Crossing The Rubicon returned recently with the new EP titled “Bloom” which includes three tracks. The self-title song from the release is an epic which sees the project founder, Alejandro Licano, collaborating with other guitarists. This track in short is a masterpiece.
I recently had an opportunity to ask Alejandro some questions about the new material, but we also talked about the inspiration, influences, his guitar setup, and more. Alejandro was very talkative and it was a pleasure talking with him.
Hey Alejandro. How are you doing?
The music life could not be better, thanks! Thank you for having me in on this interview, how are you?
I’m pretty good, thanks for asking. You released some new music recently. How do you feel about the “Bloom” release?
The Bloom release has been undeniably successful. There is an obvious growth in the community and I’m still getting a very positive response to the new music and finally some response all around such that I’m even making some back catalogue sales and getting more followers on social media.
How much of a challenge was it to work on the EP, especially on the song “Bloom”? I am asking this questions from the obvious reasons, and these are that the song is a collaborative work. Tell me more about it.
The work on the E.P. was ellaborate. The E.P. includes three tracks, two of which were rerecordings from the previous discography and some past work and of course the new self-titled track “Bloom”. Working on the older tracks was very quick, even some what minimalist.
For instance, “And He Built A Crooked House…” was simply a matter or re-recording the guitars, and getting some of the mix to stand out more, remastering the track and allowing for Tomas Racklavsky’s solo to fit the mix better.
Bloom was the real opus of this composition as I actually spent a lot of time with music production, song writing, alligning the guest guitarists spots, finding a bass player and drafting demo after demo after demo.
The idea I originally has was to feature a few amazing guitar players and it slowly morphed into a larger volume of performances and collaborations.
You are from Quito in Ecuador, but you live in Ohio. What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Ohio are you friends with? Also, are there any Ecuadorian bands that we should know of?
Ohio’s scene is very special to me. The music in this state is so alive and versatile. You can’t go to a local show without seeing some form of extreme talent. You can say I have a lot of connections to many musicians coming out or who have already built a career for themselves from Ohio. Miss May I and Hawthorne Heights were some of the original bands that had some impact of whom I knew some original band members. You know? You grow up jamming with some of those guys in used-guitar-stores and one day you look and say “Hey those guys finally made it.” Right now some of the more active bands I’ve seen come out of my area are Denihilist (formerly “Hail to the King”), Eternal Void, Grim State, The Paramedic, Under the Combine, Denounce Your Martyr, Zuel, From Another Planet, A Sense of Purpose, Sentients, Novallo I mean the list goes on. Some of these bands are class acts that are going on to do big things, are in talks with labels, have tours scheduled. A lot of the groups are progressive in some way, or instrumental metal, or extremely dynamic and we’re all a family in one way or another. There’s a lot of support and big-heartedness in this greater Ohio metal community. It’s a Midwest thing. This is a tradition that goes back to the early 2000′s, something that undeniably had an impact on the formation of bands such as Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, After the Burial and more. We are a connection of bands that are lifting each other.
As far as Ecuadorian bands coming up, it’s funny you would ask. I think Ecuadorian metal has been growing steadily for years. A lot of the community there is greatly inspired by the late 90′s waves of power and speed metal that brought about bands like Angra, Helloween and Mago de Oz. Naturally the emulation is there. You can hear a lot of trash and powermetal in the likes of the top metal bands from Ecuador. The biggest name drop would have to be Basca, followed by Falc who all share in the same vein of metal. Of course studying the music you will find elements that you can’t find anywhere else in the world and that is in the folkloric and Andean elements that Ecuadorian metal brings to the table. If you look at the way that In Flames, Katatonia, Soilwork and Opeth brought their own flavors of Scandinavian metal and Goteborg style folklore music to the branch of metal they adhered themselves to you can make a correlation. Ecuadorian’s are proud of their heritage and of course these metal bands are no exception. I suggest Basca, there is nothing as ear piercing and fierce from that region. In the vein of guitar gods search for Hittar Cuesta. This guitar legend from Ecuador found himself extremely inspired by the works of Joe Satriani and you can hear it clearly in the work he’s done over the years.
What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?
What is there not to love about the progressive metal scene? Plainly put; it’s colorful and versatile at this point and there’s too much, in fact, to take from it. Take a look back 20 years ago to 1996. The progressive metal world was blooming in the underground. Just look at the label mates for bands like OSI, and Cynic. There is a plethora of music that has grown and acoompanied some of these bands that grew out of the early 1990s. Dream Theater, to me, has always been the spear head of the industry standard for progmetal and more than likely always will be. In fact even after making my discoveries of King Crimson and the work that Frank Zappa potentially offered Prog-Metal, there is nothing like Dream Theater. You have to think; you have the likes of Tool, Opeth, Meshuggah and Devin Townsend who all have had their respective influence and touch on a plethora of bands in the scene and how they have shaped the colors for what all consider to be Progressive Metal. At the moment what artists like David Maxim Micic, Animals As Leaders, Periphery, The Contortionist, Between The Buried and Me and the likes are doing is a demonstration of both talents and influence but also the opening of doorways to the future of metal. It’s not about gimmics in Prog-metal, it’s about the truth and the texture of sound.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
I’m influenced by bands that appeal to me for a variety of reasons and recently I’ve discovered that this is based more and more off their ability to create texture with a visual palette and present that as a package. I think I based a lot of my influence on the ability to be engage within my imagination. I love the groove oriented patterns of AAL, and the surreal ambiance of The Contortionist but it is also in some of the textural depth in works such as Ocean Machine: Biomech, or Bilo 3.0. These works elaborately demonstrate comprehension of sound as it relates to the human senses. I mean who doesn’t relate to some basic emotions though. I have found myself influenced recently by some Steely Dan, Four Play, Michael Jackson, SRV and even just classical music. I’m all over the place. My influences are vast. I think that as early as 4 years of age I was playing cassettes with The Beatles, Tchaikovsky, all the way to Bobby McFerrin and a mix tape of Metallica so: No wonder I’m kind of messed up. I think my first Progressive Metal experience was listening to New Millennium Cyanide Christ by Meshuggah for the first at age 10 and around the same time I also heard In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson and both scared me to death.
What are you listening to these days?
I have Fourplay, Periphery’s new album “Periphery III”, ALLSEITS, Ludivico Technique, the most recent works by Plini, Joe Satriani and Dream Theater all in my playlists. Sometimes random music hits me too though. I enjoy Arabic and Chinese traditional folk music.
Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
“el cielo” by dredg
“Viva Emptiness” by Katatonia
“Blackwater Park” by Opeth
“Bilo 3.0″ by David Maxim Micic
Tie between “Momentary Lapse of Reason” (The Pink Floyd Sound), and “Master of Puppets” (Metallica)
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Bloom”?
The gear I performed on was:
Ibanez S8, 8-string guitar. I have modded it with (2) 500k volume and tone pots, along with a Bareknuckle Aftermath (bridge) pick up and a Seymour Duncan Sentient (neck) pick up.
The other eight string is my Schecter Elite 8, bolstered with two D Activator, DiMarzio pickups. I added a Kahler floating trem and some 250k volume and tone pots.
The sound on both of these guitars is phenomenal but I honestly prefer the range and feel of the S8.
For guitar processors and signal I’m using a Line 6 HD PRO, through my Flextone III with a D.I. box for in-studio sound, I rarely but sometimes used a BBE Sonic Maximizer mostly for clean and effects boost from wet/dry output signals.
In-studio my tools were all solidly Reaper Audio DAW, with Omnisphere Midi/Synth control, Superior Drummer 2.0 and Steven Slate Drum along with iZotope and Waves. The mix and master however were done at Compass Audio by the very talented producer Steve Perrino who has a massive and very elaborate VST and Plug-in collection. He is a wizard of sound. I also should mention I proudly use Sting-joy strings and Dunlop Primetone jazz IIIs
Besides the release of the EP, are there any other plans for the future?
Right now the biggest and most ambitious effort is to take Crossing the Rubicon to the road and make it a live band. And it’s happening now!
Any words for the potential new fans?
The music is for fans of The Contortionist, Steve Vai, T.R.A.M. and is a wonderfully crafted array of styles from all around the sphere of Prog-Metal influence. Currently, I’m in the process of filming the playthrough for the single “Bloom” and really wish everyone enjoys that. And yes, I hope you truly enjoy the new E.P. and come stick with this band and follow our growth as it truly seems to be shaping up to something promising in the next year or so. Hope to see you on the road!