Mittwoch, 10. Juli 2013

Changes - Bandinfo, Interview, Video, Links


in the past, when i discovered neofolk, i got to know the band "Changes." I heard the album "Fire of Life"(Cthulhu Records, Storm 1996) and this album was one of the many reasons, why i love neofolk/darkfolk today.Feel free to read the infos, the interview, or watch some videos.There are also links to all the infos below the videos.

Changes are an American folk band formed in 1969 by cousins Robert N. Taylor and Nicholas Tesluk. Changes saw three distinct periods with rotating band members before their contemporary incarnation, heavily associated with the neofolk genre.

Robert Nicholas Taylor, better known as Robert N. Taylor is an American musician, artist, Germanic Neopagan, writer and political activist whose musical projects include Changes and Soul Of Steel.

Early live performances (1969-1973)
Changes formed in 1969 as a duo of Taylor and Tesluk playing small Chicago venues. The duo began playing in small coffee houses and clubs associated with the Process Church before branching out to other folk music venues in the Chicago area, such as University campuses. In 1973, Taylor moved to New Mexico, resulting in a year long break for the group.

Reformation (1974-1977)
After moving back to Chicago, Taylor and Tesluk decided to reform the group in 1974, adding Robert Taylor’s wife, Karen Taylor, to the roster as a vocalist and musician. Between 1975-1976 , Carol DePugh joined the group. The group played sporadic live shows during this period although never releasing any recorded material. In 1977, due to Tesluk’s marriage and subsequent relocation to Colorado, the group decided to split.

Contemporary Changes (1994-present)
In 1994, after receiving a Yule card of various lyrics used by Changes from Taylor, Michael Moynihan took interest in reworking and releasing demo recordings the band had previously put together. After a dormancy of almost 18 years, the group had resurfaced.

In 1994, after receiving a Yule card of various lyrics used by Changes from Taylor, Michael Moynihan took interest in reworking and releasing demo recordings the band had previously put together. After a dormancy of almost 18 years, the group had resurfaced.

1995 saw the release of Changes' first proper release, Fire Of Life, a 2-track 7" as a joint release by Moynihan's Storm Records and the German Cthuhlu Records. This was followed in 1996 by a full length CD of the same name, containing 11 songs. Both releases contain analog open reel Changes demo material from 1969 to 1974 remastered and reworked by Moynihan and Taylor. In 1998, Changes released another proper full length - Legends, based around the concept of various historical European legends, although now long out of print.

The Austrian label HauRuck! rereleased Fire Of Life in both LP and CD form in 2001 before releasing a new full length Changes album, Orphan In The Storm. German label Eis Und Licht released Time, a split 10" with Changes and Cadaverous Condition in 2004 with an appearance by Matt Howden. 2004 also saw Changes appear live at the Flammenzauber festival in Heldrungen, Germany. This recording was later released by the German Neue Aesthetik label as the Hero Takes His Stand double LP.

Changes released another 7" through HauRuck! in 2005 titled Twilight and an untitled split CD later that year with Andrew King through the Portuguese Terra Fria label.

November 2005 found Changes performing in six cities of five European countries during their "The Men Among the Ruins Tour". Starting in Sintra, Portugal (with Andrew King (UK)), continuing to Antwerp, Belgium; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary (with The Moon and the Nightspirit); and concluding with two cities, St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia (with Allerseelen).

In 2005, Nicholas Tesluk and Robert N. Taylor also met with the German musician Axel Frank of the Folk music outfit Werkraum followed by a close collaboration and the common, international acclaimed release "Kristalle" E.P. through Steinklang Industries Austria. Since then both are part of Werkraum's growing musical collective and further activities and releases are scheduled.

As part of the joint performance between Changes and Allerseelen in Russia in November 2005, a split CD was produced by Indiestate in Moscow, "Men Among the Ruins", containing three new songs by Changes and also three new songs by Allerseelen. It was released in autumn 2006.

The LP "A Ripple in Time" was released by White Label on October 31, 2006. The LP contains several songs that Robert and Nicholas co-wrote in the late '60s and early '70s but had never recorded outside of rough recordings for personal or demo use. In the new studio recordings Changes revised and enhanced the vocal harmonies, guitar work and embellishments to better reflect their current style. Also included on the album is the new song "Somewhere in the Night" and two new guitar instrumentals, "Eldorado" and "Paradiso", thus essentially bridging the years from Changes' inception to the group's present incarnation. The album will later become available in CD format with extra tracks.

A limited edition LP, Legends, was released by HauRuck! on July 17, 2007. Though an LP version of their work originally published as a CD by Taproot Productions in 1998, this version contains additional musical interludes that had not been previously recorded. The graphics of the gatefold cover, though similar to those of the CD, were completely revised. Robert Ferbrache of Studio Absenta also revised the dynamics of the sound. "Legends" is a six-part song with each part retelling a story of heroism in six major European regions: "Homeric" (Greece), "The Aeneid" (Italy), "Eddic" (Scandinavia), "Song of Igor" (Russia), "Arthurian" (United Kingdom) and "El Cid" (Spain/Iberia).

In 2008, again as part of the Folk music collective of Werkraum, both Nicholas and Robert were involved in the release of the very well received traditional album "Early Love Music" (once again via Steinklang Industries), which Nicholas contributed several vocal and lyric parts as well as guitars for, while Robert Taylor interprets narrative poems and the song "Casey", well-known from the old classic by Shawn Phillips song: "A Ballad of Casey Deiss", helped by Denver-based legend Bob Ferbrache in guitar and recordings. Having worked for this exceptional work, the Changes duo returns to a side of its roots, contributing to inspiring ideas from the late sixties and giving the outcome of Axel Frank from Werkraum their authentic touch.

Changes' fifth studio album "Lament" was released in February, 2010. This album was an outgrowth of Robert and Nicholas's lives following the dissolutions of each of their marriages of many years. Poignant songs include, "The Invisible Man", "Emily" (based on the life of Emily Dickinson), "The End of the Road", a remix of "Mountains of Sorrow" by the members of Der Blutharsch consisting of a dramatic musical background to a voice-over of R. N. Taylor's heart-felt poetic verse. Also included are remakes of three of Changes' earlier works: "The Saddest Thing", "Memorabilia" and "Sweet Eve" (the last featuring the vocal talents of Jane Elizabeth of TESCO US).

Changes - The Godfathers of interview
What does the Bandname 'Changes' mean to you and how did you decide to use it?
We discovered early on that if a title of a song, a poem, book, etc. consists of a single word, it has a heavier and deeper impact than a title made up of multiple words. The name 'Changes' says a lot in one word. To change is to step off the beaten path and move away from the status quo, which was what we were doing when we founded the duo in the late 60s.

For instance, a song such as “Legends” (case in point as it was originally entitled 'Legends That We Know'), written in 1970 paints a striking visual image to the listener of a gallant time long gone. However on another level, the song is calling to the person to awaken his soul and find the true spirit within himself. Thus, to change from being one of the huddled masses to finding one’s own true calling and rising above the crowd in the heroic fashion of the noble warrior. This awakening can be any natural talent the person may inherently possess (acting, writing, painting, martial arts, etc.) but never realized due to the brain-numbing agents of modern society, such as television and video games that often keep a person’s true spirit suppressed.

The way we actually decided on the name is as Robert tells it: 'We were on our way to our first audition for a gig that paid. On the drive there we realized we did not have a formal name for the band. 'Changes' was one of the possibilities that came up and we kept it. It was a good one for the time and place because the type of balladry or folk music we were doing was very different from what was current at the time, both in style and subject matter.'
You started in the late 60s, early 70s. And then the middle of the Nineties. What is the motivation to reboot a musical career after such a long time?
And how did this start, where did the contacts come from?
Honestly, when we parted company in 1975, we didn't think there would ever be a continuance of Changes. Robert and I each moved away from our hometown of Chicago, Illinois; he moved to Wisconsin and I to Colorado. Though our hearts were still in our music and we personally thought we had something special to offer, it seemed that the group had run its course. As has happened to many other groups with dreams and aspirations that falter, we truly thought that our musical lifespan had ended.

I should mention that in the late 60s and early 70s, there were no independent record producers. It was just what was known as the 'Big 5' recording companies (Columbia, Warner Brothers, etc.) that had a monopolistic control on the entire music scene. If someone’s music didn’t fit the niche of the general folk or rock sound prevalent at the time there was no way to get that coveted recording contract. Our music certainly wasn’t the average 'folk' sound. We had quite a following of people who enjoyed our music but that fact didn’t necessarily equate to a connection with the big business of the recording companies.

