Surrender To All Life Beyond Form
TBR: So tell me about the new album! What’s it going to be called and who is releasing this one?
Stevie: The title is “Surrender To All Life Beyond Form”. Actually a guy here in Toronto is releasing it – the label is called Profound Lore. It’s a really awesome label, cold, artsy, weird, different bands on the label. Every band he puts out is very different. You get the full package: artistic photos, lyrics, dynamic sounds and weird time signatures. They’re smaller but they work so hard at what they do.
Lyrically, “Surrender To All Life Beyond Form” is about getting past the framework of this world and going to the source of creation. That’s what most of it’s about. Just not being bound by the world and the things around you.
It’s got to do with being in the present moment, not worrying about the past, not worrying about the future, not worrying about this world that we’re stuck in and all of the rules because that’s not our natural way we’re meant to be. Not being stuck inside this body with of the rules. I mean, we’re human and you have to participate in all the things that you’re forced to participate in but this is about moving beyond that and trying to break through it and get all the fear and hate and guilt out of your life as much as possible. Just being in the moment and enjoying everything that you do.
TBR: So as far as the songwriting goes, there’s two of you… I assume you’ve played in other bands…
Stevie: We both are in other bands now also. We both used to play Death Metal – a lot of different kinds of music. I play Classical piano (Rob) plays Jazz guitar – he’s an amazing guitarist. So when we write songs, it’s tons of different ideas all coming together – he’ll write guitar parts, I’ll write guitar parts. We’ll both write synth parts. The new album has some piano on it that I did Rob did some Spanish-style guitar.
TBR: How long have you been playing drums?
Rob: Just since we started this band
TBR: Holy shit! That’s incredible!
(laughs all around)
TBR: What are you guys reading these days for inspiration?
Rob: I like Native American folklore and learning about that culture.
Stevie: I’m not a super big-time reader. I pretty much only read spiritual enlightenment books and philosophical books – we both do. Anything you can apply to awakening more and more and growing every day and just becoming a better person, living in the moment. Moving past all the things that hold you down.
Just that one thing “being in the present moment” is really all that there is. It think it’s so easy to dwell on your past and worry about where you’re going next. I know I’ve struggled with that my whole life and man, it’s so freeing to die every day and start each day anew. It’s really all you can do ‘cause we call hate our pasts or have our hang-ups or whatever problems and you just have to move forward.
Rob: There’s no point in anything else
Stevie: Just being into what you’re doing in that moment – like this interview.
TBR: Here we are! “Be Here Now”
Stevie: Musically, we like a lot of old weird, traditional Japanese music, Indian and Middle-Eastern music in general.
TBR: So I find there’s a certain romantic side to the music, even amidst all the heavy. So forgive me for prying into personal things but are you guys…
Stevie: (turns to Rob, laughs) How do you want to answer this?
TBR: I’m sorry! (everyone laughs) I promised myself that I wouldn’t ask but I hadn’t seen anyone else go there… so let me be the asshole for the rest of the world.
Stevie: No, it’s funny – a lot of people don’t ask us this actually, I don’t know why… We were together for a long time and we’re not anymore.
Rob: And it works!
Stevie: Yeah, our connection’s always been music. We’re total weirdo’s obsessed with about music. Ever since we met, we’ve always had the same vision, musically, the same place we want to go. So it works! We just don’t live together anymore.
TBR: So going back to the question earlier about your experiences in other bands, comparing it to working just the two of you, do you find it liberating or the same as working with any number of other people?
Rob: I think it’s easier because we both want pretty much exactly the same thing. If I think of something, it’s pretty much the same thing that Stevie is thinking of. It’s just coming up with ideas really and then doing it.
Stevie: We’re both really critical and picky about what we want – it just works somehow. We both want to make sure that we both fully, entirely feel everything we write and play. It’s important. You don’t wanna play a riff that the other person doesn’t like.
Rob: That’s another reason it’s easier with just the two of us working together. We’re just worried about the other’s opinion and that means that all the feeling that we’re trying to get across gets there.
Stevie: This new album is a lot darker. It’s very…
Rob: Lyrically, it could sound darker but we’re actually talking about positive thing but the music is definitely darker – a little bit more “Black Metal”.
Stevie: I wouldn’t even say it’s all positive it’s like what we were saying earlier – getting through all of that. We have a song about being buried alive but it’s really how you break free of that and move towards the light and the sky. I think it’s important to recognize both sides because we all go through it.
We’re so obsessed with Metal – there’s some really depressing Metal out there and half the bands that are our favorite bands…
Rob: …are like that. And that’s not even why they’re our favorites, it just happens to be that way. A balance between light and dark.
Stevie: And I would cry and listened to Metal when I was a little kid! There was never a solution or something to move towards. I just wanna inspire. That’s why people who are into art or music participate in any of those things is to inspire each other.
TBR: So how’s the tour going? The Atlas Moth are new to me…
Stevie: They’re awesome!
Rob: A lot of layers to the music.
TBR: …and I LOVE Zoroaster! What’s it been like on the road with those guys?
Stevie: Their new album is amazing. The other ones are good but the new one….
Rob: It’s actually them. The other recordings didn’t actually capture what they really are.
Stevie: Cause they’re so heavy and loud… so much feeling.
Rob: Very psychedelic.
Stevie: We’ve know them for so long too. We just did a tour with them before this one and we heard all their new songs. We got home and heard the new album and and “WOW”! They really capture it. They’re great!
TBR: So you guys are tattoo artists as well?
Stevie: Yeah I have my own “appointment only” shop in Florida. We set it up just so we can tour all the time and book ourselves solid when we get home. Rob does a lot of other stuff too…
TBR: Such as?
Rob: Stagehand work, working in a music store, record store…
TBR: Do you guys like the road? Is it something you enjoy?
Rob: Yeah, we’re always gone.
Stevie: We’ve done more tours than we needed to. (laughs)
Rob: I think we’re ready to take a breather after this tour and wait for our album to come out. We’ve been touring on this last one for two years now. It came out a year ago but we were touring with those songs a year before that.
TBR: Are you guys both native Floridians?
Stevie: He’s from South Florida, I’m from North Florida. We live in the oldest city in the country – St. Augustine. It’s awesome! Very haunted… lots of old architecture and graveyards. It’s like a miniature New Orleans – not as crazy. We enjoy it but we’re hardly ever there.
Right now we’re kind of transitioning – I’m partly living in Portland, Oregon. I love it there! I don’t know what he’s doing (laughs).
Rob: I’m still trying to figure it out. (laughs)
Stevie: He might go there, he might go to Brooklyn… We’re taking a break for a few months after this tour.
TBR: No doubt, it’s well deserved but I hope ya’ll don’t rest TOO long! — looking forward to that new album! Thanks again for taking the time.
Special thanks to Albert Mansour for the outstanding photographs