Interview with Boy Hits Car
Stealing Fire with Boy Hits Car – by Mel in Toronto
With the first note of Stealing Fire' Boy Hits Car grabs you by the hand and takes you off on the most exciting roller coaster ride in heavy rock music. Stealing Fire brings you 14 musical delicacies that are screaming to be played live.
After five years, Boy Hits Car releases their highly anticipated fourth album. The current incarnation of Boy Hits Car - CRegg Rondell (vocals and 12- string guitar), Mike Bartak (guitar), Bill Gower (bass), and Johnny Ransom (drums) - started writing this album in 2008 and recorded it in 2010. "We are very excited about this new record," CRegg says, while sitting comfortably in the band's rehearsal studio in Los Angeles, California.
"I think the whole album is very well rounded. It encompasses all that the band is, all of the influences, the Eastern flavour, all that stuff is there," CRegg continues. "The up-mid tempo songs and the heavy driving ones, it's kind of a blend of the first couple records, the best elements of it all. I think it's a really strong album. I can't wait to get it out."
The album starts off with the explosive song MOVE WITH ME. Funky bass lines and the great dynamic of the song make it impossible to sit still. The song A MADNESS CALLED LOVE is not only very energetic, but also stands out due to the syncopated rhythms intertwined within the song. The album also features the signature Boy Hits Car sound of the 12-string guitar. This is especially apparent in songs like ONE KISS AWAY, which was the first song the band released from the new album. Eastern flavours are, in form of tablas and sitar sounds, in the record's title track STEALING FIRE FROM THE SUN and the last song RHYTHMICAL GESTURES. The songs IT'S ALRIGHT and EMBRACE includes sections where CRegg takes his voice to new highs.
This summer, Boy Hits Car is scheduled to tour extensively to support and promote the album. "The band is more ready to go on the road for an extended period of time than ever before," Johnny says. Boy Hits Car is going to spend a big chunk of the summer months in Europe playing various festivals.
Boy Hits Car is one of the best live bands in alternative rock music. The attitude this band brings to the stage is second to none and it does not matter if the band plays for a large audience during a festival or in a small club. In 2009, Boy Hits Car played the K-Rock Dysfunctional Family BBQ in Syracuse, New York. "Obviously playing in front of 8,000 people in a city that is on the opposite side of the country is exciting for any band," Johnny says. "You can feel everything is so much better when it's coming at you by the thousands. However, the same can be said playing in front of 200 people," Johnny continues. That day Boy Hits Car played the festival and on the same night a small club show in Herkimer, New York. "We put out the same energy and connection with 10,000 people as we do with 100 people in a club," Mike says.
The connection with the fans is very important for Boy Hits Car. "In many ways it's what inspires you to keep going," CRegg says. "I love music, music is everything to me, and when somebody tells us that our music meant a lot to them then it means a lot to me too. So, it's very important for us to be connected to our fans."
Make sure to check out Boy Hit Car's website for upcoming tour dates and to pre-order Stealing Fire,' which will be officially available on March 15, 2011.
"In your own words" – ONE on ONE with Mel and Boy Hits Car
Mel: Could you please tell us about the song writing process for Stealing Fire'?
CRegg: We would hook up usually at my place and work on acoustics and when we had something, we would bring it in. That was one route, and then sometimes, we'd just be jamming in here and stuff would come out. The first song we wrote, ONE KISS AWAY was actually a riff that started with a riff that I had on the 12-string from way back, even when Louis [Lenard] was still in the band. He heard the song and said "I remember that riff." At sound checks, when we were doing the North-East run and the UK back in 2007, it would be something I'd do to check the acoustic. I just started doing that riff. That was the first song, that came together really quick. After we did those tours, we went to my crib and within 30 minutes we had that song for the most part.
