Between A Rock And A Prog Place: SAGA's IAN CRICHTON – “The SIX BY SIX Band Is More Rock-Prog-Psychedelic”

September 6, 2022, 2 weeks ago

By Greg Prato

feature hard rock six by six

Between A Rock And A Prog Place: SAGA's IAN CRICHTON – “The SIX BY SIX Band Is More Rock-Prog-Psychedelic”

What truly is progressive music? Each month BraveWords will aim to dissect that answer with a thorough overview of the current musical climate that is the prog world. Old and new, borrowed and blue. A musical community without borders. So watch for a steady and spaced-out array of features, current news and a buyer’s guide checklist to enhance the forward-thinking musical mind. So, welcome to BraveWords' monthly column appropriately titled, Between A Rock In A Prog Place. 

In this month’s column, we speak to long-time Saga guitarist Ian Crichton, who is now also a member of another band, Six by Six (which also includes multi-instrumentalist/singer Robert Berry and long-time Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler). With their self-title debut issued last month, Ian discussed how 6x6 was assembled, touring plans, and of course, Saga.

How did Six By Six come together?

“It was early fall of 2020. I was contacted by Robert Berry's manager, Nick Shilton – he was looking to do something different than keyboards and was looking for guitar, and my name came up. After speaking with Robert, we decided to see if it would work musically. ‘Yearning to Fly’ was the first song we wrote, and I was sold on working with him. Everything we wrote was no struggle, flowed great.”

How would you compare this band to Saga, musically?

“Well, Saga has been considered more of a ‘keyboard band’ than guitar. Six by Six is guitar-driven with minimal keys. Robert was working with Keith Emerson for years, and plays them well – so can easily cut the beginning of Last words on Earth, etc. The Six by Six band is more rock-prog-psychedelic.”

Please discuss the tunes that have been issued as videos thus far, “Save The Night,” “China,” and “Learning To Fly.”

“I thought the record company did the right thing with the order of the 3 videos, worked well with the heavy tune coming last. ‘Yearning To Fly’ was the first tune we wrote and first video. ‘Save The Night’ came together quite easily, everything wanted to flow naturally, no writers block – it’s great when this happens. You can write things and try and make them fit, but when parts love each other at first sight that's the ticket. ‘China,’ this songs grooves great, the subject is controversial though – it’s really about countries with dictators. You can change China to a list of others, but China sings the best!”

Are there plans for Six By Six to tour?

“I'm working on this now, but the record was just released August 19 – it needs some time to breathe and get around. We're talking 2023 at this point. It will be in Europe at first for sure. There will be some opening for…who knows who, festivals mixed with some of our own shows.”

Why do you think Canada has given us so many prog rock bands over the years?

“I'm at a loss with that, I mean there's Rush, Saga...Max Webster (played Canada mainly) can't think of any. Canada has been mainly AOR rock type in the past. Now, it’s like everywhere with hip-hop, rap, etc.”

Which Saga album are you most proud of and why?

“Tough question, but I would answer Security of Illusion after we re-formed with Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour. I wrote a lot on it, and it’s big loud guitars! Which was different for Saga...they let me do it. But there's Generation 13 and Human Condition, also.”

What are Saga’s future plans?

“Saga is touring now, but its 2-3 weeks at a time, at least three times a year – which gives me a lot of time to organize Six By Six touring. No plans for a new record – we have 23 studio records to draw from.”

Between A Rock And A Prog Place News Blast

King’s X return on September 2 with their first LP in 14 years, Three Sides of One, which can be heard and/or ordered here. Steve Hackett recently issued a live clip of “The Devil’s Cathedral” (see below) – taken from Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More, which also will be issued on September 2.

Queensrÿche has released a music video for their new track ‘Behind The Walls’, from their forthcoming LP, Digital Noise Alliance, which drops October 7. Swedish symphonic metallists Therion will be reissuing four albums (Gothic Kabbalah, Sirius B, Secrets Of The Runes and Lemuria) on October 28 – all of which are available for pre-order.

Devin Townsend will also be unveiling a new album on October 28, Lightwork, which can be pre-ordered and sampled via the video for “Moonpeople” below. It’s not often that a band is described as ‘a blend of modern hard rock, progressive rock/metal and grunge influences,’ but that is indeed a fitting description of Vancouver’s Hunting Giants, who issue their latest album, Mythos, on September 30. Give a look/listen to the video for ‘Ancient Text’ to see what they mean.

Another interestingly-described band, Sarattma (‘an intricate fusion of modern improv, punk, jazz, djent, avant-psych-rock, and prog’), recently issued their debut full-length, Escape Velocity, which can be heard/seen/ordered here. Symphonic metallists Delain have issued a new single/video, “The Quest And Curse,” which features new vocalist Diana Leah, and can be viewed here.

The second collaboration between Yes guitarist Steve Howe and his late son, Virgil Howe (who passed away suddenly in 2017) will be released on September 23, Lunar Mist. Click here for ordering info, and view the video for the title track below. Awesomely-titled San Fran prog-metallists, Cyborg Octopus, have released their sophomore full-length, Between the Light and Air, which can indeed be heard/ordered.

Montreal classical meets prog metallists Cydemind return on November 4 with their latest offering, The Descent. And lastly, Finnish folk metallists Korpiklaani recently issued their latest single, “Krystallomantia,” which sees the band couple their trademark sound with their most politically influenced lyrics to date – for which a lyric video can be viewed (although one tiny problem…the text is in Finnish).

September 2022 New Albums

September 2:
King’s X: Three Sides of One
Steve Hackett: Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More

September 9:
Allen/Olzon: Army of Dreamers

September 16:
The Mars Volta: The Mars Volta

September 23:
Virgil & Steve Howe: Lunar Mist
Stratovarius: Survive

September 30:
Hunting Giants: Mythos

Classic Clip

To tie in with King’s X issuing a new album this month, Three Sides of One, how about a live clip from 2010 of one of their proggiest tunes, “We Were Born To Be Loved” (originally from their classic 1990 offering, Faith Hope Love)?



Featured Audio

BEHEMOTH – “Thy Becoming Eternal” (Nuclear Blast)

BEHEMOTH – “Thy Becoming Eternal” (Nuclear Blast)

Featured Video

ETERNAL CLOSURE - "Exiled)

ETERNAL CLOSURE - "Exiled)

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