TERAVOLT: Voicing Challenges and Struggles

Teravolt

Los Angeles-based progressive metal five-piece Teravolt launched their full-length debut album ‘Waking Up‘ in June. Prog Sphere spoke with the band’s founder and drummer Yoyo Bianchi about the release, following the band’s participation on the Progotronics 38 compilation.

Describe the musical frameworks “Waking Up” explores.

“Waking Up” is a product of determination to voice not only the challenges that we face as a society, but internal struggles to overcome your own adversity. The album touches on common questions of self-doubt, perseverance and testing your moral compass through the scope of today’s events.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and lessons learned during the creative process for “Waking Up”?

It’s curious how “Waking Up” came to be, because our timeline was very fluid. We had demos that were sitting for over a decade (ie: “Divided We Stand” & “Coward Crowd”), and songs that were literally finished weeks before we went into the studio (ie: “Heat Wave” & “Church of Pain”), so you could say one important lesson was exercising patience and picking the songs that would make the cut in the album without making it feel sonically disjointed. It was challenging to choose the definitive playlist for the album considering that we had songs from then and now, and you want to keep it as balanced as possible without creating too much contrast.

One of my favorite things that happens during the songwriting process of an album is how the dynamic between band members will evolve ultimately elevating the outcome. Inevitably each album is unique and it has a lot to do with the workflow and how everyone is connecting in the band, how you communicate and make decisions for certain songs, etc.

Considering that 80% of Pre-Production for “Waking Up” was done in 2020 during the pandemic, we had to adapt and learn how to keep things moving forward without letting it put a negative spin on the whole creative process. Once COVID hit, and everything was closed or cancelled, all of the sudden Teravolt’s timeline was extended indefinitely and this allowed us the time to dig deeper into more experimental elements for the album. For example, the choir sections for “Coward Crowd” and “Church of Pain” would probably not exist if we didn’t have that time to play around with layers of vocals at the studio (along with the assistance of our faithful friend THC).

Teravolt - Waking Up

Is there a message you try to convey with the album?

It really is a journey that can connect with each listener differently. We believe that listening to an album is similar to reading a book, you have to consume in its entirety to fully understand. The songs are placed in a certain order to guide you through a story, with an intro, momentum, climax and resolution.

Some listeners may be offended by our music whilst others might find it refreshing or even healing. We strongly recommend listening to “Waking Up” while reading the lyrics to get the full picture, as much of our energy went into creating a powerful narrative for each song.

Lyrics can be found on our website at http://teravolt.band/waking-up- lyrics/

To someone who hasn’t heard the album, what can he or she expect from it?

A fine blend of Hard Rock and Groove Metal with Grunge reference, strong tribal elements, epic vocal melodies and face-melting guitar solos — much like the hypothetical love child of Alice in Chains, Megadeth and Sepultura.

We take our inspiration from the RAW sound of the 90s decade with a modern twist. You could say that we’re nostalgic of the era when mainstream actually highlighted bands that could play their instruments and sing their hearts out without getting an overly-tuned robotic sound. Hopefully we can revive that organic sonic space for new listeners.

How has your perspective on the possibilities of song arrangement expanded over the years?

There is a constant evolution on how you approach songwriting. You are basically influenced by every element in your life at any given time. It’s such a soul-bearing and healing process where each song has it’s own unique historic thumbprint. Once it’s finished and released to the world, the song(s) can connect with people in a million different ways — that’s a beautiful and powerful thing.

It takes trials and tribulations to understand what you are comfortable with and how you begin the creative process when you sit down to write a song, but the ultimate truth is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone is different and music comes from different places — that’s ok. Eventually your confidence builds and you mature as a songwriter. However, I’m a big believer that “masterpieces” come from collaborations, as opposed to someone sitting alone in a room making music. There is something special about having a group of musicians in a room working on a song simultaneously. The possibilities are endless and that’s exactly when your unique sound begins to take shape. It’s easy to get stuck in your head trying to make things perfect, you have to remember to just have fun jamming. Rock is not meant to be perfect!

What types of change do you feel this music can initiate?

The best way I can explain is actually to quote a verse from our song, “Waking Up”…

“Persistence upholding.
Ambition to rise, to defy the controlling,
Impulse that ignites within.
Convictions eroding,
Each moment that time passes by is devoting,
my life to what’s right for me.”

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

Not really. It’s always a bit of a free-style approach when it comes to writing music for Teravolt. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

I think the only pattern we had for this album was a very unusual way of writing music that began with creating the complete drum sections for all the songs without any music. I’m a drummer, so that’s how my creative process tends to begin, with the complete rhythmic structure of a song, which explains why our songs are very rhythm-oriented. Usually, songs will sprout form a riff or vocal line, but in this case drums & percussion were created first, guitars & bass came second and vocals last.

What non-musical entities and ideas have an impact on your music?

Mother nature and the great outdoors! That, for me, is the ultimate spiritual experience. I’ve realized that the best ideas and clarity come from disconnecting and getting away from the societal “machine”. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and overwhelming demands of today, which inhibit your higher creative consciousness that fuels your musical mind. If you keep a clear head and that imaginative connection to the beauty around us (nature), music will come to you. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you even came up with a musical piece, but rather were “given” the words or the melody to create it but some outside energy. Many Artists will attest to this, that they are merely channeling a message from the ether, a higher level of consciousness, to impact the world for the better.

Additionally, as much as I’d like to look away from certain worldly events, they have inevitably driven a creative need to speak out. When you see innocent children being killed in their classrooms, insurrections driven by ignorance and anger, police brutality and racial profiling, the continued lies of politicians…. and nothing seems to change, it’s impossible to ignore.

Music is a powerful tool, and our hope is to bring people together, bring awareness and initiate change.

What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in forms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it, or anything else?

I believe that when you have a talent, whatever it may be, it’s your responsibility to share it with the world. You were basically chosen to have an amazing skill that has the ability to inspire, to heal and impact other, so to keep that to yourself would be a shame.

Surround yourself with people that elevate you. There’s so much unnecessary ego in this industry that it’s key to have a strong circle of power around you. People can have their opinions, but their actions speak louder than words. So, stay aware of your surroundings and perceive intentions, which is another verse from one of our songs “Restless Sin”;

“Perceive intentions.
From light shadows fall,
Embody love is all.”

Keep a light heart, share love and move forward. Don’t waste energy where it’s not needed, and eventually you will land exactly where you need to be.

Waking Up is out now; get it from Bandcamp.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: