Interview w / Steffany Johnston – Vocalist Masqued

Interview w / Steffany Johnston – Vocalist Masqued

Houston Texas now has to its credit a progressive metal band that owns my Top 10 Progressive Metal Albums Of 2017 with Masqued -The Light In The Dark.  Coming off a year where the area has damaged on a wide scale to Hurricane Harvey the band Masqued puts out a very positive and uplifting progressive metal album that seems to be lacking in the genre at times. Well this is not the case if Masqued’s lead vocalist Steffany Johnston has something to do with it. Trained at the University Of Houston in Voice and Music and expressing her lyrical ideas with a lifetime of experience at her back Steffany Johnston brings a level of positive enlightenment  in the bands debut album The Light In The Dark.

She recently gave Power Of Prog some precious time with the interview you will read below. Bands like Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation and Delain are on notice that another band with a powerful minstrel are on the way up.

First of all Steffany it is great to have you here at Power of Prog. Welcome !

1) This is one of the more obvious questions, what or who influenced your journey into music and how young were you when that had taken hold of you?

It always did. As far back as I could remember, I always knew what I was going to do since I was 4. The first song I remember writing was when I was 6 years old. I always wrote songs. When I got a little older they would come to me in my sleep and in the middle of taking test, when I would write papers, when I would watch t.v., when I would eat, when I was driving. I can’t tell you how many times I had to pull over to write, record or notate my song ideas. I remember being late for things because an incredible song idea would appear as I am getting ready to leave for some event. It was a blessing and a curse all rolled into one lol. I also started playing piano when I was 6 and continued throughout the years and still do today aside of the band, and at the age of 12 I started playing the guitar. I would lock myself away in my room chunking away at rhythms and lifting metal guitar solos. When I was 18 I got a bass and bought some recording gear and would be late for dinner due to writing and recording original songs. I knew that one day I would form a band when I was old enough. I remember running an add in the paper when I was 14 years old, looking for other musicians to start a band with. When I turned 20 I started making a living playing bass guitar and singing locally and internationally. I have performed in numerous bands through out the years and am now grateful to have my place as the vocalist of Masqued.

2. Are you formally trained in music and if so where did you begin your study?

Yes, I have a Vocal Performance/Music degree from the University of Houston. Studying vocal performance, orchestration, arranging and opera. I would perform with the orchestra and with many famous conductors one of them being world renknown Robert Shaw.
I remember driving to school listening to Jazz and fusion then staying at the university all day practicing classical music with the chorus and opera then heading off to practice or to gigs with my rock band. I was like “where do I really fit in? I liked it all and wanted to do it all, I remember feeling so different from most of the people I knew.

3. Do you have any influences outside music that influences any instrumental or lyrical passages in your music?

I believe everything I have encountered over the years has embedded itself in some way in my state of being and comes out to play in my writing. I see a lot of injustice all around and it affects me deeply. Its hard to keep silent when I can demand better for myself and others, to fight for a noble cause or to see the hurting and to bring them a sense of hope. We are all human and are in this mad house together.

4. Your debut album The Light In The Dark is loaded with a lot of very positive and uplifting music, this is something that is becoming lost in the metal or progressive metal communities. Where do you get your lyrical inspirations from?

I feel that there is so much darkness and chaos in the world that it is important to present the trials and then provide a solution, a way of resolve. Music is so powerful, it can give you the will power and strength to get up out of bed after suffering spells of hopelessness from a loss, an injury or failure, sparking new life into you that inspires you to live on. Music also has the power to curse you, to sentence you further into despair when your already down, sometimes so much so that you lose the will to live. You have to be careful with words…there is so much power in what you allow into your mind on a daily basis via words/lyrics and what you speak out into existence. Our themes lyrically are those of liberation, speaking out against hate crimes, fighting for our freedom, finding hope and the strength to live when you have lost the will. We are not going to just lay down and die. Its all powerful stuff. I have heard numerous testimonies of people finding solace in our music. It makes me feel like this is what its truly about, being a bright light in a very dark tunnel, hence the album title “light in the dark.” Life can be brutal.

