Sound Struggle from Boston released their second album titled “Rise” in September. The follow up to their 2014 self-titled debut is an awesome piece of music, and about it and more I talked with Adam Rafowitz, Joe Calderone, and Cameron Rasmussen.
What is Sound Struggle up to these days?
Cam: We have been rehearsing for upcoming shows in Boston and we are getting ready to also record some live play through videos for everyone to see! Everything is going well, and maybe we can see some of you reading this at a show!
Being a six-piece, is it hard to work with the band specially if we look from the economical side?
Cam: Currently we are all still situated in Boston, weather at Berklee or elsewhere we are all still in the same vicinity, so at the moment it is not incredibly hard. In the next few years however, that will most likely change. We will all be close to Boston relatively but doing different things outside of Sound Struggle for work. We will be booking as many shows as possible and we will meet up when we have those shows to play.
Describe the new album “Rise.”
Adam: “Rise” is the product of all of the band members’ influences and musical ideas. We each wrote a couple of tunes, and then brought them to the band, work shopping them until we felt they fit our sound. This gave us a wide range of styles and feels across the entire album, all tied together by Joey’s stellar production skills. Everyone has their own voice on “Rise”, and we could not be happier with the finished product.
Joe C: I think a fan put it best when they said, “This is like being in a fancy restaurant, then walking into the kitchen, then opening the walk-in freezer into a vast Oasis in the middle of the desert, then being abducted and taken to The Orion Nebula, then snapping back to reality looking at this comment.” But if I had to describe it, I’d say its a great blend of modern progressive metal with a fair amount of influence from older progressive bands like Rush and Dream Theater, with some Brecker Bros sprinkled on top.
If you had to pick a song that in the best possible way explains what Sound Struggle is about, which song would that be and why?
Joe C: For me, I would say “Sound Struggle” off of the first album is a good thesis for what the band is about. You get your metal, funk, even rap and we’re not afraid to play that stuff for 10 minutes! The solo sections in that song also really emphasize our commitment to improvisation and contrasts nicely with the tightly orchestrated metal sections.
Saxophone feels like a finishing stroke in your songs. How do you go about arranging these parts?
Cam: Most of the time I write out sax and other horn parts in my music notation software when I make the score for every song. Some people may not know that every song we have is charted out in sheet music. On rise we split up some of the chart duty though. All of the boys made charts for their own songs so we could write and rehearse them, and then some of them later on I made new final charts and added sax to compliment the music that was already there. This is how “Perpetual Motion”, “Close Your Eyes” were written for sax.
What is it like being on stage with Sound Struggle?
Cam: It is the most fun. We realize that people watching don’t want to watch us concentrate intently on playing everything perfectly and standing still. We all are as active as possible and we interact with each other and the audience a lot. Of course we play the songs well, we just don’t do it statically. My favorite part of our shows are the things that we improvise when playing, it gives a sense that every show is special for that audience, and it’s also different for us every time which allows us to goof around more than if we didn’t improvise anything I think.
What can audiences expect from your shows?
Adam: The audiences can expect great energy, technicality, and above all else, fun! I know that we all truly enjoy playing this music, as it is very challenging, be it technically or harmonically. Being Berklee students or graduates, a musical challenge is what we hunger for. We try to make our live performances as lively as possible, which isn’t such a difficult task given the music we are playing. Metal, funk, jazz fusion, and solos upon solos!
How much what you listen to influence your songwriting? Especially once when you work on new material.
Adam: What I listen to heavily influences my songwriting. Not just what I am currently listening to, but I believe any artist or style I’ve been interested in comes into play. I don’t sit down and consciously think, “I want this song to sound like X”, but my influences are inherent in my playing. It’s always a massive compliment to hear that something you write reminds someone of one of your greatest idols.
Joe C: What I listen to has a huge influence on what I write. New music comes out and I might say, “that’s awesome! I have to try that!” or there might be a texture or mood that I really want to replicate. However, these external influences all combine as one and form into something uniquely “me”.
Speaking of playing live, do you have a tour planned down the road?
Adam: We most certainly plan to tour in the near future. We have nothing concrete planned at the moment, but we’re definitely hungry for the road!
What was the last gig you attended?
Adam: The last gig I attended was a small bar gig of one of my friends’ bands, “Chronologist”, and a band I’ve been following, “The Fine Constant”. It was a stellar show, Chronologist was incredibly tight, energetic, and played with authority. The Fine Constant was much more laid back, but the trio put on an amazing performance, highlighted by Sarah Longfield’s unique tapping style on her beautifully hand-painted Strandberg. It was a great night of prog, and didn’t fail to inspire. We will be playing with Chronologist in a couple of months, and can’t wait to share the stage!
Joe C: The last concert I saw was Rush on their recent R40 Live tour. What a show! The second set was incredible, and got more and more hype the farther the show went on.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Cam: Thank you to everyone who has been following us and likes our music! We hope to keep you happy in the years to come!