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Sound of Contact – Interview

We chat to the incredibly talented Simon Collins and Dave Kerzner from Sound of Contact!

Sound of Contact

We first saw Sound of Contact showcasing tracks from their new album – Dimensionaut at the Gibson Guitar Studios and were immediately impressed with what we saw and heard. The songs were instantly likeable, the band very credible and they had a cool edge to them. What’s not to like?

On stage, they are immersed in their work and each member of this band are incredibly talented. After listening to the album closely, we can safely say that it is one of the most original albums we have heard in a long time.

Individually, they have been working on various projects as musicians for many years, but this is the first time that they have worked together collectively to produce a fine album in Dimensionaut. The lead singer is Simon Collins (son of Phil Collins) and his father’s talent has certainly been passed on to him. We chat to Simon Collins and Dave Kerzner from the band to find out more about them, about how they came together as a band and the thought processes behind the making of their debut album, Dimensionaut.

 

Hello all of you Sound of Contact members, nice to meet you all! How are you doing today?

SC: Great, thank you!

DK: Fantastic. Really enjoying the English countryside. It’s so different for Matt and I from our home in the US.

Can you tell us how you initially met and then how did you then decide to come together and create a band?

SC: Dave and I met at the 2006 Genesis rehearsals in NYC and hit it off immediately. Right off the bat we knew we wanted to work together and funniliy enough our first project was a cover of Keep it Dark in honor of the Genesis 40th anniversary. Out of that production process a strong alliance was formed between us and that of course led to work on U-Catastrophe my third solo album. Songwriting collaboration included The Big Bang drum duet between my Father and I, but Dave also did a lot of keys and sound design on that album as well. Eventually this new band we have together formed out of sessions after U-Cat, and that’s when the chemistry was even stronger than ever before. Matt Dorsey and I met when I was forming a band to take on the road to promote U-Cat, and needed some serious talent and skills to play the utility role. That meant Guitar, Bass or Keyboards, whatever was needed. We connected through the label I was with at the time as Matt’s manager also worked with that company. They ended up putting us together knowing we would get on and do some great work. We’ve never looked back since. Kelly Nordstrom worked with me throughout my solo career, contributing not only Guitar and Bass skills but also songwriting. Kelly and I worked on such songs as Out on the Playa on 05’s Time for Truth, and also The Good Son from U-Cat. Since then Kelly, Matt and I toured here and there to promote my solo work, but the real collaboration begun on this new SOC record.

DK: For Sound of Contact we came together as songwriters first and foremost and then built the tracks up in a different way than one might do on a solo album. Everything was recorded playing together in the room in what you might call an old school approach which gave it a distinct band sound. Because of the chemistry of how everyone plays off each other, you really get a mix of how our individual styles and taste blend in this band.

Where did the name ‘Sound of Contact’ come from?

SC: We spent weeks going back and forth on names and finally came up with Sound of Contact. After many deep philosophical discussions about our place in the cosmos, and of course the concept of Dimensionaut it made sense. We are all big Sci-Fi fans and personally I have been inspired by the Universe Carl Sagan introduced me to many years ago. Our name is also universal and one meaning about ET contact certainly seems to come up most often, but the name has a few different meanings and that was the idea. That said I don’t think I should explain them all to you as we’d prefer to let people figure that out on their own. Who knows? Someone might suggest a completely new interpretation to us.

How would you describe your music to those that are yet to hear your work?

SC: We create mental atmospheres spanning a wide spectrum of sonic territory from ambient sci-fi infused Space Rock to vintage Classic and modern Progressive Rock. That said we all have a pop sensibility that really shows in our songwriting. Most importantly when all is said and done, the song is king. There’s a variety of moods and mental atmospheres here that we wish we could find more of these days, but there seems to be a void in music today. In a way, we’ve sub-consciously ended up creating the kind of music we would want to buy and love to listen to ourselves.

