Ringing the changes: 21 Taras Interview

21 Taras is a rock band from Littleton, Colorado which having sparked keen attention through previous releases has ventured into new directions in sound and adventure. This evolution is at the heart of their new album, Change. Wanting to now more we recently chatted with the band learning…

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?

4 out of the 5 of us went to school together. James and Alec shared some classes and started the band, then shortly after recruited Jimmy. James went up to the first person he saw; who just so happened to be Jimmy; and asked if he played bass. Austin was later introduced to the band in a similar fashion. I (Julian) moved to Colorado in 2014 and met James online on some band finder website. They sent me some songs to throw some vocals on and we played our first show just a couple weeks later.

Have you been or are involved in other bands? If so has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

We all have been playing music for a while now in one way or another, but this is pretty much our first real band. I had a project back when I lived in Alaska with one of my good friends Rio, but it was just the two of us. James and Alec had gone through a few other line-ups under a different band name, but as of late 2014 the line-up has been set and that is when the final name change to 21 Taras ensued.

What inspired the band name?

It comes from Buddhism. They have 21 different forms of Tara, all based around self-empowerment and self-enlightenment. The name stands for how we try to continually grow as not only musicians, but also as people through our music and songwriting.

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

We just want to continue evolving. Just about four years in, and we have changed so much already. I don’t think we ever try to plan for where things go; it just sort of happens. We’ve tried to dictate things before but that is a good way for things to end up forced.

Do the same things still drive the band from its first steps or have they evolved over time?

I think now having a full music studio at our disposal has greatly changed everything. It allows us to be more creative as we are working on our time. Our mentor/producer Jim Boyd deserves a lot of credit for our last record. With him opening up his studio to us, it really led to the growth of the songs and the overall freedom the album possesses.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

We started out with more of a hard rock and grunge presence, and it has evolved rather quickly to more of a 60s and 70s influenced sound. Things are getting more and more psychedelic influenced as we speak.

Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more deliberately wanting to try new things?

A bit of both, I think everyone was starting to get a little burnt out and I think we just had a lack of direction. We were kind of floating in one area with no real progression occurring. We all had a big free flowing discussion back in February with the main message being about trying new things. Just taking more outside influences and putting them to use. It really has led to some very diverse songs for us.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

A big one for us is the Beatles. Right around Rubber Soul is when they really started to branch out and grow their sound. I just love how one band can have so many songs from different ends of the spectrum, from Honey Pie to Helter Skelter, they really changed the confines of a particular album mould. Other bands that do this are Queen and the Beach Boys. As a band we all share so many influences with each other. For James he brings a lot of the heavier side such as bands like Earthless and Red Fang, while Alec is more of a classic aficionado with bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Austin and Jimmy probably have the most eclectic tastes, although we all tend to enjoy a bit of everything. It is a good problem to have as it leads to a diverse palette.

Is there a particular process to the songwriting?

Every song is different really, some songs are written by one or two guys while others we all sit and write together. Sometimes one guy will write a section and bring it to the group, while other songs may be more fleshed out by the time it reaches the rehearsal room.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

I write the lyrics and more often than not it is usually dictated by the music itself. There have been times however where I will write the lyrics first and the music will follow.

Give us some background to your latest release.

Our latest release is called Change and the name is to be taken quite literal. It marks several big changes for us as a band, such as our sound but also our songwriting processes and just our overall growth as a group.

Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.

The album starts off rather straight forward musically, and by song two we go to a very new place, for both the listener and the band itself. Gettin’ Hungry (track two) is very jazz influenced number featuring a good friend Mia Klosterman on backing vocals. The song and much of the album takes you through some of the mental hardships I was going through at the time. I tried to have the bridge of the song represent what I was going through internally during a very distressed time in my life being away from a loved one.

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

With a studio at our disposal, it allows us to do both simultaneously. The songs are constantly being devolved and modified.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?

Performing has changed so much for us with the growth of our songs. With the new album containing so much depth and there being just five of us in the band, it creates a fun challenge to reproduce the music. We are always looking at new ways to reinvent the songs and create more of a cohesive show that really tells a story. It really is theatrical in a way.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it?

If the drive is there, it is always possible. We are very driven and determined, but we also genuinely love doing it. So even the smallest of impacts are very satisfying for us. We just have to keep going.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive?

Times and technology change and the only option is to adapt to your surroundings whether you like it or not. Social media is part of our generation and there isn’t really a way around that. There are both negative and positive aspects to that but one really big positive is that it allows for bands to connect directly with their fans and have a whole new reach that would have never been possible before. Of course this leads to over saturation, which is a whole other discussion, but you have to always find the good in a bad situation no matter the circumstances. Speaking of, here’s a shameless plug of our website! https://www.21tarasband.com/

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

We put a lot of time into our new album Change and our goal is to take you on a journey through some of our favorite periods in music. The album focuses heavily on the mid to late 60s, as well as 70s with a bit of early jazz influence as well. You can listen to the band’s new album Change here: https://21tarasband.bandcamp.com/album/change

https://www.facebook.com/21tarasband   https://twitter.com/21TarasBand

Pete RingMaster 07/12/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Eureka California – Roadrunners

With their 2016 album Versus one of our favourite encounters in recent times, there is always certain anticipation here when the name Eureka California crops up. What that album maybe lacked in uniqueness it more than made up in imagination and individual enterprise. Now its successor Roadrunners has arrived to explore real originality in sound whilst accentuating the band’s instinctive rock ‘n’ roll clamour and rumble amidst fresh intricacy of invention.

