.......INTERVIEW
. with Robert McClung, multi-instrumentalist from Progressive Rock Band TELERGY
. Telergy, a project founded by multi-instrumentalist Robert McClung released earlier this year their third studio album. As it was case with the previous two records, an amazing line-up of guest musicians contributed to "Hypatia," and about this all and more, Robert talked with us.

Hypatia” is out for some time now and I have to say that this album has gathered up pretty good coverage, what really intrigued me. Are you satisfied how this turned out? Please tell us more about creating, as well as recording process of “Hypatia”.

I'm very satisfied. It definitely feels like I've reached a new high in my abilities as a writer and producer. And to have the respect and admiration of my peers and influences who now work with me in Telergy is very exiting.

Each album starts with the story. I spend months reading and doing research on the subject. Then I begin to form ideas on how the music will best portray the different aspects of the story.

The recording process for Telergy albums is very long and cumbersome. It's not like I can get forty musicians in a studio at the same time and just let them rip. I spend over a year just writing and arranging all the basic tracks before I start sending sheet music and audio files out to all the players. From there local musicians will come to my home studio to record their parts. People who live abroad will record their parts in their own studios, or studios near them, and send audio files back to me. Then it's my job to assemble everything and make it cohesive. It's a giant puzzle, or as one person described it, musical Lego blocks.

I have an opinion that “Hypatia” is heavier than anything you’ve put out to date. Much more experimentation, this album brings out probably the most symphonic sound you could pull out yourselves. Do you agree?
Yes, definitely. I tried to make the best of all the amazing people I have available to me. Making sure that the orchestral instruments were highlighted just as much as the rock instruments. I wanted more dynamics. The rock riffs heavier, the orchestral sections more spacious and lush, and each intertwined in a smooth way. There was also the opportunity to play with bits of jazz and electronica. that's was fun. Always cool to try new things.
If you compare the new album and previous two, where do these recordings stand in your opinion?
I love all the albums, they are like my children. I am proud of every one. Each has it's own unique color and feel. Certainly there is development over time, as with any artist. The first Pink Floyd albums sound drastically different from where they ended up later on in their careers. Same with Led Zeppelin or Yes. As an artist you grow and feel the need to experiment with new things over time. Never changing would be boring.

I think the production quality from the first to the second album jumped up significantly, as I learned the craft better and honed in on the sounds I was shooting for. I think the new album has the best mix of dynamics, and the one before had some cool vocal sections. Each different, but enjoyable in it's own way.

Basically, the music you play is described simple as symphonic prog. This looks kinda “multicolored” and I’m interested to know about your influences.
I grew up on the classic rock of the 70's. The more progressive artists of that era were the ones that seam to capture my attention the most. Pink Floyd, Yes, Kansas, Rush, etc. As a teenager in the late 80's, early 90's I was drawn into the heavy metal scene. And yet again it was the more progressive artist within the genre that sparked my interest. Queensryche, Dream theater, Savatage, Magellan, etc.

I'm also very inspired by Broadway musicals. I love Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gilbert and Sullivan. I spent many years playing in theater pit orchestras. It was great training as a developing composer. Clearly the spoken word acting portions of Telergy come from this influence. Over the years some critics have bashed these segments as being "pompously theatrical" and "Disney-esque". I actually take those critiques as a compliment, because that's exactly what what I was shooting for. If someone can't look beyond the stereotypical boundaries of how normal rock music is presented, that's their problem, not mine. I'm not going to sacrifice my artistic vision just because some critic is too closed minded to accept a new way of presenting something.

