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lunedì 25 aprile 2011
Translation: Dope Fiend
Tony - Bass, Vocals
Bob - Guitars
Billy - Drums
With us today a viable Texan stoner-rock reality, Desert Of Mars, the trio has just released the album "Transmission"(which you will find the review on the site). Let's get to know them better.
Welcome guys, the first step has become a routine. But it is necessary to give a couple of useful information to those who had not yet the pleasure of crossing your reality, let's talk about how they are born Desert Of Mars and about its components, I leave you the word.
Tony: Thanks for the interest and the interview! We started jamming a few years ago with the idea of just seeing what would happen. I had been in a few bands before but they had all broken up and I hadn’t played bass seriously in a few years. Billy joined as a fill in drummer and we just worked really well together. We decided to write heavy riff-based music; and Deserts of Mars was born. Our previous guitarist decided he wanted to pursue other things, but Billy and I thought what we were doing was still worth continuing, so we searched for a long time and Bob joined (he was a friend and he had come to a bunch of previous shows), adding a well-tempered more melodic component to the band. We’ve been good friends and band mates ever since.
As often happens, I was taking a look at Planetfuzz (which together with Chybucca Sounds I think the best sites for people who love stoner and the like) when I was struck by the cover of "Transmission", I can say that reminds me a certain late sixty style? The shows section of your site also contains the flyer of the evening, all works by Billy. The passion for women increased and shapely designed with a retro touch you can bring together the vision (degrees) of the films of Russ Meyer type "Vixen", "Supervixens" and "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" ?
Tony: Yeah, Billy is an illustrator and game maker first and foremost, and he came up with these great characters starting with our Martian character, then the Rocktopuss, Mina the space DoMinatrix (featured on the album cover), and the Rocktopuss Queen. Most people see the flyers well before they see the band, so we wanted people to be drawn in by the visuals. Plus, we all dig sexy space chicks. They look cool! It fits well within the Stoner Rock/metal aesthetic. In the fiction we have created, Mina is a tough rock chick, not just eye candy. We wanted to appeal to everyone who likes heavy spacey stuff.
Your sound is affected by multiple influences, what are the band that you have mostly heard and that have consistently been part of the period in which to you record the album?
Tony: Well for me it’s always the classics like Black Sabbath and Motorhead, also all the Stoner classics, (Kyuss, QOTSA, Dozer, Orange Goblin, Monster Magnet, etc.). I listen to Big Business a ton (I love the bass sound!), The Sword, Killing Joke, Boris and Voivod (I’m a huge fan as well!). It’s hard to pick just a few bands; my iTunes list playlist is a crazy mix of all kinds of things. However, those are the ones that come to mind during thee recoding time period.
Billy: I am most influenced by more modern drummers like Abe Cunningham and Dave Grohl but I get a lot of my rhythmic cues from rap and hip hop. I think it adds a different flavor to our sound than a lot of other bands in our genre. We all come from different musical backgrounds, but it seems to work well together.
Bob: I listen to a lot of different genres of music depending on my mood. Some days it’s a metal day and I’ll be rocking some Protest the Hero, Killswitch Engage, or Pantera. My girlfriend gives me shit because I’m into “emo” and “screamo” bands like Thursday, Dashboard Confessional, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Taking Back Sunday. As far as guitar player influences, my big ones are guys like Joe Satriani, Buckethead, and Eric Johnson. I am also really digging on the band Animals as Leaders right now as well.
In some nuances and often heavy shades, but not to form grooves in the style of doom or sludge as thick gray and Seattle style, it seemed to notice a grunge drift. There is a part of this movement that you like?
Tony: Hmm.. yeah, I love Soundgarden (especially their first few albums), The Melvins, and almost anything thick and heavy. I’m sure that there is an undercurrent of that as well.
Bob: Absolutely! The Seattle movement of the 90’s was very influential for me. That is the period when I really started to get serious and develop my guitar playing. I was (and still am) a huge Nirvana fan. Other influential albums around that time were "Siamese Dream" and "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" by the Smashing Pumpkins, and bands like Hum, For Squirrels, Rage Against the Machine, and Nine Inch Nails.
I have found the album solid, comfortable, easy to listen and above all well produced, you have done all of your pocket, how it was hard to get so far? How much effort and perseverance it takes to bring on a project in an increasingly competitive world of music and what are (if any) the goals you have set?
Tony: It has taken us a while.. We’re lucky at this point that all of us have good jobs outside of the band and we were able to finance the album out of our own pockets. We knew we didn’t want a demo, and we wouldn’t compromise album quality even with a limited budget. We worked well with our engineer/mixer/production guru Mark Dufour (who I met when I was in a goth/darkwave band with my wife), and I knew he was talented; the rest was just buckling down and getting it done. Our main goal is to make music our way, and to make the best music we can on our own terms. As you’ve said the world of music is very competitive and we wanted to make our one chance at making a first impression a really strong one.
