Category Archives: Interviews

James and The Little Death

James 2014 by Roger Sargent

James 2014 by Roger Sargent

James is a collective, not an individual, and they have been releasing their fine art since 1986!  2014 brings La Petite Mort (The Little Death) into the world, an album about death and release that is simply astonishing. Moving and poignant while conveying a bit of humor and irony within the lyrics, James has clearly released a masterpiece that music fans of all ages will surely cherish.  We recently spoke with founding member and bassist Jim Glennie to find out more about their wondrous new creation, the timeless topic of death (with a lightness of course), and other glorious subjects of intrigue.  Read on…

First, how does the new album La Petite Mort compare to the classic James releases?
It’s a little difficult from our position to be hugely objective. I think its easier for people outside to point out those differences. When we were looking to do with this record,  we were focusing on the sonics of it a little bit more and trying to get the sound of the album right. I think we were pretty confident that we had written a good bunch of songs. We wanted to make sure that it came across on the record. That’s why we ended working with Max Dingel, the producer. He’s made some great sounding records and has worked with people whose records we’ve loved the sound of. It was like, OK, let’s see if we can bring another element to the way that we approach the recording process. Max did that, he’s a bit of a lunatic. Like a mad professor, he focuses in to a ridiculous degree in getting the quality of the sounds. It was kind of a painstaking process, you gotta hang in there and be patient with him. But I think he made a record that’s given us some of the power and the grit i think we get when we play live, I don’t know if that was his intention or not, but I think looking back at what he’s made, I think that’s the biggest differentiation in some of the classic James records.

jamespetit1How was it like working with Max Dingel as opposed to working with Brian Eno?
Eno is much more a problem solver. Eno took us through a huge transformation the way we fired our songs and our own music when it came to production and working in the studio. I think we’d always been quite pained in the studio, the process had always been quite painful and difficult. We were just too serious. We took the approach to the songs very seriously. It just made it quite difficult of a process. it was more like, you torture yourself for six weeks and then you’d have to abandon the project, then that’s your record. Eno was much more, light handed. He brought fun to the process, which is something I don’t think we had ever considered was a possibility. [laughs] Just enjoy yourself! Brian changed that, he brought about that transition we’ve stuck with and have done our best to stick with the point that you can be reverent with songs. You can smash things up and mesh things around. The spirit of Eno exists in everything we do now. It was as huge transformation in the way we approach pretty much doing everything, working with Brian.

The concept of the new album seems to be about the passing of loved ones and mortality. How is it going into the studio recording lyrics that are so very serious?
It’s a strange one, Tim went through as you probably know, a couple of big losses in his life leading up to the recording of the record. That was always going to have an impact on the lyrical quality. He’d write about what’s important to him, he doesn’t have any conscious control over that. It’s just what comes to him to sing about. It’s something we couldn’t do a great deal about. The age of the people in the band, 50ish, we’ve all lost loved ones. We’ve reach that point in our lives where parents have died, grandparents. It’s correct to share the feelings and emotions that he’s expressing on the record. One thing we didn’t want to do is make a record that’s morose or miserable. Far from it, that was our challenge, really. To make something that was musically uplifting to counterbalance some of the feelings of loss I think that Tim had personally gone through. Also, just conceptually bring a viewpoint of death that wasn’t miserable, or certainly not depressing but perhaps something a little more positive. It opened up a whole world of different subjects, far be it for me to say that James could possibly bring about a cultural change in our way we view death. In the west, we don’t deal with death very well. Certainly from a UK perspective. It’s something we never talk about until somebody dies. Then it’s this huge big shock and everyone is devastated as if it was a surprise that it was ever going to happen. It’s a strange view to have on something, which is completely not inevitable for every single person. Almost like we’re immortal, like these things are never going to happen. It’s odd when you reflect on that.  Even the album title has got a little bit of humor in it. We didnt want to write something, or produce something that was incredible serious. It was more about, in a human way, just making people realize their mortality. Also the impact that that can have on your life. Feeling, hey, I wont be around here forever more. You grab life while you can.

What can one expect from a James performance in 2014? Any chance of you coming back to the states?
We’ll definitely come back to the states. There’s been a rumor of us going back in November, which I’m probably not supposed to say. It’s all been very unofficial so far [laughs] but that’s fairly vague. Dont know about an extensive tour, yet. We will definitely tour this record. We’ve been touring through the summer, through the festivals and the record has been doing great. We’ve been really enjoying playing the songs sonically, a real blast. I think it’ll be an added contribution to what we normally do. As any James gig, you never know what you’re going to get. We tend to change set lists every night. We’ve got a massive back catalog to choose from, we tend to plunder that well so we can draw all sorts up that you’ve not heard for maybe 15 years. We can play a whole bunch of the new record if we want to. We tend to kind of leave it relatively late in the day, to write set lists for gigs. Like, an hour or so before we go on stage so we tend to reflect where we’re at quite specifically in our headspace, but even geographically where we’re at. We’d love to come over to the states again and sooner, basically. We know we have a lot of fans over there that are chomping at the bit to see us again. This record, hopefully, will break through to some new people as well through sites like your own, maybe even get their attention for the first time. That’s really exciting. One of the great things about a new album coming out is that you suddenly lock into another bunch of music fans that maybe never came across you before, that’s exciting.

What do you think makes the collaboration between you and Tim Booth so successful after all these years?
JG: God, I don’t know. I really dont. Musically when we write we play off each other a lot. It just seems to work, he seems to be constantly going over the melodies to the things I come up with. I seem to be able to constantly come up with things to what he’s doing. What that is, I haven’t a clue. It’s one of those things I really dont want to analyze too closely, almost like it won’t be there anymore if I do. Its always scary writing songs. We go in a room with nothing prepared. We don’t have a key songwriter that sits at home with a piano, banging things out and then brings them to everyone. We’ve never worked like that. We go into a room, plug in and we start playing and listen to each other.  How it’s happened to go on this long, I haven’t a clue. I really don’t understand that. It never seems like something that would be here forever more. If you asked me back in the day if I had ever thought we’d be here now, certainly not. But we still love what we do, we always hope that we’re challenging each other and ourselves and hopefully coming up with great records that people love and enjoy and they see the relevance and hopefully some of the commitment that we’ve put into the process. That inspires us and is motivation to keep going.

jamescatbig2Who is the kitty on The Morning After / The Night Before album and why does the kitty look so pissed?
[laughs] Good question, actually. I don’t know who’s cat it is! I really dont know. [laughs] Its scary thought, isn’t it? Seems to be standing on its tail, I don’t know. We’re all animal lovers, no animals were hurt in the photo shoot. I can guarantee you that. I cant answer that, I dont know, but you’re right. It does look scary, it kind of looks huge as well. It looks like it’s going to get you in a nightmare, doesn’t it?

