Sunday, August 25, 2019
A Sunday Conversation With Stephen Sullivan Of Alluvion
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?
The earliest I can remember was probably watching Michael Jackson's superbowl halftime show in the 90's when I was a kid. I remember thinking this is so cool! He was dressed like military personnel and he just appeared on stage and was standing still and everyone was freaking out and screaming. Then he took his sunglasses off and I was like WHOA! Lol!
That is probably the earliest epiphany moment I can remember. Especially being a performer and stuff. Of course, I've had tons of other moments like hearing Metallica for the first time and High on Fire and stuff but yeah...
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?
Its usually a riff and It all depends really. Sometimes we will come to the session with songs that are about 80% done then other times we just write it in the spot. That goes for lyrics and stuff to sometimes. John writes to majority of the lyrics. I love the writing process the most. The whole creation is what I love about music.
Who has influenced you the most?
Live music. Any band that is crushing loud and crazy to watch on stage is what inspires me most. I like when things are dangerous at shows.
I listen to a ton of ambient music like Brian Eno and Harold Budd. I like to get to a quiet place and just sit with the guitar. I write most everything on an acoustic.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
We are out of Fredericksburg, Va. There are a ton of good bands from Virginia as a whole. It's really cool and inspiring to say the least. I think it does effect our music most definitely. Its gotten alot more populated as the years have gone by. It still has that small town feel to it though. It will always be home.
Where'd the band name come from?
We have been a band since 1999. We started playing together in high school then sometime around 2005 we went on hiatus to do some other musical projects. Fast forward 7 years and we rejoined in 2012. I remember vaguely that that name came from a list of other possibilities and we just liked that one the best.
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
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?
Man that's tough. Personally I'd say our song Fight Real Fires. It's really powerful and the message is really hopeful. We had another band from our hometown called Genosha that covered it a while back and they did a really great job! It was really cool!
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
I fell backwards over my amps one time in the first song of our set. Lol! I just laid there. It sucked.
That's our thing. We take alot of time to make the shows memorable. We build our own lighting rigs and we have lasers and tons of smoke. We run a projector and we have places in our set that are "blackout" spots where the stage just goes black. There are strobe lights sometimes broken guitars. It can get nasty sometimes.
What makes a great song?
Riff. Hooks. More riffs. More Noise.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
Oh boy. We wrote this song called "Pain" back in like 99. It's still rips but we don't play it anymore. Maybe one day!
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
I love the new album "The Secret's Out". This one and the last one from 2017 "...Of the One Consciousness" are definitely my favorites. I think we finally found our "Thing"
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
I mentioned before High on Fire. Anything Matt Pike touches is gold IMO. I saw them in Baltimore back in 2005 it was soo good! I like A Place to bury strangers alot to. There is a band from our town called Ceremony that writes really catchy pop songs that are crazy distorted out. I enjoy them alot.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
I love the look of vinyl but I'm too busy to collect any so I just digital everything. Maybe one day. I'm in my car ALL the time so digital works best for me.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
I don't drink. I don't judge anyone that enjoys it but I really don't like the taste of either.
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?
Fredericksburg, Va is our hometown and I would suggest FAT KAT records and books. They have a ton of stuff. Also there are alot of antique shops that sell used vinyl.
What's next for the band?
We have our record release show on 9/7 in our hometown of Fredericksburg. After that we may plan a small tour in November. Also, we have plans for a "special release" soon but I cant say alot about that.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
I'd just like to say thank you. Its because of you that we do what we do and I really appreciate it.