Sunday, November 01, 2020

 

Interview with Go Analog

With the release of their new EP Moonlight Gram, Ohio's Go Analog has come up with an outstanding effort that has quickly become one of my favorite releases of the year.  Here's an email chat I recently had with frontman and guitarist Eric Croft.

Can you give me a quick background on the band's history?

Eric Croft: vocals/guitar, Keith Kemmerer: guitar/vocals, Michael Osborne: bass, and James Watson: drums.  

Well, Go Analog has existed throughout the 2010’s.  We all grew up less than 15 or so miles from each other but started playing together at different stages in our life. Michael and I went to the same high school, but didn’t play music together until our 20s.  Michael’s bass lines really evolved and stand out on this record. Jim was in one of the earliest formations of the band, and came back for round two right before we decided to make this record.  Jim’s parts have always been the right fit for us. Keith and I have been doing this together since the beginning. 

Basically, we have had a couple of highs, a few lows, and long stretches of being latent. More than anything else we just like creating together. In all honesty, we are horrible with self-promotion, which we realize is a necessary part of this industry, so we appreciate you setting up this interview.

How does your songwriting process tend to work?

When we began writing this record we started clean and without a template.  It was winter and we hadn’t sat down to write together in a serious manner for close to a year. Many of the melodies and progressions were written over 5-10 sessions in an upstairs bedroom in rural Ohio. Acoustic guitars, a rickety drum set, and a keyboard were our tools. I think you can feel that atmosphere in parts of the record.

The lyrics started in stream of conscious form just as a way to give the melodies life.  The feel of a word or phrase in a melody can be just as important as the content. Once I would sing a phrase that connected to one of us we’d then build on that foundation to create the story. The songs titles come from those stream of consciousness phrases that guided the rest of the lyrics.

You worked with producer Eddie Ashworth who has worked with a diverse array of big name artists over the years.  How was it working with him?

It was our first time working with him and we were all terribly impressed by his skill, composure, and musical ear. It felt very natural for us to be there in that space, which is something that can be excruciatingly difficult to create.  It was just a positive vibe that made it fun to create. While his influence is definitely on the record, he did it in a subtle manner. The album took about 5 full days of recording to finish. Without the atmosphere he created these songs might still be stuck in that upstairs bedroom in rural Ohio. 

I can hear some similarities to the sound on your first EP and Moonlight Gram, but I definitely hear a band that has matured and to me the new EP has a smoother sound with a bit more of a retro vibe (although “Time Wasted” on the debut definitely sounds closer to what I hear on Moonlight Gram).  How do you feel your sound and lyrics have evolved from the debut to now?

As I mentioned, the lyrics started in stream of conscious form just as a way to
give the melodies life, and we build the story around a phrase that sticks.  In the past I feel I tried to force too much into the lines, which sacrificed some of the natural flow. So I feel we stripped down the lyrics as much as possible on Moonlight. 

Musically, we really didn’t write with any sort of agenda or template in mind.  Maybe that is to our peril haha.  But we just kept the songs we felt were good songs, regardless of what genre, or box, they fit in.  We probably had a dozen or so more songs that we decided to shelve. It was all pretty natural, and we were all in agreement on what made the final cut. 

“Oh My” is one song that definitely stands out with a darker, much heavier edge than the rest.  What can you tell me about that song?

I agree. I think it’s the most somber sounding and heaviest song on the record.  I remember that one started with Keith bringing the riff to us, so it is very guitar driven. While the lyrics are pretty heavy as well, they come from a positive place of self-reflection, and trying not fall into predictable patterns.

To me there is a real diversity amongst the tracks while still maintaining a familiar sound throughout.  Would you agree to that?

I would- for better or worse we do have a sound, and although it has changed throughout the years it is still us. I really don’t think anyone else on the indie scene sounds like us. It’s pretty apparent that we are not chasing a new, popular sound, but we are just happily writing songs the way we know how to do that. The type of comments we get from fans about how they relate to our sound is all over the map, which I think is pretty neat.   

Is there a connection to the album title and the baseball player, doctor and Field Of Dreams character Moonlight Graham?

It’s phonetically very pleasing to me- Moonlight Gram. To me it has a “cellar door” quality. Like with lyrics, I think the sound is important. But yeah, Moonlight was a guy that was so close to achieving his boyhood dream, but was at peace with how his life turned out and was at peace with not quite getting there. It goes against the “follow your dreams, and you will achieve it” mentality most millennials were raised upon, which is just a ridiculously high standard for measuring success. 

There are also themes of struggle, addiction and temptation on this record that plays into the title as well. 

I saw a video on youtube of one of your performances from 2015 and there are four really good songs (“Black and Red", “I’ll Be Waiting", “Stay" and  “Ballroom Dancer") that you performed that aren’t on your debut or the new EP.  From some of the things I have read it sounds like there was another release in the works a few years back that I’m assuming was never released.  What took so long between releases and are any of these available anywhere and if not, do you think any of these will ever show up?

You went into the deep catalogue. Thank you.  We had a limited release of "Black and Red" and "Ballroom Dancer" long ago when Jim was in his first run with the band.  They didn’t work as well without him. I still think they are really fun songs and we plan on putting them into our live show from time to time. 

What kind of impact has the pandemic had on the band?

We took off the winter to finish this record, so we haven’t played a live show in front of people yet in 2020.  Pretty crazy. Like most people, we took March through about June off without doing much of anything musically. Just existing.

But it hasn’t all been bad- we have spent the last 2 months trying these songs in an acoustic format for smaller venues where social distancing can be achieved. That’s been fun, and I think they sound really good in the type of atmosphere.

What’s next for the band now that the EP has just been released?

We go back into hiding for another few years, of course. No, we are so happy to offer our first vinyl run to people. Hopefully, full band shows once that becomes a thing again, and some smaller acoustic sets in between. Keith and I have been having a weekly writing session the past 2 months that has gone really well, so hopefully we won’t have to wait as long for a follow-up album.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

Thank you so much for listening, and we would love to hear from you on the socials or with our email: goanalogband@gmail.com.



