John Wetton – lead vocal and bass
Carl Palmer – drums
Geoff Downes- keyboards
Sam Coulson- guitars
grav·i·tas (ˈgraviˌtäs/ -noun)
1. dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner.
“a post for which he has the expertise and the gravitas”
ASIA, the legendary British band, moves into the next phase of its extraordinary career with Gravitas, a brave new album that explores different musical landscapes while embracing its familiar musical past. Produced and written by band members John Wetton and Geoff Downes, Gravitas is deeply introspective within a clearly accessible sound. The album also introduces the world to ASIA’s new guitarist, Sam Coulson, who came at the recommendation of Mr. Big’s Paul Gilbert.
Scheduled for release on Frontiers Records on March 5th (Japan); March 21st (Europe); and March 25th(North America), the album will be available in two configurations: a standard CD and a Deluxe Edition, that will include two bonus tracks and a DVD containing the “Valkyrie” music video, a promotional film, and footage of classic live ASIA tracks such as “Heat of the Moment,” recorded with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria.
From the title track, Gravitas, which chronicles a man’s struggle in the battlefield of life, to the powerfully compelling tale of unrequited love, “The Closer I Get To You,” the album is a tour de force for the band whose music has become a staple to rock fans around the world.
“Pure, unadulterated and stereotypical ASIA, with raw energy, enthusiasm and free from impurities,” says John Wetton. “ It conveys the spectrum of emotion and colour from real life agonies to ecstatic fantasy of escapism. Great songs, fabulous performance. Gravitas is ASIA by ASIA. At last.”
“With the addition of Sam it allowed us to take the band in a slightly different, and perhaps tougher, direction.” says Carl Palmer. “He brings a different feel to ASIA with his guitar work. As a band we have been able to grow, while at the same time, remain true to the classic ASIA sound that our fans know and love.”
Gravitas, like its definition, brings dignity and a powerful artistic statement with some of the best songs Wetton & Downes have ever written and ASIA has ever recorded. On “Joe Di Maggio’s Glove,” Wetton sings of a man trying to understand how the power of love had changed him using the metaphor of the soft leather that that makes up baseball’s most famous glove: “I’ve never been completely lost/ I’ve never been so in love/ How did my heart become so soft?/ Like Joe Di Maggio’s glove…”
“Nyctophobia,” a haunting rocker built upon driving rhythm and vocal harmonies, looks at a person’s debilitating fear of darkness: “There is no air in here/ I’m drowning in my fear/ And if I close my eyes, the ground will disappear…” Gravitas‘ epic track, however, is “The Closer I Get To You,” likely to go down as one of Asia’ s most powerful ballads ever. Exemplifying a man’s frustration over his inability to rest in the sanctuary of the woman he loves, Wetton sings: “Our existence is just floating at sea/ Cut adrift from the people we are.” Musically, it features a blistering guitar solo from Coulson over the rich, layered vocals that have become part of the band’s trademark sound. Gravitas, the band’s fourth studio album since reuniting eight years ago, is already being heralded as the band’s freshest album since the classic records of the early 1980s.
“The idea was to give the band a new sound that would still complement the classic ASIA sound of our best known material,” says Geoff Downes. “We tried very hard to blend the cocktail just right where we could offer something different and still maintain the musical legacy we have built.”
Asia’s debut album exploded onto the music scene in April,1982, with several Top 10 singles. In the end, it was the best selling album in the world in 1982.. Featuring Geoff Downes on keyboards; Steve Howe on guitar; Carl Palmer on drums; and John Wetton on lead vocal and bass; Asia was the logical successor to their collective bands of the 70s – Yes, ELP, King Crimson, UK, and The Buggles.
Labeled a “supergroup” by critics and the media from the onset, it was a tag they had never asked for. Asia’s music- and its rock’n’roll stage charisma- developed organically and effortlessly. Though all four men had seen chart-topping success in their previous bands, Asia had a special chemistry that fans and music industry insiders were quick to recognize.
Asia became one of the most played acts during the first year of MTV. Throughout most of ’82, Asia ruled the radio airwaves and MTV. They sold out every date on tour, and the debut album crushed all the competition at record stores around the world.
The original line-up of ASIA reformed in 2006. It was the first time the four original members had worked together in 23 years. They regrouped with no more expectations than to play a single, reunion tour. Prior to Gravitas, ASIA had completed several world tours, released three brilliant studio albums (2008’s Phoenix, 2010’s Omega, and 2012’s XXX), as well as three live albums and Blu-rays / DVDs.
ASIA will embark on a world tour starting in June, and set to include Japan, UK, Europe, Canada and the United States.
Says Wetton: “Last summer, ASIA played live dates which opened in the UK, took in the massive Sweden Rock Festival, a short Germany/ Austria/ Switzerland/ Denmark tour, and a TV show in the glorious Roman Theater, Plovdiv, with orchestra. These were the first dates of the new chapter of ASIA—and in my opinion, the band has never sounded better. “
“It always was a great live band, but this time the dragon has awakened with fresh energy, direction and purpose. Extensive touring from June 12th to support Gravitas will consolidate any speculation regarding ASIA’s live credentials. Great songs, fabulous performance. Do not miss.”
“As with any new Asia album, putting it all together presents something of a challenge,” says Downes. “ In the case of Gravitas, it’s fair to say everyone involved rose way above and beyond this challenge. We sincerely hope you like the result.”
“There is a renewed energy when we step on stage now,” says Downes. “We can feel it and I know the fans can feel it.”
For ASIA’s long-devoted fans, the band’s return to the concert stage can not come soon enough. As Palmer says: “Performing on stage is where this band truly comes into its element. Seeing the fans reacting to our music is what makes it all worthwhile. It is the fuel that drives this train we call ASIA.”