Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Ripple Conversation with Adam Savage, guitarist Mongrel



When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond,
and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock
City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious,
aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a
few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just
brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?


For me the first major one was Guns N' Roses and seeing the videos for
"Welcome to the Jungle" and "Sweet Child of Mine" -  it was those videos
that made me realize that I    HAD to play guitar and needed to do this. 
Other ones for me since then were the first time I heard Pearl Jam,
Slipknot, NWA... but my discovery of Guns N' Roses was a life changing
one.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the
idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?


For me, it all depends on the song. Sometimes I'll have a lyrical idea
that comes to me and it'll inspire a riff / chord progression, sometimes
I'll come up with a riff / progression and realize it makes me think of
lyrics I had written a while back or that Jess had sent me... on the new
EP "Evolution"  Blue came in with the main riff for "Over and Over" and I
had a chorus and lyrics for it,  for "Consumed" I had the music and
remembered a set of lyrics that Jess had sent me that would work with it.
With Jess (vocals), Blue (bass), and Hoagie (drums) all a part of the
writing process; which is something that wasn't always the case with past
line-ups of the band. it's started mixing things up a bit, but in a good
way. It really just is song by song now how it comes together

Who has influenced you the most?

Musically,  Slash/ Guns N' Roses was definitely the biggest influence,
other big ones would be old Metallica, Pearl Jam, Tony Iommi / Black
Sabbath, Sex Pistols... those would be the early and critical ones I
think.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?


Since then I still go to artists like Public Enemy, System of a Down, Dead
Boys, Fear Factory, Alice in Chains, Hole, NIN, Amen, Slipknot, Trashlight
Vision, Black Flag, old Marilyn Manson, The Doors, Mother Love Bone, The
Cult...The Bronx, Barb Wired Dolls  I've been super into some UK bands
over the past year... Dogstate & Fuckshovel have been heavy rotation for
me.   I think society and life provides lots of things to be inspired by
whether positively or negatively and sometimes it hits hard enough that
you just need to get it out whether that's musically or lyrically.


We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown
and how that reflects in the music?


We're all from different places and all still live in different places.
The bassist and I live like 15 minutes apart but we're both about an hour
from Jess and Hoagie so we really don't have a "hometown" per-say... it's
more like several towns in a couple of states to be precise.  Personally I
grew up in a small suburban town with little to do and no real way to go
see live music much growing up. Music was the escape/dream/vision of a
more fun existence. Growing up the expectation was to dress "preppy" or be
athletic, etc and being into and dressing the part of a "metal head"
definitely caused for some prejudicial treatment at school and in town but
I guess that just made it more attractive to me in its own way. So in that
sense it furthered the refusal to conform, to fit the mold, etc. It was
always more important to be yourself and prove the haters and doubters
wrong.

Where'd the band name come from?


When I started the band with our original singer back in 2003 the idea was
to start an aggressive band rooted in rock but where we could bring in
whatever styles or influences we wanted as long as at the end of the day
it was a good song.  We wanted a name that really incorporated that and
when Matt (Rowe) brought up "Mongrel" it was perfect... a mixed breed, it
had the somewhat aggressive connotation to it in the name, the dog imagery
built right in... it was perfect.  When Matt stepped down in early 2004 he
gave his blessings to keep the name and keep it going and it has ever
since.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

I suck at being given a topic and told to write about it as far as songs
go actually but I guess I'd say our stuff would fit well for something on
the order of a Crow or Fight Club type movie in that at the end of the day
it's all about the state of the world and the human condition/experience.

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going
to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?


Hmm... I'd probably go with Mother Love Bone "Chloe Dancer/Crown of
Thorns" - there's just so much to it lyrically to discuss, or "The End"
from The Doors.  Something about the Mother Love Bone song is just so
beautiful and tragic that it gives me chills sometimes.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your
audience to feel?


My intention is to get our music to as many people as possible to find
those who "get" what we're doing and will be a part of this with us. We're
trying to build a bit of a community with what we do, to give a sense of
belonging to the disenfranchised, empowerment to the beaten down, and that
each of us can make a difference in our own way.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll
moments?


