Tag Archives: interview

Interview: The Elephant in the Room

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the debut record by The Elephant in the Room. Lead singer and guitar player Joe was nice enough to answer some questions:

Back to the Music: How/when did the band get started?
Joseph Savino Jr., Guitar/Vocals: The band got started about three years ago. Me and Alfred have been in bands together since we were in eighth grade. Mostly metal and one crazy cover band. After getting bored with doing the cover thing, we built a home studio and just started writing.teitr

BTTM: Were you always sure you wanted to be involved with music in some way?
Joe: Music has always been a big part of our lives. Once you start playing music, it’s just something that you fall in love with and always want to do.
BTTM: How was the band name chosen?
Joe: We took a long time to choose a band name. We just never got around to it and already started booking shows. Every promoter would ask us our name and we had nothing to give them. To get them off our back we just threw out the name ThunderLips. That name only stuck for a few shows. We had a hard time finding a name that we thought fit us. Going through a bunch of conspiracy theory books, we came across “The Elephant in the Room.” Knowing the meaning of the saying, it just fit perfectly for the band name. We like to be the band that is hard to not notice.
BTTM: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up? Do you feel you can hear those influences in the album?
Joe: We butt heads sometimes when it comes to music but some that we can all agree on I would say would be Weezer, Muse, Radiohead, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Elvis, The Beatles, Queens of the StoneAge. I think you can hear a little bit of everything that we like in our music.

BTTM: How did you come up with the idea to do a KickStarter for the record?
Joe: We came up with the KickStarter idea after we found out Casey was going to work with us. We knew we had to do it, and knew the only way to make it happen was with the help of a KickStarter

BTTM: Why did you feel that was the right venue compared to the other fundraising sites?
Joe: Honestly, it was the only site that we knew about at the time.
BTTM: How did it feel when your goal was met and you knew this album would become a reality?
Joe: It was an amazing feeling when we hit that $5k mark. For people that have never even met us to put their own hard earned money to back us made us feel really good. We owe it all to our backers.

BTTM: Was there a backup plan in case the Kickstarter didn’t go as predicted?
Joe: We did not have a backup plan. We knew if we worked hard enough to get the word out we would make our goal.

BTTM: How was it working with Casey? What insights did he offer that may have changed your perception of the music or the album?
Joe: Working with Casey was such an amazing experience, he made it very easy and comfortable. Within the first hour, you would think we were friends for years. He was just that easy to get along with. He opened up our minds a lot when it came to suggestions with the music. He would have ideas that we would never have thought of and it would make a good part into a great part.

BTTM: How did the chance to work with Casey come about?
Joe: Alfred managed to book an Acoustic show at 10th Street Live in Kenilworth, NJ with Casey and us both on the bill. We talked a lot that night with Casey and were able to stay in contact with him. Going out on a limb, Alfred asked him and he said he was totally down to do it. 

BTTM: How long did it take to record the album?
Joe: It took about a month to record the record.

BTTM: What’s the song that you’re most proud of off of it?
Joe: We worked so hard on this record that every song is something we are proud of.

BTTM: Where will you be going from here? Is there a tour planned?
Joe: We plan to promote the album a lot. We will be booking as many shows as possible and hope to plan a tour in the near future.

 

Keep up with The Elephant in the Room on Facebook and Twitter. Their debut CD The Collective and The Individual is available now!

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Negative Earth Digs Deep Roots in the Universe of Electronic Rock

Right now, industrial techno music is all the rage. While you’re listening to the new acts or reliving some pioneers like Nine Inch Nails, there’s an up-and-coming artist you should be noticing. Negative Earth takes a modern twist to some industrial dark rock. Or, as Trev Kill likes to call it, electronic gravity rock.

“I think that most of today’s genres are a bit inane.  There are so many new classifications out there for music that it gets ridiculous.  I hate to categorize myself into a genre, but to attract the right listeners to my sound I need to label myself somehow. Electronic Gravity Rock is just a more interesting way to describe the sound as being of the Heavy Electronic Rock genre,” he says. “It was kind of a joke at first but it started to grow on me.”

Negative Earth is mostly made up from the efforts of Trev Kill, mixed with producers that he works with on the recordings. “When I began writing songs for Negative Earth, I was the only one to have any part in it.  I would show a few ideas to people from time to time and gain perspective from their opinion on different elements in my sound.  Until I made the move to work with my producer, I was the only one to write the music, lyrics and melodies.  Once my producer (Myron Wegner) and I started tracking the songs, he would start to infuse his vision on some parts that were weak or not yet written.  He was great to work with because he knew when to assist, and when to sit back.  If he did not contribute in the parts that he did, I feel the songs would not be as great as they are in their final state.”

Cut Implant Stitch is one of my favorite songs off of Negative Earth’s EP. There’s enough of an instrumental introduction to let you breathe in the song before Trev Kill’s vocals kick in like a sultry storm above the sea. The drums and guitar work in this song really kick things up a notch and show Negative Earth’s raw talent. Trev’s influences are bleeding through on this number – it has a very strong Trent Renzor vibe (with or without Nine Inch Nails backing him).

But his influences may shock you. While he gives an obvious nod to bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and Type O Negative, Trev says there were other artists who he grew up listening to. “Growing up I would mostly just listen and play whatever was around the house or whatever people were playing,” he says. “Some of the earliest stuff I remember feeling connected to when I was young were artists like Survivor, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson. As I grew older and made music with other players, I then started to broaden my musical intake.”

Ear Seed, the song that Trev feels would best define Negative Earth, feels the most like something that would fit right in with some of the popular industrial-feeling tunes of today. The song is heavy on the beats, almost feeling like there’s a fog surrounding your ears, and the vocals don’t pop through as much as some other tracks. This lends itself to hearing more of the bass lines of the song – both bass guitar and the incessant drum beating. “The lyrical content creates a portal that leads directly into the battle grounds of my head.  Seems to be the thing that’s anchoring, and it’s the same thing itself that levitates me. This is what Negative Earth is.  An inner conflict that resides inside.”

Gloomy Sunday has a great backing rhythm to the harder sounds that take first approach. The song left me nodding along the entire way through, feeling a connection with the track.

“When I hear certain songs or sounds, I feel a vibration within.  I want to achieve this with other beings.  My lyrics may be abstract and distant from true definition, but since perception is diverse, one song can effect everyone differently,” Trev says.

Slither exhales so much strength that you almost feel transported into another dimension. The sounds to start off are so intriguing, it has you turning up the volume little by little to get closer to the beats. The next verse kicks in and comes out at you, making you almost feel like the music is acting out the song’s title. Between the beat of this song and the slow back and forth progression between verses in this song, this would be greatly suited for a film.

“At a young age I was introduced to music by my parents who both played in a band.  I remember having the most interest in drums.  I would steal my mother’s wooden spoons to beat on various objects until I learned a few simple beats to practice.  At the age of 15 I began to learn guitar from my father.  He and I would play old songs together that he would teach me. After playing in different bands with other local musicians, I acknowledged that the only way I could achieve my vision musically was to start a solo project. At the age of 25 I moved to a new city, began working with a producer and started tracking my songs in the studio. The whole recording process was much more than just creating structure with sound, it was a learning experience in producing my own music. This is when Negative Earth began and started to evolve.”

Looking ahead on the year, Negative Earth has some exciting things coming up. “A music video for the song Slither is in the final stages of being completed.  It was filmed in the middle of last winter and early this year.  I will not disclose too much information about it as of yet, but for updates on its release visit the official Negative Earth website.  As for other plans, there are a lot of new events surrounding Negative Earth with new information being posted on Twitter and Facebook.

If you want to connect with Negative Earth for more information or updates, you can do so on Twitter here and on Facebook here. To listen to tracks from the upcoming EP, visit the official website here.

Going back to the music with Trev Kill

What’s the top played song/album on your personal iTunes?

Songs that I would wear out if they were on cassette!

Man in the box – Alice in Chains
Bleed – Meshuggah
Angel – Massive Attack
Revenge (some get back) – Necro
Lateralus – Tool
Just So You Know – American Head Charge
Throat full of Glass – Combichrist
the Real Thing – Faith No More
Shake Hands with Beef – Primus
Selling Jesus – Skunk Anansie
Deception – Tesseract
Firestarter – the Prodigy

Too many to list to complete this question.