Johnny: I've noticed that the writing has changed a lot from where this new incarnation is now from where it was when I first joined the band. Mike and Bill have been writing music together outside of this band for about ten years or so. They had been friends with Boy Hits Car, the previous incarnation, ever since the very beginning. Having been able to bring in that kind of history to an already existing band where the familiarity with the sound was already there, the camaraderie was already there, and the actual energy was all there. It was a very good fit from the very start of writing this new record. Because even though the music is completely fresh and new to everyone in the band, even some of the older ideas had a new face, the connection was almost as if it had been there ever since the very beginning of the band.
Bill: It's been a great time. I've been a fan of the band. Touring with the guys feels right, smooth and is always a good time. So I think this translated well into the album. Working together and everyone had good ideas, we just all mashed really well and I think we just came up with something great.
Mike: I was a super fan of this band long before I was in it. I've always wanted to be in this band. Louis and all of Boy Hits Car was a total influence on my style and it was a band that I wanted to emulate. Even if I wasn't in it, I tried to make bands that kind of sounded like Boy Hits Car. It's kind of funny that I ended up being in the band. I got the opportunity and of course I took it. When I came in with Boy Hits Car, I think the four of us have really great chemistry together. Song writing just seems to come very natural to us. We all connect with each other and we connect with our audience. I've never been more proud of anything in my life than this new record. It's fucking slamming, I can't wait for everyone to hear it, and I think they are going to dig it.
Mel: The second and third Boy Hits Car album had a continuation of a story. Will it continue on the fourth album or is it something completely different?
Cregg: The journey does continue, but there is not really another story attached. The journey continues, we are still on this path. The boy or the man is still going for it.
Mel: Could each of you please pick a song which will be on the new album and tell us about it?
CRegg: I already kind of talked about ONE KISS AWAY. Mike said in the past that it wrote itself in a way. It came together very seamlessly and very quickly. It was the first one that we put out for people to hear, like on MySpace and stuff. We got a fantastic reaction, it was like, it's Boy Hits Car but kind of new and fresh, it was awesome to hear that and get that from people. Hopefully when this album comes out we'll be able to play it a lot and tour the world. (laughs) That's the plan.
Johnny: Our song that we have pretty much to wrap the whole record up is a song that we've called RHYTMICAL GESTURES, which is basically the kind of atmosphere that you would pick up from a drum circle […] sort of loss of consciousness, basically. It has got its peaks and valleys and its side winding kind of vibe. It doesn't really have a very good structure in it of itself, but as a whole it captures this kind of vibe that you literally get lost in the song. We definitely recommend to our listeners, as they are going through the record, to put the head phones on, turn off the lights and just go into your own headspace and listen to that song full blast. I've done it just after having listened to the record and it turned out that it accomplished what we were hoping it would.
Bill: I have to pick MOVE WITH ME. It's a song where the band almost stepped into a slightly different area, incorporating a little bit of everybody in a special way. I'm going to pick that one personally because the bass never had a slap bass line in a Boy Hits Car song, and it's alright now with this song. It's kind of cool for me especially but I think for the band as well. It has a cool vibe, something different, new territory, but still has the BHC vibe.
Mike: Although pretty much everything on the record gives me chills in some way, there is a song called IT'S ALRIGHT on the record, and I think really shines as something different. It has a very different sound, it's very traditional Boy Hits Car, but it has a really magical, for lack of a better word, sound to it. A lot of people will connect and so far have connected with it. It's not a bashing song in any way, but just very cool all around. I think people really connect with it, dig it. So, IT'S ALRIGHT, check it out.
Mel: I'm always interested in how you come up with the order of the songs you put on the album.
CRegg: Ah, sequencing. Sequencing is always fun stuff (laughs). It can be a total nightmare, well, I don't want to say nightmare, but it can be challenging. Because that sets the mood of the whole thing, but for this particular one, it happened somewhat organically, and then we've made some switches here and there. We spent time with the mix and were like, what if we switch that track with that track? And I was like, yeah, that actually flows way better. The Passage' was a conceptual album, so it was more of telling a story. I think we wanted to rock this one out for the first few tracks, definitely so.
Mel: You've all been making music for quite some time now. What inspires you to continue to make this great music?
CRegg: Thank you for saying that it is great, I feel the same, otherwise I wouldn't do it. (laughs) Just really connecting. Making music is beautiful and pure. When you connect and through that connect with other people, it's like an extension of yourself. It's this obvious feeling of acceptance and unity and it's nothing really, there is not a lot that compares, that I have found. That's why I still do it, if you are still passionate about it. I didn't know if I would still be doing it this far into the game with the same band, but hey man, if it still gets your heart going, gets you fired up, pumped, then yeah, you got to still do it.
Johnny: My real inspiration is the people in the band. When we play music, it's not even that we are doing so much with our hands or with our bodies. It's not that we are playing our instruments as much as we are really having a conversation. So when we are writing, when we are performing, whenever we are doing anything musically, like we are at the rehearsal studio right now, I noticed that we are having conversations in the middle of songs without saying anything. We are literally expressing ourselves to each other not just in what it is that we are playing but with who is playing it. So whenever we are doing anything, inspiration comes from people you are doing it with if it's in a band. We definitely compound that inspiration at least for me, with our fellowship as a band and how we trust each other and we bring that trust to the stage and the fans trust us. And then it's this big beautiful LoveCore fest that's just going on and everybody can feel it in the room. Every time we play a show, I'm like "Ten more years," big inspiration for me.
Bill: When I was a kid, I was influenced by a lot of metal bands. I guess you can say: Metallica, Iron Maiden, bands like that kind of made me really want to do this as a career and get out there on stage and make it happen and just like CRegg said, as long as we are all still feeling that passion, we just can't really get away from it. It's almost in your blood and that's the story, you can't really do much about that. But in this band especially, we've all been in a lot of bands, this was the first band I think that really connected big time. It just shows every day and every time we perform, it's a great experience, big happy family, good times, you know, everyone is satisfied, can't give it up.
Mike: As far as personal inspirations, playing music is pretty much the only thing that has ever really truly made me happy, that makes me happy. Girls are cool, but they are not as cool as playing music to me. They come and go and that's cool, but playing music is the only thing that doesn't give me shit, it makes my dick hard (laughter in the room) it really does, I've said this before to other people. Going on stage or getting ready to play a show is like the best sex. It's foreplay before we get on stage, and when I get up there it's an hour long orgasm, and when I'm done, I'm fucking spent after. There is nothing that compares to that feeling of being up there and having people come and support your art, it's an indescribable feeling and I get kind of goose bumps just talking about it, because there is just nothing better and there is nothing I'd rather do and nothing else I want to do. It's the only thing that makes me happy, I'll never stop doing it.
Mel: Who are your main influences and did you have training?
CRegg: I didn't really have any training so to say. Influences, the bands that I really was into when growing up, the Talking Heads were huge for me, Black Sabbath, early Sabbath, and then of course some of the classic rock, Zeppelin, the Doors, stuff like that. And then punk rock came along and bands like Dead Kennedys and Fear. And then, like Bill said a lot of the hardcore and underground metal throughout the 80s. And then of course it morphed, for Boy Hits Car, heavy rock but infused with some kind of middle Eastern world beat flavour. And so for me, I started listening to Ravi Shankar, he is a sitarist.
Bill: Let's see, influences, Robert Trujillo from Suicidal Tendencies, Les Claypool from Primus, people like that. They were a little bit different on the bass, doing kind of heavy stuff but more in an almost funk direction. I grew up in that vibe on the bass.
Mel: And did you have training?
Bill: A little bit of training, but I taught myself mainly. I went to learn a Metallica song or get tablatures to get a little head start, a little boost, but mainly taught myself everything by ear. Just put on a Metallica CD and sit there and rewind it over and over again and figure out the parts by hearing.