DK: Yeah, if you were to think of classic rock bands from the 70’s and bring forward some of the styles of songwriting such as dramatic chord changes, wide dynamic range and picturesque soundscapes fused in with a modern alt rock or even somewhat futuristic film score type sound you’d get an idea of what to expect from Sound of Contact.

We loved your showcase at the Gibson Guitar Studios recently and think that you’ve got some great songs and that you are a great live band. How do you feel about the reaction that you’ve received so far as a band?

SC: Thank you. I can honestly say that we are blown away from everyone’s response, and the 5 star reviews the album has been getting on I-Tunes, Amazon and rave reviews in music mags are unbelievable. This band seems to be reaching a multitude of listeners on a deep level, because of the emotional and spiritual journey the story takes you on.

DK: It’s exceeded our expectations in many ways even though we try not to have any expectations at all and just focus on being grateful to be doing what we love to do. As an artist you have to stand by your work regardless what others say about it. But, when people say they’ve been waiting for an album like this for along time or even just hearing them compare it to some classic albums we hold in high regard ourselves is so cool. It’s especially good to know that it has moved people. Knowing that feels like mission accomplished to us. It’s one of the coolest things you can do in this world. To move people emotionally and offer fuel for inspiration.

You must be very excited to be releasing your debut album Dimensionaut, can you tell us what we can expect from the album?

SC: What we have here is a science fiction concept album co-produced between Dave and I. Along with Matt and Kelly we ended up writing a plethora of material, and it’s quite dynamic seeing as we all have a diverse range of influences. If you’re into the musical style of bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Porcupine Tree, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, Coldplay and the Beatles this might be an album you want to check out. This is a well balanced performance from us all and everything is played to support the greater sonic picture, as opposed to exhibitionist performances taking priority over the songs. This is a concept with many different levels of interpretation, and although this is about a futuristic cosmic traveler it is a very spiritual and emotional expression of his perspective and place in the cosmos.

We have heard that you have described the album as a concept album, about a dimensional time and a space traveler called “Dimo” who is on a mission to expand the boundaries of the human experience. Can you tell us a bit more about this and explain to us exactly who “Dimo” is?

SC: This album tells the story of one man’s evolution into being a Dimensionaut. A Dimensionaut is a fictional time and space traveler capable of existing in multiple dimensions, and we follow one man (who we call “Dimo” for short) along his journey. His transformation takes place at an accelerated rate as he tries to make sense of his new complex reality. He navigates the path to enlightenment, and as you can imagine he wrestles with a vast new world at his fingertips. While trying to remain grounded in the only reality he has ever known, he struggles to keep the most basic of human needs, like love, as a part of his ever increasing complex life. With the vast space between him and his distant life on Earth there is a sense on longing for his soul mate back home. He experiences intense isolation throughout his travels and that is revealed through the lyrics, soundscapes and mental atmos. This album is a musical expression of one man and women’s surreal love affair from a future Earth across the lightyears of the cosmos. We take you on their radically evolving journey, and share an intense multi-dimensional love story revealing a profound awakening of the heart and mind.

Simon, with three albums released under your own belt, how different is it to release something with your own band now?

SC: It’s completely liberating in the sense that through my solo work I allowed myself the time to mature as an artist and explore many different directions and styles. No doubt solo albums are meant to be somewhat more personal. So on U-Catastrophe I made a commitment to singing about parts of my personal life I wasn’t even comfortable talking about in real life. I just decided to accept where I’m at and that changed the way I sing forever. It gave me an emotional charge and suddenly I had the conviction in my voice I’d been searching for. On this new album and project I have many of the same responsibilities as on my solo work. I am one of the main producers along with Dave Kerzner, and at the very least I always want to be contributing on all collab as well as fronting and drumming in the band. That said, I have an opportunity to learn and grow in a different way here. I only bring forward to the band what I think is my absolute best work as opposed to writing an entire album on my own. More importantly I am now taking a much needed break from what I feel were some very hard albums to make on a personal level. I’m really having fun working on new material that strays from my personal life being the main focus. I can get extremely creative in this band from a content standpoint, and like we’ve done on Dimensionaut bring a fictional character to life in a surreal universe.

