LUNAR: Natural Flow

Alex Bosson

Sacramento’s Lunar is about to launch their debut album titled ‘Theogony,’ an ambitious release in every aspect, including the concept, lyrics, album art, and music itself. Drummer, composer and the main guy behind Lunar, Alex Bosson sheds some light on the creative process that informed the album, but he also tells us about the technical aspect of the album, and future plans.

Theogony’ will be released on November 10 via Divebomb Records. The album is available for pre-order from Bandcamp.

Describe the musical vision propelling your upcoming album Theogony.

This album is based on the 9 Muses of Greek mythology. Each of these Muses represent a certain theme; love, comedy, tragedy, music, etc. When I had discovered them, I felt that the themes that these Muses represent, really, in my opinion, cover the majority of reason and feeling behind most creative output in this world. Generally when someone is compelled to create something artistic, it’s due to an emotion they feel based on one of these themes. I saw that as a wonderful opportunity to have a wide range of musical emotion and lyrical concepts across an entire album.

What made this the right time to pursue that vision?

Well, I’ve always felt that in the writing process of music you should just simply write what’s in your heart. The flow of ideas and emotions should come naturally. The style of music has always been something that I love.  I’ve always wanted to create a progressive album like this since as far back as I remember. And now felt like the time I could achieve it. I didn’t really set out to write this album specifically. Again, it just kind of progressed naturally into what it became.

Lunar - Theogony

Tell me about what you’re communicating with the album cover.

I’m really proud and happy to have this album cover because it was painted by my father, Ed Bosson. As I said before, the album is based on the 9 Muses of Greek mythology. And the album cover is an image that depicts all 9 of them. This felt like the right image to have for the cover given that the album spans so many topics and emotions, with each track based on and named after one of the Muses.

What was the creative process for Theogony like?

Unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Being that this is (for now at least) a studio project, there are a ton of guest musicians on the album. In total, I think somewhere around 20 people contributed to this album in one way or another. So, at times, this made the recording process chaotic. Trying to find people to contribute parts and then coordinate with their schedules along with my own and anyone else’s could get very difficult. However, it also made the final product, I think, the best it could possibly be! Being able to not have the restriction of who would perform what part made the album very diverse. Having almost every guitar solo be performed by a different musician made it so there are so many unique parts across the entire record.

Speaking of the album’s creative process, provide some insight into it. How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

The core music was written by Ryan Erwin and myself. Then the bass was added by Ryan Price and vocals by Chandler Mogel. All the other parts were performed by the various guest musicians I mentioned before. Many of the guest musicians contributed their parts in their own home studios.  However, those that contributed in my local studio (Sumplace Studios) we tried to take some video footage to document a few of the key recording parts.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Absolutely. The flow of an album is very important to me. I personally am a big fan of the type of albums that you can’t properly listen to unless you listen to the entire thing in order. The albums where it almost feels like you’re just listening to one long, incredibly progressive song that has so many different movements. And, although these songs were written individually, I carefully thought out the best way to make them really flow together and have the music and emotions rise and fall at the proper times.

Did the environment in any way influence the vibe the album transcends?

Not directly, I don’t think. The individual environments in which I live or that I wrote / recorded the album in I don’t think had a direct influence on the vibe of the album. It’s a bit more of the environment of the world itself, I suppose.  My feelings and outlooks on certain states of the world or humanity as a whole. Some of the lyrics and feelings are based on much more personal issues to me, but I think it has a lot more to do with specific things I’ve been through as opposed to the environment I was in.

Tell me about the gear you used for creating Theogony. How did you achieve all these tones?

Me personally, I used my Tama Starclassic Performer drum kit. It’s a solid birch kit and, for this recording, I used a 7-piece set. I used a variety of different cymbals, all of which would be too long to list and I’m honestly not even sure I’d remember all of them at this point. [laughs] But all the cymbals I used were from Zildjian. And I used Pro Mark 727 wood tip sticks. I prefer Pro Mark Japanese Oak sticks because they are a denser wood and can handle more of a beating. Most of the questions about tone would likely be better suited for Ryan Erwin, Ryan Price, or our studio engineer Jordan Lonn. But I can tell you we definitely achieved a wide variety of tones by using so many different guest musicians. As I said before, many of them recorded their parts in their own home studios. Plus they all, obviously, have their own unique tones and gear that they use in their own projects and I think that aided to having such a variety of sounds across the entire album.

Speaking of gear, what is your view on technology in music?

I have nothing against where the state of technology in music is. Anything from digital FX, recording tools and even programmed drums, I feel that, if utilized properly, they all have their place. We have this incredible ability these days to be instantly connected with anyone, anywhere, which made it possible for me to get so many of these great guest musicians on my album. And the fact that basically every even semi-serious musician these days has some kind of home studio set up is what also made this possible. I would send these guys a rough take of the track and tell them where their solo or part should go and basically just say “have at it.” They would be able to just upload the song into their own home studio, lay down a part and send me the stem so i could add it in to the song. When you think about it, it’s really astonishing how easy it has become to enlist a musician and get them to contribute something from the other side of the world!

What is your favourite piece of gear or the one that makes your life easier?

Well, as a drummer, my gear is a bit more collective than individual. I don’t really have a favorite piece of gear necessarily. I have a favorite drum set for sure, which is the kit I used on this album; my Tama Starclassic Performer kit. However, I have just ordered a new kit from Tama and once that arrives, I have a feeling it will become my new favorite. In terms of the rest of my gear, I have a handful of different snare drums, a few different kits and a ton of cymbals, but none of them are particularly my favorite. Each of them really has different sounds, different dynamic and, therefore, different applications that I use them for.

How do you usually go about creating a new song? Is there something like “usual” when it comes to writing new music or, to paraphrase Hans Zimmer, do you have to break rules in order to move forward?

I wouldn’t necessarily say there is a “usual” way. Again, I think it should have a bit of a natural flow to the writing process. The part that is usual is we almost always start with either a single or set of a few guitar riffs written by either myself or Ryan Erwin. From there we kind of gauge the vibe of the song and think and feel how it should naturally progress. After the rhythm guitars are arranged, then I will add drum parts. Then we see with the arrangement of the song what feels appropriate for where there should be vocals, instrumental parts, solos, or anything else that comes to mind that we think would sound good at a specific parts. For example, the song on the album called “Urania”… I had no intention when constructing that song that there would be a part for French Horns! But when the song was coming together I thought: “this part is missing something.” I played around with different ideas of vocals and solos, but nothing seemed to work and I landed on an incredibly epic sounding arrangement of French Horns, performed by Marc Papeghin, that just adds so much to that part and really brings it all together! And that’s just one example. There are plenty of other parts across the album just like that.

Which bands or artists influence your work?

There are so many. I personally feel that any music out there you can find some kind of influence from. Even if it’s not something you enjoy as a whole, you can usually find something you appreciate and, therefore, can draw some influence from. It may be something simple like a single guitar riff or a drum beat, or even a lyrical concept… but there’s usually something! That being said, the acts I (and Ryan Erwin) likely draw the biggest influence from are acts like Opeth, Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, Haken and Tool. And I think you can hear a fair amount of influence from those acts in this album.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure if it will or not honestly. Ultimately, if people enjoy it, I’m happy. I enjoy it and am very proud of it. I know throughout my life that music has helped me through some hard times. It can have a chemical affect on me and can help me deal with tough emotions. A lot of what I’ve written comes from hard places in my life, so hopefully some of that can speak to someone else and can help them. If that happens for even one person, I will definitely feel like what I’ve done is a success.

With the album out, what else do you have in the pipeline?

Well, as I mentioned before, for now, Lunar is just a studio project, so there are no plans to tour to support the album. I would love it one day if that could happen, but we’ll see. The next thing for me personally is I’ll be doing some work with my other band, Helion Prime. We’re already hard at work writing and recording our second album which should hopefully be out sometime in 2018. After that I’m sure I’ll be doing some touring with them.  As for Lunar, I fully intend for there to be an Album #2. That process will likely start after I finish the wave of work with Helion Prime. I don’t plan to force the writing with any kind of deadline, so I will just let it come naturally and when the time feels right, I’ll start working on it!

Theogony is out November 10; pre-order it from Bandcamp here. Follow Lunar on Facebook.

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