To sing like Geddy, write lyrics like Neil and play guitar like Alex. Such were the dreams of a teenaged Steve Cochrane after hearing 2112 for the first time. But six hours of daily practice did not fulfill these dreams and one by one (and in the above order), they fell by the wayside. Luckily, the effort was not wasted, as eventually, a unique and passionate voice emerged that had something to say.
In the meantime, there was some growing to do, starting with involvement in local bands. There was a handful, the most notable being Endpieces (1980-1983), which gained celebrity status in Peterborough, Ontario, performing an intense brand of all-original progressive rock material. Before Endpieces, Steve had already been developing an ability to compose. The band did a combination of material that was written both by individual members and by the band as a whole. In this environment, Steve's creativity blossomed and when the band broke up, he contemplated the idea of taking the long route to a career as a solo composer/recording artist.
Also, during this time, his tastes and influences had widened. Listening to Rush and reading their interviews led to an interest in the British progressive rock of the seventies.The field of influences quickly grew to include the likes of Genesis, Yes, Camel, Mike Oldfield and especially Renaissance, featuring the golden voice of Annie Haslam.
Unfortunately, the 80s had arrived and there didn’t seem to be a place in the world for a 27-minute suite about artistic self-discovery and other intricate works that Steve had created. He would have to find his own opportunities using the technologies that loomed on the horizon. By 1987, MIDI technology was in widespread use and Steve had seen its possibilities for music production. It's fair to say he was hooked by MIDI, now spending more time at a keyboard than with a guitar
and composing new music.
Throughout the following decade, he released three independent albums. Heroes Awaken (1991) with it’s grandiose classical strains was created almost entirely with a computer and MIDI synthesizers. To See It Made Real (1995) continued in this vein, but with vocals on one track and the addition of acoustic and electric guitars throughout. The Purest of Designs (1998) completed this chapter, blending the guitars and synths (and more vocals) into symphonic prog epics, including the 7-part suite Songs For Spring. One radio host called it "a symphonic prog lover's wet dream".
Fast-forward to the current century. With Or Without (2007) took an acoustic guitar-driven song-based approach, but as the tracks took shape in the studio, the prog/art rock influences came shining through. You’ll hear it in the intricate arrangements, fluid guitar stylings and in the lyrics, which are often surrealistic and philosophical. Two tracks from the album (Swans and Abandon Ship) are new renditions of songs that Steve co-wrote with Endpieces.
And now we have La La La: Variations On a Happy Song (2012), a suite consisting of nine thematically connected parts running continuously, bookended by an overture and a finale. While the title may be a good starting point for describing the record, it should be stressed that it's not all happy-happy, joy-joy. Throughout its 57 minutes, there are heady conflicts and quirky twists and turns; contrasts of light and dark, quiet and bombast, melancholy and elation. An epic journey for the creative spirit in each of us.