What were your favorite moments of making the album?

SC: I would have to say that the way Omega Point came together was pure magic. That was the only take you hear on the album, simply because it all came together in one go believe it or not. Of course the vocals and lyrics came after, but what was initially a jam session turned out to be a fully constructed song not based on the jam but the jam itself. That jam is the track you hear on the album! That moment and many others confirmed to us all that we have something special between us that we can’t explain, but respect the hell out of when it occurs. I think it’s called symmetry and chemistry and it’s intoxicating when it happens. Thankfully it’s a big part of our process and we are always writing or recording every little jam session, no matter what time of day it is.

What kind of artists/bands do you look up to and who has had the most influence on you as a band, or have you all got very different influences?

SC: I feel we can write dynamic material based on the fact we have all been deeply impacted by some of the same bands on a roots level. We also have our own quirky tastes in different styles of music. I really love electronica and you hear that all over my solo records. I was a DJ for about 5 years, and what I took most from that music in general was the sonic wizardry from the producers in that field. Bands like Juno Reactor, Leftfield, and Underworld really opened up my way of thinking when it came to producing a track or an entire record. I love the fact you can work sound design to meet your needs, create lush ambience or razor sharp synth leads to take the songs journey to a higher altitude. All that said, my intro to music was Genesis growing up on tour. My Dad took me to see Pink Floyd and Yes when I was very young, so all that was the start to a good musical education. Luckily I grew up around amazing music and amazing musicians and that had a profound impact on me from a very early age. So much of an impact that I new exactly what I wanted to with my entire life by the time I was twelve years old.

DK: My influences range from The Beatles to Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Tears for Fears, The Police, Coldplay, Radiohead and others that are favorite bands of the other guys too. I also like classical music and film scores so I think there’s an element of that playing a part in Sound of Contact music such as lush orchestrations and cinematic sound design.

The album took three years to make. How was the creative process behind the making of this album? Was it a complicated process of putting all of the songs together?

SC: We took our time with this for many reasons. We were embarking on a wild ride in the studio to make a science fiction based concept album as our band debut. We were still looking for the ideal label to release the album but until then it was a fully independent production. There was no external pressure on us except that of our families and other commitments back home. I live in the UK now, Dave in Miami, Matt in LA and Kelly in Vancouver so we made sure that when we were in the studio it was productive 24-7. To achieve that we all spent time in between sessions to continue writing and flush out ideas before bringing them in. There were three different stages of bringing the album to fruition so it kept things exciting from start to finish. We all came in with many ideas, concepts for songs and lyrics, all of which would be flushed out and refined as a band. The other end of the spectrum is the process that can’t be as easily planned which are the songs that come out of jam sessions. This method proved to be highly successful in the form of tracks like Omega Point or Mobius Slip. Both of these tracks plus a couple more were either based on jams or in those cases the improvised jams themselves were recorded and even used as the final tracks you hear on the album. Before all that could happen though, the concept needed to be revised and revised again with some supporting research in the science related arena. Kelly and I initially spent a couple months researching cosmology, astro-physics. We even dabbled with a bit of conspiracy theory to keep things really fringe in content. All this research really helped bring the fictional side of the concept to life.

DK: Although it was a challenge for us all to write a concept album as our debut it actually flowed really well and was very synchronistic. What took longer really was sorting out the business side because we stuck to the idea of making the album we wanted to make even if it was 73 minutes long and a heady concept album which is a bold thing to do. We seeked out a label that would take it on as is and we finally found that with InsideOut Music. That said, now that we have a team assembled around us with a structure and foundation for the band I don’t think the next album will take as long to come out. Famous last words? Haha.

Do you have any favorite songs on the album, or are there any in particular that mean more to you than the others?

