By Grace Alone: A Conversation with Progressive Rock's Neal Morse
By Grace Alone: A Conversation with Progressive Rock's Neal Morse

By Grace Alone: A Conversation with Progressive Rock’s Neal Morse

I was blessed with the opportunity to interview Neal Morse in anticipation of his upcoming solo album entitled Sola Gratia (which translates to “by grace alone”). We covered a myriad of topics from writing and recording an album during a pandemic to sharing knowledge on his unique business model that is working very effectively for him.

Neal fronted the (secular) Progressive Rock band Spock’s Beard in the 90’s and early 2000’s before getting saved and reestablishing himself as a Christian artist. His reformed career is decidedly evangelical in nature in that he uses his world-class musicianship to minister to many who don’t know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. His musical prowess and authenticity break through barriers which transcend the scope of traditional Christian music ministry.

I am of the opinion that every Christian Rock, Metal, or Rap artist should be seeking to take their message to the dark corners of our country and the world rather than remaining in the comfort of Christian-specific venues and festivals. It is in the dark corners where people who don’t know Christ are most often found. “Preaching to the choir” has a place. But for those who truly wish to have an impact on our culture, the hard road NEEDS to be traveled.

Let’s pick up the conversation after the cordial hellos…

Dave Coleman: Musically and spiritually, what did you learn about yourself during the process of writing and recording this solo project during the quarantine?

Neal Morse: One thing I learned is that I’ve gotten used to having other people in the room with me. And I felt like maybe I had to get my confidence back. Actually, you know, by constructing the whole thing totally on my own. I haven’t done one completely on my own since, I guess, Question Mark (?) which remained pretty close. But even then we reshaped some stuff. The last thing that I wrote in its entirety that flew as I wrote it was Testimony which was a long time ago. Well, you know, it was like 17 years ago or something now. I tried to do that on Zoom meetings with Randy (George) and Mike (Portnoy), because we usually get together in person and Jerry Guidroz is here. You know how it is when you’re creating things where you have stuff created and you run it by them. And, you say, “Hey, what are your thoughts about this? Should we just track it as it is? Or do you think we should maybe extend this solo section?” We didn’t change things drastically. A lot of times it’s more like cutting and pasting and what not. So it was a different thing to do an album entirely remotely. It’s the only album I’ve ever done entirely, virtually. So it was quite a different experience. 

Dave Coleman: Do any of the other guys have songwriting credits on this album?

Neal Morse: No.

Dave Coleman: Okay, so it’s exclusively you. Did you find it hard to stay motivated during the pandemic’s quarantine period?

Neal Morse: Well, I was super-juiced. My favorite time of everything that I do is the writing and discovery process. When COVID really took off in March that’s when I was really putting this thing together. Before that was just what I call the ‘throwing things against the wall period.’ But March was when I really started sitting down to put it together. And normally I start not being able to sleep. I only sleep sometimes for like five hours a night or something. I get so turned on about it. But I did get sick in March. I tested negative. And then I actually got sick again in July and I tested negative. It was weird. I got sick in unusual ways. And I must have tested negative like four or five times. I kept going back ‘cause I was sure I had it. So getting sick in March did slow me down. But no, I don’t have to try and get motivated when the music’s coming. It’s quite the opposite.

Dave Coleman: So it just kind of pops out, huh?

Neal Morse: Well, I mean, it’s hard for me sometimes to rest enough.

Dave Coleman: Did you find that the pandemic affected the music or lyrics in any way?

Neal Morse: Well, it totally did. If COVID wouldn’t have happened, I don’t know if I would have made this album at this time. And if I didn’t make it at this time, it probably would have come out differently.

Dave Coleman: So I’m sure COVID probably cleared your schedule a bit.

