AND TOUCHiNG PEOPLE MUSiCALLYhttp://www.rockwired.com/presence.jpg
Itís too bad that rock radio isnít what it used to be (if there is such a thing anymore) otherwise a CD like the self-titled debut of the San Francisco-based INTO THE PRESENCE would be signaling the return of something that rock n roll has been without since A NIGHT AT THE OPERA from 1975; synthesizer-less musicality. This band of upstarts has been given the ďprog rockĒ label thanks to ANA LECHANTINís mesmerizing cello, but it is LUIS CARLOS MALDONADOís riffs and soaring vocals, and drummer TIM ALEXANDERís (PRIMUS and A PERFECT CIRCLE) rock n roll thunder clap that steal the show - specifically on the tracks THE GARDEN and BROKEN WORDS.

ROCKWIRED spoke with vocalist/guitarist LUIS CARLOS MALDONADO over the phone. Here is how it went.

How did the show at the ROXY go or has that not happened yet?
That hasnít happened yet. Thatís supposed to be next week on July 9th.

With the album out now for people to hear, what are your thoughts on the completed project?
Iím just glad that itís out finally. We started the record almost three years ago to be honest with you. It took about a year to do because TIM at that time was doing some stuff with PRIMUS and a couple of other things. I play with a lot of different artists as well and I was doing a tour here and a tour there and finding the time to get the album done took about a year. When we finally finished it, things started moving for us. We got our manager and a booking agent as well as a label. I hate to say this but it seemed like everything came to us, but in a way it did. It was very interesting to see ho wall of that had unfolded. We met MICHAEL KAPLAN who at that time was the VP of A&R for RAZOR AND TIE. MICHAEL is a really great guy and we signed with RAZOR AND TIE. Now Iím ready to do everything. Weíre all ready to work.

With everything coming together the way it has it seems like INTO THE PRESENCE is going to become more of a primary interest for everyone involved.
Absolutely! The whole goal for this project was to make it the main focal point of our lives. Iíve definitely had a great time and a great run doing sessions and working with a lot of different artists but at the end of the day, there is something to what you create and what you want to see grow. It is different when you are working with someone like JOHN WAITE because heís JOHN WAITE and there is nothing wrong with that. Itís his music and itís his career and itís always going to be that way. Iím also a writer and I know that KIM is also very creative and we both had a vision and wanted to follow through with something of our own. Itís a very natural thing to have that.

Talk about the bandís moniker. It sounds like there is a story behind it.
The name comes from experiences that we had had in the studio. We recorded the album in this place called Jerome, Arizona - which is a ghost town. There are probably no more than three hundred people that inhabit the town now but it was officially a ghost town for a long time. A lot of people there have all kinds of stories about ghosts and experiences and so on and so on. While we were recording in the studio we had a number of experiences ourselves. Whatever they were it was interesting and it affected what it was that we were doing and where our minds were and how open we were to all of it. We always felt like there was a presence around us. We had a technician that was working on all of our gear and one night at the studio Ė which was located in this old abandoned high school Ė and the next morning when we took him out to breakfast he was kind o f weirded out. He looked at us and said ĎDo you guys believe in ghosts?í and we were like ĎSure! Why?í He said that he had trouble sleeping that entire night because he was being bothered by what he perceived as being five different presences. One was on top of him and the others were cheering him on. Later on, we found out that years and years ago, there was an epidemic that had hit the area in the 1920ís. Our studio was located in what used to be the principalís office and right next to it is what used to be the nurseís office and in that room, five students died of whatever this epidemic was. It was all interesting and bizarre at the same time. We always felt like there was something happening. We would have bottles of water and one would be frozen and the rest would be fine. There were lot of interesting things were happening. It was my idea after that whole experience to call the band PRESENCE and rest of the band suggested that we call it INTO THE PRESENCE.

Talk about what drew you to music in the beginning.
I started playing music early on when I was about seven years old. I always loved music. I donít remember not being surrounded by music. Itís been my whole life. Music is one of those things that you donít pick. It picks you. I havenít known any other life other than music.

Talk about your band mates and what it is that each of them brings to the table both musically and personality-wise.
TIM ALEXANDER Ė who plays drums Ė and myself are the founders of the band. It is our vision. TIM has worked with bands like PRIMUS and PERFECT CIRCLE and other people as well. He is a great producer and a great drummer. Heís got great creativity and vision and thatís what he brings to the table. I write a lot of the material and a s a writer you could just keep writing and writing and writing. But when we both get together, TIMís ability to bring out the best in the material and steer the ship into a certain direction is really good. The sessions were really focused and we both had these ideas of how we wanted everything to sound. I think we really achieved it on this record. He is very good at giving direction and getting the best out of the music. He thinks out of the box so we were able to get out of the realm of writing verse/chorus/verse/chorus. There were two sisters that played on the album Ė ANA and PAZ LENCHANTIN. PAZ knew TIM from working with PERFECT CIRCLE and ANA knew TIM through another band. Most of us are from San Francisco so weíve all known each other for years and years. Iíve known TIM for almost fifteen years. PAZ played bass and what she brought to the table was this unique sound. A lot of bass players will just come in and play the root note of the song but PAZ came in and added some unique parts that took the song to a different level. Her playing gave the song a different atmosphere rather than merely being a support player. It actually gave the music a counterpart. It was almost orchestral how this thing came together. Every part was doing something different but it all tied into each other and didnít run over each other. ANA played cello on the record. The soundscape that she added especially on the song MY ONLY CRIME is dynamic and beautiful. The strings were so key to the song that it actually set the tone and mood. It forces an emotion out of you.

What moments off of this album stand out for you and why?
Itís hard to pinpoint a moment/song because every song was truly unique in itself. If you listen to the record youíll find that itís a complete work. If I had to really pick a moment, I would have to say it was a tie between LOVERS and MY ONLY CRIME. LOVERS because it was just a dynamic song with all of the parts that went into it and MY ONLY CRIME because of the pure emotion that was captured. We recorded this album on a two-inch analog format so there was no digital. There was no cutting and pasting or auto-tuning. The recording s an honest documentation of what went on in the studio.

How does songwriting work in this band?
I usually come in with a bunch of ideas. Normally, I come in knowing that the idea can be changed so Iím not one of those guys that goes Ďthis is the song and this is what weíre doing!í TIM and I got together not too long ago to write for the second record. Iíll bring up some ideas and heíll bring up some ideas. We like to hear the classical and we like to hear the rock and we like to make things not so standard. When we get a song idea that lends itself to that, then we start working on it. I usually come in with a melody line and chord changes. TIM will guide the song in terms of rhythm and will cut some things out or ask me add something in a particular place. We are constantly challenging ourselves. Itís a unique collaboration. We donít put limits on anything.

What would you like a person to come away with after theyíve heard this album?
I would like for them to be touched. When I listen to certain records like NIGHT AT THE OPERA or GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD Ė those songs really touch me and there is something that resonates in my spirit of how amazing these songs were. They werenít just songs. There was something very soulful about them that made it easy for me to connect to. It wasnít just pop music. It was really good art. I hope that is something that we can achieve with our music.