Drummer Phil Ehart, who brought the original Kansas line-up together in 1973, is as so often on tour with his band. Nevertheless, the 65-year-old finds time for a half-hour chat about the current Kansas album "The Prelude Implicit", which heralds the end of a 16-year studio break, before the sound check begins in Wendover/Nevada. It's not just a work of contract fulfilment, on the contrary: the band is fully motivated again - which is why "The Prelude Implicit" can't be classified as a farewell gift, but as the beginning of a new era.
eclipsed: For a long time it seemed that the prospects for a new Kansas studio album were nearing zero. In 2009 you said, "The Kansas Recording Mill is painful because we take everything so seriously." Why did you change your mind now?
Phil Ehart: Actually, a lot of things came together. Some band members like Steve Walsh didn't want to record new music, that inhibited us. But it wasn't just Steve - Kerry Livgren [ex-Kansas guitarist; note] also didn't write any new material at the time. So together with the others - Rich Williams, David Ragsdale and Billy Greer - I started the project Native Window, with which we recorded an album. When Steve finally retired, a new world opened up for us: Ronnie Platt joined the band for Steve, and also keyboarder David Manion and guitarist Zak Rizvi, who only produced us in the beginning and then became a permanent member. Suddenly many great things happened at the same time. This also brought back creativity.
eclipsed: Your last studio album "Somewhere To Elsewhere" was very strong, but suffered from a lack of promotion. Was the contract with Inside Out Music another factor that encouraged you to go back to the studio?
Ehart: Well, over the years several labels had asked us if we wanted to make an album, but at that time there was no interest from our side. When it became known that Steve would leave us, we again received some calls, including from Inside Out. Other record companies offered us more money, but Inside Out was a perfect prog label for us, and their boss Thomas Waber had the same vision as us: to create the music Kansas are known for.