Is it working that way in your band? Is it coming from the top down from you or are you leaving it open?
Well‚ songwriting-wise‚ I have it fairly well together before we go into rehearsal. I spent a lot of time recording demos myself. All the instruments have a general idea of what's going to happen in the song. With that being said‚ we get into rehearsal and things change a lot. Everyone is on such a high playing level that it's easy to get the material together‚ and also‚ everyone is really signed on to the vision. It's not like we got some people that want to do a certain thing and others that want to do something else. Everyone is really focused on what the sound of the band is.
A good dynamic…
Yeah‚ I mean‚ it's the ideal situation. Even though I'm writing the music‚ it has a band vibe to it. It doesn't feel like me and a bunch of hired guns. It feels like we're a rock band.
Do you feel like it's the first time that you're in a band where everyone's on the same page?
I think it is… or at least the most on the same page it's ever been. [laughter] Everyone always has different ideas and different influences to what they want to do‚ and this just happens to be a case where everyone is closest to doing the same thing musically. You know‚ there's not someone in the band that is wishing they were playing hip-hop or something. [laughs]
Seeing the progression of your songwriting from Percy Hill and AOD to what you're doing now‚ you're addressing darker themes. I especially noticed that on some of the live stuff there are new songs that go into darker territory thematically.
Well‚ I don't know. Some of it is just there because it fits the music and it fits the vibe. Most of my songs start out with something that's true on a personal level‚ and I think actually the way I'm writing now is way more direct. I'm definitely writing about stuff that is more personal and pertains to my life a lot more than I have in the past with Percy Hill‚ and with AOD I wrote some of the lyrics but I mostly was writing music. And also with AOD‚ for the most part it was writing for a context. We had an idea of what that band was about‚ and I would write in that vain. With this band‚ it feels a little bit more wide open. For some intangible reason this is just what is coming out.
It's definitely not as flowery as some of the Percy Hill stuff. One song on your album that stands out is "Justify." It's not hard to read between the lines and figure out what that song is about. Did that song give you any perspective or closure on Percy Hill?
Well… I'm not going to say too much about that song. I think‚ like you said‚ you can read between the lines. It's more just about… I guess it's just commentary. It's not really that specific.
Yeah‚ I wasn't looking for gossip. I'm more interested in how writing a song like that helps put that chapter of your life in perspective and how that's empowering to move on from a somewhat difficult split.
It's definitely a cathartic thing to be able to do that. I'm finding that when I feel that strongly about something‚ those are the easiest and quickest songs to write. "Justify" I wrote in like an hour. It just came out on the pad of paper. That's nice to be able to get those emotions out in a song like that.
That's interesting. How do you view the band in the live setting? Both Percy and AOD got tagged with the jam label‚ even though I always thought of the bands as more song-oriented bands. I really like how the band sounds and some of the covers you're sprinkling in -- [Black Sabbath's] "The Wizard" totally kicks ass -- and you're mixing in some Percy Hill songs. So‚ how are you feeling about it?
We're experimenting every night. We're trying to get better as a group. I don't consider us to be a jam band. Honestly‚ I think that's a term that's sort of clunky to begin with. Everyone in the band is a strong player‚ and we like to improvise a bit. It wouldn't make sense to try to rein everybody in. I want to give the band free rein to play in the group. I don't know‚ it seems strange -- was Led Zeppelin a jam band‚ you know? That being said‚ the way the music industry is going‚ I think the bands that are going to survive are the ones that can keep it interesting night to night and keep the fans coming back. Because ultimately it's about your relationship with your fans. With CDs selling less and less‚ you need to give them something that's enticing. You can't just get up there and play the music that's on the CD from start to finish and expect to attract a following. There's definitely a lot of pressure to keep it interesting‚ and there's a lot of ways to do it. It just takes some time to develop.
What are your plans for the next year?
We have a lot of ideas. We're trying to make a music video right now‚ believe it or not. It's more of a short film. It's a concept that we all came up with‚ but I can't spill the beans on it yet. I know we just released this record‚ but we have a lot more material that we're playing live. So‚ we're talking about hitting the studio more frequently and just cranking out some singles to get them out there and keeping our fans engaged and held over until the next record comes out. We'd love to get into the studio and cut another record now. We probably have enough material to do it.
From listening to the some of the live shows‚ it sounds like new material is developing quickly.
Yeah‚ it's been coming out quick. We're just trying to keep on top of it. When we first started‚ we were mixing in our new stuff with Percy stuff‚ some AOD stuff and whatever else‚ and now we're at the point where we're close to phasing some of that stuff out because we're developing so much of our own music.
It's almost getting to the point where throwing in a Percy Hill tune sounds awkward.
Yeah‚ and that's part of the reason why we're starting to shy away from it a bit‚ because it almost sounds like two different bands. It's not that I don't enjoy all of that music that I wrote for that band‚ but it feels like suddenly there's a different band up onstage. To me‚ it feels a little inconsistent.
It feels like you're reinterpreting some of that material.
Yes‚ it definitely has changed a bit. I knew there was going to be two types of people out there: the ones that are going to be psyched to come out and kind of get their Percy Hill fix‚ and the people that are coming out and catching on to the new music for the first time -- and those are the people that I'm going to cater to more and more. As much as I don't want to alienate the people that used to be fans of Percy Hill‚ it's much more interesting to me to try to forge something new than turning into some sort of nostalgic act.