Roaring with sounds and words: talking Choking On Illusions with Mario Strasser

Mario Strasser

It is not as if hardcore is lacking bands with new voracious ideas and sonic explorations but there are times when one has that extra essence or imagination which sets the passions a flutter. One such encounter came forward this past month from German band Choking On Illusions in the shape of their second and compelling album Rest/less. It is a beast of a melodic hardcore incitement as fiercely confrontational as it is inescapably compelling, a seriously exciting encounter. Offered the chance to dig deeper into album and band, we grabbed it with both hands plying vocalist Mario Strasser with questions, exploring the origins and heart of the band, the creation of Rest/less, and a final bombshell.

Hi Guys, many thanks for sparing time to talk with us.

You’re welcome; thanks a lot for giving us the opportunity to say some words!

Can you firstly give us some background to the band and its beginnings?

Well, originally this band started as five kids from a church’s youth group who wanted to play heavy music. Over the years one member after another changed and now I (Mario/Vocals) am the only founding member remaining. With the change of members the band experienced a change of both musical and lyrical style and yeah, REST/LESS pretty much sums up who and what we are now.

Did you have any particular aim and intent with the band and its music from those opening days?

We’ve always been very focused on lyrical content because we never wanted our music to be “just” music. From what I learned about heavy music there has always been more to music. There has always been a message behind it. Be it a positive or negative one, all the artists I admired had something to say and that is something I wanted to keep going with the music we created.

10402430_10152928515889656_5317035852149746870_nAs evidenced by your new album Rest/less, you are shaping hardcore with a fresh and fiercely imaginative mix of flavours and ideas. Did you always intend explore the hardcore core of your sound with this level of adventure or has it evolved organically over time?

I guess you could say that our music evolved over the past few years just the way we evolved as musicians and just human beings. When you grow up you learn to think outside the box and see what is beyond the boundaries you set yourself. That pretty much sums up how we wanted to write our latest album.

It is fair to say, without any disrespect to past members, Choking on Illusions found its creative stride and potency around 2011 when the current line-up came together. What was different and provided the spark for the band to go to the next level?

Thank you, that is pretty much what I and everyone in the band thinks. I guess you could say that some of the guys from the first incarnation of the band were just not that much “into it”. Being in a local band can be pretty hard and it takes a lot of time, energy and money to keep going and so the other guys kinda got lost along the way.

The following year saw the release of acclaimed debut album Guide me home. Now as we mentioned you have unleashed the outstanding Rest/less, how do you see the evolution between the two releases?

The period between the two records was a time where we spent a lot days on the road. We played about 100 shows in 2 years, which is a lot for 5 guys that still try to balance their personal life with being on the road a lot. I think that is something you can really hear on the record.

Did you approach the new album with any specific idea or direction which differed majorly from its predecessor?

When we recorded Guide me home we pretty much only recorded all the songs we had written as a band. For this record, we had an amount of about 30 songs written, out of which we selected the 11 songs you can hear on the album.

You recorded it at Mysterium Studio; this is an environment which you find easy to create within, or are studios generally the same if you exclude the personnel?

Mysterium Studio used to be an amazing place. It has now been closed down because of our producer Arkadi moving to America, but we always had a great time there. Arkadi is one of the most talented guys I have ever met and there has always been a great chemistry between him and us. The atmosphere always resulted in maximized creativity and it he has definitely to be credited for challenging us to broaden our influences.

Tell us about the recording of Rest/less.Choking on Illusions Cover

We started recording the album I think in May 2013, with the first version of it being written, yet untitled; [it was] chaotic and simply just no really good to be honest. We started tracking drums, but about two weeks into it we all decided that this just wouldn’t do it for us. We wanted to put out a better record with better songs, so we went straight back to writing songs. After all, only 4 Songs remained from the first attempt of writing an album. 3 months later in August 2013 we entered the studio again, this time with the songs that made it to the album. I think it took a total of only 10 days to record it, but we had to deal with a lot of delay und unprofessionalism from people outside the band (for example “guest vocalists” being unable to record or to even respond to messages which resulted in them ultimately being cut out apart from Robbert from Wasted Bullet who did an amazing job) so it took until about June 2014 until the whole record was finished.

