GANDALF’S FIST “With Open Hands” 

By Dark Starr

Gandalf's Fist are a prog rock act who are rather new, but have built up quite a following and quite an impressive catalog during the tenure. They say that it's not the years in your life, but the life in your years. That probably applies to bands, as well, and clearly says a lot about Gandalf's Fist. I got the chance to pose some questions to them about their recent activity and more. 

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: It's been a few years since we've done an interview with Gandalf's Fist. What have you guys been up to in that time? 

Dean Marsh: Actually, quite a bit! We’ve expanded ranks to a six-piece, released a triple album entitled “The Clockwork Fable," headlined the Second Stage at HRH Prog, headlined our own theatre show, released a special, remixed version of “A Day in the life of a Universal Wanderer”, released a Christmas single, cut our first vinyl at Abbey Road Studios and launched our own record label Nightkeeper Productions.  In this time Luke has also opened his own Donkey Derby in Whitley Bay, and I have re-watched the Karate Kid on VHS a number of times.  

Ben Bell: Well I was happily minding my own business, carving out my own niche (or maybe more of a nick, or a scratch) in the prog rock world when this drummer turned up with certain… photos. He explained to me that either I play some gigs with him or he’d publish them, and my life would be ruined. Funny thing is, they’re only random photos of what looks like some bits of German landscape (and I think there was a blurry one of a dog too), but he seemed so convinced that I was kind of swept along with the whole thing. And so here I am.

Stefan Hepe: I seriously cannot remember being involved in an interview with Wormwood Cbronicles, so it must’ve been before I joined, so… I was obviously busy joining the Fist, collecting blurry photos for… 

WC: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
BB: “Don’t stop!”

SH: I enjoy it when someone just tells us that he likes what we do.

DM: I think the biggest compliment we’ve had in recent years has been regarding “The Clockwork Fable” album - we had a lot of reviews saying it is somewhat of a modern classic in terms of conceptual albums. and, considering we recorded and produced it ourselves, it makes those comments all the more satisfying. The reaction to our latest live performances has also been overwhelming. It was great to hear that people were requesting us to preform again at HRH Prog – so we were more than happy to oblige!

WC: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

BB: I’m usually mostly listening to mixes of projects that are in progress to be honest. The most recent album I bought was probably Tom Slatter’s “Murder and Parliament”.

SH: I’m more into vinyl these days, so I bought Porcupine Tree’s “Deadwing”  and “In Absentia” on coloured vinyl, the vinyl/CD bundle of the debut of Kaprekar’s Constant and am currently waiting for delivery of We Lost The Sea’s “Departure Songs”.

DM: I’ve been delving back into my heavy metal roots and decided, with a pinch of trepidation, to purchase the new Judas Priest record “Firepower”. It’s a lot of fun ,and I really enjoyed pretty much every aspect of it, including the production. Other than that, there’s been a smattering of Zappa and Blue Oyster Cult on the audio-rotisserie lately. The main thing I’ve been listening to, however, is music from a couple of top-secret Gandalf’s Fist projects. 

WC: Have you read any good books lately?

BB: “The Art of Contemporary Choral Arrangement”, the edition translated for badgers.

SH: Greg Lake’s and Bruce Dickinson’s Autobiographies.

DM: “How to Avoid Huge Ships” by Captain John W. Trimmer

WC: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

BB: Steven Wilson in Gateshead three weeks ago, and I’ve got tickets for Arena in a couple of weeks.

SH: Last concert I saw was The Musical Box performing the Selling England By The Pound tour. Looking forward to see King Crimson and Fish this year in Germany. Plus I hope this time we have a bit of time to watch other bands at HRH…

DM: I think it was a couple of years ago watching a Pink Floyd tribute in the pub the night before we were planning on going down to London to record Zach Galligan’s lines whilst he was in town attending special “Gremlins” screening. We had to run for the train in the morning! We didn’t even have time to see any other bands at HRH last year as we were running around like headless chickens doing radio interviews and trying to find a curry that wouldn’t kill Luke. 

WC: Do you remember the first concert you attended?

BB: I don’t know. If the first one was the Brian May Band on the Back To The Light tour, then I definitely remember that, but if it was something else then clearly no, I don’t remember it.

SH: Yes, and I really don’t want to talk about it. The first concert worth remembering (or mentioning) was the one I went to on my own, with all senses awaken: Deep Purple.

DM: I don’t remember much of it. I do, however, remember getting caught waiting for the bus to Newcastle on the morning of the concert – a load of us were on the skive from school and my teacher came looking for us. He found me sat on the wall by the bus-stop – everyone else had had the foresight to hide in the pub until it arrived.