Yeah, it does. Who cares about the scary heavy metal album covers. I think that album cover is the most scariest album cover that’s ever existed.
I think you’re right. I love cats, I’m a big cat person. But there is something inherently dark about that, which is probably why we like that kind of independence and bloody mindedness and still an almost wild and tame element to cats. That is kind of cool.

Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
Just a huge big thank you for the support over the years. I know its not always easy being a James fan and we’ve not always gotten over there as much as we’ve liked, that’s difficult for people. People have had to come to us, bless their souls for coming to see us play in the UK or other places in Europe, which is incredibly moving when people go through that much trouble. Again, just hoping, pushing, driving and hoping to get ourselves over there so we can actually play to them as soon as possible.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

“La Petite Mort” Available Now
iTunes | Amazon | Spotify | Physical

JAMES PERFORMING LIVE
10/21 – Webster `Hall – New York, NY – TICKETS

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Midge Ure: Breaking Through Walls of the Past

midgedaze1jlMidge Ure has so much history behind his phenomenal career in music, working with bands such as Ultravox, Visage, and Thin Lizzy – as well as his own distinguished solo artistry.  He’s also known for being the co-author of Do They Know It’s Christmas?, a song written for Band Aid with Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats.  After reading Midge’s blog about how interviewers have only been asking  about “alcohol, Bob, (and) Band Aid 30th anniversary plans,” I decided to surprise Midge and ask questions mostly about his stunning new solo album entitled Fragile.  So from backstage at The Greek Theatre on the Retro Futura tour, we sat down right before the show was to commence, and spoke with Midge Ure about his captivating new album, working with Moby and Stephen Emmer, one single question about the past, and other lively topics of intrigue.  Read on…

How has the Retro Futura tour been going so far, what are some of the highlights?
You know what, the tour’s been fantastic. It’s great because it’s a bit of a no-brainer. A lot of these package tours, you think OK – the artists may be around the same period but musically they’re a million miles apart. This one it’s not. We all came up through the whole electro-pop thing in the late 70s and early 80s. It’s much more compatible. Also, I’ve toured with Howard (Jones) before. We’ve done many shows together, but Tom (Bailey of Thompson Twins) I’ve never met. How weird is that? I met Alannah (Currie) a loads of times in London, she used to hang out in the clubs that we used to hang out at, the clubs we were making Visage music to play at. Alannah used to go there because she was a bit of a party animal. But Tom being the quiet one, I’ve never met him.  It’s great, fantastic. The highlight so far for me is the recognition factor that I’m getting with these songs. I have this self-invented, in the back of my head that Ultravox didn’t make that much of a dent in America. The response I’ve been getting, playing these tunes is just phenomenal. I’m beaming. I’m loving it. I’m having a great time doing this.

fragilealb1Is there any story or concept behind the title, Fragile?
Yeah. I see an album, a new album as a collection of ideas between the last album and the current album. That’s a long period for this record. There’s no real excuse for taking 10, 11 years to make an album. It’s stupid. But my reasoning behind it, was a series of events happened to me. You get the right or wrong events happening in a line and it just shows no matter how strong you think you are as a character, you can be fragile. So I got myself in trouble with some drink, I’m Scottish. You’re supposed to. I had to sort that out, and then coming out the other side of that, it all happened around when my father died. It was a horrible period. Coming out the other side of that, I started to think, can I still write songs? Can I still create interesting music without that? Then when I started writing music, I went through this massive phase of self-doubt, thinking, do I really want to make music anymore? Do I want to be a part of this industry? It’s changed so much in the last 10 years. My savior, I suppose, was doing the Ultravox album. We got together with Ultravox a few years ago and made a new album called Brilliant. That gave me everything I thought I couldn’t do. I thought, I’m back with my friends again. I’m making music that I think is interesting. I can do this. It gave me the strength and ability to get on with finishing the Fragile album. So, Fragile sums up exactly what we think we are in reality, and what we all actually are. We all think we can carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and God, I’ve been doing that for a long time. As I said, it doesn’t take a lot to bring you to your knees and show you just how fragile you are.

What is the inspiration on the opening track “I Survived”?
That was it, really. It was the first song that I attempted to write on my own after stopping drinking. It’s quite simple, looking around me, sitting writing names and ideas, things on a piece of paper thinking I’m not sure this is ever going to connect or make any sense. I’m not sure what I’m saying makes any sense, but the idea is that when you do – when the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place and you start to see the big picture, you realize that you can, and you have, and it’s easy. So the survival part is there. I’ve been through some great lows and some serious lows, but I’m still here. I’m still doing it and I’m still absolutely loving it. That’s the key to it all. There are many out there, and I’m sure you know who I’m talking about, who get together again and they don’t talk to each other. They travel in separate cars, they have different managers. They don’t see each other except for the two hours they’re on stage each night. They’re not doing it for the love of it. I’m still doing it for the love of it. I’m doing this quite happily in the middle of the lineup, quite happy to be here. Coming back in January to do some acoustic shows.

midgedaze2jlGreat to hear!
I will be totally on my own, no tour manager, no nothing. An absolute troubadour. I’ll turn up and I’ll plug my guitar in and I’ll do my thing and I think that is all part of creating music. That to me is just as important to do as playing The Greek.

What was it like working with Moby on the song “Dark Dark Night”?
I’ll tell you tonight, he’s coming to the show and I’ve never met him.

Really!  That’s exciting!
We’ve collaborated and created a baby together, but we’ve never actually met. [laughs] I suppose it’s a modern collaboration. He got in touch with me a few years ago, a mutual respect thing. Asking if I’d be interested in trying to write something together. The modern way of writing, he already had a piece of music and emailed it to me and I took it and adapted it, changed it and put some melody on the top and some vocals and emailed it back to him. By the time I was finished doing what I was doing, it felt so integrated into the Fragile album, because it was in the middle of me working on all the material. It evolved into a major part of the album, I wasn’t willing to let it go. So I emailed him and said, are you OK if I keep this? He said, absolutely! Great! So we’re going to meet tonight for the first time.

midgeurejl1Overall, how do you think Fragile compares to the previous solo albums?
I think any artist will tell you that the latest album is the best thing they’ve ever done. It’s because it’s the newest, the freshest, it’s the one you feel most connected to. Saying that, I think I’m proud of the previous albums. Some of them were a bit too serious, some of them were struggling trying to find out who I was, as opposed to who I was as part of the band. That’s a different thing. As part of a band, everything is “we” and “us” and we think and we collectively – it’s a unit. But when you step outside of that, it takes a while to figure out what “I” think and what I feel and what I want to see. I’m still proud of the previous records but this album I think is grown up. Because I didn’t have a major label breathing down my neck trying to turn me into something that I’m not, which is what they do. I did exactly what I thought was interesting, hence the two instrumental tracks on the record. I’ve always loved instrumental music, I love making instrumental music. So I did exactly what I wanted and strangely people have taken to it, people get it. It’s real and it’s honest, it’s not contrived. I haven’t tried to make something that’s commercial, I’ve tried to make something that tells a story, something that’s a linear album. You put it on in the beginning and you play it right through to the end and it takes you on a little journey. The way albums used to. It’s not a collection of three-minute hit songs. It’s one person’s thoughts and feelings and emotions all put into one piece of music. I’m very proud of it.