Consisting of the vocal and jangling sonic rapacity of Jake Ward and the rhythmic manipulation of Marie A. Uhler, Eureka California has become one of rock’s keenly embraced propositions over the decade and a year since first emerging from Athens, Georgia. Across their three previous albums, the duo’s garage rock/pop has evolved with their craft and experiences. Last year saw the release of the Wigwam EP, a proposal which blended a new rawness with the punk like aggression of Versus. It also suggested a greater subtlety and technicality to their writing and sound which has now been given its head within Roadrunners. That raw edge of the EP is less pronounced but still an ear grabbing texture in the band’s new release. It all makes for a proposition which maybe took longer to take to, compared to its predecessor, as its layers were explored but emerged as Eureka California’s finest moment yet.

Fourteen songs rich, Roadrunners begins with MKUltra and instantly a cloud of inviting jangle surrounds ears as rhythms build their own potent tempting. Once hitting its calm but clamorous stride, the vocals of Ward erupt with matching appetite and dexterity to the sounds around them. Like a garage bred dissonance fuelled Beach Boys, the track dances in ears to give the release an immediate high point.

The following Perfect Grammar is similarly bred and woven but with a raw angst and air which sears the senses as it seduces them. Uhler’s beats inspire a simultaneous swing to the track which has feet dancing to its mix of the wild and composed before Threads steps forward to forge a new high within Roadrunners. From its opening hook to its swiftly advancing rhythmic flirtation, the track had us licking lips and keenly bouncing. There is a great seventies DIY indie punk lining to the track recalling the likes of Television Personalities and ‘O’ Level, which surrounds an indie pop holler forged with hooks and beats which with its portentous heart just infested instincts and imagination.

It is followed by the calmer melodic seducing of Time After Time After Time After Time. It too has an immediate and organic infectiousness which worms into the psyche before its more feral side rises up in tenacious rock ‘n roll. There is a hint of The Monochrome Set to the song at times as it matches its predecessor’s triumph, both in turn equalled by the rousing antics and rhythmic dynamics of Over It. The trio all vie for best track honours, together providing the album’s pinnacle point.

I Can’t Look In Yr Direction is next, its sonic angst matched in lyrical reflection as its mellower contemplative complaints flare up amidst searing aural flames while Howard Hughes at the Sands is an acoustic saunter with caustic eruptions. Both tracks intrigued as they captivated, neither quite emulating the glory of those before but only adding to the album’s thick lure; bait only accentuated by the short but rich rock ‘n’ roll of following instrumental Buffalo Bills 1990 – 1993.

Through the excellent post punk wired JJT and the unpredictable poppier escapade of SWDs, Eureka California continue to unfold the new invention in their writing and music. The latter is a glorious slice of hook woven pop ‘n’ roll with a Pixies tint while next up Gila Monster just seduces attention second by second from its initial guitar scratching to its summery discord. Its swing and jangle is like hay fever, persistently nagging away but in contrast only pleasurable before in turn Telephone Tone shares its own infectious warm canter with zeal lined calm.

Concluding with the masterfully flirtatious and simultaneously fiery How Long Has This Been Going On? and the Frank Black meets Pere Ubu flavoured Mexican Coke, the continuously appetising Roadrunners swarms ears with its sound and imagination. It is easily the band’s most inventive and individual proposition to date and in turn their most compelling and enjoyable; simply one of the must check out highlights of 2018.

Roadrunners is out now digitally and on CD and Ltd Edition vinyl via Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records (HHBTM); available @https://eurekacalifornia.bandcamp.com/album/roadrunners and @ http://hhbtm.com/item.php?item_id=652

http://eurekacaliforniaband.com/     https://www.facebook.com/eurekacalifornia     https://twitter.com/eurekacalifone

Pete RingMaster 26/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Static Fiction – All In

Static Fiction

US pop punks Static Fiction have been compared to Green Day most consistently since, well emerging in 2011 really. For us maybe Nerf Herder would be an even closer reference but it has to be said that there are certain moments within new EP/mini album All In, that you cannot help imagining that if The Beach Boys were breaking now with a punk inspired sound, they would not be too far apart from this Californian quartet.

Their six track romp is a thoroughly captivating encounter, with half its songs impressive and the other offerings irresistible adventures of sound and enterprise. Influences to the band include indeed Green Day alongside the likes of Weezer, NoFx, Bouncing Souls, Bowling For Soup, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and…well the list is long and it is fair to say that many are openly worn on the sleeves of songs. What sets the band apart from the current pop punk crowd though is an additional power pop tenacity and a flood of hooks which are simply fresh and uniquely imaginative. All In still feels like it had more to give but could not quite realise all of its promise, though in turn it rigorously hints that there is the potential for a killer album from Static Fiction in the future.

The Huntington Beach band released their very well-received debut self-titled EP at the very end of 2012, a proposition recorded with award winning producer/engineer Ryan Greene. The band were determined to enlist the man’s services, hitting up a Authority Zero gig in Arizona and pleading with that band’s lead singer for Greene’s number. It led to a link up which has been repeated with All In, a release which is a thick thrilling leap on from its predecessor. The time between releases has seen a change in the Static Fiction line-up too, another fresh and potent element we would suggest helping make All In one unforgettable tempting.

STATIC FICTION_ALL IN_Reputation Radio/RingMaster ReviewUM COVERThe release opens up with Main Street and straight away hits ears with feisty rhythms and excited riffs, both entwined with swiftly gripping hooks and flavoursome melodies. The vocals of guitarist Paul Lapinsky are just as impacting from the off, welcoming backing contributions across the band and song to similar success. The more grizzled bassline of Ryan Brown is another spicy lure but then again everything from the thumping beats of drummer Derek Goodwin to the smiling enterprise of guitarists Noah Dunbar and Lapinsky just colludes in an incendiary endeavour of fun. There are also little twists and creative additives vocally and musically which provide shards of unpredictability to the encounter and shows that the Static Fiction songwriting is just as boisterous and eventful as their sound.

