XNA is a Symphonic prog/Progressive Rock band from the United States. For the last few days their debut album When We Changed You has been in my listening rotation. As I listened to the album, it was obvious that these guys were heavily influenced by Genesis and other early prog bands. On several tracks images of Jethro Tull popped into my head! My wife listened to a short portions of the album, didn’t really like the lyrics and thought that the singer was a little too theatrical. But how can music that is influenced by Genesis not be theatrical!
When I reviewed the biographies of the members of the band I read that, lead singer David Hussey spent five years providing the lead vocals for the Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet, and performed in the Yes tribute band Closer to the Edge. So there’s a connection to the early prog bands as far ,being theatrical, Hussey studied at the Creative Arts Theatre School, performing monthly for 8 years, and graduated from SMU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre!!
Adam Malin the bands keyboardist has a fine arts degree from SUNY Stony Brook, where he studied piano performance, classical and jazz harmonic theory and composition, orchestration and orchestral conducting and vocal performance/ harmonization. He’s one of those do everything types in his 35 year career he has
- scored for several films and television series
- played in the New York based Prog groups: Psycle and Sheltered Lives.
- provided music scores for William Shatner and Renee O’Connor projects
His goal in creating XNA was to create a progressive rock powerhouse!! The remainder of the band have resumes that are equally as impressive as Hussey and Malin! You can can read their biographies here.
The album was produced by veteran producer Billy Sherwood,who has produced albums for artist such as:Yes, Circa, John Wetton, Ratt, Mars Hollow and William Shatner! In addition to producing the album Sherwood also played bass and some guitar on the album. He says this about the album
“the XNA project is amazing in both concept and performance. Each member of the band brings a level of virtuosity that when they join forces it becomes an incredibly dynamic and musically expressive production: orchestral music with power and punch, vocal depth, rock ‘n’ roll guitars and everything else it takes to make the perfect magical mixture”
The album, like many prog albums is sci-fi based about space explorers coming upon a civilization and, well, changing them! My problem with getting all the nuances of the storyline is two-fold usually when I’m listening I am doing something else, oh and I can’t hear well either, and secondly, since I listen to it digitally, I do not have access to the lyrics. But I do know that there’s some great keyboard and guitar work, and lots of mood and tempo changes throughout the album! So check them out at the following places!
Here’s the official video for the song “The Flying Dutchman” from When We Changed You