Neal Morse: Totally. Well, I couldn’t go anywhere. Flying Colors was supposed to headline Cruise to the Edge. So that would have been a whole week. But that was in April. You know, oddly enough, I remember praying in October, before any of this stuff was on anybody’s horizon. And I remember everything that I was trying to put together. We were trying to put together a Transatlantic thing for 2020. And then I was thinking about maybe doing a solo acoustic thing. And I even threw it out there to an agent and he got me some shows. But I wound up just kind of going, meh. Nothing felt right. We were trying to do more stuff with Flying Colors. And that wouldn’t happen. It was almost as if God was closing the door to anything in 2020. I remember kind of saying to God back in October or November, “well, I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2020, but I guess you know, right? It seems like there’s nothing going on. What am I going to be doing?” And then it turns out, you know, look at all the releases that I’ve had, and COVID happened. So thank God I didn’t have a bunch of shows booked because then you have to cancel them and, you know, all that hassle and so in a way I felt like the Lord prepared me.

Dave Coleman: Yeah, I really like Flying Colors. I love Casey McPherson‘s voice and the different quality he adds to the band. Plus, I’ve been a Steve Morse fan for 30 years or so. You know, back since the Dixie Dregs days. So I got to go to Morse Fest in 2019 and that was a blast. I was really psyched when I found out Flying Colors was the opening act, so to speak. So I really enjoyed that. It was my first time at Morse Fest and it was it was a blast.

Neal Morse: And the Steve Morse Band. That was so exciting. Regarding one of the pieces they played; I didn’t realize it until later. I said, “Steve, you know, that’s one of my favorite songs you’ve ever written.” He said, “I know. That’s why we played it.” 

Dave Coleman: I think they played Simple Simon, which is one of my favorites. Anyway, moving on. What’s your general overhead as far as recording and releasing an album?

Neal Morse: Oh. About what do we spend? Somewhere between $25,000 and $60,000.

Dave Coleman: Wow! I would have expected somewhat less because I think you have your own studio, if I’m not mistaken.

Neal Morse: Yeah, and that’s without paying for studio time. Well, think about it. If you’re going to fly four guys in and put them up and feed them for 10 days, that’s probably going to cost you around $6,000 right there. Then the mixing guys are not cheap. Anyway, I don’t need to itemize it, but…(laughs)

Dave Coleman: That’s kind of a personal question so I was kind of debating whether I should ask it. But thanks for replying in the way you did.

Near Morse: Well…and then if you think about something like a Transatlantic project where you’re flying everybody to Sweden, you know for a bunch of time and all the expenses involved in that. And then there’s players. Anyway…

Dave Coleman: It seems like the fans are really looking forward to that album. I know I am. So do you have an expected date for the album at this point?

Neal Morse: Yeah, we’re talking about it and it’s getting closer to being honed in on. I don’t know when it’ll get finalized and announced, but I would imagine it would be after not too long. I hate to be so vague.

Dave Coleman: I was thinking it was going to be early to mid 2020 and that maybe the band would be part of 2020’s Morse Fest but obviously everything was blown up. So,

Neal Morse: Right. Well, that’s what I was shooting for. Honestly, I mean, that’s what we were talking about, like last October. That was one of the things that wouldn’t happen. Marillion had locked out 2020 to make a new album. So they all made an agreement that nobody was going to do anything until the new album was done. So we couldn’t do Transatlantic. We couldn’t do live shows, and he couldn’t commit to more stuff. And that’s all fine. I mean, that’s all good. God had a different plan, and I’m very pleased.

Dave Coleman: Things have a way of working out though, don’t they?

Neal Morse: They do. Hallelujah.

Dave Coleman: Okay. So let’s move on. Explain the concept behind the album cover.

Neal Morse: Oh, well, I spoke with Thomas Ewerhard, the guy who’s been doing art for a lot of my releases since the ‘90s. He actually did the cover for Day for Night. I think that was the first one that he did: Spock’s Beard’s Day for Night cover. So I’ve been working with him forever. He did Testimony. And One. And a lot of my covers. Not all of them. But a lot of them. And so he likes to listen to the music. I sent him the music. And I think the idea was that Paul is headed toward the light but he’s still on the road. Much of Sola Gratia, and I didn’t really plan this, actually takes place through the perspective of Saul rather than Paul. It’s almost like “Saul’s album” rather than “Paul’s album.”

