Fans new and old enjoying Kansas’ new release, “The Absence of Presence”
There was a time not too long ago when the band mates in Kansas claimed they would never make a new album. After all, people would come to the concerts and yell out for the hits and many would get upset if the lesser-known B-sides were played.
But rather than rest on its most deserved laurels, it just didn’t feel right to the band members to not make new music. Let’s remember, these were the guys behind some of the most classic rock songs of all-time with a catalogue that includes “Carry on Wayward Sun,” “Dust in the Wind” and “Play the Game Tonight.”
So, in 2016, Kansas released “The Prelude Implicit” to great fanfare, and followed that up with “The Absence of Presence,” which was released in June and already has been making noise on the Billboard charts.
“It was something I never expected when I got this gig, that Kansas would be doing more studio albums,” said Ronnie Platt, who replaced Steve Walsh as the band’s frontman in 2014. “This is a band that has a wealth of a library to fall back on so didn’t need to do anything more.
The album showcases Platt’s towering vocals, David Ragsdale’s searing violin, Tom Brislin’s incredible keyboards, the electrifying guitar riffs of Richard Williams and Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart’s masterful drums, and Billy Greer’s rocking bass.
Already, the songs “Jets Overhead” and “Memories Down the Line” are becoming fast faves of Kansas’ fans, with videos available for both.
“When we did this album, we had no idea this pandemic would be going on,” Platt said. “It’s been a long time in the making and we did the bulk of our recording last summer when we were in the middle of touring. Kudos to Phil and Rich who have such a desire to be creative and wanting to still put out new music under the Kansas name.”
Although they have a few outdoor dates planned for later this year, there’s no plans for a full-length tour yet, but Kansas has been doing a lot of Zoom interviews and radio shows and doing what they can to push the album and make sure the new music gets heard.
“Our focus is to get back to touring next year,” Platt said. “When things go back to ‘normal,’ things will be crazy because we already had a lot of dates in 2021 and we’re hoping to carry as much over from 2020. I don’t think I’m going to see home too much once we hit the road.”
With six years now with the band, Platt still looks at the experience as being surreal.
“To be a lifelong fan, I’m in this very exclusive club of singers who have taken over for iconic bands,” he said. “It really is a wild thing. In one way, I still feel like the new guy and it feels like I haven’t been in the band too long; in another way, we’ve spent so much time touring over the six years, we are all really joined at the hip because you are traveling together and doing everything together, so in some ways, it feels like I’ve always been here."
He’s been very impressed by how hard every member of the band works and continues to master their craft.
“Underneath the definition of ‘work ethic’ in the dictionary should be a picture of Kansas,” Platt said. “This band does not stop working or rehearsing. Whether it’s something new or keeping one of the old tunes tightly tuned. We rehearse at every show, at least an hour. At some of these old theaters, we might be rehearsing in a closet and out in the hallway, but we’re tweaking stuff and never stop working.”
When it’s time to hit the road, Platt believes it will be business as usual and he’s looking forward to seeing more of the fans and playing music both old and new.
“It’s probably not too far-fetched to be thinking about an album after this one,” he said. “We have the time to really concentrate on writing without the restraints of touring, so that’s probably what’s going to transpire in the next couple of months.”