INTERVIEW: R’lyeh

R'lyeh live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis. (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

R’lyeh live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis. (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

If you’re interested in hearing metal in the vein of Bongripper, Pelican and ISIS, you’re going to love Indianapolis-based R’lyeh. Inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft without necessarily being a “Lovecraft band,” the duo strives to push the envelope of what progressive instrumental metal can be, even as they deal with the changes required by becoming a two-member band following the loss of bassist Joshua Buchanan. I caught the band after their set at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis to talk about the benefits of instrumental metal, the work they have done on upcoming debut album Color Out Of Space (due out this February) and what it is like being part of such a close-knit metal scene.

You can hear a sample from their upcoming album’s title track, shot live at the venue, below. The band will be playing Jiminy Christmas at the Emerson Theater on December 14th with half a dozen other bands to benefit Riley Children’s Hospital — $6 gets you in, or you can bring a new unwrapped toy!

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First off, who would you say are your biggest influences, and how do they play into your sound?

We’re extremely influenced by a vast array of bands, everything from led zeppelin to AHAB, even bands like This Will Destroy You. We are heavily influenced by the whole post-(genre) scene: We really dig instrumental music. It forces the listener to really listen to the music, which is why we’re all here right?

We’ve been compared to bands like Bongripper, Pelican, ISIS … the good stuff. Those bands have played heavily into our sound, technically speaking and from a writing standpoint. It’s really only shifted into a more-rounded “thing” when we became a two member band, for we started as two. So the only thing now is filling empty spaces while maintaining a high-intensity stage performance to keep ‘em on their toes!

The whole thing about R’lyeh is that we tell you a story. Our songs on our upcoming release Color Out Of Space are written and arranged in a fashion that represents the “rise and the fall” of all mankind. We build things (riffs) up so big to a point that we’re unable to maintain it, then we fucking destroy things (riffs) all the way down to the ground. You’ll hear us when you see us, you’ll feel us when you feel us, basically.

R'lyeh Live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis. They're just guitar and drums, but so much sound! (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

R’lyeh Live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis. They’re just guitar and drums, but so much sound! (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Do you prefer writing in the studio, or working songs out with an audience? There’s certainly more at stake on stage, but does that give you more creative energy to take risks?

We write primarily at “the R’lair” (the basement of the Indy Indie Artist’s Colony: Thanks y’all for listening every week!) and we’ll run through things until we’re either really comfortable with the song or really hyped on the song and can’t hold it in. Kind of like the very last song we played last night at The Fifth Quarter Lounge, appropriately titled “November.”

Ideally we’d like to have a drum structure to follow, and nail the loops. We allow ourselves ample room for improvisation if needed, just in case. The creativity shows; every performance is different and personal.

Lovecraft inspired the name … Is it difficult to tell those epic stories with just the music? Is there a rush when fans get it?

Yes! R’lyeh (pronounced like Princess Leah, with a “ruhh” in front of it) is Lovecraft inspired, brought about by drummer Mathias (aka Dane, since it’s easier to say) and it was pondered on for a couple of weeks before we decided on the name “RLYEH,” though we aren’t really a “Lovecraft band.” We’re just a couple of dudes who like to get stoned and play some riffs really loud.

Sometimes it is difficult, yes, to tell such an epic tale though it almost just comes to us. I mean our longest song (“Untitled”) is roughly a 10 minute long build-up, and was written in just a couple of hours! It’s all about the jams and see what happens. When people come at me with the Lovecraft reference and actually “get” what we’re doing … what a great feeling.

What, to your ears, makes a perfect song? How do you know when you’ve gotten it right?

The perfect song (to me, Anthony) is when I can feel it more than I can hear it. If a song that I hear in my ears from the radio or the stage or wherever, if that song can make me feel something, than its a winner. I’m going to have to knock it up and wife it.

What song do you wish you’d written?

I wish I would have written “Down in Mexico” by The Coasters. R’lyeh Secret: We do a Black Sabbath cover, but only once so far, with someone else not in the band on vocals.