5.  What band or who would be a dream for you to open up for, co headline with for a live show?

Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Nightwish, Within Temptation and so many more.

6. If you had any concept album in you what or who would it be about ?

That is a fantastic question Robert and requires more thought on my end. Perhaps our third release will be a concept album. You have sparked my interest

7. I noticed that Light In The Dark as a album are pretty much straight away rock and metal tracks with hardly a hint of anything like a ballad, was that intentional or just how the album came to it creation?

Haha! Yeah, it just kind of happened that way. However, we have been working on a new collection of songs and yes, there are some brooding ballads. We are all really enjoying and are excited about this stuff.

8. Where did the name Masqued come from?

Choosing a band name was most difficult lol. It is kind of a blur, though I do remember one of my band mates throwing that name out there and it took off in my mind. I found the name rather intriguing with an element of theatrics and mystery. I really like the name and am glad we all agreed.

9) Out of all the music festivals that seem to come back around in Europe and the USA every spring and summer, what would be your dream festival to appear on?

Gosh there are so many…hmmm…I would say any of the Prog Power festivals would be great and definitely Wacken Open Air Festival would be stellar along with Chicago Open Air. To have a prime time spot would be the dream of dreams.

10. What are plans for Masqued by way of touring and performing in 2018? Are you booked for any shows yet?

Absolutely! We have some great shows in the processed of being solidified and will be making announcements soon though I can say the Female Metal Event in the Netherlands is one of our stops. Sooo exciting! Is there any ideas brewing for a follow up to your debut album? Yes, we definitely have a second album cooking right now. I am loving the new stuff, it just keeps getting better and better. So exciting, more great Masqued music IS in the works!!

11) When most bands with both a female and male vocalist are going with the more harsh growls ‘Beauty & Beast’ style vocal, you are your male counterpart Shane DuBose have chosen to go against the grain as it is and remain with clean vocal styles. Was this always the goal of Masqued or did it just happen this way through the evolution of the band?

We admire a great growl and scream but I think we do what is most natural to us. Who knows what will evolve in the future, anything is possible. I can say that we pride ourselves on such a melodic construct and rich harmonies. There is a lot going on in our music, a ton of musicality is what you will find from each Masqued member.

12. The final question, do you have any parting words for your existing fan base or any future fan base that takes interest in Masqued?

First of all I want to thank you all for your love for music and keeping the scene alive. We thank all of our existing fans for your unfailing love and support of us and we Masqued, are looking forward to reaching out and connecting to all of you new fans out there, all over the world. Where ever you are in your journey of life we hope to share it with you through this music; the human experience is very real and can reach great states of joy and punishing sorrows. In all the laughter and tears, we can travel this road, through music that bands us all together. We love to hear from you, messages us anytime, You can connect with us via

Masqued Official Website

Masqued Official Facebook Page

Masqued Email Booking 

Top 10 Albums of 2017 | Progressive Metal | 2 of 3

Top 10 Albums of 2017 | Progressive Metal | 2 of 3

Welcome back. This is the second of three lists of Top 10 Albums of 2017 here at Power of Prog. This time we count down the Top 10 Albums of 2017 . We are also at a point in history where there is as much progressive metal as there is it’s paternal genre progressive rock.

As many know who follow this music, progressive rock now has its branches in many other genres or sub-genres of heavy metal music. This list below is compiled from traditional progressive metal, extreme progressive black metal, progressive power metal, cinematic progressive metal, progressive death metal and a progressive rock/metal opera. Without further delay here are my Top 10 Albums Of Year, Progressive Metal.

