We formed in 2000. Our record is being released tomorrow called Samsara. That's our third record we've had out on Prosthetic. The band's a quartet. Jim Staffel on drums, Jackson on bass, Matt McClelland on guitar, and myself on vocals and reed.
Tell me a bit about your sound. What do you guys think you sound like? I know people always like to label people's music.
Yeah, of course. We're definitely grounded more in heavier music. More in the metal type of thing but we just don't bind ourselves to any one particular style. I think we're a combination of a bunch of different things.
Something I thought was interesting is that you use different types of instruments like a saxophone and a clarinet.
Right, I play a saxophone in the band. That's my instrument of choice so I just utilize that. It's one of many creative tools to add to the guitars so it's part of the band.
That's cool when bands utilize different types of instruments outside of the usual suspects.
Thank you. It's second nature at this point. When we first started as a band it became sort of a vocal issue. Why is this heavier band utilizing these instruments and whatnot. It's what I play and I've played the saxophone since I was 11 years old and I've used it in many different situations. When the band first started we didn't have any intention of trying to be weird for the sake of being weird. It came up that we wanted to work outside the box and when I first joined the band they asked if I play any instruments and I said "well, actually I play saxophone." They were like "oh, great." I messed around with it a little bit and at first it didn't seem to quite fit. After about a year or so of experimenting with different things, listening to the guitarist and the bassist, we didn't want to have an acoustic bass instrument forced into the music. I started messing around with some electronic effects and it seemed to blend better with the electronic end of things. It seemed to work out. That's how it started and now it is what it is.
That's really cool because a saxophone is an awesome instrument and it really works well with rock music whether it's '50s or '60s or today or even with metal. I think that is definitely an instrument you can use with anything.
Yeah, sure. You heard it more or some sort of wind instrument definitely was a bit more permanent in progressive bands like Ian Anderson with Jethro Tull and Genesis used it. Plus you had Hawkwind. Nick Turner played saxophone. If anything he was somewhat a pioneer with that because he used to run a bunch of effects from his horns and still does obviously. I'm a huge fan of Hawkwind. Hearing the way he did that stuff was really neat. There was definitely some inspiration there. All the way up to Clarence Clemons with Bruce Springsteen's E Street band. That was one of the first records I had when I was a kid because I started playing saxophone and I started being interested and was like this guy is cool. Clarence Clemons. Yeah, he's cool.
When I was 16 years old I got my first Bruce Springsteen album for my birthday. It was Born In The USA and I was just hooked on Springsteen after that. I started going back into his catalog and obtaining more of his stuff. The three Springsteen albums that I really love are The River, Nebraska, and Born In The USA.
Yeah, actually I'm not the biggest Springsteen fan but I bought Nebraska a number of years ago and it's probably my favorite record he's ever done.
It's such a cool record because it's totally acoustic and it was recorded simply and has such a cool, raw sound to it.
That's why it's in my top three of all the stuff he's done. Tell me a little bit about Samsara.
The record was started back in March of 2005. We recorded it with a producer by the name of Matt Bayles. He's done work with bands like Mastadon. We've wanted to work with him for a couple of years and we got a hold of him so he came to Chicago to record with us. We had some guest musicians this time around. Some of the Chicago Improvised players, a pianist by the name of Jim Baker and Fred Lonberg-Holm is a cello player here in town and he's phenomenal. It was truly an honor to have both of them on the record. Troy Sanders made an appearance lending his pipes on the song "Back To The Mountain". It's 10 songs.
You guys went all out this time.
Yeah, it's been a couple of years since our last record was out so I think we definitely wanted to make this one count. Well, we always want them to count.
You always feel like the next one you finish was the best. How do you feel this one differs from the last one you did?
Stylistically, I think we definitely worked more extreme than we did with the last record. That's what I hear. We definitely had some more room to experiment when we were in the studio as opposed to the last time. The last time we recorded we had a weekend to record. That's all we were budgeted for. This time we had a couple of weeks. Normally we go in with pretty much everything mapped out. We were able to actually go in and have most of it, I would say 85 to 90 percent was mapped out. We intentionally left some room there to see how things would go in the studio and actually work out a couple of the things we wanted to do in there which is never ever the case. We were really thrilled that we were going to do that and we hope that with the next recording we make, there will be more of that. Have more loose ideas or keep things loose and work it out. Work some things out within the studio itself just because there are so many other options you have there once you're in the studio that you have at your disposal.
Do you have any idea what your first single off the record is going to be?
It's already online. It's called "Cancer Of Industry". The first song on the record. That's pretty much the song that they're pushing for the next couple of months or so.
Why did you guys decide on that song?
Because it's the first track on the record. We're not a big single type of band. If anything it was difficult to pick one song off the record. We look at the record as a whole. To choose one song as a representation of the record was sort of a double edged sword for us. That was the one we chose just because we like it. It's a smarter song. It still has elements of us stylistically so it seemed to be the logical choice for us. Plus it's the opening song on the record so how much easier can you get than that?
Do you guys have any touring plans?
Yeah, actually we leave Saturday. We're going to be out for a month. Pretty much on the east end of the country. Just kind of zig zagging all over. Then at the end of May we'll be going back out for five weeks for a full U.S. tour starting in Pittsburgh on the 24th of May and going until June 23rd. Oh yeah, we're going to be out there.
Are you guys coming through the Southwest?
Yeah, we are. We'll be coming through Phoenix and Albuquerque as well as San Diego. Most of the major cities. We’ll be in Dallas a couple of times. We’ll be in Dallas next month as well as in June.
Are you planning on doing any videos for your songs?
We actually are just about to release a live cut of a song called “Back To The Mountain”, the last track on the record. Then we're just going to do video for the song "Cancer Of Industry".