SC: I really enjoy the zenith moment in Mobius Slip’s All Worlds All Times section, specifically at the climax of the super charged transcendental “I feel the starlight in our eyes”. I get chills every time I hear that and it’s brought me to tears at times. There are many emotional events in the album’s story that are of a spiritual nature, and at the end of the day boil down to the most universal human need for love. Our Dimensionaut is traveling the cosmos all the while he still longs to be back on earth with his companion. Simple yet heart wrenching if you think of the vast amount of space and void that lie between them both. There is also more to it than I’ll say but then you can interpret the way the story ends in a few different ways. All of them to me have a profound yet highly emotional depth of infinite reach.

What are your hopes for the future of the band?

DK: We look forward to playing our music to more and more people around the world with that kind of energy. Beyond that we are looking forward to making more albums and since any time we get the chance we love to create we’re already writing new songs that we’re very excited about. We might even play some of them live on our upcoming tour of the US even though they are not released yet.

SC: Also to continue to evolve as human beings, knowing that as we evolve on a spiritual level so will our music. Our music is such a massive part of our life, so it is a big part of our journey. We are really excited about the thought of how our music will sound years from now! It is our goal to make as much music that is meant to be made between us.

Where do you see yourselves as a band in a few years’ time?

SC: We would honestly like to tour as much of the planet as possible with Dimensionaut, after all it is being released world-wide at the moment. This is an album and band that was made to play live and share with people everywhere who have a common love for this type of music. Our goal is to keep building our show production with visuals and the best sound possible. As Dave said we are already writing music for the next album and have a great collection of new material all ready to record. Expect tons of touring and a new album over the next 3 years.

What exciting projects or appearances have you got lined up that we should be aware of?

SC: There are a few festivals over the summer that should be great for the fans. July 13th in Loreley, Germany at Night of the Prog with bands like Opeth, and Steven Wilson should be a great night. In the U.S. we are booked to play two festivals and a tour in the US through August and September. We kick off August 3rd at the Yestival in New Jersey, then we hit the road across the U.S.. We are headlining ProgDay in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this year which is something we’re thrilled about. Going out on a high note, Dave and I end the tour in Chicago guesting with Steve Hackett and friends to perform Supper’s Ready. Both of us recently guested on the studio version of that track from his new Genesis Revisited II album. That was amazing to be a part of and considering Steve guested on my last solo album, it was also a chance to return the favor and give something back. As you can tell we are always open to working with different artists and certainly always writing for our own solo projects. That said, our priority really is to focus on writing more material for the next album.

DK: We also have some more festival dates to announce as well as shows with Francis Dunnery and other artists we like coming up. As far as other projects I have a side project called Sonic Elements which mixes up all sorts of progrock heroes like Keith Emerson, Steve Hackett, Steve Rothery and drummers I’ve sampled for my company Sonic Reality such as Neil Peart of Rush or Nick Mason of Pink Floyd. It’s a name-dropping fest that would drift off so far into Prog-fantasy-land that there’d be no coming back if I got started! haha Simon is even a guest vocalist on the Pink Floyd song Welcome To The Machine and Matt Dorsey guests on Red Barchetta which also features Rik Emmett of Triumph on vocals with John Wesley, Billy Sherwood and Randy McStine on guitar and bass. But, it that project is more of a Sonic Reality thing where it shows the products I produce for musicians in a musical context celebrating Progressive Rock. It is still what I consider a side project to Sound of Contact which is musically fulfilling for me in every way from our songwriting collaboration to co-producing the albums with Simon to my role as a progressive rock keyboardist in the band. It’s a dream come true for me as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

What are your goals for this year?

SC: Working on bringing the album to life in concert through visuals and playing as much as possible, simple plan.

DK: After our US tour we’ll be back to play the UK and all over Europe again but this time playing our entire album from beginning to end plus some surprises. We’d also like to go to other parts of the world such as Japan, South America, Australia or any other place that welcomes this style of music. Our goals are to spread it out there far and wide to reach as many people as it is meant to reach.

Thanks for taking the time to chat to us and good luck with the release of the album!

SC: Thank you ever so much, we all appreciate your support!

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