The strong start is instantly matched by the following Keep It Moving. Arguably less unique than the opener, the bright stroll and energetic swagger of the song is still a magnetic and infectious proposition with its addictive chorus especially enslaving. There is a touch of Blink 182 meets Face to Face to the track which does it no harm at all, though it and indeed the previous track have to bow down to the exceptional Temporary which comes next. It is pure addiction, a cage of hooks and mischievous enterprise impossible to escape brought with a simply contagious creative grin. A sonic lure richly teases first before the song slips into a virulent amble of vocal enticing and infection clad hooks from across the whole line-up. The bass has a steely lure and beats a dramatic intent whilst the guitars just roll out a stream of temptation and incitement. Even the mellow caress of harmonies and melodies for the chorus has a certain unpredictable glint to its persuasion, though it is the bold and punchy ingenuity with a whisper of Billy Talent creativity to it, which particularly ignites ears and imagination.

     Something Amazing is soon doing its best to match the pinnacle of the release and with its summery warmth and vivacious stride is not far from hitting a similar mark in the passions. With flowing harmonies and evocative melodies against a sturdier rhythmic shuffle, that Beach Boys essence is most vocal here, though as anything suggested it is just another colour in the overall blend of rich flavours and textures within tracks. There is little chance of not finding feet agitated or indeed bodies leaping around to the song either, a persuasion emulated in the following Amra and its insistently catchy and energetic tale of The Graduate like attraction.

All In closes with Till the End, an acoustic proposal seeing Lapinsky and guitar alone in reflection. It is a very enjoyable track and is definitely placed in the right position on the release but just is a little bit of an anti-climax after the creative rioting before it, leaving that dulled feeling felt just after the party has ended and peace descends.

It is fair to say that we have not enjoyed a pop punk offering more in recent times and the fact that it also infers that there is definite potential for even greater exploits ahead with Static Fiction, it is exciting times….

All In is available now via most online stores.

http://www.staticfictionhb.com/      https://www.facebook.com/StaticFictionhb

RingMaster 19/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Keys – Ring The Changes

KEYS-Ring-The-Changes-Cover-WEB

Not to be confused with the Bury St Edmunds unit holding the same name and who we covered previously on the site for their Innocuous Beats EP, the Wales hailing Keys is a psychedelic pop/garage rock band who have just released their tantalising new album Ring The Changes. Exploring and crafting unique songs from American influences such as Stooges, Violent Femmes, Velvets, Sly Stone, and Jonathan Richman, the album is a captivating encounter which either ignites a fire in the passions or has them simmering eagerly from the first of its twelve endeavours through to the last.

The successor to their acclaimed album Bitten by Wolves of 2011, which itself followed the well-received debut Fire Inside two years earlier, Ring the Changes sees the Cardiff band equipped with a new approach and drummer to expand and flourish again in the lo-fi exploration which marked their previous releases. Recorded over one weekend on 8 track tape with Pixy Jones from El Goodo, the new album is a swarm of melodic and seductive songs fuelled with unfussy enterprise and transfixing infectious beauty.

Handclaps make the first invitation to the album as opener Shake It Up starts things off. The minimalistic coaxing is swiftly joined by the potent voice of Matthew Evans, his delivery expressive and holding smouldering warmth to match the emerging sounds around him. The firm beats of Dave Newington and the dark enticing lure of James Bell’s bass add to the growing lure and drama of the song, a creative narrative coated in a feverish blues spice from the guitars of Gwion Rowlands and Evans. They also instigate a mischievous teasing across the song, it twisting through numerous styles and inspirations whilst sneaking in the fully British spice of David Essex’s Rock On.

It is a fun and pleasing beginning to the album swiftly surpassed by Hard Habit to Crack. A mesmeric and lively slice of heated pop which plays with ears and imagination like a union between Beach Boys meets House Of Love, the song is a surf kissed breeze suitable for beach and home with its radiant melodic sunshine. As the first song, it is also happy to stir up a shade of intensity and tenacity that never erupts but brings a great raw but understated breath to the tempered blaze. Its success is supported by the similarly flavoured sixties pop of Bad Girls. Melodies croon as potently as the mellow vocals throughout the breezy and catchy evocation, Jan and Dean meets Jonathan Richman a clue to the engaging presence of the track.

Both the bluesy pop romp of See My Baby and the fire glazed lo-fi lure of Wade in the Water keep attention and appetite rigorously keen, even though neither quite matches the previous trio of songs. The soulful sultriness of the second of the two provides an especially provocative intrigue and enticement before The Beautiful Sound of a Heartbreak unveils its humid climate and emotive caress. It is an enthralling melodically scenic flight of Walker Brothers-esque passionate harmonies and My Bloody Valentine sonic sedation, and quite bewitching.

Machine Elves is a slow burner compared to other tracks upon the release, its seventies soulful shuffle inviting and pleasing yet lacking something indefinable which the previous songs basked in. Nevertheless it is a superbly accomplished and skilled proposition for feet and thoughts to embrace before the outstanding shimmering grace and elegance of Slightly Ahead of the Curve seduces the emotions. Again it is a slower persuasion but emerges as another pinnacle of the thrilling encounter. It is also another where we suggest there is as much a British inspiration as from the other side of the pond, this time elements of Kinks flirting with thoughts as the song explores and expands its sweltering landscape and emotional atmosphere.

The album comes to a close through the mighty inventive persuasion of Ghost, a song as minimal and poetically enticing as they come with vocals and guitar offering a tender coaxing around a pulsating firm rhythmic spine. Prone to expulsions of feisty energy and deeply hooking invention, it is another stunner before lastly Go to Get My She To get Her with its blues funk shuffle brings it all to a fine end, its mischievous title earning a new persona in the course of the song.

Ring The Changes is a gem of a release which from making an impressive initial declaration evolves and breeds firmer lustful ardour for its inflamed imagination and potent sounds. Keys have grown to another plateau through their release, one which surely deserves and will find a matching spotlight.

