Interview with Richard West of Threshold

With their ninth studio album, March of Progress, due for release imminently, we recently caught up with Threshold keys man Richard West who talked us through just what the band have been up to in the past five years.

Hi Richard, thanks for taking the time to chat to us today.  Before anything else, for those readers of the site who maybe haven’t heard of you can you give us a bit of background about yourselves?

How would you describe the band? Where are you from? How long have you been together?
We’re a progressive metal band, we grew up listening to the classic metal and progressive rock bands from our home country of England during the 70’s and 80’s, so that just naturally became a large part of our sound. We got together at the end of the 80’s and released our first album in 1993. So 20 years on, March Of Progress is our 9th studio album.

It’s been five years since your last studio album, is it hard to get back into the groove of writing and recording?
It was a little harder than usual, possibly because of the long gap, and possibly also because a lot happened during that time. Certainly the departure and subsequent death of our vocalist Andrew McDermott affected us on a number of levels.

Has the song writing dynamic changed over the years?
The early part of Threshold’s career was mostly dominated by the writing partnership of founder members Karl Groom and Jon Jeary. Together they wrote a number of classics such as “Devoted”, “Eat The Unicorn” and “The Ravages Of Time”. After Jon left in 2002 I replaced him in that partnership as well as writing my own songs. There have been a number of other band members writing over the years but that’s probably the main change.

Where did the inspiration for the album come from?
With the return of our original vocalist Damian Wilson it was important for us not to go back in time and make an older sounding record. Damian was with us in the 90’s but we didn’t want to go back to that sound, we wanted to make this album our most modern sounding album so far, the natural successor to our last album Dead Reckoning.

Any crazy moments when you were writing the album?
Not really, writing is just a long internal process. I’m probably not so easy to talk to while I’m writing music, the song fills my thoughts and won’t go away until it’s finished. If there’s a lyric that’s not complete then I often won’t sleep until it’s resolved.

Can you give us a quick description of what each track is about?
Ashes – This song was originally called “March Of Progress”, it wonders how well are we doing and how long will it last.
Return of the Thought Police – This song is about the concern of watching our freedom slip away.
Staring at the Sun – “Staring At The Sun” is about standing up for what you believe in.
Liberty Complacency Dependency – I guess this is a parable for modern times, it follows the theme of the songs that have come before it.
Colophon – “Colophon” is about looking for the truth about the world, the universe and other realms.
Hours – This is a song about persistence, about pushing forwards until you arrive at your goal.
That’s Why We Came – This one was written by Damian, it’s about putting a price on our progress.
Don’t Look Down – “Don’t Look Down” is about rising up and fulfilling your potential.
Coda – This one was written by Pete Morten, it discusses the fallibility that’s in us all. It also contains a tribute to our late singer Andrew McDermott.
The Rubicon – In some ways this is a song about Threshold, looking back over what we’ve done. It also quotes some of our other albums for those who can spot the references.

Who did you work with on the production and creation of the album and cover work?
The artwork is from an Italian artist called Davide Nadalin, he also worked on the cover for our last album “Dead Reckoning”. We allowed him total freedom to interpret the theme of the album and we love what he’s done.

Do you feel the metal scene has changed much over the past 25 years?
Certainly from our point of view, it’s been interesting to watch progressive metal come of age over the last 25 years. For such a long time it was only underground but now it’s becoming more popular. To see festivals like Wacken getting attendances now of 80,000 just shows how much metal has grown while other genres have come and gone.

Do you prefer being out on the road or working in the studio?
I really enjoy both, it’s nice to have both sides of the work. We didn’t do any shows so far in 2012, so now I’m really looking forward to 2013 to do some shows again.

In-between recording and playing live, what do you guys do to kick back and relax? Any unusual hobbies or any side projects?
Not really, we all just live and breathe music! I used to enjoy playing football, but once I was fouled during a match and afterwards I was unconscious in hospital for three days. So afterwards I didn’t want to play so much!

What are the plans for the rest of this year and moving into 2013?
For the rest of the year I will continue writing music, we don’t want to wait another five years before we do another Threshold album. We’re hoping to tour in March 2013, our very own “March” Of Progress!

Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to the readers?
Thanks for your support, I hope you enjoy “March Of Progress”.

March of Progress is available from August 24th in Europe and from Sept 11th in North America from Nuclear Blast.

Threshold are:
Damian Wilson – vocals
Karl Groom – guitar
Pete Morten – guitar
Richard West – keyboards
Johanne James – drums
Steve Anderson – bass



About Scott Watson

Part time guitarist and wannabe rock star. Long time lover of metal, xbox, football and my family while writing and editing for