POWER QUEST – Into A New Dimension
October 18, 2017, a month ago
Being a rockstar and living the musician’s life isn’t always the most glamorous. Case in point is Steve Williams, whose baby Power Quest was revived in 2016 after ending the journey in 2013 due to money problems and other issues. Williams has given every ounce of his energy to make a the Quest still a viable entity and new album The Sixth Dimension is paying off with the release through Inner Wound Recordings. Williams took some time to answer questions about first ending the band, the current power metal scene, having former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon guest on a track, and more.
BraveWords: This is the band’s first full-length since the split up in 2013. What was the reasoning behind breaking up the band and is there any regret doing that?
Williams: “There was a very, very simple reason as to why I decided to end the band in 2013 and it was a purely financial decision. In the 12 years up to that point I had invested so much of my own money into the band that I had built up quite a significant amount of debt which was leaving me on the cusp of potentially losing my house. It was that serious. That said, it was a no-brainer really. I didn’t want to stop but sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. I know people always want a ‘story’ such as…everyone in the band hated me or vice versa (laughs) but the reality is plain and simple. I could not afford to carry on at that point.
“I spent the next 3 years working like a dog in my day job. Hundreds of hours of overtime and no social life so I could clear my debts and get back to a level playing field.
“Regrets? Well as you can see, it’s not really a tale that could even have the loosest regret attached as it was a decision based on common sense rather than anything else.”
BraveWords: Sixth Dimension – where did the title come from? I assume it has something to do with this being your sixth album.
Williams: “The number 6 cropped up a few times to be honest. Absolutely, album number 6 was one of those reasons. It’s also 6 years since the last album was released and we are a 6 piece band as well so the idea of 6 was clearly present right from the get go.
“Once I had started writing what turned out to be the title track, I had a pretty clear idea that this would be the album title and this was reinforced when I joined forces with Richard West from Threshold to really develop the song to its full potential.
“I also like the idea of the 5th and 6th dimensions as a concept. I’m no scientist or mathematician but the ideas appeal to me on a certain level.”
BraveWords: Sixth Dimension sounds like a logical follow-up from Blood Alliance. Would you say the same? And how do you think the band’s sound has evolved?
Williams: “It’s interesting that in talking to many people on the eve of the new album being released, there have been many different comments. Some say, like you that it follows from Blood Alliance. Others have said it is more similar to Master of Illusion and others that it harks back to the days of Neverworld/Magic Never Dies.
“For me I think the return of the keyboards makes it a very different listening experience to Blood Alliance. Personally I feel it is more like the 2nd and 3rd album with maybe a sprinkling from the other albums.
“The album was engineered and produced by original PQ vocalist Alessio Garavello who now runs his own studio in London. He and I mixed the album together as well. Al probably understands me and the concept of PQ better than any other producer could do and I think we have captured the essence of PQ with this new record.
“I think my song writing has evolved a step further, particularly when considering that I’m writing on guitar now and not exclusively on keyboards as has been the case previously. It’s opened a few different doors that’s for sure.”
BraveWords: Where did you find singer Ashley Edison and why did you think he was a great fit for the band? The man has quite a set of pipes, especially on "Face The Raven".
Williams: “I’ve known Ash for 5 or 6 years now and have seen him perform a number of times with his band Dendera. He’s a great singer and a great frontman too and luckily he actually lives in the same city as I do. First time I’ve had a band member living locally to me since Adam Bickers (guitars) back in the early days of the band.
“Ash has been a PQ fan for over 10 years as well, just like the other guys I have in the band now, and he even joined us on stage at our farewell show in 2013 as Dendera were our special guests that night in London.
“When I decided to reactivate the band, I didn’t consider anyone else or even entertain the idea of auditions and so on. I met up with Ash just after Christmas 2015 and by the time we had drunk a cup of coffee together we had come to an agreement. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with him ever since.”
(Photo by: Chris Meany)
BraveWords: I sense a theme of reinvigoration and redemption throughout the album. Would you say the same?
Williams: “I think the overarching feeling or sentiment behind the album is one of hope and never giving up. Don’t let others tell you what you can or can’t do, or what you are capable of achieving. If you have a dream then believe in that dream and follow it as long as you can. When I was a teenager I dreamt of making an album, just one album and I had to wait until the ripe old age of 29 to achieve that dream. As a teenager I also dreamt of playing in Japan and USA and I had to wait until the age of 45 to realize those dreams. The point being that good things come to those who wait. I’ve slaved away all these years trying to make dreams a reality and many sacrifices have had to be made along the way. The headline news though is that it was all totally worth it.
“Absolutely. The band certainly feels invigorated again and that’s a testament to Paul, Rich, Andy, Ash and Glyn for the work ethic and enthusiasm that each one of them brings to every single thing we do as a band.”
BraveWords: How was the feeling entering the studio for the recordings? Was there any sense of pressure to get it right after being on hiatus and was there any dread of maybe fans wouldn’t remember Power Quest and moved on to other acts?
