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:




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