Category Archives: Interviews

Hugo Selles

Interview with PSYCHIC EQUALIZER

Hugo Selles is a composer, pianist and a man behind the project Psychic Equalizer. He released a full-length album “The Lonely Traveller” in January, and I got a chance to ask him few questions about the album, his favorite records, and more.

Hey Hugo. How are you doing?

Hi! Pretty busy, but good!

You have just released “The Lonely Traveller” with your project Psychic Equalizer. How do you feel about the release?

Exactly, it was released on the 20th of January. I have been working on it for almost two years, so I feel very excited about it being out there for everyone to listen.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

It’s been the most difficult recording I’ve done to date. Apart from the normal process of composing, arranging, recording demos, contacting musicians, etc; the whole album was rehearsed in the studio for a couple of days and due to the lack of time, 75% of the music was recorded live (some of the final versions that you can hear in the album are the only take ever made). Just the strings, voices, some percussion and keyboards were added afterwards. We also had to deal with many other unexpected things. For instance, on the fifth or sixth day of the recording, there was a flood in the studio caused by some burst pipe in the heating system. I mean, you can expect that a guitar gets damaged on a flight – even when you take all the precautions – but water falling from the roof…?

The Lonely Traveller

What is your opinion about the current experimental scene?

To be honest, even though I love lots of music and try to listen to new things regularly, I’m a bit outdated in this field. I do know some bands or artists that are active nowadays, but unfortunately, I don’t have a whole picture of how the scene is. I have heard from others that last year has gone through a magnificent revival of progressive music. So I should definitely check it out!

Can you tell me something about your influences?

The music by Rachmaninov, Pat Metheny, Radiohead and Pink Floyd. Those four are remarkable. Others depend on which stage I’m at in my career or life. Some years ago I was obsessed with Brad Mehldau, Anna Maria Jopek and pianist Krystian Zimerman. Now I’m truly re-discovering Dream Theater, Paco de Lucía and Dvorak. I guess they have all marked me in some way. I do also find nature and painting to be great influences in my music.

What are you listening to these days?

At this very moment, while writing these lines, Fragile by Yes. I’ve also been listening to Anoushka Shankar and Stephan Micus quite a lot for the last month. There’s also space for Anathema’s Falling Deeper in my playlist and for this other album that never saw the light as The Alan Parsons Project but as an Eric Woolfson’s project called Freudiana. It’s simply magnificent.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

I’ve always been worried about someone asking this question to me, so difficult to choose! Although it’s true that there are two which I’m completely sure about: the recording of Bartók’s Piano Concertos by Géza Anda and Ferenc Fricsay, and The Way Up by the Pat Metheny Group. Those two are outstanding. And knowing that I’d possibly change my mind tomorrow, the other three: the recording of Beethoven’s last Piano Sonatas by Maurizio Pollini, Mychael Danna’s original score for the film Life Of Pi and In Praise of Dreams by Jan Garbarek.

HS

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “The Lonely Traveller”?

In general, I think we used high profile gear. I recorded with a grand piano Fazioli, which has a very powerful bass sound that India Hooi, the sound engineer, managed to capture perfectly. I’m a great fan of Kurzweil and brought my SP3X to the studio. Every single synth, hammond or rhodes is played on it. I use some of my own setups as well as the default ones. I know that Quico Duret, the main guitarist, is obsessed with the best sound quality too. He plays a Fender Telecaster and have tons of different pedals: Memory Boy Deluxe, Fulltone OCD, Verbzilla, etc. I specially like that reverb one and always encouraged him to use it. We used the “classic” amplifier VOX AC30 for the guitar, and apart from all the different precious instruments, we also used DPA, Sennheiser, AKG, Royer and Shure microphones. The console was a Lawo, of which we combined the use of its preamps with some Neve and LA.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

We are planning a summer tour presenting the project and I personally would love to record the already-composed next album towards the end of the year.

Any words for the potential new fans?

I believe Psychic Equalizer is a very eclectic project and I’m sure that jazz fusion or progressive rock fans will find it very interesting.

Visit Hugo Selles’ website for more news and info.

Zafakon band

ZAFAKON Speaks for Progstravaganza

This may be a weird way to start a post, but I would love to thank to a PR wire for hooking me with this great band. Puerto Ricans, Zafakon are relatively a new name on the scene. They released two great studio albums since 2013, toured a lot, opened for Metallica. Life seems to be good.

I spoke with bassist Weslie Negron, and singer/guitarist Marcus Veit.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Weslie Negrón: Hello! All good on our end, thank you for having us!

What can people expect from your last year’s album “Release”?

Marcus Veit: It’s an album that has a lot of different styles in it. I like to believe there’s something for people of all musical tastes. We are mostly a Metal band. But in this album you can see there’s influences from a lot of musical genres.

What was it like working on the album?

MV: Exhausting! *laughs* There was a lot of hard work and long hours put into this one. All of our hearts and souls went into it. The writing process for it was long, but it’s because we wanted everything to come out just right. Also we were in no rush. We took our time. The recording process was a different story. We had quite a few inconveniences throughout. And we had a tour coming up for which we wanted to have the album ready. It was pretty stressful but we got it done.

Release

Where does “Release” stand comparing to “War as a Drug” (2013)?

WN: “Release” is a more of a complete and evolved album than “War as a Drug”. WAD is more straightforward, Death/Thrash Metal, and more raw than the new material. It has to do a lot with our mindset by that time compared to now. In “Release” and with Yhann’s (Ortiz, Lead Guitar) addition to the band, our musical approached changed into a more melodic and diverse sound and that it where “Release” stands.

You opened for Metallica in San Juan. Tell me how did the whole thing happen?

WN: Metallica made the contest “Hit the Stage” for their 2016 “Worldwired” Latin America Tour. The contest consisted on choosing every country’s top 5 bands (in Puerto Rico Puya, Fullminator, Machete, A Million Souls, and us where chosen). After the bands were picked, people from around the globe had the chance to vote for their favorite bands and get them to play the day of the concert. Thanks to the amazing response of our followers, friends, and family, we had the chance to open the show and I would dare to say that has been the most important day of our lives.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Release”?

WN: We did an 18 dates tour at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 in support of “Release” around the United States. We are planning to return to the Mainland in the Summer time this year.

Zafakon

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

WN: We would love to visit as many countries as we can, but I would say the top would be places in Europe, South America, and Asia for sure.

Who and what inspires you the most?

WN: In my case, personally, I cannot deny that I’m a huge Opeth fan, so Mikael Akerfeldt is definitely one of the people I really look up to. When you hear his story, coming up with as many difficulties he did during the early stages of the band and, still, he wouldn’t quit, makes him someone to look up to, in my case. As far as circumstances that inspire me, I would say that seeing the happy faces of everyone that goes to our shows during our set it is something that keeps me motivated to keep doing this. There is no way to describe how amazing it is to get positive feedback from the crowd while you are playing.

MV: I take a lot of inspiration from Nergal from Behemoth. I just think that he is an incredibly strong person. He has been through a lot and never lost his focus nor did he lose his convictions. I also admire how his mind works, creatively. I think he is also someone not who is not afraid to break any barriers and is definitely not concerned about what the world wants to impose on him. So I really like to think that I can be that kind of person.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

WN: I mainly listen to Rock/Metal, recently I’m getting into 70’s Prog Rock and a lot of modern Doom and Stoner Metal. But, coming from Puerto Rico, there is a lot of Latin music that you listen to practically every day, it’s in our blood. So, stuff like Salsa and Latin Jazz are there as well. I try to incorporate different approaches from the music I listen to. Usually, if I find interesting a specific section of a song, I’ll just study the approach and try to apply it into my playing.

MV: Well I honestly mostly listen to Metal and Rock. It’s what I love. Other genres I dabble in are Blues (old Mississippi Delta stuff), some orchestral pieces (like videogame soundtracks ‘cause I’m a dork), some proggy stuff too: Rush, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and also the best thing that ever happened to music: Pink Floyd.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

WN: Thank you for this opportunity! We would like to thank everyone that read this interview and I would like to invite everyone to check our music out. You can stream “Release” on Spotify and our Bandcamp page. And you can follow us on: Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for the latest news on the band.

MV: What he said.

Serpentyne

Interview with SERPENTYNE

Female-fronted Symphonic Rock/Metal band from London, Serpentyne have been around since 2010, and for the period of seven years they put out three studio full-length albums. Their most recent release, 2016′s “The Serpent Kiss” offers a very pleasant listening experience.

Singer Maggie-Beth Sand and Mark Powell, who plays hurdy gurdy, spoke for Progstravaganza.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

MAGGIE-BETH and MARK: Great, thanks!

You released “The Serpent’s Kiss” in 2016. How do you feel about the release?

MARK: We’re very pleased with it ourselves, and it’s good that we’ve had some very positive reviews and a lot of media interest.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

MAGGIE-BETH: It was challenging- but in a good way! The first two albums, “Stella Splendens,” and “Myths and Muses,” followed the mediaeval-world music themes, though we also used modern instruments, dance and dubstep loops, etc. For “The Serpent’s Kiss,” we moved into the heavier rock area, with the addition of Matthew Damian’s guitar. We still kept the mediaeval-world sound though, as Mark’s hurdy-gurdy is a prominent part of many of the songs, and we also stuck to the mythical-historic theme, with songs like Jeanne d’ Arc (Joan of Arc) and the title track, “The Serpent’s Kiss” which is based on the story of Anthony and Cleopatra.

MARK: The recording experience was good- it was quite a revelation at times to hear the songs coming together with the new sound.

CDDF-4P2V-001

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from UK are you friends with?

MAGGIE-BETH: We have many good friends on the UK music scene, from the rock, prog, folk and mediaeval sides of it, but there is no-one who combines all these elements apart from us!

What is your opinion about the current rock/metal scene?

MARK: In the UK, it is very conservative; there are a lot of talented, original musicians and bands who are not getting the exposure and recognition that they deserve, and a lot of venues are closing down. I always feel that the scene throughout the rest of Europe is healthier, and more open to new talent.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

MAGGIE-BETH: Opera, rock, classical, mediaeval, Gothic, symphonic metal, cinematic music with epic themes and big choirs, and anything that uses vocal arrangements, ranging from mediaeval and ethnic songs to big chorales.

MARK: Much the same as Maggie.

Serpentyne

What are you listening to these days?

MAGGIE-BETH: A very wide selection covering, Led Zeppelin, Within Temptation, Nightwish, Delain, Eluveitie, Pink Floyd, film music, opera…

MARK: I discovered “Two Steps From Hell” a while ago, and love their music.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

MAGGIE-BETH: Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti. Within Temptation – The Silent Force. Pink Floyd – The Division Bell and The Dark Side of the Moon, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana; the version recorded by the Choir and Orchestra of the Deutschen Oper Berlin, with Eugen Jochum.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “The Serpent’s Kiss”?

MARK: Maggie and I have compatible home recording studios, where we record quite a lot using Apple Mac/Logic setups. For the drums and guitar recording, we used a Presonus system in a local studio. We then transferred the Presonus recordings to Logic for mixing. For mastering, we always use Air Studio in Hampstead, London, as their mastering room has everything!

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

MAGGIE-BETH: We are now writing songs for the next one, which should be released towards the end of 2017 or early 2018. We have several festival and other show dates lined up this year, with more coming in.

Any words for the potential new fans?

MARK: If you haven’t heard us before, please check us out at www.serpentyne.com, and we hope you enjoy it!

MAGGIE-BETH: Thanks to Progstravaganza for talking to us, and greetings to your readers!

Konstant Singularity

Interview with KONSTANT SINGULARITY

Konstantin Ilyin aka Konstant Singularity recently put out his sophomore studio album which is called “Randomnicity,” and presents a great collection of instrumental guitar-driven fusion. “Randomnicity” is quite an enjoyable experience, and definitely one of the albums from 2016 that anyone who like this style of music should check out. I talked with Konstantin about this record, inspiration, and some more.  

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Life is great! I’ve moved to Ireland not so long ago. I’m exploring new territories, meeting new people. It is a beautiful country, everybody is polite and nice. I enjoy it. This sets me in a creative mood. Just forget about all problems and write music – that is what I need to be happy.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “Randomnicity”?

Honest emotions and intimate feelings. It is an instrumental music. There is no particular message in each song. So everybody can hear whatever is important for them. I hope music will resonate with listener’s feelings and will make a day a bit brighter. It is a very emotional record and I trust it will not leave you indifferent.

Randomnicity

What was it like working on the album?

Easy. I mean, of course, I’ve put a lot of effort in this record, but I enjoy it so much that it feels very easy to do day after day. This time I’ve let my emotions drive the creative process. I didn’t try to force it. Write whenever you want and whatever you want – that was my motto (laughing). I forgot about genres, target audience, radio formats and so on, and just created what I like personally. In order to make it sound more alive, I invited my good friend Alex Vostrikov to record live drums on this album. It was a very important decision, cause he made a huge impact on the sound – brought some bits of jazz with very rich drum parts. It made each track more interesting and added another level of musicality.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Randomnicity”?