I’ve mentioned above that “Hypatia” feels multicolored. Do you think that it could be said that the record is also “multicultural,” considering the story and the elements it’s built of?
Sure. There are people from all over the world on the album. Allot of different musical and cultural backgrounds being mixed together. The story is based in Egypt, but it was at the time of Roman occupation. And it was the cultural clashes of different religious groups that lead to Hypatia's demise. So yes, I do hope that tension comes through in the music.
You impart into your music a variety of instruments that give you a very eclectic feeling. Is it hard to arrange and structure all the instruments in a song? Describe the creation process of a Telergy song.
Yes, sometimes it is hard. Getting so many sounds to blend smoothly is a delicate balancing act. I start each piece thinking about the feelings or emotions of the scene I'm trying to portray. I then pick what instruments I feel would best represent that feeling. Once a rhythm or melody has been established I just start to break out from that point and bring in other instruments I feel push the story along and allow the listener to visualize the events that are being portrayed, through the notes themselves.
What is it like to make an album for Telergy? How much time do you set aside for the music and how long does it take to build a concept and make a story out of it? Are these two separate parts of one big process?
Each album takes about two years from start to finish. I have a full time job as a music teacher, so I must find the time for Telergy around that. Mostly nights, weekends and school vacations. I always have the basic story outline in place before I start the music. Which takes a couple months. Once that is done I know how many musical pieces there will be and what they need to represent.
Telergy is a project, and that means that due to many obvious reasons you don’t perform live. Have you ever thought of gathering a line-up and performing live?
I get asked that question very often. I would love to find a way to have Telergy performed live. But to do so would require dozens of musicians, weeks of rehearsals, a very large hall and massive amounts of production. All of which would cost a fortune. As much as I might like to see it happen I just don't have the budget to take it to that level. Telergy is very grandiose and it's just not the kind of thing that's going to work in a small club with a handful of people. So until a financial backer comes along who wants to sink some money into the operation, the odds of it happening are highly unlikely.
Before forming Telergy, have you been involved with any other projects or bands?
Yes, many. I have toured and recorded with a very long list of people and recorded many albums with them and as a solo artist. You can see the full list on my personal website (robertmcclung.net). The one that some people might recognize is I had a short stint as the fill-in touring guitarist for the Irish soul band The Commitments. It was great honor, and the handful of shows I played with them certainly exposed me to the larger world of the music industry outside my local scene.
What comes next? Should we expect something new from Telergy in the near future?
There will definitely be something at some point, but I can't speculate as to when right now. I'm just starting to research a few different story ideas. Once I have pinpointed what the story is it's usually a two year process to pull it together. But I'm not going to rush it. It will be done whenever it is ready. I want whatever it is to be the best it can be.

Discography:
The Exodus (2011)
The Legend of Goody Cole (2013)
Hypatia (2015)

Robert Mcclung – Guitar, Bass, Violin, Viola, Mandolin, Piano, Organ, Keyboards, Flute, Balalaika, Ukulele, Sitar, Lap Steel, Bodhran, Percussion, Tenor And Baritone Vocals, Mob Vocals

Robert McClung Biography

Robert McClung's exemplary and diverse career all began when he was a very small boy. His magical, musical journey began with his Grandfather, Donald Mcullick, a country singer/guitarist, who spent the 1950's touring and performing with blockbuster artists such as Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. Grandpa would take his young protege out to the swing under the apple tree in the backyard and show him songs on an old acoustic guitar. He would later give that guitar to Robert. That guitar was the key to the music box of Robert's life. A life long dedicated to the art and craft of music.


Robert's high school years were very non-traditional. While most students spent time at football games and pep rallies, Robert spent his time performing in pit orchestras and composing for local theater companies. His extensive theater credits include work with the Hampton Playhouse, the Portsmouth Academy of Performing Arts, the Seacoast Reparatory Company and the Portland Stage Company. Robert was comfortable on both sides of the stage. He was an accomplished performer, composer and overall technical advisor even in his teens.


After graduating High School, Robert took on the daunting task of recording his first solo album "Obstacles Overhead". The album featured members of Capitol Records recording artists Thanks to Gravity and Pondering Judd. All of his hard work paid off and the album received airplay on many local radio stations.


The allure and glamour of the Rock and Roll life soon called, and Robert found himself fronting a heavy Metal power trio called Nine Shades of White. The group toured extensively throughout the east coast, and recorded two well received albums.


After taking time to record projects with Boston based singer Rick Skeehan and the world renowned Irish folk group the Makem Brothers, Robert joined a group called Two Much Trouble, and performed on their album "Frankenstein". The group earned a wild reputation with its heavily modified tour bus that spit flames and transformed into a mobile stage.


