Band breaks-ups are and aren't like romantic break-ups. We use the same phrase for both, but how often are you able to salvage a failed romantic episode simply by "changing direction" and switching out (some) personnel? Most band break-ups don't result the same deep scars implicit in the dating world, and good things don't have to go to waste just because a few solid parts weren't working in totality. With New York-based someonElese, the end of Juniper Sky - a promising band - actually turned out to have more to offer when it morphed, adding a heavier element to a mutating list of influences that range from metal to orchestral.
We spoke with some of someonElese - Anthony Brucale (bass), David DeCeglie (vocals), and Cory Goonan (Drums) - about their origins, the themes behind their latest record The Doomed, and what to do when sudden inspiration strikes in the shower.
You recorded as a four-piece, but you had additional help for the album on a few guitar tracks and - most notably - some surprising orchestral work on "Comatose." Did your album just have too many big ideas that you felt like you wanted to branch out to other musicians to make the whole thing come together?
Anthony Brucale (bass) - I don't think we believe there is such a thing as "too many" big ideas, especially when it comes to recording. We wrote and recorded the album as a four piece, but we had gone into the studio as a five piece. There was a personnel change before we finished recording, so it wasn't so much us branching out as much as it was us keeping some really interesting, well-played elements on the record. But pulling off big ideas is how we operate; anyone who has seen us live can attest to that. As for "Comatose," I believe Dave can speak better to that.
David DeCeglie (vocals) - Cory, Eric and I had been playing "Comatose" for quite some time before it was ever 100% finished. It was around for so long that it was naturally evolving. The end wasn't really ironed out for a while so I had time to live and get a better perspective on where it should go. The first half came out of nowhere and was very stream-of-consciousness. I was literally in the shower and had to cut it short. I washed my balls as fast as I could and started writing all night. I got most of it done but saw so many possibilities of where to take it that it took a little while to finish the story. There’s even a version with a Ministry-style outro. After the shift from 4/4 time signature to a 3/4 waltz the story gets worse and the tone of the piece along with it. Cory and I had started on the orchestration some time back but I had gotten my hands on some great Vintage Bell sounds and wanted to take it to the next level. "A new level!!!" as the great Phil would say.
David, you write the lyrics. The Doomed appears, at least in part, to address mass hysteria, religion, and political turmoil. Can you tell us what was on your mind when you were composing your words?
DeCeglie - At the time we started writing this record there was a lot of hysteria, religion, and political turmoil and it was affecting everyone. Shit was getting tuff for a lot of people. Layoffs, bailouts, religious wars, political corruption, almost economic collapse, and not much has changed. There was just a mood in the air like everyone was expecting the downfall of our society and possibly the world in the year 2012. I was scoring horror movies, recording salsa bands, doing anything I could for money at the time. I was getting a little older and my views on the world and how I fit in it were changing. It was tuff. Music for me is and outlet and sometimes it's fun and I can be silly or sarcastic, and other times the pressure just gets to you and you can't help but treat everything a little more seriously. To me The Doomed isn't necessarily about the demise of man but the end of a way of thinking, of how we will continue to communicate and either fall or evolve together.
Members of someoneElse first collaborated in a band called Juniper Sky. You write: "The story's always the same. A talented band releases a quality album to rave reviews, builds a rather large following within several months, and has a successful U.S. tour to only break up soon after." What exactly happened there and how has someoneElse benefited from what must have been a negative experience?
Cory Goonan (Drums) – The band Juniper Sky came about very suddenly. Eric, Dave and myself got together for one weekend to jam and Juniper Sky was the by-product. We recorded a three-song demo in a day, showed some people it and Textbook music wanted to sign us on, which was a big honor for us because at that time they had bands like Solea (ex-Texas is the Reason), Renee Heartfelt (ex-give up the ghost) and William (ex-Hopesfall). We recorded, mixed, and mastered the album in a month and almost immediately started touring. A lot of stuff came up very quickly and I don’t think all of the members could handle that much at once, so we had member issues. We had a rotating cast of bassists and guitarists and we couldn’t find that "gelling" like we had originally. We were also writing new music which leaned more on the heavier side of things whereas Juniper Sky was much more rock influenced. It wasn’t really a negative experience, but something that just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.
You also discuss a "change in direction." someoneElse is certainly a different sounding band than Juniper Sky. How, in particular, do you feel like your band has advanced under a new name and with new blood?
Goonan – I think that this band is much more diverse, and not just from song to song, but within the songs themselves as well. I personally love the name someoneElse because it leaves things very open. And with Paul now in the project we are tighter than ever and are coming up with amazing new material.
Despite outside help, The Doomed is mostly an in-house band production. Did you encounter a lot of trial and error moments?
Brucale - Yes and no; we do a lot of our trial and error in the writing process, but even then, songs tend to come together quickly for us. For example, songs like "The Doomed" and "Winter In July" were almost entirely written in one practice session. Of everything on the album, "Caught (In the Flood)" probably had the most trial and error in its construction; it probably took about six months for us to figure out just how that song should flow. As for other trial and error moments, I'm sure Dave can tell you all about laptop errors, crashed hard drives and lost vocal tracks...
Goonan – Dave and I went to school for audio engineering and both have in house studios we work with, so recording wasn’t so much a problem for us. Dave had some issues with faulty laptops and hard drives and literally lost vocal tracks for the whole album several times. As for myself, I think the hardest problem I had was trying to find a sound for us. I wanted everyone to be happy with their tones but at the same time I needed everything to sit in the pocket with each other. That was kind of a pain in the ass.
The video for "Winter In July" is fun. How did you guys come up with that idea, and who filmed it?
Brucale - Eric and I taped the video over the course of a couple of weeks last summer. The original concept was actually much different than the end product. Initially, the video was going to feature the band trapped inside the digital EQ portion of a stereo. After I did the original edit, we ran into a few snags along the way and the video was shelved for a time. Unknown to the rest of us, Eric and Cory dusted off the video and cooked up the "someoneElse Street" look and surprised us all with a finished video. The idea of Scumm-O was tossed around a bunch of times when we were taping the green screens as a running joke.
A lot of influences blend into The Doomed. When people ask you to describe the sound of your band, what's your go-to description of yourselves?
Brucale - I don't really have a go-to description for us; there are just too many influences in our sound. It's funny, because our influences tend to get twisted around in the writing process. For example, I wrote the opening riff in "Winter In July" at home, a few weeks after Machine Head's The Blackening, had come out. I loved how they captured a really old-school metal sound with some of their riffs and it made me want to write something where Cory could go double-kick crazy and the guitars could do a single-note twin harmony thing. And then I bring the riff to the guys and that riff becomes the Faith No More-styled intro/verse riff it is today. So, to answer the question...you know that band you like? We're someoneElse.
Goonan – I usually go with Alternative Metal band since we have a lot of heavy stuff, then a lot of light stuff. As Anthony said, we all listen to a really wide range of music so that always comes out when we right. The funny thing is that we all come to the table with ideas, but most of the time the idea gets changed slightly for the better. They’ll come to me with a metal riff and I’ll throw a groove over it and now the whole riff takes a different turn. I think that’s my favorite thing about this band...we’ll always keep you guessing.
What's next for someoneElse?
DeCeglie - We are always looking for ways to improve our live experience, whether it's transposing those extras layers in the sound or offering cool new merch like someoneElse tablecloths and vaginal douches just for women.
Brucale - Well, we've been playing a lot of shows in the NYC and Long Island areas lately, and we're back in the studio fleshing out material for the next record. The writing process is going really well. Shortly after that: World Domination...or french fries...depends on our mood.
Goonan – Build a decent following in NYC and start playing out of city/state shows, releasing a couple more music videos in the next coming months, and writing our next EP, which at our rate will be done in the next couple of months too. Gotta keep busy and can’t stop pushing forward.