With its latest release, the stellar (maybe interstellar) single “Guardian,” TIMEWHEEL welcomes Remanon to its increasingly-diverse, ever-burgeoning roster of acts. But, for those already familiar with the band’s previous recorded work—you’ve never heard the boys like this.
Listening to Remanon’s older output—2013’s self-titled EP and 2015’s Episodes EP—we hear a (musically talented) group still searching for its sound, dabbling haphazardly in post-math rock, prog rock, metal, and a heavy kind of post-rock (without all the air).
“Guardian” and its B-side “I.O.E.I.Y.M.” point the way forward for the four piece. These new songs are more mature in every way, their style a jazzy, richly melodic, space-rock/alternative fusion. That the songs feel less metal that previous Remanon material, is not at all to say that the band has lost its edge or its knack for mastering those mathy/metal progressions that provided some of the most exhilarating moments in previous music—far from it. “I.O.E.I.Y.M.” in particular is nothing if not a searing and spindly slice of solid prog-metal ingenuity.
But, “Guardian” is a whole new beast entirely, possessed of a haunting and mystical quality, a truly penetrating melodic refrain, more movement and tempo shifting than ever, and lyrics that are just mysterious enough to enrapture us and just direct enough to be relatable. Remanon has evolved in surprising and rewarding new directions, while still maintaining the best elements of its older sound. With this latest effort, the band truly sounds on the brink of some kind of breakthrough. Let’s hope this single is an appetizer for a whole LP of new tunes.
In order to better understand Remanon’s sound, past and present, we talked at length with vocalist Nathan Alvarado and drummer Roy Hernandez about how the band got started, the new music, and what the future may hold. Dig the full text of that interview below, and be on the lookout for more from Remanon.
First of all, let’s have a bit of the Remanon backstory. How/when did the band start? Who were the original members and how has the band evolved, musically and personnel-wise, since then?
Roy: Remanon was originally called Accord of Dissonance, and it came together around 2004 with me and Matt (real name Jeremy Vela) as an instrumental trio, with the help of Chris Hamner on bass. Matt and I met through a mutual friend and have been best buds ever since. A few years later, in 2009, Jimmy Rodriguez joined AOD as the new bassist. Thomas Soto played keys and sang for a little while. Then in 2013, after Thomas left, we decided to shift direction a bit, not so much with the instrumentation, but basically to allow space for lead vocals. So in 2013 we changed the band name to Remanon. Musically Remanon then and now, tries to teeter on the lines between prog, rock, jazz and punk…writing songs between 4 minutes and 10 minutes.
Nathan: I joined the band late in 2013. I was a fan of the guy’s music since we met back in Local 782 (a coalition of local musicians which I like to think of as a precursor to the SASG). As Accord of Dissonance, they had a track on the Local 782 compilation album. I also remember doing some vocal improv with them at one of their shows at the “old” Mix. So, when my band Aperture entered an indefinite hiatus, I heard through the grapevine that Roy, Matt, and Jimmy were looking for a lead vocalist for their band, now called Remanon. I jumped at the chance. It was actually Matt’s brother Travis Vela (guitarist for Nina Diaz) who told me they were looking…and that conversation also happened at The Mix!
When I started rehearsing with the guys I could tell that the music was still very instrumentally driven, but they already had good ideas about where vocals could fit in. They also had songs on the shelf that they knew needed lead vocals, so there was plenty of material to work with from the start…my start.
This will be Remanon’s first release with TIMEWHEEL, can you tell me how you linked up with the label and how its input has been helpful in producing/releasing this single?
Roy: There’s a lot of internet buzz with TIMEWHEEL within our music community and, them being a spiritual/psychedelic themed entity, it was only a matter of time before we wanted to connect with them. They have a huge network of creative people on their label.
Nathan: Once again, past connections come to the forefront at the right time. I’ve known TIMEWHEEL founder Matt Humble for many years, even before he came out with Something Fiction. We are both huge Maynard James Keenan fans (TOOL, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer), and we connected through MySpace. I kept tabs on his projects, and always admired his creativity and drive. So, everyone in Remanon was aware of TIMEWHEEL when it started. And, of course, playing shows with Verisimilitude kept us on each other’s radar.
What started the conversation about joining TIMEWHEEL was me sharing a recording of a new track we were working on, called “Guardian.” It was an early version without the Sax parts. Matt responded that he loved the track and asked if we would consider joining TIMEWHEEL. Soon after we were at his HQ discussing the details and what the first Remanon/TIMEWHEEL release would be. We all had easy conversations and it was just real chill, so we knew we made the right decision by working with him.
The most apparent input which helped the release was TIMEWHEEL securing the artwork from Steve Teeps, another artist on their label. Matt had given us a sampling of artists that he felt would fit our vibe, and we all thought Teeps’ “Forest Watcher” image was spot on. TIMEWHEEL also helped with the whole process of getting the new tracks on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, etc.
Lastly, TIMEWHEEL has a large network of open-minded art/music lovers, so we think (hope) that audience will respond well to Remanon.
