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Interview with Scorpion Child
23 April 2014
Scorpion Child is a Hard Rock band from Austin Texas that plays 70s influenced music with modern Heavy Metal and Psychedelic influences. They released their self titled debut album in 2013. Roland Oei caught up with vocalist Aryn Black and bassist Shaun Avants before a recent London show. Here’s what they had to say.....
Are there many bands doing what you are doing in your hometown of Austin, Texas?
A : Absolutely not. There are other bands that play Rock but I think everyone has their own little thing that they do. Their specialty I guess.
Can you give the readers a brief history of the band?
A : Well Shaun and I have been doing this for 7 years and we met at a friend’s house.
S : We just met through a mutual friend and we would hang out and party and write songs and it turned into a band.
So in the beginning it was just the two of you writing.
A : That is one way to put it.
When did the other guys come aboard?
A : Well there was Shaun, myself and another guitar player, our original guitar player and we would sit around and do drugs and play guitar and drink and just have a good time and Shaun actually moved away soon after I met him and I got the band going with the other guitar player and Shaun came back from San Francisco prematurely if you will and then we started writing a lot of music together and working on stuff that we had done before he left.
What sort of timescale was your debut album written over?
A : The debut was probably written over two and a half years.
S : We did an EP of the first 6 songs that we had written but none of those songs made it to the actual album. We wrote another album’s worth of material before we put the album out. It is really hard to find the early stuff
Are you going to rerelease it later?
A : Probably not. It sounds nothing like us anymore. It might be fun just to rerelease it maybe 20 years down the road in a box set or something like that.
Has the music changed that much in the last 7 years?
S : Well we had more of a southern swing, swagger, classic rock feel to the music and it was almost a little too deliberately seventies and now we still definitely have those influences but we are more refined. We are putting our own new spin on it and we don’t want to be completely retro, we want to have our own stamp on things and not be a rip off of the seventies bands.
What do you feel are the modern bits to the music?
A : Well you have the seventies and then you include everything that we really grew up on and the stuff that came out when we were growing up so. We are Metalheads and Punk Rock kids so we were able to throw some of our teenage angst in there. Early on we were trying to do a specific thing, a more southern rooted thing and we were trying to figure out that we really wanted to do, what we are doing now where we combine it all. It is meant to make people feel uncomfortable and stir up some sort of weird.....’it sounds familiar’ and the dads in the audience will remember what that sound was but we have had 3 or 4 decades since then with music we can also channel into the sound.
S : I would say the main genres we have added in are Metal, Heavy Rock and honestly, Pop. We like to maintain an element of catchiness and hooks and we realise the importance of catching the listener’s ear and we have added Psych in there.
A : Psych is so blurred, it’s the new Emo. There is something for everybody. We have noisy elements in there and it’s basically everyone’s influences and more will appear as time goes on. There are more directions that we can do and we are a boy band in the sense that we like to add the Cheap Trick kind of hooks but it is gritty. Our thing is not to be polished. We are dirty and gritty. Everyone is influenced by similar sounds and it gets a little incestual but we want to stay away from that. We are fans of all those bands but we want to have our own identity and that is a big part of us.
The press is reporting a 70s rock revival at the moment. Do you think that is justified or do you think they are just making it up?
S : I don’t think they are making it up. I think it is just riff based rock and I think that is something that has been missing for a long time. There are some bands that are a little more deliberately cliché.
Have any of the songs on your album grown on you more than others since you recorded them?
A : What is interesting is we are not even thinking about the album anymore.
What are you thinking about now?
A : We are thinking about all these songs that we are writing now. It is really hard to explain because there are a lot of elements that are going to hook you like the first album did and it is a growing process into the second album and I definitely think our second album is going to have a lot of the same thing that attracted people to the first album but there will be way more focus.
How far have you got with the writing?
A : Well since parting with our old drummer and having Jon who lives in Seattle now it is hard to rehearse every single day but Chris and I and Aryn get together and we work on ideas and then Jon is a really talented drummer so he comes in and rehearses with us and he jams with us to get new ideas and we have three new songs that we are going to play tonight that we are testing out. They are called ‘Seizure Year’, ‘My Woman in Black’ and ‘I Might be Your Man’. We are still playing around with them. There’s still a lot of improvisation. With Jon as a drummer we can do things that we haven’t been able to do up to now. He is half the age of the other guy and has a more useful prospective, not to discredit the last drummer. He came from a different time so Jon brings in an element of refreshing sound.
You lost your guitarist as well but you chose not to replace him. Why?
A : Well we didn’t lose him. He is like our best friend. It just came down to .....we had been touring hard for a year and he had some financial obligations back home so that’s what it was about, it was about survival. I think we will be happy to have him on board later if we have enough money but we don’t have any hard feelings towards the guy. It came down to ‘let’s see what we can do with the four of us’ and we are having a lot of fun on the road like this.
Is the band paying your bills now?
S : Nope.
So you have day jobs as well?
S : We try and pick up work. It’s kind of strange to me. I have always had a day job or two and then I was on the road all last year and it was weird to come home for two months and I was telling myself ‘I don’t have a job’ and I feel like a lazy bum and then it clicked that I do have a job and being a musician is my job so this down time is time for me to write and be working towards my new job which is being a professional musician.
A : It is a difficult job right now. We are on minimal wage, less that minimal wage actually but you get to travel and play music to people and there is nothing wrong with that.
S : I don’t think any of us are looking to be rich, we just want to get to where it makes sense, go on tour and pay the bills when we are home. I have family so I miss my wife and kids and it is hard to be away for a long time but other than that there is nothing wrong with being on tour. We get to go on tour and travel the world and play to thousands of people.
A : You can’t take that for granted. It is pretty awesome.
Can you pick two songs that people that have never heard the band before should check out and say why?
A : I would probably say ‘Salvation Slave’ because it is a good song that shows the dynamics and it shows really well what we are about. It is heavy but then it is completely empty. It is weird. It is really fucking weird man. I would also go for ‘Red Blood (The River Flows)’ just because it is something we should be playing live but we don’t. We get put on a lot of Hard Rock shows and the crowd wants to get heavy and it is hard to bust out the softer side of you because that dampens the mood of the crowd. If we ever got to play more than an hour we would include some of those songs.
S : The average at the moment is a 30 minute set so you just want to kick the audiences teeth in and then you are out.
Have you got any message for your fans?
A : Stay true man, we love you. Keep coming to the shows.