All Around The World: Story Of A Life

If we’re talking about people delivering the prog message all around the world, then Sean Tonar is definitely a name to consider.

His internet forum began as a humble Yahoo group in 1999, and has since become one of the big go-to sites for prog fans to exchange ideas and opinions. “I think we just filled a niche that needed filling,” Tonar tells Prog. “I hope we inspire readers to look beyond their favourite sub-genres. But most often there’s a collective groan of ‘This! Again?’ Many dead horses have been beaten into purée in the past 15 years!”

Tonar grew up in Kansas to the sounds of Yes, Crimson, Zappa, Camel and the band that took its name from his state. He’s now based in Atlanta, Georgia, having contributed his considerable, theory-driven guitar skills to numerous outfits – Mindworm, NoiseDotCom, Speechless – and his current band Story Of A Life, comprising new recruit Stephen Cox (bass), and Tonar’s long-standing musical counterparts Bill Graham (keys) and Brian ‘Thor’ Coutts (drums). Their self-titled debut EP (see last issue) sees them draw on Mahavishnu/Return To Forever fusion, with a dash of Steely Dan’s jazzy chord work enhancing the flavour. “I honestly wasn’t thinking of any of them as we wrote it,” says Tonar. “The only litmus test when writing was, ‘Is this song happening? Is it worth pursuing?’ If so, it made the cut. If a part recalled any other band too closely, it was scrapped.” The record was mixed by Neil Kernon (Brand X, Return To Forever, Billy Cobham) and Tonar cites the jazz/world/rock mash-up Globetrekker as a highlight, but he’s determined they’ll show their ‘chopsy/metal influences’ on their next release, due later this year. “Some Latin, funk and symph tunes are in the queue as well, so it’ll be a more diverse platter that the debut.”

Story Of A Life will also tour the east coast of the US with festival appearances lined up. Sounds like fun? “Yes, we have a lot of that,” says the guitarist. “There’s a lot of joking around. When you’re genuinely friends with the people in the band with in an ego-free way, the music and fun go a lot deeper.”

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Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.