Tag Archives: alternative rock

given-free-rein

Interview with GIVEN FREE REIN

Given Free Rein is a post-punk power trio from Athens in Greece who earlier this year released their debut album “In-Eart Trip.” I talked with the mainman behind the project Andrew Kouretas

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

Cool in general terms! I am good and I feel really lucky that I live in a country where I am free to express myself the way I want and create the things I like. At the same time, I live in a country where the economy sucks and we all have big problems.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “In-Ear Trip“?

The “In-Ear Trip” is the journey of the mind through the dark city streets towards the light of the future. The inner voice that someone hears only when the music triggers his imagination and his soul,when the headphones are plugged into his ears and then into his brain and take him away. It is an album made with passion and devotion and the songs cover a big range of music style influences, from punk to electronic and post rock.

in-ear-trip

What was it like working on the album?

It was the coolest thing I have ever done, and the most rewarding process I ‘ve been into. It was quite a challenge for me to to work in such high technical and musical level with very talented musicians. It was the first time I was doing that so I was thrilled and filled with enthusiasm from the very beginning until the release of the album. I have to admit that all this process changed me as musician but also as a person and definitely I am not the same guy as when I started.

Are there any touring plans in support to “In-Ear Trip”?

At the moment, no.

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

England for sure! But any country would be real fun.

Who and what inspires you the most?

The difficulties I have to face in everyday life is the biggest inspiration of all as they kind of put me in the process of writing music. For me inspiration has to do with a certain atmosphere I want to create in every song and this has to do with the sounds I use each time. I don’t know if the gear leads me to the idea or the idea leads me to the gear but maybe it’s both. I believe that the sound itself has a profound impact on the idea and I like grasping the vibe of the sound frequencies.

andrew-kouretas

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

It was always difficult for me to distinguish the musical genres. For me, music is not so a stylistic matter as it is an atmospheric field where various sounds combine with each other and form a work of art. Maybe I could say that electronic music has been a big influence for me along with rock, punk and metal music. Surely, I have been influenced by everything I ‘ve listened to. Lately, I listen to trap music among other things.

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?

Support Given Free Rein band. It would be an honour for us to have our music spread worldwide and be able to continue our trip!

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

The Shadow Principle - Oblivion

Review: The Shadow Principle – Oblivion

Post-punk is often regarded as a genre that has a lot of similar sounding bands, especially when it comes to vocals. LA’s The Shadow Principle do play to the post-punk sound pretty tightly but on their new, second album Oblivion, they also take the time to raise their music beyond the confines of that sound. How far they go beyond those confines is subjective but they do find something for everyone.

The album opens on the epic sprawl of “Minutae,” which cuts from a big beginning to fast-paced verse filled with light guitar flourishes that at times sound so flowing. The song’s guitar solo, awesomely performed by Reza Moosavi, takes the song out on a great note. The bass, courtesy of Dave Tomkins, on “When the Sun Appears” gives a nice secondary riff that outdoes the guitar at times. Vocals of Nohl Takahashi are a huge addition to the song’s energy and anthem-feeling vibe.

Byzantium” has a much more mysterious opening than the earlier tracks thanks to a great echoing atmospheric line at the beginning. The riffs that drive “Dead Walking” give it an opening well above many on the record.

Oblivion may not be a game-changer but it gives The Shadow Principle ground to stand on and a great example of their sound and talent. Even if you’re not a fan of post-punk with different influences you can get behind a track like “When the Sun Appears.The Shadow Principle play to their genre well while trying to explore other ideas within that sound.

Buy Oblivion here.

Too High To Say Hello

Review: Kiss Kiss King Kong – Too High To Say Hello

Norway’s power trio Kiss Kiss King Kong assault listeners’ ears with highly energetic and sporadic bursts of brilliant dynamics on “To High To Say Hello.” Colorful, complex, and superbly catchy, the band’s debut album is an exceptional collection of hyperactive post-rock and noisy flights of fancy, with momentous musicianship infectious hooks scattered throughout. This album is adventurous, imaginative, and surprising. In fact, it’s the most fearless and unique album I’ve heard this year, although it’s a release from 2015.

The opening “Intro the Night” kickstarts “Too High To Say Hello” like an auditory coma. On “668: Neighbour To The Beast,” the music jolts with a start/stop frenzy that’s too tremendous to ignore. The guitarist provides an impassioned melody for each wildly creative rhythmic shift, which vary between hectic, tranquil, and atmospheric. Best of all, this song proves to be one of the most inventive and unforeseen tracks I’ve heard all year. The psyched-out guitar work is seductive, and the instrumentation on this tune veers more towards psychedelic swing than anything progressive. It bleeds into the equally exciting rock’n’roll banter “Rock All Night” and its follow-up “On A High,” making for completely unexpected stylistic shifts.

Further on, “Bordell California” lives up to the zany awesomeness of its title. It’s luscious, multifarious, and wholly confident — considering it is the longest piece on the record. It is perhaps the most experimental piece on the album, and definitely one of the biggest highlights of “Too High To Say Hello.

Post-punk trails on short “Jet Age” further contribute to the album’s overall multicolourness. The closing “Rewind” is an elegant piece with soaring vocals and tasteful melody.

Too High To Say Hello” is so inimitable. Rarely have I been so impressed with the sheer nonconformity of an album. Then again, it’s equally rare to find a modern band who strives so hard to set itself apart from the pack. Without a doubt, this one is special.

Grab a copy of “Too High To Say Hello” from iTunes. Like Kiss Kiss King Kong on Facebook.

Hombre Bestia

Interview with Hombre Bestia

Mexican alternative/progressive rock band Hombre Bestia returned in November with an EP release “Janus.” In the interview below guitarist and singer Bruno talks about it.

Hey Bruno. How are you doing?

Very good.

Hombre Bestia’s new EP “Janus” was just launched. How do you feel about the release?

We’re pretty excited that finally our new sound can be heard by our fans. Claroscuro, our first album, was launched 2 years ago, so new material was pretty urgent.

How is the scene in Mexico?

There is a moreless well formed pop/rock, with many holes there and there. Scene for alternative, prog and related genres is nearly null, though there are many efforts to create one. The is public of course, Steven Wilson comes regularly and sells about 2 dates, Riverside has come twice and there are efforts to bring more and more bands. The problem is to create a circuit for national bands and prog fans to get to know local bands of the genres. We’ve noted an increasing number of bands and some media interested in these type of sound, and though it is growing rapidly, it’s still forming.

Janus

What is your opinion about the new wave of progressive bands?

Me and Hombre Bestia really dig that Neo prog (as some calls this new wave). Bands such as Karnivool, Opeth and Riverside have been a really big influence in our sound. We were fans even before Hombre Bestias first rehearsals. Of course we love classic prog, but we think it’s great that there is an evolution.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Of course! I think one of my biggest influence and personal heroes is Jeff Buckley. Great composer with a great voice and a big sense of improvisation when playing live. Other big influences include Steven WIlson and David Bowie, clearly geniuses in many genres.

What are you listening these days?

My last discovery was Mehliana, a jazz duo conformed by drummer Mark Guiliana, who by the way played drums in David Bowies last single “I’m a Blackstar”, and keyboardist Brad Mehldau. I’ve been listening to their album Taming the Dragon a lot these days!

Hombre Bestia

Your five favourite records of all time?

Tricky one! Not in any particular order I’d say Grace by Jeff Buckley, Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree, Cure for Pain by Morphine and In The Court of The Crimson King by King Crimson. The fifth spot is the difficult one with so many options. A tie between Asymmetry by Karnivool and Shrine of New Generation Slaves by Riverside would be my option.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear Hombre Bestia has used to record the EP?

From the bottom of the mix, drums were mostly Ludwig, with floor toms Tama and Fig, a local mexican drums company. Snare was a Black Panther I think. Alejandros bass is a Russel Lagan custom made through an Avalon preamplifier. What I can tell you I loved was the guitar recordings! We used a Palomino 32 and Orange TH100 as amplifiers and an Orange 212 Cabinet and a Custom 12” double Speaker. We are not that into microphones and preamps used for the actual recording, but Noviembre, the recording studio had lot’s of good quality stuff which made Janus sound really great.

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

We are planning a national tour which will end internationally though I can not give many information as that last part is not yet confirmed. We are already working on our second album, we cannot stop making music so I hope next year has a lot of work to come!

Any words for the potential new fans?

