APRIL 5, 2018

http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalTTimes.jpgwenty-four years after making the big leap to living life in the western part of the United States, it's hard for me to believe that I had ever lived in the congestion of the D.C. Metropolitan area. Sure, I'm cut off from some big city refinement in my middle age and living in a town that no one can spell. Everyone knows my immediate surroundings for the exploits BREAKING BAD's WALTER WHITE and slimy but likable SAUL GOODMAN on BETTER CALL SAUL, but I'm away from the "political intrigue" that defines the D.C. metro area - intrigue which never intrigued me in my formative years. To be more specific, I grew up in Silver Spring, a Maryland town on the border of D.C. where drummer DEREK FALZOI currently resides. One day we struck up a conversation on FACEBOOK for the first time and we got to talking about his band SEPIA which was a few days away from releasing their newest album DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. Who was I to dismiss a "homey" and not give his band a chance?  After all, a magazine favorite like SILVERTUNG also hails from the "Old Line State". Maryland is a million miles away from rock n roll abandon but SEPIA have a knack for it and you can hear it loud and clear on their new, relatively self-produced new album. Post-grunge is most definitely alive with these guys and while that may cost them radioplay in any significant pop market it'll be a breath of fresh air for listeners who recall a time when music making was a band effort as opposed to simply pressing a button. The album's first single MARIONETTE - an assured piece of pop rock on being a slave to love - is a fine single indeed but the song HOME is the one that really catches our ear with a spirited, rambunctious chorus sung in a round and singer RYAN BECKELMEN taking command of the proceedings with refreshingly understated vocals that recall ANTHONY KEIDIS and BRANDON BOYD of INCUBUS. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with singer RYAN BECKELMEN and drummer DEREK FALZOI of SEPIA regarding their latest album. Here is how the interview went.


Your new album DROP DEAD GORGEOUS is about to get released and it sounds like you guys have put a lot into it. Now that it's almost out there for people get a listen to, how do you guys feel about the finished work?

RYAN: We've waited so long to get this album released. In putting it together, it was like taking two steps forward and one step back, but now it's finally here and it doesn't feel real. It feels strange that we're finally done with it.

DEREK: I can't believe it's here either. I just put out a press release yesterday to our email list  and  on FACEBOOK. March 15, is only a few days away and I'm glad that it's going to be out there for people to hear. I'm looking forward to seeing what people think of it.

Well I've listened to the album and I really think you guys have something with the song HOME, even though I know that MARIONETTE is the song that you guys are pushing. HOME just has that big, rousing chorus and RYAN's vocals remind me of ANTHONY KIEDIS on that one.
RYAN: Wow! Thank you! Not many people have commented on HOME, but it's actually one of my favorites.

Who all helped you guys in putting this album?
RYAN: This was a true do-it-yourself effort. We did everything in our home studio up in Hampstead, Maryland. We used to play at this place called PAMONAS in Maryland and they had this sound guy named RYAN MATTHEWS. We used him on this album for his mixing expertise. Our friend ALEC up in Annapolis did some mastering for us. In putting the album together, we did have a setback where we couldn't get the drums quite right so we went where we recorded our first album - ORION SOUND STUDIOS in Baltimore. Getting this album released was a mixed pot and we depended on a lot of independent sources to get it done.

The album is available for people to listen to on SOUNDCLOUD. So far, what kind of reactions have you gusy been able to gauge from this soft release?
RYAN: It's hard to get people's attention to listen to the album, but when they do, they really like the concept. People have described it as a concept album and something that they want to listen to all over again. Everyone seems to have a different favorite which I guess is a good thing.


Did you concieve this album as a concept album?
RYAN: Not really. I've hear mixed opinions on whether it's a concept album or not but there are common themes running throughteh album  that come through.

Bring me back to th beginning of SEPIA. How did htis band get off the ground?
RYAN: The lead guitarist CHRIS and I have been playing together since 2004 with other members. We were known as SEPIA even then. Over the years we've had members drop off and come on board. The line up we have right now has been this way for a bout 9 years now.

DEREK: Yeah, I joined the band in 2007 and I think COLLEEN the bass player joined in 2009. So it's been around eight or nine years. People have asked us if we've had band problems but we've been happy with each other that whole time. I guess that's pretty unique for a band.

RYAN: There's not a lto of ego in our band. Everyone's opinion matters. No one is really headstrong about one thing or another. We kind of mesh pretty well.

As I've shared with your guys before the interview, I grew up in Silver Spring and the D.C. area. I haven't lived inthe area in almost twenty-five years. What kind of music scene are you guys surrounded by? Is it supportive? Is it indifferent?
RYAN: It's kind of indifferent. Unless you're a cover band, you're not really going to get a lot of attention. This area does have it's share of success stories like GOOD CHARLOTTE or SILVERTUNG but bands like that are really few and far between. In order to truly stand out you have to get the music beyond this region in order to get out there.