Dave Coleman: Yeah, before he had the conversion. Do you identify with Paul’s story at all? Like, you know, Saul becoming Paul and from transitioning from really bad guy to really good guy?

Neal Morse: Oh, totally. And I want to relate to it more. When we read Paul’s writings, you know, we’re trying to ingest those things so much that they become part of who we are. What a phenomenal thing. When I came to the point of writing about his conversion, I couldn’t come up with any way to sing about it. When I tried that, it’s like half the conversation that happens in the book of Acts where Paul says, “Who Are you? What’s happening?” And Jesus says, “Why are you persecuting me?” That whole scene…I couldn’t really put it into a song so I just left it with the music and hopefully people can feel that.

Dave Coleman: Do you feel that your faith grows stronger with each album? With each release? Each time you go through this process?

Neal Morse: Well, yes. It is very faith-building when things come together. It just dropped on Waterfall today (August 28, 2020). And in one of the comments on one of the forums a guy said, “I don’t know why, but I just keep listening to the ending and crying. And then I listen to it again. And I cry again.” So then you’re like, wow, the wonder of it all. The Lord uses these things to touch people’s hearts. And it’s just a wonderful, amazing thing.

Dave Coleman:  I’ll tell you what. We’re in a time where people desperately need to hear about Jesus. All this anger and hatred, and killing…and all that kind of stuff. It’s really depressing and I’m having a hard time with it myself.

Neal Morse: Yeah, it’s tough. I’m trying to stay a little bit away from it. I want to have compassion. But not get pulled into the storm. You know, somehow Jesus had dominion. He was able to be in it and above it, right?

Dave Coleman: I’m not that good at that kind of thing. When I went to college, my major was Political Science. So I’ve been a political junkie since I was in high school and no matter how bad I want to step away, sometimes I end up going back. And, because I’m an emotional person…I’m a musician myself, I kind of get dragged in. And I don’t have the discipline not to get dragged in. So that makes it a little more difficult for me.

Neal Morse: That’s a great challenge. But you know, I’ve been speaking a lot this year in church about, you know, if love…and I think we know from First Corinthians 13…that love is the greatest gift; the only goal; you can have wisdom but if you have not loved you have nothing…

Dave Coleman: You’re a clanging cymbal.

Neal Morse: Yeah, all of that. If that’s the most important thing, which I think it’s pretty clear that it is, then anything that gets in the way of the love of God expressing itself in your pure heart; anything that gets in the way of that we ought to pull back from. That is the primary directive. And so I’ve been trying to do that. One kind of fun thing this morning: I’m preparing for Morse Fest and we’re doing a covers night. Friday night is covers night and then Saturday night is the Sola Gratia debut. One of the covers that we’re going to be doing is “Let Love Rule” by Lenny Kravitz. That’s the song that should be sung on the steps of the…wherever right now. Let love rule in your heart. What the world needs now is love. I mean, it’s the same message from the ’60’s, you know?

Dave Coleman: That’s true. Since I’ve been up here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is obviously where Nick D’Virgilio is at, I kind of did a favor for a friend of mine. They needed a fill-in drummer for this cover band that they’re doing. And we did one of Lenny Kravitz’s songs. I can’t remember the name, but it’s a really funky groovy tune. Of course, that could pretty much describe any of his songs. But when I was listening to lyrics, I was thinking, you know, I know exactly what this is about. It’s a Christian song. It’s pretty interesting when you see somebody who has that kind of stature in our culture obviously singing a song about faith and, you know, that kind of thing. Definitely inspiring.

Neal Morse: Yeah, that’s great.

Dave Coleman: I wish I could remember which one it is. But I can’t. I can’t remember the name.

Neal Morse: Hey, I’m really interested. If you do, send me the name. I’d like to hear it. (EDIT: song referred to is “Are You Gonna Go My Way“)

Dave Coleman: Yeah, okay. I will. If at any point you need me to move it along, let me know and I will do so. I’m trying to be respectful of your time.