 

1. Masqued – The Light In The Dark

Country – Houston, Texas USA

Label – Sleaszy Rider Records

Band Members

Jon Allen – Drums
Drew Creel – Guitar
Shane Dubose – Bass/Vocals
Eric Halpern – Guitar
Steffany Johnston – Vocals
Adam Rawlings – Keyboards

Masqued Official Website

Masqued Official Facebook Page

 

2. Pain Of Salvation – Passing Light Of Day

Country – Sweden

Label – Inside Out Music

Band Members
Daniel Gildenlöw – Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar
Johan Hallgren – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Léo Margarit – Drums/Vocals
Daniel Karlsson – Keyboards/Vocals
Gustaf Hielm – Bass/Vocals

Pain Of Salvation Official Website

Pain Of Salvation Official Facebook Page

 

3. Ayreon – The Source

Country – The Netherlands

Label – Mascot Label Group/Music Theories Recordings

Band Members/Original Cast

Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Electric and Acoustic Guitars/Bass Guitar/Mandolin/Synthesizers, Hammond/Solina Strings/All Other Instruments
Ed Wabry – Drums

Original Cast Members/Vocalists

James Labrie – Dream Theater- As ‘The Historian’
Tommy Giles Rogers – Between The Buried And Me – As ‘The Chemist’
Simone Simons – Epica -As ‘The Counselor’
Mike Mills – Toehider – As ‘T-H1’
Floor Jansen – Nightwish – As ‘The Biologist’
Hansi Kursch – Blind Guardian – As ‘The Astronomer’
Tobis Sammet – Avantasia/Edguy – As ‘The Captain’
Michael Eriksen – Circus Maximus – As ‘The Diplomat’
Nils K Rue – Pagans Mind – As ‘The Prophet’
Zaher Zorgati – Myrath – As ‘The Preacher’
Tommy Karevik – Kamelot – As ‘The Opposition Leader’
Russel Allen – SymphonyX – As ‘The President
Will Shaw – Heir Apparent’ Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars, and Lisette van den Berg – Scarlet Stories as ‘The Ship’s Crew’
You … Insert Name Here … as ‘The Audience’

Production
Lori Linstruth – Photo Stills/Ajren Lucassen & Ayreon Cast
Wayne Joyner – Lyric Videos for Everybody Dies and Star Of Sirrah

Ayreon Official Website 

Ayreon Official Facebook Page

 

4. Persefone – Aathma

Country -Andorra

Label – Vicisolum Productions/Enorm Music

Band Members
Marc Martins – Vocals
Carlos Lozano – Guitars
Miguel Espinosa – Keyboards& vocals.
Filipe Baldaia – Guitars
Toni Mestre – Bass
Sergi “Bobby” Verdeguer – Drums

Persefone Official Website

Persefone Official Facebook Page

 

5. The Vicious Head Society – Abject Tomorrow

Country – Ireland

Label – Independent/Self Release

Band Members 

Graham Keane – Guitars/Bass/Creator
Wilmer Waarbroek – Vocals
Derek Sherinan – Keyboards
Nahuel Ramos – Keyboards
Pat Byrne – Vocals
Klemen Markelj – Drums
Kevin Talley – Drums
Nathan Pickering – Vocals

The Vicious Head Society Official Website – Merchandise

The Vicious Head Society Official Facebook

 

6. Perihelion Ship – To Paint A Bird Of Fire

Country – Sweden

Label – Independent/Self Released

Band Members 

Andreas Hammer – Guitar/Vocals
Jari-Markus Kohijoki – Drums
Pirkka Maksimainen – Synths
Mikael Aalto – Bass

Perihelion Ship Official Bandcamp Profile

Perihelion Ship Official Facebook Page

 

7. Dreadnought – A Wake In Sacred Waves

Country – USA

Label – Sailor Records

Band Members 

Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals
Jordan Clancy – Drums, Alto/Tenor Saxophone
Kevin Handlon – Bass, Mandolin, Lyrics
Lauren Vieira – Keys, Clean Vocals

Dreadnought Official Website

Dreadnought Official Facebook Page

 

8. Iapetus – The Long Road Home

Country – USA
Label – Independent/Self Released

Band Members 

Matthew Cerami – Vocals/Guitars/Bass
Jordan Navarro – Guitars/Drum Programming/Keyboards/Additional Sounds
Jordan Navarro And Nick Shann – Drum Programming/Arrangements

