Saturday, November 22, 2014
A Ripple Conversation with Geezer
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?
Definitely Kiss as a kid. They introduced the idea that music can be "Larger Than Life"
Seeing the video for Prince's "Let's Go Crazy". The solo at the end was the final piece of the puzzle that lead me to becoming a guitarist.
Seeing Slayer on The Combat Tour 1985 videotape. The first time I watched them play Hell Awaits absolutely changed everything.
The Grateful Dead and Allman Bros. made me rethink everything I thought I knew about music and opened me to the world of improvisation.
Rediscovering the blues through cats like Son House & Charley Patton. They inspired me to completely change the way I play guitar.
the Melvins reminded me what it means to be heavy.
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?
Music has always come first for me, riffs are usually the starting point. Sometimes it can be a groove or a drumbeat that inspires a riff. I usually just let songs flow from there and let the music lead the way. The feel of the song usually dictates the lyrics and melody.
Who has influenced you the most?
I consider myself a guitarist, first and foremost. The ones who got in my head and have never left are Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi & Buzz from the Melvins
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
Music comes to me in waves and I tend to study different bands and/or types of music as if I were being tested on it. I once went a whole year listening to nothing but the Melvins (thankfully they have a large discography!). Then I spent years learning how to play old school acoustic slide blues. Lately I been vibing off the heavy stuff again... it can come from anywhere at any time, the trick is being open to the experience and letting it lead you to new places.
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 products of NYC in one form or another, but now we call Kingston home (Freddy, the bassplayer actually lives in Ithaca). Environment has great effect on inspiration and the forms it takes. For me, when I moved out of NYC and found myself up in the wide open spaces of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley, I became infatuated with the blues. The old school, evil shit! Once I got a grip on the style and technique of playing slide with open tunings, finger picking and such, I wanted to see what it would be like to play that way, but do it heavy.. Geezer is the direct result of that experiment. To a certain degree, we all kind of started over with Geezer, we all were re-thinking how we approach making music and how we play our instruments. If you look at the progression of our music, I think that becomes pretty apparent. We constantly are refining and redefining what Geezer is and what we sound like.
Turco came up with it, it kinda nailed the way we saw ourselves. Just some dudes hangin out, pluggin in and lettin 'er rip!
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
That's tough because most movies I love are very connected to their soundtracks. It would be great to do the soundtrack for something like Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill or a Tarantino movie... hang out with RZA and get loose!
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?
I think I've answered this before, I'd have to go with Dopesmoker. It's obviously long, but there are many layers to that song, dimensions may even be a better word. Besides, I'm going to see Sleep tomorrow in NYC so I got em on the brain!
What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?
I see music as art, I think it should evoke emotion in people, be it good or bad. It should also make you think. My political perspective was partly shaped through the lyrics of bands like Dead Kennedys, COC and Public Enemy. At the same time, I try and always remember that you still gotta entertain people. It's fuckin rock n roll man, gotta have fun with it! I fucking HATE bands that take themselves too seriously. I just dig heavy music....
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
One time, many years ago at a show in NYC at The Continental. It was my band, gaggle of cocks, debut CD release party. First riff, opening song, I jump in the air as the drums and bass come in... fall backwards and wipeout the drum kit. Normally I'd play through that shit, but it was too heinous, we had to do a re-take.
Fast forward 12 years...
This past March, playing a birthday party in Oswego, NY. We were playing a new song called So Tired. Real big extended jam with a climactic ending. I lose my place somewhere in the middle of the jam, fall backwards into my stack of amps... wipe out the whole thing and fall off the side of the stage. As I lay there, I still hear noise coming out of the amps, so I kept playing. The band kept going as I rose from the pile and got to the mic just in time to sing out the big climactic ending to a room full of people with wide eyed amazement. Rock and roll!