Hah hah.  I've had a drummer quit on the way to the studio cause they
couldn't find parking and it was raining.  A singer that went completely
AWOL for like 2 months, who came back and I then had sing a song I wrote
about them cause I was pissed off about them pulling that shit.  I've
fallen off a speaker and ended up with a Les Paul shaped bruise across my
torso including bruised ribs... I am grateful though for the lower cut
away in the Les Paul design, that could have been even worse!  ( LOL )


Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Playing live is the best. It's therapy, it's where you get to let out your
demons and frustrations, where you get to have that connection with the
audience, when it's a good show there's nothing better than that energy
exchange and connection with the people there, people singing along,
having fun, and all of us getting out what we need to. There's definitely
something amazing about it. Beyond that the shows are a great experience
just getting to hang out with everyone. Seeing friendships and
relationships develop out of the social piece of our shows. It's pretty
amazing in that regard too. We're really lucky that we seem to attract
some really awesome people who are genuinely good people and to see the
connections with us in the band and with the other fans develop and expand
is always a great feeling for us as well.

What makes a great song?


Magic ?  Different things, a good chorus/vocal hook, the right
riffs/chords, something people can sing-a-long with and that gets stuck in
their heads and something that people can relate to or connect with on
some level whether it's more of an intellectual connection like our songs
"Zombies of War" or "West Memphis Hell" or deeply personal level such as
"Revisionist" or "Consumed".


Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

I'm sure it was pretty awful. I honestly don't know what it was in
particular but I have recordings from my first band back in high school
and the song writing still had a ways to go we'll say.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?


I'm really proud of the new EP as a whole... I think "Consumed" on the new
cd is one of my all time favorites of my stuff.  "No Gods, No Masters" was
one of the first songs ever done in Mongrel but it still gets such a great
crowd response and sing a long that it's our anthem of sorts and you can't
argue with a singing crowd so that has to be on the list too.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?


The Bronx, Dogstate, Pearl Jam, - it's all just there. the riffs, the
vocals, and the honesty of it, there's a purity there that comes through
and just works and the more you listen to them, the more you love them.
They're great live too which means a lot to me (well I haven't seen
Dogstate live yet but i'm going to presume they are amazing live too).

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?


I'm a cd person by preference, I like vinyl but I listen to most of my
music in the car so I need portable. Mp3s are convenient and I listen to
them a lot but I do prefer the tangible nature of cds.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

I really never developed a taste for beer so I'd have to say whiskey. We
actually have a sponsorship from Cabin Fever Maple Whiskey...that stuff is
pretty amazing, though I always crave pancakes afterwords...

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's
your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to
lose ourselves in?


The only one really still out this way is Newbury Comics. It's a regional
chain but they're pretty good. Up in Maine and parts of NH you'll find
Bull Moose Music as well. I actually end up doing most of my music buying
online, it's really the only way to get a lot of the more obscure, indie,
or harder to find stuff.

What's next for the band?

Well we're looking forward to seeing how the new cd "Evolution" goes over
with everyone. We've got a few music videos in the works with the first
one out in time for the June 3rd release date of "Evolution", ideally get
over to the UK at some point, and we're already starting to write for the
next cd so there's always something going on and in the works here!


Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the
waveriders?


Thanks for reading, I hope you'll check out the new cd "Evolution" - we're
really excited about it and proud of how it came out so we hope you'll
give it a listen and enjoy it too. We love hearing from people so please
hit us up and say hi on our twitter, facebook, instagram, etc and we'll be
sure to get back to you.  We're all about the interaction with people so
please don't be shy.


3 comments:

Dimaension X said...

Nice to see these guys get some publicity - I saw Mongrel play at a tiny bar in Worcester, MA (Tammany Hall), and asked Adam about his guitar (an Agile Les Paul-copy). I bought one on his recommendation.

Nice guy, great rock guitarist, very talented band. They deserve to make it big.

The Ripple Effect said...

Hey Dimaension! Great to hear from you. Hope you've been well and making music of your own!!

Dimaension X said...

Yes, thanks. I do have some new music at the blog (just follow the blogger profile).

And a few new projects on the way with a few different singers.

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