Monday, September 28, 2020

 Interview with Mad Nona

After forming in late 2019, Mad Nona spent time during the pandemic putting together their self-titled debut.  I recently emailed with them about their new release as well as being a band in Iceland, dealing with the pandemic and more.  (note - the band’s native language is Icelandic and the interview is printed in their own words with a few tweaks from me)


Can you give me a bit of a band background? 

Located in Reykjavik, Iceland heavily influenced by the infamous Seattle sound, the tasty riffs of blues-rock and the headbanging effect of metal, Mad Nona have been working on creating their own material. Powered by aggressive riffs, energetic vocals and powerhouse drum style Mad Nona, hit their own envisioned sound which takes you for a ride, followed with words which many can relate to. Although Mad Nona is just a toddler in a sense only formed late 2019, by local boy Arnar and UK born Thor, they had known each other for over 10 years. The pair admitted that they had not yet done shit with their musical gift and decided to team up and record an album, which they did. During Covid19, whilst that son of a b***h virus pandemic was causing lock-downs, jeopardizing everyone's health and threatening lives, the two stayed home at Fitzgerald's place. In his hallway they bounced some old riff ideas of each other, wrote new ones and slowly progressed their delicious tasty style. When they knew they had material which was not for just anyone to kick the beat to, the pair reached out to drummer Kristjan B. (artist at both Pearl and Paiste), after having his name repeatedly being brought up to their attention. Accompanied with Kristjan's stellar groove they were able to push their boundaries by twirling heavy rock towards the rhythm of blues only to top it off with the perfect amount of metal twist. With their heart and soul input, out-of-the-box song structure and audacious lyric composition they are sure they have something new and exciting to offer the modern music scene. Thor, our guitarist is a really blues orientated guitar player and he has taken a lot from the likes of Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton. Despite his bluesy heart Thor has always been a fan of groovy rock though. Arnar also has been blues-rock orientated liking the great Zeppelin a lot but the person who has influenced him the most is Chris Cornell. Chris´s songwriting and voice skills are something Arnar has dreamed of getting close to. Mad Nona´s powerhouse drum machine Kristjan B., is what you call a musical fanatic, loving a wide variety of genres but his admiration of metal has made him a first class metalhead. Also, Kristjan has been playing guitar for a long-time which kind of describes his love for music, he wants to do it all.   

Arnar (lead vocals/guitar) and Thor (lead guitar/vocals) met ages ago but it was only through a mutual friend that this journey started a year ago. This mutual friend approached Arnar at a bar while he was performing shitty cover songs for drunk ass people and just shouted at him: "What the hell are you doing here bro, you are wasting your goddamn vocal talent for drunk people at a pub, let's rock brother" he said. Both Arnar and Thor have been paying the bills by playing at the pubs and all that stuff but they have always wanted to create, record and share their musical gift. At that time Arnar and Thor both realized that they should give this career a chance and decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, the mutual friend as the bassist had to withdraw from the band due to personal reasons but Arnar and Thor kept on going. The pair then met Kristjan when the first Covid wave had cooled down a bit here in Iceland. We were impressed with his skills and ambition and just knew that this long hair tall dude was the one we were looking for. We have been playing together for almost 5 months now but before the launch of the band we all had been a part of the Icelandic underground rock scene for many years. Even more so Kristjan, our beloved drummer even played with Skálmöld, one of Iceland's most well-known metal bands in the summer of 2014 while their drummer, Jon Geir was recovering from surgery. Currently we are working on promoting our self-titled debut album and we will keep on going after that. Now it's time to give it all we can. 
 
I really like the diversity of your release.  There's a definite bluesy rock element throughout, and I hear a vibe in alot of the songs that reminds me of bands like Skid Row, Tesla and Motley Crue, but then “Cul de Sac” sounds alot like Alice In Chains.  Is that diversity something you strive for in your sound?   

Well, all of us like a wide variety of genres, which have influenced us all, and grunge is a heavy factor in that equation as well as blues and metal, so when we were strumming our acoustic guitars one night and this song partially popped up, we knew we had something to work with. The whole album was written with what sounded right to us as our guiding light and though we were not thinking about diversity too much to say the truth that song really just sounded right to us. But of course, as we were working on the song, we realized that we had a song that was a bit more relaxed so of course we wanted to showcase our softer side if we can put it like that. This album was a work of finding our sound so we guess people can expect some more grunge sounding tunes in the future. 

How does your songwriting process tend to work? 

Well we are going to take you through our debut album songwriting process. So, our songwriting is something we have been experimenting with since late 2019 and though our album contains 9 songs, we wrote almost 20 in 6 months' time, so we had to find our sound through trying out different things. While we were writing the songs for this album, we decided that we would not follow the so-called song-structure, instead we wanted to do what sounded right to our ears. As a result, some songs don't have a preferred verse, chorus or pre-chorus, it was the feeling and flow that led the songwriting way. As you might notice a few of our songs contain a lot of anger, well that is the result of both tragic events and past experiences as well as state of mind feelings. While recording the songs we used a drum kit software to kind of get the rhythm in shape but when Kristjan put his stellar groove into our songs, the songs just got lifted to a higher class and just to give an example he drummed "Paranoia" in a way that we had never thought of and the way he used the snare and the kick in that song just blew us away. So, it all sticks together although the songs had been written before Kristjan joined in but we believe the ratio of drums importance is 50% of all rock songs and he did an amazing job creating the beat.

Do you feel being from Iceland has impacted your music? 

Well maybe in a sense. Being from Iceland in the era of grunge as young boys and having all the different rock genres played to our ears at our house ever since we were toddlers has impacted us a lot. Iceland at the time and honestly still today had only a few selections of radio stations, so what we grew up with and heard on the radio we fell in love with and that was at large scale the American rock'n'roll. So, it would be the isolation of our nation that led to us liking the kind of music we like. Also, the Icelandic underground rock scene has always been a strong one here in Iceland although it has never quite overachieved the mainstream and we have never really liked the mainstream so we have always been a part of that underground group. Therefore, being an Icelandic teenager isolated from the big world has definitely colored our view on music.

How is the music scene in Iceland and have you had an easy time finding your place in it? 

