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Smaragd FAQ

Dave Ward of Smaragd

Dave Ward is Smaragd, a one-man-band.

Who the hell is/are “Smaragd?”

Smaragd is a one-man-band, consisting of Dave Ward. Although the style is probably not strictly “progressive,” that's Smaragd's biggest influence. Heavily influenced by Pink Floyd and Rush, Smaragd is now taking more influences from King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Anekdoten, and other prog, art and space rock bands.

What does the name “Smaragd” mean and where does it come from?

Smaragd is a a green gemstone. But I imagine it as the name of a man in some ancient Teutonic myth, maybe a man who can turn into a stone gargoyle—or a gargoyle who can turn into a man. Maybe it could be the subject of a song or cycle some time. Or maybe not.

Why use the name “Smaragd” if it’s just you?

Because I'm incredibly pretentious.

Seriously, it’s just because I don't like the idea of just being “myself” in the musical capacity. Maybe it's just a Peter Gabriel-ish way of hiding while expressing myself. Or maybe I'm overthinking it.

What albums/songs has Smaragd done?

Smaragd’s debut recording, the Suchness EP was released on 10 December 2001. It is a compilation of several new and old original tracks. Smaragd’s current project is a concept album with the working title Mythconception. For more information on individual songs Smaragd has done, including cover songs, check the projects page. To download finished tracks and demos, just click on any of the links in this paragraph and find the song(s) you want.

What does “suchness” mean?

The Buddhist term “suchness” refers to ultimate truth as it simply is, devoid of deceptions, perceptions and other forms of lie.

What does “tathata” mean?

As implied on the back cover of the Suchness EP, “tathata” means the true nature of all things for which no words are adequate; tathata is that which cannot be named.

What does “palingenesia” mean?

Although sometimes associated with the concept of reincarnation, the term “palingenesia” actually refers to any transformation of the soul into a new state.

What bands were you in before Smaragd?

Succinct answer: Alloy, And, Jawbone, and Canary Thunder.

Verbose answer: Way back in May 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington I started a band called Alloy. I could barely even put a guitar on, and probably didn't know more than four chords. I first asked friend Susan Ray in to play bass (though she'd never played bass), and then asked friend Rick Karhu in to play keyboads although he didn't play keyboards. This is all funny in retrospect. Susan lived several hundred miles away, and never actually played a single note with us. Rick wrote a few songs for keyboard. While I gradually became passably good with chords and rhyths on guitar, I never learned to play lead. Rick borrowed a guitar from me at one point, and absolutely skyrocketed past me as far as lead playing. Rick and I messed about as Alloy for some five or seven years, making very crude recordings on a borrowed four-track, even coming up with an ambitious but terribly badly-done concept album called “Holocaust.” (About nuclear warfare, not the World War II genocides.) There were a few sessions at the home of a friend who had a decent home recording setup. The recording quality was great, but the music was still awful and is now embarassing.

I decided I wanted a name for my own solo projects. Just to be difficult, original and deliberately strange, I chose the name "And" for my solo projects. The choice was largely inspired by the band Yes, whose simple name always appealed to me. I even designed a logo for And which was both a tribute to and parody of the classic 1970s Yes logo by Roger Dean. As And I recorded a fair number of songs, including "This Is the Way," "Picturing," "Flight", "Raison d'Être," and "Face The Storm." Incidentally, I did some freelance graphic design work at the time and used "And" as the name of my (fictitious) company.

In the early 1990s, Rick and I agreed our sound was starting to come together. Susan, our would-have-been bassist had reported noticing that there was a band in Arizona called Alloy, so with our sound changing and the name already taken, we decided to change our name. After putting together lists of names (many of them jokes) we both settled on Jawbone. Before long Rick bought his own four track, and we started recording tracks like “Sugar High” and “Rust In the Machine.” Not fully mature, but not bad either. We also recorded a parody of the entire Pink Floyd album "The Wall."