Williams: “There was an element of pressure that’s for sure. Not really anything to do with the hiatus per se, more to do with the fact that Andy and Glyn had only been in the band for 4 weeks when recording started. That being said, it’s an even more remarkable achievement I believe to have produced an album that I really think stands toe to toe with the best from the PQ canon. I’d even go as far as to say that it is the most consistent PQ record to date.
“No, there was never any fear of PQ fans forgetting about us. We may not have the biggest fan base in the world but the fans we do have are some of the most incredible people out there. When we played a comeback show in London in 2016, people travelled from as far afield as USA, Japan, Sweden and Poland just to be there with us on our return to active duty. That speaks volumes to me and was a truly humbling experience.
“But I suppose when we talk about ‘getting it right’, that in itself is difficult to quantify. You always hope other people will like the new material but first and foremost the band have to be happy that they are putting out the best product that could possibly be released at that particular moment in time.”
BraveWords: Awesome to hear former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon on the title track! How did you guys get in contact with her for the song and why did you want her to sing on it?
Williams: “I’ve always been a big fan of Anette’s voice and had often thought how cool it would be to have her voice on a PQ song. When Richard and I were writing the title track we agreed that there were two sections which would really benefit from a female voice. I immediately thought of Anette and suggested the idea to Richard who agreed.
“From there it was actually quite a simple process. I emailed Anette and she replied saying she would be interested in being part of the album if she liked the song. So I sent her a demo and she loved it and jumped on board there and then. I think it has turned out really well.”
BraveWords: Favorite tracks on Sixth Dimension?
Williams: “That’s an incredibly difficult question for me personally to answer. It’s like picking your favorite child or something along those lines. Having said that I’m exceptionally proud of the entire album. The title track, which I co-wrote with Richard West from Threshold, turned out amazingly well so that’s one that really hits all the buttons for me.
“On this record I wrote three songs on guitar (‘Revolution Fighters’, ‘Starlight City’ and ‘Face The Raven’) and I think that’s added a different edge to the sound as well. ‘Revolution Fighters’ also gave me the opportunity to play some acoustic guitar in the intro as well which was cool for me personally. So that’s another one that I have a soft spot for I guess.
“‘Pray For The Day harks back to songs like ‘Edge Of Time’ and ‘For Evermore’ and is quite a personal song for me. A number of PQ songs over the years have been written from personal experience and this one certainly falls into that category as well.
BraveWords: Talk to me about the cover art and this cranky magician wielding a spell. I believe he's represented on the Face The Raven EP as well.
Williams: “Ah the character on the album cover actually dates back to 2008 and the Master Of Illusion album. He’s then cropped up on Blood Alliance and, as you observed, the Face The Raven EP also. He’s developing with each release.
“When talking of dimensions and so forth, I wanted the artwork to have a certain feel to it with the standard portals and suspended portals. Also other detail in the art being not as you would normally expect it to be in three dimensions.
“Felipe Machado Franco once again delivered the artwork for us as he has done since 2008. He and I worked closely to pull the concept together from my original idea as I am the world’s worst artist (laughs)! Sometimes it’s quite hard to explain an idea when you can’t sketch it out.”
BraveWords: Now that you guys have been in the game for a while, what’s your take on the current power metal scene? You listen to any new bands at all?
Williams: “I’ve certainly been in and around the scene as musician for almost 20 years now and as a fan since well, in terms of metal, probably since 1982-1983.
“I’ll be honest as I enter my late forties I don’t have so much time to keep up with new developments like I used to. Demanding day job and running PQ pretty much takes all my spare time so I don’t get that listening time like I used to do.
“I’m a big fan of bands like Twilight Force, Freedom Call, Cellador, Cain’s Offering and so forth when it comes to power metal but beyond that I still love the stuff that hooked me back in the day. Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Death, Helloween and all those kind of bands.
“I’m also a huge progressive rock and metal fan and bands like Marillion and Dream Theater are equally as important to me as the names I listed earlier.”
BraveWords: You guys have a tour with DragonForce coming up. Any other touring plans in the works? I’m sure the band is excited to play some shows.
Williams: “It’s already been quite a busy year for us in terms of live shows. We’ve recently come back from playing three shows in Japan with Freedom Call, Twilight Force and Cellador and we also had the privilege to appear at ProgPower USA in Atlanta a few weeks back as well. “A couple of weeks before that we were in Sweden for Sabaton Open Air Festival where we played a one/off set to mark the 15th anniversary of our debut album, Wings of Forever.
“The tour with DF should be great fun as obviously I go back a long way with those guys and this will be the first time we have ever gone out with the DF/PQ package. We have 11 shows up and down the UK. After that we have 4 headline shows of our own in the UK in late October.
“Plans are already been made for 2018 with some announcements due in the next few weeks and of course we will be looking at summer festivals and so on for 2018.”