Up until very recently DeeExpus has been the long time solo project of songwriter, producer and multi instrumentalist Andy Ditchfield. A chance reunion with Singer and old friend Tony Wright in March 2007 expanded the project into two people for the first time and writing and recording of Half Way Home began.
Andy, originally from Sunderland (UK), grew up in Weardale, County Durham (UK) and joined his first serious band Holosade at the age of fifteen. He went on to play the local workingmen’s club circuit before joining forces with Lee and Jim McCabe to form The Real McCabe, a 4 piece AOR band playing some prestigious venues around the UK and gaining a little interest in the US before being disbanded around 1999. Andy has since concentrated on writing and recording in his own style.
Ironically, the band MZR of which Andy played drums for a short while, saw Tony christened with his first vocal role in his late teens. Tony also grew up in Weardale, though originates from Newcastle upon Tyne (UK). He went on to sing with various local bands including the very promising Wet Picasso, though a lack of commitment from various musicians caused disillusion and Tony opted to take a sabbatical from the music business until now.
The band sound can only be described as eclectic as are the influences, drawn from years of listening to the likes of Joe Jackson, Iron Maiden, Crash Test Dummies, Rush, Nik Kershaw and Marillion to more recently Porcupine Tree and the Mighty Spock’s Beard.
Having recently competed their debut album Half Way Home, The Band are currently rehearsing a live set to take Half Way Home on the road.
Recent Review by Frans Keylard of The Rogues Gallery
\"Half Way Home\" is the debut album by UK\'s DeeExpus Project. Musically,
\"Half Way Home\" occupies a rare crossroads between the progressive
guitar-rock territory carved out by Porcupine Tree\'s \"In Absentia\" and the
exquisite pop sensibilities of a-ha\'s \"Minor Earth, Major Sky.\" This album
delivers big on memorable moments, and begs further exploration during
I just can\'t get over how surprisingly solid this release is, considering
it\'s a debut album. Throughout there is excellent songwriting, timing, and
musicianship - nothing is wasted. Half Way home is a contender for one of the year\'s best releases, and I will be surprised if this band remains unsigned
The Rogues\' Gallery
Review Courtesy of DPRP
Given that this is my fourth consecutive review of a band’s debut album and all receiving a DPRP recommendation, the future of progressive rock is looking very healthy. That’s especially when there are bands like DeeExpus around to maintain the momentum. I say band when they are in fact a duo comprising songwriter, producer and multi instrumentalist Andy Ditchfield and singer Tony Wright. It started out as a solo project of Andy’s before he teamed up with Tony in March of last year. The pair had once been members of the same band MZR based in the North East of England. In the interim period Andy performed with AOR band The Real McCabe whilst Tony sang with Newcastle act Wet Picasso before abandoning the music business altogether. It was his chance meeting with Andy that rekindled his interest which is just as well because judging by the results of this album they were born to make music together. Andy plays virtually all the instruments on the album with occasional support from Phil Sloane (guitar), Steve Wright (guitar), Mike Henderson (keyboard) and Ian Raine (additional bass guitar in Half Way Home).
Combining high-octane rock with prog and a touch of early 80’s quality pop this is a stunning debut exuding confident song writing, top notch musicianship and classy production. This is evident from the word go with the excellent Greed, as good an opener as I have heard all year. A barrage of heavy, but always melodious riffs drives the song along with Wright’s assured vocal gliding effortlessly in the foreground. It culminates in a dazzling climax that combines a stirring synth theme with massed voices. Pointless Child displays a more commercial side but is no less worthy for that. It features a compelling middle eight that bears more than a passing resemblance to Nik Kershaw’s hit tune The Riddle plus hypnotic wordless chants recalling the much underrated Red Box. The high spot is an exhilarating guitar solo reminiscent of Trevor Rabin’s coda from Can’t Look Away (for me his best guitar work inside or outside of Yes).
Billed as a tribute to Porcupine Tree, PTtee is said to include several references to their songs but not being a PT expert most of these passed me by. What I can say with some certainty however is the solid guitar work harks back to In Absentia’s Blackest Eyes. Mike Henderson adds a striking synth solo before the closing section which features the unlikely but masterful combination of glockenspiel playing the melody line over a wall of guitar riffs. OK, so I know U2 did a similar thing back in 1980 in their debut I Will Follow but it still works a treat nonetheless. During One Eight Wright’s plaintive vocal reminds me of Joe Jackson whilst elsewhere he sometimes sounds like a cross between Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, bringing Tears For Fears to mind. This song builds from laidback acoustic beginnings to another thundering guitar driven ending with Phil Sloane adding the extra guitar muscle.
The delicate One Day is a pretty acoustic guitar and piano duet that provides an effective intro to Seven Nights. This begins in a stately fashion with a measured vocal refrain that has close comparisons with Porcupine Tree’s Gravity Eyelids. A prominent synth line signals a propelling guitar riff topped by rich Yes style harmonies that sink into your brain and refuse to budge. The title piece Half Way Home may be 17 minutes plus in length but its so ear friendly the time just zips by. A snatch of solo drums is joined by a busy guitar and organ line heralding a weighty guitar solo courtesy of Steve Wright. This eventually subsides to make way for a relaxed song section accompanied by Steve Rothery flavoured ringing guitar (ala Lavender). The songs mood matches Wright’s lyrics perfectly as they weave a sad tale with tragic consequences. There is a hint of Dream Theater as piano, strings and monumental sounding twin guitars build to a suitably dramatic conclusion capped with an infectious chorus.
A really cannot recommend this album highly enough, as debuts go it’s quite remarkable. In fact the sound is so brimming with confidence it would be easy to except that Ditchfield and co had been recording and performing as a unit for several years. Ditchfield’s memorable songs (with One Eight and the title track co-written with Wright) have all the requisite hooks to keep even the most casual of listeners engaged. And his rock solid production is so good it had me checking the liner notes to see if a certain Karl Groom wasn’t at the helm. The drum sound in Pointless Child for example is awesome. DeeExpus have recently settled into a working line up of Tony Wright, Andy Ditchfield, Steve Wright, Ian Raine plus Leigh Crowther (drums) and Andrew Hart (keyboards). They plan to go out on the road very soon and I strongly suggest you catch them if can. They would certainly be an ideal band for the stage of the Rotherham based Classic Rock Society. As a parting thought I’m going to add Spock’s Beard and Threshold to the above names as a further point of reference.
Conclusion: 9.5 out of 10