Wednesday, November 9, 2016
A Sunday Conversation With Ron Vanacore of Curse the Son
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 epiphanies 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?
I would have to go way back to 1978 when my older cousin was playing Black Sabbath on her turntable. I remember hearing the air raid sirens and the opening riff of ‘War Pigs’ and I was hooked. I was scared shitless, but I was hooked! Anything that could make me feel so scared, yet so mesmerized…I knew this was what I was looking for. Previous to that I listened to the same shit all little kids listened to back then; the ‘Grease’ soundtrack, The Bay City Rollers, and disco 45’s (shudder). My father was a greaser from back in the 50’s, so I was also exposed to tons of the original rock n roll like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc.
Another epiphany moment was when ‘Kill ‘Em All’ came out and that first wave of thrash metal hit. That was a magical time for my friends and I. It was so cool to be into the underground because those bands were all ours….barely anybody knew anything about this great new movement that was rising and it was our wonderful secret. ‘Ride The Lightning’, ‘Hell Awaits’, ‘Friends of Hell’, ‘Morbid Tales’ and ‘Fistful of Metal’ were staples for me, and I look back on that time with great happiness.
Another occurred in the early 90’s when I first heard Sleep and Monster Magnet. I was already playing Sabbath/Doors inspired type music with my band at the time, but I thought I was a “dinosaur”. I didn’t think anyone else cared about that old style stuff any longer. But I heard them both on a local college station and I was so floored I had to call immediately and find out who these bands were. It was great to know that other bands were bucking the trend and playing real organic music. I have always loved Sabbath and their influence has been prevalent in my music throughout my entire career, even when I was playing thrash back in the day!
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?
Almost always the riff is the first piece to the puzzle. I can’t think of the last time that I had lyrics written before the music. Usually once the song is completed musically I will begin to “scat” or sing whatever words pop into my head. Then I will take that basic framework and make words fit into the syllable format that has been created.
Unlike some of our previous records, the entire band contributed significantly to the songwriting process on ‘Isolator’. Mike and Brendan both brought in very strong riffs and ideas as well as vocal melody concepts. I think the addition of their contributions is what made this record so good. We wrote all of the songs together and really worked them out until they were the best they could be. The overall dedication and passion to making a great record was in the forefront of our minds and I am so very proud of the end result.
Who has influenced you the most?
I guess I would have to say Ozzy Osbourne. When the Blizzard of Ozz band wrote those two amazing records I was transcended into a whole new mind frame. I would buy Circus magazine or Hit Parader and just stare at the pictures. From that moment on, I wanted to be a “rock star”. I wanted the long hair, the tattoos, earrings…everything. I (unknowingly) modeled my voice after Ozzy and Zeeb Parkes from Witchfinder General. I started my first band at 13 and have been going ever since!
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
My life is laid out in those lyrics that I write. There is no fantasy, no movie or book inspirations. I derive my inspiration from what’s inside my head and my heart; I find it a cathartic release.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
Connecticut is not doing well these days. I find most people that live in Connecticut don’t’ really want to be here. It’s not quite New York and not quite Boston. There have been windows of time where there was a real strong music scene around here in the 80’s and 90’s. There were some killer bands and the national spotlight shined a little bit here and there. With all that said, there are some cool bands in our area that share the love of the riff as well…..Insano Vision, Entierro, Stikpin, Sea Of Bones, Lord Fowl are a few names that come to mind. There is a great stonery hard rock/metal thing happening here now which is awesome.
Where'd the band name come from?
The bands name origin stems from an all night mushroom session at a Hempfest up in Maine back in the Summer of 2001. As far as the meaning behind the name, I prefer to leave some things open to the interpretation of the individual. I feel there is not enough mystery left in music anymore……
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
Great question……’Requiem For a Dream’. Brutal movie, made the mistake of watching it on mushrooms one night, not the best idea!
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?
‘Stairway To Heaven’ I know that it is one of the most overplayed songs in rock, but I dare anyone to question its mystique and aura. On the surface it appears to be just a beautifully haunting piece of music, but simmering just underneath the surface is a dark sinister counterpoint. Jimmy’s black magic is on full display and incredibly deceptive.
Over the summer I read a book on Zeppelin written by Mick Wall called “When Giants Walked the Earth. It is a really good book with a unique slant on the band and their music. It made me look at certain things a bit differently.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
Well I have played with a lot of drummers in my career. Thankfully none of them ever spontaneously combusted!
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
When we play live, we BRING IT. Crank up the amps and fucking kill! Brendan is a monster on stage and Mike is just so good…people just enjoy watching him play. We are a different type of band as the emphasis is really not on a “lead” guitar. The way it has worked out, the drums and more - so the bass, are the more intricate instruments. I just enjoy grinding out on the riff and feeling the volume coming off the amps. It is a great feeling when you look out from the stage and the room is completely vibing out with what we are doing. It feels very communal and there is a sense of unification.
What makes a great song?
What are you feeling when the song is over? Happy? Sad? Invincible? Energized? Are you feeling something strongly? Great songs are about emotion and how that resonates inside each and every listener differently. Music is so magical because it can be interpreted and experienced in so many ways. With music there really is no “right answer”. It’s all up to us.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
I was probably 10 year old. I think it was called “My Car”. It was horrendous as you would expect, but you have to start somewhere right?
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
I really enjoy how ‘The Negative Ion’ off of ‘Psychache' came out…..it has a real creep vibe working for it that I love. The instrumental ‘Klonopain’ off the first record is something I enjoy listening to as well. As far as the new record goes, I am thrilled with the way “Hull Crush Depth” came out; it’s a pretty dark and unique song.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
I honestly don’t listen to much new music at all. I’m kinda stuck in my own little time warp I guess. I suppose that puts me in the “old man” category?
Vinyl for nostalgia, but CD for sound quality. Records will always hold a special place in my heart as it reminds me of a time when music was a religious experience. Fond memories of studying the album cover, reading the lyrics as I destroy my hearing with the headphones blasting!
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
I prefer a good bong hit! I am not much of a drinker anymore. I’ll have a beer or two once in a while though. Seagram’s 7 was my preferred beverage for quite a while when I was in my late teens.
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 are based out of Hamden, Ct, which is just north of New Haven. Record stores are a rare find around here. Red Scroll Records in Wallingford is the best one in the area; it’s about 20 minutes from my house.
What's next for the band?
We are extremely excited to be joining the Ripple Music roster! The ‘Isolator’ CD (Ripple) and Vinyl (The Company) will be released April 2017 in a coordinated effort between two great labels. This record is too good to not be heard, and Ripple Music is going to assist us in getting it out to the masses. Following the release we will be conducting a series of “weekend” warrior mini – tours. We have not played out of state all that much and bringing the music to the people in other areas is something I look forward to very much. It is a very exciting time for us.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
I would like to thank everyone who has supported us, and enjoyed our music throughout the years. When I formed this band back in 2008, I could have never imagined the type of success we’ve had so far. I am forever grateful to you all.