Neal Morse: Well, yeah, yeah, no worries.

Dave Coleman: So have you ever thought about making an album for each Sola? So that would equate to five Sola albums in total.

Neal Morse: Wow. Well, I don’t know if you read this but in one of the statements about the album; what happened was I was I was actually reading in (Andy) Stanley’s “Irresistable” while I was on this vacation, and he mentions the five Solas in that book. And then I was talking to my wife about doing a solo album. And she said, “Oh, yeah, that’d be good. Maybe you should do another solo album.” She said solo. I thought she said sola. And combining that with what I just heard from Andy Stanley is really what motivated Sola Gratia. I may do a whole series. We’ll see what God does.

Dave Coleman: And then you could “box set” them later.

Neal Morse: Yeah, there you go!

Dave Coleman: Yeah, thinking ahead! Okay, during the writing process, when did you know that the concept of Sola Gratia was going to work?

Neal Morse: That would have been after I came back home. After the throwing things against the wall period, I knew there was an album there because there was a lot of stuff. And you have a sense like, Oh, that’s a good one. Oh, that’s good too. But I wasn’t sure about it being about sola gratia and being about Paul. Probably in March when I really started to put it together. It’s almost like a scouting expedition; start sending out feelers or, you know, I have to get a certain amount of pieces of the puzzle before I’ll go, okay, this is going in this direction. I’m going to go ahead and follow this direction and finish it. So it probably would have been, I would guess, mid-March when I was like, okay, this is happening. I’m doing it. You know, it might have been earlier, I’d have to check the date. But it’s somewhere around there. Maybe March. Maybe earlier. It’s in the writing process for me when I really start writing the words. I was writing the words at the same time. With this kind of album, it’s not so conceptual that you can leave the words for later. You’ve got to pretty much know what it is. If I get like three or four songs and two or three themes, I’m committed.

Dave Coleman: When you’re writing, do you give much consideration to the thought of live performances? Or do you just write what you write and then let it kind of play out in the live setting as far as getting everybody on the same page and all that sort of thing?

Neal Morse: I pretty much just write what I write and hope that people will be able to play it. Sometimes I write stuff that I think is really cool but I know I won’t be able to play it. I’ll have to slow the tape down and do trickery in the studio for me to even get it. I’ll work in MIDI. You probably know what that is. I’ll slow the tempo down in MIDI and write the complex things and then speed it up because, to me, it doesn’t really matter. When I’m in the writing phase, it’s all about just writing the piece and using whatever tools you want to use for that. It’s great. And then when it comes to recording, it’s like, well, whatever you need to do to make it sound good and natural. But there were some things that I couldn’t play on guitar, particularly, that I had to ask Eric to play because it was too fast for me.

Dave Coleman: It really shouldn’t be that much of a problem when you’re dealing with the Neal Morse Band in particular, because, I mean, everybody in that band is top notch. And I wouldn’t think there are too many things they can’t play.

Neal Morse: No, it’s pretty amazing. You can throw just about anything at those guys. It’s really pretty crazy. They’ve never come to me and said, “Hey, we can’t play this.”

Dave Coleman: I know that Eric’s main instrument is drums, but I actually think he’s a better guitarist than he is a drummer. And he’s a good drummer. So, you know, that’s saying something.

Neal Morse: Oh, I thought guitar was his main instrument and he plays everything else really great.

Dave Coleman: I thought I read that drums were his main instrument. I might be wrong, but I thought I read that somewhere.

Neal Morse: Oh, maybe meaning that’s what he started on. I think that’s what he started on. But that’s crazy. That he started on guitars second or third or whatever.

Dave Coleman: Right? I’m a drummer and I can barely play the drums well enough.

Neal Morse: I know. That guy’s insane. Not only that, but he auditioned for the band on keyboards too.

Dave Coleman: Oh, really?

Neal Morse: Yeah, he can play all this stuff on keyboards, too. Well, and then there’s Eric’s voice. What about his vocals on songs like “The Great Despair”?

Dave Coleman: Yeah, there’s a clarity to his voice that’s really attractive.

Neal Morse: Yeah, it’s great. I love his voice. It really blends well with mine.

Dave Coleman: With the Neal Morse band, I think you guys have such a great balance in all aspects. Everybody contributes to make the whole much greater than the individuals. There’s just a meshing there that’s really complimentary.

Neal Morse: Oh, yeah, it’s really astounding. I’m just so blessed. And they’re such nice, good people too. Now, kind of at the last minute, just because I’m busy doing other things or whatever, I’ll email Randy, or email Bill or Eric and say, “Hey, man, I’m hearing some sound effects on this thing. Do you think you could do some sounds like a door closing and then footsteps and send it to Rich?” They’re just so nice. It’s like, “yeah, sure, I’ll try that. What do you think about this?” They’ll send me something back in a couple hours. “Yeah, that’s great. Send it on. Thank you so much.” They’re only doing that because they’re just cool guys and just want to help.

Dave Coleman: Yeah, those are the kind of people you want to work with. For sure.

Neal Morse: Yeah. Oh, yeah. When you talk about counting your blessings. I have a lot of blessings that I can count. But the Neal Morse band is definitely, definitely up there on the list.

Dave Coleman: Are you ever tempted to bring in different musicians for a solo project?

Neal Morse: Sometimes I am. I used to do that a little more. You know, bringing in like Steve Hackett on the Question Mark album, for example. Different ones like Paul Gilbert, Phil Keaggy. I was listening to “What is Life” recently that we sang together on for the bonus tracks. I love Phil. So I do think about that but on this album I didn’t feel like I really needed it. And sometimes in the past, to be honest, the record companies have encouraged me to get guests so they have something to put on the sticker to sell records; featuring John Petrucci, you know, that’ll sell records. And that’s the business they’re in. And that’s cool.

Dave Coleman: Steve Hackett was definitely a good one. I was going to ask you, you know…last time I spoke with you, I did an interview with you for the Great Adventure album and we talked a little bit about your influences. I know that Emerson, Lake and Palmer was a big one for you. One of the things I’m doing in Fort Wayne here is I’m going to be involved in a Genesis tribute band. So I wanted to ask what kind of influence Genesis had upon you, because to be honest with you, the first thing I heard was from Duke, so I was into everything that came after that. And it was only when we started talking about this Genesis tribute band that I went back and listened to the old stuff. And I was like, what? Peter Gabriel was the lead singer for Genesis? So I discovered all this “new” music and I’m just in love with it. So I was wondering if they had that kind of influence on you?

Neal Morse: Oh, yeah, Genesis is one of my top influences. But oddly enough, I was rather foolish. I’d heard Selling England (by the Pound) and I think it was right around then that I was such a Yes fan. It was almost like I was a Yes and ELP guy. I had a chance to go see Genesis at the Roxy Theater. I lived in L.A. and my friends were going. I could have gone but for some reason I didn’t go. I remember thinking, I don’t like those guys that much. You know, they’re just ripping off Yes. (laughs) That’s right…I’m just a dumb teenager. It wasn’t until a little bit later that it really caught fire in my heart…around the Lamb Lies Down (on Broadway). And then A Trick of the Tail was really a big one for me. And then I went back, kind of like you, and bought all the earlier stuff. And you know, Supper’s Ready became such a big influence. And Firth of Fifth. How many piano pieces have I written influenced by Firth of Fifth? (laughs)

Dave Coleman: That’s one of the songs we’re going to be doing. So as a drummer, I’m totally ready for that one!

Neal Morse: Yeah, it’s such a great piano piece. And it’s actually a great sounding piano piece too. When you put that record on, man, that’s a great recording of the piano. Just fabulous. I learned that when I was about 13 years old or something. I learned Firth of Fifth. That was one of my favorite things to play on the piano. And so yeah, they’ve been a tremendous influence.

Dave Coleman: One of my favorite songs of their earlier stuff is Battle of Epping Forest. The time signatures are just crazy in that one. And that one took me a while to really grasp everything.

Neal Morse: Oh, by the way, what’s really fun. Have you driven around England?

Dave Coleman: I have. We took the trains when I went. That’s a similar thing, I guess.

Neal Morse: It’s super fun when you see all these…there are so many places over there referenced in all the progressive rock stuff. Like, you know, oh, wow! There’s Cornwall. (sings) “They’re all resting down in Cornwall” from Jethro Tull. And then, oh, there’s the Gardens of Kew mentioned in The Return of the Giant Hogweed. These guys were writing about their neighborhoods. So it’s really cool because you get to actually see all this stuff that you’ve heard sung about for years.

Dave Coleman: I was a big Smiths fan when I went. I went when I was right out of college. I wasn’t really into Prog Rock so much at that time in my life. I had been earlier, and then later, but that was a period where I was kind of really doing the alternative rock thing. But it was still very cool riding across the English countryside listening to The Smiths. For me, that was euphoric. Okay, I’ll move along. Are you going to continue doing solo albums along with the Neal Morse band albums?

Neal Morse: I never know. You know. I always say God willing. I don’t really always know. I hope to always be inspired and have new things. I mean, it depends. I hope so.

Dave Coleman: Have you thought about releasing a Blu-Ray audio version of Solo Gratia?

Neal Morse: Oh, I don’t even know about Blu-Ray audio. Yeah, we need to do that. I’ll talk to the label about it.

Dave Coleman: The audiophiles love the high-resolution stuff. I know that many people who are into Prog Rock are audiophiles so they love high quality audio. I think it would probably be another opportunity for you to go back and reissues some of the older stuff that perhaps isn’t in that format as well. I’m always looking for the money streams. (laughs)

Neal Morse: Well, yeah. That’s always good, right?

Dave Coleman: It keeps you alive, you know? (laughs) Okay, do you ever give any thought to progressing, so to speak, your approach to sound? For instance, maybe introducing more electronic elements similar to what you did in Seemingly Sincere?

Neal Morse: Well, there is a lot of electronica on Seemingly Sincere. It was all sequenced and I was playing with the filters. Rich didn’t use them as pronounced as they could have been. But you could do a mix of that. That could sound very, super electronic because there’s a lot of that stuff in there. It was all done on the grid in the computer (makes digital sounds). People think that because I was playing that in the video but those are really just mock-ups. I have to be honest, that was played in the computer and quantized. If you want that kind of sound, if you want an electronic, rigid sound, which sometimes you do, then you will have to use the computer for that.

Dave Coleman: So you’re talking about the arpeggiated part?

Neal Morse: Yeah.

Dave Coleman: So you programmed that instead of playing it?

Neal Morse: Oh, yeah. Totally.

Dave Coleman: Do you have any unfinished projects or collaborations that you’d like to explore in the future?

Neal Morse: Well, there are always things that I’d love to explore. I’d love to do a…I’m texting Rich Mouser right now as we speak “hey, can we do a high-rez version of Sola Gratia?” (laughs) There are so many great artists out there that I’d like to work with. It’s hard to even name them all.

Dave Coleman: I’d love to hear just a Neal Morse / Steve Morse collaboration. Just the two of you. For me, that would be amazing.

Neal Morse: Yeah, I’d love that. I’d love to do an album with Peter Gabriel, you know. If you’re going to shoot for the moon. I’d be very interested in doing a collaborative album with an orchestra leader that is also a composer. Orchestras interest me a lot.

Dave Coleman: When we spoke last time you were talking about going to the Nashville Symphony. The Schermerhorn. Have you thought about releasing the Symphony of Life musical?

Neal Morse: Oh, yeah. I don’t know. That’s an interesting project. We were working on that very seriously a couple years ago. We got it to a place where we started to get it reviewed by theater people and they didn’t seem too…it wasn’t met with a lot of enthusiasm so it sort of died out. I thought it had a lot of good stuff in it. It was more of a Broadway show kind of thing; not really very progressive. Gosh, it’s been a while. I think it has potential. I really like that project. But I don’t have any discussions going on right now.

