Interview with Epic Tantrum Bassist Greg Ross
|Photo by Denise Whalen|
COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Greg! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.
CV: Double albums these days seem to a thing of the past. However, Epic Tantrum released "Abandoned in the Stranger's Room" as the band's debut effort. Do you feel fans have both the appreciation and attention span to be able to properly indulge in a double album?
Greg Ross: Absolutely not, people have no attention span whatsoever. We probably should have considered that when we were planning this….
We didn’t make this album with fans in mind, especially since we are a new band…so we don’t have many fans…yet. We made it for the four of us. At the end of the day, we are trying to entertain each other, and if we like it then we are satisfied. We hope that other people enjoy the music we create. I guess we will find out. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too pretentious. At its core, Epic Tantrum is a vehicle for four friends to indulge in their musical passions and make stupid jokes while drinking lots of Jack Daniels, or in my case Tito’s Vodka.
We released a double album because we felt the songs were so much different when we played them out live when compared to the studio versions. We wanted to express both sides of our “personality” for lack of a better term.
And honestly, we thought it would be really funny and obnoxious to release a double album as our debut, so thank you for noticing and asking us that question.
CV: The band's style is an eclectic array of Jazz, Prog Rock and Heavy Metal. Does having such a diverse musical pallet offer Epic Tantrum a wider scoped fan base?
GR: Epic Tantrum is not for everyone. We know that. Our music is a reflection of the music we love and grew up listen to. It’s a challenge to play these songs and that’s what we revel in. We don’t want to be bored. Even the songs on “Abandoned in the Strangers Room” have changed and evolved since we recorded them, there’s also an improvisational aspect to them. In that way we are like a Jazz band. But I think the music sounds more Prog and Metal to me.... The other guys in the band hate it when I say that so let’s pretend I didn’t.
I believe there are people who will enjoy what we do, and there are some people who will not get it and we understand that.
CV: Was there any consideration to include the original acoustic version of "Letting Go" as a way to demonstrate the evolution of a song?
GR: No. I’m not sure we even know where that version is. But it’s an interesting idea. Maybe a great b-side/bonus track for our inevitable greatest hits album.
Now that I think of it, Paul probably has a copy of it stored on several different media formats…many of which are obsolete.
CV: Do you feel bands that are doing cover songs on debut releases are a way for them to break through the difficult barriers of building an audience by utilizing an already proven and more familiar avenue?
GR: Does this work…hmmmm?
Getting people to listen to a new band is really difficult…people in my family have no idea what we sound like and don’t care…I think that says more about me than the music.
If recording a cover gets people to listen to a band they are not familiar with I think that’s great. Hopefully they check out the rest of that band’s material and become a fan of their originals, etc.
With that said, we don’t play any covers. It’s one of our many band rules.
CV: Since forming Epic Tantrum and working together since 2007, in your opinion, do you feel songwriting defines the band or does the band define the type or style of songwriting that comes about?
GR: The band didn’t start in 2007. Back then Peter and Paul were recording classical guitar pieces together. The band evolved in several stages over time. At first, Peter and Paul had a Becker and Fagen vision, where they would write songs and guests come in and play on them. That’s how Z became the drummer. That plan had several starts and stops. Eventually they decided they needed a bassist to make this all work. They auditioned a bunch of people including a guy they called The Wookie and another person who was a heroin addict. After that they were desperate enough to ask me. That was around 2016. That’s when the band really began.
Our songs are pretty eclectic, but they all sound like us. So I guess I would say the band defines the style.
|Photo by Denise Whalen|
CV: What do you want listeners to come away with after hearing "Abandoned in the Stranger's Room"?
GR: The simple answer is that I hope that they want to hear more of our music and want to come see us play live.
The more complex answer is I hope they appreciate the songwriting and the musicianship. I am fortunate enough to play with some extremely talented musicians.
Most importantly, I hope they want to buy our t-shirts. That’s when you know you have made it.
CV: Do you feel it's possible for artists to avoid the typical trappings of the music business or given such high stakes, are there some things, almost a necessary evil, that are unavoidable as an artist makes their way through the trenches?
GR: There are artists who have been able to stay true to their values and have successful careers. Most of them have been outside the major label system, which is not a condemnation of the major labels. Off the top of my head I can think of Fugazi, Ani DiFranco…but there are many more.
CV: Do you feel the music industry is in need of a major revolution to get things back on track, especially for the artists? If so, what do you feel is needed to make such a revolution beneficial and whose responsibility is it to get things started…the artists, the label suits or the fans?
GR: Didn’t the industry just go through a major revolution? This question is way too complex to answer here, I could write a book about this. Based on your question it seems you are talking about the major labels… but that’s shortsighted. There is a lot more to the music industry than the majors.
In my opinion, the music industry is extremely healthy right now. Let’s use Epic Tantrum as an example. We recorded “Abandoned In the Strangers Room” in our own studio. Within a few weeks of completing it, our album was available on most of the major streaming services in the world. We can put our videos on YouTube and anyone who wants can view them. And now we are being interviewed by Cosmick View. Thanks to the invention of the internet, Cosmick View can reach people all over the world and doesn’t have crushing print costs or distributors to deal with.
The barriers to entry have never been lower. That’s a good thing for art, literature and music.
The major labels are business. Their goal is to make money and the product they sell is music related. There is nothing wrong with that but it’s an important distinction to understand. They are a business, not a charity. If an artist chooses to work with them they need to understand the pros and cons. Of course the majors have a lot of money they can use to promote an act so they have some advantages.
Artists do not need a major label. I submit the Funk band Vulfpeck as my proof. They just sold out Madison Square Garden. Read that again… they sold out Madison Square Garden. They do not have a label or a manager. They did it all on their own.
It’s up to the artists to create change…if they can.
|Photo by Denise Whalen|
CV: Could bands today survive without social media, like Facebook and Twitter? Are they really necessary...are they really that vital to success or have they actually complicated things?
GR: Social media helps level the playing field. Yes, it is annoying at times but it makes it possible for an artist to communicate directly to their fans. It helps fans discover new artists as well. It is vital.
With that said, please follow us on Facebook and sign up for our mailing list at epicantrum.com.
CV: What can we expect to see from Epic Tantrum in 2020?
GR: If people like “Abandoned in the Strangers Room” we will release one or two EPs this year and play a bunch of shows.
If not, expect an album of cover songs.
CV: Thank you again Greg for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It was a pleasure. I wish you all the best and continued success.
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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word. Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.
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