Ring The Changes is available now via See Monkey Do Monkey Recordings digitally and on 12″ Double Vinyl @ http://seemonkeydomonkey.com/products/keys-ring-the-changes

http://keysofficial.com/

RingMaster 07/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Cosmic Punch: Clay Pit Road

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    Clay Pit Road the new album from Florida band Cosmic Punch, is like a variety box of cookies or chocolates, full of multiple flavours all igniting the taste buds. It is a release which courts sounds from various decades and genres to spawn something which is thrilling and quite irresistible. All of the nine songs upon the album bring honest and openly recognisable sounds but revitalised into an engagement which just brings a big grin to the face and heart.

Cosmic Punch consists of Ryan Michalski (lead vocals/backing vocals) and Juan Gonzalez (lead vocals/backing vocals/music/producer).  The first of the pair is known for his musical projects (Space King, Dead Dark Slide) whilst “Punchy” Gonzalez  is best known as a producer, notably of death metal records including releases from Morbid Angel, Diabolic, and Lover of Sin. The pair came together initially in 2005 to create a project which brought different ages and styles of rock music into one compelling entity and as the album shows have come up with something quite irresistible. The music is a mix of the sixties, seventies, and eighties with a modern vision and breath to the results. At any point on the album you can encounter alternative rock, power pop, pop punk, and hard rock in distinct presences and that is simplifying things. There are many additives and musical references to eras and bands on the album which are perpetually shifting and continually mesmeric. The bio states to ‘think of Monkees meets Beatles meets Boston meets Queen meets Beach Boys meets E.L.O.’ to give you the feel of the sound, it is a fair declaration though misses out on plenty of other juicy spices which captivate the ear.

Opening track One Man Pop Band provides all the persuasion needed to know the album is going to be a real treat, its convincing 1326047570_cP_Cover_idea_new000000power pop energy and melodic enterprise immediately contagious and thrilling. It plays like a mix of Herman’s Hermits, early Green Day, and Weezer bringing feet, heart, and voice in an unashamed union with its sonic rapture. It is a great start immediately left in the shade by the fiery entrance of How May I. With electro teasing and flames of tight sonic guitar the track soon has a magnetic hold, its punk essences reminding of The Dickies and sizzling melodic hooks of the Buzzcocks, and everything employed just aural manna. The electro swagger behind the feisty charge of the song and the vocal harmonics also lure thoughts forward, those of The Beatles, Jimmy Eat World, and The Dandy Warhols. It is the best track on the release and one of the most enjoyable songs anywhere to be unveiled this year.

The irrepressible variety continues with the smouldering Beatles, E.L.O, XTC mellow textures of You’re Great and the hard rock cored Join the Party. Both tracks fall short of the first two but still build their own unique piece of lingering pleasure inside with their imaginative and warm refreshing expanses. The second of the pair would not feel out of place within a Cheap Trick or Aerosmith set if given a slightly harder spine and both easily leave one with a heightened eagerness for what is to come.

The Long Slow Road and The First Time keep the baton flying high, the first with golden pop kisses within blustery sonics whilst the second breaks out tenderly caresses harmonies and provocative keys within a swiftly strolling urgency. It is a new wave wash of warm and energising majesty which soon recruits the passions and voice to its pulsating presence.

Another giant highlight comes with International Nerd Holiday, a track with all the fun and melodic mastery of The Monkees and the confident swagger of bands like Purple Hearts. It is a glorious celebratory riot of pop rock through the ages and seriously rivals the first two tracks as top tease.

The release is completed by the E.L.O./House Of Love wrapped Walk Away and the rock/punk feast of heat that is Bring You Down, a track which is like The Super Happy Fun Club meets Huey Lewis and the News in a party held by Jane’s Addiction. It is a brilliant end to a terrific album, a release all pop fans from any direction should embrace with at least an investigation. Cosmic Punch is a pleasure which brings nostalgia and new imagination into a whole new satisfying realm.

www.cosmicpunch.com

RingMaster 12/12/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Interview with Leon Welburn of Mammal Hum

Sometimes a band steps forward to truly captivate and excite the senses, to thrill the heart and fire up the imagination like very few others are able. One such band is UK psychedelic pop band Mammal Hum, a quartet of musicians who have created not only one of the best albums this year but treated the passions to mischievous sounds of textured and layered majestic beauty. The release is a mouthwatering expanse of diversity and mesmeric soundscapes to ignite open ardour towards it. Not just wanting but needing to learn more about the band, album, and the minds behind such a unique release we had the pleasure to fire off questions to band member Leon Welburn.

Hello Leon and welcome to the site.

Firstly please just introduce the band.

Hi everyone. We are Mammal Hum, a four-piece from Hull, made up of Nick Cammack, Simon Andrew, Sarah Mole and myself, Leon Welburn

We have to ask firstly about the band name…?

Ha! The band name was a laborious process. We very nearly all fell out over it. So, four part harmonies are an essential part of our sound. We saw it as a whole-band voice. A communal ‘hum’ with each member vital to the mix. Hum can also be extended to form the word Humber, the river by which our hometown rests. We’d like to think its different if anything else.

Can you tell us how Mammal Hum began and how Geoff Travis comes into the equation even though it is before the band is a reality I believe?

Nick formed a band a few years back in London, involved with Blanco Y Negro. Geoff Travis was linked to them at the time and basically Nick landed a deal after speaking to him. Then, the band went their separate ways. Nick returned to Hull in 2008 while the others continued to pursue different musical projects. A few months after this, I put my house up for sale, and Nick was one of the prospective buyers. He didn’t end up putting an offer in, but he did notice a Hammond Organ in the corner of the room, and we started chatting about music and bands. A week later I saw Nick in our local pub, and we agreed to have a jam one night with Sarah, who we had both known for a while. The band was pretty much formed that night.

What are the musical experiences for you all leading up to the band?