Dave Coleman: Will you consider doing anything additional with Jesus Christ – the Exorcist?

Neal Morse: Well, the live version is coming out December 4th on Frontiers. So that will be the DVD and live album and that whole thing. Yeah, I would love to do more with that. I’d like to have it properly staged. It would be great to get a director. Man, I’d like to make a movie out of it if I could have my way. I think it would be great to have a rock musical film now. Musicals seem like they’re doing well and a lot of Christian films are doing pretty well. So what if you could have a rock musical that is a film? I think it would be a great time for that. But you have to have funding for that. And a whole team, a whole world of people would have to get on board.

Dave Coleman: I have a friend who created a double-album called Savior. It was similar to the concept you’re talking about. They had different people playing different characters. It was really an Easter presentation. It was all based around the Easter event. I was going to ask you if Jesus Christ – the Exorcist is something that could be done at Easter or if you’ve ever considered doing an album that was specifically about the Easter events.

Neal Morse: I hadn’t considered that. And you certainly could do Jesus Christ – the Exorcist at Easter. The whole story’s there.

Dave Coleman: It would be a great thing to explore. Maybe you find a big church in the Nashville area and use it as an outreach thing to the community that’s closer to Nashville, proper.

Neal Morse: There are some theaters in Branson (Missouri) that I’ve shared it with. I thought that might be an interesting community. If you could put it on during one of their Christian spring fests that have tons of youth coming to Branson from all over the country. It might be something we could try during a week like that and see how it goes down.

Dave Coleman: One last question just popped into my mind. While you were talking I was thinking about how I love the model that you’ve come up with for yourself as an artist. The way you release product; the way you do special things; the way you have all this non-album-related content that you release through Inner Circle and all those kind of things. With the Waterfall app, I was wondering if you’ve ever thought about licensing that out to other people so they could do something similar?

Neal Morse: We have. I’ve been working on that. We’re a little bit stymied on the technical end for some reason. I don’t understand all the technical stuff.  But, yeah…Waterfall for all, man! I’ve been pushing that for a year. We’re still trying to get it together.

Dave Coleman: Well, honestly, that was a stroke of genius. I work in the music business. I do digital distribution and physical distribution…and things like that. I’ve always been trying to help independent artists – particularly independent Christian artists – figure out how to develop a sustainable career. I’ve been watching what you do. I’ve told people, hey, if you want to learn a good way to model your business, check out what Neal Morse is doing. Look at the way he does things. It’s a good model. So maybe you could even do some seminars to help independent musicians figure it all out. There’s a huge need for that. What I’ve found is that most of the people who are good musicians aren’t great business people. And they have a terrible time trying to get their stuff out there. They might write this amazing stuff but creative people often aren’t that logical. The business part doesn’t come easily for them.

Neal Morse: Well, because what we really want to do is be creating and playing. It’s definitely not our first love. For some of us it may be way down on the list. (laughs)

Dave Coleman: It is a necessity, though. I knew a guy up in Minnesota who used to do that. He was deeply plugged into the Christian music community up there…Tooth & Nail Records and all that sort of thing. He’d do seminars based on his experience related to getting a record deal, the “New Music Business,” and that sort of thing. But that’s different than what I’m talking about now. He did very well with it. He was kind of the go-to guy in Minneapolis for people who were looking to learn more about the music business and how to navigate their way through it. So maybe you’d consider that. Well, Neal, it was a pleasure talking to you. Have a great day and God be with you as you continue to do good work through your music.

*This written interview was transcribed from a live recording and edited to increase readability.

Pre-Order Sola Gratia

Neal Morse – In the Name of the Lord from Sola Gratia (Release Date: 9/11/20)
Neal Morse – Seemingly Sincere from Sola Gratia (Release Date: 9/11/20)