The Icelandic music scene is admirably various and I would guess that compared to our population we have the highest tally of musicians in the world. We have been sticking with our style and we know what kind of music we want to create and so far, we have only heard good things about our stuff and we think we have found our place, but of course we want to share our music with the world and hopefully our debut album will unite some folks who like this kind of rock and we can work from there. Interestingly though when it comes to bands in the underground rock scene there really are not a lot of great venues to play here in Iceland. I would guess maybe 5 good ones but compared to the outer world we don´t have too much to work with. We take what we get, but in recent years some of our greatest and largest venues have been shut down. Despite that the Icelandic underground rock scene always seems to flourish due to the dedication of our fellow musicians, they don't care about the size of the venues. For instance, when Iceland Airwaves is held some bands play in book stores and even hotel lobbies. I think it’s the Icelandic way, we always keep on going.

You mention in your bio that you are dads.  How has that impacted your music and what do your kids think about it? 

Well, our kids are singing the songs right before they go to bed and in the car on the way to kindergarten so they have heard it quite often, and sometimes they ask us to play a certain song so the recording process has colored them and we now have a bunch of rock babies. Well, being fathers means that we have to make sure about the house´s income as well as serving our duties as role models and being there for them, so we really have had to orchestrate our time for rock a lot and it's not always easy. Even when we released the album, which was a time for a cold one both Arnar and Thor were trying to network with the kids barking up their throats for attention while Kristjan was doing the same on the road.

You have a really good acoustic cover of Motley Crue’s “Live Wire” up on bandcamp.  Do you think we might see more covers down the road or maybe acoustic versions of some of your songs? 

If there's anything we love besides groovy rock/blues/metal/grunge it's the beauty of acoustic guitar, so we will definitely work on a few of those in the future!  Having been inspired a lot by the infamous grunge scene we will surely be looking to do one of those shows like Chains and Nirvana did. Who doesn’t remember Nirvana: MTV unplugged! Man, we would love something like that. 

I know your vocalist Arnar recently tested positive for Covid-19.  Hopefully he’s doing ok.  Besides his illness has the pandemic had any impact on the band? 

Arnar is recovering quite well and actually, Covid was one of the main reasons we went ahead and made this album. You see, if not for Covid then the pair probably wouldn't have been able to find their style and record this album so fast. During the Covid pandemic we stayed at Fitzgeralds place, progressed our style, wrote some riffs and also took what had been in our mind for a long time. Songs like “Rock'n'roll” and “Tornado Jane” were just collecting dust in our bedroom drawers, and were taken out, adjusted a bit and recorded. Meanwhile “King of the Hill” and “Cul de Sac” were just a single riff idea. The others came with weeks and months of working on our style. So, although the Covid pandemic has been a thing nobody could have wished for, it kind of got us to start doing what we love and what we are good at!  Regarding release plans we have not been able to share our music due to the Covid pandemic yet but we simply can't wait. On the other hand, it means we have to do as much as we can online and try to reach out with our music and personality. We will be looking for ways to create videos in the upcoming weeks, but this era we live in requires a lot of innovative thinking ways in trying to connect our music with future listeners and fans. It won't be a long time till we release our first single for our next album that's for sure. We want to create more and more for ourselves and our fellow citizens of the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers? 

Please, above all in life; music, work or whatsoever do stay safe during this pandemic and take it very seriously because we know by experience this virus is one hell of a bastard. Also, stay true to who you are and try doing the most of what you love to do because otherwise our lives will just be a dull one and meaningless. Thirdly, if anything bad happens in your life, don't let it beat you, get back on your feet and carry on! Don´t be a victim, be a survivor! Lastly, follow us on Spotify because we are only beginning giving you guys some serious rock'n'roll!
     


Monday, September 21, 2020

Dead Low - "Listen Up" 


Massachusetts has a long line of classic punk / hardcore bands and now with the release of their debut 4-cut EP “Listen Up!”, the Cape Cod trio Dead Low has taken the first step towards adding themselves to that list.  Meshing high energy punk with tasty rock guitar licks and hardcore choruses they have come up with a refreshing sound that manages to come across as familiar, but also sets them apart from the pack.


Thursday, September 03, 2020

Interview with The Velvicks

The New York (by way of Brazil) four-piece The Velvicks recently released their outstanding debut EP Run.  I recently emailed with guitarist/vocalist Vick Nader about the new EP, going back and forth from Brazil and Miami in his youth, the future plans for the band and more.


Can you give me a bit of a band history?

It’s 2017 and Vinny (guitar), Ed (drums), Apoena (bass) and myself, four dudes with different backgrounds sharing similar appreciation for rock music find themselves in a perfect condition to start a band: time to spare, a home studio in the basement and rock n roll parties on daily basis. Hanging out at Ed’s was the key factor which allowed us to come together as a band. At one of those gatherings we were spotted by a booking agent who dropped a card and a few months later we debuted at Irving Plaza.

Can you tell me about the “Monroe Mansion”?

Not without jeopardizing my immigration status (haha). Jokes aside Monroe Mansion was the birthplace of the band. It was a very special place in a very special time of our lives. It even inspired us to write a song that sums up what it meant to us. It says: 

-Babe, take me down 

-Where?

-To the Monroe Mansion

-Why?

-To release my tension

-With who?

-With my fellow pagans

-When?

-Right now!’

How does your songwriting process tend to work?

I usually have a seed that comes followed by lyrics. I share it with the band and we all build the tune from the ground up. We discuss structure, arrangement and production together till we stand in a common ground where we all feel happy about it. It sounds more complicated than it really is or they make it simpler than it actually is. The point is we get there very quickly haha. It’s a group of very talented guys who all have years of devotion to music. In the end of the day it’s Rock n Roll. No one here is trying to reinvent the wheel. 

All of you are from Brazil, but I know you went back and forth from Brazil to Miami throughout your youth.  Do you think that traveling had any impact on your music?

100%. Music was what shielded me from the harsh adaptation between two very different worlds. A small rural town in the middle of Brazil and Miami, a city hard to define let alone for a 7 y.o. On the other hand I was exposed to music that was years ahead of my local friends on both sides of the map, internet wasn’t a thing yet in the early 90’s. 

I listened to some of your older songs and the songs on the EP are a lot heavier and more aggressive than the ones I heard. Was that a conscious change or just a natural evolution?

We did choose to come out to the world as full on rock band. Even those quieter songs, on stage were getting more distorted and more aggressive. So to be fair with your train of thought, I’d say it was a natural evolution that paved our way to how the EP sounds. Regardless of the rock n roll esthetics of ‘Run’, our musical range is pretty vast and we plan to share that side of us with our fans in the near future. 

You spent several years playing shows all over the country before releasing your EP.  Did all those live shows have an impact on how the songs finally turned out? 

Super yes haha. There were long periods of time that we were no longer rehearsing. We had so many shows one after the other that we started messing up with the songs on stage to fuck with each other. We developed an internal vocal signal that regroups us a couple bars before we transition from instrumental/solo parts to the next section of the song, allowing us to jam and extend a song to whatever length we judged adequate at the time. We matured the songs on stage before recording them. That made us a very strong live act. 

To me the explosive sound of “Jones" kind of stands out from the other songs, especially when it slows down with the fuzzed out guitars (which I love).  Can you tell me about that?

Jones’ is fearless. A ballsy song that was never meant to please anyone. The guitars are visceral while the kick drum simulates a heart beat. One of the band’s favorite tune and there is rarely a live show that we don't add it to the setlist. Lyric wise it is our own version of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". A little more aggressive, less dramatic and with alcohol breath we usually. It’s about a person who lost it, who didn’t manage to hold it together but nevertheless had an inspiring and ambitious soul.

I love that you wrote the song “LDNYC” as a tribute to the first responders.  Can you tell me a little more about that?

While us artists are the first layer of the industry to discontinue working at a pandemic outbreak, the first responders become instantly the core piece of the puzzle to not only treat the ones infected but to also help secure the others from getting sick. Where I come from whoever walks towards the beast when everyone else is running towards the other direction deserves a homage. When I sing ‘Spring hasn’t sprung to me’ I say it from the prospective of a first responder who isn’t being able to see the Sun in days due to work. Risking his/her life on top of it. 

You turned down four labels and self-released the EP instead.  Why did you decide not to go that route?

I didn’t think they would have injected the amount of energy necessary to push the band to match up with the push we were doing on our end. It’s our first album, we have no history therefore no bargain to negotiate with a record label. We believe we can generate a buzz ourselves with this first album and see where it goes before kicking off owning only 50% of our masters. We would’ve toured extensively through North and South America in 2020. Our world domination plan (haha) wasn’t very far off if it wasn’t for covid. 

I read something that mentioned the song “LA” and it said it was going to be on the EP.  What happened there?

LA is one of our strongest tunes and fans favorite, like “Old Mistakes”. We decided to postpone those releases for the full length album. We were certain about releasing a 4 songs EP but then ‘LDNYC’ was made weeks before the album release. The timing and relevance of this song spoke louder than our 4 songs EP plan. In order to level it with the other tunes was challenging cause ‘LDNYC’ was produced, recorded, mix and mastered remotely and from home, but Ed managed to reach a very similar texture and successfully converged it to the unity of the EP.   

I saw something that mentioned an EP you were working on called “Red Heads”.  Was that ever put together and just never released or did it never get that far?

It was an alternative name for ‘Run’ that got too far noticed out there before properly addressed and modified. 

As long as you’ve been together I would imagine you have a pretty decent catalogue of songs built up.  Any reason to limit your debut to a 5 song EP and do you think we will be getting more soon?

Yes sir, we do have over 2 full lengths mastered and ready to put out. I prophetically hinted why we released 5 songs when you asked me about the record deals. We believe that releasing an EP as an independent artist first is a good step towards building the team and the brand of self sustained entities. That gives us a better position if/when we get approached again by any music executive.   

I know you had alot of shows scheduled around the EP being released.  What has the band been doing during the pandemic since you weren’t able to play live?

We actually have managed to stay pretty busy in order to stay mentally healthy. We recorded 4 originals and a cover song, we recorded 2 music videos and working on a third one, we collaborated with Leesta Vall Records on a Direct-to-Vinyl session and recorded 21 vinyls, a photoshoot, PR campaign, a couple live streams here and there, updated our website and we’re pressing some CD’s for a radio campaign starting later this month. We were just invited today by iVoted Concerts to perform Nov 3rd to support voter turnout. We are staying busy luckily. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

We are heading to some troubled waters this winter. Stay positive and believe in science. Try to fill in the gap between left and right first and foremost by not labeling yourself as neither. I know it sounds weird when it shouldn’t, but empathy and respect are the first steps to a more social and gender just society. 

Don’t be strangers. Feel free to reach out to us anytime. We try to be as responsive as possible. Bear hugs and long live Rock n Roll. 

(thevelvicks.com)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


Interview with Same Gods


I recently had the opportunity to do an email interview with Same Gods drummer and producer Steve Sopchak.  We discussed their recently released album Worried Eyes, their influences, the recording process and alot more.


How did the four of you get together to form the band?

Steve: Brendon [guitar] was living above the recording studio where I work and had passed me a couple demos to see if I was interested in drumming for the project. I loved the tracks and we started rehearsing in my studio at night after other sessions wrapped. When we were looking to formalize the project, we decided to reach out to friends of ours whose music we loved to round out the lineup, and so Jon [vocals] and Shane [bass] were obvious first choices.

How does the songwriting tend to work?

Steve: Brendon will usually come up with a guitar-only skeleton for a song and I will then typically lay down some drum ideas, making edits to that skeleton if necessary. We then pass that demo to Jon and Shane, who come up with their respective parts. Once we have a working demo of that fashion, we all get in a room together and play the stuff to make sure it hits the way we intended, modifying as needed based on the energy we’re getting from it in the moment.

Your bio says the album is "A love letter to 90’s alternative rock and post hardcore written with an evolved sensibility”.  Having spent my mid-20's to mid-30's listening to all of those bands, I agree that is a very apt description.  What is it about that era that means so much to the band and are there any specific bands from that time that were especially influential? 