There’s a soulful, jazzy side that creeps occasionally into these new songs. Is this representative of a conscious effort to explore new territory, or did it just sort of naturally come about when working on the new material?
Roy: There’s never a preconceived idea of how the final product should go, just a general idea for what direction we want to take the song. Instrumentals always tend to bring out the “note-y” side of us whereas when we hear a neat vocal idea we tend to write around that for our more concise tunes. Don’t get it twisted though, carving out spaces for vocals in pre-existing instrumental songs is just as fun.
Nathan: Let it be known that I do not play an instrument, except for that short stint in “Guardian” on the flute, so the music all comes from the players. For me, coming in later in the game, I can say that I’ve always heard that jazzy element in their music. So yeah, whatever happens, happens organically.
Tell me about the songwriting process for Remanon. When did y’all first add vocals and how has that changed the process?
Roy: Nathan joined at the end of 2013 and, being a fan of his previous projects, we had a feeling the outcome of this merge would be exactly what we were looking for. It was just all systems go when he joined.
Nathan: Usually, I’ll show up to a practice and the guys will already be jamming on a new tune I’ve never heard before. I plug in my gear, grab a mic stand and kinda hover there until Roy or Matt shout out “sing something here.” That’s how a lot of the more metal-ish songs come together. There are also the instances when Matt will bust out his acoustic and start playing a riff, and humming a melody on top. That’s how “Guardian” started. He even gave me the opening line “I know you and your ghost.” I took it from there, filling out the story as the music underneath inspired me to write it.
There is no shortage of song ideas, and early on the guys were laying a lot out there. I have discs and emails of demos and short jams that Roy had put together digitally, or the guys just recorded with an overhead mic. In the end, time dictates how much we can tackle at any given moment, so we started to focus on one or two songs at a time, filling them out to completion, to where they are at least demo ready. And the ones we really like we have recorded in studio. For this new TIMEWHEEL release, we are fortunate to have Roy’s pal Adam Castro, playing Sax and EWI. Roy worked with him in detail to add the right parts at the right time as these songs had already been written as a four piece.
Again, I wasn’t around when they just did instrumentals but I think the song writing process has slowed down a bit since I joined. Not necessarily as a negative, but I think that with the vocals it takes longer for me to meet them where they want me to meet them within the context of the song. It’s never just as easy as, here’s the verse, here’s the chorus, now repeat it. Because they are always pushing to change things up, not repeat, to see what other melody or space can be introduced in a song.
Is it easier or harder to create a sonic world with lyrics involved?
Roy: Not easier or harder, just more fun. Hearing like 3 or 4 different options for a part of a song gives our brains a chance to be more “fertile” with ideas and that’s always refreshing.
Nathan: From my perspective it’s harder to add lyrics and vocals to a Remanon song. Harder meaning, finding the right space to fit lyrics, when the instruments are moving around in such a frenzied and unpredictable way. I think though, based on feedback from listeners, that the lyrics make the songs more relatable. That being said, I think you could take the vocals away from a Remanon track and it would still sound bad ass.
What are the plans in terms of following up this single? (i.e. Touring, new LP, etc)
Roy: tour tour tour tour tour eta tour
Nathan: With this TIMEWHEEL release, we want to push it as hard as we can to the music press, and hopefully get some more regional/national exposure. Gig wise, we want to set up a long form live show. “An evening with” sorta thing. We’ve been playing those 40 minute club sets for several years now and it never allows us time to really get into all the dynamic music we have to offer. Big plans would be to tour again out of state, possibly with our homies up in Kansas City, After Nations. They’ve been a good band friend to us, and we admire their music and the way they do things. I think we also are overdue for a legit music video, and that’s something we would like to collaborate with TIMEWHEEL on.
We are at kind of a crazy historical moment right now. What place, if any, do you think musicians and artists ought to play in social justice efforts?
Roy: The same as any other form of art, just an escape, a place of comfort that YOU create, where no laws or judgement can intrude.
Nathan: I think if an artist, any artist, feels passionate about a social justice topic then they should feel free to explore that idea and see where it leads them. Surely, some of the greatest music ever written has come from a social justice perspective. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that artists “should” be expected to take part in social justice efforts, but I respect and support those that do. Another point on that is an artist/band can definitely draw inspiration from a social justice topic, or from the protest movement in general.
What, after all is said and done, does success look like for Remanon?
Roy: Taking a piss in all corners of the world because of our music.
Nathan: That’s a tricky one, because it’s not something we have all really discussed on purpose. Some days, we’d feel successful just to play to a packed local club (let’s say The Mix). Success could also mean getting tapped to play the more and more elusive Maverick Music Festival local stage. But, in the zoomed out view, true success would be being able to sustain ourselves as musicians long term, in the band Remanon, continuing to put out music for an established audience, knowing that we can go out of state to play a show and at least some people will be singing along.
For more information about Remanon, visit them on:
Written by James Courtney