Rick dedicated part of a summer to recording a concept album by himself. I contributed only a few bass lines and one or two backing vocals. The album, Terminal Dreamland, is otherwise entirely his work. One song from it, "Pretend", was later re-recorded as a full Jawbone song.

In 1993 Rick, his wife and I all co-rented a two bedroom place in Bellingham, Washington. During the three years we rented together, we produced a lot of music, some of it quite good I think. I'm really pleased with much of it, and there's really none of it that I'm embarrased of. In fact, I'm still really pleased to have been part of songs like "Sun Out of Range," "Faceless," "Aural Gratification," "180," the songs we did for an unfinished concept with the throwaway working title Porch, and the track which is probably Jawbone's epic and pinnacle, "The World's Greatest Show." I'm also pleased with the tracks I wrote myself and recorded with Rick as Jawbone, such as "Superposition" and "Standing On One Leg On the Mountaintop."

I also continued recording tracks on my own—mostly things that were either too goofy or pedantic or just-plain-weird for Rick. The name "And" seemed just too silly, and I didn't want to just say the songs were by "Dave Ward," so I made up another band name. I used a name I had originally proposed when Rick and I were making up a new name to replace the name Alloy; I called the one-man-band Canary Thunder. As Canary Thunder, I recorded a modest number of tracks, including "Thunder on the Horizon," "Tao (You Cannot Move Me)," "Dancing out of the Earth" (A cover of a section of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring), "Look Far," and others. I also wrote the lyrics and basic musical frame for a concept album titled Atman Gita-Sutra about a man who finds happiness in a wife and daughter, but loses both to an automobile accident. I'm still happy with the Atman Gita Sutra material, but don't know if I'll ever finish more than the three tracks from it Rick and I finished off as Jawbone.

In August 1996 I moved out on my own. Over the next couple years, Rick and I became less and less productive musically. Some perfectly good ideas, such as the Gong-ish psychedelic experiment "Lyra's Trip" were abandoned in half-finished states simply because, without actually disagreeing on anything, we just never pulled together and finished it off. We recorded covers of a couple Pink Floyd songs for a tribute album, and I did a few tracks on my own, but that productivity was the exception rather than the rule; we played less, recorded less, and our output dropped dramatically. From 1998 to date, Rick and I have done almost nothing musically together. Jawbone never really broke up, but I definitely don't rule out the possibility of working together. For now, though, I'm most interested in finding out what I can do on my own

In 2000, I finally got my own four-track. I immediately recorded "What Have You Done," a song I'd written for Jawbone but which we'd never started recording. Excepting one distortion pedal, I didn't have any effects—not even a reverb—and I wound up overdriving the recording at some moment because I didn't know the four-track yet, but it was an exciting start. I still didn't write music for some time. In 2001 I decided I really needed the creative outlet back, and I started messing about with a few ideas. At the same time, I felt that "Canary Thunder" was a somewhat cheesy name which I associated with some of my sillier old songs ("I Hate Country Music," "This Is The Way," etc). I was also getting more into truly progressive music, having recently been introduced to King Crimson and had set up my own prog radio station on the net, RKNA. So after several days of consideration, I settled on a new name for my one-man-band, Smaragd. I officially adopted and announced the name "Smaragd" on 19 January 2001, the day before my 32nd birthday. Smaragd is still me, but Smaragd is not Canary Thunder.

Where can I find old Jawbone tracks?

Here are some Jawbone tracks.

Where can I find old And and Canary Thunder tracks?

Here are a few And and Canary Thunder tracks in mpeg format. Please remember these were mostly the tracks that were too weird or goofy (frivolous) to become Jawbone tracks, and so are not definitive of my sound in any way.

I Hate Country Music
Stay Off My Lawn
This Is The Way
Look Far

Note that he tracks “Tao” and “What Have You Done” were Canary Thunder tracks originally. I have brought them forward and consider them to be “early Smaragd tracks” in a way. Both were released on the Suchness EP in December 2001.

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