Nick and Simon have been in a variety of bands for years, Sarah is into DJing, and although this is my first serious band, I’ve been playing and recording solo music for about ten years.

Now a quartet, I read the band began life as a trio before Simon joined up, if so did that mean you used guest drummers, electronic or went without?

We started as a six-piece band with a drummer, two guitarists, bassist, two keyboards, and four singers. Quite hefty really. We lost one guitarist early on when he moved away. Then our drummer left to work abroad. For a while we tried to work as with drum machines and loops, and take it in an acoustic direction, but it just didn’t sit right. One of our ladies (Nick’s partner) departed to have their first child. At this point we realised we desperately needed drums. We knew Simon played guitar in another band, approached him one evening, and he agreed to rehearse with us. The minute he began drumming, we knew he was exactly the person we needed. A loose jazz style, with lots of heavy, rolling toms. That was, and still is, the Mammal line-up.

We used the tag psychedelic pop which most seem to use to describe your music for our review of your new album What’s Behind Us Is Not Important. It is a description which just grazes your sound to be honest, how would you explain your music and intent to newcomers?

Bright and breezy pop nuggets with layered group harmonies, chunky guitar and big drums scattered in and out of various tracks. It’s an album that tries its best not to be too serious. That’s not to say we are deliberately tongue in cheek or humoured. The songs just seem to happen this way.

What are the influences which have had the biggest impact and effect on your individual and band sound? One imagines there are many whispers which spice your ideas.

We always liked the idea of not being tied to a specific musical genre. We have so many different influences from the Beatles and Beach Boys, along with a host of 60s psychedelia, to Sparks, Super Furry Animals, 80s and contemporary electronica….there really are too many to mention, but hopefully this gives you an idea.

There are shall we say nostalgic tones to your music but with a freshness and imagination of modern times, how easy or instinctive is finding and reaching the balance in your sounds?

We used to write the tracks separately, and then it reached a point where we felt the best songs were being created organically in the rehearsal room. One of us would come up with an underlying theme for a track, and the rest of us would all contribute with lyrics and ideas. Pretty much the entire album is based on this system. We do keep influences in mind when writing songs, but always manage to pull ourselves away from being a sounding too much like our influences. I suppose we all value the importance of wanting original sounds, and creative freedom, so luckily yes it feels like a fairly easy process. Always helps!

Where do your songs seed from and how do they evolve within the band?

Our songs come from childhood memories. The Bingo Wing is about sitting in social clubs playing bingo as a kid. Mechanical Horse is about a local bus I used to travel on, and the varied and interesting characters you would see and become accustomed to week in, week out. The life of a car, bee epidemics, close and distant acquaintances, folk tales and our seemingly tiny existence in the enormity of everything which surrounds us……just some of the things we like to write about.

Though the songs upon What’s Behind Us Is Not Important are organic and breathe melodies like we do air, one senses that in the studio a lot of care, time and attention is attached to every aspect of the tracks, is that the case?

Yes. In a way. We do actually try to keep our production quite raw. Not too embellished. However, we do return to songs regularly with new ideas on how various sections can be improved, how vocals may be better structured, re-structuring sections, adding and taking out instruments……basically trying to get a song sounding as interesting as we can, usually within the space of three or four minutes. This isn’t a set rule we stick too though. It does commonly happen though.

How long did the album take to record and was it one big session or an ongoing process in its birth?

It took about two and a half years in all. We originally started recording in late 2010 on an analogue desk belonging to Nick, and then the desk lost its way, and had to be serviced…..in fact it’s still in need of a service. We had major problems with it in the end. The rest of the album was recorded during the last twelve months, by our friends Richard Gilbert from label-mates Lymes, and Patrick Tobin at Room Room Studios in Hull.

Admittedly I am no musician but it is hard to imagine where you start to compose your sprawling mesmeric soundscapes, so please give some clues haha.

Going back to the rehearsal room idea. We really do start with a riff, or drum pattern or keyboard part, or a bass run. It usually has a Captain Beefheart twang to it. What usually happens next is a twenty minute jam. I’ll usually record it on a mobile phone, and we will build the track up over a series of rehearsals, before layering it all up in the studio. It’s a four-way split from nothing. That’s how we roll in Mammal Hum

You are all multi instrumentalists I believe, does that bring a depth of ideas and imagination to songs which maybe are not as strong in other bands?

Not so much multi-instrumentalists. Well apart from Simon, who really can either play every instrument, or is learning to! We do like applying ourselves to, and experimenting with other instruments though. This definitely makes a more interesting sound. It does expand your creativity and make you much more imaginative. You don’t feel constrained to the usual formula.

How does your expansive sound transfer to a live setting, do you have to make any adjustments to bring the same effect as on recordings?

We use samplers, effects pads, overdriven bass and guitar and the big big drums, to try and reflect what goes on in the records. That combined with four voices on stage makes it quite challenging on some tracks to get the overall balance. A good challenge of course. At the same time, we like to tinker with our live set enough for it not to be a repetition of what you hear on the album. You may as well just give the crowd then an album each and send them home. We find the idea of sounding exactly like the album tracks a little……well…….constrictive! That’s absolutely no disrespect to bands who aim to achieve this. We have actually started doing more acoustic gigs to see how the tracks convert when played unplugged. We can then push the harmonies further to the front. The acoustic gigs have been working well actually! We sit in the middle of the room instead of on stage. It’s a nice vibe.

In our review of What’s Behind Us Is Not Important we brought up names of artists like Kontrust, De Staat, The Knack, XTC, The Monkees, Flaming Groovies, Ok Go and even Marilyn Manson (read the review to see why ;)), showing the diversity of your release and richness of its sounds. Any there you would agree with or have you wondered if we were drinking at the time? Haha

I can see The Monkees in there, and some Flaming Groovies. We do like XTC too………Marilyn Manson???? That’s not a comparison I’d either thought I’d hear to be honest! Interesting! Haha!