Steve: Personally, I feel like it was a time when music and technology converged in a very meaningful way, in that there was enough technological capability to really pursue complex musical ideas and production aesthetics without the technology dominating the process and becoming the sound itself. Beyond that, I think we collectively share a natural affinity for this era because it is when we started paying attention to music in a deeper way and it was also the time period that spawned many of the artists that inspired each of us to want to start getting involved in music as creators. We’ve all explored countless musical paths outside of this era in the time since, but it has been super fun and really satisfying to revisit this era and attempt to put our own spin on it, as it was central to all of us in terms of our desire to play music in the first place.

As far as specific bands from that time period that we love in general, the list is massive, and probably unique to each individual in the band. That said, bands like Helmet, Failure, Handsome, Soundgarden, Quicksand, Shiner, and a host of others were really influential to this particular project.

To me the overall sound is a mixture of aggression with a strong melodic side, but there is also an atmospheric element to a lot of tracks.  Would you agree with that?

Steve: Yeah, totally. I think we wanted the sound to be really dark and heavy, but not senselessly so. We felt that there needed to be contrast in the music, which is why some of the more textural elements and bold melodic choices were incorporated. It was important to us to establish an identity that was our own, and each of those elements are things we hoped would contribute to that.

I love the guitar that opens “In Circles".  Can you tell me about that?

Steve: On Brendon’s demo, he had that single guitar riff opening the song, which we always just thought sounded cool and it wasn’t considered much beyond that while we were writing. During the recording of our album we realized we never explored any ideas to make the opening more interesting, so we just started throwing effects at it. We were fully prepared to leave it bare as it was but we ended up landing on a strange mixture of processing that we thought sounded neat in the sense that it felt like the guitar was spinning, and given the track title it all made sense. 

You close the album with the title track which really stands apart with a darker, less aggressive sound.  Can you tell me a little about that song?

Steve: The title “Worried Eyes” comes from a  passage in John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” where he talks about the fancy, hollow people in fine cars passing the broken dust bowl migrants on the highway to California. Jon was revisiting Steinbeck while we were working on this album and it definitely seeped into the lyrics. Musically, this song takes its time developing and getting to its most aggressive sections. We didn’t really approach it with a different mindset when writing it, it just happened to turn out this way.

I read when it came to the recording process you had a lot of freedom and flexibility. Can you elaborate on that and how it affected the end result? 

Steve: I own a recording studio that operates in the same building as two other studios and all of the engineers are great friends. We basically had access to all three studios, all of the collective gear, and as much time as we wanted because of our relationship to the space. It was awesome because we never felt rushed, we always chased every little thing that we thought could help the record feel more unique, and we had the freedom to explore different signal chains that we otherwise never would have tried. It was awesome to be able to mix the record on an analog console with tons of cool outboard gear, as these days that work flow has fallen out of favor for logistical reasons.

You’ve recorded a lot of well known bands, including Ice Kills Nine and Motionless In White.  How is it recording your own band as opposed to other bands where you aren’t a member?

Steve: I think the main difference is that when I work with other artists, I am fully dedicated to being an engineer/producer and can be super objective about the decisions I make. I’m able to readily assess what is happening in the studio as it relates to an artist’s stated or implied goals. With Same Gods, where I was part of the band making the album, it got a little trickier to do that because a lot of the time I was in musician-mode as well as producer-mode. Honestly though, that was kind of the fun of it as well, as I knew that with each decision we only had ourselves to please.

Is it true the band name came from a John Prine song?

Steve: Yes, the song is called “Pretty Good.” In it, John Prine sings, “I heard Allah and Buddha were singing at the Savior’s feast, And up the sky an Arabian rabbi fed Quaker oats to a priest. Pretty good, not bad, they can’t complain. Cause actually all them gods are just about the same.”

Are any of you currently working with any other bands?

Steve: Brendon has a project called “Diagonal Path,” which features the world-class drumming of Leprous drummer Baard Kolstad. Jon plays in “Difficult” and “The Apparition Orchestra.” Shane has a solo project called “Unmake Me“ that will have a record out soon, and I am playing in a new project called “Faster Horses” with NYC-based singer/songwriter Kate Ellen Dean.

What kind of future plans does the band have?

Steve: We’ve got a new single in the works for later this year, and we are also planning to do a release with re-imagined versions of a few of the tracks on “Worried Eyes” that will include some interesting guest features. We’re super thankful for and appreciative of the overwhelmingly positive response to “Worried Eyes” so far, and it has been super encouraging to us as we continue to create.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

Steve: Thanks so much for having us! If anyone reading enjoys our music, you can follow us on the following platforms:


Facebook: www.facebook.com/samegods/

Twitter: twitter.com/samegodsband

YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCGzbNkKTaGpEyIqKQe8WgEg




Monday, August 24, 2020



Interview with Redeye Caravan

Greek band Redeye Caravan recently released their outstanding debut "dark country" album Nostrum Remedium.  I had the chance to talk to them through email about the album, the music scene in Greece and more.  

Can you give me a quick rundown of the band’s history?

Hi and thanks for having us! The story of the Caravan goes way back, before it became what it is today and that’s because most of us knew each other and also played together (and continue to) in other projects as well! So, friendship was already there, the background was set and the rest is “Redeye Caravan”! The band started in the Autumn of ’18 by Akis (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Valantis (vocals, bass). The music and lyrics inspired Panos (electric, slide, acoustic guitars, keys, vocals) to come aboard and soon Eleni (vocals), Thanos (violin), Stefanos (harmonica) and Paris (drums, percussion) followed… now we all are the Caravan!

How does the songwriting process tend to work?

It usually goes like this: Akis will bring the music and vocal melody, Valantis will write the lyrics inspired by it and Panos will continue with the orchestration so that the rest of the band can provide their best to bring out the atmosphere of each song. It’s not the “golden recipe” but it works great for us!

The band is referred to as “dark country”, but I noticed you had a track on a compilation of metal bands and there have been metal publications reviewing the CD.  I think there is a vibe to your sound that could appeal to metal fans.  What is your take on that?

