San Jose, CA-based progressive metallers Utopian Trap returned this year after six years and release of their debut album Fiction Fades Into Reality (2010). The Human Price shows the band that matured and perfected their skills resulting in a release that is full of awesome instrumentation and voice of experienced Eric Boles, who masterfully comes on top of this seven-track game.
Rocking Charts hooked up with the band, and we talked about The Human Price, current prog metal scene, influences, favourite albums, and more.
Hey folks. How are you doing?
Thanks for the interview. The band is doing great and can’t be happier after the CD release.
You released The Human Price recently. How do you feel about the release?
Chandra: Feeling excited and relieved. It’s a huge milestone for us to finally release the album after all the work that went into making it. We are super stoked to see the response to the album so far. Bandcamp stats show thousands of plays already. Not too shabby.
How much of a challenge was to work on the album?
The biggest challenge on this album was that we didn’t have a permanent drummer for a while. But the wheels started rolling after Rohil joined. We did have a couple of not-so-short hiatuses which delayed the album.
What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from the San Francisco Bay Area are you friends with?
Cynthesis, Abnormal Thought Patterns, Spontaneous Maximus, Enchant.
What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?
Rohil: I really believe progressive metal is a wide umbrella term in that there are so many progressive rock bands that sound drastically different from one another; calm vs. loud, complex vs. straightforward. I always see newer bands gradually coming into the progressive metal scene from all over — I never thought that I would be listening to so many progressive bands from outside of the U.S.
Eric: If you want to see a festival where the best progressive metal in the world come together you attend ProgPower USA. I’ve been attending since IV and a gold badge member since VI and I’m looking forward to an opportunity to play that festival in the not too distant future.
Vinod: Mostly disappointed with how the fan base is shrinking. Still there are some great acts that have emerged in the last few years. Hats off to Mike Portnoy for promoting these bands and arranging a musical orgy like Progressive Nation at Sea.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
Chandra: It’s mainly the guitar heroes, who inspired me from early on. There’s so many of them, but here’s a few (in chronological order): David Gilmour, Slash, James Hetfield, Randy Rhoads, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Jasun Tipton.
Eric: This only applies to metal. I have influences in R&B, Pop, Jazz, Blues Rock & Music Theater as well. Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Tony Harnell, Chuck Billy, James Labrie, Warrel Dane, Devon Graves, Russell Allen & Michael Eriksen. There are more…
Vinod: Iron Maiden and Metallica got me into Metal; Dream Theater and Opeth kept me there.
Rohil: The drummers who have the biggest influence on my drumming are Mike Mangini, Thomas Lang, Dave Weckl, Tony Royster Jr., Danny Carey, and Luke Holland. Apart from giving me good insight on drumming styles and techniques, their positive attitude surrounding music composition and music as a lifestyle is very motivating.
What are you listening to these days?
Farhan: Classical music. Specifically soundtrack oriented.
Chandra: Acoustic jazz/classical instrumental stuff like Paco De Lucia, Andres Segovia, Baden Powell and the likes. And obviously a ton of metal music from all ages.
Rohil: A lot of Nu-metal, progressive metal, alternative rock, and electronic music (dubstep/trap).
Eric: Almost every band on the PPUSA roster this year (Stream of Passion, Spock’s Beard, Pyramaze, Circus Maximus, Ascendia, Vanishing Point, Gentle Storm, Scar Symmetry, Fates Warning, Serious Black, Green Carnation, Haken & Devin Townsend). In R&B pop I’ve been going back and forth between Esperanza Spalding, Gallant & Gary Clark Jr. I also have been listening to a lot of Bowie & Prince in honor of their recent deaths.
Vinod: Mostly progressive metal: Haken, Fates Warning, Kingcrow, Circus Maximus, Magic Pie; with a dash of alternative rock: Biffy Clyro.
Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
Deliverance – Opeth
Live at Budokan – Dream Theater
Master of Puppets – Metallica
Crystal Planet – Joe Satriani
Blizzard of Oz – Ozzy Osbourne
Meteora – Linkin Park
Train of Thought – Dream Theater
Treehouse – I See Stars
Alaska – Between the Buried and Me
Polaris – Tesseract
Eye in the Sky – Alan Parsons Project
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Be the Change – Prasanna
Hang on Little Tomato – Pink Martini
Very difficult to decide since I’m very eclectic with my tastes. So, I will go with old records that are either early prog or metal for the sake of this interview.
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
2112 – Rush
Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden
Images & Words – Dream Theater
Blackwater Park – Opeth
Images and Words – Dream Theater
Bilateral – Leprous
Sympathetic Resonance – Arch/Matheos
Crimson – Edge of Sanity
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record The Human Price?
Guitars and Amps:
On this album, we have used 2 new beasts, a Gibson Les Paul Standard and Fractal Axe-Fx amp/effects simulator. I have also used my trusty old Ibanez RG570 with EMGs on some tracks. For acoustic parts, we are using Martin Auditorium OOO-15 and Cordoba C-5 classical guitar.
Bass: Fender Jazz American Standard.
Drums/Percussions: Multiple drum kits were used on this CD. One of them was a DW drumkit at our buddy Tushar’s drum studio. On “Atephobic”, the guest drummer Arun has used a hybrid recording setup which was put together by Tushar : A Roland electronic kit triggering Michael Slate samples for everything except the high hat. For high hats, they mic’d a Zildjian Gen 16 ! On “Devil’s Premonade”, Mohan has used a Roland handsonic for the percussions (djembe, tabla) and he mic’d his acoustic darbuka drum.
Vocals: Rode, Sennheiser & Shure microphones. Shure in-ear systems.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
Yeah, it’s a simple plan. Compose, Jam, Record, Release, Jam, Gig, … Repeat.. That’s the cycle that keeps us going.
Any words for the potential new fans?
Thanks for your support and for keeping metal and progressive metal music alive ! We would surely like to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to drop us a line by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on facebook.com/utopiantrap. You can check out the music from the newly released album and the first album on iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody/Napster, Google Music, Bandcamp, Slacker Radio etc etc. For physical CDs, please go to our website utopiantrap.com