Do you try to enter the studio with songs basically complete ultimately or are you a band which evolves songs once inside its walls?

We usually write all the songs before and it’s just some minor changes, additional leads or instruments that develop during the recording process.

How does the songwriting process generally work within the band?

The songs are (and have always been) written by me. I write the songs, program them and show them to the rest of the band. Then we get together and work on the songs. Make them better, rewrite them sometimes and try to put them into the best form possible.

We found that Rest/less, though a striking beast from the off, actually grew in its depth and imagination over numerous listens. It took time to explore all the fascinating enterprise beneath its imposing roar. We liked that immensely about the album; was this something you expected might be the case with some listeners?

Thank you; that is definitely something we wanted to achieve. I always like it when an album can still grow after the first time listening. I wished for our music to be something like that, so it’s great to hear that this is the case for at least some listeners. We included a lot of depth in both music, with additional guitars and additional instruments, as well as the lyrics that require a certain will to explore from the listener.

The album is released through Bastardized Recordings, your first with the great label. How did the link up happen?

We were playing a show with our friends in The Green River Burial where Marco from Bastardized Recordings was also attending. From the guys in TGRB Marco knew that we were in the process of recording our new album and after seeing us live he came up to us and expressed his interest. As soon as our record was done he listened to it and he instantly wanted to release our record through his label.

Choking on Illusions Pic2Did knowing they would release it put an extra spring in the step making the album or was the union after recording?

We were done recording before we started talking to Bastardized, so that didn’t affect the writing or recording process.

What is next for Choking on Illusions?

Unfortunately, we will only be doing our last tour and then we’ll go on indefinite hiatus. We were already joking about releasing the songs we never recorded during the time this band was in existence right after we break up, but I don’t really think that that is going to happen.

Once again thank you for talking with us. Any last thoughts you would like to leave us with?

Thanks so much for giving us a chance to talk, we feel extremely blessed to have people care about what we pour our hearts into. Thank you!

Read the Rest/less review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/choking-on-illusions-restless/

https://www.facebook.com/ChokingonIllusions

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 06/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

 

 

The Barnum Meserve – Self Titled

The Barnum Meserve - Promo Shot

Let us introduce you to the next big thing in British rock music, The Barnum Meserve. It is a big claim but such the immense power, potency, and potential in their self-titled debut album, it is not as wild a suggestion as newcomers to the band might imagine. Consisting of thirteen epic and cinematic creative emprises, the release is a seriously fascinating and glorious proposition which bewitches and excites with every melodic embrace, vocal roar, and orchestral temptation.

The seeds to the Nottingham band were sown at the start of the millennium when bassist Dylan Griffiths met pianist/vocalist Leon Wiley while studying music in college. Swiftly finding a mutual passion for certain ‘musical exploits’ the pair began writing and playing together. One of their earlier shows brought drummer Paul Moss-Pearce on to their radar, their meeting subsequently leading to him completing the band’s line-up. A few years of writing and reinventing their sound in respective ways followed before the trio finally united and emerged as The Barnum Meserve, in 2007. Again the three took their time creating, evolving, and honing their sound with the next eighteen months seeing the band studio bound before hitting the live scene in late 2008. First EP Stories From The Paper House sparked keen interest with its release in 2011, attention especially potent in the underground scene once backed up and pushed on again by its successor, the Broken Window EP in the following year. Now national awareness is poised to be inflamed with the threesome’s first album; an attention grabbing wake-up call to The Barnum Meserve.

