One night. One band. Rousing, passionate and melodic rock'n'roll glory at once.
'So, you wanna be a rollin' stone, you think it's easy being on your own. So, you wanna be a travelling man, pack up, let's leave, so get in the van ...' - SoCal rockers Robert Jon &The Wreck are a five-time striking, vehemently roaring rock might, doing just that. In march the band left sunny california, got in the van and started their first european tour. Friday night the powerful rock gang stopped off at Blue Notez Club in Dortmund and their feisty, fiery and hard-hitting sound took the audience by storm. Opening with infectious, forcefully stomping belter 'Rhythm of the Road', fierce, concentrated instrumental and vocal vim imbued the venue from the outset, a thrilling energy arose to be continued in what was yet to follow: powerful, energetic compositions, brimful of atmosphere, brisk melodic vitality and rock'n'roll spirit.
The country-esque swagger, the mighty, rousing sonority of 'Blame It On The Whiskey' - without any doubt a highlight of the rock outfit's live show - got the crowd excited, vast, eventful instrumental episodes built up tension and anticipation (to be fair, due to tuning guitars, some of these staggering instrumental intermezzi might have been slightly expanded, however, said performing glory showcased once more what thoroughbred, keen musicians were at work; Steve Maggiora's magical gimmicks on both piano and keyboard created a rich, ambient and playfully exuberant sound, the drummer's stamina and dextrous dynamic were phenomenal (kudos to Andrew Espantman), ardent and agile guitar licks contributed by Kristopher Butcher and dim, sassy bass reverb evoked by David Pelusi added to the quality of the band's already fulminant set), while each member of Robert Jon & The Wreck proved they were (that night), proved they are indeed entitled to please gig-goers outright.
During the second half of the performance, some more slow-paced songs, such as heart-wrenching power-ballad 'Mary Anne', were raised (it's where lead-singer Robert Jon Burrison was at his best, coupling raucous timbric edge and soulful vocal melodiousness) but mixed with high-energy, sonorously furious tunes alike ('Gypsy of Love' impressed with fuzzy, firmly clangorous verve and bluesy vocal harmonies) - the 5-piece blatantly brought their rebelling rock heart, nonetheless soulful musical vein to light. Two encores topped the night's vigorous live show off, exciting vocal and compositional force captivated yet again as the strongly reverberative, daringly wavering tonal vehemence, the infectious chorus of 'Steppin' and the inviting sing-along quality of 'Don't Let The Fire Burn Out' took full effect.
After Robert Jon & The Wreck spent some time at their merchandise booth to talk to fans and sell their new album 'Glory Bound', and when most of their gear was back in the van, the band and I had a little chat about their first european tour (here's to many more to come, I hope) ...
You're halfway through the tour - your first european tour - so, let's have a look back together: What has been your most precious memory of touring europe thus far?
Robert Jon Burrison: There has been a lot. Cangas in Spain, Cangas, the city (yes ..) was pretty incredible. It was the first show we had in europe, there was a huge crowd and people were singing along, and it was just crazy. So I would say the best, probably the first thing we were, you know, kinda in shock at (yeah, it sure was nice to have the crowd singing your songs back to you). Yeah, it was a city we've never been to and we didn't know anybody, so yes.
Did anything happen on stage that was not planned? Something funny?
(the whole band starts laughing)
Kristopher Butcher: ... But the highlight for me was, I was just playing my guitar and then people picked me up, they took me in the crowd, which is pretty crazy, I mean, I've never done that in my life, it's weird.
Andrew Espantman: I spoke spanish I didn't even know I knew.
So, playing some shows in spain was a pretty remarkable experience. (everyone laughes in agreement). It's not your first show here in germany, right? Which means you surely tried some german beer, beer from europe in general. What's your favourite one?
All: Belgium beer.
David Pelusi: The Trappist beers are the best. Belgium kills it. Chimay blue, one of the best beers in the world.
(we then talked a bit about local beer, yet being not the biggest beer enthusiast myself, we left it at 'dortmunder kronen')
And when you had a day off - I'm not sure if you had any ...
Andrew Espantman: We don't anymore.
Kristopher Butcher: Our last day off we drove for 12 hours, that was quite a fun day after easter. We drove forever.
David Pelusi: Days off consist of sleeping, pretty much. Catching up on sleep.
Before touring europe, you played your album launch show in California and toured the US [admittedly, I did say they 'toured the UK' first, my bad ;)] (- a brief interruption followed as some people left the venue and said goodbye -). What is the most striking difference between the audience here in europe and back at home, in the US area?
