To open this interview with The Surrealist‘s mainman, guitarist Roopam Garg, I’ll re-paraphrase him: if you enjoy weird things being done on the guitar, the music of this Boston based project is definitely for you. Comprised of Garg and drummer John-Marc Degaard, The Surrealist will release their debut EP Naked Awareness on September 17, and if judging by this release the project has a very bright future in the years to come.
Without further ado, here is an interview with Garg where he talks about the upcoming release, but also about the plans for the future, influences, and more.
Hey folks. How are you doing?
Doing great! Hope you’re doing well.
You are about to release your debut EP Naked Awareness. How do you feel about the release?
We’re super excited with the release, and I can’t wait till listeners get to hear it. Going into it, I wanted to explore the infinite tonal possibilities of the guitar. What came out is an EP that is really experimental and guitar driven, with a lot of ambient, psychedelic elements along with metal and eastern-fusion influences.
How much of a challenge was to work on the EP?
It’s always a tough ladder to climb when working on a release. Not only do you have to write really great, engaging music, you also have to make sure that, as a collective, the EP has a strong coherence and dynamic flow to it. As a whole, the EP took two years to complete, which is just way too long. I also ran into multiple intonation problems with my now-previous main guitar, which ended up costing us more time to write and record. But thankfully, I just received my new guitar from Kiesel Carvin guitars, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Boston are you friends with?
I’m not too familiar with artists similar to our genre, but we love what Dreamer and Son, Sound Struggle and Self-Portraits are doing.
What is your opinion about the current progressive rock/metal scene?
I don’t really listen to too much progressive metal anymore, except Meshuggah of course, so I’m pretty unfamiliar with how things are going in that scene. I made a conscious effort to not listen to too much metal, but seeing as how Meshuggah is releasing a new record in October, I doubt that I’ll last that much longer.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
Going back to Meshuggah, although it isn’t obvious at the surface, I’ve learned a lot of concepts by them, which are used in our music, such as polyrhythms, contouring, and repetition. Other great artists such as Allan Holdsworth, Guthrie Govan, Linkin Park, Animals As leaders, Tabla Beat Science and Tigran Hamasyan have made a huge impact on my songwriting.
What are you listening to these days?
A lot of music soundtracks. Theres a certain vibe in movie soundtracks that aren’t found anywhere else. I think its the fact that the music was written with a story in mind, which gives the music more depth.
Whenever I listen to music, I usually only listen to two or three artists for a couple of months. I feel like I’m able to get into their heads and learn why they did what they did and what was going on behind the notes they chose. This is something Allan Holdsworth said in a clinic once. He said he wasn’t concerned with the notes themselves but what the player was thinking while he was playing the notes, and I loved that concept. Great artists go so deep in their music that there’s a lot more under the surface than simply listening to a bunch of music. I think there’s value in listening to just a few bands instead of constantly trying to expand your musical palate with many genres.
Your 5 favorite records of all the time?
Ooh, tough one. I’d say: Catch 33 by Meshuggah, A Thousand Suns by Linkin Park, the self-titled Animals As Leaders album, Tala Matrix by Tabla Beat Science, and the Seven Pounds OST by Angelo Milli.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record Naked Awareness?
I used a Schecter 7-String for most of the guitars. All the the guitar tones were dialed through an Axe Fx II XL. I used Logic’s Alchemy and Native Instrument’s Komplete 10 suite for majority of the synths and electronic sounds.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
We hope to start touring really soon, hopefully sometime early next year. We also want to collaborate with a fashion designer or company to design some really great merch.
Any words for the potential new fans?
If you enjoy weird things being done on the guitar, I’m sure you’ll like us!