What are your musical influences?
We all have fairly eclectic tastes in music, but where we all have common ground is in the realm of prog rock/jazz rock. That could be anything from The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea Electric Band, King Crimson, Yes, Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth, The Weather Report, to more modern groups such as Snarky Puppy, and Rinse The Algorithm. Also prog jazz metal stuff such as Dream Theater, Animals As Leaders, Exivious, Trioscapes, and Tigran Hamasyan.
Jabberwock has been together for a couple of years and has already played a number of shows in the past. How often do you guys rehearse?
We try to keep up weekly rehearsals. We all have busy schedules outside of the band so sometimes it can be difficult, but when we get together we flesh it out meticulously.
What band (or bands) introduced you personally to prog?
For me personally, it started with Dream Theater. I think many others would say the same. I remember hearing “The Dark Eternal Night” from Systematic Chaos. It was the first DT song I had ever heard and it blew my mind. The stuff they get into in the bridge is absolute madness. I listened to their discography religiously and still love them to bits. Soon after, Dream Theater lead me to the other modern prog metal acts such as Between The Buried And Me, Protest The Hero, Periphery and Meshuggah.
You have one single released so far. It is a catchy song with a very interesting sound, and perhaps uncharacteristically for a first single, is mostly an instrumental featuring, toward the end, one sung line of lyrics. How did the decision come about to release this particular song for a first single? When can we expect more releases from Jabberwock?
“Magic Beach Motel” was one of the first songs that we wrote and played together. It was written by our other guitarist Dylan (not to be confused with Dillon! haha). Being our first effort together, and it also being a pretty catchy, positive-vibe tune we thought it was fitting as our summer introduction!
We are primarily an instrumental band and we may include more vocals in the future but for now we are focusing on writing strong, melodic instrumental tunes with intriguing harmonic chord changes for us to improvise over. We will be releasing another single in mid-late September. Another which was one of the first couple we wrote together. It was my first composition with the group.
The band’s guitarists have almost the name but are mercifully differentiated by the spelling! 🙂
Haha! We’ve heard of some humorous situations regarding confusion over the Dillon and Dylan that both play guitar in the same group. 😛
Is there a significance behind the song’s only lyric line, “I am with Derek in the ocean”?
“I am with Derek in the ocean.” is just a very obscure inside joke that isn’t even that funny. I think the mystery behind it is more fascinating than the inside joke is funny. Come out to a show and ask! Maybe one of us will spill the beans.
What does music, and specifically progressive music, mean to you?
To me, it is about freedom. The freedom to express what you want, how you want. When you have a blank canvas to paint with any colours you wish, you suddenly feel the potential of creating something so much more than what you think you’re capable of. The greatest thing about being creative through art is that you’re always just scratching the surface of who you are at that point in time. There’s always something deeper that you’re missing, that you can’t quite express. That yearning is what keeps the art flowing, and the freedom of music really helps satisfy that craving.
What’s the most favourite instrument or piece of music gear in your possession?
Hmm, that’s a hard question! I don’t own any fancy custom guitars or anything, and I like playing them all. I think I’d have to say my Axe Fx II! That’s the one thing that I use no matter what guitar I’m playing, and I can really get any sound that I want through it. It’s actually quite daunting. When you’ve decided you’re going to make a new patch, no matter how simple the signal chain is, you know you’re in for a lengthy time experimenting with amps, cabs, mics, etc. There’s just so many options! But I’m not complaining haha, I’d rather have too many options than not enough!
What are some of your hobbies?
If it counts as something different, I like to record haha. I’ve been recording myself since I was 14, and it’s been my other creative outlet besides actually playing an instrument. When I feel like I’m in a creative rut on my instrument, I jump on the computer and work on mixing old tunes I’ve recorded. Then by the time I feel I’ve exhausted my creativity on the computer, I’m ready to be creative on my instrument again!
As for the other members of the group, Dylan [guitar] performs as a DJ every now and again. Does psytrance, house, drum and bass sort of stuff.
Iason [tenor sax/keys] has unconventional hobbies. He’s an apprentice falconer who’s also into refurbishing and upgrading audio equipment such as turntables and poweramps. He also turns playstations into high quality stereo’s.
Joel [drums] welds lots, always crafting something up in his shop. He also keeps up a home vegetable garden.
Alex [bass] likes to stay active. He goes indoor rock climbing almost weekly, and actually just came back from tree planting for 3 months in BC.
What’s your favourite venue in Toronto (to either attend or play a show)?
The venue that we’ve played at the most is The Central. It’s a cozy bar near Bathurst and Bloor. The stage is quite small for 5 people but we have had some good times cranking it up in there!
How do you see the future of the band’s career?
We’re gonna keep on keeping on. Keep writing tunes, recording, and playing shows. We all have career plans outside of music, but that’s just for money. The music is for the love of it, to keep us sane. So I don’t see it slowing down!
Who are the people that inspire you? Any people that inspire for any reason, not necessarily musicians.
Personally, I’ve been really inspired by Bo Burnham. He makes me laugh until I can’t breathe while also delivering a very blatant message about the stupid things that sustain hatred and separation in society. He’s got important things to express and he does it in the funniest way. If you haven’t seen his Netflix specials I’d highly recommend them. It’s like prog-comedy.
What do you do right before you go on stage? Is there any band ritual when you’re about to play?
I think Joel has wanted us to have a ritual of taking a shot together before we go on stage but we never remember to do so! We haven’t really gotten down any sort of ritual yet. I think we all just collect ourselves in our own way and just meet up on the stage and nod at each other haha.
If more people listened to prog, how do you think it would change the world in 10 years?
Ha! I had this thought back when I first discovered prog and was feeling all enlightened lol. I think in general there would be more forward-thinkers pushing boundaries, not just in music. A higher standard would be set when it comes to open mindedness and the willingness to change for the better.
Dillon Owens from Jabberwock was interviewed by Serge T, Interviewer 5/4 FEST 2016