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INTERVIEWS THE APPEARANCE|
BURNING BLISSIt's a rock n roll fantasy that couldn't have been scripted better. God knows we've got the perfect scenery in Orange County for a story like this one. ALAN OAKES walked away from a band that he had been the guitarist for and took the time to write some songs. A few beats later, a friend of a friend has money to burn and gives ALAN the chance to demo some songs. Why? That was unclear when I spoke to ALAN OAKES. Besides, it's not important. What is important is that this benefactor liked the demos that results and gave ALAN what every musician needs; time and money to record a full length CD. With due haste, OAKES rounded up three other fellas (CHAD KULENGOSKY - guitars, JASON NELSON - bass, and JUSTIN McCARTHY - drums) and this project/band got nicked THE APPEARANCE. A year and some change later, THE APPEARANCE is nomiated for an OCMA award, and the release of their debut CD LOST IN AURORA is just around the corner (May 22, 2007 through ADRENALINE MUSIC GROUP).
ALAN OAKES OF THE APPEARANCE TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR FORTHCOMING CD 'LOST IN AURORA'
NOT LETTING A THING A LIKE EGO GET IN THE WAY
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
THE APPEARANCE started with the music first. This isn't the usual manner in which a rock band evolves but what the hell? Think of all the bands that do get started with a bunch of guys shaking hands and in a few months time, don't have the songs. LOST IN AURORA has them, from begining to end. It's your typical debut album served up with agression, passion and andrenaline; all of the things that make a debut rock album work. It's hard to put money on things like this, but in the likely event that these fellas are here to stay, lets hope they don't loose that urgency that makes listening to them so enjoyable.
ROCKWIRED spoke with ALAN OAKES over the phone. Here is how it went.
How are you doing?
Doing well. We just got out of rehearsal.
What are you rehearsing for?
We've got a couple of shows coming up in April. We get together twice a week so we don't get rusty.
I was reading about your OCMA nomination. Did you win?
No we didn't win unfortunately but it was still pretty cool to be nominated. We didn't think that anyone was out there paying attention to us. It's good that people are out there who know who we are.
The release of LOST IN AURORA is just around the corner. What going through your head about that?
We're all kind of anxious to see how it does. It comes out digitally on May 8th and and it goes into stores on the 22nd. We're all anxious to get the ball rolling and start working.
How do you feel about the finished product?
I had no idea what to expect going into it. It was our first record and the first record is always the real nerve racking one. You wonder if it's gonna come out well or if people are going to like it. But over all I was satisfied with the way everything turned out. We worked with a great producer. He did an amazing job on the record.
It was Elvis Costello who said that you have your whole life to get ready for your first album and six months to get ready for your second one.
Very true. We're just excited to have it coming out.
You guys seem to have that SoCal sound down cold. Where in Southern California do you hail from?
Orange County. We're all over the place from Orange, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Mission Viejo.
I saw that your area code is the same as mine where are you calling from?
I'm in Orange. We have our rehearsal space here.
I'm in Orange too?
I'm on Taft and Glassell.
We're in Villa Park actually.
Past Tustin Avenue.
Right across the street from Villa Park HighSchool. We rehearse in this pool house. It belongs to our managers parents and they let us rehearse here. So we get to make some noise.
Growing up what kind of music got to you?
Being from Orange County I was into a lot of skater punk stuff. I was also really big into the eighties hair metal stuff too. It was big influence on me. The hair metal was what really made me want to be a musician. You see that the whole decadent lifestyle and you go o "I want that". Sex drugs and rock n roll.
I think that made a lot of people want to become musicians, and KURT COBAIN came along and made it all serious.
Exactly. I remember it was like a party 24/7. I remember when I first saw MOTLEY CRUE the image of NIKKI SIXX alone was enough for me to want to pick up a guitar and be in a band.
And overnight it was all about being an artist again.
One video changed everything. In 1991 one video came along and killed an entire genre. I was a NIRVANA fan and a PEARL JAM fan when that stuff came out, but it was the skater punk and the hair metal.
How old are you if your don't mind me asking?
I'm twenty seven
So you are old enough to remember IT SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT.
It was junior high for me. I was really big into music.
Good for you. We needed more kids like you growing up. Before THE APPEARANCE, was there a succession of bands for you?
I started playing in bands when I was 15. I was really big into the SKA sound back in the mid to late nineties. I did that for about six or seven years and then got into the whole emo/alternative rock thing.
What were some of these other bands?
I was in a band called JEFFREY'S FANCLUB in the late nineties and in the early nineties I was in a band called GROVER'S HEADACHE. We got know a lot of the other bigger ska bands like the AQUABATS. It was a lot of fun playing with those guys.
How did THE APPEARANCE get started. What got everybody on the same page?
It was a completely different way of approaching it. I had left this one band that I was in and doing some writing on my own and I was approached by a friend of a friend who was like 'I'd like to put some money into a demo if you'd want to write some songs.' and I said 'sure, I'll call some guy sand get a few tunes written'. He gave us three hundred bucks to record a demo and he liked it so much that he asked 'how would you feel about doing a full record?" and I was like 'we're not really a band." and he says 'just get some guys together and I'll give you some time to write some songs and If I like it, I'll get you in the studio to cut a record.' This was great! I never got to cut a record before. I've E.P's and stuff like that but never a full length record, so I jumped at the opportunity and it kept going from there. We went into the studio and we got in touch with our producer CHRIS FUDURICH and we found this great studio up in LA. For about eight months we wrote and wrote and wrote. We came up with about 25 tracks and narrowed it down to 16 and the best 12 became the album. We started with the music first before the band. We didn't even play our first live show until the record was done. It was kind of unique. It was one of those things where we just kept writing and writing and things just kept progressing and here we are today.
For live performance purposes THE APPEARANCE is essentially you, CHAD on guitars, JUSTIN on drums and JASON on bass?
Other than their instruments, what do you think that each of them brings tot he project, other than their respective instruments?
CHAD is the ultimate guitar player. When i first met him I was like "this kid can really play!" He's 23. He hasn't been playing for that long. On stage he's the energetic one whose bouncing off the walls. JASON brings more of the artistic value to the group. He's really into artwork so he's the one who comes up with our designs and JUSTIN is the more tech-savvy guy. Aside from being a phenomenal drummer he's got all of these music programs and studio in his bedroom. He handles all of the electronics and all of the programs. He cuts our demos when we're working on new material. Everyone's got their own little thing that they add to the band, personality-wise.
How about yourself?
I don't know how to answer that. I thing I'm like the quiet reserved lead singer. You'll find me at a coffee shop on Saturday night reading a book and writing ideas down and trying to keep the creative process going. I don't really do much other than that.
According to your bio, songwriting is described as being a collaborative process. Explain.
The majority of the time, it's usually ideas that I've been working on or a subject matter that I really wanted to touch base with. In that sense, I'll bring the idea and work with the guys and see where they take the song. It's really great to have one vision of how something should look and then bring it to the guys and it becomes this band effort. it's THE APPEARANCE vision when everybody is done with it. Sometimes CHAD will come up with a riff and we'll just kind of go with it. All in all we all put a little piece of ourselves into the music.
Does ego ever get in the way? Sometimes I find it a little hard to believe that it never does.
I can't say that it never gets in the way. You do have certain ideas where you think that 'this is my baby'. When you come up with an idea, you feel like it's your own and it's hard to part with it or let somebody else tweak with it. You do get clash of egos but as long as all four members understand that this is a collaborative effort and eventually you learn to let go of things like that. You kind of work together and get through it.
What was MICHAEL NARLINGER like as an executive producer? In your press release it seems as if he is this unofficial member of the band.
MICHAEL was the one who approached me with he idea of going into the studio. He had some extra money and wanted to do something musically with it. He's been the backer of this project since the beginning. He's the reason we've all stuck with this and have decided to go full force with it. So in that sense, he is an unofficial member.
And CHRIS FUDURICH has worked with a few big names.
He's been in the business of producing records for a long time and I met him four or five years ago from a band that I was cutting demos with. He and I clicked right away so we kept in touch. When it came time to do the record, I thought of CHRIS immediately. Heard the demos and really liked what he heard and he's been with us ever since. Most producers you work with are there to work and go home but with CHRIS, we'd go out for drinks when we were finished at the studio and you got to know him on a more personal level. I think that comes out on the record when you are working with some one that you feel comfortable with.
Who's going to be distributing LOST IN AURORA?
We signed back in September with a label called ADRENALINE MUSIC GROUP, which is based out in LA. They 're great guys and we feel really fortunate to have them putting out the record. They're releasing it through EEA which is a WARNER BROTHERS division, hopefully it will be in record stores across the nation.
How long did it take to cut the CD in the studio?
We spent about three months recording it.
Early, you said that you had recorded E.P.'s. How was this experience different?
I had never been the lead singer or the front man of a group before. It was kind of nerve wracking but it was a great experience and it was a top notch studio owned by the drummer of STONE TEMPLE PILOTS (ERIC KREBBS). It was as of we had all of the resources at our disposal and it was a great experience.
Are there any tracks from LOST IN AURORA that stand out for you as favorites?
Yeah. the title track ended up being a favorite of mine. NOT A SOUL is another favorite and I liked the way that SIX MONTHS came out. You go in with certain songs being your favorites and once the record is done you've got all of fthese other songs that end up being your favorite. These songs are really fun to play live.
Why did you choose to name the CD after one of the tracks?
the track LOST IN AURORA didn't come out the way we expected it to. That song for some reason seemed to impact our friends and family and we thought to name the CD after it. It sounded right, so we went with it.
What's the reaction like to your live shows?
I like to think that when you hear the record and see the band live that it's two different things. We like being aggressive, loud rock n roll and I think the crowd really responds to that. We love to rock out and I think that comes through in our live shows.
You guys are going to be hitting the road in May. Will this be in support of someone or on your own?
I haven't heard anything yet, but more than likely we'll be touring in support of someone. We'll be hitting Japan in June because our record came out yesterday in Japan.
Who would you like to open for?
I'm a huge fan of ALKALINE TRIO. I've been listening to those guys since I was in high school and they've had a huge impact on me musically.
How will you be getting around cross-country? Tiny van?
More than likely a tiny van. You've gotta pay your dues and it will be our first nationwide tour. I wouldn't expect anything too glamorous.
When it's all said and done, what would you like someone to walk away with after hearing the music?
I would just love to have some one relate to the songs and relate to the band live. If they can walk away and say that the album made them think a certain way or fell a certain way or see something differently, then I think that's the greatest thing that artist can give to the audience.