A Chat With: Easton Guillory

Interview, Pop, Prog, Uncategorized

Prog pop may not be the most obvious combination in the music-fusion canon but forward-thinker Easton Guillory is not putting on the brakes on his creative train. Ahead of his new EP, End of Walls, we got chatting to the man himself to find out more…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?

Tricky one. I find myself going back and forth between a classic 70s-ish prog album like Gentle Giant’s Power and Glory, Bowies Hunky Dory or literally anything by King Crimson, and a more modern vibe like Alt-J’s first two albums or a selection of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. If I really must choose I think it would have to come down to a Radiohead album, choosing between them is like making me choose between my children (cats).

At the time of first listen I’d say the album that gripped me the most was Hail to the thief. A really great balance of tricky time signatures, everchanging modulation and general proggy vibes but delivered in a manner that is approachable by your average joe and not too scary on first glance. The range of instrumentation and general soundscape between tracks I also find interesting, almost an homage to how they have developed throughout the years since Pablo, giving hints of punk rock, electronic, heavy rock, orchestral etc. Always maintaining a very clear Radiohead sound and compositional approach.

RR: How did you first discover rock music?

I was pretty late to rock music to be honest, growing up the only music that was played in our house was traditional English or Gaelic folk music which was down to my mam, she’s a mega ‘folky.’ By the time I was a teenager and finally got my first electric guitar and started receiving lessons, my teacher introduced me to the world of classic rock like Gun’s N Roses, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin etc. Although it wasn’t until I came to Leeds to study music at University that I truly found my own musical opinion and fell in love with all things proggy and weird.

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?

I think every genre has its good and bad artists, and rock is no exception, however I do genuinely feel positive about the future for rock. The rise of bands such as Black Midi and Black Country New Road is extremely exciting for noise/prog rock and rock in general as I think they are really going in their own direction and bring a sense of originality, which gets harder and harder every day.

You have Richard Dawson with his last few albums, a strange mixture of folk-esque lyrics with very proggy composition and often quite purposely harsh performance giving it the very rawest of feels. The new band The Smile is also very exciting, again using typically very proggy compositional methods like crazy time signatures and sudden modulations, but with an overlying sense of punky jazz?!? I think underground scenes in cities across UK are getting more impactful so bands with your smaller ‘cult’ followings are getting more recognition in the wider community and it’s something I personally love to see.

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?

It’s gonna have to be Radiohead. They were the band that made me seriously fall in love with music and set the foundations for my musical opinion as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, the way they can disguise very proggy and general unconventional compositional techniques within user-friendly rock music is baffling. When you see your none musician friends nodding there head along to a song in 13/8 you know something has been done right. I’m almost always surprised when I actually start to analyse a Radiohead song because it always ends up being way more complicated than it sounds.

I read somewhere recently that Radiohead were defined as ‘stealth prog’ which I just absolutely loved because it explains this entirely. Radiohead are the kings of stealth prog, and that’s why they’re my favourite band.

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?

Yes like I mentioned earlier I have hope that the growth of underground scenes and smaller cult followings will bring forward these more unconventional bands/artists and more styles of music are being accepted into the mainstream media.

RR: Progressive pop is such an interesting and unique genre label, what made you want to produce music within this sphere?

At the risk of repeating myself, the whole idea of having unconventional, proggy ideas within a nice, easy sounding package is something that really appeals to me. Being my debut EP I want it to be accepted by a wider crowd but I’m also really not one for a 1, 5, 6, 4 progression if you feel me.

Personally I never listen to lyrics first in a song, I’m always drawn to the music and the lyrics come entirely second, which is parallel to how I write music 90% of the time. I wanted the music to be the main interest in my songs, however I still wanted to tell my story therefore the music needed to make way for that. This balance of trying to make the music interesting whilst not being too overwhelming for the lyrics to have actual meaning and impact, resulted in this Prog Pop blend.

RR: What was the general songwriting process on the EP? Were there any challenges to overcome?

It was a long and slow process the production of this EP. As usual, time and money was the main issue throughout the earlier stages and not to mention F*king covid and lockdowns. I worked in a restaurant as a waiter doing long hours for minimum wage while trying to find the time and money to work on this EP. It got to the point where I was pretty much ready to give up and pack it in due to how expensive it was turning out to be.

I then received the tricky news of my grandmas passing which I struggled with for a while and took some time off from music. We have a very big family with not a lot between us but when we sold our grandmas house we all got a share which finally gave me the financial boost I needed to record and produce the EP once and for all. She was always very supportive of my musical endeavours and turned out to be the sole reason I was able to take them further, even after death.

Easton’s new EP ‘End Of Walls’ drops 05/04/22!

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A Chat With: Caged Arts

Interview

The story of Caged Arts is an inspiring one. A mixed ability rock band fronted by Gary, an autistic man who overcame homelessness and alcohol abuse through the strength of his own character and the support of music therapy charity T.I.M.E – the organisation that took him off the streets and onto the stage. With such a fascinating history, we had the pleasure of chatting to the man himself to find out more…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why? 

Pink Floyd dark side of the moon. Because it has so much going on with the music. It has so many different sounds, textures and instruments and lyrically it describes life in such an interesting meaningful way, I really connect with the words and the feel of the music. 

RR: How did you first discover rock music? 

Growing up my parents always loved rocked music, ACDC, Budgie. From a baby there was always rock music in the house. My parents had a Vinyl player with tonnes of LP’s that I loved playing with. That really sowed a seed for my love of rock music 

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music? 

I think there’s great local scene for rock and alternative music, especially in Essex, Southend and Basildon. But id love to see more bands like them hitting the mainstream. And although rock music isn’t as popular as it once was I think there’s a real underground scene for it still. 

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why? 

My favourite at the moment is called Dirty Honey, I discovered them in lockdown and absolutely love them. I like it because It sounds like rock music from the 80’s and 90’s which I really love. The vocals really stand out to me, such a strong voice, and there’s a great theme to each song. 

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad? 

I think there’s a lot more music being made now because its so easy for people to record and release their own music without needing for a record label so I think it’s great that there’s lots of different genres blending and new sounds being made. I love being able to easily discover new bands all the time on Facebook and YouTube.

RR: How would you describe the music of Caged Arts? 

I find it difficult to put a label on us as every song to me is different. Crystal castle is more of a slow emotional song whereas the artist still has that emotion but is much faster and upbeat. So, I suppose there’s always a lot of emotion within the music, especially with the lyrics, I spend hours writing down ideas to the type of thing I’m trying to say. Aside from that we love big guitars, big drums and an overall hard-hitting sound. 

RR: What is the meaning behind the name Caged Arts to you and the band? 

Caged comes from behind trapped with yourself and arts is the creative side. Sometimes in life it has felt as if the art inside me has been caged because of my disability. Caged arts is about showing the artist inside of me despite of the cage. 

RR: Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences with T.I.M.E? 

Since coming to TIME’s drop in I showed off some of my lyrics and ideas and from there it went from strength to strength, we quickly started to write songs develop the music and before I knew it, we were playing shows and I was singing as the frontman of the band. Mike, Rob and Marc have been such great friends to me and have really made me come out of my shell. I’m not sure where I would be without TIME. I certainly wouldn’t be making music like I am now. 

The T.I.M.E Team! (Mike, Rob & Mark)

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A Chat With: Shiny Glide

Interview, Uncategorized

Great rock music has always come from a special place from within. A place inaccessible to those unable to truly cope with thorough introspection but Shiny Glide, and his latest opus of psych-rock heaven, shows that those that reap the benefits of doing so can create something magical. We got chatting to the man himself to dive deeper…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?

Supertramp – Crises What Crises. All the songs on the album are great and powerful and simply timeless, the atmosphere and the sounds are very dreamy with some classic and psychedelic vibes which makes the whole album unique in its genre.

RR: How did you first discover rock music?

Through my oldest brothers when I was a little child, they used to like and listen a lot to Pink Floyd, Eagles, Neil Young, Nick Drake, King Crimson and lot of other great progressive and psychedelic rock bands of the seventies.

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?

There are a lot of great new bands and artists, the new indie rock and alternative rock scene is very creative and strong. I only listen to new artists and there is so much talent and variety that you can enjoy, also because we are in a very digital age where making music and producing great albums is not so hard and expensive as it used to be back in the old analog days. Besides that in these times it is very easy and fun to collaborate with other artists and musicians through the internet and to promote your own music in social networks.

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?

Too many to mention, in this period since I am kind of an insomniac I need and love to listen to very dreamy, hypnotic and relaxing music, so at the moment my favourite artist is Homeshake, his music is unusual,very ethereal, suave and minimalistic.

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?

Alternative and indie rock and also bedroom pop, lo-fi and psychedelic rock are always evolving, I am a Zen type of person and artist, I live in the present and I only listen to new music and artists who are very independent and produce their own music in their home studios and bedrooms, like I do.

There is much more intimacy and inspiration,creative freedom and real talent in independent and in all types of alternative music, and only good things can come from that. The only bad thing is that Spotify, Youtube and even Facebook and all the other digital platforms and networks are not paying well enough and giving enough attention and consideration to impendent artists. That is a shame considering that most of independent artists make and produce much better music than most mainstream artists.

RR: Can you tell us where the original concept for nocturnal flight came from?

I love the night, it is a time for dreams and creativity, for the essence and the soul to come to life, and to me it is very important to be connected to my inner self and my inner child in order to cope and to function in a pretty sad and horrible society and world. Besides the night, I love birds and their philosophy and behaviors.

Birds can fly anywhere they want without needing money, visas, passports and licences. Birds don’t build bridges and frontiers, like arrogant presidents and countries, if you want to be free and light and enjoy peace and universal love, you must learn from birds and be like a bird. That is why in the past my stage name was Seagull. Now I call myself Shiny Glide and this name was inspired by the albatross majestic, perfect and enlightening gliding flight.

RR: Did you encounter any issues at all when writing/recording the album?

I had so much fun with it, I love making music, I spend most of my time doing that,the only problem is the frustration for not being able to travel and tour because of the pandemic rules that are still very exaggerated and too strict here in Italy. This is another reason why I don’t like this place, too much bureaucracy, racism and mafia, now covid gave these people more reasons to hate and discriminate one another and even capitalize and exploit this horrible virus. Hopefully we are at the beginning of the end of this nightmare.

RR: How would you say the new material compares to your previous albums?

In my new material, I also produce, record and mix my music in my bedroom studio, while in my previous albums I used to pay for studio time and record the vocals and the guitar parts of my songs. Also in my new material I am open to other music styles like electronic music, lofi and bedroom pop and I use a lot of great midi-controller sounds in my new music but I will go back to my guitar based dream rock songs soon.

I am working on so many different type of sounds and projects, and I am trying to produce and release a single every month and at least three albums every year. I love it and I love to be generous to those who love me and my music.

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A Chat With: Youth Illusion

Alternative, Interview, Rock

The rock scene is a saturated one at best and overcrowded at worst. With the entire genre screaming their throats into oblivion it’s not easy feat to have your voice heard above the rest so you have to make damn sure that what you’re offering is worth blocking out the noise for. Alt-rockers Youth Illusion, and their upcoming EP ‘Seeking Answers in Silence’ make short work of such a challenge and have provided some of the year’s most indelible hooks and most devastating moments of aggression and we had the pleasure of chatting to the guys behind it all to find out more…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?