What’s the strangest thing on your personal iTunes or the thing your band mates would be surprised to see on there?

Oh wow.  Do I really have to admit to this?  I would honestly say that people might most be surprised to see material from artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, the Ohio Players, Spooky Ruben, and !!! (chk chk chk).

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The Seasonal Affair In Defense of Their Genre

I usually like to weave interviews into an article – or usually on the blog, into a review – but this band’s interview is too great to cut and paste and leave you guys missing something. Therefore, please refer to my review in the previous post for some of my words on these dudes, and see below for their own words. Check after the interview for where to find them around the web – and where you can get their EP for free.

What brought you together as a band?

Andy: We’ve all been in other touring acts in the NC area, and Matt, Ashkon and I’s band (Aloretta) actually went on a tour with Sean’s old band back a couple years. TSA started as a music project between me, Matt and Ashkon and I think having that time to have gotten to know each other as musicians on tour, we all felt like seen would be been the best fit for us vocally and attitude wise.

You guys only formed in 2011, yet the entire time I was listening to your EP, I found myself turning up the volume more and more. What do you think you all have that sets you apart?

Andy – I think what sets us apart is the fact that we’re not overly focused on making a “career” out of music. Don’t get us wrong, we wear our feet raw promoting, love shows and love playing music together, but that’s all we really focus on right now. We’re not worried about making money, or impressing anybody; at this point in our music careers we’re focused on enjoying the ride, and we hope you’ll take it with us.

Who were some of your earliest musical influences?

Andy: Some of my earliest musical influences were Sum 41, New Found Glory and of course, Blink.

Ashkon: Some of my earliest influences were Incubus and LostProphets.

Matt: Well my earliest musical influences are of course Blink 182, New Found Glory and Greenday (but only the Dookie album)

Sean: Early influences would be Blink182, Green Day, and Simple Plan… Yeah, I said Simple Plan.

Why isn’t pop-punk dead?

Andy: Pop-Punk isn’t dead, it’s only getting more personal. Things like, the current state of the economy, the ever-increasing amount of pop/pop-punk bands and even pirating have a negative effect on some of us, but this dilemma gives rise to a certain kind of cultured, “hard-to-kill” mentality for certain acts. Bands such as The Wonder Years, Lions Lions and Hit The Lights, to name a few, combat this hard reality and are able to convey a certain kind of honesty and integrity in their music as a result. We think that this is what separates the boys from the men in our genera.

If you aren’t out to reinvent the game, what are you out to do?

Andy: We’re out to play the kind of music we enjoy, with the friends and fans we enjoy. Life is too short to worry about sticking to a genre, or trying to be “different” because someone says you should. We’re becoming more and more musically comfortable with each other every day, and we’re more focused on seeing where our minds take us and what we can create together, than worrying about living up to someone’s false expectations of what shelf our music should sit on.

What made you decide to release your EP for free? What impact has this had for you as a band?

Andy: There were a number of factors that made us decide to release our first album for free. We were inspired by artists such as Pretty Lights, whose music is free, as he is more focused on the creation of the music and the enjoyment of it by those who listen to it. That really struck a chord with us; it was really the way we wanted to introduce ourselves as a band. No dollar gimmick, we made the album for all of you and if we can enjoy it together then we’ve accomplished something awesome.

What’s your personal favorite song off the Home Stretch EP and why?

Andy: My favorite song off of Home Stretch has to be disaster. It was a song that lyrically, really translated the aggressive personalities of the instruments.

Ashkon : My favorite song off the EP is Disaster because we’re slaying whack ass bands that are selling everybody some bullshit gimmick making people think that the music they write is honest when it’s really just some corny, rainbow way for them to try to get some girls and make a lil’ money.

Matt: My personal favorite song on the EP is Crawl, only cause’ it’s the most fun to play live since it’s a no brainer on drums; but it’s still very catchy.

Sean: I love playing Follow Through live. It’s the first song in the set and it always gets me really jazzed up. I also ALWAYS fuck up the song and I love looking at Andy, Ashkon, and Matt’s face when I fuck it up. Priceless every time.

How important is it to you all to have such a hands-on interaction with your recordings?

