By Damen Smith-Draeko — Almost a month ago, it was a rare, dry and warm Friday night here in Seattle. It was rare that it was both dry and warm, and it was rare that I’d ventured out into the world that night away from the drawing board. I found myself at the Lo-Fi Performance Gallery.
Every third Friday of the month (or moonth if you want to go all Celtic and stuff) the music label Innerflight hosts a show at this venue. I decided to leave the house and partake of the dancing and debauchery. Actually there was much more of the former than the latter, and…well, I really don’t know how I feel about that.
<whisper>I like debauchery.<./whisper>
Going to the Lo-Fi Performance Gallery that night was actually a very good choice. Along with the pleasant happenstances of bumping (sometimes literally) into an acquaintance or even long lost friends I hadn’t seen in a long, lost while – almost always a welcomed diversion- I had the distinct pleasure of checking out a band I, until that moment, had never heard.
From the balcony, I sat over them, like a scrutinizing bird of prey (probably an owl because they are the only birds that hunt at night, and I was wearing my glasses which makes my pupils look pretty darned big… but ANYWAY) – where was I? Oh yeah.
I found myself watching a sassy sick ass sax player/keyboardist, a drummer right out of DNB who held his beats as well as any metronome, and an electronic musician with enough programmed tracks to put on a successful performance at the Philharmonic.
The energy they presented, the precision the executed, the cohesion of this group was something to experience. The group playing is called The New Law.
As I watched these three men jam it out to an enthusiastic, dancing, enamored crowd, I couldn’t help but thinking how good these guys would sound with a dedicated audio engineer out there to normalize and equalize this force of theirs. I *had absolutely no* idea that they were in fact sound men. But when you have that much performance hutzpah to bring to bear, there is no place you can be in two places at once.
You should listen to this:
I wanted to know more about them, this hybrid band of electric, wind, and arm power. With a little help from DJ Manos (interview pending) of Innerflight records, I tracked this group down, and they gladly agreed to an interview.
It took us a several weeks to get to it, but we finally got to the deed.
<whisper>I’ll be the one in italics.<./whisper>
What inspires your group to be together, and what is keeping you together today?
Justin (J) & Adam (A)
Justin: What works well for us is the fact that we both have very different musical backgrounds in terms of the instruments that we play and what music we played in our past. The kind of music that we really like to listen to (and ultimately create) is very similar though. That allows us to really focus on our individual strengths and bounce ideas off each other, which really helps in the studio. I think if we both came from the same background musically, it would make creating unique sounds a lot harder.
Adam: Yeah, definitely. Also, what keeps us together today is the same as before. It’s fun and it’s a release from everyday life. Getting in the studio is what we look forward to each day. That’s how it started, and there’s no reason to stop it yet.
How do you create? Does it begin with a jam session, or do you walk in with a set plan?
Justin: It really depends. We do it both ways…most of the time we start beats or the basics of a track, and then send it over to the other to work on. We bounce back and forth, and then finish up together in the studio. Some days we’ll meet up at the studio and just be like ”let’s record a bunch of stuff and see what sounds rad”, so we’ll start recording various instruments and keep the good parts. Actually, we finally just got mic stands after 7 years of this… Adam used to hold the mic in front of me while I played sax/flute/guitar etc…
Adam: Haha, yeah, I just drank beer in one hand with the microphone in the other and stared at Justin while he poured his heart out. And then he’ll ask for more reverb. He always asks for more reverb.
Justin: Large 3!
Adam: That’s a preset on the old reverb box, Alesis Microverb 2… Justin’s soul craves Large 3. It makes him sound like he’s flying through the clouds on a giant saxophone-shaped magic carpet. It just died too, so we might have to get another one soon.
Note to reader: I really did laugh at the “flying through the clouds part”.
I am a new fan of The New Law, having only discovered you mere weeks ago. Listening to your studio work, I was first enthralled by The Fifty Year Storm.
I’m working my way backwards to High Noon.
So far I’m getting that all of this is about exploration, some lost wanderer or something.
Am I correct in that assessment? Is this the story of a lost man’s adventure?
Without looking at a screen or a video, I can see the journey of this unknown hero in my mind.
Adam: First, thanks man – really glad you are digging the album. Without us really knowing about it when we started the first album, it has definitely evolved into the story of this unknown hero. It all started back when the artist, Seth “Grym” Broman designed our first album and came up with the idea of the guy in the gasmask. We always knew that we wanted to create a story with our music, and once the character was created, it all took off from there. “High Noon” is where we really started exploring the idea of the journey from the start of the album. It ends up making the extra work involved in making an album worth it. It keeps it fun.
Justin: For “The Fifty Year Storm”, we wanted to add a new twist to the story, which ended up taking the hero on a nautical adventure of a sort. We wanted to keep the story going somewhere, so why not change it up a little…we’re working on a new EP right now, probably out later this year, and I think it’s a good fit for the next chapter.
Adam: Yeah, this next EP coming up has been really fun to make. My brother, Steve the drummer, has joined our ranks in live shows, and is now recording with us. Plus we bought some new mics, preamps, and outboard gear to get the sound of our new stuff sounding better. It’s definitely helping. The new tunes have more depth and sound more 3D. Switching gear between releases always helps evolve the sound a bit more each time. At least that’s the excuse I’m giving for buying it haha.
My next question was asked because there is an undeniably cinematic narrative to their music.
Are your backgrounds in cinema? Were you or are you still soundtrack musicians?
Justin: Actually yes, literally. We met while working at a movie theater during college.
Adam: Yeah, I was a projectionist at the theater, and Justin worked the ticket booth, and he would sneak up to the projectionist booth and take naps on the job. He would stack up old seats into a bed and pass out while I played Gameboy and pressed play on the projectors. It was a pretty sweet gig.
Justin: Then we’d go buy beer and make beats in Adam’s garage and get noise complaints.
Adam: Nothing like someone wailing on synths and a sax at 3am next door haha.
Justin: But for soundtracks, we’ve never done them officially besides a few movies using our tracks here and there. Eventually we would love to be in that role. For now, we’re enjoying making music…it keeps us sane. We love spaghetti western soundtracks though (obviously).
Adam: You can’t beat blasting “Bullet for a Stranger” while stuck in traffic. No other music makes you feel more alive than that stuff.
I didn’t just feel alive listening to the music of The New Law, I felt sad, lonely, happy and motivated, anxious and calm. Hey, wait one second!
Isn’t that the very definition of being alive?!?
There isn’t anything at this point that I could add to any of this without sounding like a gushing fan-pire. There is just so much more I wanted to ask them, but time being the illusive commodity that it is, I had to pull back, but I do recommend, wholeheartedly, that you go to their web site, http://thenewlaw.bandcamp.com/, and work your way, from oldest to new, through The New Law’s musical anthology
If you listen to each album, from their self-titled first to their most current, The Fifty Year Storm, and then Jiri, you may feel like I did. To me, it was like I was watching, and listening to, a flower open each petal in time-elapsed photography. It was a steady progression of good, to very good, then to damned good. The next step will most probably be excellent.
I would not be surprised if these dudes leapt right past excellence into phenomenal.
For information on bookings, and interviews, go to: http://thenewlaw.bandcamp.com.