ZAC: Ok, hear me out…. AC/DC “ Back in Black”…….  this album has with stood the test of time. You have multiple generations of musicians they picked up a guitar because of this band.

RORY: There are so many that changed music but since I grew up and got my musical education in the 90s I have to say its between Nirvana – Nevermind, Oasis – Definitely Maybe, or Green Day – Dookie. All for the same reason, they changed the course of music and reintroduced rock/punk music to the mainstream after the disastrous hair metal and synth wave of the 80s.

MATTEO: GNR Appetite for destruction in my humble opinion. The reason is that Axel was at the top of his shape vocally speaking, the second best singer of whole times just after Freddy Mercury. The line up as well was just insane, the bond that the band had it was just sensational. Song after song it’s just a never ending of filthy riffs, iconic bass lines and the perfect vocal tone as the cherry on the cake. (when I named Freddy above on the tv suddenly came up Freddy singing ‘who wants to live forever’ on the news)😱

HEATH: If we’re talking straight up rock, it’s got to be Superunknown – Soundgarden. Chris Cornell’s voice is amazing.

RR: How did you first discover rock music?

MATTEO: My dad introduced me to it, my dad never followed Italian music, he was a rocker – leather jacket, biker and so on but he never played an instrument. Since I was a kid my dad use to play to me bands like Dire Straits, Queen, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and many more on our old hi-fi.

HEATH: I first discovered rock music at a very young age as my parents would often play the likes of AC/DC and Queen around the house.

RORY: I grew up in a very musical family so was raised on bands like Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, ELO, Eagles etc. My uncle lived with us and was into metal so I used to raid his CD collection and got into Metallica, Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Exodus and the rest. But I started developing my own taste when I was given a tape, Offspring – Smash. My brother got Nirvana – Unplugged at the same time so we used to swap. He then started borrowing music from his friends and introduced me to Rage Against the Machine, Marilyn Manson and the heavier bands of the 90s. After that, everything got turned up to 11!

ZAC: I grew up in a religious house. My dad used to have this shelf for CD’s. I remember looking through the CDs curiously and I found this album that was all black and I asked my dad “what is this?” and he said “it’s AC DC, you can listen but don’t tell your mom” hahaha, I still remember hearing back in black for the first time and it was game over from there.

RR: How would you describe the songwriting process behind the two new singles?

ZAC: I usually come up with a riff in record on my phone and then send it to the boys at 4 in the morning with a text message in bold saying “oh my god listen to this!!!!” hahah  we are starting to get more regimental with the process but these two singles were honed in after many writing sessions.

MATTEO: Both tracks are Zach’s ideas but all of us added our personal ideas to it. We worked on this record as a team, we made so many changes since the beginning to the tracks but then we got to point which we thought ‘ this is it!’.

RORY: Zach will come up with the riffs and the vocal melody and we will loop the hell out of it in pro tools. I will then chop it up and create a basic song structure and program a simple drum beat. Once the back bone and structure is completed Matt comes in and adds the sparkle. Obviously the song is evolving the whole way through as new parts and transitions are added or changed. Then we go into the studio and it all comes together.

HEATH: Although I wasn’t present for the writing of the two singles, I do enjoy adding my own style of playing to the songs when we play them live.

The band’s previous hit single ‘Cover Up and Die’

RR: What does the future ahead look like for Youth Illusion?

RORY: Hopefully a lot of touring and a lot of festivals. The goal is to do this full time and hopefully that is on the cards.

ZAC: Bright……I’m not just saying that to sound arrogant but I really believe we can do something great with this band. Hopefully we get a chance to tour more and do festivals.

HEATH: The future of youth illusion looks bright. With the tours and the album release, we’re shaping up to have a good year and a lot of fun. As always with music, it’s great to keep it professional and have a good time doing so.

MATTEO: Bright! I’m 100% sure that this record will let people turn their heads, we are eager to show what we have to offer so I can’t wait for it! We want to play shows as much as we can and take this EP as far as we can.

RR: If you had to describe your music to someone who could not hear, using only images, what images would you use?

RORY: Fireworks.

MATTEO: A rollercoaster: calm sections that suddenly switches in heavy breakdowns going up and down like a rollercoaster.

ZAC: Gosh, that’s a tricky one.  Maybe a picture of an avalanche? Hahaha

Seeking Answers In Silence is available everywhere on 25/03/22! Connect with the band below:

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A Chat With: Izakman

Interview

Rock music has exhausted almost every avenue of songwriting it has available to it but the trip-hazards and mind-bends of Lewis Carroll and Brothers Grimm’s classics is one fruit that has rarely been picked. Rock risers, Izakman, have seized the opportunity with flare on their upcoming record ‘Cyber Love’ and we got a chance to shoot some questions over to songwriter and frontman Itamar Isaak to dig a little deeper…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?

I have several favorites, but I’ll go for the rock opera Tommy by The Who.

The album’s subject matter is heartrending and timeless, following a deaf, dumb and blind boy and his experiences with life and his relationship with his family. It has a fantastic narrative flow from start to finish. Musically and energetically, It stands the test of time. Epic! You come out of it in a different state than how you started.

RR: How did you first discover rock music?

I was first exposed to classic rock music when I watched The Yellow submarine for the first time as a child. Still, I only became aware of rock music at school when many of my friends were into 90’s grunge and metal bands. Everybody wanted to pick up a guitar, put on distortion, and shred in my teenage years.

If you wanted to be “cool” and impress your friends, you would have a skateboard or play soccer and play loud electric guitar.

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?

I think it’s all fragmented now because of the internet. I don’t know who the new most prominent bands are anymore because they’re so many now. I mainly get to hear about new psychedelic and indie rock bands. I guess it’s due to the internet’s data from my searches.

My latest discoveries are “UNI”, which a friend introduced me to, The Swedish band Dungen and Amy & The Sniffers, which I found randomly on the internet or perhaps I got targeted on YouTube. All are brilliant, and I hope to see them live one day.

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?

It’s hard to pick just one; recently, I’ve been more interested in discovering obscure rarities and traditional music from around the world. Nevertheless, I admire Pond for Nick Allbrooks confrontational charisma and cheeky showmanship.

Their latest album, “9”, is my favorite release I have encountered so far from last year, for its fun unapologetic energy and great emotional yet sophisticated songs from start to finish.

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?

Following psych-bands I like, such as “Tame Impala, Pond, UMO Temples”, and the Israeli “Iogi”, I think the majority are leaning towards the lusher and synthesized sound.

Production-wise, you get to hear a lot of amazing and exciting sounding stuff. But, still, artistically, I feel the approach has become somewhat escapist. You always have the exceptions like the Israeli Electric Zoo, which are more raw and rebellious in their approach. And Izakman off-course.

RR: Can you tell us about how the idea for the ‘Cyber Love’ music video came about and its significance?

Cyber Love was spawned from a feeling of alienation and deals with reaching out across cyberspace, social media platforms and dating apps and the struggle to make a true and meaningful connection.

The idea for the clip was inspired by Pina’s Bausch performance “The Man I Love”. The song expresses an individual’s frustration from poor communication. The theme of poor communication is reflected in the music video, which includes elements of Sign language, Morse and Braille, which are all used to overcome an obstacle in communication. The song may suggest that technology can be an obstacle to intimacy rather than a means to achieve it.

RR: How would you say this new album compares to 2015’s Rabbit Holes?

“Rabbit Holes” was made entirely D.I.Y. I had no method and no experience in music production before.Some of the songs I performed and mixed entirely on my own with no one else involved but for me. The song “Sleeping the Day Away” appears in different versions on both albums.

I tried to capture the sound of a late 60’s obscure psychedelic record. The new album was produced in a more “old school” way – in a proper recording studio, with a live band and Roy Nizzani as the producer. Roy’s approach was modern up to date. At the same time, mine was a more classic 70’s rock, resulting in a fascinating sounding record.

RR: Are there any sort of visual elements planned for the other tracks on the album as there was for Cyber Love?

Yes, “Down the Rabbit Hole” is also accompanied by an animated music video produced by Saloniki animation studio – Addart. I developed both “Cyber Love” and “Down The Rabbit Hole” music videos with my neighbour photographer Shay Ben Efraim who also filmed them and has worked with me throughout Izakman’s activities.

The new video is inspired directly by Lewis Carroll’s work across mathematics and literature; the video follows a young mathematician lost in a mathematical wonderland pursuing the solution to a complex equation – a solution that manifests as Alice. The video showcases a new mathematical branch, Soft Logics, that challenges the binary nature of true/false limitations.

Cyber Love is available everywhere on 27/01/22

Connect with Izakman down below!

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A Chat With: Heart Through Sacrifice

Interview, Metal, Rock

Albums accompanied by a full-length graphic novel is always going to invite intrigue and the debut project from prog metal outfit Heart Through Sacrifice delivers such curiosity and then some. Speaking with the man behind it all, we caught up with Doug Rimington to find out more…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?


For me, it was Stone Temple Pilots – Core. This album I can still listen to from start to the end and love every minute of it (possibly the nostalgia glasses!). Great vocals, great lyrics, music that fuses jazz with grunge… and the first songs I learnt from music sheets were from this album.

RR: How did you first discover rock music?


A good friend introduced me to all this stuff, my family was quite poor when I was growing up, but this guy always had new tapes and cd’s to share. He introduced me to STP, TOOL, Rollins Band and many others.

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?


I think there will always be the ‘overlords’ of marketing and sales who rule any scene, but thanks to the world of independent distribution, social media etc… it is now possible for people to create and put out their own music… whether anyone hears it, is another question entirely…

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?


This is a tough one, the closest thing I might get to this is probably Spiritbox? It’s amazing what they did over lockdown, releasing fantastic music videos and building up a massive following, helped greatly by Vocalist Courtney La Plante’s 1 take videos show casing her skill and passion for singing.

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?


It’s hard to say at the moment, I think before the pandemic, things were turning back to the live performance side of music – how to make a good live show without relying too much on backing tracks etc… But now I’d say it’s going back again to focussing more on the recorded side of music. With NFT’s taking hold, smart musicians have found another venue to make a living so will live shows suffer? Maybe…

RR: How did the Heart Through Sacrifice project come about?


I’ve played in many bands, all have been great learning experiences but all fell short of expectations in some way. The last band, Voodoo Diamond, we spent so much money on the recording and then it all imploded after money became such a problem to take the band any further. I couldn’t let my music life end like that… so I decided to do something myself with the goals of it being epic, cinematic, doing it all (apart from singing!) myself and also to bring some positivity in any small way to the people involved.

For the shows we did, all tickets sales went to charities including the Rain Forest Trust and the British Heart Foundation. If I can’t make enough money to live on, I can at least put it to some positive use somehow…

RR: How did you decide that you wanted to produce such a colossal record?


The end product of this had to be bigger and better than anything I’d done before and mostly, something I could be proud of. I was tired of EP’s and singles. I wanted a full epic album that you’d listen to from start to the end and felt like you’d been on an adventure! The music was written before the story but totally inspired it as when listening, I saw in my mind this fantastical world, a battle with an evil beast and a fiery heroine warrior!

RR: Did you have any key inspirations behind the instrumentation of the album?


It was a combination of Devin Townsend’s extensive catalogue, Machine Head, Chimaria and Caliban… basically Prog, Thrash and Metalcore!

Be sure to follow Heart Through Sacrifice on Facebook and Instagram and to check out his new album on all digital streaming platforms!

A Chat With Chameleon Lady

Interview

With their new EP, ’11 Waverley Road’, dropping on this very day, 3/12/21, it was our pleasure to catch up with indie-rock outfit Chameleon Lady’s voice-box Cam! Diving into his own music habits and the band’s strong family ties, here’s our chat with Chameleon Lady…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?

The best rock album of all time is such a tricky question. I grew up with The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance and the unbelievable American Idiot by Green Day. Personally I’d have to chose one of them as they really introduced me to the genre. 

RR: How did you first discover rock music?

Apart from buying the albums Black Parade and American Idiot by My Chemical Romance and Green Day I suppose it was earlier rock. Bands like The Beatles, Meatloaf. Bat out of hell was regularly on in the house. 

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?

I think it’s in great shape. There are so many new and exciting bands coming through with different and unique sounds. It’s such an eclectic mix. 

Check out the band’s latest hit single – ‘Home (The Highlands)’

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?

I love Fatherson. A Scottish band from Glasgow. They are just brilliant. 

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?

I think the only way is up. I can only see the genre evolving into something bigger and better with new and more interesting sounds and talents. 

RR: Can you tell us about the band dynamic? I understand there are a lot of family bonds there!

So there are a lot of family bonds. Myself and Tom are brothers, Caitlin and Robbie are brother and sister, Kenny is their dad and Michael is their cousin. Although a lot of people would suggest this is a nightmare it works really well for us. It allows us to have a very tight knit bond that other bands just don’t have. Our creative and performance chemistry is off the charts and that can only be a good thing. 

RR: What did you learn about yourselves as musicians from writing the new EP?

I think we all learnt that we aren’t actually half bad as musicians. It’s always difficult starting out and getting your foot in the door but this EP has really elevated our sound and understanding of our music. It’s been such a positive and fun experience. 

RR: What was the main source of inspiration from the new EP? Did this differ from your usual songwriting process?

Our usual songwriting process is very collaborative. One of us will bring a song or idea to a meeting and we all discuss and add our inputs from there. We have always done this but this time round we got more creative and experimental in what we were doing. We tried to dive deeper into the emotions and feelings of the lyrics and music. And we think we have struck gold this time round. 

Follow the band down below:

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A Chat With: Ajay Mathur

Interview

Ajay Mathur represents a glorious cross section between the annals of rock music both classic and modern alike. With a wealthy and expanding discography already in the public domain, eyes turn to Mathur’s latest project: single ‘Anytime At All (The Aftermath Of Silence)’ and we had the chance to chat with the man himself to dive deeper…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?

Oh, that’s a very hard question. There are several rock albums that I consider exceptional and influential. Some of them are ‘Axis Bold as Love’ by Jimi Hendrix, ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ by Pink Floyd, ‘In the Court of The Crimson King’ by King Crimson, ‘The Soft Parade’ by The Doors, ‘Led Zeppelin III’ or Queen’s ‘A Night at the Opera’. If I have to choose my favorite album of all time, it would be The Beatles’ ‘White Album’. The White Album is full of gems. It’s down to earth compared to the psychedelic spiced Sgt. Pepper and it gets heavy as hell, when these guys decide to rock it. The White Album also has a personal context for me. It is said that most of the songs on the White Album were written in Rishikesh, India when The Beatles were there at the Ashram practicing meditation. That’s where I met them as a 14-year-old kid. That encounter possibly sparked my interest in learning to play guitar and make my own music. Before that encounter, I was interested only in drawing and painting.

RR: How did you first discover rock music?

Even though I grew up in a family of musicians and artists and was exposed to Indian classical and Bollywood music, somehow, I gravitated towards pop, blues and rock and roll that was occasionally played on radio shows in India. Maybe it was also a little bit of rebellion against the Indian music of the grown-ups. I grew up with an older cousin and I was fascinated by the way he and his college friends got together on our terrace and sang songs by The Beach Boys and The Beatles. To me it was magic. It was my cousin who then showed me my first three chords so I could play ‘Sloop John B’. That got me started playing the guitar and singing. The rest is history.

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?

Rock and alternative music is thriving as an art form, but unfortunately it doesn’t get the exposure it deserves in the mainstream media and the record industry. Nevertheless, rock and alternative musicians are creative and resilient. They are here to stay.

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?

War on Drugs, especially their album ‘A Deeper Understanding’, Greta Van Fleet, Garbage and Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters are my current favorites. They all rock, have a unique sound and a distinctive style of song-writing. I also think Alice Cooper’s ‘Detroit Stories’ is phenomenal. Alice Cooper at 73 is as indestructible as ever.

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?

The genre evolves all the time, reinventing itself. In my opinion, that’s not a bad thing at all.

RR: What was it like working with Austin Asvanonda on the single?

Working with Austin is a great pleasure. He not only mixed the single, but I also worked with him on the whole album ‘Talking Loud’ which should be released in Spring 2022. Austin is a pro. Even at his young age – he is 24 – Austin has a remarkable level of patience and dedication to creating great soundscapes and mixes. He has the gear and the ear and was even able to decipher my abstract and at times cryptic sound suggestions. On the single, I also got to work with the British sound magician and remixer Philip Larsen which was a really uplifting experience.

RR: How did it feel to win The Akademia award for best pop rock song?

It felt great! Winning an award is always a great moment when you know that your work has been well received and acknowledged by a jury and people well outside of your circle of friends and fans. It’s a boost to your self-confidence and confirms that what you’re doing is good.

RR: Do you think the landscape of rock music would look any different if Lennon was still with us?

I wish I knew the answer to that. I know that John Lennon was a creative force and at the time he died, he was still in his best form. Just listen to ‘Double Fantasy’, the album released shortly before his death, and the fantastic song material on the album. I’m sure that John Lennon would still be a major artist and acting as a voice for his many social causes if he were still with us.

Anytime At All (The Aftermath Of Silence) is out now and available everywhere!

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A Chat With Grave Jones

Interview, Rock

Philosopher, university professor, novelist and rock star Grave Jones is by and large one of the most interesting names currently rising in the music sector. Having composed material for new album ‘Heartrage Hotel’ in Lebanon amidst one of the greatest financial crises’ the world has ever seen, we got chatting to this most extraordinary of musicians…

RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?

GJ: Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction,” because  it’s a perfect fusion of everything I love about rock n’ roll. The record feels like the natural extension of some of my favourite artists that came before: the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Aerosmith – but bigger, better, and meaner. It has that unmatched ‘fuck you’ attitude coupled with a lot of emotional and vulnerable moments. It has Axl’s unique, immediately recognizable scream that is a pure reflection of his pain and anger, and you have the genius combination of Slash and Izzy Stradlin on guitars: they’re individually such tasteful players, of course, but more importantly, I honestly can’t think of two other players with the same chemistry and who compliment each other as well. The rhythm section is just the cherry on top in that original Guns N’ Roses lineup. No wonder it’s a record that changed rock history forever.

RR: How did you first discover rock music?

GJ: I was 8 years old, hanging out in my older cousin’s bedroom while he was studying for his final exams. I heard something on the stereo and something in me just couldn’t resist the pull. I was too young to know the difference between a bass guitar, a lead guitar, or a rhythm guitar, I had no idea what “rock” and “distortion” was, but something in that sound resonated with me on a deep, visceral level. I immediately went to him and asked him what it was, and he took a piece of paper and wrote down: “Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion.” I went to the nearest record store and bought the tapes. That was the moment I sold my soul.

RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?

GJ: I think it’s very much alive, in spite of what people think. It’s just not mainstream anymore. But it’s always been an up and down thing, I guess. People have been saying “rock is dead” since the 70s when disco got big, but if anything it got even bigger later. However, I’m not sure to what extent the genre can keep growing, reinventing itself, and fusing with other genres, but above all I see rock music as an attitude and a sound that is relatable on a very specific, visceral level. So as long as you have angry, confused teenagers who are trying to find their place in the world, I don’t think rock is going anywhere.

RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?

GJ: At the moment I’m listening a lot to Greta Van Fleet’s latest record “The Battle at Garden’s Gate.” They used to be very criticized for basically sounding like Led Zeppelin copycats, which is true, but then again these guys were like 19 or 20 years old when they put out their first couple records: how could you expect them to reinvent the genre at such a young age? But now they’re a tad older the difference is obvious. It sounds to me that underneath all those early influences they eventually found themselves, their own identity, and you can really hear in their fantastic last record. My favourite things about them are the arrangements and Josh’s impressive, almost effortless vocal abilities.

RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?

GJ: I’m not sure I can see in one what way it’s going to evolve, but every few years you get a little rock revival with a little twist on the genre. I wasn’t a fan of the nu-metal trend in the late 2000s, but I loved the garage/disco rock revival in the mid 2000s lead by bands like the Strokes, then the whole electronic rock thing of the early 2010s. I’m not a big fan of the current rappers who are dabbling in the genre – like Post Malone or Machine Gun Kelly. On the other hand, the whole Hip Hop and RnB sound has been dominating the charts for over ten years now, and it’s starting to exhaust itself. Every genre that becomes mainstream eventually gets there, all the artists start sounding and looking pretty much the same, until something else comes on. I’m very curious to see what that is.

RR: How did the ‘Heaven Only Knows’ artwork come about? Any particular inspirations at all?

GJ: The cross in the artwork is a picture of a Mexican cross that was in an apartment in Paris around the time I happened to write the song. I recently noticed that I often intuitively find myself drawn to religious imagery, and this one felt appropriate for a title like ‘Heaven Only Knows.’ The artwork was made by artist Tulip Hazbar. She is the one who had done the artwork for ‘Smitheens,’ writing over a picture taken by photographer Walid Nehme and I wanted her to handwriting again on the cross of ‘Heaven Only Knows.’

RR: What would you describe the current political situation in Lebanon?

GJ: It’s not good at all. The country’s been pushed back 30 years in less than a year, almost overnight, and the freefall isn’t over yet. It’s a shame because only two years ago it was one of the coolest places in the world, every single person I know who’d ever visited had immediately fallen in love with the place and ended up either coming back regularly or moving there. 400,000 people have now left the country in the past year, it’s the biggest wave of migration since the start of the civil war in the mid 1970s. Politically, it’s a gridlock caused by a combination of an armed militia, foreign interference, greed, incompetence, and failed system that needs radical change. The situation is sad and infuriating. It’s no coincidence my upcoming record is called ‘Heartrage Hotel.’

RR: How difficult is it to make music in a financial crisis?

GJ: It can be extremely challenging, yes, because the financial crisis isn’t only affecting the purchasing power of individuals, it’s also affecting the country’s most basic infrastructure. With the incessant power cuts, the shortage of car fuel, and terrible internet, how can anyone expect to have the headspace to create anything, let alone to logistically make anything happen. Simple tasks like recording or meeting the band to rehearse become a challenge. I have friends in who work in a production who went to Turkey for a week end only to be able to have decent internet to be able to download and upload large files and be able to work. How ridiculous and sad is this?

RR: How would you predict the current situation in Lebanon will evolve over the next few years?

GJ: This is actually the most frustrating part about this whole situation: I don’t know. No one knows. And anyone who claims to know is either lying or delusional. There are so many elements at play, so many possible moves from proxy powers, upcoming elections, threats of violence… Really, anything is possible. But I have a hard time seeing how anything is going to get any better in the near future.

Grave’s latest single Heaven Only Knows is out now and available everywhere!

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A chat with City Weezle’s Simon Fleury

Alternative, Experimental, Folk, Interview, Metal, Prog, Rock

With a new record approaching close over the horizon, and numerous hungry fans to feed, we sat down with City Weezle frontman and founder, Simon Fleury; chatting everything from cabin fever to Japanese pentatonic scales!

AM: What would you say are the key differences between your debut record and the upcoming No.2?

SF: This album certainly has less Primus and Mr.Bungle influence. Even though we can still hear some Patton/Primus/Bungle colours in there. There are certainly more keyboard and piano sounds on this one thanks to the wizardry of Axel Steinbiss and CSL Parker; two excellent players/composers. CSL really encouraged me to get back on the City Weezle stuff and taught me free form improvisation which is super fun and it had been a long time since I’d done a lot of improv. For those things I’m very grateful and, of course, for his parts on the album..

It was so much fun working with Axel, he’s super zoned in and could just do anything. He composed some really cool key lines for the album and pulled really amazing takes out of the bag; all in his stride, He’s also one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met, Germans not being funny is a post-war myth. We’ve just had a Hitler joke we put in our press kit published in a review of German Punk Magazine so I think the proof is in the pudding there ;).

This one was recorded in many different places over a much longer period of time whereas «Taboo» was recorded all in the same place in the space of about a year. I think this one is definitely less chaotic, intentionally so, ‘Cluedo’ is the final track on this album and it fulfils the role of the track that brings the crazy. Of course, there’s a bit of craziness in all our stuff in different ways.

She’s a Stomper’ is our most straightforward rock song and I really dig it. It’s got a very Melvinsy feel. We haven’t really released a straight hard-hitting rock song before and this is certainly a new feel to our catalogue. In any case these are eight new diverse tracks we’re 100% happy with and can get behind and I can’t wait to perform them live.

AM: What do you think you learnt as a musician from writing No.2?

SF: From an educational perspective, I learned to write string quartet lines and it’s given me a better vision of how to approach orchestration for other instruments in the future I’ll definitely be delving into that a bit more on certain tracks.

It’s also given me a second round of collaborating with guest musicians which was also really cool and I’m really grateful to everyone who put a little piece of their magic onto this album.

AM: Did you encounter any challenges while writing/recording No.2? How did you overcome them?

SF: Yes there were many barriers to making this album not least the distance between all the personnel. It’s certainly one of the reasons why it took so long. Mixing this album at distance with Gautier Serre (Igorrr) was a lot of bouncing mixes back and forth and that was definitely the hardest part from my perspective.

But I really want to thank Gautier and think it was worth it as he did a great job, he’s responsible for the album having a great quality of sound. There were obstacles and a lot of flights booked to record this one but as with anything worthwhile it took motivation and perseverance to overcome those obstacles and finally get to the result we wanted.

AM: How would you describe the most dominant emotions coming from No.2?

SF: I’d say like most of our music it has a theatrical energy and there are moments of mystery and emotion. The most personal and emotional song for me is “Even Weezles get the Blues”. It was a very alcohol-fueled part of my life where I’d just split with my GF when I wrote that track and was feeling the solitude of those emotions. So while it seems like a funny upbeat track it actually has a very deep meaning for me.

In a fun way, I guess it’s me singing about my problems back then, therefore the song title makes perfect sense.

AM: Do you have a general songwriting method that you stick to or does it come from within the moment?

SF: Well I have different methods of composing and I don’t like to stick to just one. Sometimes I’ll write mostly the music first and then only have one or two vocal hooks along the way while imagining what the vocals will sound like. Sometimes more recently I’ve been finding vocal ideas first and then just finding the music to suit the vocals and I think it works really well. Like ‘She’s a stomper’ was mainly written like that.

Igorrr has done some composition sections within our tracks on “Taboo”. Sometimes we’ll create things as a band in a rehearsal room and take each other’s ideas and develop them or alter them.

I have a method of composing I’m sure other bands like “The Ruins” use too maybe? It’s to record an improvisation and have the other instruments learn it and record over it.

I call it “Comprovising”! So you record an improv and the other instruments record over it in a structured manner. So it sounds tight enough to be written but comes from a completely spontaneous performance. We’ll certainly be fitting it in on future tracks.

AM: Do you have any interesting or funny stories from the recording process?

SF: We tracked the drums and guitars out in this lovely little cottage in a very remote area in the Nyre Valley in Co.Waterford, nearly Bally Macarby.

Many thanks to The Fabie Family and Henstep McGrath of “Crow Black Chicken” for letting us use the place for recording, it was a really nice little drum room in the upstairs of the little cottage called “Gypsies Cottage”out there you get a real old Ireland feel, it’s kinda like going back 50 years in time.

A pub with a shop attached to it and the people to match, it was really cool. So we were very isolated out there, no phone signal, no internet just the basic equipment I had and the tunes to be recorded. We recorded the drums in the space of two days out there with “Ai Uchida”, all credit to him he’s a great guy and an amazing drummer!

I went out there to track the guitars for “She’s a stomper” by myself and it was a completely different ball game. I started getting cabin fever as they call it. It was like the Shining except I didn’t even have my wife or kid! With no internet and no telephone connection, it felt really really weird. I stayed at it for about two days and then got super depressed, scrapped everything and came back to civilisation

But it was very fun tracking out there with the lads other than that whacky experience!

AM: Can you tell us what it was like to work with Gautier Serre a.k.a Igorrr on this project?

SF: When I decided to get making this album I hit him up straight away with the question, ‘Would you be game for mixing and mastering it?’ Cause he’d done our 1st LP “Taboo” and I think he did a great job.

Plus I trust his ear. He’s a guy who’s been making top quality albums since I met him so I trust him on that front. He knows how to balance things well and get really great sounds. So I was delighted when he agreed to do it. Even though we did all of this at distance bouncing things back and forth and I haven’t seen him in ages I’d still consider him a friend. He was always super supportive of us and even jumped in a van to drive us around Europe for the Taboo tour.

He threw in a few little sprinkles of sound on No.2 where he saw fit and I think it worked out really well that way.

AM: How was City Weezle originally formed?

SF: Initially, I met a really wicked prog guitarist, Sylvain Ducloux, AKA ”Cloux” in ATLA music school in Paris where I was taking courses and he made this really insane prog guitar album called “Full Fool” and he invited me to do some vocals on a few tracks.

That was my first time participating on a professional quality recording – up until then I’d just done my own demos on my 8 track where I’d play all the instruments for the most part. From those demos, I had a bunch of tracks that I wanted to make a fusion band with and I selected those tracks to make the 1st demo of CW with “Cloux” on guitar, Eric Carrere on drums and Maxime Gilbon on Bass.

Eric Was playing with Cloux at the time and he’d done drums on my Demos too. Max and I used to mess around playing covers of queens of the stone age and Primus with this other summer. I feel lucky that I’m still very close friends with those guys to this day. They’re great people and great musicians.

AM: How did music first enter your life? Do you have any standout memories?

SF: The first song I remember hearing as a kid is that “Dire Straits” track “Walk of life”; I must have been about four, it was on the radio and my mother was cutting celery. Every time I heard that song after that I would get the smell of celery and, vice versa, every time I’d get the smell of celery it’d bring that famous keyboard line of that song into my head. I only really started getting into music around age nine or 10 when I got into Nirvana.

Before then I’d had a few of those Now compilations. Discovering Nirvana was obviously a life-changing moment as it was for us all. Shorty after I got into Metallica and Alice in Chains, another pivotal moment was discovering Mr. Bungle Age 16; I’d discovered Zappa shorty before then.

There was also a legendary singer song writer named “Warwick Embury”. He wasn’t famous but he really should’ve been.. He was good friends with Donovan and had come from the really thriving music scene in the UK to live in Tipperary, Ireland.

I imagine he wanted to get away from the hustle-bustle of London and found solace in Tipp. English guy, real deal rock and roll legend who used to come round to our house and sing tunes and improvise lyrics and he was super fun and entertaining. He was a very fun, very cool guy, real heart and soul of the party. He wrote great songs and he was a massive influence on me too. Unfortunately he’s passed away now but he left a lot of great happy memories. His music lives on. I’d advise anyone to go and check out his stuff. Really great songs.

AM: I’ve seen that you’re a Francophile and also becoming fascinated by Japanese culture! Is this something that you think has ever leaked into your music or could do so in the future?

SF: Yes that’s 100% accurate I’ve always been into the french language and now I’m a fluent french speaker. I learned it from having lived over there for years. That’s where City Weezle was initially founded and I still have great friends over there.

Yes it’s worked its way into our music a bit. On our latest album No.2 on the 3rd track Maestro Mafioso, at the intro of the song I have some lyrics in french and I sing them with Pedral and Mina of “Vladimir Bozar ‘n’ ze Sheraf Orkestar” one of my favourite bands!

We also do a rock cover of a french pop song “l’amour a la plage” there’s a version of it on the “Lysergik tea party” EP; there’ll definitely be some more french stuff in future!

Yes, it’s only now I’m starting to learn some Japanese and am very fascinated by Japanese Culture. I feel very lucky to have two great Japanese members in the band and really looking forward to gigging over there with the lads and learning more about the culture. Musically I’ve only learned the Japanese minor pentatonic scale and I wrote a really cool sounding intro with it once – we might break that out of the bag and make it something hopefully. Look forward to learning and hearing more.

AM: How do you believe that City Weezle fits into the prog scene?

SF: We initially come from the underground scene in France where Igorrr, Pryapism Vladimir Bozar and all these bands were kind of our contemporary’s. I think our music is quite diverse and will remain so we can be appreciated by the open-minded members of many different types of audiences.

I could see us opening up for any band we’d cite as an influence and fitting the bill very well, I think we fit in many places; we’re a fun band and we put on a fun show! It should fit right in everywhere. (Probably not in all-metal show line up but we’ve done it before and didn’t get murdered by an axe-wielding maniac, but who knows? Maybe next time it’ll happen 😉

AM: What is the main mission statement of City Weezle?

SF: Our mission is to keep people entertained as fuck and bring this super fun music to as large an audience as possible in this lifetime all while sharing the love of the music we love and the influences we channel through our music.

I believe it was Frank Zappa who said “Music is the Best”.

Words by Alex Mace

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