The Stratospheric Sounds of Race to Neptune
The Stratospheric Sounds of Race to Neptune
Fort Collins-based collective Race to Neptune present their own exhilarating take on alternative psych rock. And with the unveiling of The Dead Sea Sounds, Race To Neptune is sure to enrapture music fans well beyond their Rocky Mountain home state. Consisting of Brian Maier (vocals/guitar), Zach Berger (guitar), Matt McNear (bass), and Matt Petersen (drums), Race to Neptune present sonic entreaties that will set the imagination in flight. Highwire Daze recently caught up with the Race to Neptune brigade to find out more about this stratospheric band on the rise. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Race to Neptune, and how long the band has been together?
The four of us have been a band for about 5-6 years. Zach and Brian have been playing guitar and writing together for the last 8 years, but when Matt Petersen (drums) and Matt McNear (bass) joined elevated everything to the highest level. Musically, we understand each other, try every idea that is brought to the table, while constantly challenging ourselves to write to the best of our ability. The Dead Sea Sounds is a culmination of our group effort, which we believe can be heard based on the quality, diversity, and intricacy of the songs on this record.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We are based out of Fort Collins, CO where the local music and arts scene is so alive, eclectic, and very supportive. There are a lot of genres in the mix and even with our region being fairly partial towards bluegrass, jam music, or folk artists; on a given weekend you can still go out and catch a heavy rock show on Friday, a psychedelic show on Saturday, and a metal show on Sunday, and see people from each nook out supporting the others. It’s a fun, open, and welcoming community that we are grateful to be a part of.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title The Dead Sea Sounds?
The concept came from a loose idea and a play on words “the dead see sounds.” This started with a few songs, musically and lyrically, which evolved into overall themes of isolation, fear, the unknown, hope, death, and rebirth. The Dead Sea has healing powers, as does music, so it made sense to turn this into an abstract and open concept for an album, while still being relatable and accessible to the listener.
Select two songs from The Dead Sea Sounds and what inspired the lyrics.
Let’s start with the title track, “The Dead Sea Sounds (Part I)”. This is about being stranded at sea, capsizing, drowning, and being reborn. It captures the overall theme of the record with vivid lyrical imagery accompanied by a musically Pink Floyd inspired long, psychedelic, heavy hitting climax.
Another track that we hold pretty close lyrically is “Carry Me Love.” One of Brian and Matt P’s favorite writers is Chuck Palahniuk and the lyrics in “Carry Me Love” are directly inspired by his book, Diary. The book takes place along the northeastern coast and while Brian had written the song before The Dead Sea Sounds started to develop, the references in his lyrics matched up so well with the album’s overarching themes. We hope there’s a few Palanhiuk fans out there that can appreciate it. Maybe one day it’ll be made into a movie and be part of the soundtrack, fingers crossed!
Who produced The Dead Sea Sounds and what did they contribute to the overall recording process?
Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop recorded, mixed, and mastered this album at their beautiful mountain studio in Evergreen, CO, The Spot Studios. They pushed us musically and vocally, while helping and contributing to a lot of this record while allowing us to sound like us. It’s both raw and polished, which truly captured our sound, tone, veracity and emotion. A couple examples include Rich putting the vocal effect on “Morning Tide”, and Glenn recording Brian’s lead guitar in the open basement to allow the natural feedback on a couple songs.
What could one expect from a live Race to Neptune show?
We put a lot of thought into the flow of our live shows and have songs you can headbang and rock out, dance, slow down and sway to, while being encapsulated by the diversity of our music. The audience can expect a dynamic, lively, in your face, unapologetic rock show. There is something for everyone, and that comes from our musical backgrounds and how we mesh our influences.
Your recent show with Attack on Venus represented at least two of the planets in our known solar system today. How did the show go, and was it a coincidence that two bands named after planets were on the same show?
Oh man. First of all we love Attack on Venus, those guys have been playing around Fort Collins for a while. They also play a pretty abrasive and purposeful style of heavy alternative rock, so we compliment each other well on a bill. We first played with them in 2018 at a place called Surfside 7 which is this perfectly divy, punk rock spot of a bar and local venue that serves killer shows, massive slices of pizza, and Malort.
What was it like opening for Sebadoh, and did you meet or hang out with the band at all?
It was awesome!! We talked to Lou Barlow a little bit and he dug our sound, which was a huge compliment! I think he called us Neptune Rising when he introduced us during their set which we still get a kick out of. Overall it was a great experience playing with them at Globe Hall in Denver.
If Race to Neptune could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
This may depend on who you ask in the band….most definitely The Smashing Pumpkins, Modest Mouse, Dinosaur Jr, Broken Social Scene, WEEN, Foo Fighters, The Pixies, Queens of the Stone Age, this list can go on longer than a road circling the earth. All of us love so many different bands and styles of music.
What bands or projects were you involved with prior to joining Race to Neptune?
Not many! Race to Neptune is Zach and Matt McNears first band. Brian started playing in different projects when he moved to CO to attend Western Colorado University. Matt Petersen played with a band in his high school years for a little while and then more seriously when he was going to school at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL.
Are you currently involved with any other bands or projects outside of Race to Neptune?
There are not any other projects going, we do jam with others occasionally, but we have 99% of our eggs in this basket. We may contribute to our friends’ recordings here and there, sit in on a show, but currently there aren’t any other side projects or releases on the table.
What’s up next for Race to Neptune?
We are so happy that The Dead Sea Sounds is out and that people can truly hear us in our true form. We plan to start making our way down to Denver again and would love to bring our music to more of Colorado. In the meantime, we are always writing and already have a handful of songs in the works that we’re excited about.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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