_CardWallet     The album opens with War Games and a serenade of orchestral expression and piano elegance wrapped in haunting beauty. The immersive hug of sound warmly swirls around the senses, gaining more potency and depth with the joining of the instantly impressive gravelly vocals of Wiley. An epic air is crafted at the same time, a drama which sublimely sets ears, imagination, and appetite up for the rest of the album, and whilst the song itself feels more like a dawning to what is to come than an individual song it inescapably has imagination and anticipation licking lips ready for what is to come.

It is an intrigue and adventure immediately filled by Open Up Your Eyes. Keys alone tempt initially before being aligned to the dramatic and epically swung beats of Moss-Pearce aligned to the more predatory tones of Griffiths’ bass. With its first rhythmic breath an addictive temptation is luring ears and emotions whilst Wiley’s continually sculpting fingers and adventurous throat bellows craft potent narratives over and within the driving range of beats. The song is pure magnetism, a virulent persuasion of sound and creative theatre enthralling body and emotions continued with current single Colours. Again here is a song instantly smothering the senses in melody rich colours and emotional energy on waves of keys bred adventure and reflective intimacy. Listening to the song is like diving from the edge of a mountain peak soaked in intensive light and soaring through varying shades of immersive shadows and invigorating radiance from thereon in.

There is no let up with the contagious temptation as Don’t Be Afraid comes forward next with a simply irresistible rhythmic bait; the minimalistic and wholly anthemic shuffle conjured by Moss-Pearce is a gripping incitement which continues to spring its traps across the broadening and melodically expansive landscape of the track. Strings and brass swamp the senses, again taking them on a dramatic flight before the song relaxes into a calmer pasture of just as passionate and fiery emotion. It is spellbinding, a collusion of contrasts building to an epic and breath-taking escapade before making way for the more slender weight of Last Forever and the darker tones of Half Mast. Both tracks reveal new enterprise and invention in the songwriting and sound of the band, the first a minimalistic dance but a persistent lure to another climactic call of orchestral and vocal majesty. Its successor is just as an enthralling a proposition, its heart and body seemingly bred from the darkest shadows with an underlying nature to match but exploring almost conflicting realms of emotional voracity and inflamed exotic beauty.

Wonderfully it is already impossible to pin down The Barnum Meserve sound; you can suggest essences of Nine Inch Nails and Arcade Fire, which many have, but listening to the album for us and often for no obvious reasons, thoughts of bands like Doves, Fatima Mansions, and Elbow come to mind, yet it is creative alchemy distinct to The Barnum Meserve ultimately. A fact proven by the band’s latest single Underneath The Grey which comes next. A sultry and transfixing pop rock song, it is arguably the gentlest surrounding of the senses on the album and one of the most captivating with its sonic breezes and melodic elegance bound in orchestral grandeur.

Without Numbers is a similarly bred offering next, pop and stadium rock infused into another intimate and intoxicating anthem of emotive and melodic fire. If it was me, this would be the next single, its impact simply overwhelming and invigorating whilst revealing everything you need to know about the band to breed real excitement. You could suggest many of the tracks would make the ideal gateway into band and album to be fair though, the imposing balladry and haunted emotional atmosphere of After The Fire next another easy to devour candidate as is the sentimental embrace and orchestral authority of the sensational Losing Sleep.

Dust provides another intensive ballad of sound and emotion, and though it is a slow burner for personal reactions it simply engrosses and heavily pleases with its company whilst Take Shelter entwines its own emotive reflections with a pungent lure of rhythms. In a single breath though, it explodes into a tempest of mouth-watering enterprise and imposing musical drama, swinging between contrasts linked by rampantly addictive rhythms. The song is a blaze of horns, strings, and impacting vocals bound by piano charm, and quite sensational.

Ending now the album could not go out on a loftier high but the melancholic haunting that is Tides provides one final immersive exploration for listener and band to bond over, not as instant a persuasion as its predecessor but certainly a lingering and absorbing finale to leave the listener wanting, needing more.