I didn’t plan to tour with this record. It is a solo project, which means I’m basically alone. Making a live show would be a complicated thing. But if there are people who would help me to organise the tour, I would definitely do that. At least I have a drummer (smiling). If the opportunity comes up, I will.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

All over the world! But realistically – Europe and United States. Ireland is a very good spot for that. Very easy to get to any European country and also quite easy to get to States.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Usually, people around me and my feelings about these people. Every composition has a special meaning to me. Related to some event and personal experience. Sometimes a good movie can inspire to write a song. Also, I’m very influenced by other musicians. When I listen to my favourite bands I immediately want to grab an instrument and compose.

konstant_singularity_003

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

Oh, I listen to different music. I don’t limit myself with genres. If I like the song I don’t really care what style it is. From jazz to death metal – I listen to anything. On this record, you can hear influences of contemporary jazz like Esbjorn Svensson, dark jazz – Bohren & der club of Gore. As well as electronic music like Trifonic and Massive Attack. I could mention Opeth as well. This death metal band is very progressive and I’ve been listening to it for many years.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

I would like to thank everybody who listens to my music. I hope it will support you in happiness and sadness. If I manage to make somebody’s day a bit brighter – then my music serves a good purpose.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

merkaba_graphic

Interview with MERKABA

Louis Goodwin is a young songwriter behind the instrumental progressive project Merkaba. In November he released an EP titled “Merkaba,” and I talked with him about his work.

What made you go for the name Merkaba?

Back around when I was beginning to develop this project and first putting together the EP, I became very interested in the teachings of this Hindu/Buddhist, L-Ron-Hubbard type spiritualist dude, and whilst not the strongest believer, I found it all rather intriguing. In his teachings, he talked of this magical, ‘love powered’, dimension-jumping, time-travelling, force-field called a “Merkaba”. The idea of a musical project that transcends dimensions sounded pretty Djent, so the name stuck.

How do you usually describe your music?

Depending on who I’m describing it too, usually “Really Angry Music”. Too other metal-enthusiasts, however, I mostly describe Merkaba as a cross between aggressive Progressive Metal (doing my best to avoid that trigger word; Djent), a few elements of Metalcore, a splash of Jazzy Electronic stuff, and as much ambience as possible.

What is your writing process like?

A mess. It usually starts off as a singular riff recorded in Reaper, a long with the simplest of drum tracks. this is quickly followed by about 9 different variations of that riff, 4 different chorus ideas, 6 verses, 3 bridges, a middle 8, and a solo bongo drum section in 33/8 time. Eventually I will boil all the various riffage down into a song, but the journey is long and this usually is happening alongside 3 or 4 other song ideas.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

Inspiration is quite a broad term, am inspired by a huge number of people. I would mostly accredit my musical interests to people like my Dad and Grandmother, who still haven’t given up on me. Musically, however, bands such as Monuments, Periphery and Tesseract are the greatest inspiration for the music I write, and guitarists such as Tosin Abasi, Misha Mansoor, Plini and John Browne are the biggest inspiration on my guitar playing.

merkaba-ep-cover

What is your favourite piece on the “Merkaba” EP?

Probably Refraction/Reflection, I was rather pleased with how those two songs tied together, rather inspired by Reflections “The Color Clear”. I really enjoy writing songs with recurring themes and a possible concept album is something I envision for the future.

What makes “Merkaba” different?

I’d like to say the use of electronic and Jazz elements, but that’s something that’s been done a thousand times before. I guess it would be the large mix of ideas and influences, there’s no set genre or subgenre for Merkaba, I love the really heavy Meshuggah style stuff, super jazzy Animals as Leaders, really light and proggy Plini and later Intervals stuff and so on. I’ve never thought “I want Merkaba to just be ridiculously heavy” or “This is all just going to be atmospheric prog stuff”, I’m too bad at making decisions.

What should music lovers expect from “Merkaba”?

I suppose creativity, being as little “up-my-own-behind” as possible. I try to use as little generic riffage as I can, except the odd riff or too (looking at you, “Reflection”), so for music lovers this may be a taste of something new or exotic.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

As many as they wish, I feel it’s up to them. As with all music, your perception of what you feel when you listen to music differs from everyone else, including the artists. We all have completely different memories, different ways of expressing emotion and different perspectives on life. My audience are going to feel completely different when they listen to my music than when I do, hopefully they won’t feel too bored though.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Probably David Maxim Micic’s “Eco”, because no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to get sick of that album. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is another must have, never have I loved any album more and it evokes some precious memories. Lastly, it’s a toss up between either Monuments’ “The Amanuensis”, or Periphery’s “PII: This Time it’s Personal” because I adore both albums, the complexities of “PII” are amazing, and I don’t think I could live without the “Somewhere in Time” Trilogy (Muramasa, Ragnarok and Masamume), “The Amanuensis” just flows incredibly, and the combination of Chris Barretto’s vocals and John Browne’s amazing riffs are to die for.

