Spock's Beard in 2007
Nick D'Virgilio, Ryo Okumoto, Dave Meros, Jimmy Keegan, and Alan Morse
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Labels||Mascot, Inside Out Music, Giant Electric Pea|
|Associated acts||Aeon Zen, Enchant, Thought Chamber|
|Past members||Nick D'Virgilio
Spock's Beard are a progressive rock band formed in 1992 in Los Angeles by brothers Neal and Alan Morse. Neal played keyboards and was the lead vocalist, as well as being the primary songwriter before leaving the band in 2002 to pursue a solo career. Alan plays electric guitar. The original line-up consisted of the Morse brothers, along with fellow musicians Nick D'Virgilio and John Ballard (bass). The following year Ballard was replaced by Dave Meros and the band subsequently released their debut album, The Light, in 1995. The quartet were later joined by veteran keyboardist Ryo Okumoto. Neal Morse departed in 2002, with D'Virgilio taking over lead vocals until his departure in 2011. The band currently consists of longstanding members Alan Morse, Dave Meros, and Ryo Okumoto, along with newer members drummer Jimmy Keegan and vocalist Ted Leonard; both of whom had performed in a live capacity with the band previously (Keegan from D'Virgilio's switch to frontman and Leonard in the immediate aftermath of D'Virgilio's departure).
The band plays a brand of progressive rock with pop music leanings (drawing much influence from Yes and Genesis). The band is also well known for their intricate multi-part vocal harmonies (such as those found on certain Gentle Giant songs) and use of counterpoint on cuts such as "Gibberish", "Thoughts (Parts I and II)", "A Guy Named Sid Pt.5: Sid's Boy Choir", "Long Time Suffering", "Devil's Got My Throat", and "Afterthoughts."
Alan Morse came up with the name after a particularly wild party, where he remarked to his brother, Neal, "It's almost as if we were in an alternate universe, like that one episode of Star Trek where Spock had a beard ["Mirror, Mirror"]. Wouldn't that be a cool name for a band? Spock's Beard." Then, when it came time to choose a name for the band, Alan made a list of over 100 names and threw Spock's Beard on the end as a joke, and the band chose it.
In 2002, the band released the highly acclaimed double-CD concept album Snow, which tells a story of an albino psychic who acquires a messianic following, who spiritually falls and loses the direction of his calling, then to be rescued with new chance to live in harmony. Many listeners and critics have noted the parallels between the storyline of Snow and Neal Morse's own highly publicized conversion to Christianity.
Following the release of Snow, Neal Morse left the band for a solo career. Drummer Nick D'Virgilio took over the lead singing and songwriting role, in a move reminiscent of Genesis's drummer Phil Collins taking over for Peter Gabriel. Their first album, Feel Euphoria, has a harder-rocking and more experimental sound than the Neal Morse-led band, relying on Alan Morse's guitar to a greater extent.
In early 2005, after a long writing and recording process, Spock's Beard released Octane, their second album after the departure of Neal Morse. This was seen by many fans as a return to a more bright and epic sound after the previous songwriting differences in Feel Euphoria.
As posted on their website on November 8: Their ninth studio album was released on 21 November 2006, simply entitled "Spock's Beard"
A live DVD as well as CD (of the same material) recorded live in Holland in 2007 were released on 13 June 2008 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the remainder of Europe on 16 June, and in North America on 24 June.
On 23 July 2009, the band's website announced that most of the material for a new album had been written, and that their tenth album was to be released independently rather than through a record label. Adopting an approach similar to that taken by the band Marillion, Spock's Beard had decided to take pre-orders of the CD before entering the recording studio, to support the production costs. The band expected the album to be released first as a limited edition of 5000 CDs to those who pre-ordered the album, and then available on general release a month later. That album, X, was released in June 2010.
In an interview with Anil Prasad in Guitar Player, SB drummer and lead vocalist and songwriter Nick D'Virgilio says that “From the very beginning, Spock's Beard has been a songwriting-based progressive rock band. [...] In between all the crazy stuff we do, there are always some very memorable melodies that stick in people's heads, and that has helped us cross over into the mainstream a little bit. It's funny—guys sometimes bring their prog-rock-hating girlfriends to our gigs, and our songs will convert them.”
The band played the Sweden Rocks festival in June and the UK High Voltage Festival on Sunday 24 July 2011, with Ted Leonard (of Enchant) filling in for Nick on vocals on both occasions. They were joined at High Voltage by Neal Morse, who reunited with the band for the end of "The Light" and "June." Concert Live recorded the performance. Nick D'Virgilio announced his departure from the band on November 18, 2011 for personal reasons and other commitments.
On November 21, 2011, it was announced on the band's official website that Enchant vocalist Ted Leonard and former touring drummer Jimmy Keegan would be the new singer and drummer of the band, respectively. In April 2013 the band, including Leonard and Keegan, released their 11th studio album, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep. They used the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to fund the mastering of the CD.
- Current members
- Alan Morse - guitar, vocals (1992-present)
- Dave Meros - bass guitar, vocals, keyboards (1993-present)
- Ryo Okumoto - keyboards, vocals (1995-present)
- Jimmy Keegan - drums, vocals (2011-present; live member: 2002-2011)
- Ted Leonard - vocals, guitar (2011-present; live member: 2011)
- Former members
- Nick D'Virgilio - drums, lead & backing vocals, guitar, keyboard (1992–2011)
- Neal Morse - lead vocals, synths, acoustic guitar, keyboards (1992–2002), song co-writer (2010-present)
- John Ballard - bass guitar (1992–93)
- Stan Ausmus - song co-writer (2003-present)
- John Boegehold - song co-writer (2003-present)
- The Light (1995)
- Beware of Darkness (1996)
- The Kindness of Strangers (1998)
- Day for Night (1999)
- V (2000)
- Snow (2002)
- Feel Euphoria (2003)
- Octane (2005)
- Spock's Beard (2006)
- X (2010)
- Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep (2013)
- "Neal Morse Interview". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. December 24, 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
- Farah, Miguel (9 June 2002). "Spock's Beard Frequently Asked Questions List". Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- Prasad, Anil. “Spock's Beard's ‘Pop’ Prog.” Guitar Player 39.4 (2005): 30. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 24 September 2010.
- "Spock's Beard Concert Setlist at High Voltage 2011 on July 24, 2011". setlist.fm. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
- "Products". Concert Live. 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
- "NDV Music >> November 18, 2011". Nick D'Virgilio. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- Spock's Beard official site
- Ryo Okumoto official site
- Nick D'Virgilio official site
- Neal Morse official site
- 2010 interview with Alan Morse for Prog Sphere
- The X Tour-Live review on Prog-Sphere.com