In the summer of 1997 Robert was enlisted as the lead guitarist for the premier seacoast rock group 202 The Band. For the next 5 years he rocked crowds every weekend all over the New England area. In 2002 the group released the album "En Route". Many of the songs featured on the album were either written or co-written by Robert.


Always anxious to take drastic "left turns" along his musical path, Robert accepted an invitation by the renowned New York City based jazz guitarist Larry Simon to perform in two of his large scale new age, rock, jazz ensembles, Collective Consciousness and Infinite Soul. Each group sported, at times, over twenty members. This setting not only gave Robert the chance to tread on new musical ground, but it also gave him the chance to explore new instruments like mandolin and electric violin. Robert now plays an electric violin custom made for him by Mark Wood of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.


Rock and Roll of course was never far from his heart, so of course he did just that. Robert next found himself playing second guitar for his close friend and virtuoso guitarist Dan Miller in the Dan Miller Band. This heavy metal goliath created enough of a rumble to make it into the final round of the Boston based Beantown Meltdown battle of the bands.


In 2005 Robert finally found the time to release his second solo album, "Dust Covered Man". Produced by Grammy nominated producer Mac Richey, it was a somewhat dark and introspective, acoustic based, singer songwriter album that featured flutist Cynthia Chatis and blues harmonica guru "Hatrack" Gallagher. Robert's version of Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Blue Sky" had the distinction of being voted the 2nd best cover of a Pink Floyd song on iTunes, during 2005. Ritchie Havens, the internationally known folk singer, has also given his stamp of approval on Robert's version of "Darkness Darkness".


In the spring of 2007 Robert was given the immense honor of performing as a member of the world famous Irish soul band "The Commitments" on their 2007 U.S. tour, filling in for the bands ailing original guitarist Kenneth McCluskey.


2007 also saw the release of a series of Hypnotherapy CD's by therapist Sharon O'Connor that featured music written and recorded by Robert. He has also written music for independent films and television. Several pieces written by Robert were used on the television series "Knights of Mayhem".


In 2007 Robert also found time to reunite with some of his old 202 band mates in a short lived group called Stone Circle. Unfortunately the band was shelved after the untimely death of their friend and bass player Dave Holebrook. Another close friend and bandmate, Tom Doyle, passed in 2012.


In 2008 Robert had the pleasure to study with British classical guitar master Edward Flower, expanding his already diverse background even more. Later that year he was recruited to do transcriptions for Guy Davis, a popular performer in the modern blues world and son of famous actor Ossie Davis.


In 2009 Robert was invited to join the faculty of Rocksource 360. An online music school whose faculty includes Ben Connolly (RA), Jon Donais (Shadows Fall), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Mike Mangini (Steve Vai, Dream Theater) and Zak Stevens (Savatage, Trans- Siberian Orchestra).


2009 also saw the birth of Robert's own recording studio, the Dragon's Den, and the start of the project for which he is most well known, Telergy. An orchestral progressive rock juggernaught that has swept the progressive rock world by storm. Over the course of three albums, "The Exodus", "The Legend of Goody Cole" and "Hypatia", the project has feautured performers from such notable groups such as Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Yes, Kansas, Queensryche, Twisted Sister, Night Ranger, Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sympony X, Kamelot, Rhapsody of Fire, Hawkwind, Magellan, Spock's Beard, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and more.


In 2010 Robert joined with his old friend, blues singer, T.J. Wheeler to record a record for the charity organization "Raising the Blues" a group that provides music lessons for special needs and underprivileged children in the New England area.


2010 also saw Robert's return to acting, when German based toy company "Ravensburger" enlisted him to voice the role of "the Gnome" in the new, electronic version of their wildly popular "Labyrinth" game.


Besides all his accomplishments as a writer, producer and performer, Robert has also earned a reputation as a gifted music educator. Giving private instruction at Equinox World Music in Portsmouth, NH, Exeter Music in Exeter, NH, and serving for eight years as Assistant Director at Music Makers in Hampton, NH.


Most recently, Robert was hired as the guitar instructor for the Lincoln Akerman middle school in Hampton Falls, NH, where he teaches the next generation of budding Rock stars.


When Robert isn't making music he enjoys fine art, renaissance fairs and sleeping.


And the journey continues...

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