Would we have to wait another 20 years for new original material?
[laughs] I’m not sure I’ve got 20 years left. Definitely not. I’ve got the bit between my teeth now. I’m thoroughly enjoying this resurgence, this new energized me. I think once you take that mental block out of the way of thinking “maybe I can’t do this” or “maybe I don’t want to do this anymore.” Once you eliminated that and knock that wall down, there’s nothing but sunshine in front of me. I can see that I want to carry on doing this. I still absolutely adore the idea that I can wake up in the morning, go to the studio and make something. I can stand up on stage and sing a song. It’s the best job in the world. It’s great. Why would I want to give that up? Why would I want to not do that?

intlblue1I promised I’d ask about this. How did you become involved with the International Blue album?
Have you heard that? A bit like the Moby thing. I was approached by a Dutch musician, Stephen Emmer, who’s a magnificent musician. A great, really musical person. I get approached a lot on the internet about doing collaborations on projects. I’m very weary of them, because a lot of them are not very good. But the moment my friend Glenn Gregory from the band Heaven 17 called me and said, have you listened to this stuff? I said, no. He said listen to it, it’s good. It’s really good. I listened to Stephen’s earlier album that he did with Tony Visconti. I chatted to him on Skype and he said he had a track  - I think it’d be great for you, he sent the track, I said just send me the basic backing track I don’t want any melody. I’ll write something on top and I wrote melody and lyrics and recorded on tour in a hotel room in Germany on my laptop, a little mic and headphones. I emailed the vocal track to Stephan, who put it into his multitrack thing and then he emailed the entire thing to Tony Visconti in New York. So it’s a very global album. Tony mixed it within two days, the entire album and then emailed me the master back. Within two days of me singing this, writing this thing. I’m listening to this glorious mix of this fantastic album, which has got all the essence of all the stuff we grew up with. All the singers, the 60s crooners. The Webb Brothers, The Walker Brothers, all of that stuff. Great vocals on fabulously constructed songs. Bacharach and David things, we were brought up listening to that, so the idea of making something that was a nod in that direction, an influence into what kind of influence we had, all the way through to David Bowie, that type of crooning and singing. It was a big influence to us.

midgedaze3jlTwo more questions and then we’re done.  If you would indulge me on one questions from the past – and it has nothing to do with Christmas songs…
(Laughs) Sure!

Has David Bowie heard or commented on your cover of “The Man Who Sold The World?”
I’m not sure. He’s not commented to me, I’m sure he gets to hear a lot of the covers that happen. Publishers usually send material to the artist, or writer. I can tell you one thing, I know David and have met him many times. Two years ago, it was the 40th anniversary of the Ziggy Stardust album. I hosted a program for BBC Radio 4. They did a documentary on the effect the Ziggy Stardust album had on all musicians. Of course, we had to clear it with David Bowie. But everybody, because it was the 40th anniversary was trying to make a program but only one that David gave his acknowledgement to and was OK with was mine. So, maybe because he had heard that track? I don’t know.

Do you have any messages to your fans who are reading this?
Yeah, I’m absolutely stunned that my stuff has been getting over here. Through no fault of my own, I lost connections with promoters and agents in America. So, I’ve been very lax about trying to get back. I’m still desperately trying to get Ultravox back. I’d like Ultravox to come tour America one last time. Maybe more than once, but I’d love to get the band back. I’m working very hard at doing that, so anyone out there who has seen the band in the past, keep your fingers crossed and anyone who has not seen the band in the past, come and see them. They’re a powerhouse of a band. A very powerful group, Ultravox. I’m very pleased to be here and I”m going to keep coming back. I’m not going to disappear.

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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A New Challenger Approaches: Ready to Launch Into the Big Leagues

anewchallenger062514One of the winner’s of the annual Ernie Ball Battle Of The Band’s competition, A New Challenger Approaches made their way to the San Diego Warped Tour – and unleashed a short yet powerful performance.  Mixing influences ranging from metal, hardcore and punk rock, A New Challenger Approaches present exhilarating music that should thoroughly enrapture all those who encounter what this local band has to offer.  Dead Inside is the name of their debut EP, now available on Itunes!  We caught up with the five members of A New Challenger Approaches  right after their show on the Ernie Ball Stage at Warped to find out more about this up and coming collective ready to break into the big leagues.  Read on…

newchaljl1What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
Abraham Martinez (guitar): The most embarrassing song on my iPod would have to be… I have no idea. I enjoy a lot of music so even if it’s a guilty pleasure, I enjoy it very much. Probably Panic at the Disco. that’s my guilty pleasure right now.
Eric Gomez (bass): The most embarrassing song on my iPod, maybe Taylor Swift. She’s got some good songs every now and then.
Jon Loera (vocals): The most embarrassing song on my iPod, I’ve got Fall Out Boy, a lot of Fall Out Boy songs. I’m not really embarassed by it, though.
Pablo Garcia (drums): I have Creed With Arms Wide Open.
Napoleon Mata (guitar): I just recently wiped out all the songs on my phone so I don’t have any songs, but probably would have been Katy Perry’s TGIF. That’s a good song. [laughs]

What happened to your arm?
Abraham: Stray From The Path is doing an amazing set and they were playing “Mad Girl” and right now, dealing with a breakup it just fit perfectly and it was very relevant and I went back and – yeah. It just happened. You black out when you’re in the pit and I came out with hopefully a sprain, maybe it’s not a broken forearm.

What was it like being up there playing the Ernie Ball stage?
Jon: It was cool – it’s like fulfilling a small piece of a dream. You get a taste of it and for me, it inspired me, I just want to work harder to get to the bigger stages. It was really cool. It gave me a lot of passion and drive.

newchaljl2For those who missed it, what can one expect from your live show?
ALL: Energy.
Pablo: My biggest goal is for someone to tell me I look scary after we play. I actually look weird and do weird stuff too. Im pretty sure these guys go crazy too, I can never see though because my head is always doing this (headbanging). I don’t know anything of what they’re doing.
Napoleon: Passion and intimacy. We try and get as close as we can with the people and the crowd and we’re just thankful that they’re there watching us. We want to make them feel important and special and get close with them.

newchaljl3You were saying on stage how difficult it’s been as a band. Could you talk about that?
Jon: We all moved out together from AZ to a one bedroom apartment. We quit our jobs and school and everything. We gave everything to make sure this dream comes true. We all live with each other, everything we do is towards this band and goal. We’ve sent out press kits and emails, things and talked to people and worked hard to build relationships. A lot of the time it’ll get sent back or turned down or just not interested. Sometimes rejection can hurt, you know? People feel rejection on a daily basis. It may not be labels, it may be family members so, we want to let our fans know that we appreciate them. They’re perfect the way they are. That’s what matters to us, the most.

deadinside1Select two songs you played today and what inspired the lyrics.
Jon: “Fenrir” – it’s like a story, a lot of my songs are concept based. It’s about a man that turns into a werewolf and his brother shoots him down. But the symbolism behind that is, you know, everyone has someone inside of them that can be a beast. A monster at times. It takes the people around you to help bring you back down to earth. That’s kind of like living with my band – it’s taught me that sometimes we have grievances and get into little arguments and stuff, sometimes people have attitudes. Sometimes it takes your friends to bring you back down and ground you, I think that’s really important. My friends have been there for me, that’s what the song is about. Friendship.

Obsidian Empire” goes back to that same theme. The first year we moved out together we were living in a one bedroom apartment, practicing and playing music, writing and practicing our stage show. You live with six people in a one bedroom apartment, tensions run high. The song is about, that year we learned how to work with each other. That’s why we’re so efficient as a band. The main theme of that song is pull together. Everyone in this band matters, everyone matters. Especially with the fans too, they matter. It’s all about everyone pulling together working for a common goal.

newchaljl4If your band could open for any other band either now or from the past. Who and why?
Pablo: Underoath and As I Lay Dying.
Napoleon: As I Lay Dying would have been awesome but I don’t see that in the near future. Trivium and AFI.
Jon: My Chemical Romance. That’s it. I’d have them play three times, all their albums.
Eric : The band I’d want to open for is A Ghost Inside. But I’m a newer member in the band and they opened up for them a month before I joined. So, if I could go back in time, I’d want to go do that with them. I guess in a way we kind of did today, so that and I think it’d be cool to do a show with Beartooth. They’re a new band that I really like right now.
Abraham: New Found Glory for sure. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. I grew up listening to them, so that’s something pretty big. I’d probably go with Stick To Your Guns and U2. They’re big influences, both of them. Being a good person and yeah. They got strong messages and I love them.

What would you like the listener to remember most about your music after hearing it for the first time?
Abraham: I’d say unity and acceptance. We’re all people and do the same thing. You can’t have a show with a performer if there’s no audience and visa versa. As long as they know that they’re just as important as we are, be it whatever mood you’re in. If you’re angry, hope you leave happy. If you’re happy, may you leave with something off your chest.
Pablo: I think I want them to leave feeling like they’re a part of something. I know when I was in highschool and stuff, I always liked being part of a group. Even if it was 5 of us, and we went to a pool and stuff. One thing kids like a lot is to feel like they’re part of something.  I’d want them to feel like they’re part of what we’re doing. They’re part of this band – that they’re just like us and we’re just like them.

(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

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Meet Rebel Coast – Winners of The Next Star: Supergroup

RC-WO-08_600_1After winning The Next Star: Supergroup, there is no stopping Rebel Coast now.  They released a new single entitled We Are The Brave and recently completed the Rebel Coast Roadtrip across Canada, making new friends and fans along the way.  As they prepare to break on through to the States, we caught up with Rebel Coast to find out more about their experience on The Next Star: Supergroup, their dynamic single We Are The Brave, working together, relationship with rival group Electric Ave, and other topics on interest,.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Rebel Coast, and how long you’ve been singing / performing?
Kyle – I play Acoustic Guitar & Vocals. I’ve been singing for the past five years.
Ryan – I play electric Guitar & Vocals. I have been singing/performing for as long as i can remember!
Angelo – I actually just started learning the bass, and have been singing since i was a kid at church.
Curtis – I do vocals & Guitar. I’ve been singing & performing my whole life.
Amer – I sing and play the keys. Ive been playing piano since 4 and singing since grade 5. Just learned guitar about 1 year ago.

Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We are based out of Toronto, Canada. We are really lucky to be able to live in such a vibrant city with a cool music scene. Some of the best fans live in Toronto, we have very tight relationship with them.

RC-WI-08_600x_2How did you wind up being on The Next Star: Supergroup?
Ryan and Amer – we were recruited from the Next Star Season 5 where we were on the show together.
Kyle – I auditioned for the Next Star Season 5 and was called back to do the Supergroup.
Angelo - I auditioned for The Next Star a couple times and didn’t get through. Then I got called back for SuperGroup!
Curtis – I auditioned to be on the show.

What was the most stressful thing about doing a show like The Next Star: Supergroup?
Learning the choreography was quite difficult! We aren’t dancers so it was kind of funny to watch ourselves move like that. Coming together as a band was also stressful for us. We became friends quickly, then had to learn how to work with each other as bandmates.

What do you think makes everyone in the group work so well together?
As a band we mesh really well together because we come from different musical backgrounds. We aren’t competing to be singing the same way or playing the same instrument. Like they say, opposites attract!

How well did you get along with rival band Electric Ave and did you hang out with them at all?
Ha ha! We had a brotherly love relationship. Of course we gave each other a hard time; friendly competition. At the end of the day we all supported each other and think they’re an awesome bunch of dudes.

How surprised were you to eventually emerge the winner of the show?
It was a surreal feeling. It could have gone either way, we were extremely surprised! It kind of felt like a bittersweet moment. We all wanted to win but didn’t necessarily want to see anyone go home. We grew very close with everyone on the show.

WeAretheBraveSingleWhat do the lyrics of your single We Are The Brave mean to you?
The lyrics to We Are The Brave speak differently to each of us. Self empowerment, overcoming your fears, taking charge, accomplishing your dreams. The song has recently been chosen by the Canadian Cancer Society as the official sound of their “Fearless Challenge” campaign. We’d have to say that has given a whole new meaning to the song that resonates with all of us. We know that people suffering from cancer have to be brave everyday, and we really hope this speaks to them. All of us have had love ones dealing with cancer at one time in our lives.

Have you ever played here in the US or plan to do so in future days?
We haven’t played in the US…yet! We can’t wait to make it over the border and do some shows. You can stay up to date with upcoming events on our website. Hope to see all our US neighbours soon!

If Rebel Coast could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
All of us have very different idols and would pick totally different people! The common ground for us is definitely Justin Timberlake. He is someone we all grew up listening to and think he is a very talented, diverse artist.

Did you get to meet Austin Mahone or any of the other guest performers on the show?
Yes, we met Austin briefly at the show finale…just to shake his hand really. It’s a crazy day and not much time to hang out. He seemed like a really genuine guy.

How supportive were your parents for Rebel Coast?
All of our parents seem to strive for the same goals we do and we’re lucky to have their support through this journey. They’ve been awesome with putting up with late nights and weeks on the road.

How close is Rebel Coast to recording a full length album?
It’s in the works and we’re really excited to show our fans who we are as a band. We’re working on honing our sound and making music we can all be proud of…hopefully the fans will dig it too!