Links:

Facebook

Bandcamp

elarcos

Interview with ELARCOS

Elarcos is an Uruguayan progressive / fusion rock band who in October this year released their debut album “Tecnocracia.” I was very impressed with the musicianship showcased on the release; these guys are really talented. The band’s drummer, Diego Caetano, was very kind to answer my questions about the band’s work.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Hello!!! Thanks for asking! Well, personally I’m very focused in our next live show, trying to get every song played perfectly, given that it’s the official live presentation of the album. This will be the second time we play the songs, but now the people has the album, so there is an expectation to be fulfilled.

Also I’m very happy with the awesome comments we are having from a lot of places, feedback is the most satisfactory part of making art for me, it is what keeps me going and it helps me project new stuff. It also helps taking the band to new places! So, exciting is the word to resume my life atm.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “Tecnocracia”?

Yes! Our first one, we are very satisfied with the fact that it’s done. For us, Uruguayan musicians it’s very important to have this achievement, given that here there is no industry for this music, even for rock music it’s very very difficult to endure.
But besides that, we are very proud of our songs and the way that they came up. Personally I’m so proud of this wonderful musicians that surround me in this project, they have great minds for music and being near them just makes you get your pants on and improve your game.

The album comes with epic heavy prog metal, our primarily influences are Symphony X, Haken and Dream Theater and our main distinctive sound comes from our frontman who sings and plays the sax. We all enjoy every minute of the songs, given that it’s almost half instrumental and half sung.

Tecnocracia comes with seven songs, all of different lengths but all part of the same concept, wich is reinforced with the lecture of the printed booklet, which includes a prologue and a conductive narrative.

In a matter of sound, people can find themselves hearing defying lines in every instrument and also complexity in composition, time signatures and harmonies. Our main goal at the time of composing was making it friendly to the ear, so it won’t be a snobby trip, you can also nod your head and headbang to most of the album, with also nipple hardening ballads and dick hardening solos!

tecnocracia

What was it like working on the album?

Well, it had so many confusing phases. When I got in the band, it had another name and another songs. We had 2 live performances and then we instantly encouraged ourselves to go into the studio, so we recorded our first demo (the 12 minute piece “Microapología”), wich actually is the album’s final song.

After that, we received good feedback and people started to ask about the album… so we got into it. The guys had been working on the 27 minute epic “Tecnocracia”, which was previously named “Terminator” (because of the inspiration on the classic movie), so we worked on that one and then new songs came up from Gustavo, Ale, Mario and myself. Then in August 2014 I entered the studio for playing the drums in a 3-day marathon and then the guys started to lay their instruments over that.

The process of recording was indeed very stressfull and long, because there were a lot of things in which we failed repeatedly due to the lack of experience in recording, so we had a lot of phases of re-recording and an extensive drum editing, given that the result from the studio wasn’t the one we expected. We preferred to take the time to refine the sounds and arrangements, than rushing and having a lower level thing.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Tecnocracia”?

Yes and No at the same time. We are at the moment, independent and trying to partner with people who could give us the chance to make it, it’s our biggest dream! Our anxiety is there, our impulse is there, we just need the hook to make the jump

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

We want to tour in Europe and United States, given the amount of festivals and consumers of this type of music. Also there is the dream of having the chance to meet our musical inspirations from around the world, who are also constantly touring.

In South America it’s likely to play in Argentina, Chile and Colombia, but it’s hard to penetrate on those markets as Uruguayans. This continent has an audience that tends to accept preferently the northern bands than the locals, but we want to take the necessary shots to get in there, that’s why our message is in a clear local variation of Spanish.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Actually my drumming inspirations are Sebastian Lanser, Anika Nilles, Mike Portnoy and Bobby Jarzombek, but the ones who made me decide to go for the drums as a kid were John Dolmayan, David Silvera and John Otto.

As a composer and guitar player, Bumblefoot, Steven Wilson and Muse.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

I grew in an enviroment of local folk and pop music, but the things changed when cable Tv arrived to the neighbourhood, bringing MTV (when they played music) in the 90’s, so the main attractions from metal were Metallica, System Of A Down, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Korn, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot. I spent my whole childhood and teenage around those kind of bands, until Internet came and the gate was fully open to new things such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater and every related artist and bands from there.

