We at Prog Sphere are really thrilled to be working with that “crazy” band from Boston that mixes prog metal/djent and funk (and everything in between). Our excitement is even bigger considering that Sound Struggle is about to unleash their second album “Rise” on September 25th.
In the interview below, guitarist and singer Cameron Rasmussen and keyboardist Joey Izzo talk about the band’s name, their albums, other projects, and dogs.
Hello guys, would you mind introducing yourselves? Please feel free to give an introduction for any members who couldn’t make it to the interview as well.
Today we have Joey Izzo and Cameron Rasmussen answering your questions! We are missing Adam Rafowitz, Joe Calderone, Matthieu Danesin, and Michael Bozdeck, but they are with us in spirit!
What in the first place inspired you to name the band “Sound Struggle”?
Cam: That name came about after we had been rehearsing for a little while in the early days of Sound Struggle. We were trying to think of some sort of description for the Metal and Funk crossing without sounding like a joke band. Before a rehearsal one day I wrote a few names on a napkin as well as Sound Struggle, and all the boys decided on Sound Struggle! We thought that it was a good mix of serious metal band sounding, and also a comedic comment of our style of music.
Let’s talk a little bit about each album, starting with the first. “Sound Struggle”, which was released in 2014, is the band’s debut. What was it like working on this record? I have to say that it’s the first album ever I heard that combines prog metal and funk.
Cam: For the first album I had written and arranged all of the music, except for a part in two different songs that were written by Adam, and Joey was and still is the man in the band with the recording and mixing know how. When working on it we rehearsed all the songs together very consistently every week, and that was when we had 8 of us total with a full horn section. Actually recording it was a very DIY process. All of it was done with the microphones that we owned ourselves, and we mostly recorded in the practice rooms here at Berklee. I engineered all the sessions for the horn recording and Joey engineered everything else. The bass and guitar were recorded DI and amped virtually later on.
Your second release is actually upcoming full-length release titled “Rise.” What can we expect from this record comparing it with the debut?
Joey: Rise is going to be a very different sounding album in comparison to the debut, and we’re super excited about that! On the debut the whole “funk/metal” thing was very prominent in that we’d play a section of straight funk followed by a section of straight metal. On Rise we will be throwing it all at you at once, we could call it fusion I guess, because the funk, metal, jazz and everything else blends together much more from section to section. These new songs are also complete band collaborations, which is always the way to go if you want a song to grow to be the best that it can possibly be.
What, in your opinion, are the biggest differences between your two albums?
Joey: The biggest difference is definitely the writing process. Exactly a year ago we sat down at our computers with zero music for this album, and what we have now is a 70 minute album entirely written and produced in that year. The first album was written over a much longer period of time comparatively, and it had a less informed vision of what the band would become.
Cam: The first album was a big experiment that I had in mind about how to go about mixing the two genres that I enjoyed playing, because I love screaming heavy metal you can bang your head to, and I love doing jazz/fusion solos as well. Some songs are put together better than others, and some of the old songs worked better than others. However on Rise everything is a big step up, even the vocals!
You guys create very eclectic music. How would you describe your music? Do you think that the “Prog Funk” tag is adequate? Personally, I find that tag to be very vague and in need of review, as it doesn’t make much sense to me to put bands like Dream Theater or Periphery and Earth, Wind, & Fire in the same label, unless the label is “bands that make awesome music”.
Cam: (laughs) Well hopefully our genre can be associated with that description for everyone else!
I think the label comes after the music is made most of the time. Though we tend to write in the prog metal idiom, I think that we usually just write a song to the specs of whatever we have in our head at the time, and then decide what category it sits in afterwards. When any of us set out writing a new song I don’t think we are thinking about what genre we want it to be called by the end, we just write what we are hearing in our head, or as close to that and it ends up being what it is. I don’t think you should set walls when composing of “this song is going to be a djent song” or “I’m going to write a whale core song” or whatever, because you are then restricting the possibilities of you being creative and letting the music develop organically, and writing truly organic music is one of the most important skills to have I think.
What other sorts of music do you guys listen? Do guys listen to much “prog rock”?
Cam: We all do listen to a lot of prog I think. Joey is the most up to date, and a lot of us get introduced to artists and bands from him. I tend to be a fan of the heavier metal and prog bands that I can find like Animals as Leaders, Anup Sastry’s own stuff, Tesseract, and the band Frost* who has a sweet album called “Milliontown” that Joe C introduced to us all. Other than prog I am a HUGE Pat Metheny fan, and other modern jazz groups. Lately I have been listening to “Kin” by the Pat Metheny Unity Band, the Periphery “Juggernaut” release, the entire Snarky Puppy discography, Nothing More’s self titled album, Jay Z’s newest album, “Vulgar Display of Power” and “Far Beyond Driven” by Pantera, and “Make your Own History” from Stray From The Path.
Joey: Prog Rock is my favorite genre, but the thing about prog is that it is informed and cultivated by so many genres that you find yourself branching out of it all the time. (laughs) As a listener I go wherever my moods take me. Some days I want to listen to heavy music, but then I might spend a week listening to jazz, classical or acoustic indie music or anything that inspires me, which I guess is the ultimate purpose of music. (laughs) Lately I’ve been obsessed with the Ego and Eco EP’s by David Maxim Micic. That dude makes me feel so bad about my mixes. (laughs)
How about other projects? Do you guys have anything in the works? Solo albums, other bands?
Joey: There are actually a few things happening! I’m in the process of writing a solo album, I’m producing a solo EP for Adam, and Joe. Also Joe, my friend Jeremy and myself, have a newly started film scoring/advertisement music company called Tangent Music, so between that and this last semester of Berklee things are pretty nuts.
Cam: I currently have a group of guys including Joey and Joe C that are gonna play one show in Boston on the 14th of October. We are going to be playing covers of some of my favorite Jazz/Fusion tunes, as well as some prog rock, and prog metal covers at Berklee College of Music. After that I am thinking about doing a solo project like Adams using ideas that I have had stored away for some time now, but these ideas may also come out in the future Sound Struggle albums too, because Sound Struggle is my baby, and I love these guys! I have also learned a lot about recording, production, mixing, arranging and scoring to video and will be working in those fields after Berklee as well as working as a professional guitarist and with Sound Struggle!
I think we’re just about done, so just for fun: do you like dogs?
Joey: I have a dog named Bella and her picture sits in front of my keyboard at school…..so yeah I guess so. (laughs)
Sound Struggle online: