I’m sorry to say so but if you have missed out on LUCID FLY, you might have missed out on a really cool band. DOUG MECCA (Guitarist) answered. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
A name sets the tone for the band. With the right name you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-There’s always been an association with exploration, and setting lofty goals and allowing nature and random events to make the outcome even more interesting and better than the intention… The name came to us from a friend who saw the original headline, and it instantly resonated. At the time we felt a little against the grain, having female vocals combined with heavy guitar and rhythm section, which was uncommon then. As we wrote more, there was always a different envelope to push, and it’s been our nature to always write and aim for something beyond our previous sound.
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-This is an awesome question! And the answer is so all over the place. Vocally it’s easy to name Maynard (Tool/APC/Puscifer) as the ultimate leader of certain musical frontiers, but on the other end, there’s Imogen Heap who also consistently reinvents and expands her sound and what can be done with vocals. For a long time, Incubus was updating their sound with every CD, and the musicality was always evolving with maturity, technical skill, and giving everyone something completely new every couple years. We felt that way about early Muse and Dredg too. Ambience probably seeped in from bands like Hooverphonic and Portishead, as that was frequently in the mixes especially on road trips. That’s likely where we listened to the majority of music, in the car, or van if we were heading to shows out of town, so plenty of time for long playlists and compilations we used to make for each other.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Maybe in some ways.. but it seems that no matter what the song or idea, there’s an inherent headbob or feel that tends to carry the arrangement naturally into each section. Secretly we maybe want every song to end up faster and more upbeat, and that will sometimes push us to add a faster moving layer on top of a slower tempo section. Faster tempo beats can have a tendency to sound predictable and we’re more likely to mess with the snare placement or subdivisions to make it more unique and fun to play.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-This time around is going to be completely different, as no song on the new album (Building Castles In Air) were played out live before the album was released. The overall tone has definitely been heavier live, but even each show is different as we create a deliberate setlist for each one. With the new album, the songs have several more layers than we’re used to having live, and for one we want to add more members to recreate that faithfully. Secondly, with the layering we feel that it leans more to having visual stimulation so those layers can be appreciated, almost like creating a place to be within the sound. There will be much more focus on bringing that extra dimension to the stage.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-I’m pretty certain that any support team helps tremendously. There’s so much to sift through online that it’s not easy to get through even to fans that have connected with us. It’s super easy to discover a band online though, and with a few clicks you can sample a few songs and know immediately if you want to know more about them. I don’t think there’s any way to know if there are negative consequences to the free access to the complete songs because the opposite — no access — means no discovery either. It’s clear that the culture has moved away from physically purchasing music even online, and as musicians we have to embrace that with the rest of the evolution of music. It’s difficult in that the cost of producing an album has not gone down at all to match the decrease in the return on sales, so a label would definitely help balance that out if they were to get involved early enough in a band’s career.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-I hope that’s not true, but I can totally understand that some bands lose their fans when they reinvent themselves. Not everyone is the same and some will follow the band while others follow that sound or familiarity of a certain time in their life. I don’t think it’s the same for every artist but for us it’s not rewarding to repeat any formula. I like to think that for as many fans that might move on, new ones will discover a band over time. Luckily for us, there seems to be different degrees of loyalty based on genre – female-fronted rock bands in particular seem to hold a special place for their strongest fans, and some of them will defend their favorite singer even to the loudest of critics. In any case, it seems to depend on an emotional connection with either the music or the time, which is probably why I’ve always remained a fan of musicians that come across as truly genuine in their art, rather than trying to appease fans. It’s something intangible that I feel more than just some good hooks or production.
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-Much like the music, artwork grabs me when it has layers to digest beyond the first look. Growing up, I spent hours looking at every detail of album covers, liner notes, lyrics, everything in that packaging while listening to albums. Even when they were cassettes I’d unfold that whole thing and check it all out. Much like a visual stage show it helps to have those layers of detail to get lost in while taking in the music and transporting to another place — not when you’re like driving and listening, that’s a whole other thing! I think the ones I’ve appreciated the most are slightly surreal, in that it represents something you can’t just look around you and see in real life. But that’s genre-dependent too of course there’s very different approaches depending on the music you find inside – it helps if there’s a bridge that links the art and the music. That’s completely subjective but there’s something again that reveals authenticity of the artist. We’ve been super lucky to collaborate with visual artists for our album artwork, and even being up to 1000s of miles apart there was something that made sense with each piece that for us complements the music. We highly respect each of those artists and feel that attraction to all of their work, and were thrilled to have custom creations that elevate the product and ultimately become an inseparable part of the album itself.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-Absolutely, however there seems to be some growth happening and a major overlap of a few different scenes. There’s always been an alternative rock and metal scene that had some real momentum several years ago, and we always partially fit into that. Lately the prog and djent scenes are building up in a younger way, both musicians and fans, at the same time that seasoned, skilled technical rock musicians are being appreciated by their existing fans and this new overlapping generation. It does feel a bit underground here, compared to what we gather from Europe and Australia in particular. We host a monthly radio podcast to showcase new music in the genre and 75% are typically from overseas. But in the somewhat rare appearances locally, those shows are packed and the audience knows every note. It’s only a matter of time that the US hits a tipping point – there are definitely some big influencers out there spawning new bands that are defining this hybrid scene. It feels like it’s about to blow up – it will seem like overnight but some of these bands have been doing their thing for years. It will be excellent to see the bands work together to build that community and bring this around the country and ideally bring over more of the great ones from overseas and link the global scene.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-No worries! But for sure there are times when it feels like the newer generations don’t value the effort and cost involved with getting a song online. But the worst thing would be if concerts went away. But that’s like saying parties were in danger because people can just hang out online. I think virtual shows will have a place in the future too, but nothing can replace the experience of physically being in a concert with other humans. That’s an energy that’s in no danger of being replaced with technology. The whole system can survive with a different approach than the labels had. We fully believe in crowd support for artists. We depended on crowdfunding in order to release our most recent album. That would have been impossible for us several years ago. In the future, I’d love to see all music funded directly this way, where the audience decides what they want to support and how much. And incidentally, the resurgence of vinyl is pretty cool! Even now there’s an undeniable coolness to that big square physical thing to get immersed in.. taking it out of the sleeve and putting it on the turntable, setting the needle, all that is like a ritual of sorts, making the music even more of an event than just tapping a phone screen and swiping it away. Ok I’m may have gone way too deep with that one but I know some people out there feel that way too and I’ll never stop doing what I do for them as much as for the casual music listeners!
What lies in the future?
-Right now it’s all about playing live. We’ve been in writing, recording, and production mode for so long that all we’re thinking about is peforming the songs directly for as many people as we can reach in person. We feel the next batch of songs already but they’re going to have to chill while we reconnect physically with the world. Ideally we’d love to share the stage with the bands who inspired us, and the ones who they inspired. From a dive bar to a festival stage and everything in between. We need to build up the momentum to get ourselves overseas somehow because we feel a major kinship with so many bands there who have yet to make it to the US. In the meantime we’ll be making more visuals including videos to accompany the songs off Building Castles In Air both online and onstage.