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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Supreme Unbeing: An act of our collective consciousness.

Metal, News, Prog, Rock, Uncategorized

Supreme Unbeing is a progressive rock and power metal band from Sweden, they emit mystery and ambiguity, led by vocalist Zac Red, along with his fellow band members D. Vine (Lead Guitar), D.Sciple (Rhythm Guitar), Unknown (Bass), and Al Mytee (Drums). 

Taking an MF DOOM / Gorillaz-esque approach by using animated characters to enforce their already mysterious appearance, the band has recently transformed this into flesh and blood identities. Their debut album Enter Reality impacted the music industry in October 2020 which gained 3rd place in “Album of the Year” according to the readers of Swedish Rock Magazine. Since then, their debut quickly made astounding accomplishments such as entering Spotify Playlists, placing themselves on New Metal Track’s and Thrasher’s, as well as gaining an astonishing +5.5 million video and digital streams in less than 12 months since the LP’s release. 

This month, October 22, 2021, release the first prophetic and ominous-sounding single Face of Evil, from their upcoming second album Enduring Physicality, which is to be released on 22 February 2022. Lead vocalist Zac Red acts as a “physical form of our consciousness”, according to the band, what is to be expected is an album that emits a message that is close to our own personal thoughts, something everyone can connect with. 

Zac Red states about the new E.P: “This song is about self-proclaimed kings, tyrants, societal leaders… and your friends. Whether you have your own life agenda or not, they’ll manipulate and rob you of your free will to get what they want with their – as the song goes – ever-changing ‘Face Of Evil’. Humans are dual in nature, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, we all have a good side and an evil side, which side, and face, you decide to show at any given moment is yours to balance carefully on this grand stage. How do you want to be remembered?” 

Due to the band’s ambiguity, not much is known about them, but their animated videos Animals and You’ll Never Make It, both of which premiered in REVOLVER Magazine, are classed as a great success by their many fans. The new music video for Face of Evil stars Swedish actor Dragomir Mrsic, who is known for acting in “Snabba Cash” and “Edge of Tomorrow” where he co-stars along with Tom Cruise. 

The band members jointly agree that they are “On a quest to enlighten the people of the Earth through heavy riffs, astounding solos, and intriguing lyrics” which is something they continue to do through Face of Evil

The track is mixed and mastered by Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann, vocalist/guitarist of German founded metal band Orden Ogan, the track is available now for streaming and download on all major music platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer

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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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