What’s up next for Rebel Coast?
Lots of exciting things coming! We’ve been doing a lot of shows in Canada this summer and can’t wait to really get in to the studio to finish our debut album. Hope to be hitting a stage near you very soon.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Rebel Coast on Facebook

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Slash: Setting The World On Fire with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators

slashjlpech2Slash is the most celebrated guitar player of our generation – whether it be time spent as one of the founding members of the legendary Guns N Roses – or one of his engaging later projects – there is no denying the skill and innovation Slash brings to the wondrous art of the raging guitar.   His latest project is Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – a collective ready to rock your world in with an all-out vengeance.  The combination of Slash and Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge -along with bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz - has unleashed phenomenal results!  World On Fire is their latest auditory adventure, showing all band participants at the very height of their creative prowess.

Slash, Kennedy and the troupe found themselves raging across the country opening for the legendary Aerosmith.  In late September, Slash returns to his Hollywood roots, performing intimate shows at The Whisky, The Roxy, and The Troubadour.  Expect Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators to demolish all three of these iconic venues!

We recently had a chance to chat with Slash about World On Fire, working with Myles Kennedy, the Hollywood music scene, his Rocky Horror connection, and other blazing topics of interest.  Read on…

slashjlpech15How is the tour with Aerosmith been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?
The Aerosmith tour has been fuckin’ fantastic. It’s been really great. Great watching those guys kick ass every night. It’s one of the best tours I’ve seen them on, really meshing so great. The highlights, I jammed with them in Boston, which was definitely a highlight for me. The whole tour has been a highlight, I can pick out playing Los Angeles, playing The Forum with them was a highlight because its LA and it’s The Forum. They’ve remodeled the building and it’s one of the best venues, or is the best venue in Los Angeles now for an arena. The whole tour has been a series of highlights, I’m having the best time and it’s been great for our band to be playing with them when they’re in such peak form. The crowds have been great, so it’s all killer.

Did you know Steven Tyler or Joe Perry or any of the guys prior to this tour?
Guns N Roses opened for Aerosmith right when Guns N Roses was starting to break in 1988. So I’ve known them ever since. There is a great camaraderie, we all know each other very well. It’s a little bit like a family atmosphere.

worldonfire1Let’s talk about World on Fire. First, is there any story or concept behind the album title?
No, the album title is really a song on the record. I had a hard time trying to think of an album title that really encompassed the whole record and was a good label for the whole record. Then, really in the eleventh hour, desperate for an album title I think we were mixing at the time. The title World On Fire just sounded good. Then I realized that it had a much broader connotation considering everything that’s been going on in the world thus far [laughs], but at this point in time. It means a lot for an individual’s personal life. It could mean a lot of different things. I thought, that’s a good title. So we went with that.

How do the songs on this albums compare to Apocalyptic Love?
They really don’t. I dont think I’ve ever compared anything, like a current project to a past project. The only thing that has any sort of connection to the last record and this one is there’s a song called “Shadow Life” on the record, which actually the main riff in the song originally was in a song called “You’re a Lie,” which was the first single off the Apocalyptic Love record. When we were in pre-production for that record, I decided that the chorus wasn’t strong enough as it was so I took that riff out and re-wrote the chorus. The riff was still great, it just didn’t fit as the chorus of that song so we re-hashed it and it ended up being “Shadow Life.” So that’s really the only connection to the last record.

slashjlpech17What do you think has made you and Myles Kennedy work so well together?
That’s just an unsaid thing. We just have a natural chemistry together, a sort of creative connection and also a personal connection that just clicked when we first met. That’s something you can’t really cultivate, it just happens.

The other two members, Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz have really impressive credits. How did they become involved?
It’s sort of interesting. When I first hooked up with Myles, we recorded for the first time on my first solo record. I was like, OK, would you want to do a tour? I had to put something together to support that album. He actually signed on to do that, which was shocking for me. I thought he was going to say no because of his commitments to Alter Bridge. But he happened to be off at the time, so he signed on. Then I went out doing the audition circuit and I started with drummers and I was basically working with guys I already played with before, but trying to find the guy with the right feel for what I was thinking at the time. A lot of people brought up this guy who I never met or heard of named Brent Fitz, from Las Vega. So many different people unrelated to each other mentioned his name so I sought him out and met him in Vegas and then he came out to LA and we jammed for the first time. It was the perfect feel for what I was looking for. Then I had a bass player in mind at the time and the three of us jammed together and Brent and I agreed that he wasn’t the right bass player. So he suggested Todd Kerns, another guy I had never heard of who also lives in Vegas. Todd drove out and he was the perfect fucking bass player, it was unbelievable. It clicked right there, we had an automatic rhythm section thing going and then Myles and I rehearsed for a week and we started touring.

The producer, Michael Baskette also has done some Alter Bridge recordings in the past. How did he become involved and what did he contribute to the process?
The last Alter Bridge record came out, it had been out for a while and I was thinking about different producers for this record. I heard one of the Alter Bridge songs on the radio and I was really impressed with the way the bass and drums sounded. I asked Myles about him, obviously they had a relationship, and Myles was very close to the chest about not giving me any real information and not being responsible for any creative decisions I might make and just suggested I talk to him. Mike and I had a really great lengthy conversation about tape versus digital, guitars, recording guitars etc. We just hit it off. So we did a bunch of pre-production before he came in and got all the songs together, then when Mike came he really was the knot in the bow, so to speak. He tied everything up and he worked on all the little parts that even myself, who is a crazy workaholic, there’s details you just don’t want to deal with, certain conjunctions and parts, this and that. When you’re playing rock and roll, you can very easily ignore them. He came in and he tied up all the loose ends and really got what the band sounded like and what we were trying to sound like. We were on the same page as far as that goes. We go into the studio and he was just fuckin’ amazing to work with. One of the hardest working producers I’ve ever worked with. That fits my personality great and he actually pushed me and the other guys and got the best performances out of us. Sonically, one of the first producers that I’ve worked with that really managed to pull out the great guitar, drums and bass sounds and obviously he’s great with Myles. I was really happy.

slashjlpech12Do you still enjoy playing the old Guns N Roses songs after all this time?
Yeah, that was the whole concept when I first started after my first solo record and going on the road, was to be able to play all the stuff from my past catalog that I don’t really get to play anymore. With Velvet Revolver, we couldn’t really play too much Guns stuff and if we did it was very limited. As much as people like to think of that as a solo band, it was more of a group. So we didn’t really lean too much on Guns N Roses back then. So it was nice to be able to pull from Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, Guns N Roses, the solo record and also new material that we’re doing now. It’s a lot of fun.

Do you think you and Axl will ever speak again?
You know, I know you know that’s not something that I’m going to get into. [laughs]

Let’s move on then.  What was the experience like working with icons such as Michael Jackson and Ozzy Osbourne on their material?
Specifically those two, Ozzy who’s been a long time friend, I’ve worked with a few times. For one, it’s an honor to work with somebody who’s an icon to the extent that he is and as the prince of the heavy metal genre. It’s great fun working with him, but he’s also such a sweet guy and a down to earth and humble individual, it’s just nice to be around him. And then obviously he’s just so tremendously gifted that anything you do with him is going to come out sounding great. Then Michael was the same, one of these really inspiring, gifts from on high, performer, songwriter, singers. It was an honor to work with him. We had a really great working relationship for quite a while.