Is there anything you wish someone would ask you but they never do?

I wish someone would ask me if I wanted to do a shot and take a picture. Life’s too short, man.

Is there anything you wish they’d never ask again?

I wish they would quit asking us why we don’t have a singer.

R'lyeh guitarist Anthony Hampton. (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

R’lyeh guitarist Anthony Hampton. (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Do you have any great “fan” stories about other bands, or about your fans?

I’m fortunate enough that some of my biggest fans are my best friends. And that probably goes both ways, the scene here is pretty close knit. Mona Demaggio [who runs the 5th Quarter Lounge] likes to get on stage with me while I riff. A girl pulled her boobs out and put them in my face once at a Burn the Army show. Honestly man, we could do a whole other interview on interesting stories from shows! [Laughs.]

Have there been any really memorable show disasters?

We’ve forgotten gear before, had to go back for it or borrow another bands. Ohlm got a flat tire and couldn’t make it once, that was rough. We had to cancel our show with Ringworm at Iron Borne Fest because I double-booked myself for a tattoo convention the same weekend. So many little things that always seemed to domino themselves into mega disasters. But we tend to work through the kinks pretty damn easily.

What was your recording experience on the album due this February? What should fans expect from the new album?

Color Out Of Space is the ride through the shit storm that is life. The buildup, the hype, the power, the greed all leads to the breakdown, the chaos, the destruction. You’ll hear riffs, you’ll follow along, you’ll feel relatable feelings and you’ll see the creativity and thoughts involved in putting this band together. We’ve had rough ups and downs along the way but the journey has been great. Expect a lot out of R’lyeh in 2015. We’re going to try and make this an actual thing, who knows where we’ll end up or when, but we’ll be sure to let you know.

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THE LIVE WIRE: Burn The Army

Burn The Army live at the 5th Quarter (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Burn The Army live at the 5th Quarter (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

It has been a full twenty-four hours and I am just now technically getting all my hearing back after the blazing firestorm Indianapolis’s own Burn The Army set loose at 5th Quarter Lounge. For three guys playing mostly instrumental metal, there’s no discounting how hard they worked out there to keep the crowd in a frenzy. Extra credit is due to their drummer, described by other band members as “a prodigy,” who was a whirling dervish out there, proving there’s no need for a gigantic 30-piece kit for a drummer to really pull out all the stops. He has to be seen and heard to be believed. Which you can do, by checking out their new song “Eidolon,” which they debuted, and we captured in HD, last night!

INTERVIEW: Cabin Pressure

Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Indianapolis’s Cabin Pressure talks to “Hear! Hear!” Music’s Jonathan Sanders about their new lineup, their songwriting process, and how even when you get back into playing live after a ten year absense (we’re talking ’bout you, Joe Enger!) sometimes it’s more like you never left.

Cabin Pressure is:

Aaron Hiatt – Vocals
Joe Enger – Guitars, Vocals
Jeff Derby – Drums
Kevin Snyder – Bass

They’re unsigned and working on a new album with their brand-new lineup! Look for an announcement about a CD release extravaganza coming to a venue near you in 2015. You can read more about them here, if you missed our recent article about the band’s live set at the 5th Quarter Lounge last week!

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Gayle Skidmore

Gayle Skidmore (credit: Dennis Andersen Photography)

It’s so rare to stumble upon a singer-songwriter with such a rich textured voice as Gayle Skidmore. Such voice is a warm layering of the folk of Anais Mitchell coupled with the stinging depth of Amanda Shires, one perfectly worthy of two songs as varied as those she just released: “Rag Doll” and “Barrel, Trigger, Gun.” As a direct follow-up to her latest, a full-length LP and coloring book combo called Sleeping Bear, Skidmore — a six-time San Diego Music Award nominee — chose to record two fan favorites from her popular live sets.

