Of the great prog acts of the 1970s, KANSAS is now the only one who still releases studio albums with new material. "The Absence Of Presence", the current longplayer of the American septet, shows that the band is still extremely vital and has not swept its progressive side under the table. Guitarist Zak Rizvi, who has been the band's main songwriter and co-producer for five years, played a major role in the new songs. We reached the man from the US state of New Jersey in the middle of a Corona-related tour break
From fan to band member - this dream came true for Zak Rizvi when he was hired as producer and composer for the Kansas comeback album "The Prelude Implicit" in 2015. Apparently, everyone involved was happy with his contributions, as Rizvi was officially accepted into the Kansas family a year later. In an interview with eclipsed, he talks about how his Kansas connection was originally made, how the friendly ties have grown stronger over the years, and how the work on the new album went, whose title is an allusion to the permanently distracted smartphone generation.
eclipsed: Zak, you're one of the newer members of Kansas. Do you remember when you first became aware of Kansas music?
Zak Rizvi: The decisive factor for me was my high school bandleader, who was convinced that I could become a successful musician. He played me "Carry On Wayward Son" as well as excerpts from "Masque" and "Point Of Know Return". I immediately became a fan, because this music totally impressed me!
eclipsed: Your first contact with the boys from Kansas was in 2001. Back then you sent a letter to Kansas drummer Phil Ehart and enclosed the second album of your instrumental band 4Front ..
Rizvi: Actually I had Phil's contact details since 1999, I got them from the friend of the 4Front drummer, but I didn't use them for the time being. When "Radio Waves Goodbye" came out and got good reviews, I wrote Phil a letter on good luck. It said who I am - and that I would like to be in his band! (laughs) I also wrote that I would like to contribute material to the next Kansas album - and incredibly, he called me back that very night. He was very nice, but said that Kansas wouldn't be recording an album in the near future. He said, "You can send me something, I'll listen to it." So I did, and as the years went by, we became friends. One thing led to another, and when I worked with Kansas producer Jeff Glixman for six years [the contact was made through Phil Ehart; note], the Kansas Connection became even stronger. So when they got a new record deal a few years ago and needed someone to help them record, I was lucky that they called me
eclipsed: You joined Kansas permanent in 2016. Did you have to do an audition?
Rizvi: No, because the band already knew me from the studio work and because of the songs I had contributed. Also, 4Front played a few times in 2003 as support act for Kansas when they were in New Jersey. When I played with Kansas for the first time in 2016, there was only one rehearsal together before because the schedule was so tight and "The Prelude Implicit" had to be finished