In December 2023, Jacopo Vigezzi of Progressive Rock Journal requested a written interview and sent me some questions. In mid-January 2024, I returned the completed interview to him. I never heard from him again, and the interview was never published; I don't know if he found my remarks too controversial, not controversial enough (i.e. too boring) or if there was some other reasons for his decision not to publish. As I though he asked some good questions, I have decided to post the interview on the Official Hermetic Science website. The interview below has not been edited, but is precisely what I sent Jacopo Vigezzi.

Dear readers, it is our pleasure to offer you in this article an interview with Edward Macan of Hermetic Science, an American trio with a progressive rock sound.

Hello, how are you?
I am well. And I thank you for the opportunity to undertake this interview! This is the first one I have done since 2010.

What is the meaning of your band name Hermetic Science?
It stems from Carl Jung's work on alchemy, specifically his belief that alchemical texts are symbolic descriptions of the process through which psychic wholeness is reached. As Jung says, "The real subject of hermeticism is the conjunctio oppositorum"—the fusion of seemingly irreconcilable opposites into a new totality. When I named the band in 1995, I understood little of this. I recall Christian Vander saying that only over time did Magma begin to create music that was fully worthy of the iconic name they chose for themselves. I think I could say something similar about us.

You propose a Prog Rock style between retro and modern, where does your passion for these sounds come from?
I am a child of the 1970s. I was fortunate to see many of the classic prog bands live during that decade. Their sound is the foundation of our sound. At the same time, I have always been opposed to simply copying the licks of the classic prog bands. The whole point of progressive rock is that it is supposed to progress. If music does not carry on a dialogue with the times in which it is created, it is merely an exercise in nostalgia. I am commited to creating music that speaks to contemporary people about contemporary situations. So I do my best to keep up with both modern music and modern technology and draw on those contemporary elements that can be successfully blended into our foundational sound.

The new album 'Deliria: A Chronicle Of 2020' was released in October 2023. How would you describe this work?
Deliria is by some distance the band's darkest and heaviest album, drawing on sources as disparate as 60s hard bop, 80s and 90s metal, trance, and modern horror movie soundtrack motifs to convey the madness, horror, and mayhem of 2020.

Long instrumental textures, full of tempo changes and technical passages, how does the composition of your music come about?
This album was composed diffently that any previous Hermetic Science album. A major reason for the 15 year gap between our fourth studio album, These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins, and Deliria is that for many years I didn't know how I could top These Fragments. Over time I realized there was one area in which I could surpass it: cohesion. With our first four studio albums, I would settle on a general idea, compose some new music that fit that idea, rummage through my stockpile of unrecorded compositions looking for music that was somewhat complementary to the new music to fill out the needed album length, and then the band would put it all together. With Deliria, I composed all nine tracks in the order you hear them on the album. As a result, themes are recalled and transformed from track to track, and later tracks comment, as it were, on earlier ones. The eighth track, "In the Dark Shadow of the Big Lie," which is 10:40, transforms and develops themes from all seven of the preceding tracks. As a result, while I don't know for sure if this is Hermetic Science's best album, it absolutely is our most cohesive and coherent one. Basically, it's one composition divided into nine tracks.

The album is a 9-track concept, what is the theme of this work?
I believe historians will understand 2020 as a "hinge" year, a year that swung us from one era into a completely new one, much as 1968 did. While there is one track, "The Great COVID-19 Rave of 2020," that addresses the pandemic directly (with inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death), the album mainly focuses on the various worldwide crises that the pandemic unleashed during 2020: the attacks on democracy, the rise of fascism and violent nationalism, the new scepticism toward science and facts, and the refusal to act in the face of climate disaster and mass extinction events. I have been surprised by how uncomfortable the album's subject makes people, who mostly say something along the lines of "I just want to forget about 2020." My argument is this: 2020 is the new present. Just as the dynamics that emerged during the late sixties took decades to play out, those that emerged during 2020 will as well. We're going to be living in the aftertow of 2020 for a while, so we need to try to understand what it means.

