Spring is just around the corner. With a new label and a new album out soon, that’s a good way to kick things off right.
We got a chance to sit down with Andrew Cresto, guitarist for Save Us From The Archon. We conversed about their new label, the upcoming CD, and possible Gatorade sponsorship. So, check the brakes on the minivan and buckle in. This is a very brainy ride. Oh, and bring the red burn deck. I think the National Rock Review geeks can take these guys.
NRR: Thanks for taking some time out to answer some questions for National Rock Review. What’s been going on with the band, Save Us From The Archon, so far in 2016?
Andrew Cresto: So far we’ve signed our first record deal with Tragic Hero Records, wrote and recorded a new full length LP, shot a music video, and are gearing up for our next national tour with Angel Vivaldi, Plini, and Intervals. Our newest LP, entitled L’Eclisse, will be out on Mar 18, 2016 through Tragic Hero Records, along with new shirts and merch. We’re also working on a new music video for another single off the new album, as well as lining up tours for this summer.
NRR: You have a new album out, L’Eclisse. What can fans new and old expect from the newly released material?
Andrew Cresto: L’Eclisse is our most personal and focused effort at energetically violent music thus far. Tied together by winding loops and interludes, the album plays as a single piece, separated into eleven tracks. Heavily influenced by radical European New Wave artists of the late sixties, L’Eclisse narrates our internal conflicting existentialist thoughts in sonic form. We placed an extenuated focus on odd time signatures that interplay melodically with each other. Aggressive bursts of energy are juxtaposed against soft interludes, alluding to our existentialist theme. The album was self recorded and produced, while the mixing and mastering was done by Anthony Kalabretta (Intervals, Protest the Hero).
NRR: Okay, I see a hundred new band names a year, but your moniker is definitely unusual. What’s the skinny on how it came about and any meaning behind it?
Andrew Cresto: The name was a group effort, after trying hundreds of names we either hated or couldn’t agree upon. It alludes to humanity’s instinctual fear of a higher power or “God.”
NRR: How did the group come together in Pittsburgh, PA and who all is in the outfit?
Andrew Cresto: We were all teenagers who played in metal bands around Pittsburgh, so we had been friends for a long time. Eventually, we lost our vocalist and decided to rename the group and shift to strictly instrumental music. The members are myself on guitar, Nelson Brooks on guitar, Samantha Zunich on bass, and Devin Greig on drums.
NRR: We’ve recently lost a few big names in music starting with Scott Weiland and Lemmy to Bowie and Fry passing as well among others. Did any of those very talented artists have any influence in your own careers?
Andrew Cresto: Personally, David Bowie was one of my biggest heroes. Not just his music, but his entire persona. His originality was such a bold artistic statement, and above all things, truly unique. He was always one step ahead of the world, and he refused to let us catch up to him. If an artist should learn anything from Bowie, it would be to remain unique, even in an industry that’s bloated with catchy hooks and imitations.
NRR: With the mindset of the band being what it is, would playing behind chicken wire on a small stage to a packed bar, i.e. Roadhouse, be more rewarding then playing in front of sixty thousand in a pretty sterile Heinz Field setting?
Andrew Cresto: Our mindset has always been very different it comes to making art and music. We’d play the same show to two people as we would to two thousand people. If even a single person were to give us their time of day, we would be fulfilled. Probably because we make weird avant-garde instrumental music in today’s age of computer driven pop stars, we’re incredibly grateful to have people who are interested in our art.
NRR: Being in a band is like being a pro athlete, you need a certain amount of confidence in your sound or ability. What would be one or two things that you’re really proud of in how your alchemist like vibe comes across?
Andrew Cresto: We’ve always taken great pride in our live shows. When playing “technical” music, people seem to think that there’s no room for heart or energy. We beg to differ. Our live shows include a great deal of running around, bouncing off walls, stomping, yelling, and pretty much any form of violent physical expression. I’ve actually split my head open on several accounts from bashing into my guitar, and continue to play through the blood anyways.
NRR: More bands seem to be doing VIP deals on tour or really being creative with their merch. How important are these things for you not just as a revenue stream?
Andrew Cresto: On our upcoming tour, we actually don’t have any VIP deals. Perhaps one day we’ll do our own VIP package, but we’d probably do it a little different from the usual guitar masterclass. Possibilities include Magic the Gathering Tournament with the band, hangout “sesh” in our Astro Van, and signed VHS copy of Ferris Buller’s Day Off!
NRR: Is there a moment, that thinking back on it now, in the your career, with the band now, that you can’t help but still feel a tad bit embarrassed about, makes you laugh about despite yourself, or just still makes you shake your head in disbelief? A Spinal Tap moment if you will, that you’d be willing to share with me?
Andrew Cresto: Our old van used to break down a lot. We’ve gotten stuck in some shady places, forced to have some shady times. A high point would be the time our brake line snapped as we were on a crowded three lane road with a red light ahead of us. Devin navigated through three lanes of traffic and a light with no brakes. Good times.
NRR: Do the big festivals like the Carolina Rebellion and say Rock on the Range that are coming up soon, signify a milestone if a band like you guys were offered a spot?
Andrew Cresto: We’d love to play any big festival! I don’t think we’ve ever called anything in our career a “milestone” yet, besides getting signed. So I guess we’ll have to start making them.
NRR: How does the group go through the writing process, is it all one person doing the lion’s share with help or is it a group effort from start to finish?
Andrew Cresto: When we write, we always notate the score down into tablature form, specifically Guitar Pro 5. Nelson and I do most all of the writing, seeing as the music is heavily guitar driven. Notation is needed since our parts usually don’t repeat, and tend to cover the entire scale length of the guitar. Personally when I write, I find a melody I like and expand upon it, attempting to never repeat a part. I utilize augmented chords interwoven with single note licks, and the occasional two handed tapping, although I’m constantly trying to find new ways to play.
NRR: You’re a self professed DIY group that recently signed to Tragic Hero Records. What is the balance for the band between those two worlds?
Andrew Cresto: Tragic Hero has been absolutely amazing to us. They’ve helped us out with everything we’ve needed and always backed us up on our artistry. For years we’ve done everything ourselves; from filming videos, to recording and producing our records, to merch and printing, to playing across the country. With the label, we’re able to finally hit a bigger market we’ve always wanted, and to have things like distribution and marketing. We still remain very DIY in terms of originality, creative control, music videos, and music in general. We’re very excited to continue working with the label and see what we can do.
NRR: When you are out on the road playing the bigger lineup shows, have you picked up any good habits to incorporate in your own routine or seen things that you made a mental note never to do yourselves?
Andrew Cresto: Touring isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve been on six or seven tours now as a band, and there’s several things you’ll want to remember to be successful. Timing is the most important part. You have to be on time to the show, set up in time, and mind your set time. Secondly, the driver. Always make sure your driver is awake and ready, seeing that eighty percent of touring is driving. And lastly, save money. You never know when the van will break or when natural disasters will stroke or when you’ll get robbed. And stay safe.
NRR: Is there an unofficial official drink of choice for the band, and if so what might it be? I have a few connections if you need some help.
Andrew Cresto: Devin should be sponsored by Gatorade. The amount of empty bottles in the van by the end of tour is astonishing.