As mentioned at the start, we predict that The Barnum Meserve is going to take the British rock scene by storm, if not now definitely in the future, though now almost looks inevitable such the brilliance of their first album.

The Barnum Meserve is available via 34D Records from 6th April through all stores.

https://www.facebook.com/TheBarnumMeserve   https://twitter.com/BarnumMeserve

RingMaster 06/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

 

Broken Chords – Rock & Stone EP

 copyright Broken Chords/Niall Lea Photography

copyright Broken Chords/Niall Lea Photography

Bursting with fiery rock ‘n’ roll to throw your inhibitions out the window to, the eagerly anticipated Rock & Stone EP from UK rockers Broken Chords is finally here to set the rock scene roaring with raucous revelry and insatiable temptation. Bulging with four tracks which have been seeded in the instinctive bed of classic rock, bred with the ferocious devilry found in the likes of Rival Sons and Turbonegro, and honed in the ways of modern rock ‘n’ roll, the releases is a welcomingly familiar and invigoratingly fresh incitement under the banner of real and bawdy rock ‘n’ roll.

Formed in 2013, the Essex/Herts hailing Broken Chords swiftly became an attention grabbing encounter on the local live scene, soon spreading their lure nationally. Their hunger to play live and share their sounds saw them play over sixty shows a year initially expanding to a full UK tour whilst 2014 found the band sharing stages at major venues with artists such as Bernie Torme and Australian rockers Electric Mary, as well as sealing a headline slot on the second stage at Hard Rock Hell Helloween. Last year also saw debut single Get Some embraced by radio, media, and new fans alike. It has all led to the licking of lips of a great many for the release of the Rock & Stone EP. Recorded with producer Paul Tipler (Idlewild, The Horrors, Placebo) and coming after a successful tour of Poland and Ukraine by the band, the release provides one of those rock riots which lights up ears and days.

The title track opens things up and instantly has the senses bound in a spicy groove to devour greedily and a vocal persuasion from guitarist Joe Finnigan and bassist Aiden Eggenton impossible to escape joining in on. Riffs and rhythms only add to the immediate infectious and rowdy proposal offered, a blaze unafraid to twist itself into alternating slimmer and broader strains of ferocious temptation. Its title sums up the song perfectly, its body a swinging explosion of rock ‘n’ roll built on an immoveable rhythmic imposing and intensive energy.

04769447-15ed-4c44-990c-2d60d46e7797The following Your Moves springs next with a great blues rock flavouring from its first breath, one thickening in spice and enterprise as the track develops its magnetic character and adventure. The jabbing rhythms of drummer Jamie Wilsdon provide potent bait whilst vocals and basslines bring their own expressive lures to play with the imagination, but it is the spicy hooks and fiery grooves which seal the colourful deal and inflame further the impressive start to the release.

Tell Them Of Us, described as the band’s “tribute to the fallen of 1914-18”, entangles ears with a resourceful web of invention vocally and musically, one embraced by melodic flames soaked in creative drama. It is a skilfully controlled and restrained encounter compared to the more volatile air of its predecessors but equally has that element of incendiary energy and imagination which erupts at certain times and in expressive ideation.

The EP is closed by the outstanding Wild Child, a song you can easily see being a fan favourite, and swiftly one of ours truth be told. Once again ears and attention are gripped by an irresistible opening groove, its irrepressible temptation swiftly backed by thumping beats and voracious riffs bound in glam/classic rock devilry addictiveness. Teasing with moments of discord, throaty basslines, and anthemic instinct, the track is a thrilling stomp, taking best song honours along the way.

Everything about the Rock & Stone EP has familiarity and originality ingrained, a fine line skilfully walked with invention whilst casting rock ‘n’ roll so easy to create a real kinship with

The Rock & Stone EP is available from April 6th @ http://brokenchordsmerch.com/album/235634/rock-stone-ep

Upcoming live dates

Wed 15th April     Cardiff, The Globe, (Supporting Kyshera)

Thu 16th April     Brighton, The Albert, (Supporting Kyshera)

Fri 17th April     Harlow, The Square, (Supporting Kyshera)

Sat 18th April     London, Underworld, (Supporting Kyshera)

Tue 21st April     Wolverhampton, Robin 2, (Supporting Kyshera)

Thu 23rd April     Nottingham, Rock City, (Supporting Kyshera)

Fri 24th April     Selby, The Riverside, (Supporting Kyshera)

Sat 25th April     Sheerness, The Ivy, (Supporting Kyshera)

Wed 13th May London, Surya

Thu 14th May Brighton, The Great Escape Festival

Sat 16th May Sheffield, Mulberry Tavern (supporting Kyshera)

http://www.thebrokenchords.com   https://www.facebook.com/brokenchordsofficial

RingMaster 06/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

Dark Stares – Soul Contract

Dark Stares - Promo Picture

Their debut was a web of flavoursome inspirations woven into a striking introduction, its successor a more honed proposition with a less expansive but more singular and enthralling character to its sound, and now with their third EP, UK rock band Dark Stares has explored another captivating evolution in their sonic adventure. Soul Contact is a fiery and sonically spicy encounter, a handful of tracks which intrigue with a psychedelic air and feisty tenacity. It is a release which pushes the St Albans quartet and their sound on again whilst confirming the band as one of the UK rock scene’s finest emergences in recent times.

Formed in 2011, Dark Stares have been no strangers to keen attention and support since the release of the Tell Your Friends EP the following year. Its success was swiftly backed by outstanding singles Bad Machine and Shinigami later in 2012 with the former subsequently finding itself personally selected by Dave Fanning and Bono for a U2-single publicity stunt. Influences from the likes of from Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Muse, Royal Blood, and Jack White openly flavoured their early sound and still spices its openly unique invention now, as shown by Soul Contact,. As second EP Octopon began to reveal this potent evolution through its unveiling in 2013, the foursome of lead guitarist Harry Collins, and the Howell brothers, Miles Kristian on vocals and guitar, bassist Brett Harland, and drummer Taylor, continued to lure national airplay and press coverage with the likes of Metal Hammer, Rocksound, Powerplay, and XFM whilst live sharing stages with bands such as Enter Shikari and The Darkness. It is easy to expect more of that eager attention to follow the release of their excitedly anticipated new release, and an even hungrier appetite for its impressive sound.

Dark Stares - Cover Artwork   It is fair to say that Soul Contact does not dramatically leap at ears and thoughts at any time, but seduces with an unrelenting and tantalising temptation which ultimately is just as effective. There are times when it misses the spark needed to explode on the senses but with imagination and emotions of the listener thoroughly involved with that of the band’s and every encounter on the release, it is more a showing of the potential still left to be explored within Dark Stares than anything lacking. Opener Liquid Reign is the perfect example, a track which never erupts with a voracious impact but smoulders with warm melodic flames and bubbles with imaginative twists. Its initial touch is a distorted tease which leads to a slow but swinging stroll under a psyche kissed climate. The bass instantly conjures that gentle swagger, backed perfectly by crisp beats and shadowed yet inviting riffs. The effect wrapped vocals of Miles Kristian offer a mellow seduction of their own, his tones gliding over the magnetic and lively sonic enterprise of Collins. The song is as immersive as it is gently catchy, and a great start to the release.

