"Our style has always been defined by the fact that we sound a little like Pink Floyd, Genesis and Marillion." Mystery and the making of One Among The Living

(Image credit: Hugues Bergevin)

Back in 2010 Canadian singer Benoît David was happily ensconced in the Yes camp but returned to his previous band Mystery to record his second of three albums with them, One Among The Living, the band's fourth album overall. Prog spoke to him and band leader Michel St.Pere about the new album... 

Aptly named, Mystery are not a band with a particularly high profile. In fact, the Canadians got their biggest break two years ago, when vocalist Benoît David was chosen to replace Jon Anderson in Yes. Suddenly, Mystery were catapulted into something approaching the limelight. However, the story of the band goes back nearly a quarter of a century, to 1986.

Originally, Mystery featured founder Michel St-Pere on guitar, Raymond Savoie on vocals, Benoît Dupuis on keyboards and Stephane Perreault on drums. It took until 1992 for the band to release a self-titled five-track debut mini album, by which time Gary Savoie  was on vocals and Richard Addison on bass. However, when Perreault was struck down with a debilitating illness the band were forced to take a break, returning in 1993 by which time the drummer had lost the use of his legs; thanks to innovative technology, however, he was able to carry on playing from his wheelchair.

By 1996, the band were down to the foursome of St-Pere, Savoie, bassist Patrick Bourque and Perreault, releasing debut full album Theatre Of The Mind through St-Pere’s own Unicorn label.

David arrived in 1999, but it took until 2007 before he made his recording debut on the album Beneath The Veil Of Winter’s Face, with St-Pere and Bourque now joined by drummer Steve Gagne.  And after a further three-year absence, Mystery have just unfurled their most internationally acclaimed album yet, in One Among The Living. David, St-Pere and Gagne remained from the previous record, with a host of guests helping out, including Daryl Stuermer (Genesis), Oliver Wakeman (Yes) and John Jowitt (of Ark and IQ).

For the frontman, it’s a relief that the Montreal band are now back in action, although he understands the reasons behind this delay.


(Image credit: Unicorn Digital)

“This is Michel’s project – he’s the driving force. While the rest of us are involved, and are far from just his hired hands, we have to wait for him to make the decision to do a new album. He’s a busy guy, and obviously it costs a lot to do a Mystery record. As the head of the Unicorn label, Michel’s the man who has to raise the finances;  he does it through releasing a lot of other projects.

“But I’m delighted to be back working with him. And I think this time we’ve found our sound. The problem on the last two records was that we were still looking for a direction. Our style has always been defined by the fact that we sound a little like Pink Floyd, Genesis and Marillion – you can hear all of those influences in what we did – but it never had enough individuality. This time I believe we’ve taken a real leap.”

David feels that, after a lot of stop-start moments in their career, Mystery are now poised to make a real impact, and this won’t be hindered at all by his commitment to Yes. 

“Of course, I have my priorities, and Yes will come first. They would accept nothing less from me. But, the fact is there are enough gaps in the band’s schedule to allow me to do a lot with Mystery. It’s not as if they’re having to sit around waiting for me to tell them I can do a date here and a show there. We will have a lot of time to tour on this album, if that’s what Michel decides.”

Just how far and deep David’s passion for Mystery goes can be seen from the fact that the new album features his first songwriting contributions to the project.

“I’ve got credits on one or two songs, and I enjoyed that experience. I’ve never been excluded from the writing process before; it’s not as if Michel keeps everything to himself. But I’ve been happy in the past just to put myself into performing the songs, because Michel is a good writer and has always understood how to construct lyrics that work for me. So, I’ve believed in what I’m singing.”

The album features a number of stellar guests, including David’s current Yes bandmate, Oliver Wakeman. Was it the singer who persuaded the Wakeman offspring to come on board? Er, no...

“It was Michel who approached him. I had nothing whatsoever to do with it. What this proves is the high regard in which Michel is held in prog rock circles. He also has a strong relationship with Daryl, which is why he came on board.

“Having those people involved gave an extra shine to the album. These are great musicians who could provide that certain something we might not have got from regular members of the band. No disrespect, but when you’ve the opportunity to bring in these people, then it can only make the music stronger. That’s what they’ve done. Also, when you’ve got talents a little removed from the core of a project, they can see and hear things you’ll miss. This was certainly true of these guys. It’s just a shame we can’t take them out on tour with us.”


(Image credit: Hugues Bergevin)

In fact, Mystery do now have a touring line-up, with David, St-Pere and Gagne joined by the returning Dupuis, plus Dean Baldwin (guitar/keyboards) and Francois Fournier (bass). And the hope is that the new line-up will get the chance to play sooner rather than later.

“There are no tour dates booked just yet. But the fact we’ve now put together this live line-up tells you that we are definitely gonna do this.”

In fact, David is confident that Mystery will be a lot more prolific in the future.

“I feel more part of the band than ever. The recording process for One Among The Living brought us all together. It felt so much more like a family than anything we’ve done before. Perhaps that’s why we’ve finally found our sound.

“I also believe that with Michel and I involved in other projects, we will always come back to this band refreshed and focused. Some people will take the opposite view. However, that’s not the case. Mystery are moving forward.”

Despite the group’s previously-unhurried discography, David is adamant there will be a new album from Mystery sooner rather than later.

“I guarantee that there won’t be another three year gap before the next one. We are so geared up now, and have a lot of ideas. That’s what made the new album work as well. Hardly anything was left over from previous sessions. It was almost all new, and new ideas always get everyone kicking and sparking. So, next time we record together, we’ll use the same approach.”

It’s been a long time coming, and there have been false starts along the way, but at last it appears Mystery are ready to step to the plate and show that they are spearheading a new movement in Canadian prog. One that might draw from the greats of the past, but is firmly heading into uncharted territory.

“Let me put it this way. I am confident that you’ll be hearing a lot more from Mystery – and it will be like nothing else you’ve ever heard. We’re right in the zone.”

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021