Additional Musicians
Nick Shann – Guitar Solo & Stringed Arrangememnts on ‘The Long Road Home’ Violin on ‘My Father, My God
Benjamin Ian Meyerson (Fin Amor) & Justin Barone (Consonance) – Additional Lyrics & Vocal Arrangements
Samantha Marie Rae (Nectar) – Guest Vocals
Charles Buonsera – Bass Solo on ‘Evisecrate Divine’

Iapetus Official Official Merchandise Store

Iapetus Official Facebook Page

 

9. Scardust – Sands Of Time

Country – Israel

Label – Independent/ Self Released

Band Members
Noa Gruman – Lead Vocals
Yoav Weinberg – Drums
Yadin Moyal – Guitars
Yanai Avnet – Bass
Alex Nicola – Keyboards

Scardust Official Website

Scardust Official Facebook Page

 

10. MindMaze – Resolve

Country – USA
Label – Inner Wound Recordings

Band Members
Sarah Teets – Lead Vocals
Jeff Teets – Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Rich Pasqualone – Bass, Backing Vocals
Mark “Truk” Bennett – Drums

MindMaze Official Website

MindMaze Official Facebook Page

 

 

 

Top 10 Albums Of 2017 | Melodic Rock/Metal/AOR | 1 of 3 in Top 10 !!

Top 10 Albums Of 2017 | Melodic Rock/Metal/AOR 

Here is my list of Top 10 Melodic Rock/Metal/AOR Albums of 2017. This list does not reflect the other members of Power Of Prog or its followers. Hopefully you will discover that quality rock still exists. This is a first in a three part series of Top 10 of 2017 lists. The other two lists will be Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal.

1. Coldspell – A New World Arise 

Label – Escape-music ltd. UK

Band Members
Niclas Swedentorp – Lead Vocals
Michael Larsson – Guitars
Chris Goldsmith – Bass
Perra Johansson – Drums
Matti Eklund – Additional Keyboards

Coldspell Official Website

Coldspell Official Facebook Page

2. The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic

Label – Nuclear Blast Records

Band Members
Björn Strid –Vocals
Sharlee D’ Angelo – Bass
David Andersson – Guitar
Richard Larsson – Keyboards
Jonas Källsbäck – Drums

The Night Flight Orchestra On Nuclear Blast Records

The Night Flight Orchestra Official Facebook Page

3. Black Country Communion – BCCIV

 

Label – Mascot Records

Band Members 

Glenn Hughes – Bass & Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar & Vocals
Jason Bonham – Drums
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards

Black Country Communion Official Website

Black Country Communion Official Facebook Page

 

4. Pink Cream 69 – Headstrong

Label – Frontiers Records srl

Pink Cream69 Official Website

Pink Cream69 Official Facebook Page

 

5. Kryptonite – Kryptonite

Label – Frontiers Records srl

Band Members
Jakob Samuel – Vocals
Pontus Egberg – Bass
Robban Back – Drums
Mike Palace – Guitar

Kryptonite On Frontiers Records srl

Kryptonite Official Facebook Page

 

6. Martina Edoff – We Will Align

Label – MRM Production AB

Band Members
Martina Edoff – Vocals

 

Martina Edoff Official Website

Martina Edoff Official Facebook Page

 

7. Eclipse – Momentum

Label – Frontiers Records srl

Band Members
Erik Mårtensson – Guitars/Vocals
Magnus Henriksson – Lead Guitars
Magnus Ulfstedt – Bass
Philip Crusner – Drums

Eclipse Official Website

Eclipse Official Facebook Page

 

8. House Of Lords – Saint Of The Lost Souls

 

Label – Frontiers Records srl

Band Members
James Christian – Lead Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards
Jimi Bell – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
B.J. Zampa – Drums/Backing Vocals
Chris Tristram – Bass/Backing Vocals

House Of Lords Official Website

House Of Lords Official Facebook Page

 

9. Harem Scarem – United

Label – Frontiers Records srl

Band Members
Harry Hess – Vocals/Guitars/Keyboards
Pete Lesperance – Vocals/Guitars
Stan Mscez – Drmus/Vocals
Darren Smith – Bass/Vocals

