quarta-feira, 25 de novembro de 2015

Horizon with appeal to heaven - An Interview

Uma bela revelação deste 2015, é o trio de Richmond, appeal to heaven, que debutou dia 01 de outubro com dois eps. Isso mesmo, ao invés de um, são dois eps, um complementando o outro, ou simplesmente poderia ser um álbum cheio, enfim, cabe a banda a melhor estratégia e formato.

O ponto é que Embrace e To Say se complementam. Sonoramente a banca caminha em algum lugar como um shoegazer épico, grandioso e eloquente, algo como se o U2 tivesse a verve gazer ele bem poderia se chamar appeal to heaven.

Bela (s) estreia (s).

***** Interview with appeal to heaven *****

1. When did appeal to heaven start? Tell us about the history...
VICTOR MA NASH: Appeal to Heaven officially formed early Spring 2015 when a few songs that were originally written to cut a two/three song demo quickly escalated into 2 5 song polished EP’s. But, I suppose the idea of Appeal to Heaven really started In the early 90’s when shoegaze seemed to flourish. There were some amazing bands that really kicked started our passion for music. It felt like the shoegaze scene broke all the rules of conventional songwriting and gave us the power to plug in a bunch of effects and design something unique and special for us. I remember walking into record stores and finding new bands based on their album cover alone. There was definitely a sound and culture that felt hidden from pop culture, which made it that much more special.

I was originally a drummer with a band called Strobe in High School with Jeff Ward who played bass. Jeff Ward’s brother Mitch Ward filled out on guitar. We were very much influenced by Ride, the Charlatans, Pale Saints, Catherine Wheel.. etc. High School was when we cranked up to 11, jammed every weekend, and developed as a Band. But with most bands, life came along and college, jobs, girlfriends set us on different paths. I think it was during that time I really began to invest more effort on guitar and keys. Having thin walls in an apartment in Philadelphia doesn’t really allow for drumming.

Everything came full circle when I returned home from Philadelphia to Richmond, Virginia and started writing songs with Jeff Ward again. We had met Jeff Carson through a mutual friend and decided to all get together in a basement in Petersburg, Virginia to see what happens. This dingy old basement had only one light and one outlet hanging from the ceiling. I am surprised we didn’t get electrocuted considering the fact we were standing in water. Those were some great times, and subsequently we named our recording/rehearsal studio after that first experience, One Outlet Studios. It's where we recorded our first 2 EP's.

Jeff Carson brought a sense of structure to the sound. It was the first time we had a singer, a leader if you will. As with most shoegaze bands, the vocals are blended in more with the music. This was a shift for us. It was a great opportunity to give placement and importance to the voice and the lyrics. It helped us in how we structure our songs and how we craft the sound and dynamics. Jeff Ward and I grew up playing music together, so there was already a natural chemistry and intuition that we just fell back into.

2: Who are your influences?
VICTOR MA NASH: The great thing about who we are is how diverse our individual influences are. Our sound is each our own, and when we started writing songs together, it just worked. It felt fresh. We all matured as musicians and songwriters through-out the years, and it really helped us create something special and unique. I fell in love with Slowdive’s sound early on. I hadn’t heard anything like that. The first time I heard the end of Catch the Breeze, I got chills. Cocteau Twins came right after. I realized I was in love with this wall of sound. It was like a tidal wave in slow motion; it felt emotional. My influences expanded as I got older. My passion for music grew more when my influences switched to Film Composers. I started writing a lot of scores. There was freedom in not following a verse, chorus structure. I was gobbling up all the soundtracks I could.. Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Johann Johannsson, etc. I realized over time the power of music in cinema. Writing a song and composing music feels like the same thing. You are telling a story and connecting with people emotionally. This influence has began to transcend into our sound and it’s getting us excited for the future of Appeal to Heaven.

JEFF WARD:  When I first started playing bass, I was listening to a lot of Echo & the Bunnymen and the Cure. But it was when I first heard Martin Blunt's bass lines in the Charlatans that everything changed for me. That was it. I started staying up late watching 120mins on MTV, discovering bands like The House of Love, Trashcan Sinatras, The Wonder Stuff… then I heard Ride… and everything changed again! That opened up so many doors. Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Adorable. In 1993, Victor, my brother and I were talking to Dean Garcia after a Curve show in DC. Dean asked, "So what else are you listening to lately?" And I replied, "Pretty much anything Alan Moulder produces." So then Dean says, "Alan's on the bus if you'd like to meet him…" That was also a pivotal moment. I think Alan Moulder was just as surprised that some kids wanted to meet him, as we were meeting him!

JEFF CARSON: I was influenced heavily as a young man by the passion, energy and sound of black gospel music. There was just a depth of spirit and soul in that world of music that immediately drew me in. At the same time my mom was a big fan of southern gospel quartets. We went to more quartet sing off's than was reasonable as a child! But even in that music, there was something beautiful about the tight harmonies. I was and still am a big fan of J.D. Sumner, which for the longest time held the Guinness World Record for deepest note sung. As a teen I began listing to things like Charlie Peacock, The Cure, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and many others. I'm a huge fan of the country music power house songwriters. There is just something magical about a well written story put to song. I'm still pretty diverse in terms of what I listen to. I think every genre and style has a strength that should be appreciated.

3. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
VICTOR MA NASH: My top five albums are really based on the significance of how it influenced me as a musician:
1. Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden
2. Slowdive - Just for a Day
3. Cocteau Twins - Victorialand
4. Catherine Wheel - Adam and Eve
5. Johann Johannsson - Fordlandia

1. Ride - Nowhere
2. House of Love - self titled “Butterfly" album tied w/ Slowdive's Just for a Day
3. Pale Saints - Comforts of Madness
4. MBV - Loveless
5. Catherine Wheel - Adam and Eve

1. Charlie Peacock - Love Life
2. Billy Joel - The Stranger
3. Otis Redding - The Dock of the Bay
4. Tom Waits - Small Change
5. U2 - The Joshua Tree

4. How do you feel playing live?
Playing live is something we are looking forward to. It’s really an opportunity to bring the songs alive. I have always appreciated when you hear the song on the album and it takes on a whole new life on stage. The chorus may be twice as long, the breaks may go longer, and you really get to craft those awesome intros and feedback exits! Live is where the music gets let out of its cage. In the past, we’ve always brought new music to the stage before we recorded it. We approached it differently this time. We crafted our songs like a work of art first. We took our time making sure the songs were the best that they could be. Now we are looking forward to bringing them to the stage soon and sharing them with others.

5. How do you describe appeal to heaven's sound?
Every band struggles with the question, “what is your sound, what do you sound like”. Do you mean, are we good or do we sound like crap?, haha. It’s like asking someone to say something in another language or play something on the guitar. There is always that awkward pause. So, I’ll pause here.

I suppose I always tend to click on the Reverb Pedal, an occasional delay, and some sort of Swell/Overdrive Pedal. The sound is clean and lush with an occasional overdrive/fuzz. We’ve been experimenting with integrated keyboard/string arrangements to tap into our cinematic influences lately. Our songs are pretty dynamic. We’ve also made a conscious effort to try and not let every song sound the same or follow the same formula. I tend to gravitate using an acoustic guitar when I am writing new songs. It helps give the song the soul, the heartbeat. We also strive to write songs that if you were to hear us playing a show, you'd have to cross the street and check it out…to have a sound that's so appealing that even the angels want to join in, bringing Heaven to Earth in a way. I suppose that’s where our band name came from.

6: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
VICTOR MA NASH:The song writing process is really what makes us who we are. If I write a song, it usually comes very quickly when I first plug in. The music tends to come first, then we search for where the song wants to go. I'll usually demo the idea in Logic and send out a dropbox link for each of us to give it the car stereo test. That's when Jeff Carson steps in a opens it up with his melodies and structure ideas, which really helps give the song direction. Jeff Ward is always refining, shaping, and polishing the dynamics of the music. Lately, we've been sitting down and talking about our ideas. We’ll try and find the ‘voice’ of the song and structure it through our conversations. Then we plug in and see what happens. It was refreshing to approach songwriting this way. We’ve also been taping into adding a cinematic flare to our sound. The last two tracks on both our EP’s “When the Angels Come” came from wanting to tell a story. Each version of that song is an evolution. We hope to continue that with each new release.

JEFF CARSON: It used to be that we would try to figure out what the song wanted to say, and we would string together words we like that approached that end. With these 2 Ep's we really spent a lot of time trying to figure out what we wanted to say, and then letting the songs support that message in arrangement, production, and even overall musicality. It usually begins with Victor and/or Jeff Ward putting together a music hook, and then I add a lyrical direction. From there all bets are off. It's always interesting to go back and listen to the original ideas once a song is finished. Sometimes it's the same, sometimes it's very different.

7. Which new bands do you recommended?
VICTOR MA NASH: Its hard for me to recommend bands, because there are so many great ones out there. I suppose the real recommendation is to listen to something new each day. Go in a direction you normally don't go in. I tend to find some great music that way. Plus it keeps my ideas and influences fresh. I’ve been streaming a lot music from DKFM Shoegaze Radio lately… lots of great stuff on there.

JEFF WARD: Shy, Low is really good. They're also a local Richmond band. I recently saw DIIV open for Ride, and it was refreshing to see another generation of gazers bringing new elements to the scene.

8: Which band would you love to made a cover version of?
VICTOR MA NASH: I've been listening to a lot of 50's music. I'd love to take an oldie and turn it on its head. Maybe the Everly Brothers tune, “All I Have To Do Is Dream”

JEFF WARD: I've always wanted to cover "Head On" by the Jesus and Mary Chain.

JEFF CARSON: I've always had a special connection to the lyrics in "In the Living Years" by Mike and the Mechanics. Maybe an interesting acoustic cover would be nice.

9: What´s the plans for future?
The future of Appeal to Heaven is looking great. We've had a great response so far with what we thought was just going to be a 2/3 song demo to find a drummer to having two polished EP’s for sale. We are just excited about playing music again. We already have a bunch of new songs in the works, but our goal now is to rehearse and play live.

10: Any parting words?
It’s really a great time for music. Social networks have really helped fuel new bands to reach a lot of people. Shoegaze seems to be reborn to a new generation, and that’s really exciting for us. It’s very cliche to say this, but we’ve almost gone back to our roots as musicians and starting writing music that we can connect to, music that means something to us. Thank You!, We appreciate all the support. Anyone wanting to follow us or keep track of what we are up to, you can reach us here: