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?
Bill: My father was a guitarist in a band and he had music playing every day. He would play Duane Eddy, The Ventures, a lot of 50’s and 60’s music. One of the songs that stick out to me was China Grove by the Doobie Brothers. I loved that guitar riff. Then it was Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath etc. Then someone loaned me Metallica’s Master of Puppets. That was a turning point for me. Then it was Megadeth and Slayer. But I was also listening to a lot of punk rock. D.R.I., Agent Orange, Murphy’s Law, Bad Brains were some of my favorites. I can listen to music from the 50’s to Napalm Death and Dimmu Borgir.
Susan: When I was a kid, my brother joined the Army and left his record collection. I missed him so I started listening. When I first listened to "Dazed and Confused" by Led Zeppelin I was floored. It was darkest, heaviest thing I'd ever heard. Quite a departure from 80's pop radio! I discovered so much in that record collection, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Queen... many more.
Brandon: I think I was 10 years old or so when I heard the song “Headstrong” by Trapt on the radio. Which, in retrospect, is not great and kind of an embarrassing song to give me that kind of an epiphany - but it’s the first time I remember really being excited about music and having exposure to something “heavy”.
Jason: Cannibal Corpse in Ace Ventura was my first exposure to underground and extreme music.
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?
Jason: Thus far, Brandon writes the skeleton of the song and the rest of us add our parts. Susan and Brandon have collaborated on the lyric writing.
Brandon: I prefer to start with a guitar riff or two, fill in the rest of the instruments, come up with a vocal melody, then finish with lyrics. The song’s general theme usually comes up somewhere in the process.
Susan: For me, the idea. I think of it as the "Bob Dylan method of songwriting". I write an essay, then a poem about the essay, then a song about the poem. I'm not very productive, I make everything difficult. I think this is why Brandon gets so much more done than me! :)
Bill: Mainly I find the riff to be the starting point. There’s a book of lyrics I keep for when I get that boost of creative energy to write. Sometimes they come in a flood one after the other. Sometimes I get just a subject with a few lines.
Who has influenced you the most?
Bill: My father. I remember watching him from the side of the stage when I was really little and thought he was so cool up there. All the people were having a good time and dancing.
Jason: This project seems to have a lot of Candlemass and Saint Vitus influence.
Susan: Ann Wilson, vocally.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
Bill: It’s all around you. You don’t have to look far. Relationships, world events or even a place where you see something that causes a stir in your head. Those are the good ones.
Susan: I'm constantly discovering new bands on Bandcamp and on my friends' Facebook pages. I'm listening to more new music in the past few years than in the entire decade prior. I'm excited that our debut EP is done and I can hear who we are as a band and where we can go from there.
Jason: I myself have been getting into more of dark, noir jazz type of stuff and noise rock.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
Brandon: Toledo, Ohio is a city that gets shit on a lot. Some of it is justified. Most of the buildings and infrastructure are falling apart - it ain’t a pretty place. And there’s a lot of depression. I’m sure that got to us subconsciously.
Jason: There's not much in the way of metal. There is a small scene bubbling but it's more towards death metal. There's a handful of doom-ish like projects around the area.
Bill: I’ve lived in Toledo area for my whole life. It’s hard to move away from your family and friends. I wouldn’t say Toledo is the worst place to live but it’s not the best. A lot of the frustrations with living here can fuel the creativity to express how you feel. I can’t imagine someone living in say, Hawaii starting a doom metal band. Haha.
Where'd the band name come from?
Bill: We all came up with ideas and we took a vote. Democracy at its finest.
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
Jason: Anything from David Lynch.
Susan: Mad Max 6
Bill: Herbie the Love Bug Goes on a Rampage.
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?
Susan: Paul Simon's "Obvious Child", because behind the fantastic drums is a very poignant commentary on the passages of life. It's one of my favorite songs ever.
Bill: This is going to be a curveball. Brother Where You Bound by Supertramp. It’s a long song with a cold war subject matter. Like a George Orwell novel. It’s a reflection on the tensions between Russia and the U.S. back in the 1980’s.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
Bill: So far not a lot of misfortune has fallen upon us. But I do look forward to playing in Cleveland.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
Bill: Seeing everyone enjoying the show is a great feeling. We had a mosh pit at our first show and it was fun seeing them all running around. Feeling the power of the music through your body is just a fantastic high.
What makes a great song?
Susan: Heavy riffs and meaning.
Brandon: If I knew exactly what made a great song, I’d be churning them out all the time. I know there are all those calculated pop music formulas on exactly how to hook people, but that shit doesn’t do it for me. Great songs have their own kind of magic and you just know it when you hear it.
Bill: A great song is one that causes an emotional reaction. Like a riff with a good groove or lyrics that connect with people. Something that causes you to remember a point in your life, or a feeling you had.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
Brandon: Like EVER? I used to come up with all kind of dumb rhymes and melodies and annoy people with them as a kid. It was slightly less annoying when I got a guitar as a teenager. As a band, Endless Night was our first song and like the others on the EP, it started with a couple of riffs that we built on top of. In terms of lyrical theme, we stuck with an old doom metal classic – death. The guitar solo section was the last bit that was added to the song and that ended up being pretty fun. Bill and I each take half the time and do our own thing – it’s a satisfying hand-off.
Bill: The songs we have are a collaborative effort. Brandon is the one that had them started and we added to it. He baked the cake and we all frosted it so to speak. I am working on a couple that I hope to add to our collection in the near future.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
Susan: So far, I love "Midsummer Days"
Bill: My favorite song is Midsummer Days. It has an ebb and flow throughout the song. Plus Susan’s vocals are so haunting.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Susan: Who writes great songs? Brandon. Who just kicks your ass? Jason. Why? Because he's the Daddy.
Brandon: I could spend hours just listing off bands that put out great original music, but to keep things brief – Leif Edling has been kicking ass with Candlemass and Avatarium and Krux and all his other projects for decades and just keeps on killing it.
Bill: There are so many talented songwriters out there. Matthew Bellamy of Muse is one I enjoy a lot. Trent Reznor is probably the one that kicks my ass. He is a fantastic musician that has an unlimited tool box of ideas and songwriting methods.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Bill: Digital for convenience, vinyl for quality.
Susan: Vinyl is wonderful, but I like CDs for my car.
Jason: Vinyl, because I'm a snob.
Brandon: I collect all of them, plus cassette tapes. Everything has its time and place and feeling.
Jason: Scotch. No.
Bill: Beer more than whisky but I’m not a big drinker. I do like flavored moonshine though.
Susan: Beer because shots get me trashed.
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?
Susan: Toledo, Ohio - No Noise Records
Bill: In Toledo, Ohio I would say that Culture Clash is a good spot.
Brandon: No Noise, Culture Clash, Allied Record Exchange, All Together Now, Friendly Beaver
What's next for the band?
Bill: Writing more material and booking shows once this pandemic shit is over with.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Bill: Don’t be afraid to try new music or pickup an instrument or write a story. Express yourself. Ignore the negativity and find your calling. Sooner or later you will. Cheers!