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?
One that stands out to me was when I was about 10 years old, I heard 2112 by RUSH being played on the radio, and was completely blown by the level of musicianship of this band. It was the perfect combination of heaviness and complex riffs. I hadn’t heard anything like it before. My dad was a big fan of RUSH and he introduced me to some of their albums that he had. My interest in that era of rock music just took off from there.
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?
Generally what happens is I’ll come up with a riff and then I would show it to the band and we all just rehearse it for about 10 minutes. Sometimes our bass player (Kevin) has a riff that I work off of and we go from there. A lot of the time, the rest of the song is created from going off on a tangent of improvisation. Some of our best song ideas come from jamming. We often have moments of, “I wish we would have recorded that”! The lyrics usually come after the song’s completed. I’m not much of a lyricist, so that’s handled by either our drummer (Evan) or singer (Tyler).
Who has influenced you the most?
From a guitarists perspective, probably Tony Iommi. I always liked how in Black Sabbath songs Tony would change riffs midway through to where it almost sounds like a whole new song. The element of single note riffs and time changes have really influenced the way we write our own music. Even when we formed the band we would cover a bunch of Sabbath songs. They’re fun to play and it was the type of music we wanted to do.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
There are a lot of bands today that are doing what we’re doing. And seeing the amount of support they get has shown us that this music scene is still alive. It gives hope to a “retro” style rock band like us. Overall, there is a lot of inspiration wherever I listen to music. We don’t try to sound like anyone in particular; it just makes us want to play music.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
All of us except the singer grew up in Granite City Illinois. It’s a very industrial, working class town, which may have had something to do with the metal scene from this area. A lot of talented musicians have come from Granite City. There isn’t a whole lot to do here, so it doesn’t surprise me that music was a sort of outlet for many younger people.
Where'd the band name come from?
I was watching the movie “Sex Drive” and one of the characters had a GTO Judge. I thought it was a cool name for a band.
If Stephen King ever made “Maximum Overdrive 2” he should let us write the music for it.
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?
The easiest one for me would probably be “Planet Doom” since it’s the only song I wrote the full lyrics for. I got the idea for the story from an episode of The Twilight Zone.
What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?
Our goal has been to get as many people to hear us by doing as many shows as we can. Seeing people enjoying our music gives us a positive vibe and inspires us to give back and put on a good show for them. We want them to get a sense that we’re passionate about what we’re doing.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
Playing live is the most important and definitely the most fun for us. We try to give our best at every show we do. Something we started doing is jamming before playing some of the songs. Since we often play locally, we get a lot of the same people at our shows, so it’s important to us that they get somewhat of a new experience each time. It keeps it interesting and fresh to us as well. You could listen to just the songs on the album and we may get bored with playing them every night if we did that.
What makes a great song?
Any song you make that you’re proud of should be good to you atleast, but heavy riffs, solid rhythm section, and a powerful voice with good vocal melodies are a plus.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
The first song we wrote when we formed the band was “The Witcher”. It incorporates most of the musical influences we have into one song. We wrote out the structure fairly quickly. Evan (Drummer) wrote lyrics for it about a year later when our bassist started to sing for us. Before then it was just called “Anthem”. Some RUSH influence there.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
Probably “The witcher” for the same reason. It showcases what this band is about. The riff and tempo changes make it fun to play live. To me it seems that you could put this song on any album we make and it wouldn’t feel out of place. We still play it every set, usually as the last song.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Kadavar is probably my favorite band right now. Their albums have just gotten better and better in my opinion. I haven’t heard a bad song from them yet. I have seen them twice here in St. Louis and they’re even better live.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Like most people I usually listen to music from my phone because it more convenient, but I prefer vinyl. Vinyl sort of forces you to listen to an entire album which is good because you may discover more songs you like. A record should be played all the way through to get a sense of what that bands about. It’s just a better listening experience in my opinion. The convenience of digital formats brings the risk of getting burnt out on the music. I like the digital age though. I’ve discovered a lot of great bands because of YouTube.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
Beer. It’s cheaper and tastes better.
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?
There’s a place here in St. Louis called Vintage Vinyl that has a huge selection of music. They also have a local music section in the store.
What's next for the band?
We are currently finishing up the 2nd album with mixing and recording vocals for a couple tracks. We’re going to start planning a tour around the re-release of the debut album. We haven’t fully decided what kind of tour we want to do yet, but it’s happening.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
If you’re a fan of The Judge thank you for the support and for the album sales. For the time being we’re just trying to promote ourselves as much as we can. 2016 should be a good year for us and we hope to see as many people as possible. Cheers