Andy: It’s very important to our creative agenda that we have such a hands-on interaction with our material. Having the ability to return to a finished song over the course of weeks, maybe even months is crucial to our writing process. If something doesn’t sound right, or maybe we think something needs to be added, we go back and experiment. It’s kind of like a really long drawn out pre- production process, that finally ends when were comfortable with how the song sounds, which is rare now-a-days, in a world where you’re usually limited by your budget with an album.

The album flows together really well – the transitions are seamless. Was that a conscious decision or did it just materialize?

Andy: This album composition has been my brainchild since we started recording it. From the very beginning I knew I wanted the record to work as one cohesive element. Home Stretch is definitely a “Music Lovers” CD. It’s meant to be listened to from the first track, all the way to the last track. Not to say the songs don’t stand tall in their mix as a “single,” but we spent a lot of time with the smaller things like, song transitions, and really creating a sense of depth. It’s fun to listen to in headphones because you’ll always hear something new.

How do you feel about conceptual albums? Have you written one – or would you ever?

Andy: We think conceptual albums are cool. We love the idea of having one unifying theme throughout the whole album, you really feel like the songs are made for each other. We’ve openly discussed doing small 3 song free-releases, so I can imagine as that evolves, we’ll eventually do one.

What’s your live show like? What’s your favorite part of the live shows?

Andy: Our goal for our lives shows is to present our material in the most accurate way possible in reference to the CD. We see a lot of bands nowadays with spectacular recordings that can’t live up to them live – we think this is ridiculous. Everything you put on your album should be able to be reproduced live, no questions. Understanding, committing and practicing this mindset allows us have a much lighter, and relaxed mentality live. The confidence that comes from relentless practice really allows us to focus on the crowd and our performance, which is no doubt our favorite part of live shows.

What’s next for The Seasonal Affair in 2012?

Andy: Well, that’s a big question. As of right now we are in the midst of pre production for our new album. Once we’re comfortable with the amount of material we’ve produced, we’ll pick a couple songs and move forward with them. Though the pre-production will be all done by me, we will be branching out for our first time and tracking a couple songs with our good friend Drew Fulk at Think Sound Studios and will be bringing in Wil Andrews of the band Farewell (Epitaph) to help produce. We’ve got a couple other big things under wraps that we can’t openly discuss as of right now, but to conclude: we’re really stoked on the future, and can’t wait to mature among many great bands.

If you could make sure everyone knew one thing about your band, what would that be?

Andy: It would definitely be that we’re drama-free. We’re all best friends, and we treat everyone else like we know them. We’re not focused on doing what other people think we should do. To quote some new material you’ll be seeing in the future – “If you can hear my voice we’re relating.” It’s really how we think. We know where our road is going and everyone’s welcome to jump on for the ride.

What’s the top played song/album on your personal iTunes?

Andy: Well, my Mac just died, so I had to get a new one, which means I have basically no music. But if we’re being completely honest: “lying from you” by linking park is my most played right now. Don’t hate!

Ashkon: The top played song on my iTunes is Sippin on Some Sizzurp by Three 6 Mafia.

Matt: The top played song on my iTunes is Dumpweed, by Blink 182 and after that it’s Worst Song Ever, by Go Crash Audio.

Sean: The song that is the most played on my iTunes is Breath In by Hit The Lights. It’s an amazing song that gets me hyped up before shows and I usually will do vocal warm ups to it.

What’s the strangest thing on your personal iTunes or the thing your band mates would be surprised to see on there?

Andy: Yeah, it would definitely be the fact that the only stuff I have on my iTunes, aside from our pre production, is Linkin Park.

Ashkon: I don’t know that anything on my iTunes would surprise the homies in this band. They know all I listen to is Metal and Rap.

Matt: On my iTunes I listen to just about everything, but the strangest bands on my iTunes that the guys don’t know about is probably Ace of Base and New Kids on the Block; like, old school pop from the 90’s.

Sean: I’m usually pretty open about what’s on my iTunes, but I recently added One Direction to my library and I’ve kind of kept that on the hush hush. Those little dudes can sing!

What song would you most like to cover? What would you do differently with the track?

Andy: This is an interesting question, because we’re currently trying to find a song we can all agree on to cover. I personally would love to overhaul a good country song. They always have really bomb vocal hooks.

