Today I speak with Sanmeet Sidhu, a one-man prog/art rock outfit just like me!
Sanmeet’s music is very good I think – but I just really identify with him on a personal level:
He’s got a day job
He’s got kids
He built himself a little studio, and goes to work in at after 10pm most nights, after the kids get tucked in
He is his own engineer (mixing & mastering)
His closest collaborator is a drummer (mine too – the venerable George)
His marketing & promotion consist of him randomly pinging no-name/no-influence people like me for interviews
Sanmeet readily admits he fits more into the art rock sub-genre rather than prog – Pink Floyd and associated atmospherics are the most prominent feature of his music. Although its not available anywhere else, you can still hear his 2009 album Sky is Falling on Rhapsody. It is a good bit more “Rush-like” than his newest album.
Enjoy the interview and free track at the (White Mist, Black Widow of his latest album):
Up this week is Gayle Ellet from grand old instrumental prog band Djam Karet. As you’ll see Gayle is a seasoned prog veteran (this is the oldest band I’ve interviewed for the site so far), and he’s got a unique perspective on what it means to “make it” as an indie prog artist.
Ben Sommer: Hi, this is Ben Sommer with BandsLikeRush.com. I’m here with Gayle Ellett from the band… you’ve got to help me with this. I don’t know what to…
Gayle Ellett: I pronounce it as Djam Karet.
Ben: Got it. I saw the phonetic spelling in your Wikipedia entry and it’s Djam Karet. Okay, I got it. It’s great.
Ben: Anyway, Gayle is a kind of impresario of this long-running prog band that has been around for quite sometime and I’m excited to talk to him for a few minutes for the site. Gayle, for those fools who have never heard of your band or yourself, won’t you give us just a brief intro what you are about.
Ben Sommer: I’m talking today with a Brit, another Brit, two in a row this time, to Tony Buttermead.
Tony Bodimead: Bodimead
Ben: Bodimead, sorry, from the UK band Lime Shark. Tony, I just referenced an interview to a London-based fellow last time, and it seems there’s more and more good prog rock coming out of the UK. Tell me about yourself, your band, and what you guys are all about.
This week I speak with Bjorn Egelius from the Swedish instrumental prog trio – therhythmisodd.
A couple things that set the band apart:
They record live – together – in the studio (why is this such a rare thing now?)
They’re….Big, bald and scary!
All jokes aside, the band is putting out fantastic instrumental prog rock, with the heaviness & virtuosity of a great prog band like Rush, and the spontaneity of a great fusion band like Mahavishnu Orchestra. Enjoy.
This week I speak with Simon James White – front-man and namesake of the UK prog-pop band SjW.
Simon’s greatest asset is his voice – a pure but meaty tenor that sounds like a hybrid of Jon Anderson and Jack Bruce. He’s a good bass player too, though unlike many bass-fronted bands his songs are balanced and guitar-driven rockers. The Rush similarity here is obviously to early and late era albums.
Today I speak with two guys from the Wichita-based band .end of story. The last few bands interviewed for the site were clear-cut “Bands Like Rush”. Today marks a return to an earlier tradition on the site: me featuring bands who its a bit of a stretch to call “like Rush”. As you’ll hear in the interview, I frankly admit to Skot Reed – lead singer of the band – that I just stumbled upon the band while listening to Rush channel on the web radio station iSound.com.
Nevertheless there is great similarity between late-era Rush (i.e. Snakes & Arrows, Caravan, etc.) and .end of story’s sound. We even hear a story from Skot how he got his early start in cover bands singing Rush covers – apparently in his youth he had the kind of clear, piercing tenor vocal range that made him a natural stand-in for Geddy.
This week I interview three members of the Philadelphia-based prog band The Tea Club, and we discuss their new album release Rabbit.
Like the last band I interviewed – The Mercury Tree -I’m really in love with their music. Its amazing how talented some of these new prog bands are.
Some striking characteristics of the bands sound are:
All-analog sound production – no digital gizmos or ProTools involved
Retro synths and organ – from veteran indie and prog rock producer (and Yes veteran) Tom Brislin
Big harmonic and textural palette
Prog-ish rhythmical complexity
More Radiohead than Rush similarities – especially the Thom Yorke-ish vocal melismas of brothers Patrick and Dan McGowan, as well as the wandering song structures, much less crisp and definite than Rush
Lyrics – very egg-heady and more poetic than Neil Peart’s
This week I speak with primary song-writer, lead singer and guitarist for the Portland, OR based progressive rock band The Mercury Tree – a band that I’m very excited to feature.
Not only is the song-writing inventive and original – not at all a clone of any classic prog band like Rush or Yes – but I myself identified with many of Ben’s musical interests:
Jazz-inspired technical chops
Complex rhythms (not just complex musical meters)
Organic shifts in tempo within a song
The last one got me really going on an almost academic tangent in our interview – on the topic of composer Elliot Carter‘s metric modulation technique, the late medieval musical style of ars subtilior, and the analog between organic tempo changes and key changes (i.e. harmonic modulation). Really geeky stuff, but hopefully equally interesting to you folks in the audience who like to hear “inside baseball” shop talk between two talented (did I say that??) musicians.
We hear two tracks from the band’s latest EP “Descent”: Running the Gamut and Preconceived Notions. I can’t emphasize how great these songs are, so please take a listen and patronize the band’s website.
Heavy Glow is a power rock trio from San Diego. I talked with their guitarist, lead singer and primary song-writer Jared Mullins this week. As a musician myself – approaching 40 years of age – I’m always impressed and more than a bit jealous when I speak to young turks like Jared who seem to have all their ducks in a row career-wise and are focused driven to succeed in music. My cop out is usually that I have a family to support and can’t force my them to squeak by on Ramen noodles salvation army clothes just so diddle away the hours on my music career. Talking to young guys like Jared occasionally is good antidote to this crappy attitude – it helps jolt my ass out complacency.
Anyway, I really like Heavy Glow’s music – it’s slightly edgy, mainstream enough to not require repeated listens to get into – and has an absolute affinity to early Rush music. In fact, I’d describe the band as Cream crossed with early Rush circa Fly By Night, only with a white-boy baritone blues singer.
BandsLikeRush.com is a music discovery podcast and blog from composer/performer Ben Sommer. Interviews with musicians and artists who's music "sounds like" Rush - the great progressive rock trio from Canada.
Contact Ben if you're in a "band like Rush" and want to be interviewed!