Michael Kaplan of Flaud Logic
08 Aug. 2013

Michael Kaplan of Flaud Logic


Bio: Flaud Logic is a solo project, so its history is also my history.  In the early part of the 00s, I co-founded a Progressive/Experimental Rock band called Pain Hertz with some friends. We played a few local gigs and recorded a whole bunch of “basement” albums which was great fun.  I’m really proud of the music we created together, which was quite ambitious given our collective lack of credentials and experience!

After a while, however, I wanted to take my composition to the next level and explore my own personal sound more deeply.  I launched Flaud Logic back in 2008 as a way to achieve this, and set to work realizing some musical ideas I had been cobbling together for some time.

The way the project is set up now is that I will basically create detailed demos featuring all of the instrumental parts and vocals, and then set about handpicking the right team to perform each of those parts.

Genre: The “Prog” genre was always a natural fit for me because it was built upon sonic experimentation and a spirit of pushing the limits.  More specifically, Prog Rock/Metal builds upon a core of rock instruments—drums, bass, guitar, perhaps keyboards—and then takes it a step beyond. Since I grew up listening to hard rock and heavy metal I was already hooked on that sound when I started creating my own pieces.

The idea of the supergoup—bands like Transatlantic; Liquid Tension Experiment; The Winery Dogs; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Temple of the Dog; Superheavy—was also very interesting to me because there was this excitement, this sort of “unknown” factor.  You know, “What is it going to sound like when these diverse talents come together?”

I feel that within this genre I have the flexibility to explore, to bring together a unique combination of influences and talents, and to ideally be enjoyed by an audience who searches out that same sort of thing.

Evolution of initial musical and thematic elements: For this album, the songs evolved in a variety of ways.  Secret Engine, for example, grew out of a fragment that I would hear in my head whenever I was having a really frantic day, running around busy and stressed-out. I thought it would be interesting to try to capture that feeling musically because it’s something we can probably all relate to.  Say Goodbye started with a jazz groove, and once I decided what sort of story I wanted to tell lyrically, wrote the rest of the music to support it.  Both Shanna and One Year are actually based on real events and people in my life, but I wanted to hone it down and focus on themes that everybody could relate to.  So, for example, it’s not about how “Person x dissed Michael Kaplan back in 1993”, but rather, “This is a story of two people who, guided by their hearts, make some choices that lead them to a particular path, and here is one possible result of their actions.”

Lyrics, themes and concepts: The name of the project, Flaud Logic, I think encompasses this idea very well.  In the past I would at times conduct my life in accordance with a sort of “Spock-like” system of logic, perhaps to keep myself from experiencing emotional pain.  Inevitably, that kind of system will fail, allowing the hurt, the sadness, the joy, the exultation, to come rushing in through the cracks.  So I suppose what I like to write about are the parts of existence that lie outside of logical thought.  I would say that logic, or the realm of conscious rational thought, is flawed in that it only encompasses a limited slice of the human experience.  The project may address ordinary everyday events, but the focus is on how these make us feel.

Ideas about the album: I would say I am happy overall, but like most creative types, I’m already focused on what I can do better next time. I think Jimmy [Wilgus] did a great job with the sound, and I’m so appreciative of the wonderful contributions from my team musicians.  There are some moments that really bring tears to my eyes—like the finale of One Year, when Ty Blue’s vocals come in—and I feel those moments were some of the most successful as far as conveying an emotional message. In retrospect, I’m not crazy about some of the guitar tones we ended up with, and I want to continue to strengthen my vocal performance as well, so I’ll be certain to address those in the next go-round.

Reception: I’m delighted to say that I’ve received some very positive feedback so far.  Of course no single person will like everything about the record, but it wasn’t designed that way. Instead, I choose to focus on how grateful I am for every person who takes time out of his or her day to listen to Flaud Logic.  I also think that if every review I received was glowing with praise, that that might somehow seem suspicious.

Preference; live or studio: The studio is where I really come alive.  For me, nothing beats the thrill of hearing various ideas born in my head emerging into reality.  As for touring, I’ve never had any romantic visions about that process. I like my creature comforts perhaps too much!  With that said, however, there is a magical energy that exists between performer and audience that I look forward to experiencing on stage again in the future. And if I can do that without having to travel across the country for nine months atop a coal freight car, dressed in burlap, all the better!

Next step; live or studio: I would love to do some kind of tour at some point, however the cost is prohibitive at present.  If I were just a guy and a guitar, it might be possible, but often, for a progressive album, to give people the full experience, it requires multiple musicians and lots of gear.  Being an independent musician, I will likely have to put a few more albums under my belt before a tour could become a reality.

Future plans:   It’s hard to say. There are still so many musical ideas I want to explore and things that I want to try that there’s no shortage of ideas or material.  I think, in today’s industry, it is very tough for people who are primarily composers like myself (as opposed to instrumentalists) because there are significantly fewer opportunities to earn any kind of sustainable income.  It looks like I’m stuck with my day job for now!

Composers: I am the sole composer and lyricist of Flaud Logic, but the musicians I worked with certainly brought their unique expertise to the table as well. They were the first to tell me things like, “This phrase here is actually physically impossible to play on a guitar.”

Inspirations: Bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Yes, Rush, Neal Morse, The Flower Kings, Paradise Lost, Air Supply, Jethro Tull, and Kaipa have all been very influential in my musical development, but I also enjoy lots of Jazz, Fusion, and Classical, the rudiments of which find their way into my music.

I also really admire artists such as Neal Morse, Arjen Lucassen, Hans Lundin, and Andy Tillison.  Not only are they stellar musicians, but also visionaries with the ability conceive and realize entire projects, and to hand-pick the right team to help them.

Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: I’ve always been the sort of person for whom it was very difficult to motivate myself to do things I wasn’t inherently interested in.  I think that in order for me to have been able to follow-through on a project of this magnitude, the music I wrote had to be, first and foremost, stuff that I personally love and feel moved by.  There are definitely moments though, where I’ll write a section and think, “Wow, I hope people really love this/get excited by this,” so imagining how fans might react becomes a key motivating factor.  Much of what I enjoy writing is also story-based, and what is a story without people to hear and react to it?

Greatest Accomplishment: Well, in my case my “career” is very new, so there isn’t much to choose from yet.  At this point, I would probably say I’m most proud of having been able to get some of my emotional messages across to the listener.  If I wrote a passage that was meant to be sad or tragic, and a listener reported feeling a little bit of that sorrow, I was thrilled and would think, “Yes! That moment really connected!”–That almost sounds like schadenfreude, but I don’t mean it that way!

Working with Michael Romeo (Symphony X): Mike’s been a hero of mine for a very long time and has written some of my favorite music ever.  So when the opportunity arose to meet with him, I was beside myself.  You know, “Who am I to be sitting here with the person responsible for so much beautiful music?”  Now, nobody can dispute that Mike is an amazing guitar player, but one thing I learned from working with him is what a gifted composer he is.  The parts that he wrote for Flaud Logic reflected his keen musicality and awareness of what the other parts of the song are doing.  His solos would respond to the other instruments in a very sensitive way.  He knew just when to hold back and when to give forth. In some of the lines he plays, you can even hear his sense of humor.  I hope that the work Mike has done for Flaud Logic can introduce people to what he is capable of outside of just the progressive metal world.

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