What are you looking forward to the most about playing the iconic rock clubs in West Hollywood, what can your fans look forward to in those shows?
The clubs in LA, those are all rooted in my history. I started going to the Troubadour when I first moved to Los Angeles from England when I was a little kid with my parents. So that has the longest history for me, but also the Roxy, Guns N Roses had their beginnings there and I did gigs with Snake Pit there. The Roxy, I also have a history with when my mom was doing the wardrobe for Rocky Horror Show when it came through town, I was there every weekend for six weeks. It’s also a place where Guns played and Velvet Revolver and Snake Pit played. Even this band, the Conspirators, our very first gig was at The Roxy. Then The Whiskey, I have a history there too. I actually used to roadie there when I was a teenager. To come back to LA and play those same places, that small and personal atmosphere and to the local home crowd. It’s a great experience. I dont know what to expect, it’s going to be pretty manic i would imagine but it’ll be a lot of fun.

Thank you so much for your time.  Good talking with you!
Good talking to you as well.

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators on Facebook

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Scars Of Tomorrow: Blistering Transmissions

scars20142_600x400Scars of Tomorrow has returned, raging out of the notorious LA/OC music scene with an all-out vengeance.   It was 2007 when we last heard from the metalcore entity, and now the blistering comeback Failed Transmissions has been issued via Artery Recordings.  Whether this will be a lasting venture or a short term effort, there is no denying the passion and conviction to found with the current day Scars of Tomorrow compositions.  We caught up with long time member Bob Bradley to find out more about the restoration of Scars of Tomorrow. their thrilling new material. touring past and present, and other topics of intrigue.  Read on…

Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Scars of Tomorrow.
I’m Bob Bradley and I play guitar in the band.

At this point, what made you decide it was time to do another Scars of Tomorrow album?
After being away from the band for many years I was keeping in touch with Mike and in late 2013 we both agreed that we should work on new music. It wasn’t some grand epiphany but more that we need this music as a source of creative output and it’s a great reason to get together and have fun.

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Failed Transmissions?
Mike our singer named the album and wrote all the lyrics. I’m not 100% sure what each song means to him personally. I’ve always interpreted his lyrics as touching on topics of empowerment, struggle and how time changes people and their motives in life.

What has it been like to do the final Bleeding Through tour and what have been some of the highlights?
It was an awesome experience since we’ve known them since the early days of their musical career. Fast forward almost 13-14 years later and we are able to share these amazing shows with them. Everyone in all the bands were super cool and since many of us are in our 30’s it’s a different appreciation for playing music and hanging out. Many of us have new life priorities and it’s nice to have conversations with fellow musicians about things outside of just..music.

bobbradleyscars1What was the experience like playing the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest this year?
This was our first big show being back together as Scars of Tomorrow. Being able to fly out with your friends and play with some of the most amazing metal, death metal and hardcore bands on the planet was mind-blowing. All the bands kicked ass and it was fun seeing a lot of old and new faces.

You’ve played the legendary shows such as Furnacefest and Hellfest. What was the experience like playing those shows at the time?
Oh wow, well we played Furancefest and Hellfest around 2004-2005 and we were just thankful to be on those tours. I remember we recently signed to Victory Records and shot some of our promo photos at Furnacefest and thought it was the coolest thing ever. There’s something fun about playing fests, everyone takes their turn to show off their music but it doesn’t feel competitive. Everyone was there for the right reasons and those shows were some of the best live moments of our career.

What could we expect from a live Scars of Tomorrow 2014 show?
It really depends on the show and who we’re playing with. For these Bleeding Through dates we had a lot of old friends/fans out and they could relate to our history as a band and being in the hardcore scene. In between songs, Mike would interact with the crowd and talk about the music and how the scene has impacted people over the years. We still go off, and even at this point we put 110% into playing a great set and going crazy on stage.

failedtrans2Do you still enjoy playing the older Scars of Tomorrow songs or would you rather just play the newer material?
We have all been really happy playing a mix of both old and new songs. I don’t really have a preference on which songs to play live, just as long as they are energetic and I’m confident the crowd will be into it.

When you look back on the previous Scars of Tomorrow albums, what do you think of them now?
There’s some older songs I can really still rock out to, and many others that I could perhaps wonder if they could have been better. We always progressed as a band album to album and I think our songwriting really reached a professional level when we recorded with Kurt from Converge in 2004. With any band, we all have our favorite tracks that never get old and others that we may forget about years down the line.

Do you see Scars Of Tomorrow becoming a full time band again and how has it been to work with the other members after all this time?
We don’t have plans to do this full-time and our motives are really just to play shows as they make sense. Our current lineup is solid and I’m just excited to spend time with them as friends and playing music is just icing on the cake. We all have great synergy so we’ll see what happens as the rest of 2014 unfolds.

Are you currently involved with any other band outside of Scars of Tomorrow?
For the past 3 years or so I have been playing in a band called Fake Figures with some of my friends from other notable groups. Besides that there’s a core group of friends down here in So-Cal that get together and write music, and who knows what will come of it in the near future. I also just found out our bassist Michael Nordeen is playing for Slaves for this current August tour, that band is amazing and he’s going to kill it on stage.

What are your impressions of the current Southern California music scene?
Most of the shows I go to at this point are in other genres outside of Metal/hardcore. I run a PR firm and licensing company full-time so I’m at a lot of shows seeing clients and other friends doing their thing as musicians. It seems like the local scene is doing great in so many ways, and I do my best to support any way possible.

Any final words of wisdom?
Support your friends and their creative projects / ventures, it means more to them than you’ll ever know.

Scars of Tomorrow is:
Mike Milford
Bob Bradley
Therron Francis
Michael Nordeen
Sam Shepard

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Scars of Tomorrow on Facebook

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Floating Above The Clouds With Lightfoils

lightfoils-500xIn July I saw mention of Saint Marie Records via the Shoegaze and Dreampop page on Facebook. Within a few days I’d received news of a band called Lightfoils having a new album.  In seconds of listening I fell in love with the band’s sound.  I quickly sent interview questions to the band. Drummer John Rungger got back to me and graciously took the time to tell us a little about his incredible band from Chicago and their stunning new album Hierarchy.

When you got together with the other members was there a plan for how you wanted to sound?  Were there touchstones? 
Cory started the ball rolling. After a few years of not being in a shoegaze band, he decided he wanted to try being in a shoegaze band again. He quickly rounded the rest of us up, and off we went. The plan was to be a shoegaze band. I think we’ve succeeded?

How long did it take to create Hierarchy?  What song changed the most?  The least?
Hierarchy took a long time to finish. The basic tracks were done late 2012. The overdubs, vocals, and mixing took place over the next year. Jane had just joined the band as we started recording, so we wanted to give her the chance to get comfortable with the songs. All the songs changed because of Jane’s input. We think that taking our time with the album really helped us to make something we could be proud of.

What does each member contribute to the band in the music and in their personality?
Cory’s the idea man, John is the naysayer, Zeeshan is the jet engine, Neil is the texture, and Jane floats above it all on a cloud.

I read you got a producer that mainly worked with metal bands.  What are some of the bands?  Did you listen to any of them?  What did he bring to the sound of the album?  Was there something that he told one of you that changed the whole song or way you thought to play a part?
Sanford Parker (Wovenhand, Eyehategod, Chris Connelly [and Walking Bicycles]) is an old friend from way back. Our theory was that, if he could record and mix metal, a guitar-heavy artform, then he could also do shoegaze. Turns out we were right. His main contribution was to get the guitars sounding as awesome as possible. He also did an amazing job mixing this. Couldn’t be happier.

You’ve all been in other bands or still are.  How is Lightfoils the same or different from those other bands in the sound and creation/touring/personalities?  How do you think you’ve grown since those earlier times? 
Cory and I have been in about six separate bands together over the last decade and a half of making music, so there’s been some growth, or, at least, we like to think so. We certainly do less drugs. Every band is different, as far as personality mixes go. It helps that we are friends first, bandmates second.

What is some of the equipment you use?  Has there been an instrument that you’d like to learn and record with but haven’t yet?
Gear-wise, we use a lot of pedals. Some of us have complicated setups. But, then again, I hit things with sticks, so what would I know about it?

lightfoils -Hierarchy-1500XIs there something on the album that you’ve never done before and how do you feel about the results? 
The basic tracks for the album were recorded with us all in the same room, playing the songs. Something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should nowadays. I think it gives it an organic base that translates through to the rest of the music.

What other bands should we know about that you’ve been following or are friends with? 
Too many to mention, but definitely Panda Riot (Cory’s also in that band), and the other bands on St Marie.

What show did you play that you have yet to one up?
Each of our shows is better than the last. We one up ourselves every show. Except when we drink too much pre-show. Then, all bets are off.

When will you be touring and coming to Los Angeles?
Hopefully in 2015.

Lightfoils is: Neil Yodnane and Zeeshan Abbasi on guitars, Jane Zabeth on vocals, Cory Osborne on bass and John Rungger on drums.

LINKS
Facebook
Bandcamp
Saint Marie Records

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In The Fast Lane with 3PM

3PMband1_600x337_2Pop punk is alive and thriving on the East Coast, thanks to bands like 3PM unleashing vibrantly infectious songs that remain spinning in your head for ages.   Fans of bands such as Blink 182, New Found Glory and Yellowcard have a date with sonic destiny when discovering the blissful melodies of 3PM.  Presenting it all with a grand DIY state of mind, 3PM recently issued their second collection of tunes entitled Slow Me Down. Produced by none other than esteemed producer Paul Leavitt (All Time Low / Senses Fail), Slow Me Down is sure to gain 3PM a good deal of admiration well beyond their Baltimore hometown. Here is an interview we conducted with 3PM to find out more about this dynamic band on the rise, ready to bring the rocking fast lane into your part of the world…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in 3PM, and how long the band has been together.
Brennan- Voclas, Bass
Scott- Guitar
Brandon- Drums
We’ve been together for about two years now…

Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like that? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
We’re from Baltimore, MD and the pop punk scene is actually pretty good. We’re fairly new to the scene and we’ve already met a ton of great bands and every weekend there is an awesome pop punk show going on. Other bands like The Heavyweights, The Old Line, A Place in Time, and Something More are some great local pop punk bands.

3pmslowmedownIs there any story or concept behind the Slow Me Down title of the new album?
In the past two years we’ve come a long way and we’re always dealing with being in school and being in a band at the same time. It’s a lot to handle and sometimes it gets pretty stressful. It’s nice to take some time and just slow down, although we don’t have spare time very often!

What was it like working with producer Paul Leavitt and what did he contribute to the overall recording process?
Paul is a very decorated producer and it was really cool to work with him. He has a great studio with great equipment, but the best part of working with him is that he has an amazing ear for music and really knows how to make a song the best it can be. Doing production with Paul is mainly what separates this album from our first one, “Change of Plans.

What could one expect from a live 3PM show?
We always do our best to put on a fun, energetic, live show and get the crowd involved because when the crowd has fun, the show is successful.

If 3PM could open up for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Blink 182! They’re our heroes and the reason why at least two of us got into music in the first place.

3pmpic2Has 3PM ever wanted to do an all acoustic show or album/EP?
Well we have done an all-acoustic show, when we opened up for All Time Low actually. It went great, but I don’t think we want to do an acoustic album though we’ve definitely talked about writing at least one acoustic song. We do our best worked fully amped up!

Any strange or scary happenings on the road or at a show?
Well at a recent show in Hagerstown, we had to stop halfway through the show and turn off the electricity and take cover because there was a tornado…that’s kind of scary

If the music of 3PM was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
Boston cream, because it’s full of rich creamy goodness

What’s up next for 3PM?
We’re about to practice!

Any final words of wisdom?
Well we aren’t very wise…we’re in a band

(Interview by Ken Morton)

3PM on Facebook

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Nightmare: Raging Beyond The Aftermath

nightmare2014_1The mighty NIGHTMARE was founded in 1979 and released their debut album “Waiting For The Twilight” in 1984. Still hitting it hard and heavy after all these metal years, the illustrious French collective has unleashed The Aftermath, their ninth thrilling magnum opus, now available worldwide through AFM Records. While on the road. guitarist and newest member Matt Asselberghs took the time to answer our inquiries about the new album, what he thought about the earlier incarnations of Nightmare, their live shows, and other topics. It was brief, to the point, and all Nightmare in their full metal glory! Read on…

MattAsselberghs1Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Nightmare, and how long the band has been together.
Hey I’m Matt, axe man of the band, I’ve been in the band for two years and half now and the band exists since 79 !

Where is the band based out of and what is the current music scene like there?
The band comes from a city called Grenoble in South East (France)! It’s a kinda cradle there when you’re talking about music, a lot of bands emerge from this town !

Is there any story or concept behind the title The Aftermath?
The Aftermath is just a record about the human vanity against mother nature, the human being is for sure the only kind of animal that can cut the branch where it’s sitting on !

theaftermath2Who did the cover art for The Aftermath and how much input did you have on it?
Everyone in the banded add his touch and the final master has been released by my friend Anthony Mouchet from the band Psygnosis!

When you look back on the Nightmare album you did in the 80’s, what do you think of them now?
Personally I really love them, Nightmare was for sure the only French band at the time which made a real worldwide heavy metal sound! Those records kick asses!!!

What could one expect from a live Nightmare show?
Well, some power, some energy and a taste of heavy fucking metal !

Has Nightmare ever played in the States or plan to do so in future days?
Yes we’ve played at the 70000 Tons Of Metal two years ago and it was a fucking great experience, we ‘d really love to go back there and make a tour ! We really love USA !!