Robert Jon Burrison: I think the fact that nobody knows us out here, that people have done their research, listened to the record, they know the words to the songs, they sing along. They come to the shows to be involved in the show, and that doesn't always happen everywhere in the US. Here it has been pretty much across-the-board, people have been singing along, the response was great. They feel what we do even more when they are participating (yes, I'm sure you appreciate that people really pay attention and that they attend the gigs because they want to be there, and it's not just one gig of several in a week, as it is in Southern California, with quite a promising and vivid local music scene, I can imagine.) Yeah, a lot of shows going on, a lot of bands playing.
Like the OC Music Awards. Submission are open again. And you've won 'Best Live Band' in 2013, what was the price again? You were sent to play quite a big show, a festival even?
Steve Maggiora: Yeah, we did the Vans Warp Tour, two days on that in Southern California and we got recording time at Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, California. That was great, we did The Red Bull Sessions EP, it's on our bandcamp. Earnie Bell, the guitar company, gave us guitars (do you still use them?) Yeah.
Kristopher Butcher: Mine's a studio guitar, and it sounds really good, it just looks silly. But it sounds great. It's one of my favourite sounding guitars.
And do you plan to get involved with the OC Music Awards this year?
[by the way, my twin sister did a great job recording it all, she dropped the camera almost due to a sudden move of one of the band members, but I'd hire her again ;)]
You've released 'Glory Bound' already a while back, and before that you have released an EP, 'Rhythm of the Road', and on the EP there are some upbeat, more rocking, vehement songs, while on 'Glory Bound' there are some ballads too. Do you try to follow this road (what a play of words ...) and have more ballads, slow-paced songs featured on future records?
Kristopher Butcher: Ahem, we just wanna write good songs, you know, it doesn't really matter what kind of song it is. As long as it speaks to me, and these guys and we like it, that's all that matters. (Sure, as long as it resonantes with the audience and you, you've done a good job)
David Pelusi: Whether is a ballad or bluegrass or rock'n'roll, it doesn't all matter to me.
Speaking of music genres. On your website it says your genre is 'Southern Rock', which is pretty vague, as some people can't figure what that means. So, try to narrow down your own music stlye, genre.
Someone wants to add something to that?
All: It's perfect.
In respect to music listening experiences. Your sound is quite heavy, but what is it that gets you involved with a song, what catches your eye, grabs your attention? A drum intro, a guitar solo?
Good, so you're quite a lover of acoustic songs too ...
David Pelusi: I just like hooks, good melodies ..
Robert Jon Burrison: No matter what instrument is on, you know, if it's a good melody and resonates with you, the words, even if there's no words, just instrumental, plain emotion.
Ok, last question (what a charming lier I am ...), this one is for you, Steve. You currently try to record a solo album/EP. So, how is the crowd-funding project going, what stage you're at recording-wise?
Steve Maggiora: We've got everything tracked. I also work for the producer that is recording. And the studio is super busy, all the time. And so we're gonna taking it a little bit at a time. The crowd-funding is going decently as well, but we have been focussing on putting this record out and on this tour, and you can only promote so much online without everything's getting awash. So, it's going well, yeah. I'm excited to get back and keep working on it.
And do you guys plan to do shows after this tour, in the OC area?
Steve Maggiora: Yeah, we got a couple coming up the week that we get back (Ok). We're back for five days and then we leave again to tour the US for a month and a half (Oh, nice). And yeah, this band is my first priority musically and otherwise, and what's nice, is when we get off of tour with this band, I have other shows to do ... keep yourself busy and get back to work, play more shows and keep doing music.
One more question. I don't know how well acquainted you are with my blog, carpe carmina, or if you actually read it - I did a review on 'Blame It On The Whiskey' a while back, actually. Is there something you'd like to highlight about the blog, the writing style, the music featured?
Steve Maggiora: I love the fact that you are so involved with twitter (yeah, I do tweet quite a lot). It's incredible, for our record, for my solo project, it's been really nice. Every time I get on, there's a retweet or a favourite. (Twitter is quite useful to get music heard..)
Steve Maggiora & Robert Jon Burrison: Thank you.
Thank you for agreeing on being interviewed.
Robert Jon Burrison: And thanks for coming.
|Andrew Espantman (drummer), Robert Jon Burrison (lead vocalist/guitarist),|
Steve Maggiora (keyboardist/vocalist), David Pelusi (bassist),
Kristopher Butcher (lead guitarist/vocalist) [f.l.t.r.]
Reach out to Robert Jon & The Wreck on ...
.. twitter ...
.. facebook ...
.. the band's official website ...
.. soundcloud ...
.. bandcamp ...
... and if you're from germany, go see them live whilst they are still in europe. Don't forget to purchase 'Glory Bound' either at a show or via the band's merchandise store.