Ashkon: I wanna cover Nutz on ya Chin by Eazy-E.

Matt: I really don’t know of a song that I’d like to cover, but I definitely want it to be fun, upbeat one.

Sean: I would really like to cover Blink-182: Whats My Age Again. Only because I don’t think anyone has ever covered that song EVER.  Or When I Come Around by Green Day.  I’m cool with either.

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Hit these guys up around the web: Facebook, Twitter, official site. Be sure to check out my review of their Home Stretch EP in the last post and get it for yourself over on their Facebook. Huge thanks to them for the awesome interview and the great tunes!

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Old Banners take music to the Next Level

When most popular music is peppered with every kind of auto-tuning device one could imagine, it’s like a wave of fresh air in the stifling summer heat when a band comes along and properly uses a wide range of instruments. Besides country music, not many genres feature instruments like banjos, fiddles, and ukuleles around the music scene. Old Banners, an emerging indie folk-rock band from Dallas, is changing the way their listeners hear music once and for all.

Old Banners released their self-titled CD in 2011. During the recording process, they had the chance to work with mastering engineer Bob Ludwig, who has worked with big names in the industry such as Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen. The album is an eleven-track journey into honest music making, offering music fans everywhere a chance to embark on something new.

On first listen to the band, the instruments stand out above anything else. Before you know it, you’re swaying to the sweet tunes that remind you of rocking in a chair on your back porch, maybe watching some fireflies swirling around. When prompted, they’ll describe themselves as an indie folk-rock band, but even that doesn’t completely describe their sound.

“I wanted the music to be bigger than what we are used to hearing,” says Andrew Beilman, vocalist, guitarist, and banjo player of Old Banners. “I got started in music pretty young, my mom made my siblings and I learn the piano before we could branch off to any other instruments. So after that, I wanted to pick up the bass. Later I entered my first band when my brother’s friend needed someone to play bass for his band, Committed. I tried out, made it, and then the rest is history.”

In songs like Banners and Ceilings, the listener is treated to a dabble of banjo straight out of the gates. The vocals kick in and are just as upbeat and whimsical as the banjo, melting together beautifully.

“These instruments weren’t exactly in our everyday lives, although the folk sound did come from the music my parents played when I was a child,” says Beilman. “Speaking recently though, starting a few years ago I would hear really good music with these pieces in them, and then I would go and pick them up and try to incorporate them into our own sound.”

Their first video is for the track A Fisherman’s Tale, the one Beilman says the band is most proud of. “The song just has so much depth to it,” he says. Beginning in a sinister form, the song is different from other tracks on the album. Like what you would expect from a traditional folk song, A Fisherman’s Tale takes you on a story-telling journey in musical form. The video, shot on a dock in front of a lighthouse, shows the band members holding nothing back as they unleash the song right then and there, with nothing but waves swirling around them.

In addition to songs like A Fisherman’s Tale and Banners and Ceilings, the band shows other sides on their self-titled disc. 2nd Gnome Eats for Free is a more upbeat, carefree song with a mind of its own as it takes you on a ride down the river. Mountain Psalm is the longest on the disc and has gorgeous interweaving of instruments throughout as the vocals almost make you feel like you’re listening to a soft rain on your window.

“I want our music to be something that people of all ages can listen to and be able to relate their own past and present experiences with. I’d like our music to really be able to help people.”

Old Banners is currently working on an EP follow-up to their 2011 album that they say is a different sound due to the changes in lineup. They are also embarking on a five-state tour between Texas and Oregon with dates scheduled beginning in May. The year should also bring some festival appearances for the band.

 

While speaking with Beilman, I couldn’t resist asking some secrets from his music player:

What is the top played song/album on your iTunes?
Right now, the song I have been listening to the most is Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye.

What is the strangest thing on your iTunes or the one your band mates would be most surprised to see on your iTunes?
Enigma – Return to Innocence.

What song would you most like to cover? What would you do differently with the track?
Probably Wagon Wheel, it’s a great song and I think it would be a cool experience.
You can catch Old Banners on their official website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Their video for A Fisherman’s Tale is below.

Old Banners – A Fisherman’s Tale

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