Bio: Our trio consists of Mike Pritchett, Drums, James Falcon, Bass, and me, Dan Hyer, Guitars. We’ve all played in bands with varying degrees of success in the Texas over the past several years. Most of these bands played the ‘right clubs’ on the ‘right nights’, but it just wasn’t the ‘right time’. We actually formed the band via an ad on craigslist in June of 2011. Mike responded to my ad searching for band members, and we hit it off right away. After a month of a string of replies from ‘not the right fit’ types, James responded and we set the audition. I knew we had the right guy when he came to the audition because his energy was so cool. And, he transcribed both songs we asked him to learn. He actually brought a music stand to the audition, so we knew he was very serious. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Genre: We all grew up loving metal & hard rock. James and I both graduated college with music degrees, so we have a solid background of classical and jazz music. James actually is an accomplished sax player, and does jazz gigs on the side. I had appeared in Guitar For The Practicing Musician back in the 90’s for my first self produced fully instrumental effort ‘Harmonic Inertia’, so my love for instrumental music goes back a long way. We also had each dealt with our own variation of ‘lead singer-itis’ throughout the years, so going without a singer made sense. And Mike is the biggest Rush fan on the planet, so Progressive Music really speaks to him. Classical type song forms, heavy, aggressive, technical, & theoretically challenging instrumental passages are big parts of Progressive Metal, so the genre was not one we thought about much, but it’s stylistically where we are right now.
Musical and thematic elements: I had written several of our songs for contests and competitions, so the framework of the tunes was there. Bringing them to the band to make them our own was a critical part of the process though. Mike and James took ownership of their parts; most of the time creating brand new bass & drum lines from the ground up. We all made solid contributions to the songs in terms of structure, dynamics, intros, etc., so it is truly a collaboration. We also are huge sci – fi, science, and history buffs so that helped guide us on the historical samples we used for the project.
Ideas about the album: We see Mahogany Head Grenade as having two products. One, is our live show. For a year and a half, that was the only product we had. I am thrilled about our live show, as we have played together a ton, and each show gets bigger and better. We’re able to pull off the technically demanding stuff, while keeping it fresh and slightly different every show. Our most recent show (CD release) was video recorded with broadcast quality camera, and I think it translates to some of what we accomplish live. http://www.youtube.com/user/lidpeeler/videos
Our Cd, ‘Return to the Point of Departure’, is something that we are all very proud of at this point. We were very blessed to be able to work with Sterling Winfield, he’s an incredibly talented Engineer, and a kick ass human being. For the scope of the bands that he’s worked with, we definitely felt a sense of validation that he agreed to do the project. He came out to a rehearsal, and after hearing us do the title track we started talking about working together. He’s a very down to earth guy, which made it very easy to work with him. It all came together incredibly fast after that. We tracked 90% of the CD in two days, and did some guitar and bass overdubs for another day or two. It was very fast. For mastering, we talked about a few people, but ultimately decided on Maor because Stelring had worked with him several times on other projects. And, Maor too had a very impressive catalogue of work. After spending just a little time with him on the phone, it was obvious he was the right guy. The symmetry Maor and Sterling had AFTER we had done the initial recording is what I think helped us capture what we were going for.
Reception: It’s been great…we are seeing downloads/sales from all over the world. We’re moving alot of physical copies of the CD, and other merch as well. In the US, Progressive Metal/Instrumental is a challenging style to play to a wide audience. Clubs don’t know where to put you, so you really have to cut your teeth and prove yourself with a consistent draw of fans. We’ve been very thankful that we’ve had bigger draws every night & every show. The clubs get better, the time slots get better, and the night of the week get better for us with every show.
Preference; live or studio: Both – it’s a thrill to play these challenging songs every night, and it’s absolutely unreal to work with Metal royalty like Sterling and Maor in the studio.
Next step; live or studio: We have shows booked through the next several months in Dallas, with the intent of fleshing out some more new material. Our goal is to go back in to the studio with Sterling and Maor in the first half of 2014 to record another set of tunes. We’d also like to get into some of the Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock festivals over the next year. There are some opportunities that are on the horizon, but it’s much too early to talk about that now.
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: There are obviously considerations when it comes to the audience that come into play. We aren’t an experimental improvisation group, so the songs are very well fleshed out before we play them live. We are respectful of the audience live, very gracious that they are at our show, so we make every attempt to connect with them.
That being said, we write music that we as musicians would enjoy hearing. Sometimes that goes over audiences heads, and that’s ok. It’s fun to challenge listeners in a way where there’s some things they can connect to & grasp, such as a lyrically phrased melody in a 4/4 meter, but the melodic content is non “Western”, with lots of minor 2nds and dissonance. We also have songs that are ‘through composed’ with no repeating sections, but dynamically and through thematic development, there’s a way for the listeners to connect with where the song started, and where it ends, and how we got there. We purposely try to cover a lot of musical ground in our songs so that when listener plugs in, they go on the journey with the band.
Greatest Accomplishment: Thus far, it’s gotta be the CD. We had our 2 year anniversary as a band in June of 2013. We released ‘Return’ in June of 2013. Every aspect of the CD, from the artwork, the packaging, the recorded performances, the compositions, the mixing, engineering & mastering have been the absolute best we could do with the resources at hand. For all three of us, it’s the best thing we’ve done so far. We each believe that the next one will be even better. That’s due in part to the songs being even more extreme and ‘progressive’, and in part to the fact that we have learned a great deal through the experience.