Spherical Agenda has released their new album titled ‘Arcane Wisdom’, as well as given us an exclusive glimpse into the band via an interview.
What we get, right from the start, with ‘Arcane Wisdom’, is that unique wisdom within the clefs of true progressive and improv rock from the minds of masters. That freeform mentality that seamlessly glides and sways between rock and jazz carrying monster hooks and master riffs in such ways only progressive songwriters can. And can with style.
What does your band name mean? What is the spherical agenda?
The term “Spherical Agenda” stems from a flat-earth joke. A few years back, a couple of us were in the car together on the way home from a gig, and flat-earth theory came up in conversation. We coined the term “spherical agenda” to describe the argument against those who believe the earth is flat. It had a cool ring to it, and compelling band names are hard to come by, so we named our band right then and there. What’s the Spherical Agenda songwriting process?
The majority of the material started out as pieces brought in by (guitarist) Brandon Coleman and (keyboardist) Ben Tweedt. The both of them have a lot of compositions to their respective names. Even though a lot of these pieces of music stand well on their own as is, we always dive in to the details as a group to arrange and further refine them. So even though the bulk of the composition credit usually goes to one person, there’s always a healthy, collective spin on each one. This also helps each song develop a unique personality.
Who are some of your contemporary influences?
The first name that comes to mind is Progger. Brian Donohoe and his crew are such incredible players and humans alike. We all really look up to them musically, and are also thrilled to call them our good friends. We’ve been hosting each other off and on for a few years now when either of us hit the road.
Some other names that inspire the band are keyboardist Alex Argento and (drummer) Virgil Donati’s band Planet X. We are really making it a point to incorporate influences from the more prog/rock-oriented side of things – especially in terms of arrangement and sound design. “Fusion” tends to be viewed as a genre that is more jazz-inspired than anything else. While this definitely has a lot of truth to it, we really make it a goal to bridge the gap between jazz, rock, and progressive music a lot more than some other artists do.
What’s your current favorite instrument to play or piece of gear?
Let’s be real – we all play music for the gear! In all seriousness though, I play a lot of basses, but I have Moollon J-Classic that was finally completed in August that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s essentially a clone of a 1966 Fender Jazz Bass, and it’s stunning both in looks and playability. Young Joon Park (master luthier at Moollon) is a truly a master craftsman. Whatever I’m playing, I always amplify through a Bergantino amps and cabs. Jim Bergantino’s equipment is hands down some of the finest gear on the market these days.
Brandon has been on a tremendous Ibanez kick lately. He currently has nine of them, all from the years 88-94 when all of the models were made in Japan. A few of the standouts are a quilt-maple top Gambale and a desert yellow RG.
Ben gets a tremendous amount of work done with his Nord Stage and Yamaha CP-88. For studio work, we also often use an original Rhodes and Wurlitzer, as well as Spectrasonics Keyscape. You could argue that using Keyscape for acoustic piano sounds can be more practical than recording an actual acoustic instrument in many cases since you aren’t glued to specific mid placements or dealing with isolation issues.
Devon plays a set of Yamaha Absolute Maples that he loves. It’s a really well-rounded kit that can be used for just about anything with the proper tuning. His cymbals are primarily Zildjian, and his pedals are DW 9000 series.
Spherical Agenda is a jazz-rock fusion band consisting of the midwest region’s top musicians. Hailing from Cincinnati, OH, their sound not only draws from the cutting edge of today’s fusion, but harkens back to the reckless abandon and pure energy of groups like Tony Williams Lifetime, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Return to Forever. Featuring Matt Wiles on bass, Brandon Coleman on guitar, Ben Tweedt on keyboards and Devon Leigh on drums, Spherical Agenda is a powerhouse band who’s unique chemistry gives rise to infectious grooves, daring solos, and captivating energy.
‘Arcane Wisdom’, the band’s full-length debut album, is an eclectic assortment of compositions featuring diverse musical influences and a sharply-honed skill set. Whether it be their progressive rhythmic explorations or soul-infused grooves, Spherical Agenda consistently pushes the musical envelope while paying homage to their home state’s rich heritage of funk and soul. Despite the all-encompassing nature of their style and sound, the band maintains a singular, identifiable voice, proving themselves to be an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with.
‘Arcane Wisdom’, the band’s full-length debut album, is an eclectic assortment of compositions featuring diverse musical influences and a sharply-honed skill set. Whether it be their progressive rhythmic explorations or soul-infused grooves, Spherical Agenda consistently pushes the musical envelope while paying homage to their home state’s rich heritage of funk and soul. Despite the all-encompassing nature of their style and sound, the band maintains a singular, identifiable voice, proving themselves to be an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with.Spherical Agenda
Despite the band itself being fairly young, the collective is cultivating an ever-growing list of accomplishments. The band’s members have credits including: performances with the Snarky Horns, The Drifters, Fareed Haque, Grammy-Nominated Dan Pugach Nonet, and Sam Blakelsee Quintet and Large Ensembles, clinics and masterclasses both nationally and abroad, and recording credits such as the television series DC’s Legends of Tomorrow soundtrack and the upcoming “For the Love of King”, a compilation series by the Bootsy Collins Foundation benefiting the restoration of historic King Records.
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