Today's twenty answers come from the vocalist/keyboardist of the band Numbers, but I should probably let him introduce himself -- it would only be polite.
LN: For any of my readers who might not know you yet, who are you, where are you from, and from which band do you hail?
KB: I'm Kyle Bishop, I'm originally from Long Beach, California, but currently reside in a small town in Washington, and I play in a band called Numbers.
LN: As a band name, Numbers could have a whole host of meanings and connotations. Were there any in particular that especially informed your choice of it as a name, first for the band and then for you first EP?
KB: When I originally thought of the band name, I simply saw the word standing alone and was thinking of starting a new project, and thought that word would make a great band name. Meaning behind the name was sort of plugged in when I just thought about it, and how mathematical music is overall. Music can be broken down in Numbers, in pretty much any shape and form, which is one of the biggest reasons why the name stuck for me.
We decided to make the EP self-titled for a few reasons: we wanted to get our "self-titled" out of the way, and we already had plans on how we were going to name our next albums. So it was just most logical to get our self-titled out of the way to make way for the bigger albums.
LN: The most succinctly I have seen your diverse sound described might be “electro-jazz-core”, a term one of you guys might even have coined (I can’t recall where I first saw it). That’s a pretty niche sub-genre; is that sound the kind of vision (so to speak) you’ve always had in your heads and actively sought out, or is that just how your sound has evolved and coalesced?
KB: It's funny at how many people take us seriously when I put that name on everything. When we initially began dropping demos, it's a ridiculously named sub-genre, and I definitely don't expect it to catch on! However, it does describe most of what influences us as a band. I'm very much passionate about genres like electronica, dance, jazz, hardcore, metal, orchestral, and many others; so "electrometal-jazzcore" isn't far from the truth as far as what we sound and continue to sound like.
Side-story: we've had quite a few people who got angry across the internet when they saw that genre name, and immediately dismissed us as awful because we labeled ourselves something that they just can't take seriously, the funny part is that we don't take those labels seriously either. Not all of our stuff will be electronic, or have a jazz section, or be whatever that made-up genre entails. I threw that label to almost make fun of labeling your music to begin with. I find it hilarious when new bands define themselves with silly words like "Yeah, we're a mix of djent, melodic, proggy deathcore." I just find that kind of definition hilarious, and had to join the club with something outrageous, and thus, "electrometal jazzcore" was born.
LN: Has your varied sound evolved just over the life of Numbers, or have any of you been in previous bands that led to how Numbers sounds now?
KB: It's remained fairly consistent from the start. I started Numbers in the mindset of "I'm going to write whatever comes to mind." instead of what I had done previously, which was writing around other members' likes and dislikes, catering the sound to whatever everybody else likes to play. In a way, previous bands lead me to a new mentality for songwriting, which led to Numbers. I would say what we listen to is what influences us the most in our playing style, and our performance. As far as our varied sound, I just try to give each song its own identity, and that's been the case since Numbers' birth. Identity is important, and I truly can't stand it when band's write the same thing over and over, and I try to avoid falling into that songwriting trap myself.
LN: Has the sound of Numbers been informed by any formal musical training any of you might have?
KB: Sort of. Victor (drums) and Ryan (bass) both graduated from Berklee School of Music over in Boston in the same class, they were roommates, and they're both musically trained in theory and have an outstanding grip on songwriting. I, myself only took 1 music theory class back in high school, and I am self-trained ever since. I study by doing, and would say I'm educated and have a professional understanding of theory and music, but I'm not formally trained.
LN: You’ve recently posted a teaser video for an upcoming full-length record. You probably have more plans for filling fans in on the new record, but can you divulge any hints or tasty tidbits?
KB: It's 13 tracks. It sounds incredibly different than our EP, it's much more emotionally invested in, and honestly kicks ass from start to finish. I truly can't wait to finish it! Our fans have been very patient with us the past few months, so I feel we owe them a slew of content, which is what they'll get.
LN: I saw back in March or April that you were looking for a new guitarist. How did you search go, and how did that affect the songwriting process for this upcoming release?