Dark Country as a title is describing a huge aspect of our music and lyrics. We don’t care much for labels, as we think that music is one, but at the same time any band should somehow state a genre at least. Our music has its roots to blues, rock and - of course - country music with a dark twist regarding the lyrics. As an essence, though, it can surely appeal to a much bigger crowd, since it’s also atmospheric, cinematic and played by heart! That being said, it is only natural to appear in a lot of rock and metal webzines!   

I also hear a little Ennio Morricone “spaghetti western” feel to your music at times.  Would you agree?

There’s no argument here, haha! One of our beloved composers could not be absent as an influence in our music.

There are a lot of sound effects throughout the CD along with things like handclaps and stomping that really give the music a very visual sound.  Could you tell me a little about that?

To “visualize” our music like that was on our minds since the beginning! We always like to transfer the listener as close as it gets to our stories and this seemed like an one way street to do so. It kind of makes things a little more real and we love the feeling!

There are alot of images of and references to death.  Is there an underlying theme or concept to the CD?

The truth is that death is making (or is about to make) an appearance on each
and every one of our songs in one way or another, so, yeah, we suppose that there’s something like a theme there going on, haha! No connection between the songs though and thus “Nostrum Remedium” is not a concept album.

There’s a short piano instrumental called “Celebration” that closes the CD perfectly, but it’s listed as a bonus track.  Why didn’t you just include it everywhere as the last song?

“Celebration” is a great closer for the full experience of our album and we wanted to “reward” the fans who downloaded the whole LP or purchased the CD with it! That’s why we decided to keep it as a bonus material.

I didn’t see any mention of live shows on the internet and couldn’t find any live videos.  Have you played live and if so, how easy is it to get the sound of the CD to translate over to live performances?

The coronavirus and the lockdown happened right before we could present our album live. We worked hard for the compositions and the recordings and we were just about to share it with the fans, so when this is all over - and hopefully it will be soon enough - then we’ll be ready and we’ll be sure to get really close to the CD sound!

I love the 3 videos you have released, especially the animated ones.  Can you tell me about them?

The animated ones (“El Muerto” and “Good man Richard”) were made entirely by

Panos Makoulis and he made a hell of a job! It all started as a simple idea that ended up really far from where it started, haha! “The Descent” was made by John Konstantinopoulos who beautifully brought out the darkness of the song!

Have you considered doing one for each song?

This would be great but depends entirely on Panos’ free time and he is a really busy man!

How is the music scene in Greece and how does the band fit in?

The truth is that we never got into the process of thinking like that! We do what
we love and have a great time recording and rehearsing! In Greece there are many folk and blues bands and artists that we like, admire and would like to share the stage with.

Do you have any other bands that you would consider kindred spirits and recommend to readers?

Jumberingas, Grey River & The Smoky Mountain, Small Blues Trap, Bag Of Nails, Dr Albert Flipout's One Can Band (Greece) & of course The Dead South, Graveyard Train, Colter Wall and so many other bands and artists!

Is anyone in the band involved in any other bands or music projects?

As mentioned above, we all participated in bands both together and with other musicians. Akis, Valantis and Paris play also together in “Beyond this Earth” (heavy rock / metal), Akis plays in “Sisyphean Rage” (death metal) too, while Valantis and Paris in “Peculiar Three” (hard ‘n’ heavy rock / prog). Panos plays in “Flat Out” and also as solo artist.

How has the band been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic?

Except for the no live part, it all went smoothly for all of us since we are all healthy both us and our families. As a band, we remain active since we already work on new ideas for our second album, so we won’t just let the time pass! 

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

We hope it all ends quickly so we can all safely return to all that we love - to create and share! We want to thank you for our nice conversation and wish you all good health and courage in these difficult times that we are all going through this period! 

(www.facebook.com/redeyecaravan)

      

Tuesday, August 18, 2020



Interview with The Selenites

With their debut release, Moon Madness, Austria’s The Selenites have come up with an outstanding disc that throws together everything from rockabilly and 50s/60s rock to surf and garage rock.  I recently talked to them through email about the new disc (released on August 14), the band, the impact of the coronavirus and more.  (note - the band’s native language is German and the interview is printed in their own words)


Can you give me a little background on the band?

The Selenites has been formed in 2018 as a new project as three piece band from Sebastian, Paul and Berni. Shortly after Thomas joined the band and they started to write their first original songs. After the first apperance in March 2019 with Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys, Berni left the band due to personal reasons. Afterwards we continued as three headed band and write and practiced like mad to create original songs. The second show found place at the Blue Danube Riot Show in November 2019 where we played beneath bands like the Drugstore Cowboys and The Go Getters. In February 2020 we went to a studio to record our first album
 
Your sound is an infectious mix of rockabilly and 50s/60s rock along with some garage and surf elements. What influenced you to go down that musical path?

We play and write the music like it's grounded in our soul. We like all this genres and like the idea of mixing it up and break the borders between it. We don't plan to do one song with this or that elements. We just let the music flow and play what we like.
 
The lyrics are all credited to Sebastian and then all three of you are credited with the music.  How does your songwriting process tend to work?

Most of the time Sebastian comes up with the idea of a guitar riff and some lyrics. Afterwards we all put in our influence and ideas and work together on the music and arrangements. Sebastian works out the complete lyrics and everyone creates different styles of his instrument. Finally we all form together to the complete song.
 
Austria is a German speaking country and I know you said on your livestream concert you are more comfortable with German, but your lyrics are in English.  Why did you choose English?

We love the idea to transfer the message of our songs to people all over the world. For sure the English language is the best choice for this idea. Beneath that for us the German language without any kind of dialectic touch is very strange and it makes more sense for us to choose the English language.
 
To me the vocals on “Keep It Up” have a Buddy Holly feel to them at times.  Was that a conscious decision to have them sound that way?

It was not in our mind to follow Buddy Holly’s feel on the vocals of this song. When we think about the biggest influence for the vocals of this song was the feel of Led Zeppelin’s “Dyer Maker”, but it was not a clear decision to let it sound that way. As said the music comes from our heart and Led Zeppelin is for sure there.
 
What’s the story behind the Spongebob inspired song “Barnacle Boy and Mermaid Man”?

Sebastian has two little boys and therefore he has to watch all episodes of Spongebob with them. This inspired him to write a song about the "Superheroes" of this show.
 
Have you heard from anyone involved with the show about that song?

No, because the song isn't released yet, but we hope that it becomes the main theme of a Spongebob spinoff of Barnacle Boy and Mermaid Man ;)
 
How is the music scene in Austria and how does your sound fit it?

The Rock'n'Roll scene in Austria is alive. Mostly the music scene is like everywhere mainstream, but there are always people which are motivated for a good Rock'n'Roll party. Regarding our sound we got positive feedback from all over the differnet scenes and genres, therefore we would say it fits very well.
 
Are there any Austrian bands you would recommend readers check out?

For sure the Tri-Gantics are a new formation which makes a fantasic sound and play a more roots and blues influenced kind of Rock'n'Roll. Also the Slapbacks are a great act and got the authentic Rockabilly vibe.
 
I really enjoyed the cover song you did from the Go Getters on the album release live stream.  Do you have any other covers in your live show?

Besides the two Go Getters songs we also cover “Radio Sweetheart” in the version of Guana Batz.
 
I know the selenites are creatures in H G Wells The First Men In The Moon and there was also an animated film called The Secret of The Selenites.  I’m assuming the name came from one of these.  Is there any story behind you choosing that as the band name?

Sorry, but honestly speaking there was no relation to the story of H G Wells of the movie at first. Sebastian comes up with that band name after he viewed some documentation about the moon in general. Also in this documentation the greek godess Selene takes places. Afterwards he searched after Selene and the moon and he finally he found the name Selenites.
 
Its definitely a strange time we’re living in.  How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the band and what are your plans once the album is released since live shows are still not happening?

When the corona situation started here in Austria we cancelled our rehearsals for more than two months and we just keep contact with video calls. As you say it is a weird time and every live show you plan can be canceled one day before it happens, but we do our best to bring our music to the people. Currently we are trying to organize some live shows, because we are on a good way in Austria and the infection rate is stable. Also in September we will be part of a 3 day Festival in Austria with some Rock'n'Roll bands from the nearby countries.
 
Do you plan on playing in the United States once things get back to normal?

For sure we would like to play in the States, but we have no concrete plans yet. Maybe when things get back to normality we will figure something out.
 
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

We want to thank everyone who likes our music and is interested to it. We hope that our album will spread all over the world, a lot of people enjoy our music and we will have the chance to bring it to them live.  Last but not least we wish everyone to stay safe and keep it up ;) 




Sunday, August 16, 2020


I Saw The Deep - Vimana 

In 2012 Darrell Laclé released his debut solo CD under the band name In The Deep.  Over the course of the eight years since then, he has added two more members to the band with drummer Domenico San Giorgi and bassist Niels Budel and they have now released a follow-up EP.  Vimana is a stellar amalgamation of heavy doom sludginess, stoner psychedelia and an everpresent underlying groove.  While there isn’t a bad cut in the bunch, the standouts tracks to me are “Villain” which has a really cool sparse technical start and then turns into what sounds like a doom version of AIC with some excellent stoner guitar work (especially Darrell’s vocals that have a strong resemblance to Layne Staley), “Titans, a more atmospheric tune that at times sounds like a super heavy Pink Floyd and my favorite “Only The Eye”. which starts with a complex 2 minute instrumental leading into a tense, very powerful heavier cut that is best described as progressive doom.  Vimana is a great “return” for this band.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait eight years the next. (www.isawthedeep.com)   


Friday, August 07, 2020



Interview with DDE's


After releasing a handful of singles, Manchester's DDE's have now released their debut EP Calm Before The Storm.  I recently had an email conversation with them about all of this, their plans for the follow-up EP's and alot more.  


Can you give me a quick band history?

Me (Dan) and John started it just under 2 years ago and I put an add out on a musician’s page and John answered the call. We had our original drummer as well (Jack) but he had to leave for family commitment reasons and so John works with our new drummer (Alex) Dad and it was a no brainer when we heard him play!

Manchester definitely has a place in music history.  How has being from there impacted the band?

I think the way we have developed our sound is the main impact. Without really meaning too we have been able to hone a sound that is quite distinctive of all the Manchester greats. It’s the way that the city “feels” as well that comes across in our music we hope as well that is the biggest influence as well.

Even though the EP is only 4 cuts there is alot of diversity.  Was that a conscious decision?

100%. I think to show your diversity as a band is what keeps people interested and keeps them listening. The whole title of the ep relates to how each track takes you on a journey from the calming and then into the storm so yeah, the tracks were purposely laid out in that fashion.

How does the songwriting process tend to work?

Its usually me (Dan) that’s come to the band with song demo’s that I have or even an idea. But it’s usually from me just noodling about and seeing what comes from that I guess. If something clicks then I’ll work on a melody with the acoustic guitar then they sort of take a shape of their own. But since Alex has joined we have been jamming in rehearsal and new tunes have just been appearing from nowhere which is a nice change

I love “Cherry Soul”, which is extremely catchy with guitar-work that screams “rock star”.  What can you tell me about that song?

That songs is about 6 years old and its gone through so many changes (sound wise) it never really hit home how good it is until Al joined really and his drumming on it takes it too another level. It just an out and out rock n roll stomper about going out and having a good time. Simple chords and a simple meaning…but live it takes your head clean off! I wanted to go for a sort of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club vibe with it and I think that we got that on this track.

“Lucy” starts off with a virtual jam session with almost the first half of the song being instrumental.  Was it always intended to be that way?

No not at all. I came to the band with the verse and chorus but we felt that it was over to quickly so the intro literally came about from us just jamming away one night in rehearsal and it sort of clicked. I love that its so diverse from beginning to end and that’s really what we go for in most of our songs.

I checked out your earlier singles and to me several of them have that “Manchester” vibe to them and then the EP opener “It’s Gonna Get Wild” does as well, but then the next two songs on the EP have alot more punch to them.  I really don’t hear much of that on the earlier singles, besides “What Are The Rules”, which by the way is an outstanding song.  Do you feel like the band is evolving more in that direction?

Definitely, I mean since we have only been together just over 2 years we have gone through a massive evolvement of our sound and now we have started leaning more towards the heavier side. It just feels more in our comfort zone in a weird way and Al loves that side of our sound more and he really comes alive when we play the heavier tunes. The follow up to Calm Before the Storm is going to knock peoples heads off as its going to be full on from start to finish. 

I heard you kinda have a plan for 2 more EP’s that are in the works.  Can you elaborate on that?

Yeah, so we have always released singles in trio’s, just felt like each set complimented one another and so we wanted to do the same with the ep’s. the next one is going be called “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and will showcase the heavier new tunes that we have been writing and then the final one is going to be called “Here Comes The Sun” and that’s going to be a much more radio friendly sort of feel. All the tracks are written and planned so we just need get studio time booked in when we can.

Before this EP you released 6 singles.  Was there any kind of plan behind starting with just singles and then releasing an EP?  Did you ever consider adding those 6 to the EP and making it a full-length release?

I always thought it would be a bit of a cop out to add them all together onto a single release
because they are already out there, you know what I mean? I just want to keep it fresh and keep releasing songs as much as possible. I've always felt that once a band release an album its like “this is the only thing your getting from us for at least 18 months” where as if you release ep’s every 4 months say it keeps things interesting and also gives the fans something to look forward to as they know another release is only a few months away.

I absolutely love the acoustic single “Talking Tel Aviv”.  The hooks on that are incredible and it’s unlike anything else you’ve released.  Where did that come from and is there more of that to come?  

So TTA came about because our producer (Liad Broyd) is from Tel Aviv and me and him became great friends and so I literally wrote in about 10 minutes. There is a line in it  that says “Don’t you worry lady there's no Monsters down them stairs” and that’s in reference to his own band “Downstairs Monsters”.  With regards to there being more like that we will have to wait and see, songs seem to just create themselves but there is a new one called “Sunshine Sally” that will be on the 3rd EP that has a TTA vibe to it.

Your earlier single “Shoot You Down” says it features Downstairs Monsters.  You mentioned that's your producer's band.  What did they contribute?

He is literally the 4th member and without him there wouldn’t be a band. He knows our sound he IS our sound and the things that he creates for us are just unbelievable. We will send him the cuts from the studio and he will work his magic and just add SO much to the tracks that it blows us away. You should go check out his band “Downstairs Monsters” they sound like if the Beatles and the Beach Boys had a child and then that kid grew up listening to The Doors….they are mega!

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the band?

Only really in the fact that we had so many gigs and festivals lined up to play and obviously that has all gone to shit now because of this horrendous pandemic! Apart from that it hasn’t really, songs are still being written and demos are still being made. Its been good that we can plan for the future and have focus on where we want the band to be heading.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

Just to keep an eye out on all of our social media @wearetheddes for info of any up coming gigs and releases!


Saturday, August 01, 2020



Kursaal Flyers - 
Little Does She Know


Little Does She Know is an outstanding 4-disc box set from the Kursaal Flyers that collects their 4 studio albums and their 1977 live album recorded at The Marquee along with a handful of non-album tracks, live tracks and previously unreleased cuts.  Although they tended to be lumped in with the Pub Rock scene thanks to their association with Dr Feelgood, the Kursaal Flyers never really quite fit into that genre.  Early on they took bits of elements from that scene and added a more country roots rock vibe with banjo and pedal steel included in their instrumentation giving them a bit more of a sound reminiscent of their European touring mates The Flying Burrito Brothers.    Starting things off on disc one are their first 2 releases Chocs Away and The Great Artiste.  While songs on the debut like “Tennessee”, “Silver Wings”, “Cross Country” and the barn burning banjo-driven “Chocs Away” really showcased the country side, other great tracks like “Pocket Money” and “Hit Records”, with it’s R&B tinged swagger, showed the more pop side to their sound.  With their sophomore effort, The Great Artiste the band focused more on the country side with outstanding tunes like “Ugly Guys”, “Cruisin’ For Love” (which should‘ve been a huge hit), the infectious, quirky bounce of ”The Great Artiste” and a cover of Nick Lowe’s “Television” (a song Lowe would release himself 3 years later).

The second disc in this box contains The Golden Mile, the band’s third album and first for CBS.  Written by the albums’s producer Mike Batt and given a very over the top orchestral production, the opening track “Little Does She Know” became the biggest song of their career and a UK Top 20 track, but is also probably one of the most un-Kursaal Flyers song as well.  With a couple exceptions, most of the rest of the album finds them sticking closer to their country-tinged sound with standouts like the stomper “Drinking Socially”, “Street Of The Music”, “One Arm Bandit” and “Ready To Go”.  Closing out the disc are three B-sides including “Revolver”, which shows a more hard driving side to the band and the unreleased “The Questionnaire”, a really pretty country ballad that thankfully has now seen the light of day.

Disc three starts off with their live album Five Live Kursaals.  Recorded at The Marquee by legendary producer Vic Maile, Five Live Kursaals showcases the band’s high energy performance opening with a hard rocking new song “Original Model” and continuing through nine more cuts that are definitely amped up a bit more than their studio versions, before closing with 3 covers - Mike Berry’s “On My Mind”, Arthur Alexander’s “Anna (Go To Him)”  and The Easybeats’ “Friday On My Mind”.  The last four songs on disc three are tracks that were recorded with Muff Winwood producing for their next album Mods and Rockers, but before the album could be finished two members left the band and the project was scrapped.  These cuts definitely saw the band heading in a much harder direction with “Television Generation” edging close to punk.

After about a decade break, the original band got back together and recorded their fourth studio album, A Former Tour De Force Is Forced To Tour, which opens up the fourth disc of this set.  With A Former... the band seems to have honed in on what they were striving for on their previous albums.  The songs here are more focused and the album is their most cohesive with a more straight-forward country-tinged rock sound full of pedal-steel and strong vocal harmonies.  Closing out the disc are some non-album tracks, a few unreleased songs and a handful of radio sessions that include a couple swinging, countrified covers of “Route 66“ and a cover of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”.

Little Does She Know is a highly recommended, all-inclusive trip through the history of this band and also includes a 24 page booklet full of pictures from the collections of a couple band members, a family tree of the band and an outstanding essay on the band written by band member and music writer Will Birch.