It took ten years for "Jesus Christ The Exorcist" to see the light of day. No wonder, because mammoth projects with the Flying Colors, Transatlantic and the Neal Morse Band drove the music-obsessed just as much around as solo tours.
eclipsed: What was the trigger to start working on such an epic?
Neal Morse: [The music manager] Michael Caplan called me one day and suggested that I should write some kind of new version of "Jesus Christ Superstar". Apparently he and a friend had listened to the original version from the 70s. We talked about how to write something like a gospel-based rock opera. I started with the first draft in 2008.
eclipsed: Then what happened?
Morse: I wrote some months on it and made first demos, which I then gave to Michael, who should bring them to the man. He did a lot of sounding, but nobody really bit it. So I prayed for it and felt that I should wait for God to open the door for it. And so I waited. Something really interesting happened in 2018 when Mike Portnoy was so busy that he couldn't play at MorseFest. I wondered what I could play without him. I was thinking about the Jesus musical. I noticed that the play had to be rewritten a bit. Almost at the same time, about June 2018, Michael called me and announced: "You won't believe it, but I could get a deal for the musical" It was cool how the door was blown open so violently, not only for the stage, but also independently for the album.
eclipsed: Did you know from the beginning how to cast the roles?
Morse: No, not when I wrote the first draft in 2008. I only took over Pilate because I was supposed to play a role at all, and that was the only one I could sing reasonably. I have written almost all pieces in the style of a Broadway musical, so everything is quite high and therefore outside my vocal range. For some people I already knew, I knew directly that they were suitable for a certain role. I have known Nick D'Virgilio [who sings Judas] and Ted Leonard [Jesus], for example, for a long time. Others like Talon David joined at the last minute.