“Rag Doll” is the sparest of the two, a guitar-based melody structured to lend full support to Skidmore’s vocals as she sings of the casual abuses we all endure as we fight against our baser instincts, striving to live sin-free even as we are the product of our own maker. The lyrics are staggeringly evocative:

I wear a covering
Chosen for me by a higher being
But he made me all full of dreams
That I may never find and never be

I am a rag doll sewn by a blind man
To keep him company and make him happy
But he sewed me all full of flaws
And now I’m breaking you just because

“Barrel, Trigger, Gun,” meanwhile choses to showcase Skidmore’s hidden Tori Amos, a song built on a simple series of piano arpeggios upon which a steady backbeat of bass drum and hammering effects provides a stage for a positively cinematic piece of performance art. “I was so easily persuaded to do wrong; a little kick was all it took to come undone,” she sings powerfully. “I was just trying to have a little fun but I’m the trigger, you’re the gun.” As the song fades into a wavering final echoed bass note, a return to the song’s opening seconds is immediately mandated.

Based on these first two tantalizing tastes, I assure you I’ll be digging deeper into Gayle Skidmore’s catalog while hoping she chooses to make Indianapolis one of her next tour stops. When she does, buy a ticket. I am sure you won’t leave disappointed.

ALBUM FEATURE: Triple X Smut – “The Art of Staying Awake”

Get ready for 13 minutes of hardcore punk enough to make your ears bleed and your body convulse in paroxysms of rock Godliness sufficient to give you a contracoup injury! Hailing from Champaign, Illinois, Triple X Smut brings furious rock to the table and demands you take note or fuck off. They too will be playing a set at PUNK FEST 2015 at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis this coming March, so get ready!

Track Listing

1. Another fist, another face
2. Fuck The World
3. Grandma death
4. Let’s go do some CRIMES
5. Saturday night
6. Wana See This City Burn

THE LIVE WIRE: Cabin Pressure

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Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

I was pleasantly surprised to catch Cabin Pressure as the opening act for much heavier bands Catalytic and Fleshsuit at the 5th Quarter Lounge last Friday evening. Their blues-tinged blend of alternative rock is at full effect on songs like “Hard To Breathe,” which sounds like Soundgarden filtered through Aaron Hiatt’s Toadies-by-way-of-Matchbox 20 inspired vocals. Those are imperfect comparisons, but the videos below speak for themselves. The band, which has played the Indianapolis scene since 2012, has undergone major lineup shifts since losing a guitarist and gaining a new bass guitarist. From guitarist Joe Enger:

“We were working on pre-production when our other guitarist left and we added Kevin on bass. The dynamic has changed so we decided to start from scratch with the new lineup. Aaron used to play bass and sing. Kevin is a friggin beast thoughAaron wrote some really great bass lines and alot of what Kevin is doing is what Aaron wrote. But Kevin has taken them next level and freed up aaron to really push his vocals. When we’re done. there’s gonna be 3 and 4 part harmonies on most of the songs you heard tonight.

They’ve clearly handled the shifting roles in a way that will allow Cabin Pressure to grow into a top-notch draw in the area. I can’t wait to hear these guys play again, potentially as the headliners instead of as “opening act.” Until then, the two videos below will have to do.

Follow Cabin Pressure on Facebook!

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CABIN PRESSURE – “Hard To Breathe”

CABIN PRESSURE – “Offering”

HANG ON, ST. CHRISTOPHER: Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got”

Jake Owen’s latest is also his career zenith, and the genre’s best of 2014.

Anyone who thinks great songwriting is a lost art in country music needs to hear “What We Ain’t Got,” as written by Travis Meadows and Travis Jerome Goff and recorded by Jake Owen. Bare necessities abound, as Owen’s voice and a piano provide the backbone for the most moving song I’ve heard this year in any genre.

I wanted the world until my whole world stopped
You know a love like that ain’t easily forgot

Neither is a song that hits so close to the bone. Forget “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” or “Beachin'” … this is going to be the song people will remember Jake Owen for.