A kaleidoscope of suggestion: talking Shadowplay with guitarist Dan Holden

You may not have heard of rock/alternative outfit Shadowplay but they are a band really beginning to lure strong attention outside of their already conquered home state of New Jersey and further afield. Not to be confused with the Australian rock band of the same name, the Mt. Laurel hailing quintet, since emerging in 2009, has honed a sound persistently and hungrily growing and evolving over the years and releases. Live Shadowplay has equally grown into a rousing and exciting proposition, sharing stages with the likes of Tracii Guns, Doug Wimbish (Living Colour), and Hoobastank as well as undertaking two national tours along the way. Time to learn more so we had the pleasure of exploring the heart of the band with co-founder and guitarist Dan Holden talking origins, songwriting, latest album and more…

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to the beginnings of the band?

I’m Dan Holden and I mainly play guitar for the band Shadowplay. There are four other members in the band: Andrew Corkery (lead vocals), John Sellers (guitar/piano/bass), Ed Flynn (guitar/bass), and Jamile Wiggins (drums). Shadowplay originated in middle school around 2006. In eighth grade I met Andrew at an after school club where kids got together to jam on classic rock music. This was around the time I just started getting into playing the guitar, so Andrew and I decided to start a band. Over time the project evolved into what we are today. John and Ed were both friends of ours from the same school who joined us later on in 2008 and 2011 respectively.

Have you been or are involved in other bands? If so how has that influenced what you are doing in Shadowplay?

I’ve been in Shadowplay for the majority of my life. I’ve played a gig here or there for other bands and with other musicians at other functions, and I often play solo at local shows in my area; however, I’m mostly committed to Shadowplay. We’ve all come from different musical backgrounds, and we all listen to such a wide variety of stuff that I would say each member of our band has definitely influenced another in some way. I originally was the only songwriter for the band, but when John and Ed joined they brought with them their own creativity that really has flushed out our own sound over time. We definitely have gotten each other into different genres and artists that some of us may originally have not been in to (or rather unaware of), and we go see a lot of concerts together and with our friends.

Photo Cred_Reji Berrouet

What inspired the band name?

Shadowplay comes from the Joy Division song. Just thought it sounded cool back when we were 16 years old.

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and in what you wanted it and your sound to offer and does that first intent still drive the band or has it equally evolved?

I think originally we just thought rock music was so cool and awesome, and we thought what a lot of bands were doing in the 70’s and 90’s was so fun. We also realized at a very young age that we’d love to be able to play music forever. Originally we were very influenced by those two decades of rock music, but as time went on and we were exposed to all the diversity all music has to offer we sort of have been building towards a different idea than what we probably thought we were going to sound like in our early years. Currently, we really want to be doing things that still have the high energy and high emotion that great rock music are capable of, but we also want to offer people a spiritual connection to us a people. I think we’re moving closer and closer to realizing that every day. We are constantly evolving. Our first album was recorded in 2011, and released in 2012. Our second album was recorded and released in 2016, and a lot has changed in our lives in those 5 years.

Since your early days, can you pin down how your sound has evolved?

When we started we had more of a mix of classic rock with prog, grunge, and arena rock style to our sound. Over time we all began to listen to more electronic music genres, and post-rock, so nowadays we sound maybe a little less commercial? It’s hard to say really because we are constantly changing and trying new things.

Those changes are more organic movements of sound or the band deliberately wanting to try new things?

A mix of both for sure…I find it’s always more satisfying when organic change causes us to try something different or vice versa, it is working with whatever we’re trying to do with a specific song.

You hinted on it earlier that there is a wide range of inspirations and loves across band members; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the Shadowplay sound but also your personal approach to creating and playing music?

It’s hard for me to speak on the behalf of the others because we’re each inspired by our own individual experiences, and those effects vary specifically to us as individuals. I personally would say that I’ve been very inspired by movie scores, cinema, and video game composers in additions to all the bands that I love. I’m a very big fan of taking a melody or motif that sets the mood of the song and engrains itself in the brain of the listener, and then taking that melody and changing it over the course of the song in clever ways or building it up to some kind of emotional climax. Think of it sort of like how you have rising tension in your typical film (or rising action) and then a climax before simmering off into the credits of the movie.

You mentioned originally you were the prime songwriter but that has shifted over time; is there a particular process to the songwriting within the band though?

We each write songs differently, and personally I don’t think I approach any two songs in the same compositional order, but generally speaking as a band one of us will present sort of a complete idea for the music of song to the others. Then we see if anyone else has anything to add onto it, or ideas on how to build the song up even more. Once the music is finished we then write the lyrics. Usually whoever the song is the brainchild of will write the lyrics, or Andrew will write the lyrics. It’s not always the same way though. Sometimes we have lyrics first and song later. Andrew writes a lot of poetry based on his experiences as he travels the world fairly often for his career in journalism and media production.

Where would you say inspirations to the lyrical side to your songs most come from?

From my life experiences and the other artistic mediums that inspire me. My lyrics personally are often inspired by film, video games, and literature that I’ve read and how I fit my own personal life into those ideas.

Can you give us some background to your latest release?

Our latest album is called Almost Lifelike and we recorded it and released it in the summer of 2016. We recorded it with our engineer/producer Ted Richardson at Burn Down Studios in Philadelphia. We had gotten connected with Ted in 2013 thanks to the help of our original band manager, and we recorded a single with him called Sandy Eyes out of respect to people in our home state that were affected by hurricane Sandy. We were very pleased with how that song turned out, and had a great experience working with Ted the first time around so we knew when we were going to do another album he had to be the guy we worked with. Our latest album is our second full length CD.

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

As I said before we are influenced by our own individual experiences as songwriters. The albums lyrics song to song deal with this, but in a manner that’s got kind of a twist of surrealism to the whole thing. We talk a lot about dealing with loss in different stages of grief, anger, and acceptance. Because of the surreal nature to the lyrics and metaphors we use on the record we said that it’s got an almost life-like quality to it, but not quite exactly like real life. This idea is further explored in the album art in which a man has walked into a record store and picked up an album that looks suspiciously like him buying a record.

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?

We try to make sure the song is ready to go once we are in the studio just because it saves time and money, but how we record them and what texture we decide to give it can happen spontaneously as we record them.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably as for most, when Shadowplay truly come alive.

We definitely feed off of crowd energy. Playing for a lot of people who are really there to enjoy a show helps us enjoy it more and it’s always more cathartic for both us and the audience that way. I’d actually say that being in the studio is my favorite aspect of being in the band, however.

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

Playing live shows as often as possible and wherever possible, and figuring out what shows were successful and repetitive booking at those venues is really the best way I can describe our success and how a band can make a name for themselves. Philadelphia and southern NJ is a great area for bands to play because there are a lot of quality venues and local artists that can help you network and just keep growing. But as a band you also have to be able to play shows out of your local spot, and we’ve been fortunate to have played in many other states as well.

Photo Cred_Reji Berrouet

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something fully positive or is there an opposite side you have found too?

Social media is a blessing for musicians in an era where there are so many more musicians and artists than ever before. You’re able to work with it to meet new people and keep connections that you otherwise would not have been able to before, and it’s much easier to tell people about yourselves and show them what you’re doing. The only negative I can honestly say is that there might be a bit of oversaturation that could lead to artists getting lost in the fold if they aren’t committed, but if you keep pushing at it good things will happen.

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

The pleasure is all mine, I assure you! Shadowplay is already hard at work making new music and learning a lot of other music so be ready for our next album sooner rather than later!

Explore the world of Shadowplay further @ http://www.shadowplay.band/  https://www.facebook.com/pg/shadowplayrocknrolland
and the album Almost Lifelike @ https://shadowplayband.bandcamp.com/releases

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 07/04/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The unification of diversity: exploring the heart of Divided We Stand

divided-we-stand_RingMasterReview

Since forming in 2011, US rockers Divided We Stand has persistently and increasingly grabbed ears and attention with their creative roar and adrenaline fuelled live presence. Quickly making a potent impact locally, they have continued to spread their heavy, rousing sound nationally while sharing stages with the likes of Hoobastank, Pop Evil, All That Remains, SOiL, Mushroomhead, Nonpoint, Papa Roach, and Three Days Grace along the way. As their latest single draws acclaim and appetites globally, we grabbed some of the band’s time to look at the track, the origins of Divided We Stand, what makes them, tick and much more….