Nowadays I am more influenced with relaxed music as Steven Wilson, Bent Knee, Chon, Eruca Sativa, Mike Love, Ghost, Snarky Puppy. I prefer to feed my musical influences with new things that doesn’t sound all the same, it gives you more tools to work on your compositions.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Thanks to you, really. It feels really awesome to have this first chance to show the world what we do!

If there is any fan out there, we would love you to spread the word and get in touch with us, we did this as an expression and the final part is to have the feedback! We have a gigantic hunger of knowing the world trough music, adventure and having real conversations that are not trough electric impulses of a screen! 

Thank you so much for this opportunity, again, it means a lot to us!

Links:

Facebook

YouTube

to-die-elsewhere

Interview with TO DIE ELSEWHERE

Progressive metalcore trio from Salem, Oregon, To Die Elsewhere, in 2016 launched their debut full length album titled Whispers, which is a collection of 13 well executed and well played tracks. The band is already working on a new EP which will be released early next year, and about this all they told us in an interview below.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Splendid! We are spending time with our families and getting ready for Christmas!

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “Whispers”?

It’s our take on the progression of metalcore to a new, more technical style of metal.

What was it like working on the album?

It was a lot of work! We did the whole album ourselves, which was great because it allowed us to make it exactly how we wanted it. But that also presented a challenge as we had to work on it around our day-to-day lives. Tracking before work, tracking after work, listening to test mixes in our cars on our lunch breaks. There were a lot of late nights, but it was all worth it!

to-die-elsewhere-whispers

Are there any touring plans in support to “Whispers”?

We are currently setting up a regional tour with some of our good friends in early 2017! We are so excited to play songs off of this album that we haven’t played in a live environment yet!

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

All of Europe! Specifically, The United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Italy. Also, Australia!

Who and what inspires you the most?

Rick is inspired by classic literature. Some of his favorite authors are Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker.

Spencer is inspired by things that push the boundaries of music. Whether it’s new gear, or musicians such as Tosin Abasi, Charlie Christian, and James Hetfield.

Jamison is inspired by Neil Peart, Michael Jordan, and competition.

To Die Elsehwere

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

As a group we like a lot of sub genres of jazz, funk, hip-hop, and classic punk. What impacts our playing the most, however, is the unpredictable structuring of jazz, and the musical complexity of progressive rock. As we grow as musicians, we are constantly striving to apply new stylistic flares into our playing.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?
We are writing a new EP that we plan to release in early 2017. Make sure to keep up with us on Facebook as we get closer to releasing that.
Xeno

Interview: XENO

There is another cool band coming from the land of windmills. And weed. They are called XENO, they serve uncompromising prog death metal with tech tendencies, and they came up with their debut album “Atlas Construct” this year.

I talked with the band, and here is what they tell about their work.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Life’s good. There are a lot of cool bands out there right now, so life’s good. We hope you can say the same! Thanks for asking.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “Atlas Construct”?

Well, yeah! We just got our album out recently. On it you’ll find a handful of songs with styles ranging from death to groove, melodic, black, whatever. Expect an album without boundaries set genre-wise. We wanted our album to represent ourselves, and we think we pulled it off.

Xeno - Atlas Construct

What was it like working on the album?

It was fun, but hard work. This is our first recording attempt, and with it came challenges never faced before. Luckily for us it worked out in the end so here it is. The band has it’s base in the south of the Netherlands, but not every member lives there. Due to that, recording fulltime proved to be difficult, so we had to improvise sometimes. All lessons learned made us wiser in the end. We know what to do and what not to do now.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Atlast Construct”?

At the moment we are playing some clubs and a festival here and there. No tour booked or planned. We are going to try to organise a tour next summer, hopefully in one of our neighbouring countries.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

An ultimate dream would be Japan, we love the culture there. America would be great as well, since not everyone in the band has been there yet. The vastness really appeals to us. Sightseeing aside, we would play in any country if the people there share our energy.

xeno_band

Who and what inspires you the most?

We try to be selfproviding with inspiration. Of course this is difficult to maintain since there are a million things going on around you. Most of our ‘outside’ inspiration comes from other bands we listen to. I’m referring to bands like Lamb of God, Xerath, Meshuggah, Gojira, that kind of stuff.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

We listen to a lot, haha! Ranging from black metal to jazz, or even blackjazz (Shining, anyone?) we find ourselves drowning in a forever refilling pool of awesomeness.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

This is not the time for life advice I guess. If it is, don’t stare directly into the sun, you’ll go blind.

