IRIDIC is a progressive metal band from lead guitarist John Souki, vocalist Luke Mellinger, and guitarist Billy Schmucker. Channelling the baroque grandeur of Muse via the breathless dynamism of Dream Theater and the rhythmic technicality of Periphery, the group looks set to establish itself as a formidable force on the international stage.Bio: (Answers by John Souki) I had a passion for progressive music for as long as I can remember, looking up to bands like Yes, Dream Theater, Genesis, and King Crimson (to name a few) by way of my father introducing me to that musical world. It’s actually kinda funny because my dad felt like he “rescued” me from some of the Nu-Metal that was popular in the early 2000s, haha. I remember him sitting me through Yes’ “The Gates of Delirium” (all 20-something-minutes of it), and my life changed forever. I knew I wanted to ultimately form my own progressive band with the right people in the right headspace. My first prog band experience happened in high school when my friends and I formed a Dream Theater tribute band, which was a fun and challenging outlet while it lasted. I briefly attended Berklee College of Music after graduating high school, then began playing and touring with bands in various genres (yes, even Hip-Hop and Country, haha), but the thought of creating original progressive music was always in the back of my head. A friend of mine introduced me to Luke Mellinger a few years later and we hit it off from the start. He was the voice I had been looking for, so I hired him and we have been writing and composing together for the last couple of years.
Genre: Progressive rock/metal has allowed me the space to create freely without the confines of strict forms or expectations. I enjoy various music genres and draw elements from it all when composing music for IRIDIC, which I think has made this genre fun and challenging at the same time. I love colorful compositions with metal, jazz, and classical elements, and I feel that’s what draws me to this kind of music; the prospect of blending and meshing many sounds into compositions that make sense to us.
Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements: I had some pre-conceived ideas of how I wanted the music to sound like and develop. The first song I composed for the group was ‘Catharsis’, which came by way of my fixation for cinematic music and Muse-like electro-pop-rock at the time. Luke connected with it and found a way to work in the conceptual aspect that I was going for, and wrote great lyrics to it. Most of the other songs and lyrical concepts in the record stemmed from ‘Catharsis’, connecting the dots in the storyline.
Lyrics, themes and concepts: I’m a fan of concept albums and storylines, and wanted the same for our first album. The concept involves the journey of a man in his astral body, seeking answers for events that shaped his past and present while finding forgiveness and understanding in resolving. It begins with the protagonist in his death bed in an emergency room going into a coma that transcends him to a non-physical state of consciousness, where he sees a reel of his life (past, present, and unknown future) happening in real-time in front of him, revisiting parts of his life that were traumatic to him and his upbringing, in order to better understand what has held him back mentally and emotionally from truly evolving as a person in hopes of resolving himself before he takes his last breath and transitions. It’s a work that we hope takes the listener to a journey of their own!
Ideas about the album: We are very happy about our material and how it turned out on the EP. However, there is always room for improvement and we are constantly learning new ways to adapt and create. We look forward to that journey as IRIDIC grows creatively!
Reception: People have been very welcoming of our music, which has been humbling and encouraging! Most of our EP sales were from overseas fans, which has been a target market for us from the beginning. I feel as though overseas audiences are more accepting of progressive music and have a deeper appreciation for what isn’t necessarily commercial here in the USA, so it’s been exciting to see a good deal of support outside our home-base, specially for being a new band.
Preference; live or studio: I personally love the live and touring aspect of music more. The studio is great for the creation and conception of the music, but for me nothing equates the excitement and energy from a live show. The energetic exchange between band and audience is like an amazing high you can’t get enough of.
Next step; live or studio: We are currently putting final touches on what will be our first full-length album, which we plan on releasing later this year. Soon after, we will focus on live shows and traveling plans to promote the record and expand our reach and fan base.
Future plans: I think the future looks really good for us! We are very grateful for all the love we have received for the EP, and I believe much more will develop when the album comes out. The EP’s reception has reinforced the goals we set out for ourselves and, in a way, has helped us build upon our business and strategic structures. The industry is always changing, but we are currently in a time where there is much more exposure to so much new music from independent artists, so it’s all very exciting.
Composers: For this first EP (and soon-to-be album,) I composed most of the music and Luke most of the lyrics.
Inspirations: We are influenced by bands like Muse, Opeth, Dream Theater, and Porcupine Tree (to name a few).
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: I think it goes both ways. In a way, many progressive fans appreciate the music the way a band creates it, and it’s representative of the uniqueness in each band and listener. Currently, our music is structured in a way that caters not only to prog lovers, but to anyone with an appreciation for other genres, so the music finds its way to the right audience. We are happy with the way our music is forming, and I think It’s that energy that draws the listener in.
Greatest Accomplishment: Seeing this project through has been a great personal accomplishment in itself, and one that’s defined what IRIDIC is as a group. Things are going according to plan thus far and we can only hope that more listeners receive this music with the same positivity and passion that we put into its creation. We are more inspired than ever to evolve as a band, grow individually and collectively, and create music that is fresh and representative of who we are and are becoming.