Besides music, sending a message is very important for us. We know language can be a big wall for this part, but we hope one day we can share this with all of you and really get to your brains and hearts. Janus is our contribution to this world so we are hoping the world can give us some feedback.

Links:

https://hombrebestia.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/hombrebestia

http://twitter.com/hombre_bestia

Pearly Gates

Interview with Antti Silkela of Pearly Gates

Antti Silkela of Finish “so-hard-to-categorize” band Pearly Gates answered our question about the band’s sixth EP release “Unchained,” a great four-track EP that is a release for everyone. He also talks about the influences, favourite albums, and unforgettable moment of the band’s career so far.

How would you describe your new EP “Unchained”?

Unchained-EP includes 4 songs that combines prog rock arrangements, heavy riffs, dark lyrics and big wall of sound. It was recorded during one year in studios, cellars and cabins in DYI spirit.

Unchained EP

Do your personalities reflect on the lyrics or music?

Me and our singer Jonne are responsible for all the writing in the band at the moment. It’s natural that your personality shines through the lyrics and music. I can say I’m a sensitive person, who tries to see the world trough an analytical lens. In music you are allowed to express a bit naive thoughts and emotions so that’s great therapy. Our music and lyrics are basically about soul searching and reaching to the unknown.

Do you see the band’s music as serving a purpose beyond music? 

Composing and playing music is just one part of being in a band. It’s a perfect reason to travel, drink beer with the fellows and meet new people, a way to challenge your sonic and visual creativity, follow your childhood dream and impress the ladies. Quite neat way of life I would say.

Do you believe in progress, and how does that reflect on each new Pearly Gates release?

If there’s no ongoing progress happening, there’s no reason to release anything new really. We want to keep getting better and better and reach the band’s full potential some day.

Are you satisfied with where Pearly Gates stands currently?

We have been doing this since we were young kids: spending hundreds of hours in the rehearsal place, playing gigs for full bars and empty ones around Finland and Europe, writing songs, doing long recording sessions and trying to get our voice heard.

It’s been a great ride but financially it’s still a nightmare. We hope that this new EP and music videos get more people exited so we start to get more following.

Pearly Gates

Which bands influenced your work at the most?

Pearly Gates has taken influences from the bands like Pink Floyd, Tool, Karnivool, Black Crowes and Hellacopters. The list could go on and on… Our band has had our Action Rock and Southern Rock phases in the past but now days we are more into some more heavier and complex stuff.

What are the benefits and drawbacks on technology and Internet in your opinion?

It’s not the best music that is heard, it’s about who makes most noise to be heard. Internet is an incredible tool to promote your band’s music globally but you are one in a million who is doing it. It’s hard to stand out without the help from big media companies.

New technology has made possible to record albums with perfect sounds and no mistakes whatsoever. For me it doesn’t necessary mean it’s laking soul because of that. I love big and wide soundscapes! Sometimes the lack of technology can bring more to the sound too. If you are listening Robert Johnson for example you know what I mean.

What are your all-time favourite albums and why?

My favorite albums are Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Iggy and The Stooges’ Raw Power for very different reasons. The Wall deals with themes of alienation and loneliness which I’ve been struggling with especially when I was younger. Classic songs and the whole concept of the album made it really special to me.

Raw Power is dynamite to our senses. It makes your heart race, your feet move and you feel like you are on fire when you are listening to it. I took the CD with me to all the parties I went to when I was about 14 years old.

What was one of the most unforgettable moments you guys experienced as Pearly Gates?

The first thing that comes to my mind is our trip to Trieste, Italy at the end of our first European tour in 2012. It was the perfect couple of days after some big problems we had encountered on the road. Some one had broke into our van couple of days earlier in Prague. They stole 5 guitars, bass and a laptop from us so we had to drive to Germany to buy some new equipment to keep going. Then we drove to Udine, Italy where we found out that our Slovakian promoter had lied us about our gigs in Italy: we didn’t have any.

We were forced to cancel couple of gigs booked to France for the next week, because there were no money coming in without gigs. We drove to Trieste to chill out before our long drive home and while playing guitars on the beach we met some amazing local people who showed us the best places in the city and partied with us for couple of days. I miss that town and the people.

Enjoy “Unchained” by Pearly Gates from the band’s Bandcamp page, and like them on Facebook. They are also on YouTube and Soundcloud.