A Swede living and working in New York, Pontus Gunve, has recently released his new EP titled IV. The new EP is the second release Pontus recorded with a full band, and if you ever wondered how would Prog sound with inclusion of cello, you should check out this release. You should check out IV anyway, because it is a great record overall. Pontus talked with Rocking Charts.
You have just released a new EP. How do you feel about IV?
I feel really good about it. It took roughly 3 years to complete the process from writing to release. Being completely independent it’s like a marathon race that you do completely on your own in a way. But the most important part is getting everything done. I really like what came out – and am proud of what was done.
How much of a challenge was to work on the EP?
To me the biggest challenges for this EP was to get the cello and electric guitar in effect harmony. Both in a melodic sense but also in the sense of finding a balance and a space for both to live comfortably in the mix. Sometimes the Cello will be in the Bass players range but also you will find passages that are high up in the guitar register. Also being a solo artist it was important for me to find the right band. We had 1 full day in the studio to complete the EP (30 minutes of music) so we had to be really rehearsed and know all the points in the music . I pretty much breathed, ate, and slept the melodies every day. I’m not a sight reader so had to memorize all the sections that I had written out for myself. So having to orchestrate, perform, and produce while recording the guitar was a bit of a challenge.
What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from New York are you friends with?
I have enjoyed playing with Joe Deninzon of Stratospheerius and High North (from Queens).
What is your opinion about the current progressive rock scene?
I’m not fully in tune – or know about the current prog rock scene – but am hoping to get a full grasp of it soon.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
As a guitar player: I like Steve Vai for fluidity, Dave Gilmour for extra dimensional soul, Zappa for head expansion, Marty Friedman for interesting shred, Yngwie Malmsteen for outrageous shred and 16 notes runs, Angus Young for pure guitar tone and Fripp for brainy stuff.
What are you listening to these days?
I have been listening to a lot of Opeth for the last 3 years – I really like what is coming out. But the last few weeks I have had The Snow Goose (Camel) on repeat. It’s really a great album.
Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
Wow – not easy to say. Most memorial impact for me as a listener – -I would say :
Oxygen – Jean Michel Jarre (all you need for this one is a pair of good headphones and 40 minutes and that is all you need!!)
Powerage – AC/DC (pure Rock N’ Roll and no frills – great guitar tone)
Blackwater Park – Opeth (The perfect blend of raw and beauty – death and life – melody and dissonance)
OK Computer – Radiohead (It has a bit of everything in it as a record)
Red – King Crimson (Great blend of tunes – and has one of my favorite Crimson tunes on it – Starless)
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record IV?
For the guitars we used 2 sets of guitar tones. My first live tone (recorded with the rest of the band) was my Gibson SG zoot (Orange and Black) going into my modest pedal board. Basically a Boss Tuner – MXR Compressor – Lightning Boy (tube Overdrive) – then split into one Custom Tweed 20W amp – and one signal into a Fender Super Reverb (Silverface). The other overdub guitar was my Fender Stratocaster (with Seymour Duncan SH4 / SH2) —> MXR Compressor pedal —> Bogner Ecstasy RED overdrive pedal – then split into a Mesa Boogie Express 525 – and one signal to a Orange Dark Terror. That gave me a meaty and warmer tone for the SG and really rockin crunch for the Fender.
Besides the release of the EP, are there any other plans for the future?
Make more music . And hopefully finally make the videos and create the characters that are associated with my newer work.
IV by Pontus is available from Bandcamp.