Then we jump ahead to 1994. Times had changed and there was then an alternative to the big businesses with the emergence of independent record producers. Many of these companies had sprung up in America and Europe. Storm Records in America and Cthulhu Records in Germany were two of them.

Our reincarnation came about from a poetry chapbook Robert shared with Michael Moynihan of Storm Productions. He asked Robert if any of the lyrics had been set to music and if we had made any recordings. We had some demo tapes, so Robert sent them to Michael. He liked what he heard, and before long, our old reel-to-reel tapes were digitalized, and Storm and Cthulhu Records co-produced our first release, Fire of Life.

It should be noted that of the copies of Fire of Life that were produced, half were being marketed in Europe and half in the States. The European portion sold out very quickly, while sales in the States were much slower. After about ten years Changes garnered a good following in our own country, mainly on east and west coasts of the United States and to a lesser degree in mid-America. Originally, however, it was the people of Europe that we must thank for having rediscovered us. After so many years of work on our music and the hopes that all aspiring artists entertain, it seemed as though the harvest of our labors had finally borne fruit.
When you - for example - check the 'favourite Bands' list in the facebook community called 'Neofolk', the name Changes appears in every second list at least. Do you feel that this is the musical genre you belong to?That is truly a great feeling to be in some way affecting and entertaining several generations of people. When we founded the group in the late 60s, there was no 'counter-folk' movement or certainly wasn’t anything of the sort that could have been even given a name. Our music was different than prevailing folk music of the time but we were quite alone in that difference. There may have been other musicians with similar thoughts throughout the world, but I would think that none were aware of each other so there was no joint effort to create a musical genre. In the 70s, when we performed 'Twilight' or 'Fire of Life', there were very few who understood the meaning of the songs. The people who didn’t grasp the concept would just blankly stare at us when we performed that part of our repertoire. The love songs and songs of heroic legends, on the other hand, had a more universal appeal.

We have been called the fathers of Apocalyptic Folk, for we were quite possibly the first. There are other performers and musical ensembles who later independently created this type of music (for no one had heard of Changes until our resurgence in the 90s). So the evolution of Neofolk came about, not because of us, but definitely out of a parallel universe similar to the one through which we were trying to direct people with our songs in the early years.

To have appeal to a few different generations of people is quite a reward in itself. So I would think that this is the genre to which we belong. Our sound may evolve in coming years to give it some variety but our basis will still be in Neofolk.
This is a quite European style of music... do you feel more related to this scene or do you feel at home in the modern American folk scene as well?
As I have mentioned, our style of music was recognized and accepted very quickly in Europe when first heard. Each time that we have visited there we’ve always felt a very close camaraderie with the European people. This has definitely made us quite at home in the European music scene. But on the other hand, as I’ve also mentioned, there has been a growing acceptance of our music here in the States. And the people that like our music here are as serious about it as our European friends are. I don’t think it is necessarily because our music now sounds more like American folk but more likely because Americans now have an increased acceptance of the European style of folk music.
Usually, folk or dark folk bands - even the great ones - tend to incorporate at least a little bit of medieval influences which to me looks and sounds more like a sort of cliche, even if it is - through the atmosphere that this creates - quite tempting. You never did this. Why?
Same question, but exactly the other way around, goes for the industrial sounds. You never used these either....

It seems to be wherever our Muse takes us. I’m not one of those people that say 'I like all kinds of music'. There are a few forms of music that I really don’t like. Music that I particularly like is Celtic and British folk, modern and ancient. I like classical symphonic and chamber music. I also like rock music and even metal music if it has a good strong melody line and not just screaming noise.

So I believe that most of my compositions have some influences of the musical styles that I like. Often I’m guided by the lyrics, either my own or Robert’s, and if the spirit is there, the music will emphasize and complement the lyrics while still having a good melody unlike anything I’ve created before. This sounds like a rather daunting task, but fortunately, when I feel the spirit of the lyrics correctly, it flows naturally without conscious thought. Thus, there isn’t an actual avoidance of a certain style like medieval music, but we don’t plan to use or reject a particular style, it’s just how it happens.