Don’t give up on metal.

Period.

Links:

xenometal.com

Bandcamp

Facebook

nomadic

Interview: Nomadic

Nomadic, a death metal band from Tampa, has just launched a new single titled “The Crooked Man,” a follow-up to their debut EP “Horror” which was released earlier this year.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Life’s good. I’m touring, man. I’m playing music.

Speaking of new music, you have an EP. What can people expect from “Horror”?

People can expect a death metal album that is in no-way “ordinary” or “classic”. There’s everything from blast beats, to driving, intense melody, and from low-guttural screams to soft, melodic singing.

What was it like working on the album?

It was stressful, yet very rewarding.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Horror”?

We toured the album already with our buds in Untomoria, and played a CD release party and some other shows around Florida. We leave for tour again this month to support our new single, releasing 10/14/16.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

I would love to tour Spain, Japan, England, Finland, and Sweden. I feel like we’d kill it there.

Who and what inspires you the most?

I get the most inspired by people having a positive reaction to our music. It means a lot to me when our music means something to someone else.

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

I listen to a lot of pop, indie, and trap music. I wish I had a better answer, but they don’t really have any impact on my playing, I just really enjoy listening to them.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Make sure you pick up our EP “The Horror”, check out “The Crooked Man” when we drop it, and come to a show when we play a city near you.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

Ryan Mark Elliott of Eden Shadow

Interview with EDEN SHADOW

Eden Shadow is a brainchild of composer and multi-isntrumentalist Ryan Mark Elliott, and “Melodies for Maladies” is the sophomore studio record which represent a massive chunk of material that explores progressive rock and beyond.

I had pleasure to talk with Ryan about this new material, but he also told me about the gear, his vision of the progressive rock scene today, inspiration and influences, and more.

Hey Ryan. How are you doing?

Very well thank you. It’s been a busy couple of years but I can now celebrate the recent Eden Shadow release.

You released “Melodies for Maladies” recently. How do you feel about the release?

A mixture of elation and relief. This sophomore record was an exciting but tricky record. The band, engineers and team on board with this record were amazing, so I am proud to have created a record where so many talented individuals have had their input. I have been working on this record since 2011 so it seems surreal it’s out there now for people to listen to. It’s an intense album, and I am proud of it.

melodies-for-maladies

How much of a challenge was it to work on the album?

An enormous challenge. It’s an ambitious and tough record to play in the technical sense. Some of the guitar parts I had written before I could play them and Aled has told me that this is one of the most challenging records he has drummed on, and he’s drummed on a fair few records!

Besides that, I was super meticulous with the production process, making sure everything was sounding the way I wanted it too and making the focus all on the playing rather than big walls of sound, which meant much less synthesisers than our last record.

The most challenging part of all though was getting the overall vision and statement across on this album. For all the technical effort that has gone into this album, I’ve intended for it to serve the artistic vision. The reason that that was challenging is because I wrote music about dark themes, I mean really dark. The entire lyrical content, is about post-truth politics, subterfuge, manipulation, the media, war, depression, anxiety and loss. That sounds really miserable but the end of the album does shift the whole perspective of everything and focuses on hope. It took years of searching, arranging and reflecting on this album critically before it all came together in a way that was sophisticated and said what I wanted it to say.

That being said, it has been incredibly exciting to work on this record, there have been some immensely rewarding moments in making this record and the time spent in the studio I would regard as having some of the best moments of my life.

Ryan Mark Elliott

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from UK are you friends with?

I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of people in the genre and that is mainly through my record label, White Knight Records, and one of the main men behind the label is Rob Reed of Magenta.

I met Rob Reed when I was 17 and he has been a mentor for me ever since. He is a wonderful and very honest musician with a lot of integrity and I have learnt a lot from him. I also know Nick Barret of Pendragon. Myself, Rob and Nick have shared really interesting conversations about music and one of the biggest talking points is the changing ways in which people listen to music. I.e. access over ownership. Spotify hit 40 million subscribers not too long ago, and it is has been a huge topic for artists. I am in favour of streaming and know it is becoming huge, especially with Amazon now introducing their service. Not everyone will be in favour of it though with regards to the pay and loosing that tangibility: Rob and Nick are against it and I can totally empathise why, but at the same time, I am part of a generation that has a different interaction with music. It is fascinating to me. Ultimately, I use a streaming to discover artists so I would be a hypocrite to speak out against it and as a very young artist, my priority is getting heard over getting paid. I would be shooting myself in the foot if Eden Shadow did not feature on streaming sites.