Bob: I think perseverance is the best way to describe it. We went into this project with a distinct vision of what we wanted to accomplish. We had to make some changes and concessions along the way, but in the end we were able to stay true to our goals.
Billy: It was also tough juggling schedules and working at being the drummer, artist/art director on the album, and developer of the iPhone app that we are doing as part of our multimedia strategy for the band (another goal of ours to have a truly multimedia presence with music/art/games/comics/etc.). Doing all of this while maintaining a full time job, working on directing and doing art for my other games I develop (I run www.perfectdorkstudios.com) and having a life outside of band and work is probably the hardest part of being an indie band. However, the end result is something the rest of the band and I are really proud of.
Tony: I totally agree with Billy about scheduling and all of those challenges! Certainly that is part of the overall perseverance and the passion to work together to make this album rock.
How is the work in rehearsal room? It still uses the jam session, what comes out is refined giving shape to the track or you have an accurate way to dial? On what are focused the lyrics and who is the author of them?
Tony: Usually we just start jamming, and most of the time it starts with bass riff and a beat, then Bob comes in and adds a layer of melody and settles into a cool groove. We usually record long jams and then come back to it and refine it. Billy is great at working on arrangements and once we all agree, I come in with lyrics. I write all the lyrics for the songs, but everyone is welcome to have feedback and we’ll often tweak a phrase here and there. That’s the way things work most of the time, but with this next album, it will probably be even more collaborative. At the end of the day, we just want to write good music that people feel.
Billy: It’s like spontaneous combustion! We start to jam and songs seem to just ignite. The ones that fizzle, we throw out. Sometimes they come back reworked, other times we just get rid of them all together.
Tony: Yeah, I think we threw out about half an album or an albums worth of stuff when Bob joined because we wanted to write newer stronger songs with Bob involved.
You are at the end of the evening after a thrilling live, we may ask for an encore, let's say two: the first track taken from "Transmission", that what you feel is the most suitable or most identify, and a cover. On which pieces would fall your choice and why?
Tony: I think at this point, I think “Cities on Fire” is the song on the album I rewind and listen to the most. However, we close with that one, so I would have to say we would go with the fan favorite “Send More Gasoline”. It’s the first song we wrote together as a band and seems to be the one people love the most. We don’t really do covers (with the exception of a hard driving version of the Bionic Commando theme at a couple of game related shows). We have a few we have talked about, but nothing solid. For me, it would probably be something by Thin Lizzy, Sabbath, Motorhead, Joy Division, Flower Travellin’ band or something strange. I only want to a cover if we can make it our own and do an awesome job at it.
Bob: I don’t know! Probably “Dreamcrushers, Inc.” That song blasts the whole way through so the fans would definitely be leaving with their heads banging. Doing a cover would be cool, but I have no idea what our first one should be.
Billy: Or we maybe we should cover "Angel Witch"!
Stoner is a "nerd" genre and with this term, for many derogatory, I want to stress the values ??of those who, often at the corner by the society for its particular way of living, rises artistically. How can you not worship a "nerd" named Scott Hill for example? It would be heresy not to. Desert Of Mars love music and work in everyday life with computers and comic books, through the exchange of mail with Tony I had the pleasure of being aware of your projects to which I would like to offer a showcase, then I leave you free to tell what is what you are doing with videogames companies and as comics writers.
Tony: I totally embrace my nerdiness! Stoner rock is often about sci-fi, wizards, and comic book fiction (just look at all the comic/fiction reference in Monster Magnet’s music alone!). So to me rock, games, and comics are absolutely intertwined. Outside of my work as a tech artist (I interface a lot between programmers and artists) at my day job, I’ve co-authored the comics “Psy-Comm” (the early seed of it was influenced from Blue Oyster Cult’s “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”), a steampunk comic called “Clockwerx” (both with my good friend Jason Henderson), Billy and I did an iPhone app called “Aim for the Brain” which is kind of a Zombie whack a mole game, and I’m pitching some new comics now. I’m hoping to work on some heavy metal influenced comics with the really talented Hans "Hanzo" Steinbach. (http://metalhanzo.deviantart.com/ ) if we can get our schedules together. Plus we’d love to do a Deserts of Mars comic at some point featuring Mina, the Rocktopuss Queen, and the Martian. We’ve been flirting with that idea for a while.
Bob: Where I work, one of our company’s core values is “Embrace Your Inner Geek.” Outside of my career; I still get to do that with video games, movies, computers, and even music.
The Texan music scene has given me much satisfaction, just to stay on a few weeks ago they were guests in our site Wo fat with their "Noche Del Chupacabra". How do you live it? Do you have relations of friendship and esteem with other bands? You have shared the stage with metal bands?
Tony: I love Texas, and even when I am not here, I long to get back after a while, especially Austin. There must have been something that drew my ancestors here, and I am a product of that. While I don’t wear a cowboy hat, ride a horse, or drive a truck, there’s still an independent spirit and a sense of pride about being a Texan, I think that comes through in a lot of what I do and how I choose to make music. We try to get along with all the bands we play with and avoid petty band squabbles and fighting in the “scene”. To me that stuff can be left back in high school. We are also really about giving credit to everyone in and out the scene that helps us or is cool. We give respect when respect is given to us and we always to try make sure that we help anyone we can. I believe good karma can go a long way. Some of my favorite local bands lately are Corporate Elvis (www.facebook.com/pages/Corporate-E...136518403066134), Valley of Fire (www.facebook.com/pages/Valley-of-Fire/141596642536214), One Eyed Doll (www.oneeyeddoll.com/), and Descendants of Erdrick (www.descendantsoferdrick.com/). We’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of really awesome bands in the scene, and we’re always looking to play with bands that rock and want to put on an awesome show. We haven’t yet shared the stage with any major label metal bands, but we are looking forward to that in the future!
When a live evening can be considered ideal for Desert Of Mars?
Tony: We want to have the audience bobbing their heads, throwing their fists in the air, and having a good time. Then it is time to chill out, rock some more and talk to anyone and everyone who wants to. If we connect with people and they go home feeling like they got ROCKED for their hard earned money, I think we’ve done our job. If we leave with our songs in people’s heads, a shirt in their hand or on their back, and some CDs sold, it’s even better. We’re there to have a good time like everyone else.
There are anecdotes or even just memories of a performance that you were very much close to heart? And a night that went really wrong where a "fuck you " was the only thing to say to bring it to conclusion?
Tony: We have one club we play at a lot here in Austin called The Red Eyed Fly and Mike there has been super supportive, we always have a good time there. We think of it as our “home base away from Mars”. We recently got to play a show at The Parish playing here in Austin during SXSWS where the sound and lights were completely killer. We also just had a great CD release party at Red Eyed Fly, we had a great crowd and we raised a lot of money to help the relief efforts in Japan since we have friends there. Hopefully it is only up from here. Besides a few off week nights where we played to less than a dozen people or so, we’ve had pretty good luck at shows. We play every show as if we are playing to a million people no matter how big the crowd is. I think we’ve only had one show where it just didn’t seem to work, but even that was at a cool venue, so I can’t say it was a total loss. Sometimes you are going to have bad gigs; it’s about playing the next one even better.
Bob: Exactly. Just like every band, we have had nights that didn’t go as expected. Sometimes there are gear problems, sometimes you forget some notes. But we’ve played through it. I’m very happy that those have been sparse for us.
Tony and I have something in common, in fact his ancestors are Sicilian (Poggioreale), we send a message to Sicilians guys who love the stoner to wake them up a bit? There is so much following, so listening but little meat to the fire, what should we do in these cases?
Tony: I’m hoping that all my relatives in Sicily and perhaps all over Italy want to rock as much as I do. I’ve always had an affinity for Italian cinema (especially horror and crime dramas) and bands like Goblin, so it would be my dream to spread Deserts of Mars’ rock back to Italy. I would love to play a festival in Sicily or Italy maybe even in the deserted part of Poggioreale. It would be cool and inspirational I believe. Plus it would make my departed ancestors beam with pride, I am sure. One thing I love about my Sicilian heritage is the sense of family, so “C’mon my brothers, sisters and cousins!! LET’S ROCK!!!!”
What were the feedback obtained so far? How was it accepted the disk?
Tony: So far we have gotten really great feedback from the album. Reviews are starting to trickle in and it has been awesome. I’m sure we’ll have people who don’t dig it, but even the best bands get that. Websites like yours and a few stoner rock places have really dug it, and we’ve even had people make YouTube videos of songs before the physical cd was out. So, we must be connecting with people. Very cool!
Have you short-term projects?
Tony: We are pretty focused on Deserts of Mars, so right now we are working on spreading the word about the album and writing new material. Other than some of the stuff I mentioned early, it is all DoM all the time.
No contact has come from a label interested to distribute "Transmission"?
Tony: We haven’t heard from anyone yet, but we haven’t been looking too hard. We live in an age where it is possible to do a lot of things on our own, so it would have to be exactly the right fit. We’ve been building relationships with cool friends in movies, games, and music, so we will see. For now we are totally independent. That makes it harder sometimes to get the word out but it also allows us the freedom to control our own destiny.
The interview has come to an end, I hope one day of see you live maybe in Sicily, but for now I ask you to leave a last message or a simple greeting direct to our readers, I leave you the final word.
Tony: Thanks a million for this opportunity! We hope that everyone enjoys this album as much as we enjoy all the music we listen to feel passionate about. Contact us any time on the web or through email. We’ll keep rockin as long as we can!!! Mars Metal to all!
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7.5-M, AKH, BOSJ, COLEBLACK, DOPE FIEND, DUCA STRIGE, FEDAYKIN, INSANITY, ISTRICE, LEONARD Z, LORDPIST, M1, MOURNING, TICINO1, VACVVM.