Many of your fans and our readers are wondering if there will be a chance to hear you live, do you have plans in this regard for the near future?
Hermetic Science was a live band for its first four years, from 1996 to 2000, and performed many of the tracks from our first two albums, Ed Macan's Hermetic Science (1997) and Prophesies (1999) live. In fact, in 2019 we finally released an album called Out There featuring live music from that era. However, both En Route (2001) and These Fragments (2008) were recorded with no expectation of live performance, and the arrangements often reflect that, with a lot of overdubs that cannot easily be realized in a live context. On Deliria, I'm working with bassist Jeff Ruiz and drummer Travis Strong, two young guys who bring a lot of energy to the music, and I really wanted to return to a live performance ideal, so we crafted the arrangements with that goal in mind: 85% to 90% of what you hear on Deliria will sound just the same live as it does in the studio version. Later in 2024, I am hoping to shoot a video of us doing a 70-to-80-minute live show that will include Deliria complete and selections from En Route and These Fragments. It may just be a YouTube video, or we may also release it as a live album as well. Given it has now been 24 years since Hermetic Science performed live, I understand we are back at square one and have to prove to potential promoters that we can in fact pull our material off in a live environment. I hope to use the video as a kind of audition tool so we can start booking some live shows in the future. I would love to eventually do not only Deliria but a lot of the En Route and These Fragments material in a live context.

The band was formed in the mid-90s and has changed several line-ups, how has your sound evolved over time?
On our debut album, recorded in 1996-97, we were a mallet percussion power trio, with me playing mostly vibes with some marimba and a little piano; the music was halfway between prog and jazz-rock fusion. By the time we recorded Prophesies in 1998-1999, I had come to feel I had reached the limits of what we could do with the vibes trio format: the music shifted in the direction of chamber prog, and while I still did some vibes-centered material, I started playing piano, Hammond organ, and analog synthesizers pretty extensively. Compared to our first two albums, our third, En Route (2001), is a conventional seventies prog rock revival album; I used the same instruments I had on Prophesies, but the keyboards were highlighted to a greater extent, and the vibes and marimba were shifted to the background. After En Route, I made the decision to retire the analog synths, as I felt using them in the twenty first century is too self-consciously retro. As a result, These Fragments has a modern digital sheen our first three albums lack, even while it attempts to bring the band's early mallet-based aspect and later keyboard-based elements into balance and draws on discreet post-rock influences. Deliria carries on the commitment to digital keyboards, but because of its essentially dark nature, there is very little mallet presence: no marimba at all, and just a few isolated passages of vibes used for atmosphere. In some ways, I think Deliria is the endpoint of our progression to becoming a completely modern band.

Music is constantly evolving, how do you see the modern music scene in Prog Rock?
I am having trouble grasping the scene in its totality. The prog scene has become much more fragmented and decentralized than it was when I jumped on board the prog rock revival in the mid 1990s, with the loss of paper fanzines and the proliferation of websites and blog spots making it more difficult to keep track of everything that's going on. Another factor is that in the States, we're down from several major prog festivals a year like we had 15 years ago to one, so again you get less of a cross section of what's out there. That said, I know there is a lot of energy out there and a lot of young musicians who are passionate about this music, which gives me optimism for its future.

What advice would you give to young artists approaching music with prog sounds?
First, learn the canon. Understand the context those sounds were used in, even if you ultimately decide to use them in a different context. Learn the music theory that underlies the prog rock vocabulary: at the least, thoroughly learn jazz harmonic practice, the modes, and twentieth century scales like the pentatonic, whole-tone, and octatonic. Learn something about the retro technology the 70s musicians worked with, but don't tie yourself to that technology: your album is not automatically going to be better because you used a retro analog Mellotron instead of a modern digital one. Keep up with modern technology, but remember new technology will not automatically make your music better: you've got to exercise critical discrimination in terms of what the new technology can do to help you convey your musical vision. Commit to mastering the craft of playing and, if it's what you do, singing, but remember virtuosity is not the point, merely an exclamation point. I recommend spending at least some time with acoustic instruments, even if you don't record with them. There are subtleties of touch, articulation, phrasing, and dynamics gradation that no digital instrument can ever reproduce quite like an acoustic instrument, and being familiar with an acoustic instrument, even if you don't record with it, can be very helpful.

Do you have any other activities or artistic passions outside of music?
I have no talent for visual art, although I have an eye for it, which is why it has been such a delight working with Paul Whitehead of Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, and Le Orme fame on the album cover art for our two most recent studio albums. I continue to write an occasional article or chapter on prog or some other rock style, and I hope in the next few years to take a number of such chapters and weave them together into a book.

I thank you for the interview, and wish the band all the best for the continuation of their artistic career.
Thank you, Jacopo. It has been an honor.