What’s up next for Nightmare?
Well a huge tour with the Wacken road show all over Europe in October/November ! Maybe Canada maybe Australia…only time will tell…

Any final words of wisdom?
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Rocky Balboa

Nightmare is:
Franck Milleliri (Guitars)
David Amore (Drums & Machines)
Jo Amore (Lead Vocals)
Yves Campion (Bass & vocals)
Matt Asselberghs (Guitars)

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Nightmare on Facebook

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Beating the Darkness Down: An Interview With Walking Bicycles

walking biycles_xray-1Walking Bicycles‘ music is dark and angry. Yet there is also groove and melody throughout. Some references are Sonic Youth and Siouxsie & The Banshees. The Bicycles mix in heavy tom work, jazzy basslines, a dancey beat, searing guitars and Jocelyn’s sometimes icey sometimes sexy vocals to create something like a force of nature. To Him That Wills The Way offers power and excellent musicianship in ten songs and just 29 very noisy and catchy minutes. Walking Bicycles are Julius Moriarty (guitars), Jocelyn Summers (vocals), Jason Leather (bass) and Deric Criss (drums).

Impending Doom is the aptly titled opening song on your new album. Was there a plan when writing the song that you wanted to sound like a doom metal band or so scary? The higher vocal touches are quite effective and the bass at the end adds an arty feel.

Julius Moriarty: We needed a heavy, doomy track to start the album off. That initial feeling was critical to the concept of LP. When the song was first played we knew it was the opener immediately. Jocelyn put words to the music that emotionally conveyed the concept of awaiting an “impending doom” matching the intensity of the musical composition; setting the stage for a narrative about love and loss, incarceration and freedom.

Deric: We fucking smashed that song out in practice. It was dirty. We all agreed that this was a song we needed to keep.  The first version was probably 20 minutes long. We pared it down to the bare essentials, which I think enabled it to be as good as it is.

Jason: Impending Doom came out of a spontaneous jam that we liked so much, we decided to recreate. The guitars and drums reminded me of Black Sabbath or Monster Magnet, so I responded accordingly.

So is also angry with those distorted guitars, tom patterns and growling bass. Jocelyn’s measured vocals play off the cacophony, holding her own. Is it cathartic to play these songs, especially when you’re all in one room or on stage?

Julius: It is very cathartic. Venting tragedy while creating art is a therapeutic process.

Deric: We don’t want to play any song that isn’t at least mildly a catharsis. God forbid we end up a band that is just fingering well-taught chords and singing nice little songs. In a room or on a stage, we play this song the same.

Eyesore, while noisy as hell is also very catchy. I think this is one of the strongest songs you’ve ever written. Is this a song fans dance to when you play it live?

Deric: Every member of Walking Bicycles loved Eyesore when we came up with the central riff. Our fans may or may not dance, depending on their level of alcohol consumption or their age.

Jocelyn: Thanks, yeah, it seems to be a favorite. I think it’s pretty classic Bicycles, heavy but dancey. Deric caught a coworker whistling it recently.

Are there checks and balances in the band where if the song is too noisy someone suggests a catchy or dancey element?

Julius: We have always tried to walk the line between weird and catchy. If both exist within a track then there can’t be too much of either.

Deric: Good question. I think checks and balances about too noisy peels back the onion a little too much for me to answer. We all have different thresholds for cacophony and noise. The record you’re listening to is the perfect distillation of our approach.

Faster than Light is yet another song full of unease that still makes you want to dance. Jason’s bass is all over the song with his grooves. His playing is quite jazzy. What is his training and influences?

Jason: I first started teaching myself bass by listening to records.  Early on my inspirations were old funk and soul bass players like Jamerson, Bootsy Collins, and Larry Graham; as well as modern players like Flea, Les Claypool, and Joe Lally.  Then I got into jazz players like Ray Brown, Charles Mingus, Scott Lafaro, Red Mitchel, Charlie Haden, Ron Carter; which led me to seek out a formal education.

While your songs might be a little dark and bleak, your band shots show a sense of humor. Are you all positive people? Where does the Walking Bicycles darkness come from?

walking bicycles Photos by Cassandra BialekDeric: Man. Life isn’t all a barrel of laughs. Nobody knows that more than the couple in the band.

Julius: The darkness on this album comes from a very personal place. I was incarcerated for three years on a marijuana charge. This album recounts my 3-year incarceration and my separation from Jocelyn. The narrative is not all dark and bleak. To me the album expresses the struggles, failures and sometimes unforgiving nature of life but this darkness is nestled within glimpses of acceptance, understanding, peace and redemption. As for the band shots… We do have a sense of humor and try to maintain a positive outlook on life. You can’t let the darkness beat you down.

Jocelyn: Personally, I think we’re hilarious. I also think that some of the darkest people are some of the funniest so I don’t think dark/bleak and funny are mutually exclusive.

The album sound is better than you’ve ever come across in the production and mixing. How did the people behind the scenes contribute to the sound of the album?
WB_To Him That Wills The WayWB_To Him That Wills The Way

Julius: Each song was first recorded onto 2″ tape at Electrical Audio studios. John San Paolo engineered these sessions with a focus on a big drum sound while grabbing solid attack and ambient sounds from both bass and guitar. We then bumped the tape into Pro-Tools and went to Soma studios to add any overdubs we thought were needed – we also did a majority of the vocals on the record at Soma. Neil Strauch engineered these sessions, having worked with Jocelyn on previous releases, they communicate well and Neil has a firm understanding of Jocelyn’s process. Then we tirelessly went over the mix, working on it for a couple months with Sanford Parker. Once we felt we had accomplished our goal we had a long talk with our mastering engineer and lacquer cutter to make sure we maintained the dynamic and frequency range we worked so hard to capture. We had to sacrifice some volume to achieve this but feel it’s worth it.

How have you and the other members grown as people and musicians since the last album?

Deric: All of the members of the band continue to grow as musicians because we are all obsessed with music over any other thing. Jason recently got a degree in music.  

Jocelyn: I wrote songs that were vocally out of my comfort zone on a lot of the record. I have these ideas that are often greater than my range but in the studio I was able to get performances that I was happy with. I trust my writing and I’m proud of my lyrics this time around.

How was the record release party?

Deric: Stellar.

Jocelyn: Great bands, great crowd, couldn’t have gone better.

What is happening at Highwheel Records you’d like us to know about?

Julius: We are proud of the releases we’ve recently put out. Unicycle Loves You The Dead Age and My Gold Mask Leave Me Midnight are both great albums. The immediate future though is focused on some well-deserved attention to Walking Bicycles.

Will we see the band on tour in Los Angeles any time soon?

Julius: I will officially be allowed to leave the state in December. Until then we are writing new material for our next release.

Deric: God willing.

Walking Bicycles membership:
Jocelyn Summers (vocals)
Julius Moriarty (guitar) 
Jason Leather (bass) 
Deric Criss (drums)

LINKS
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Highwheel Records
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