Quite a few years ago I remember seeing a TV programme about health fronted by Dr. Jonathon Miller. He said that the first stage of ill health is 'deciding within yourself that you are ill'. Took me a while to appreciate that idea, but since then I've found myself going through this same initial process when writing an album, particularly this latest 'Lens' album.


Over the years I've often noodled around with a number of ideas, riffs or tracks that for some reason weren't really suitable for IQ, and I'd always had it in my head that one day I could use those pieces for The Lens, but it wasn't until I'd finally ‘put myself into the state of’ working on a new Lens album that I allowed myself to take them seriously...


Once in that state of mind, I set myself some parameters for Regeneration - it had to be:


  • 'Not an IQ album' - fairly obvious to state, but I wanted to get the distinction in my head

  • 'Not a solo album' - I wanted to approach this from a band perspective

  • Instrumental - for me that was one of the things that (mostly) set The Lens apart from other bands

  • A follow up to the first Lens album - although so much time has passed since the demise of The Lens (nearly 30 years!), I really wanted it to sound like a natural progression.


So, with that firmly planted in my head I could start to have some fun... I've talked elsewhere about the potential evolution of The Lens and I had to make some decisions about just where they would have found themselves today. That was a tricky one as obviously there's a whole world of musical possibilities... would they now have a harder edge? Prog metal perhaps? Or maybe more orchestral? Or folky (is that the right spelling?), World music? Welsh death country?


Whatever, I like to think that The Lens would have been something other than ‘just another prog band’...


I finally assumed that, given the original line-up, The Lens would have absorbed different influences over the years and would be trying to combine genres. Still firmly rooted in prog, I reckon that by now they’d be old hands at playing free festivals and would have moved towards a kind of hippy/crustie/free rave kind of thing, although naturally with better dress sense...


The other thing I had in mind was the fact that I wanted Regeneration to sound ‘positive’ – 'up' as opposed to 'down'. It occurred to me that no-one really writes ‘summer’ albums anymore – know what I mean? In the prog world I always think of Genesis’s ‘Selling England’ and Camel’s ‘Breathless’ as two classic summer albums, although I’m not sure I could explain why.


The Lens have always had (and I hesitate to say this) a ‘nice’ sound... they weren’t about doom and gloom – no uprising of hobbits to slay the orcs and no angst-laden lyrics about how unbearable life really is. Just great, laid back tunes that you could get stoned to, if that was your bag. For me that’s more of a challenge – it’s much easier to be impressive in a minor key...


Michael O'Holmes