KB: Our guitarist search has gone interestingly. We still have interested guitarists, but we've decided on who will track guitar for the full-length, as well as play the next round of shows with us. We'll be announcing who this person is soon, but neither us or this person is sure if this will be a permanent lineup change, since this person has a lot of other things to do with many other commitments that we can't ask to let go of to be in our band. I write all of the songs, so luckily we could still move forward with the album while we searched for a guitarist; though, I do believe some of the final guitar work will certainly carry influence from the person tracking them, and I'm excited to see how he decides to treat what I wrote.
LN: What’s the music scene like in Seattle right now? Anything local you’re really into, or that you think the rest of us should know about?
KB: The music scene is strong in Seattle, but I feel the metal music scene is pretty weak. It's mostly over-saturated with too many bands for fans to be motivated to attend. We try to keep our Seattle shows limited since attendance is typically very small. We love playing in Bremerton, though. Kids out there show up and rock out every time. I have plenty of locals that I'm friends with including Reach For The Sky, Truth Under Attack, Keeping Secrets, Into The Flood, Says The Snake, and many more that you should check out! There are lots of passionate people out there that I get the pleasure of sharing the stage with.
LN: How does that local scene treat you? How do hometown shows compare with shows on the road?
KB: Locally, it depends on the demographic, and the area. I don't think we've ever had a truly negative reaction from any crowd ever, and I'm grateful for that. We were pretty pleased with how people reacted to us outside of Washington vs. inside. We played a show in Kelowna, B.C. last year and had a blast, and the crowds (despite their size) on our tour last November were really excited to talk to us and buy our EP after we performed. People tend to react the same way each time we play to a different crowd, which is a combination of shock and confusion; in a good way, though. People just aren't expecting a band to go from death speed metal to techno to a breakdown to a reggae groove. I love seeing their reactions, good or bad!
LN: What about touring on a bigger scale? I know you guys have done some touring, but any time I see show info come up in my Facebook feed, it seems to be fairly local stuff (for you guys, anyway). Any plans for longer treks (say, to eastern Canada... just a suggestion... ) in support of the new record?
KB: This has been a concern of ours for some time now. We're doing a small northwestern tour to support our CD release to start. We just lack the fanbase to justify touring way out to the east side, and realistically can't do it until we can support a large headliner. How we go about supporting a larger tour, we are working on that. Whether it be support from a label, or finding the right booking agency, we'll figure out something hopefully sooner than later.
LN: What’s your favourite song to play live?
KB: So far, it's been Figured You Forgot. It's certainly the most dynamic, energy-wise, and has the most to offer part-wise. People tend to go nuts during the heavier sections and are really engaged during the slower groovy section. We've begun playing some new ones off the new record and we have one called "Legal Lee Speaking" that's just a blast from start to finish with a guitar solo and a keyboard solo! I'm sure there will be a new favorite to play by the time we drop our new record.
LN: Have you had any interest from any labels, now that it’s new record time? Is that something you’re interested in/looking for, or are you content to stay indie and continue distributing your stuff online via means like Bandcamp?
KB: We keep our options open. We have interest from a few labels, and we're talking to one still, but nothing firm has been offered yet, and I don't think we're in the position to do so anyway considering how much we're doing ourselves. We're certainly content with distributing our stuff online with BandCamp and CD Baby. Our music will be just as accessible as it was before (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google, etc.), but we're going to make BandCamp the cheapest option again, since it takes the smallest cut and pays us immediately. Our pre-orders will be up via BandCamp as well, so keep your eyes peeled for our next announcement teaser!
LN: Speaking of labels and the ‘industry’ part of the music industry, what is your take on the success of indiegogo campaigns to crowdfund albums by bands like Protest the Hero and Misery Signals? Does it give you any ideas?
KB: We, as well as the rest of world, were pretty blown away at how successful those bands have been able to raise money for their albums. I believe indiegogo and kickstarter are great online tools for fans to directly help their favorite artists. Victor (drums) wrote his opinion on this subject as well on raincityambience.com, and I agree with him entirely. His major argument with these tools is bands with no real legitimate fanbase going out and doing these campaigns, and either failing entirely, or not even coming close to meeting their goals. Bands need to establish themselves, and have a good resume of good music their fans have purchased in order to justify asking for large sums of money. Bands as big as Protest The Hero, Misery Signals, and Oh, Sleeper are completely justified in what they're asking for, and their fans have demonstrated they're willing to pay for more material. Bands as small as my own shouldn't be asking for money yet, honestly. We certainly can't begin asking for thousands of dollars when we've done nothing beyond releasing 1 record and 1 tour. It's just not warranted.
