SOMEWHERE TO ELSEWHERE
RICH WILLIAMS OF KANSAS
Rich & Jeb backstage 2000
On July 11, Kansas released Somewhere To Elsewhere. This is the first album to feature all original members
since 1982s Audio Visions. In addition, all songs were penned by Kerry Livgren. Livgren was responsible for the great Kansas
hits, Dust In The Wind, Carry On Wayward Son, Song For America and many others. Classic Rock Revisited sat down
with founding member, guitarist Rich Williams and discussed the bands distinguished career. "The new songs are going over
great, for unheard material." Kansas appears to be rejuvenated by all the attention being thrown their way. "Ive done more
press since weve done this record that weve done in 10 years. Magna Carta and Michael Mazur (www.mazur.com) have given us
tons of press." Williams went on to add, "We have a two record deal with Magna Carta. There is a large underground prog rock
movement. Its all Magna Carta does. There are a lot of people who want to hear it."
The new album is available in record stores everywhere, as well as on the internet. The band has experienced both good
and bad from the online world. "You can order the new album on the internet." Williams explains, "When we first got the deal
with the record company, we had them allow us to sell it on our web site (www.kansasband.com). We didnt really think about
it. It pissed off a lot of retailers and distributors. They were getting cut out of the picture. In a hurry, we took it off."
Now that the album has been released, no one has any problems with the group selling Somewhere To Elsewhere on line
or anywhere else. Williams enjoys the internet but is also very concerned about the ease artists music can be pirated. "MP3.
If you cant get paid to record, and you cant play anywhere, then there wont be any bands. Right now (speaking on July 1),
our album is available on MP3, and it is not even released yet! Kansas fans might download it to hear the songs, but they
will buy it when it comes out so they can get the artwork. The total package."
Williams is very excited about touring with Yes. "They have been doing this longer than us! We would be doing this (touring)
without the new music. But we would not be playing arenas with Yes. Wed be playing the corndog festival somewhere in South
Dakota!" Fortunately, Kansas fans are diehard and will continue to support the group wherever the go. "Until our fans are
dead, we will have our audience. Music changes but fans really dont. Our crowds are getting older and grayer, but were picking
up some younger ones along the way." Williams is not concerned about losing fan support, "There just arent many older people
that have given up classic rock and started going to rap shows. It just isnt happening! Our fans are still OUR fans!"
Over the years, Kansas has sold tens of millions of albums. They have been immortalized in song as well as on film (Bill
& Teds Excellent Adventure includes Ted having a philosophical conversation with Socrates where he claims, "We are all
just dust in the wind.") When asked if Williams could have predicted the bands success, he replied, "I never thought we would
make more than one record, let alone have gold, platinum or triple platinum (albums)." Williams reflects on the past and shows
a sincere desire to once again climb to the top. "It was a long time ago. I would appreciate it more this time. Having done
it once, I could enjoy it at the moment instead of looking back on it. It was just a blur. To experience a platinum album
again? I would enjoy it deeply." One can feel the desire in his voice as his eyes go slightly out of focus. When asked why
he could not taste the success at the time it happened, he says simply, "Youth and inexperience."
Having access to see the band play live should be easy. In addition to the Masterworks tour with Yes, the band will stay
on the road throughout the year. "We have a lot of fly in dates. We can go anywhere. We have the back line provided and we
take just the essentials. Anyplace a plane can get to, we can play." After nearly 30 years, Williams has finally found job
security. "I knew when I was 30, I would not be doing this. 40? No way. 45? Impossible. Now at 50, I feel pretty secure in
my job!" Being a rock star is nothing new to Rich. Before joining Kansas, his resume was not very impressive, "I worked at
Gage Bowl one summer. They were refinishing the lanes and I painted bowling shoes!"
The new album is a return to the Leftoverture, Masque and Point Of Know Return era. Livgrens songs pump new life into the
group. The energy is reflected in the music. Williams is confident that the tide will remain high, "We will start the next
album about a year from next winter. That will keep us going for the next 4 years!" In the meantime, the band will not be
forgotten. "Radio keeps playing Kansas. We are not out of sight and out of mind. With the first new album with all original
members, we have created quite a buzz. People are interested. People want to know." Be sure to check out Somewhere To Elsewhere.
This is not only one of the groups best efforts in years, it is one of the best in their career!