The band Flying Colors have five well-known and very skilled musicians. Neal Morse – Keyboards, Vocals, Steve Morse – Guitar, Vocals, Mike Portnoy – Drums, Percussion, Casey McPherson – Vocals, Guitar, Dave LaRue – Bass. After all, this is no guarantee of good and exciting music.
Third Degree builds upon the genre-bending momentum of 2012’s self-titled Flying Colors and the aural-template ascension of 2014’s Second Nature. From the skittery psychedelic/classical turnaround of the lead single More to the Beach Boys-meet-Asia vibe of Love Letter to the deep emotionality of the album-ending, prog-leaning epic Crawl, the nine tracks that comprise Third Degree signify just how much Flying Colors are willing to explore new frontiers. The track More,
The band states, Flying started with a simple idea, virtuoso musicians and a pop singer joining to make new-fashioned music the old fashioned way. A band followed, evolving into Flying Colors, Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals), Dave LaRue (bass), Neal Morse (keyboards, vocals), Casey McPherson (lead vocals), and Steve Morse (guitar). Together, they create a very nice fusion of vintage craftsmanship, contemporary music and blistering live performances.
In 2008, executive producer Bill Evans brought the idea to musicians Mike Portnoy, Dave LaRue, Steve Morse and Neal Morse, and producer Peter Collins. As some of the most renowned artists across numerous genres, they had the potential to fuse their diverse styles into a unique, cohesive sound. Intrigued by the idea, and the prospect of working together, the five signed on to form a band and record a first album. Though they were seasoned artists with impressive backgrounds and catalogs, this would break fresh ground for them.
Steve Morse and Dave LaRue, often described as musicians’ musicians, have developed a magical music chemistry over the years. Their first band, Dixie Dregs, is described by All Music as One of the top jazz-rock fusion ensembles ever. Steve Morse has been with Deep Purple since 1995, helping lead the band’s astonishing revival that continues today with nearly 100 shows yearly in 50 nations. He was voted Best All Around Guitarist for so many consecutive years in Guitar Player that they removed him from eligibility. LaRue’s ongoing musical adventures include Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, Steve Vai, and Mike Portnoy.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Neal Morse is one of the leading figures in prog rock. He began in 1995 by co-founding and leading the seminal prog band, Spock’s Beard. Morse rose to notoriety, though, as a solo artist and with the prog supergroup, Transatlantic. Neal Morse’s ability to combine catchy, memorable melodies with symphonic rock grandeur has made him a leading voice in his genre.
Mike Portnoy is one of the most popular and respected drummers in both metal and rock. An accomplished writer and producer, he is the recipient of numerous industry accolades, including 26 Modern Drummer awards. Mike rose to prominence as the leader, drummer, producer, and cowriter for metal/prog juggernaut Dream Theater, before moving on in 2010. That same year, he worked on Avenged Sevenfold’s #1 album Nightmare and their subsequent tour, earning him awards such as Revolver Magazine’s Golden God award for Best Drummer and Drum Magazine’s Drummer of the Year.
Attention then turned to finding a pop singer to channel their combined musicality into an accessible mainstream form. Portnoy suggested Hollywood/Disney artist Casey McPherson, a charismatic front-man, compelling songwriter, and astonishingly emotive singer.
Casey McPherson’s 2010 album for Disney, New Morning (w/Alpha Rev), debuted in the Top-5 on two Billboard charts, spawning two major radio hits. New Morning spent 17 weeks in the Top-10 on Triple A Radio, accompanied by a video for 11 weeks on Vh1’s Top-20 Countdown. Phoenix Burn was also a Triple A hit, landing firmly in the Top-20.