Our particular musical style doesn’t really lend itself to industrial sounds. I enjoy listening to live performances of musicians performing industrial music, and the performers doing it well can get an audience into an almost hypnotic swoon. Though our songs may have rhythmic influences, in most cases the melody, in a bardic or classical sense, is the guiding force of the sound rather than the rhythm, so a strong rhythmic beat with a line of lyrics repeated over and over is just not quite our style.

Is there a difference in creating the songs you write from the 60s to today?In our music there are three basic classifications; the love/love lost songs, the songs of heroes/legendary figures and the apocalyptic songs. The love/love lost songs are timeless and the same feelings that generated emotions for us then are there now. The same feelings of loss that I had experienced with my marriage separation in 2003 were similar to feelings I’ve had with previously failed relationships. Conversely, for instance, the feelings of love that I wrote about in the song 'Never So True' from Orphan in the Storm, were similar to good emotions I had experienced previously.

The songs of heroism and legends are, of course, timeless throughout the ages and just as someone reading Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey could identify with the heroes as though they walked the earth today, the songs we have written about Pan, Aphrodite or any of the legendary characters and settings in Legends, are as alive in the lyrics as any present day, larger-than-life person. So, since Robert and I have always admired heroic, legendary characters as a guide to the honor, integrity and strength of what could make this world a better and stronger place, the songs could have been written at any time of our lives with the same feeling and meaning.

The apocalyptic songs tell of the decay of civilization and of a bleak and dying world. They are a bit different, since they are more relevant to a particular time. But a song like 'Twilight', based on Spengler’s 'Decline of the West', spoke of the decline of Western civilization and seemed a bit unusual when performed in the late 60s even though the prophecies were already becoming fact. Fast-forward to the 90s when it was released on Fire of Life and the lyrics were extremely relevant since society had eroded that much more in the intervening twenty-five years.

Is there always a deeper meaning to your lyrics?
Or is it sometimes just plain clear as 'every sign tells me this is the end of the road' (which I hope has nothing to do with you releasing music ;-))?
Many of our songs have a deeper meaning but with 'The End of the Road', rather than having a meaning hidden it the song, it was created as an analogy of the events of my life at the time. Following twenty good years of marriage, I was seeing strong indications that our time together was drawing to an end. These lyrics were written two years before we actually divorced, while my wife was very unhappy and disillusioned with her situation as a wife and mother. This was a dark and difficult time for me. It was then that I realized that our time together was much like being on a trip that I had truly enjoyed, only to find that the glorious holiday would soon be over. The two 'special star shines' on the path were the births of our two children which, of course, were (and still are) the absolute highlights of this journey and of my life.

The lyrics are exclusively about the events of the rise and fall of my twenty plus years of marriage and are definitely not related to our music. For, in fact, the rest of the story unfolds like a motion picture where one scene fades out while another fades in. The year that I divorced was 2003. Though Changes reemerged for its 'Third Incarnation' in 1995, it coincidentally wasn’t until the year 2003 that Robert and I were invited to the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig to perform together again for the first time in close to thirty years. We already had recorded the songs for Orphan in the Storm which were to be released later that same year.

So from the dismal ashes of a finally failed marriage, emerged a hope and purpose to my life (similarly with Robert’s situation as he had separated about two years previous). I was rehearsing hard to get the 'magic' back in my guitar playing which had become a bit 'rusty' in the intervening years of musical inactivity. I was able to immerse myself into my rehearsals, which also included memorizing all of the songs again for a live performance since we perform about twenty to twenty five songs on average. Robert and I, though living thousands of miles apart, were composing new songs and our lives had a new meaning that allowed us to triumph over the loss and desolate sorrow that we both had endured.

Thus, as we both discovered, it is great to have an art form (including anything from music, drama, painting or any creative outlet a person might excel in) to help guide them over the difficult and tragic times in life. The songs and poems on Lament were the outlet by which Robert and I were able to keep our sanity through that dark and troubled time.

So, to further answer your question, we will be around for as long as we can still move, stand and breathe. Our life would be quite incomplete without our art and music.


Thank you very much!
Some songs

Changes - Memorabilia

Changes - Horizons that I See

 Changes - The Invisible Man

Changes - Song of Pan


Changes in concert *klick* 

See you,