LN: OK, a couple of quicker ones. For starters, PS4 or X-Box One, and why?
KB: I don't plan on buying either at launch, but-- if I do ever end up investing in either system, I might actually be leaning towards Xbox One. Originally, with all of those DRM policies, a 24-hour check in system, region blocking, and a $100 price markup, I was definitely going PS4. Since MS dropped all of those policies, I'm suddenly considering going Xbox One because it has a friendlier UI, live video game DVR system (upload my gameplay? hell yeah!), multi-tasking, and a bunch of other cool features built into the OS that Playstation isn't offering. For now, I'm most excited about my Wii U and the games Nintendo plans on releasing. I'm a huge Nintendo fanboy, and have been since I was born.
LN: Favourite number, and why?
KB: 17 has always stuck with me for some reason. I've always loved prime numbers, and 7 is an awesome one, but I've always liked the sound of 17. It also represents a huge stepping stone in my life. 17 was the age I moved out to go to college for, and began my own life.
LN: If you could make everyone stop what they’re doing and listen to one song right this minute, what song would it be?
KB: I'm going to answer this with multiple songs because I've been on a new music kick lately:
- Creative Captivity – August Burns Red
- my goodness, this song is awesome. August Burns Red outdid themselves with their new record, and this song has got to be one of my favorites off of it.
- Banshee (Ghost Fame) – letlive.
- One of the most badass songs I've heard in a long time. The energy is unmatched, and the riffage gets me pumped, which I've found is hard to do lately.
- Cover Girl – The Ongoing Concept
- Numbers played a show in front of 8 or so people with this band in Washington, and their energy was bonkers. We exchanged info and have been friends ever since, and they just dropped this music video from their new record announcing they've signed with Solid State! Not only is it a great music video and song, but it's a band that everyone needs to go check out.
LN: If you could ask any member of any band any question, who would it be and what would you ask?
KB: Oh gosh. I would ask Victor if he were married to me, would he be the first to kill me, or would I be the first to kill him? Who would snap first? (I think he would)
LN: Dream Tour: who would you open for, or who would open for you?
KB: Gosh, I know all of us would love to open for Periphery, Dream Theater, and Protest The Hero. We'd also love going on tour with August Burns Red, Animals As Leaders, and letlive; despite that we most likely wouldn't fit at all. I'd imagine it would be an amazing experience, though.
LN: Almost done. What have you been listening to lately?
KB: August Burns Red's new album Rescue & Restore, letlive's new album The Blackest Beautiful, Into The Flood's Vices, and a band I found called Versions.
LN: Last one! What’s your favourite metal album of all time?
KB: Oh man, really? There's no good answer from me since I haven't actively listened to metal until much later in my life. Before metal, I was very much into indie, alt-rock, and smooth jazz. I'm going to have to say the album that got me into metal in the first place. Regardless of whether people think it's "metal" or not, it opened my ears to the genre when I was 19 or so, and it's Underoath's Define The Great Line. That album, if released today, would still blow minds. I'll never forget what that album did for me as a songwriter.
Before we go, as always, some reactions/thoughts I had while reading Kyle's answers:
- I wholeheartedly agree with Kyle regarding letlive's new song "Banshee (Ghost Fame)". It's a kick-ass song that I really have to make Song of the Day one of these days.
- I also see the wisdom in his choice of Underoath's Define the Great Line as being tremendously influential. I was never a huge Underoath fan back in the day (don't get me wrong, I dug 'em, just not hard) but if I had a nickle for every time in the years since that album came out that I've read/heard someone cite that album among their influences I'd have... maybe a phone call? I'd have some fucking nickles, OK?
- 13 tracks of new Numbers material = fucking tasty.
Well there's another one for the books. If you've made it this far and are still in the dark about this whole Numbers thing, you can check them out on Facebook, Bandcamp, and even that newfangled Twitter thing the youngsters are tweetifying on these days. Gods I feel old sometimes. Later taters!