Is there a prime intention or aim you bring to your music and has it evolved over time?

No specific aim, other than for us all to be creative, enjoy it and invent! The music certainly has shifted in style slightly as band members left, and others joined. The music on the album is certainly representative of our direction over the past three years though.

Also how has your music changed since those early days in 2008?

The music has changed quite a lot, and for the better in our opinion. The voices have always remained, but we are certainly much more versatile now.

What is next for and from Mammal Hum?

We are planning a follow-up album on Mollusc Records. We are currently writing tracks for this one, and hope to start recording next year. Expect a different direction, a lot more laid-back, gentle affair. A bit of a departure really, but an idea we really want to work with. We have plenty of ideas in the pipeline……

A big thank you for sharing time to talk with us, any parting words you would like to leave behind?

Thanks for chatting to us, and to friends for their support, and Mollusc Records for their continued hard work. Please listen to the album…..and yeah start a band. It has ups and downs, but its good fun. What’s Behind You Is Not Important……

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mammal-Hum/11380710291

Read the review of What’s Behind Us Is Not Important @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/mammal-hum-whats-behind-us-is-not-important/

RingMaster Review 27/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Interview with Mike Paradine

The instant the debut solo album from Mike Paradine puts the first of the muscular slices of rock n roll that impressively make up its generous and undemanding glory through the ear, there is nothing but eager enthusiasm, respect and downright joy going back in return. Death In The Family is simply rock n roll at its very best and brought with an enterprise and honesty that makes the pleasure it gives deeper and long lasting each and every time. Eagerly wanting to know more about the man and his release we asked Mike if he would tell us more. As generous with his time and words as with his music Mike Paradine tells us about the man, his life, and the music that has made his album one of the highlights of the year so far at The Ringmaster Review.

Hello and welcome to The RingMaster Review. Many thanks for taking time to talk with us.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Would you start of by telling us about the man who is Mike Paradine?

Well there’s not much…hahah! I just try and go through life with blinders on, not to take things too seriously. Basically I try and find the humour or inject humour into anything I do or see. The reason is that sometimes there are things in life where situations have to be taken seriously, so all of the other times I try to have a good laugh at life and just lighten things up. I take pride in everything I do but not to the point where it consumes my life. There are just too many things in this world to do and experience.

You were introduced to music at an early age in the shape of the Beatles, and I noticed you give Ray Davies as a major influence for you too. As a child growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey these are slightly unexpected flavours from the UK, what was it about them that really took hold with you?

My father’s brother, my Uncle Billy , gave me the Kinks 45 record “Father Christmas” as Christmas present one year and loved the humour  in it. It opened my eye that songs could be written well and be funny at the same time. The following year he gave me the “Muswell Hillbillies” album and just saw how well Ray could tell a human story. From then on in, I started looking at songs a different way, where lyrics actually could mean something. I mean, when I was a little kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, music was something that was heard and felt, not explored. That is, until then.

Music was a constant in your household and life growing up?

Sure thing. My parents did not play any instruments but music was always played in the house. They had a great 45 collection, packed in record cases. Unfortunately as a 2 year old, I broke a lot of them, hahah. At age 3, my parents gave me a “close and play” record player and gave me some records to play on it. The Beatles became a favourite of mine. Of course I couldn’t read but I could figure out the Beatles records because at the time they were all on the Capital Records label. The label itself had an orange and yellow swirl and I figured that out. Problem was the Beach Boys were also on that label. So sometime I got the Beatles, sometimes the Beach Boys which I immediately took off the player. My father showed me that the Beach Boys had 2 b’s in their name and the Beatles only one. Things got better after that.

When did you begin to venture into making music itself?

I always wanted to be in a band, even as a little kid. I had pictured myself playing in the Beatles. But I actually started fooling around with the drums around 6th or 7th grade. I bought a starter kit from Sears and started playing to some of the records that I had. My best friend at the time, Mike, had a guitar and he would come over and we would do the riff from “Smoke on the Water” over and over again. We named the group “Moonwind” but nothing ever became of it. It wasn’t till a few years later that I actually got a real band together.

You also developed a love for comic books and horror movies as a child, was this also your gate way into rock music or just a blossoming love that grew at the same time?

At the time they were separate interests. Another uncle, this time my mother’s brother, Ronnie, was the one who got me into this. He was also partly responsible for me getting in the Beatles. He would come over once or twice a week and he would draw all these comic book and movie monsters for me. This is the time were I was schooled in not only the pop culture at the time but how to draw and illustrate. As time went on, music was pushed into the background and I took a real interest in drawing. By the time I was in Kindergarten, my skill at drawing was that at a fifth grade level. This was when my imagination grew and it was a great time for myself. You could just submerge yourself into different realities and you controlled the outcome.

You were a child discovering the wonders of music and comics as mentioned and also baseball but then was hit with the nightmare of cancer and the loss of your left leg below the knee. It is said that children are the most adaptable and resilient to this kind of life changing thing and are able to look beyond for positives and new directions. Was it that ‘easy’ for you?

Very cool question. Actually, the amputation was above the knee.  But absolutely… baseball came very natural for me and I was very good at it. Just playing on the field, in front of a crowd was very exhilarating. It’s from these days that I found that I liked playing in front of an audience. When I was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed the whole world was coming down. I knew that if I couldn’t give it 100% and play like I did before, that it wasn’t worth doing. You find out immediately that your body is naturally balanced and when one of those things is taken out of the equation, your whole body is off. It just isn’t the same even with some adjustments. But as luck would have it, I had rock n roll. I was still playing drums and I was really into Alice Cooper at the time. I saw the spectacle in his show. I saw that rock and roll didn’t care about your deformities. It just cared that you were into the music. Alice, David Bowie, they all taught me that freaks, misfits and degenerates, as well as everyone else  were all accepted in this society. I immediately embraced that. This was a place where as long as you were entertaining, you were accepted.

Was this the point the defiance and fight within you as apparent on your new solo album which we will move on to shortly, stepped forth?

Back then, I just took one day at a time. There were those that didn’t think I could play drums in a band because of the cancer thing. I never confronted them, I never got into fights because of it, never argued about it. I just kept playing. The best way to shut somebody’s mouth is to just do it. The real fight was within myself. It wasn’t for anyone else. It was for me to prove that I could do it.  No matter how, I was determined to play.  It was hard at first. I had chemotherapy treatment every other week and that would knock me out for that time. The following week was to keep up with school work that I missed for that week and for the week that I was there. I always found the time to practice though.

You turned to music even more from this point, and obviously became a drummer. Why the drums and was there any particular musician or band that inspired that choice?

I found that the drums were easier to play and I caught on pretty fast. At this time I was hanging out with people who, though were just beginners, could actually play guitar. We would jam at my house and started our first band, Cerberus. KISS really pushed me into putting a band together and playing out. The excitement of their shows were so inspirational, I had to try it. Neil Smith of Alice Cooper and Peter Criss of KISS at the time were the guys I tried to emulate.

When did you begin writing your own songs?

That was during my time in my first band. Though we were a cover band I did start writing my own lyrics on the side with hopes that we would start writing our own material. For the most part, it never happened though we did have maybe 2 or 3 originals which never made it out to the public performances.

As I am writing these questions by coincidence a news report has come on TV about a new exhibition in London dedicated to Phil Lynott who also was a big influence to you. What was it about his music and lyrics that struck you the deepest?

Oh yes…I love Thin Lizzy.  My biggest influences lyrically are Alice Cooper, Ray Davies and Phil. Ray had the social commentary thing going,Alice took horrific situations and twisted them slightly to where he put a sense of humour to them and Phil wrote about his beliefs, family and basically personal insights. That’s what attracted me to his writings. He wasn’t afraid to sing about his inner thoughts. I’ve always been interested in the  “human” aspect of things and this was something I took to right away.

You have been part of Balistik Kick and are the rhythm master and song writer in ArticFlame but do you mind if we move straight to Death In The Family your great new solo album. My first question is how has it taken you so long to make one haha?

I never had the thought of doing one until after ArcticFlame finished the “Guardian at the Gate” album. I built a small recording studio in my yard and contacted some musician friends of mine to see if they would be interested in doing this project together. Initially, I worked with a guitarist from the band Bloodfeast but it didn’t last too long. We did manage to have about 4 songs done musically but then his schedule changed and it became impossible to continue. It wasn’t until I reconnected with producer, Dave Manheim (he did ArcticFlame’s “Declaration” CD) on Facebook that I told him about my idea. He was totally interested and we struck a deal where he would do my solo album and the next AF album.

Death In The Family  is made up of a deeply impressive collection of songs that come from your personal experiences and heart, how easy have the songs been to bring forth?

Honestly, very easy.  Writing personal songs has never been a problem for me and I really have to thank my influences for that. I’ll never be as good as those guys but they taught how to get a story across, what type of phrasing to use, how to use syllables as a rhythm and just be honest with your thoughts. The only thing that I can bring to the table is my own experiences and with that, I have plenty.

How long has the album been in the making from first seed until release?

The writing process was down very quickly. Dave wrote the music the first week, I wrote the melody and lyrics the second. By the third week the album was completely recorded and we spent about 4 days after that mixing the album. It took more to get released. Right after the mixing sessions were done, ArcticFlame went in and started the “Shake the Earth” album” which took about 4 months to do. So I didn’t get around to putting the artwork and layout for my solo album until after that, which was, I think, October. I got the actual physical copies done around January and it was after that, that I started sitting down and figuring out how to do the promo work for it.

The songs as the lyrics are varied and diverse, some tracks rock and hard rock in flavour and others metal borne. Was this intentional to encompass your own tastes and influences or they just evolved as you began writing them this way?

Yes…I wanted it to reflect all of the music that I enjoyed throughout my life, starting with straight rock and roll to the traditional metal. It was Dave’s idea to include the Guns N Rose style punk that is heard in “Suzi with an Uzi”. That was just a really fun song to do.  I had to write something on the humorous side for that. The first time I heard the music. it immediately reminded me of GnR’s punkier side which is really gritty and I love all of that. It was a good but different ingredient to add to the album.

How do you approach your songwriting?

I don’t have one way of doing it. Usually I’ll have an idea for a song and then put it to paper. If someone comes up with music that I think would fit those set of lyrics, I’ll sit down and work at it. Sometimes the lyrics will fit right from the start but mostly I have to tinker with parts so that it makes sense as a whole. Once in a while I’ll have the music, melody and lyrics all at the same time. It’s always good to have a few beers though. That’s the one constant..hahahah!!!!!!

Has Death In The Family given you a freedom and wider scope of expression than writing for ArticFlame allows?

The solo was the reason for this. I could of written a traditional metal sounding album for the solo album but why do that? I already do that with AF and enjoy that. This gave me a broader horizon and to use all of my musically influences. I look at Phil Lynott’s solo albums as a model. Some of that music I can’t get into but I understand what he was trying to do. He didn’t care. It was what he wanted to do to combine the music with the lyrical content and mould it into one expression.  That’s the kind of approach I wanted to take.

As mentioned earlier you have worked alongside Dave Manheim (Supernatiral, Society Killers) on the album, how did you guys originally meet?

Jack Frost (Seven Witches) produced the first ArcticFlame album and had Dave as the engineer. He asked to produce the second album “Declaration” and since he worked with Overkill and Symphony X before, we agreed. We’ve been in contact on and off over the years.

There feels a perfect and natural understanding between you two as one listens to the album.