Harem Scarem Official Website

Harem Scarem Official Facebook Page

 

10. Honeymoon Suite – Hands Up

Label – Frontiers Records srl

Band Members
Johnnie Dee- Vocals
Derry Grehan – Guitars
Gary Lalonde – Bass
Dave Betts – Drums
Peter Nunn – Keyboards

Honeymoon Suite Official Website

Honeymoon Suite Official Facebook Page

Anger as English pub bans female-fronted bands

Anger as English Pub Bans Female-Fronted Bands

Doctor Brown’s Pub in Middlesbrough bans female-fronted bands from playing, claiming their customers don’t believe women can sing rock songs

A pub in England has banned female-fronted bands from playing, claiming their customers don’t think women should sing rock songs.

The decision by live venue Doctor Brown’s in Middlesbrough has sparked anger, but manager Paula Rees has defended the choice, saying it’s a business matter – and that her regular customers won’t turn up if a woman is on stage.
She tells The Northern Echo:

“We had female singers on in the past and customers just didn’t like it. We’re a rock bar and they don’t think that women should sing male rock songs.

“It’s nothing to do with me – it’s the pub’s regulars who come in every week, they won’t come in if there’s a female singer.”
Rees reports that the rule will be relaxed for one female singer next year, and would consider artists if they could guarantee a large crowd – but insists that the general ban will stay in place.
She adds: “We’ve got to keep our regulars happy. I’m not a rock fan so can’t judge myself but I’ve been told that some women can sing and some can’t, but they can’t sing heavy rock.
“If we put a poster up and our regulars know there’s a woman in the band, they won’t give them a chance. They’re my bread and butter and we can’t risk nobody coming in.”

Vocalist Hannah Sowerby, who fronts Revenant and Syndicate 66, says her gigs were cancelled after the pub discovered she was a woman.
Sowerby says:

“I haven’t been allowed to play because I’m female, despite the fact my band can draw a crowd.
“You wouldn’t get people saying they don’t like male bands, because not all male singers are the same – just like not all female singers are the same.
“It is a sexist attitude from the regulars and there’s no excuse for it in 2017, you’d think we’d be past this by now.”

Ronnie Stolt Launches New Prog ‘Supergroup’ The Sea Within

The Sea Within – a new art-rock group formed by Roine Stolt (Transatlantic, The Flower Kings), Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, The Tangent), Tom Brislin Music (Renaissance, Spiraling, Yes Symphonic, Deborah Harry) & Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, UK, Joe Satriani) – have announced they will release their as-yet-untitled debut album in Spring 2018.

Roine Stolt comments on how the project came together:

“I think all it started as a suggestion from the record company – putting together a new band, starting fresh, seeing if collective writing could spawn a unique style. Call it a supergroup if you want – I think we can handle that.”

 

The members recently entered Livingston Studios in London to begin recording the basic tracks, and found an instant chemistry in the way they worked together. “Going into the studio in London was taking a great risk as we had not been in the same room together beforehand.” Roine continues: “We had just sent demos around and didn’t really know if we could make great music together, but we managed to track almost 2 hours of new music, a mix of collective ideas. We also had a lot of great ‘off-time’, sharing laughs and stories in local pubs – that part is important.”
Currently the members are putting the finishing touches on their debut album, and of the music’s direction Roine says: “There are elements of prog, pop, art-rock and many cinematic elements. I suppose the music comes from within our collective memories of all that we love as far as sounds, visions and poetry. We hope that discovering the music will be a journey for the open-minded fan – something as fresh and uncertain and unfolding as it is for us.”
The Sea Within has also announced their first confirmed live date, taking to the stage at Night of the Prog Festival 2018 at Loreley, Germany on the weekend of 13-15th July 2018 alongside Camel, Big Big Train, Riverside & more. Tickets are available now here:

Night Of The Prog Festival

The Sea Within Official Contact Links

The Sea Within Official Facebook Page
The Sea Within Official Twitter
The Sea Within Instagram

The Night Of The Prog Festival Links 

The Night Of The Prog Festival Website

The Night Of The Prog Festival – Tickets 

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