Today I talk to Jeremy Savo of the Philadelphia-based band Out of the Beardspace. If you’re in the area, go see their show on January 11 with past BandsLikeZappa feature Statospheerius. And also check out their new experimental EP.
Ben Sommer: I’m here with Jeremy from the band, Out of Beardspace. Jeremy, first of all, tell me about the band, and if you don’t mind to start with this out of left field name you guys came up for yourselves.
Jeremy Savo: Well, the name is Out of the Beardspace, and it comes from an idea and the idea is of the beard space, and it’s a simple idea. It’s just when you stroke your beard, you are in the beard space. (more…)
This week I speak French guitar virtuoso & composer Julien Beyleix – the man behind Unfrethead.
Ben Sommer: Hi, this is Ben Sommer with BandsLikeZappa.com. Today I’m talking to Julien Beyleix, who comes all the way from France. He is basically the one-man machine behind the band, Unfrethead. Julien, I want you to say hi to the audience. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your music, and also your mysterious band name.
Julien Beyleix: For one, I’m Julien from France; maybe you’ve noticed by the accent. I’ve played guitar since 12 or 13 years old. The main idea behind Unfrethead was basically Fretless Project due to buying a Vigier fretless guitar. The name came from when I was looking for some kind of music that was unfretted that had some heavy metal music influences. That’s how I came up with it.
Ben Sommer: Hi, this is Ben with BandsLikeZappa.com. I’m here with Joe Deninzon from the band Stratospheerius. Joe, why don’t you just say hi, and just give a little introduction about yourself, the band, and what you guys are all about.
Joe Deninzon: First of all, thanks for having me on your program, and my band is called Stratospheerius. I play the electric seven-stringed Viper violin, and basically, Zappa’s one of our biggest influences. In fact, we performed a few of their songs live. The band is hard to describe, but it’s a mixture of Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Police, little flashes of Dave Matthews but not too many, and I’m the lead singer of the band, and it’s prog, rock, funk, jam music with the influences of gypsy music and classical music as well.
Up this week is the eclectic quintet Half Past Four.
Ben Sommer: Hi. This is Ben with BandsLikeZappa.com. I’m here with the four eager and energetic members of the band Half Past Four. Let’s start with just the background of the band and I’ll go to Kyree.
Kyree Vibrant: Well, Half Past Four has come through a few incarnations but this particular one has been happening for, I guess, about six years now. There are five people in the band and Les and Constantin started the band. They were actually in a different band and they met when they were playing live, I guess. And they had some stuff in common so they started playing together and they formed the Half Past Four and then a few years later, Igor arrived on the scene. He is their little love child. Igor came on and kind of, I guess, rounded out their sound and then they were playing as a Russian band at that time, and then I guess, they decided at one point that they should start doing some English-speaking whatever lyrics or trying to reach it to a bigger Canadian audience, so that’s when they put an ad in the paper and got me.
Kyree: And then I joined the band. We’ve been through a whole bunch of drummers like Spinal Tap. They tend to explode after one year, but then we found Ann. And Ann was the best of them all and she’s been with us for the past, I guess, two and a half years now it is?
Band members: Yeah, thereabout.
Kyree: Yeah. And she’s terrific and now we’re a fabulous, strong, amazing team. We released an album and it’s been doing really good, and we’re working on our new one, and that’s the history.
Ben: Cool. Yeah. I know it now when I see all your faces, well, two of your faces but all your names here. I see a lot of Russkies, if you will. So, did you guys all immigrate to Canada?
Constantin: Yeah, it was primarily Toronto-based like both Les, myself, and this is Constantin speaking, we had some musical experiences in the countries of exodus, and by coming here we wanted to continue basically. So an improv here and jam there, Les had kind of a full-time band going when I met him. But then, we started playing and we joined forces, and it wasn’t geared towards a broad audience. It was more like a nostalgic exercises, do you know what I mean? But the more you played the more different of musical avenues we discovered, the broader your act, I guess. So we kind of shared that ideas or mindset of rebuilding ourselves to a particular style with a particular area and genre. We started experimenting with the progressive rock. Igor, pretty much, he went through the same transformation. When we met him and we started playing together, it was still more of kind of traditional Russian rock music with elements, with American and the British covers or some originals that were written in English, but it wasn’t until Igor joined that we actually completed switching gears and started targeting the universal listener, I should say.
Ben: Due to second band in the last month or two who’s named published an album named after a rabbit. I don’t know what it is. Why is it with progressive rock and rabbits and weird analogies? But did it mean anything by that? Stupid question, I’m just curious.
Constantin: Well, rabbit is just a very impulsive and unpredictable animal, which kind of in my mind, translates well into the progressive rock genre. It is very basic in terms of its motivations. It is very sharp and fast to act, a little timid, but we weren’t considering that part of it. So basically, yeah, the music that’s used in the album goes from bossa nova to opera-like metal, so the rabbit element there kind of symbolizes this broad meter and predictability.
Ben: Who writes the songs? What is your compositional process?
Kyree: Well, it’s a collective process a hundred percent. Everyone comes to the table with different song ideas and we work on them and blend some of them together or go forward with like when, and then we have a video cut out on their own ideas and stuff like that.
Les: I think everybody have our own strengths and weaknesses in terms of composition and arrangement, and basically what we bring to the table of the whole becomes much more interesting and intricate, saying in the end when we collaborate and we compromise and we conflict and we fight and then we find resolutions to certain things, so it’s very organic process, so to speak.
Ben: So what’s going on these days? It looks like you’re kind of active. Have you got gigs coming up? Anything you want to plug?
Igor: Yeah. This coming Wednesday, we’re playing our first gig of this year in Toronto. And we’ll be actually showing our new songs that will appear on our next album, and after that, we’re playing on a gig later this month sort of near Toronto again. Now, the one important thing we want to sort of announce anyway, we have been accepted into Near Fest in June of this year and we’re actually opening. We are the first band playing there and it’s just a humongous honor for us.
Ben: That is awesome. How did you land that gig?
Igor: Well, we had some help and we basically sent our music to them and we’re talking to them and they had a spot and they decided that we’re good enough.
Kyree: They came to Prog Day last year to see us, right?
Igor: I think so. Yeah.
Ben: Cool. So, where the people find you online?
This week I talk to Keith Horn – an original and amazing composer and recording artist. Imagine the best of Frank Zappa crossed with Steely Dan and System of a Down. That’s Keith Horn. Enjoy
For the maiden voyage I talk to Hirotaka Inuzuka of the LA-based progressive rock/jazz band ODDISEA.