Today, I am with Scott Jeffers for another Q&A Session. He is a brilliant musician, singer and multi-instrumentalist from Phoenix and has a very interesting approach to metal blending it with, in his words, “deeply rooted ethnic music”.
Now, without further ado…
Lady Obscure: Hello Scott. So, keeping with tradition, can you tell me a bit about how the journey started, so to speak? How the Traveller came to be? What were you doing before Traveller?
Scott Jeffers: The band started about 10 years ago as an acoustic world fusion band, soon after I decided to fuse my favourite styles of music (exotic and metal). I didn’t know if anyone other than me would get off on it, but I knew it was just waiting to happen.
We went through quite a few member changes trying to find the right sound, mixing heavy guitars, bass and drums with traditional instruments
LO: Exotic and metal, different combination – how would you describe it?
Scott Jeffers: Our music is a fusion of hard rock/heavy metal with ethnic style.
LO: So, both of those genres must be central to you?
Scott: I am a bit torn between hard rock/vintage metal and deeply rooted ethnic music. I wouldn’t be able to settle for just one
LO: Now, I said you were a multi-instrumentalist but it is not the traditional metal ones are they? What other instrumentation goes with your special genre?
Scott: I am the vocalist and violinist and I also specialize in exotic instruments (oud, Bouzouki, Cumbus). We also have a Guitarist, Bassist, and a Drummer. As well as guest musicians from all over the world playing instruments that range from Uillian pipes, Santour, Harmonium, Hammer Dulcimer, Kaval, Highland pipes, Sarode, Tambura, Dumbek, riq, Tabla and more.
LO: Who is composing the songs? Writing the lyrics? Is that a group effort?
Scott: I am composing all the music and lyrics, although the inspiration comes from many sources.
LO: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Scott: It evolved quite naturally, it just seemed to make sense putting traditional music to rock, just as the Blues electrified became early rock n roll, and later with bands like Deep Purple with classical elements, it just seemed like there should be no reason why these two intense musical elements shouldn’t be fused.
LO: This is quite interesting. How did the idea come about in the first place? I mean fusing traditional Turkish music with metal… Even more interesting considering that you’re coming from Western countries. Are you doing this mainly for Turkish / Middle Eastern or western audience?
Scott: Those are hard questions to answer, but I will try. I didn’t really have an audience in mind other than what I would like to hear in the perfect world. It will be interesting to see what a Turkish and Arabic audience thinks of this fusion. Their taste in metal music is very different from the western audience.
The idea goes back to me being a kid and hearing my Father play the violin and my Lebanese mother’s Belly dance music. And then discovering hard rock at an early age, from my big sister bringing home Deep Purple in Rock and the Alice Cooper Killer album. But through my career, starting at age 16 performing in night clubs with my rock band and playing folk music in cafes on the side to pay the bills. I’ve always had two sides to my musical taste. And the time was right for them to meet.
I’ve also heard a power in some ethnic music that has a similar soul to the rock that I listen too. If you were a musician 100 years ago and had the need to express your feeling more intensely through music, I think the soul of rock would come through even without eclectic instruments. Or if you gave Metallica a bunch of folk instruments and locked them in a studio for a year or two, I bet the music that they would write would still contain their metal spirit. So then its just a matter of amplification and some technology to bring it to its full potential.
LO: You have evolved quite a bit throughout your career, it seems. Are you happy with where you are now?
Scott: There is always room for improvement, but yes, I am happy with the project, I think with the help of producer and drummer Ken Mary (Alice Cooper, House of Lords) and the inspirations at hand, we’ve been able to take this music to the next level
LO: How has the overall reception been?
Scott: Great! But we noticed that when we tour in Canada the response is overwhelming, the crowds are so enthusiastic, the US still seems to be a bit confused with our sound, although our fan base in the US is growing fast.
LO: Are you guys going to get more involved in performing live at some point? What’s next? Album? Touring? Any international tours?
Scott: We play live locally (phoenix AZ. USA) a lot, and we tour music festivals in the summer in Canada, Alaska and some of the lower 48 states, But I think the next step is to hit Europe, and I have a big interest in performing in the Middle East as well even though their Rock scene is still in embryonic stages.
LO: What do you see for your future?
Scott: I would like to further experiment deeper into fusing Middle Eastern and Turkish traditional music into Metal, As well as bring in more guest musicians from countries of musical interest.
LO: Could you tell me about the lyrics and concepts you focus on? How do the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process?
Scott: I write most of the music and lyrics while I’m traveling, our newest CD Marrakesh was written during my time in Morocco, one track was even composed on the Sahara desert on a 3 day trek on the back of a camel. Subjects range from fascination with cultural differences, to injustices of the past. Although I try to stay away from political subjects these days.
LO: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Scott: There’s nothing like performing in front of a raging audience at an outdoor festival in a beautiful place, really the best moments of my life so far have been on stage, But the most lasting art is your creations in the studio, once you capture that moment, it stands like a statue for all time.
LO: So what bands do you guys draw your inspiration from?
Scott: I personally have been influenced by Rainbow, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Led Zeppelin on the rock side, and mostly Middle Eastern, Celtic, Hungarian, Greek, Turkish and Indian on the folk side, the rest of the guys are a mix of vintage hard rock to more modern groups like Avenged Sevenfold and System of a Down.
LO: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Scott: As an artist it’s of the highest importance to create from honesty. The good thing about our position is that people don’t know what to expect anyways so we are free to do as we please, although there are certain songs that seem to bridge the musical and ethnic gap more effectively.
LO: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Scott: I would have to say our 2011 self-titled release contains our most refined and unique musical statements of our career so far.
LO: Thank you Scott!
Now, here is some taste of what you are in for with Traveller.