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
At the very least, gigs can be simply a solid hang with some groovy music and good people. At their best, they can illicit an almost transcendental experience. Geezer tends to live in the moment, no real set lists, a lot of improvisation... we feel our way around, looking for those nuggets of brilliance. Sometimes we find them, sometimes we don't, but we almost always enjoy the ride!
What makes a great song?
Groove. Feel. Riffs!
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
I don't remember, but I'm sure it was awful.
Thankfully, I've been fortunate enough to record a lot of music, with a lot of different people and I still dig on most of it, but as a guitarist, songwriter and producer, Geezer's EP "Gage" may be my proudest moment. It was made for next to nothing, by the seat of our pants, almost totally improvised. Most of the songs didn't even exist before we recorded them. Considering the circumstances, the performances were outstanding! Freddy, Turco and I laid it all out there... spontaneously! From day one, this album was meant to be a challenge and I believe we rose to the occasion.
It was always meant to be released on vinyl. Having STB Records step up and give us the first class treatment was huge! Then having Ripple Music come in and pick up the album for digital and CD release was icing on the cake! I could not be happier with how it has all come together.
In addition, the album now includes a previously unreleased track, "Tales Of Murder And Unkindness". More than just a bonus track, this song clocks in at just under 15 minutes and is one of the most ambitious songs I've ever worked on. We tried new things musically and lyrically and the production was one of the most complicated I've ever been involved with. Thankfully our engineer and "4th member" Matthew Cullen kept things from flying off into oblivion. As usual, he does all the hard work and I take all the credit. I think this song will really turn some heads.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Through the podcast I do, Electric Beard Of Doom, I'm exposed to a shit-ton of fantastic new music. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with everything. All Them Witches are just incredible, new level shit. Mount Carmel write songs that could sound just as good with one guy singing and playing an acoustic guitar. Wo Fat, holy shit, THAT'S the kind of band I've always wanted to hear. The Midnight Ghost Train are a powerhouse! Mothership's new album is a game-changer! Monolord's album is sonically vicious... Gozu fuckin rule! Egypt... Sons Of Otis... Elder!
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Vinyl junkie... bona fide!
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
For years man, PBR tall boys with a couple shots of Jack Daniels... dig it!
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?
We got a couple round these parts. Darkside in Poughkeepsie... Rhino Records and Jack's Rhythms in New Paltz, plus we got 2 new ones in Kingston! Rocket Number Nine and Rhine Records II (which currently carries some of the last available Geezer vinyl).
What's next for the band?
The vinyl release was such a success, we're still kind of buzzing off that! Four different vinyl editions were released through STB Records and they've all SOLD OUT. A few are still lingering around at Kozmik Artifacts for our European fans. The band will have a limited number available through our Bandcamp page in the coming weeks so keep an ear out for that as well! All in all, we are just so grateful for all the support we've gotten from our fans and the underground heavy scene in general, it's been a great ride so far!
Now that the EP has the chance to reach an even larger audience through the World Wide release on Ripple, the possibilities are endless!
We got a bunch of great new merch hitting the streets as well! Including a sick new logo patch and a brand new LiVE cassette which also includes a brand new song!Check it all out on our Bandcamp page!
We also just finished mixing 4 new songs for a as-yet-unannounced split! Can't tell you anything more than that, except to say that we are totally stoked on the new tunes, the band we're working with totally fucking rocks and it will be released on one of the finest underground labels out there! So keep an eye out!
After that, the big goal is to get to Europe for the spring festivals next year! So Roadburn, Desertfest(s), Freak Valley... feel free to contact me with any inquiries! We'd really love to take this out on the road for all our European fans!
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Thanks for all the continued support! Geezer was never meant to be or do anything, it is only through the support of all these great fans from all over the world that keeps us going and keeps us growing. We can't thank you enough! I'd also like to thank all the blogs, internet radio, podcasts and everyone else who contributes to the heavy underground for all their support as well. There are a lot of really cool things happening nowadays in heavy music and we're just happy to be even a small part of that. Keep it heavy man, dig it!