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

Formed in December 2010, the Knoxville, TN based hard rock band Divided We Stand is a modern heavy rock band that combines haunting melodies, infectious grooves, tightly synched guitar riffs and clean, melodic vocals to create a crowd pleasing experience. Its line-up consists of Mike Russell (Drums), Randy Krouse (Bass), Jake Wilson (Guitars), Phil Zimny (Guitars/Vocals), and Joe Turner (Lead Vocals)

Have you been involved in other bands before? 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 in past bands with very different sounds. It makes it harder to write because of all the different viewpoints but we have very good songs to show for it. Randy was in a few really heavy metal bands prior to this. Phil and Mike started off playing for their churches and then found other projects later on as their talents grew. Joe started busking while he was in the military and then found some other artists and bands to perform with. Jake has played in various projects as well. We all grew up around music and it’s our life no matter what direction it takes us.

Is there a specific meaning behind the band name?

We have such different views and ideals. While we were in the first phases of our band we had so many different ideas of what direction to go in. Someone said don’t be so divided and it dawned on us “Divided We Stand”.

dws_RingMasterReviewWas there a particular idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted your sound to offer?

It started out with Mike Russell and Phil Zimny, they had written some songs together that had a heavy but melodic sound. After looking for musicians to fill in the roster they added Randy after a random try out. They liked his heavy edge and his unique double slap bass style. Joe Tuner was just hanging out with the band one night and asked to play a song for us. To our surprise he had a golden voice. We had a few rhythm guitar players leave to pursue other ventures.  Jake Wilson had played in some of the bands we had shows with; his stage presence and clean guitar playing caught our attention and we knew he was a perfect fit for the role.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

We all came into this band with great talent but little knowledge of the music industry. You earn each step with your failures and your successes. It’s hard to go out on the road months on end and come up with five to ten thousand to record, publish, and distribute each year. But we have determination to make a way. Either you do it or you don’t.

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

Well Phil and Mike had written a few songs. With the addition of Randy and Joe they quickly morphed into full songs. Some changes happen when you add or subtract a member. We started with second guitar player named Trevor Tucker for our first two EPs Civil Unrest and Deception. When Trevor left the band we added Chris Whitt for our newest single New Era and our sound changed. Some songs sounded better with him and some didn’t work out. Next we added Jake Wilson after Chris left and our sound is changing again. You always need to evolve as a musician.

Have changes been more an organic movement or more the band deliberately trying new things?

For us it was out of necessity. We started out writing, then playing local shows, then touring nationally as well as putting out our EPs and music videos out and it takes up a lot of you time and you have to work a job. Trevor moved on to pursue other ventures because of the hectic schedule. So we got a friend who is really good at guitar to try out. Chris was good and filled the role well and recorded with us and toured but he ended up getting really sick. He wasn’t able to play anymore so we had a few fill in guitar players help us out and went on tour dates for us until we found a replacement. We added Jake Wilson and he has got to play a few shows so far.

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?

We listen to music all day long but when we write we try to focus on where our emotions lead us instead of a specific sound or band. There are a lot of musicians we learn from as we grow as a musician. Some of our favorite bands our Stone Temple Pilots, Avenge Seven Fold, U2, Fear Factory, Dio….this list could go on forever.

Talking of songwriting, is there a particular process to it within the band?

We have tried many approaches to writing material for the band. We put everything under the microscope and only the best ideas pass. Recently we have all been writing and we have tons of ideas so we started recording our ideas and if everyone wants to put a layer on the track they do if not we move on to the next one.

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

Joe writes most of his own material. If he has trouble we give him our ideas for harmonies, patterns, poetry, or anything really. If he likes it he runs with it, if not he keeps moving forward until he finds something. A lot of times you can start with a basic idea and build on it.

Can you give us some background to your latest release?dws-art_RingMasterReview

We went to Spider Studios in Cleveland, Ohio for our single New Era. Tony Gammalo was our producer for the track. He has worked with artist like Chimera and Machine Gun Kelly. He even did the Freddy vs Jason soundtrack. It took us a few days to record but it takes a while to get the finished product. We shot a music video with Post Retro Productions. Then we released our single and video to I-tunes, Spotify, Fuse and a million other places. We feel the music industry is starting to gravitate towards singles instead of albums. No one buys physical copies anymore. They want the best songs for their playlist digitally so getting on as many sites as possible is key.

