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?
Oh man! I was fortunate to grow up with a musical dad. We listened to everything from 80’s rock and metal like Van Halen, KISS and Extreme to pop music like Whitney Houston and Madonna. As I got older I got into alternative styles like grunge, pop punk, emo and nü metal. But one day someone gave me a Between the Buried and Me - Silent Circus CD. My outlook on music immediately changed. I had never heard anything like it.
One of the more recent revelations came from a UK band called Loathe. Those guys are one of the best bands in metal right now.
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?
Honestly, anything can come first. Sometimes we just know what we want a song to be about whether it be lyrics or just a feeling we want to convey. Other times someone has a sick riff and we get to work on it. We take inspiration from just about anything. Our upcoming release, Existing to Repeat was written during covid lockdown. We wanted to express the feelings and emotions were going through while being isolated.
Who has influenced you the most?
I’d say that Deftones is the biggest influence we all share as a band. We love low tuned, extended range guitars. And groove is essential. They’ve always had their specific sound and done it their own way.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
I mean, really anything can inspire you. You just have to be observant. Over the years we’ve been inspired music and other musicians, books, comic books, anime, video games, life experiences, and so much more. The key is make sure you don’t get tunnel vision and try to fit yourself into a box.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
Austin, TX has always been a great city for music. The only reason we ever began playing live shows was because our local scene pushed us to. As a whole, I think musicians in our scene do everything they can to build each other up. The level of talent we see in other pushes us to continually get better.
Where'd the band name come from?
There’s a actually a good story to The Ansible. When we’re about to release our first album we were using a different name. As we were preparing for it we received a cease and desist from a band that had the same name. They didn’t seem to really be active, but we decided we’d rather change the name than argue. Our guitarist Greg lent me some books to read - the Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card. In the second book, Speaker for the Dead, he introduces the Ansible. It’s a device used to talk across time and space instantaneously. I remember thinking about how awesome of a concept that was. Greg called me asking me where I was in the book and suggested that be the name. I didn’t have a second of hesitation screaming HELL YES at him.
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
As a band, it would definitely be something like Interstellar. We’re huge fans of epics specifically because the soundscape is so massive. I love when there’s a wide pan with huge 5 octave chords and timpani drums playing so you feel the massive view. And when the main character is giving a heart felt monologue and there’s just a simplistic piano melody with soft strings. Capturing feelings with sound will always be our main goal so we’re heavy inspired by the likes of John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Alan Silvestri.
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?
Personally, I’d do it about Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden. On top of Chris Cornell being my favorite singer, that song has always brought me solace. It exposes the thinly veiled, fained happiness of America. The funny part about that song is he only came up with the name because he misheard a new anchor on tv.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
I like to think we’re working on our own comeback currently. Before the pandemic we were picking up a lot of momentum. We had just released our last album and booking a bunch of tours and getting good traction from social media, and then in a day, it all got brought to a screeching halt. But seriously, you want to tour stories so let me tell you why our bassist Nigel is nicknamed Waterworld. We used to tour in a short bus with a bunch of the seats removed so we had floor space to sleep. After a show in San Antonio, Nigel was laying in the back when our old guitarist clipped a curb and sent our cooler full of ice water on top of him.
We’ve had to sneak out of places to stay for various reasons. Definitely the worst experience was getting offered a place to stay, getting settled in, and then a knock on their door. It’s like 3:00am and it’s some girl who the guy let in. She was LOUDLY talking about her night at work. She was a stripper. She was talking about having to give an 80 year old a lap dance so she could swing by. As they were talking dude pulls a freezer bag full of meth from a kitchen drawer and just starts weighing that shit out for all of us to see. Yea, we got the hell out of there as soon as possible.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
We definitely like to create a welcoming atmosphere. We see our fans as family. We produce our own back tracks and lights and spend a lot of time of love tones to make sure you get hit with a wall of sound. Music is our outlet to express ourselves so we open up for everyone to see.
What makes a great song?
In a word, I would say uniqueness, but it takes a lot to make a great song. Passion, experience, talent, time, practice, feeling, melody, rhythm, accessibility. But great songs always have a uniqueness that sets them apart from anything else.
Take Bohemian Rhapsody, for example. Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t know that song? Freddy Mercury was a visionary. That song has always stood alone and will continue to stand the test of time as long as there are baseball games and bar karaoke.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
The first song we ever wrote as a band never saw the light of day. In fact, the first 7 or 8 songs never made it into public hands. That’s part of the process though. We often write songs that don’t get used or they end up chopped up for parts that we like and want to keep. But before Greg and I (Derril) started work on The Ansible we actually wrote a tune with some other guys from the Austin area. I took a lot from that experience. I remember thinking, “This dude is a monster”. A few weeks later we arranged for the two of us to get together and record vocals on some tracks he already had written. I was blown away. I knew that this is exactly who I wanted to write music with.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
It’s definitely our latest single Let’s Drop for a lot of reasons. First, it’s the first time we got to write with Mark as a member so it’s special. Second, because after years of playing in this band, I finally got Greg to sing his ass off. But what truly makes me proud of it, is that it’s about us. “Wherever I go with you, whatever we do it’s true. All that I am that’s good is from you.” Those lyrics are about the impact this band has had on all of us.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Go listen to Loathe - I let it in and it Took Everything. I would argue that it’s the best album of this century - at least in terms of heavy music. I can feel every little detail throughout my body. There’s fast, chaotic songs and there’s pretty, dreamy songs, but it all feels like it’s supposed to be there. It’s not often that a band can cover several aspects of the music spectrum and not sound disjointed.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Personally, I use digital the most for the sake of ease and sound quality. Since apple introduced lossless audio I’ve been going through my library and revisiting albums so I can hear them without the limitations of over-compression. I do still have a bunch of my old CDs from my teens as well as a decent collection of vinyl.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
No no no no. The answer is both. Give me whatever good local brew is on tap and a shot of Jameson and I’ll put my party pants on.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your hometown, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?
You definitely have to go to Waterloo Records in downtown Austin. They have anything and everything, including local musicians. I’ve spent half a day in there before.
What's next for the band?
Next up for The Ansible is this EP release. We’re periodically releasing singles over the coming months. The next single, Timeslide will be available September 24th. Existing to Repeat will be available everywhere on November 5th. We’re playing our first live show back on September 27th here in Austin.
After that we will be hitting the road to tour as much as possible.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Make sure you lift up other artists and musicians. Support each other and help grow the entertainment industry. It’s hard times for anyone who wants to play and tour and it’s going to take your help. Thanks for talking with us. Wave riders come see a show and chat with us. We love meeting people. Make sure to check in with our socials for new singles and tour dates!