Exclusive Interview: Prog Rock Band Spock's Beard
StarTrek.com aims to leave no stone unturned when it comes to exploring Star Trek's influence on pop culture and everyday life. And so you've read stories about Trek-themed weddings, fans spurred to careers in engineering, real-life astronauts guest starring on Trek, houses decked out with Trek screening rooms or living quarters and rock/pop bands who scored hits with Trek-inspired songs. Well, today we'll put a spin on that last one and shine the spotlight on Spock's Beard, a band named -- quite obviously -- after the facial hair of everyone's favorite Vulcan. The progressive rock/metal band formed in 1992 in California, co-founded by guitarist Alan Morse and his brother, Neal. The band carries on to this day, with Alan as the only remaining original member. Spock's Beard just finished the European leg of a tour in support of their latest album, "The Oblivion Particle," and from November 10-15 they'll be part of Cruise to the Edge, which will also feature YES, Marillion and several other bands on a cruise to Key West, Florida, and the Bahamas. StarTrek.com recently spoke to Alan Morse about Spock's Beard, how the band got its name and their current projects. Here's what he had to say...
Spock's Beard is closing in on 25 years. How amazed are you by that longevity?
I'm thrilled about that. It's been a great ride. I'm still having a great time. We had no idea, of course, when we formed the band that we'd still be around in 2015. So it's the best kind of surprise. Some bands break up after six months, so this is kind of hard to believe.
Were you a Star Trek fan?
Of course. I don't know if I'd say I was a hardcore Trekkie, but I was a huge fan. The stories were cool. The characters were so awesome. What's not to like? I didn't follow all of the shows, but I like the reboots of the films. It's good stuff. And the old episodes, they hold up.
Take us through the story of how the band got its name...
We'd gone through a few different names. Actually, a lot of names. We kept bumping into people, and their bands had names we were thinking of, so those wouldn't work. We thought we'd get tired of certain other names. Naming a band is so much harder than you'd think. It's challenging because it's hard to find something that's different and stands out and that you won't get sick of in a week. So we had to come up with a new name and we couldn't settle on anything, so we came up with a long list, a bunch of different names that I'd been collecting over a period of time. Spock's Beard was sort of a phrase that we'd say to each other -- my brother and I -- when something weird would happen. We'd say, "Wow, that's like 'Spock's Beard,'" meaning, "that only happens in a parallel universe, right?" Anyway, Spock only has that beard in the one episode, and it's when he's in the parallel universe in "Mirror, Mirror." So, that was just something we'd say to each other as an inside joke. I put Spock's Beard on the list sort of as a joke. Everybody seemed to like it the best, and so we picked that one, and here we are 20-however-many-years later.
Do you find that Trek fans are Spock's Beard fans?
There's definitely an overlap. I would say that probably a sizable chunk of our fans are also Star Trek fans, just because our music comes from a similar mindset. A lot of our fans are, well... nerds (laughs). And I say that in the nicest possible way. I consider myself a nerd. So there's definitely a big overlap there, although I have to say there's nothing else in our music or in our lyrics that touches on Star Trek in any way.
Did you ever meet or hear from Leonard Nimoy?
Boy, don't I wish, right? No, I never did. That would have been mind-blowing. I never got to meet the man.
Spock's Beard has been on the road supporting "The Oblivion Particle" and you guys were just in Germany, Italy, the UK and Budapest. And the cruise is coming up. If you can be at all objective, how pleased are you with the album?
Well, it is pretty tough to be objective, like you say. But I think it came out fantastic. I couldn't be happier. I wish we could play more of it live. Some of it is just too difficult for us to take all those pieces of instrumentation, all that luggage, with us on the road. There's some good stuff on the album. And we're excited about Cruise to the Edge. We did another cruise last year and had a blast. So come see us with YES. It'll be a good time.
Who makes up the fan base these days? You guys have been around so long you must look out into the audience and see the kids of fans -- and those fans were probably kids when they first discovered you...
Exactly. There is some of that, and I love to see it. It's great to see the generations. Of course, a lot of it is the fans who have been with us since the beginning. They still come out to see our shows. So, when we're on stage, we see a lot of familiar faces every time. It's kind of like a family, really. Or it's like pals just hanging out together.
The band crowdsourced its most-recent albums. What are the pros and cons of the way the music industry -- and getting music to the fans -- has evolved over the years?
Oh my gosh, how much time do you have? The music industry has changed so much. It's great that, with the Internet, you can reach out to many more people than it would have been possible for us to reach back in the old days. There's so much streaming and downloading and everything, and that makes it hard to monetize it. A lot of bands make their money on the road, but the road is a challenge, too. So you make money on tee-shirts, I guess.
Go here for the official the official Spock's Beard site and here for details about Cruise to the Edge.