TILT is the musical project of Steve Vantsis, the bass player (and so, songwriter) of the Fish Band! After an EP released in 2009, we did not have a lot of news of their promising adventures… no new music until Hinterland, their first awesome studio album available here: https://tilt.bandcamp.com/
So what? It’s just one of the top of the year! Nothing less!
Cyrille : Hi Steve and many thanks for this interview! So, could you give us a brief history of the band?
Steve Vantsis : TILT came about about afterI finished the writing and recording of the FISH album, ‘13th Star’. After it’s completion I continued to write and realised I needed something under which to release the music. So I created TILT and asked friends and colleagues from over the years to play and sing on it. We released a 5 song EP in 2009 (Million Dollar Wound) and it was very well received so the plan then was to start work on a debut full length album. I didn’t think then it would take so long to finish!
Cyrille : Six years between Million Dollar Wound and Hinterland is a bit long…
Steve Vantsis : Well, I had to get on with the ‘day job’! In the meantime I co-wrote and recorded two albums with FISH, ’13th Star’ and ‘Feast of Consequences’ which naturally took some time. We toured those albums extensively too so there was little time for TILT. I would always be working on it in between writing, recording and touring though and I think I benefitted from the regular breaks from it to get some perspective.
Cyrille : Could you define this new album in few words?
Steve Vantsis : Dark, but with hope.
« Everyone contributed to the songs in general though and it was important for everyone to have a hand in the creation of the album and for their voices to be heard. »
Cyrille : Could we say that it’s a concept album?
Steve Vantsis : Only in the sense in that there is a definite thread running through it in terms of it’s theme, but it’s not an out and out concept album. There is an overlying message though.
Cyrille : Could you introduce the members of the band?
Steve Vantsis : We have the main core of the band which is Dave Stewart on drums (Fish, Camel, Deacon Blue and many others), Paul Humphreys on guitars, Paul Dourley on vocals and myself. Robin Boult, my friend in the FISH band is also on guitars on the album and we had special guests John Beck (It Bites/Kino) on keyboards and John Mitchell (Lonely Robot/Frost/It Bites) on guitar. Paul Humphreys is an old friend of Dave Stewart and we’ve know Paul the singer for years.
Cyrille : How did you meet John Beck and John Mitchell?
Steve Vantsis : John Mitchell phoned me up and demanded that he mix the album! Thanks John! ;0) Seriously though, I’ve admired John’s work from afar for a long time and he got in touch one day and we hit it off. John Beck toured with us on the FISH ‘Feast…’ tour and we got on brilliantly. Both are top music geezers in my opinion.
Cyrille : Did you compose every titles of the album? How is the working process with the other members of the band?
Steve Vantsis : I wrote all of the music for the songs except ‘Growing Colder’, ‘Bloodline’ and ’Strontium Burning’ which were co-written with Paul Dourley and Paul Humphreys. Everyone contributed to the songs in general though and it was important for everyone to have a hand in the creation of the album and for their voices to be heard.
Cyrille : Is the title “No Superman” strictly the same as the title on the EP Million Dollar Wound?
Steve Vantsis : No. We re-recorded the bass and drums and replaced the guitar solo with a new one from Robin Boult and it was then remixed. The song sounds so much better now as a result and John’s mix has really lifted it into another place.
Cyrille : What is the impact of your collaboration with Fish on your music?
Steve Vantsis : I’ve observed his writing process as we gone from having literally having nothing written to the completion of an album. Although he doesn’t play an instrument per se, he’s very good at corralling ideas at an early stage, having a vision and generally keeping an eye on the prize. He is able to get something more out of musicians just of because of who he is and what he’s achieved in his career. He demands the very best and you strive as a musician to deliver it. So I guess I learnt a little more about focus, determination and graft.
Cyrille : What are your influences (music or other things)?
Steve Vantsis : Pretty diverse! My top 3 artists are probably Nine Inch Nails, Underworld and Boards of Canada but that’ll change tomorrow. I love the work of contemporaries such as Porcupine Tree (and Steven Wilson) but equally love things like Esbjorn Svensson Trio and Kamasi Washington. Nothing is really off limits to me. I also love great, well-crafted cinema.
Cyrille : Half of the songs lasts over eight minutes. Is it a choice?
Steve Vantsis : It was never intentional! Sometimes you say all you have to say in 4 minutes, sometimes not. I like to let the muse take me and see where it leads. The song leads the way and you follow. I’m pretty sure no-one sits down with the intention of writing a 20 minute operetta, except perhaps Jim Steinman!
Cyrille : Do you consider this album as prog-rock style or more like a great mix of styles?
Steve Vantsis : Well, I’ve never personally described TILT as prog rock, I prefer to let others decide. I think the meaning of Prog rock has changed slightly over the years too. I consider some of the Beatles and Radiohead back catalog to be prog but they obviously have other influences that go into the mix. Overall I think it’s generally healthier to look out than to look in. We are aware that there are hundreds of bands out there who have chops for weeks. We always wanted ‘Hinterland’ to be more song led and to then open up more and play out when we perform it live.
« Fish is recording his final album next year before effectively retiring so writing will soon commence for that. »
Cyrille : What are your other projects?
Steve Vantsis : TILT and Fish keeps me pretty busy. And Fish is recording his final album next year before effectively retiring so writing will soon commence for that.
Cyrille : Will you be doing any live shows in the foreseeable future?
Steve Vantsis : We are already confirmed to play at the Prog Dreams festival at De Boerderij in Zooetermeer next year. We hope to announce gigs for later this year too.
Cyrille : Recently, you toured with Fish and so, french band Lazuli. What do you think about them?
Steve Vantsis : Lazuli are a fantastic band. A real ‘Band of Brothers’ too. The whole FISH band and crew loved their music and touring with them was very easy and a great success. I look forward to seeing them in the UK in November!
Cyrille : Some last words for the readers?
Steve Vantsis :
I d like to say a massive thanks to everyone that has supported us so far! There really are some brilliant music lovers, magazines, webzines, radio and biz people out there who care a great deal about supporting small artists. Thank you!