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MESSENGER: Creativity with Stay-at-Home

What have you guys been up to lately?

Thanks for asking, Doug. We decided to self produce/engineer/mix/master our latest album ourselves. So, that task is truly daunting. Vlad Gurin and I have a large number of studio hours apart from each other as well as together. He was signed to Sony in the early 2000's while in Moldova with his band called AGNY. And then he and I co-produced "I'm Talking To You" and "You Choose" with a local studio in the DC area. We developed our own studio for this new recording, Studio Vovka. The learning curve is huge. But after getting feedback on the new single, we feel like the headaches and delays have paid off.

What inspired this latest single?

Vlad and I collaborate on songwriting by sharing riffs & concepts to tackle and try. With this song, Vlad had created a cool hard rock opening guitar riff and an array of verse & chorus changes. It struck me a certain way when I heard it. It’s like something coming at you from somewhere you didn’t expect. You are rolling along one way, then you get hit by something else equally impacting - but it’s a change. After Vlad heard the lyrics I wrote along those lines, he was stricken by how it perfectly aligned with things he was experiencing personally and credited the strange coincidence to God's omniscience.

What are your plans for music, new music releases, etc. Some have predicted the days of full length albums are over and it’s all about singles. What do you think?

By now, it is cliche' to say the music business has changed - but it HAS! It is STILL changing & developing. If musicians don't adjust, they will lose opportunities to have their music heard. Downloads and streaming are the norm now. We believe that our newest effort is a collection of singles. We will release a few individual tunes as we evaluate how Blind Sided and the next one coming out Sunday, July 5 are received in congruence with our progress in finishing the production.

Tell us about the creation of this song (lyrics, melody, style, etc.). As I said about its inspiration, Vlad's style of having many changes in the songs struck me to write the lyrics "blind sided". Vocally, I like melodies that can be easily picked up and sung by anyone hearing it. I know you called it "sassy". Did Keven give you a hard time about that? Heh, heh.

Instrumentally, Vlad Gurin's hard hitting heavy rock style on this is unique, original & artistic. His guitar tones are always compelling & infectious. With this production, we have also elevated the bass guitar tone to something more worthy of note and interest compared to previous productions. That goes to style, I think. I have always been a fan of the double kick, but it MUST be done tastefully - mostly it can't be overdone. That's a big part of this song and this album. The drummer for this recording, Mike Zahorchak - a self described 'death metal' guy, is very creative & careful to be that artful. And our new drummer, Mike Hoover - a Berklee grad, performs these ideas flawlessly.

Tell me about the song Crows and the Hawk. Lyrically, it is about racial tensions and it is a call, an anthem really, to racial harmony. We need to bring issues into terms to help us grapple with them. I feel this is a graphic metaphor to help wrap our heads around the challenges concerning racial misunderstandings. We need to cut through those things somehow and better understand each other.

What led to its recording? I wrote the lyrics for this song years ago. I had tried with some artists to make it into a song previously and felt good about it. But it never materialized. When we were putting material together for this new album, I challenged the band to compose the music for it with just one beat throughout. Your regular Verse Rhythm & Beat, then your Chorus Rhythm & Beat and so on would not be the rule. It must be one beat and one beat only. Well, we allowed some artistic breathing room for Vlad to bring in some amazing Eastern European folk flavor to it for the guitar solo. It has a real high energy to it.

Why release it now? We had not planned on releasing it as a single. I had said to the band that though we believe it to be a really good song, we have a lot of good - even great - songs for this album. So we should focus on a few for single release - UNLESS it may speak to a culturally impacting current event related to the context of the song. The killing of George Floyd and the protests and riots that followed became that event.

What are your thoughts on current events relevant to it? When I watched that video of the officer grinding his knee into George's neck, looking down as though he enjoyed it - I wanted to take out that officer, ya know? There was no holding back those thoughts and feelings. And the protests that followed are justified and American. But the violence, rioting and looting turned it into something else. There needs to be more police and justice reform - yes. But the family of George Floyd and their law team were headed that way without violence. They denounce that behavior! There was more senseless killing and destruction, which is unacceptable.

Anything else you want to talk about? Gear? Gigs? Family? Metal? I have always told our band members, whatever happens, we will work hard to keep our families together as much as possible. We are willing to be flexible with our time to meet demands and challenges of touring. But having families apart from each other for an extended time is always damaging. What keeps you up at night? Well, you definitely struck a chord with me on the gigs question. That does really bother me. Anyone and everyone who has heard us play knows how good this band is. Vlad was signed to Sony when he was in Moldova. And Michael Hoover is a Berklee grad whose diploma was handed to him by the great Phil Collins. I personally have no claim to Academic or Industry acclamation. But people like our songs. I know we are not alone in that, without a record contract of some sort, we cannot get the opportunities to play to our strongest supporters. Not to mention it makes it tough to grow an audience when that happens. It’s a “Catch 22”. If we had a larger audience/draw, we’d get better gigs. To get a larger audience/draw, we need the better gigs. Congrats to those that get a deal. But I have to shake my head sometimes. How would you describe your music? If you had to compare to a band or a few, which ones would that be? We would like to be the Beatles/Led Zeppelin of the 21st Century. We like innovation, searching the latest & best tones and creating rhythms & beats that make Rock music so compelling. And while we like bands like Skillet, Alter Bridge & Shinedown, we are believe that we as Messenger have our own unique sound and direction.

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