They are so unwilling to define their own sound, but almost impossible to ignore. It’s incredible to hear not the different influences being drawn from Blood Root Mother‘s music, but “the lines that connect the dots” says lead singer Ryan Gaskill.
I had a chance to sit down with the masters of 21st Century Voodoo Music whose current six member lineup has been as if for the past two years. A lineup forced out of multiple trials, some incredibly constructive and progressive, others tragic.
It is in the wake of such tragedy, the death of band member Tony Ellis, they remain reminded. When the band was telling me an incredibly detailed history, bassist Bob Kanawyer mentioned the passing of their friend and bandmate, the air turned to iron: the death hugely impacted the band, even to this day. The bassist stating “we didn’t really practice or play at all for a while after that.”
So, the question is, how does a band in an interview go from tragedy and hardships to having the reporter almost rolling on the floor from laughter? Simple: this band has an incredibly bright personality. All members seemingly different, but all form such a bold collected persona. The wonderful thing is this shine through to the music.
The band has two primary records (If ignoring the first mix CD “Makin’ with the Love”), 2007’s “The Rabbit Hole” and 2010’s “Mystic Machine”. The complexity of their music had evolved from record to record, but, as guitarist Rob Newton said “When we recorded ‘Mystic,’ we only had about four-standing members: Ryan [Gaskill] actually had to fill in on guitar for a while.”
This leads to a sense of excitement: the band’s natural talents with recording was limited to a four-piece suit, now expanded to the future of six; influences ranging from rock (with one of the most definitive live covers of The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby”), to jazz, to rap. All of this with hopes of a new single on the way.
This is what surprised me so when I first discovered the band’s personalities. They seamlessly went from talking about deep envisions of “We all want to make music–whatever that may be depending on the day” to hilarious quirks about their experiences, says keyboardist Barry Costanzi: “We used to practice next door to mariachi band who was really good, but we swore their only knew like three songs…. our eventual goal is to be as good as that mariachi band.”
“I think one of the great things about this band is we have members who really can write music that smack people out of their sense of comfort” says lead singer Gaskill. In the name of such comfort-shaking sensibilities, Gaskill: “Bitches love Doo-Wop.” (referencing the tongue and cheek curve ball doo-wop track off of “The Rabbit Hole” that’s not so innocent called “Gorgeous Murder”).
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a f*ck ton of sound.