LA rock quartet, The Shadow Principle, has been around for a few years now, and they released two albums: “Golden State” (2012) and “Oblivion,” released in July this year.
The band successfully creates music that largely relies on punk, alternative rock and progressive rock. In 2015, The Shadow Principle introduced a new singer, Nohl Takahashi, whose performance on “Oblivion” is absolutely stunning.
Takahashi and bassist Dave Tomkins spoke for Progstravaganza about their new record.
All right, first things first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?
BOTH: Great! Thanks for asking.
You have a new album. What can people expect from “Oblivion”?
DAVE: Good songs, good performances, and lots of energy. Check out our new video for “When the Sun Appears” on YouTube to get a taste of what’s in store.
NOHL: People can expect a pure, heartfelt rock record. I feel they should take time to enjoy the lyrics secondary to the amazing musical performances on this record to receive the messages.
What was it like working on the album?
DAVE: I’m quite happy with the results, but I found the album difficult to make. For me, if a song doesn’t feel fresh, unique, exciting, or if it doesn’t really attract me lyrically, harmonically, and/or melodically, I’m just not satisfied. And I’ll keep working at it and working at it until it finally feels “right.” For some reason, that happened a lot during the two-year period we spent preparing the material on “Oblivion.” We worked so hard to make all these songs the best they could be, and we did so knowing we wanted to this record to be different from our last one, “Golden State.“
NOHL: It was a great learning experience, and at the same time it raised everyone’s performance bar to a new level.
Are there any touring plans in support to “Oblivion”?
NOHL: We are currently supporting the record on a local basis only. Should we hear good news from elsewhere, we definitely will be the first to jump on a plane and entertain the masses.
While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?
DAVE: Well, the Germans seem to like us: I would love to play there. Honestly, mounting a European tour is a life-long dream of mine. Touring Japan sounds like a blast, too, as does visiting South American countries with loads of rock fans.
Who and what inspire you the most?
DAVE: Musically speaking? Well, I’m a big fan of David Bowie’s songwriting, and Pete Townshend’s—and more recently of Steven Wilson’s. I love Beck’s acoustic-based stuff, too. And the guys in Interpol craft some pretty awesome songs. When it comes to bass, I’m all about the hall-of-famers: Chris Squire, John Entwhistle, Tony Levin, Geddy Lee, Jaco, of course, Alphonso Johnson, and Stanley Clarke. It doesn’t get better than those guys. Other music that has inspired me recently? Certainly Refused’s latest album “Freedom“—especially “Servants of Death” and “Elektra.” And I love Bowie’s “Blackstar,” but I can’t listen to it all the way through without getting incredibly bummed that he’s no longer with us. I also think Beck’s “Morning Phase,” TV on the Radio’s “Seeds,” and Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool” are all brilliant. All this music inspires me to write better songs, play better bass, and to remain open and curious about what great rock music can accomplish.
NOHL: The sense of self and the constant drive to be present in the world of illusion is truly what inspires me the most as an individual. I don’t believe in heroes nor in wearing their symbols—I’m here to make my own.
What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?
DAVE: As I mentioned above, I’m all over the map in terms of genre. Electronic music, ambient music, Progressive music, 70s glam rock, punk, post-punk, folk, even contemporary Top 40 has an impact on how I write and play. I try to absorb as much as possible from everything I hear.
NOHL: All genres—period. All genres have unique sonic perceptions, so all must be appreciated in my opinion.
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?
DAVE: Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so that we can keep you updated on our activities. And do check out the new record! You’ll find it on iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. Also, if you dig us, tell your friends. Share a link to our stuff on social media. I can’t overstate the importance of those little gestures in this day and age. We’d love to keep making music for you—help us do so by spreading the word!
NOHL: Please do say “hi” to us on Facebook and feel free to contact us anytime. We would love to hear back from people if they felt inspired, or if a song had joined them in a process in life. We hope to see you at a show someday!
The Shadow Principle’s “Oblivion” is out now. Get it from Bandcamp.