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?

We usually have played our song live a thousand times before we record so it is well rehearsed before we go record. Sometimes your part changes in the studio for certain reasons like the producer wants you to do it a little different or you find a slight mistake.

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

We have a high energy performance where we jump and throw our guitars around. Joe has such a great presence as a front man. We put our whole selves into the music and don’t hold back. Before and after we play we love to hang out with the crowd and other bands. We love to travel and perform at such different venues with different sounds and random stages.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?

We live really close to Nashville the music city. There is music everywhere but for metal bands it can be a challenge to find a place to play. Times change and you have to adapt to the sound people want here while keeping your musical integrity. The internet is a big tool for success in the music industry. Getting published and distributed through online service is a must. Social media is another tool to get the word out about all your adventures. Share videos and picture as much as possible. You do have to spend a little money to move forward sometimes. Save up or maybe a loan.

Big thanks for sharing time with us guys; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

We just wanna thank The Ringmaster Review for giving us and all the unsigned artists a shot. It is publications like this one that keeps music alive by giving young talent a voice.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDividedWeStand   http://www.dividedwestand.ninja/   https://twitter.com/DividedWeStand0

Pete RingMaster 21/01/2017

Leaving Passenger – When it’s done

LP _RingMasterReview

Sharing a sound inspired by bands such as Incubus, Hoobastank, Breaking Benjamin, and Three Days Grace, Leaving Passenger is a Paris hailing band starting to pick up keen attention beyond their local shores. They have just released When it’s done, their debut EP offering six tracks of melodically fuelled and emotionally empowered alternative rock. There are few big surprises within the richly engaging encounter but for accomplished and enjoyably catchy rock ‘n’ roll, the EP is a potent introduction to the French quartet.

Formed in 2014 by vocalist Julien Boireau, guitarist Pierre Christophe ‘PC’ Maurier, and bassist Julien ‘Jumar’ Margat, Leaving Passenger soon completed their line-up with drummer Vince De Sousa. Honing their fiery sound over time, the band has already earned and become a strong reputation and presence on the Paris live scene which When it’s done is hoping to spread to a wider audience.

The EP opens up with Scream, its fizzy start soon ruptured by sinewy beats and in turn a fiery wash of guitar. From within that strong coaxing, wiry grooves emerge leading into the melodic and emotionally intense heart of the song. Boireau instantly impresses with his vocal presence, his tones powerful and earnest within the increasingly intense flames of guitar. There is a definite touch of Hoobastank to the song which only adds to its draw as warm harmonies court muscular rhythmic intent for a great start to the release.

frontcover-when-its-done _RingMasterReviewRunning Back To Me leaps upon ears next, instantly winding tempting grooves around them as vocals and riffs unite inside. Boireau again commands attention though sharing it with the creative exploits of PC and the firm hand of De Sousa’s energetic beats. Carrying more of a mix of Three Days Grace and Poets Of The Fall to it, the track eclipses its predecessor with its emotional intensity and creative drama; again big surprises absent but enjoyment felt full.

Through the southern blues spiced I Don’t Care and the reflective caress of Better Place, the EP continues to hold on to keen ears. The first blooms into a blaze of heated melodies within an emotion drenched climate while its successor is a captivating heart shared ballad with its own moments of passional fire.

The haunting essence of the last track is matched by that within Lies on the floor, keys floating over the senses fuelling that atmospheric feel as incandescent melodies and bold intensity smoulder to intermittently burn brighter throughout. Without quite matching the strength of other songs it still lodges in the imagination as too the closing title track with its melancholy wrapped strings/keys and intimately haunted balladry. It provides a fine end to the EP, blossoming to greater heights with every listen; an ability also shown by When it’s done as a whole.

The Leaving Passenger sound has yet to find its own identity but it only satisfies without reservations and within the When it’s done EP provides an introduction which just has to be followed up.

The When it’s done EP is out now through numerous online stores.

https://www.facebook.com/leavingpassenger/

Pete RingMaster 08/11/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright