Thursday 1 August 2013

***VOYAGE IN COMA exclusive interview***

Here is an interview that Steve, the vocalist from VOYAGE IN COMA, was gracious enough to answer my onslaught of questions with some very introspective answers. Also, if you are like me and are always searching for new artists - he drops a ton of band names! While reading the interview, stream their new ep, 'Further', which will be released on August 3rd at their record release show. The show is at the Blue Beetle Rock Bar in Burtonsville MD. It’s off the 198 exit I-95 about a half-hour from DC and Baltimore. (click here for more concert info and click here for their tour schedule video)

Stream VOYAGE IN COMA's 'Further' ep here.
Check out their new video for "Further" here.

Considering promoting new bands is what OPEN mind / SATURATED brain is all about, what unknown/obscure band(s) would you like people to know about?
Tigerscout, whenskiesaregrey, Frameworks, Set and Setting, Au Revoir,The Reptillian, Alta, Caution Children, Rubrics, Kilgore Trout, Reigning Champion, Apart, Antpile, Isle of Rhodes, Bueno Crusher, Gillian Carter, Dead Peasants, MNWA, Gnarwhal, Holiness Church of the Valley, Barrow, Innards, Adobe Homes, For Want Of, Memorials and there are more I know but I can't think of more for some reason.

Where do you find out about new music?
Mostly on various internet blogs like toxicbreed, funhouse, Tumblr, being on the road and at local shows. Going to a show with bands you don't recognize is the best way in my opinion.
What would you like to say about the music on your upcoming EP? This time around we don't have those slow epic build up parts. It’s heavier. I think it’s angrier and less sad, if that makes sense. To those who liked the ambient intros on ‘You Appear Alongside Me", there’s not much of that on this record. If "Predation" or "Ethanol Bomb" were your jams (OMSB guy nods), so to speak this record has that energy but it’s a bit darker. When Jon came to the band Billy said something along the lines of "I want to play fast and heavy shit." We were all in agreement. More punk. More hardcore.

Tell us about your release show.
The show is at the Blue Beetle Rock Bar in Burtonsville, MD. It’s off the 198 exit I-95 about a half-hour from DC and Baltimore. This spot has always treated us well and almost helped us create our own identity separate from the DC and Baltimore music scenes. We used to have house shows right around the corner but let me not ramble. All the bands playing are awesome: Whenskiesaregrey, MNWA, Kaoru Nagisa, A Different Animal, Gillian Carter and Henrietta - a lot of bands that are great.

How is the new record communicated lyrically?
I think lyrically every song is about injustice and assault on the innocent in some way. "Dark Water" is about abandoning someone you care about to save yourself from disaster. "Lakota" is about kids on reservations being sent to foster families unlawfully. "Family Trees" is about how a new generation can overcome the mistakes of their fathers. "Further" and "Zaraida" focus on assault on women and how rape culture is not just prevalent in Egypt, Syria and India, but right in towns like Stubbenville. It’s about how so many resort to drug abuse and suicide after sexual assault. "Doxato" is about my grandfather's experiences during a Nazi occupation and civil war in Greece and how it’s relevant to wars today. This record is personal but socio-political as well.

Please talk about Orchid, the tribute album and your cover. Congratulations on getting the title track for the tribute album - and killing it.
Dude, thank you! Thank you for liking it. I'm so glad I stumbled on Dog Knights Productions post on Tumblr. When I was 16 I saw Orchid with PG.99 and Jeromes Dream. I bought their ep ‘Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow!’ and listened to it at least ten times that night. That shit changed me growing up, so I had to reach out to Dog Knights and asked if we could be on it. They said yes and we were on the same page as far as what song to cover. It was fun and I'm glad we are part of it.

If you could choose to do a cover album for a band (whether your band covers the songs, or other bands cover the songs), which band would it be? tribute. You guys down? Haha.

It seems like VOYAGE IN COMA has been a band for a relatively short time, but your name seems to be everywhere – especially attached to amazing new records (your previous EP/Orchid tribute/your new EP) and tours. Any thoughts?
Voyage in Coma in one form or the other has existed for five years but it has just been in the last two years that we've really started to reach our goals as a band. We always wanted to do a 7inch. We always wanted to tour and we make it happen even though we all work full-time and have various projects. We've done our own thing at our own pace. Would we like to tour more? Who wouldn't! Would we like to go to Japan and Europe? It’s feasible. I'm not planning on stopping for a long time and I think most of the guys would agree with me.

Why the name, VOYAGE IN COMA?
Originally they wanted to call the band Sunlight and the Sea Floor but Joe Trevisan who was the vocalist on ‘Cartography’ came up with Voyage In Coma. Some kids think it’s funny to call us Verse En Coma which had members of PG.99 and was short-lived. We've talked about just going with "Voyage" but that's taken by a journey cover band. Jokes aside, we love the name and are proud to carry it. We are Voyage In Coma aka Voyage.

Can you reveal anything interesting about the other band members?
Henry is a poet activist and teacher. David is a scientist and dad of the Bell Foundry in Baltimore. Billy is the dog whisperer aka dog father and one hell of a mechanic. Jon is to Voyage like method man is to Wu-Tang and is a great photographer. Henry, David and Jon play magic and will happily play you before and after a show on tour.

How did you guys meet? How did you get involved in the band together?
Billy and myself met in 1999 when we were 16. Our high school punk bands played together at Sunday matinee shows. We've been in 6 bands together, I think . My brother Kevin introduced me to Henry and we all listened to metal and punk together and went to shows around Baltimore and DC. We met Jon later while he was playing guitar for Age Sixteen and Sawhorse at David's moms house in 2005. David was in the lost tourists. I guess somehow after various changes over the years we gravitated toward each other because of a mutual respect for each other’s past projects. I'm glad to have all these guys as friends and brothers.

How has your hometown/upbringing influenced your music?
Music in the DC area was awesome when we were growing up. Being able to see Fugazi, Majority Rule, Strike Anywhere, Darkest Hour, City Of Caterpillar, De Nada, Q And Not U, Catharasis, Crispus Attucks, Crestfallen, No Justice, Nakatomi Plaza, De La get it. I'm done with my DC area shout-out. It felt like some of that "magic" was lost when some of those bands broke up and I think we try to harness some of the energy and styles of that period in our area.

What difficulties does the band have?
We are all busy as shit. Way too busy to tour as much as we'd like but we make it work.

How did the band become involved with 13th Floor Records?
We played a show with Sleep Patterns and Frameworks last winter. A few months or so after, Ryan who was playing in Sleep Patterns hit us up, expressing interest in releasing our record on vinyl. It was unexpected but got us motivated to set plans in motion for this summer. 13th Floor is a young label and I think Ryan is awesome for starting it up.

I watched your new video the other day, and it kicks serious fucking ass. Tell us about it.
Thank you. Well, Henry had been planning it for quite some time. He and Jon built a steady cam for the camera. We basically recorded tons of takes of us at our practice space in the basement of the Bell Foundry. Henry really had a vision and we all had fun doing it. I'm thinking of taking a crack at a video for another song on the ep.

Are the hard/soft dynamics in your songs deliberate, or is it more of a natural progression? (“Waiting in the Wings” and “Fissure” come to mind.)
"Fissure” is one of my favorite tracks on that last ep. Writing that song was a very natural progression. From what I understand they just started jamming out of that slow dramatic part into the explosion of heaviness at the end. That song was so natural that everyone took one take tracking. I joke with them but I’m half serious when I think they should do an ep with two ten-minute songs like that with minimal or no vocals.

Can you talk about the layering of the vocals in some of your songs? How do you write them? Who decides who screams what part? How do you choose where they fit in relation to the instrumentals?
Henry and I go over a lot of the vocal parts together. We will shoot out an idea, experiment and compromise. Sometimes a good idea just comes out of nowhere. "Further" has some different layers to it. We did a crowd vocal chant in the beginning because we felt like it would bring crowd participation in from the beginning. David screams with me during the breakdown and the end are my sorta raspy “whoas” that I did my own back-ups for. The Orchid cover had that one part with high pitched screams. Henry is the one that does more high-end screaming and I'm on the raspy low end.

The screams on your EP and Orchid cover are extremely thick. How did you train your vocal chords not to explode?
I've been screaming for ten years and I guess I don't really question it anymore. My first attempt at screaming was in Billy’s and my old band, and it sounded like a screaming baby or something. I've gotten deeper and raspy over the years from age. I suppose it will only get more raspy.

Who were your primary influences when you started playing music and who are they now?
Early on I was really influenced by the Clash, Bouncing Souls, Rancid, Operation Ivy, Rancid, Bad Brains, Choking Victim, Black Flag, Misfits, Nofx, Minor Threat, Descendants, Bad Religion etc. - I wanted to start bands like that. I guess vocally with Voyage I'm really influenced by Small Brown Bike, Planes Mistaken for Stars and American Nightmare, if that makes any sense.

What kind of emotions and thoughts occur when people define your band, on purpose or by accident? It’s interesting, the generic pinpoints people try to place on any band. We've been called wave , post hardcore, screamo, post-rock for the slow parts. Punk. Whatever. It’s like I said, people naturally will try to place something in a genre so they can describe to others what they think it sounds like. We don't really pay attention to it and play what we like.

What is your initial reaction when listeners say 'you sound like' such-and-such a band? Is it flattering, insulting, inconsequential or something else?
Someone said we sounded like Orchid meets Envy and that is flattering. I think it’s funny when we are compared to Hopesfall. (OMSB guy note – the first Hopesfall ep is phenomenal).

If you had to define VOYAGE IN COMA's sound, what would you label yourselves as?
Post-hardcore/punk/screamo/loud/energetic music.

What is are your favourite songs to play live?
As far as old songs go, "Valleys Filled With Lavender". This song has brought out a crazy emotional response from so many different people. I wrote it in response to my brother's suicide and a lot of people have come to talk about it after shows in relation to their own experiences. For example, in Tampa last year a girl came to me in tears after our set saying that day was the anniversary of her brother's death from suicide. We talked for a while and that experience was just so moving. By the end of the tour I think we all were so emotionally spent on that song - but in a good way. It’s helped me make peace with his death. As far as the new songs I really like performing "Zaraida".

What things have happened in 2013 thus far that you would like the readers to know about?
We are touring and releasing our record with 13th Floor Records. Check us out if you get the chance.

What are your future recording and touring plans?
We’re touring this August up to Chicago, down to Florida and back up the coast towards DC. In the fall we are going to do some small tours up into the northeast.

If you could get in a time machine and go back to see any band, who would you want to see?
The Clash...

Do you find it hard to balance objectivity with emotion when listening to/playing/talking about music?
Yes. I get very nostalgic and some songs have the power to unlock memories from certain times of my life. However, from an objective point it’s interesting to be on the road meeting other guys making music and appreciating their approach to music in general. Even if you might not like their style of playing or sound I can appreciate what they do. All men and women making music and being on the road have my admiration.

What music that you used to love do you look back on and shake your head at?
Reel Big Fish. Those dudes are assholes.

Besides music, what do you spend your time doing? What are your hobbies?
I'm such a boring home body the older I get. I watch a lot of movies, Chappelle Show, and adult swim. I'm trying to get a new bike so I can ride all the awesome trails around the area and to work since, its right around the corner. I work 55-80 hours a week in the events industry so I mostly spend free time at home, with family, shows and band practice. Should I get a dog? Truthfully, I'm an internet addict.

Is there anything of political nature that you would like to share?
End all wars including the war on women. End rape culture.

What is your most cherished physical record?
MILES DAVIS - Kind Of Blue

What are your top 10 records?
1 - BAD BRAINS - Self Titled
2 - KID DYNAMITE - Self Titled
3 - WU-TANG CLAN - Enter The 36 Chambers
4 - DEFTONES- White Pony
5 - BJORK - Vespertine
6 - SMITH’S - Louder Than Bombs
7 - PG.99-document #5
8 - GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR- Raise Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
9 - CONVERGE - Jane Doe
10 - CURE - Disintegration
But honestly I could sit here all day and list my favorites.

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