Aside from that, I have met Pete Jones of Tiger Moth Tales, an amazing talent and a breath of fresh air in the prog scene. I’ve met the guys from Haken a few times when I was living in London, I remember finding their first couple of records jaw dropping. They came out when I was still a teenager.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Hackett when I was doing a research project too. He is an absolute gentleman!

What is your opinion about the current progressive rock scene?

It’s alive! Which is good. However, I don’t think it will ever be as prominent as it ever was in the 70’s, and it will always in some ways be on the peripheral with it’s cult following.

I do have my qualms about it and I think that comes down to two things. The first one is the overbearing nostalgia. There are some fascinating young or current acts coming out such as TesseracT, Karnivool and Mew but I feel like the main magazine outlets still won’t venture away from putting Dark Side of the Moon or Close to the Edge on their covers. Those are timeless records but they came out over 40 years ago! We need to embrace and support the new.
The other thing is how inauthentic prog has a tendency to be. Put it this way: music is a form of art, and art resonates best with people when it speaks truth. That would probably explain why ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ is one of the most successful albums of this genre in recent years. It is because it is a very honest album about alienation and isolation that many people could identify with. Prog tends to be more focused on the cerebral rather than sincerity, and I have probably done that myself when I was younger. I am starting to move away from that now. I don’t have a problem with the music being like that at all, it’s more that it just doesn’t interest me as much when I listen to or write music these days.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

The first bands that I ever listened to as a child were Queen and Rush. Brian May and Alex Lifeson were my two huge influences when I grew up as a guitarist. Further on from that, I started listening to frightening guitar stuff like Satriani, Vai, Eric Johnson and Dream Theater. That really shaped me in my teens and those were the players I wanted to play like. I ended up spending hours and hours with a metronome and learning crazy technical stuff. Later on, I then started discovering albums like Debut by Bjork, Hounds of Love by Kate Bush, OK Computer by Radiohead and In Absentia by Porcupine Tree. All of those albums were game changers for me. I look back at many of the artists I grew up with and it’s like having a tree of influences where listening to one artist has somehow spurred me onto listening to another!

Ryan Mark Elliott

What are you listening to these days?

There have been some amazing releases over the past couple of years. The latest releases that I am listening to are Laura Mvula’s The Dreaming Room, Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Eric Johnson’s new acoustic album, Have you in my Wilderness by Julia Holter, Keeping the Peace by Arthur Beatrice, Pale Green Ghosts by John Grant, Beach House latest two records, The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey, A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead, oh and Opacities by Sikth. All of these records I have listened to in the last couple of weeks. I recommend them all!

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Argh, I love so many records! This probably changes on occasion, but the first records to pop into my head are:

Vespertine – Bjork
Moving Pictures – Rush
Dirt – Alice in Chains
Once I was an Eagle – Laura Marling
Wish you were here – Pink Floyd

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Melodies for Maladies”?

I used a 93 Paul Reed Smith (It is a year younger than me!) which is a gorgeous guitar for all the overdriven guitars and most of the solos. I used a custom telecaster for the cleans and leslie effected guitars. I also had my Ibanez Paul Gilbert, 12 string acoustic and a Martin acoustic as well for a wide range of guitar tones. It is an eclectic album so I needed a wide range of guitars and effects. Additionally I used a Victory Countess and Mesa Boogie. The best of British amplifiers, mixed with the best of American!

I reduced the use of synthesisers on this album, but my Moog Subphatty features very prominently on this record. I love it…it sounds enormous! I also used EastWest on Introspect and Logos. Alex used a 89 Washburn and Fender P Bass and Aled uses a Pearl Masters kit.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Yes. I am currently working with my other band, the Kinky Wizzards on the post-production of the second album. It is a very different side of my musical self, much more humorous and it’s all about the interplay between myself, Miff on Bass and Jiff on drums. A lot of people compare us to The Aristocrats and Frank Zappa. Our record should be out early next year.

I will be looking to play live with both Eden Shadow and Kinky Wizzards next summer.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Welcome to the world of Eden Shadow! Hope you enjoy the new album, and look forward to potentially seeing you on the road!

Links:

http://edenshadow.net/

https://www.facebook.com/edenshadow/