Glad you noticed. We both had that conversation and is why he’ll do my next couple of albums. I have to tell you that everything was smooth sailing on this project. It was a real fun album to do because everything seemed to fit so naturally. If I described what type of style I was looking for, he would nail it on the first draft. Plus we had a lot of laughs in the studio.

You also have many other artists added their fine touches including Richard Holmgren (Wolf) and Michael Clayton Moore (ArcticFlame). Did you always have them in mind for certain songs as Death In The Family evolved?

Not really. It wasn’t until I heard the actual completed music that I tried to place the voice with the song. With Richard, I had no idea what he was going to sound like. I had his solo album called “Blackworld” and loved the sound of his voice. He had this Dio like quality to it and when he sent back the songs, I was amazed. Dave had a concern before we got them because he never heard him before but as soon as he heard it, he agreed that he was a great choice for those two songs. With Mike we already had an idea what he was going to sound like so we had it planned out what we wanted him to do.

As mentioned lyrically the songs are strongly personal at times, the likes of Rise Up from the Grave dealing with your time with cancer and Bow Down To The Queen referring to an on-going family feud? There is though also some wonderful dark humour throughout especially in the wonderful Cooperesque Monster’s Ball and our favourite song Suzie with an Uzi. Humour is an important and powerful tool in your character one suspects.

Absolutely and it all comes from my father’s side of the family. They are insanely funny and all they do is laugh. My father and I would watch Monty Python religiously every Sunday as I was growing up. We would listen to his Rodney Dangerfield albums and watch the local comedy show, The Uncle Floyd Show. I found out the humour also broke the ice with people. When I was sick, people wouldn’t know how to approach me but by my sense of humour it immediately let people know that I wasn’t an angry person. It was also a good tool to use when other kids would make fun of me. Once I made fun of myself, it automatically disarmed them. They saw that by making fun of myself and laughing about it, there was nothing they could say or do to hurt my feelings. These types of situations didn’t last long because of this.

Is there any particular part of the album that you are proudest of or means the most in your heart?

That is actually a hard question. When I heard “On A Tuesday Morning” for the first time, it knocked me to the floor. I never, ever pictured myself writing a commercial sounding song. Plus it was about an actual event that happened that most people don’t know about. Dave did such a great job on it. I was amazed and still am. “Monsters Ball” is cool because it came out exactly what I had in mind. It’s not the best song on the album but I wanted to give a nod to Alice Cooper and I think I accomplished that. He was the inspiration for that song and I’m glad you pointed that out [in our review of the album]. The best I can say is that I like this album a lot and I actually listen to it regularly. It came out better than I ever expected.

In our review we said Death In The Family has no intention of breaking down barriers or trying to set new directions, it is just rock n roll at its best, a celebration of the sounds and music we all grew up with, is that a fair comment?

You nailed it and that’s the way I’m going to continue. I’m not looking to re-invent the wheel. I’m not looking to be the best or look for the next big sound. I just want to write things that I know about. You can listen for the deeper meaning of the songs, if that’s what you’re into or you can sit down, have a beer and just listen to the music. That’s good enough for me. It all comes down to having fun.

So we are to be blessed with more solo work from you in the future?

Blessed?!?!?!?  I don’t know about that but…Yes, in fact Dave and I have discussed this a few weeks back. Lyric wise, I have the next 2 albums done. The next album is planned to be written this year with a Guns N Roses style to it. I love Steve Jones “Fire and Gasoline” album and want to travel in that direction also. So hopefully we’ll try and mix those styles together. The 3rd album is a story I had written a few years ago and will probably be more in the traditional metal sound.

And live shows for The Mike Paradine Group?

This week I put out a few calls to some musicians I know and looks like we’ll play a handful of shows toward the end of the summer. Kilroy, the guitarist form the album will be joining us as well as Michael Clayton-Moore of ArcticFlame. We’ll both be sharing the front of the stage for this, with some visuals to be added and just have some fun.

I also wanted to ask about your book King of Toys. Could you tell us about that?

Sure, I wrote that a few years back. It is a horror/poetry type book. Almost like one long set of song lyrics. It tells the story of a 8 year old boy who is abused by his parents and their friends. One night after a horrific episode of abuse his toys come to life and take revenge. The boy also finds out about a lie that the father had told him about a family pet. That fabrication comes back to bite the parents in the ass….

What is its inspiration?

It came from a true story. When my oldest son was in the first grade, he had a friend who used to come over the house, a very hyper kid. We found out that when this boy was a few months old he was severely abused by his mother. So much in fact, that she broke his arm. The sister was granted guardianship and that’s where this boy was living. Just the thought of that happening was upsetting to me. I thought to myself, when you are a very young kid and your parents, abuse and hurt you, where do you turn to? Parents are gods to children and if god is hurting you, where can you go, who do you talk to? My first thought was, your toys, your playthings. Kids talk to the toys and if you’re that age, it makes sense. So I took that approach and added the revenge part of it. Here is a kid from a lower economic background with a bunch of broken down toys but he loves them to death. They in turn return that feeling and protect this kid no matter what.  If only things like that could truly happen though….

What comes next for Mike Paradine?

I don’t know…a nice cold beer maybe????  I’m doing an old school thrash recording project with my son Erik. We plan on recording possibly May/June at Michael Clayton-Moore’s studio. Other than that, ArcticFlame releases the new album in June.

Once more a great thanks for sharing your time to talk with us, it has been a pleasure.

The pleasure was all mine! Thanks for the cool questions…

Would you like to end with a last comment or thought?

If anyone would like to book the band, contact me. Will try and figure something out.

Other than that….I’ll be in Mansfield, England at the Intake Club with ArcticFlame on Saturday, May 26th at the Metalgods Festival. So, if anyone’s not doing anything, stop by and we’ll hang and have a couple of beers!!!

Read the Death In The Family review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/mike-paradine-group-death-in-the-family/

The RingMaster Review 11/04/2012

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