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Web Exclusive! Go behind the scenes with prog rockers Tiles

If the very nature of being progressive is to be innovative and always moving forward, then Detroit-area rockers Tiles certainly adhere to and embrace that philosophy.

BONUS: For more information, check out Tiles’ Web site at

If the very nature of being progressive is to be innovative and always moving forward, then Detroit area rockers Tiles certainly adhere to and embrace that philosophy.

The Midwestern quartet has been on the move since the early '90s carving out a comfortable niche that combines the classic artistry of acts like Kansas or Jethro Tull with the melodic metal of Queensryche or Dream Theater.

“We kind of find ourselves straddling that line between the classic definitions of prog — where we’re a little too heavy for the Genesis-minded fan and probably not heavy enough for the Dream Theater prog-metal-type fan. But that’s been basically our predicament throughout our whole career,” said guitarist Christopher Herin.

Herin, along with lead vocalist Paul Rarick, bassist Jeff Whittle and drummer Mark Evans have always been aware of this creative conundrum. But what’s a self-respecting progressive rock band supposed to do but acknowledge that fact and move on. Their diversity certainly has not been a hindrance.

Tiles has released five full-length albums since 1993, including the group's eponymous debut, Fence the Clear, Presents of Mind, Window Dressing and the band's latest, Fly Paper, which will be released on Inside Out Music/SPV in North America on Jan. 29.

Tiles has amassed worldwide acclaim from fans and critics alike. Leading lights, such as Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and KISS' Gene Simmons have lauded them with kudos. Tiles has opened for several artists, such as Kansas, Spock's Beard, Steve Morse Band and Judas Priest, and partnered with Dream Theater for a two week tour of Europe in 1999.

The band always has been aware of commerce but remains unafraid to follow its creative muse, as well. Like a carefully strategized chess match, the band's artistic decisions and subsequent recordings have been made over time and with great care.

“Our first CD resonates more with the mainstream rock fans, whereas our songs have taken some additional twists and turns and have grown in length as we’ve captured more of the progressive music audience,” Herin explained of Tiles' career path and evolution of their sound. “With our third disc, Presents of Mind, we captured a little of both — the person that wasn’t into musical gymnastics but liked good, powerful music with melodic hooks in it. Our sound has grown toward blending pop/rock music with more the experimentalism you tend to associate with progressive rock.”

The current release, Fly Paper, finds the band back to square one in the sense that it has taken the best elements of its early, heavier proclivities and galvanized those features with tighter, more focused songwriting. Perhaps this is due to a back-to-basics approach the band took to the recording process with producer Terry Brown in fall of 2005.

Many may recognize Brown from his work with acts such as Fates Warning, Cutting Crew, Kim Mitchell, IQ, Alannah Myles and Rush, with whom he served as producer from 1974 to 1982.

“We previously recorded every other CD in Detroit, even though we ended up mixing with Terry in Toronto,” explains Herin. “Due to economics, we found it more efficient and a little cheaper to work for three or four days straight once a month and doing everything at his studio, working up three or four basic tracks at a time.”

“In the past there was a lot of pre-production before the actual reco