solo project, although the fact that it will feature both cyrus and phil on vocals will, technically, make it a citizen cain project. Phil will be reprising his role as guitarist also. Only difference is that it will feature another 2 vocalists (one male, one female) in order to fill the roles of the other characters in the story. That story is based on my life as an oneironaut, ie, an explorer of the dream world. I have been a lucid dreamer since the age of 6 and I have many interesting experiences from that world to share, including the synchronicities that have developed between it and the real world, the strange and wonderful encounters I have had there and the profound questions that inevitably arise when one lives in two separate worlds for most of their life.Its already well underway so there will be no more ten year waits for anyone yearning another fix of cyrus, phil and myself at play…