DEREK: We've had better success in Baltimore. Here, when people go out they want to hear covers. Playing original music here is extremely competitive  but we've been fortunate to play good shows  at some cool venues and some local festivals.

RYAN: The thing to do is to network with other likeminded bands.

DEREK: That's what we've been doing - hanging with bands that we like and booking shows.


When I was growing up I remember thinking that the music scene was a little more exciting in Baltimore than it was in D.C. and lot less political.
RYAN: Yeah I think that's kind of true.

DEREK: Yeah D.C.'s weird. It's just hard to get to. It's a good scene but D.C. likes to promote their D.C. bands first. Can't really blame them.

And talk abotuthe other members of the band outside of yourselves. Tell me who they are and what it is that you think each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work?
RYAN: I'd have to say that DEREK is the most motivated guy. He gets us motivated and moving and doing what we need to do . If we start slacking he'll go "Guys, we need to do this!"

DEREK: RYAN is out fearless leader. He really get sthe focus and the direction of the band going. He alwasy has a new idea for a new song at every practice and becasue of that we have tons fo songs.

RYAN: CHRIS - the lead guitarist - is the technical one onthe band. He's a true musician. He's got it all. When I write something, he'll come in and fix it to where it will work musically.

DEREK:  And COLLEEN comes all the way from Severn, Maryland which is pretty much of a hike . She keeps the rhythm section sounding tight and making sure that we all sound good.

And how does songwriitng get accomplished in this band?
RYAN: We start practising and CHRIS start playing something that he doesnt' mean to play and say "Stop" and ask him to play it again.  I sit down in the corner and write some lyrics to it and it evolves from there. Sometimes I'll bring something in and CHRIS will have at it. He always makes it bettr. What I've learned through the recording process is that a song isn't done until we're done recording. We always add soemthing which can change the dynamic of the song. I come up with  skeleton of the arrangement and COLLEEN figures out the bassline and the band comes in and practices it a million times. That's generally the way it happens. What I've always taken pride in is that we each have our different style. I might write something and hear it one way but when CHRIS puts his hands on it, I start to hear it a different way but in a good way. As more people add things, the song goes in a completely different direction. It's awesome! It keeps the writing process interesting.

What songs off of this album have you guys the most excited to get people to hear and why?
RYAN: In comparison  to the album before this one, we've added a lot of post production "easter eggs" to this one. There is a lot of stuff that we've thrown in there that is pleasing tot hear. A apart of a song will come one and I look forard to hearing that part. I hope people catch those nuances and like it. I hope they catch the detail that we put into every one of these songs. Every song took forever.

DEREK: The song HOME almost didn't make it.

RYAN: Yeah, that one took some convincing. I felt like it needed more vocals so we rounded up some people and brought them downstairs  and put them in front of a microphone and we got this cool mob chorus. It ended up sounding really good and then we added the alternating vocials which made it even cooler.

DEREK: That was fun seeing that song go from concept to reality. It was really great.

RYAN: My other favorite would be MARIONETTE because it 's one that we've been playing for a while and it seems to be a crowd favorite. It's great to have that one finally recorded.

DEREK: What's also cool about MARIONETTE - which is rare for me - people like hearing a song I like playing. Most of the time, you hear what the favorite song is and you're like "Really? That one?", but I really enjoy playing MARIONETTE.


What kind of legs does this band have? Have there been any opportunities to take this band beyond D.C. and Maryland?
DEREK: As much as we'd want to, life and family comes first. This is something that we've been doing in our spare time and we've been doing the best with it that we could. Weve done shows in four states  with a heavier concentration in Maryland and D.C. Maybe one day we'll take the show on the road but for the time being we're trying to expand our sound with this record.

RYAN: And because of family and life getting in the way, we've been focusing on the internet. That's where music is being pushed. The audience is there. That is where people go to find something new. Hopefully we can find the right audience.

And what's the big idea behind the album? What would you like or people to come away wiht after they hear this album?
RYAN:  I just want them to hear it. That's a tough question. Im not sure I can answer that one. We have a theme with it. I like the kind of album that you can put on and listen to when you're in a certain mood or whatever. It's hard for me to hear how and outsider wold hear it or interpret it. I wrote the lyrics and the song so I know how I feel about it. I don't like telling people what a song is about because I want them to interpret the song themselves. If they know what the song means to them, I think that would be great.


http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalB.jpgrian Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site Rockwired.com to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: djlush@rockwired.com