The band’s new single Hypnotize comes next and swiftly has ears basking in a blues bred, scuzz lined temptation aligned to muscular rhythms. The most aggressive and intensive song on the release, it still merges a sultry and welcoming persuasion with a rugged and imposing rhythmic landscape. Virulently contagious and inescapably addictive, especially around its gorgeous croon of a chorus, the song also brings a rich familiarity to it. Over time it is realised as being just of the increasingly established Dark Stares sound, though with a healthy wash of QOTSA to it too. It is a great gateway into band and release, an obvious and gripping single matched by the following Ordinary Way. It too instantly hits like a previously encountered friend with another fuzzy beckoning at the start sparking recognition before a rumbling bassline and rolling beats sculpt an engrossing cage to enclose it all. It is a trap soon coloured in excellent vocal expression and texture within a sunrise of melodic wine and sonic drama. Cavernous and inescapably immersive but intimate and emotionally provocative at its heart, the song is a spellbinding embrace.

Animal floats in next on a sonic croon under a sweltering atmosphere, again easily luring in ears and imagination with bordering on exotic colours and invention. The track truly comes alive with its blues rock fire of scarring riffs and dynamic energy, an intermittent but hunger igniting expulsion across the song led to and tempered by a just as emotive melodic humidity. It is a slow burner compared to the previous pair of songs but slips firmly into thoughts and passions before the closing Cruise Control reinvents its finest Josh Homme and co inspirations for a melodic and harmonic roar coated in Muse like spatial hues and lined with compelling scuzz fired drama.

The track is an excellent end to another great and compelling offering from Dark Stares. It is not a massive leap forward from Octopon yet everything about it from songwriting and sound to imagination has been stretched with fresh creativity and passion. Dark Stares continue to impress and remind that the British rock scene has some strongly creative hands at its tiller.

The Soul Contract EP and new single Hypnotise are available from 6th April on EP and digitally through all digital platforms.

http://www.darkstares.com     https://www.facebook.com/DarkStares

RingMaster 06/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

 

jointpop – Simply Beautiful

jointpop

Hailing from Trinidad & Tobago, rock ‘n’ roll band jointpop first grabbed our attention and that of the home of our radio shows Reputation Radio a few years back with their lively and magnetic festival of pop and rock. Their history goes back much further though, covering twenty years or so in fact and delivering seven albums drawing acclaim and an ever increasing number of fans along the way. Their latest full-length Quicksand unveiled its dynamic persuasion just a matter of days ago and now spawns its first single, the enjoyable Simply Beautiful.

jointpop began in 1996, formed by vocalist/songwriter Gary Hector from the ashes of previous band Oddfellows Local, the seminal Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll band in the nineties. With the new project came a fresh experimentation of sound and direction from Hector, and a union of some of the best creative and skilled musicians of the Trinidad and Tobago underground scene. It did not take long for the band to reap potent local support either whilst their emerging songs subsequently lured close attention from terrains further afield including the UK and US. Their septet of albums and various singles have consistently pushed the band into a greedier awareness and recognition of the band’s presence, enabling jointpop to tour the countries just mentioned and play some of their most legendary venues such as CBGB’S, 100 Club, The Dublin Castle, and the Hope and Anchor. Produced by Paul Kimble of Grant Lee Buffalo, Quicksand is now starting to lure in another keen wave of interest in the five-piece of Hector, guitarist Damon Homer, bassist Jerome Girdharrie, drummer Dion Camacho, and keyboardist Phil Hill, a persuasion to which Simply Beautiful provides a tantalising invitation.

A lively piano temptation opens up the song, its smiling manner soon aided by the vibrant colour of guitar and a punchy bait of rhythms. A blues air wraps song and vocals as they join the affair next whilst equally a melodic rock substance expands the weight and increasingly fiery character of the proposition. It is not an encounter which leaps out yet is immediately catchy, merging an older schooled rock ‘n’ roll croon with a modern tenacious attitude and enterprise.

Simply Beautiful also offers, if not the diversity which generally comes with the Port Of Spain quintet’s releases and to be found upon Quicksand, certainly a strong hint of the heart of the jointpop sound and the fun.

Simply Beautiful and Quicksand are available now on all online stores.

http://www.jointpop.com/ https://www.facebook.com/jointpop

RingMaster 06/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/