Mike: I grew up on old punk rock stuff, my brother taught me how to play a bar cord and said that if you can play this cord you could play pretty much any punk rock song. I took a couple of courses in classical music in college, just for theory, which really helped a lot. Certain players stand out to me: Tom Morello is an absolute brilliant guy, old Metallica, I mean James Hetfield is probably one of the best rhythm players on the planet, which I always respected. And I must say, Louis Lenard, big influence on me, how about that? Yay, Louis.
Johnny: I don't really have the traditional drummer story, but I did want to piss off my Mom when I was three all the time and I would empty out the cabinets on the floor and bash every pot and pan with a spoon until she told me to shut up. So I got a lot of attention playing the drums at a very young age. When I was eight years old, I got onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to the point where I had no use to my hands. But over about a period of two years I took medication and figured that there is treatment for this stuff and it's all about building strength in your hands and fighting off whatever causes it. I was about eleven and my Mom was like, why don't you do something with your hands, how about you try out for the drumline? I had a friend named Randy Morgan and he taught me a lot on the drums, I could actually start using my hands. Childhood friends definitely are my influence. After I graduated it was Stone Temple Pilots, Guns n Roses, Aerosmith, and Faith No More. Those were my teachers at that time and they just kept taking it further and further to the point where the drums were no longer really an instrument they were definitely an extension of my being because they reincarnated the use of my hands.
Mel: If you could record a song with any artist in the world who would it be and why?
Johnny: I think if this band could have one artist to perform along with us on stage live, I would love to do something with Jimmy Page. I think that would be epic. If it was just me, I would love nothing more than to share a stage with Dave Grohl, (laughs). Dave Grohl is definitely a huge hero of mine, that would be the slamminest drumline in history, I'd want to part of that.
Mike: I guess a fantasy come true would be to be on stage and playing along with Greg Ginn and Black Flag in their heyday, just bashing shit out like it was 1980.
Bill: I think I'd have to go with Les Claypool, he is somebody who influenced me in a big way, really off the wall, different player, good technique, and different vibe.
CRegg: I think it would be really cool if the band would jam with a master sitarist or a master tabla player, somebody that can bring that Eastern flavour in, or even a pump organ. Bringing that stuff in live with the band, that would be pretty special.
Mel: Is there anything you would like to add?
March 8, 2011 by Mel in Toronto [Melanie Schade]
Boy Hits Car about "the fervent longing to bring ones dreams to life" – by Mel in Toronto
Passion is the best word to describe L.A. based alternative rock band Boy Hits Car. Without exaggeration, Boy Hits Car is one of the best live bands in the alternative rock scene. They stand out by their incredible energy, unique sound, intoxicating shows, and passion for music.
With three albums already under their belt and currently recording and touring, this band utilizes their passion and will definitely delight us with more of their music in the future. Made up of Craig Rondell - CRegg = Craig, the egg, as called by his friends - (vocals & acoustic 12 string guitar), Dusty Hunt (guitar), Bill Gower (bass), and Johnny Ransom (drums), this band is rightfully known for their incredible live performances delivered with an intensity only Boy Hits Car could pull off. Lead singer CRegg stands out not only in his ability to sing beautifully, but also in his ability to scream with intensity and passion.
Boy Hits Car first formed in February 1993 and according to CRegg their current incarnation has been "spreading the LoveCore for a little over a year now." LoveCore is a phrase coined by Louis Lenard, former guitar player of Boy Hits Car, and it's for all those "who follow their hearts, and are passionate about music, especially Boy Hits Car and our philosophy," CRegg continues. The band's philosophy is powerful and inspiring: Stay true to the dreams of your youth.
CRegg explains that "inspiration is everywhere. Could be nature's beautiful subtleties that stir emotion, or the pain of a break up, or the fervent longing to bring ones dreams to life, that inspires this art." This inspiration results in vigorous songs about "Love, loss, and this burning desire to stay true to our dreams and get connected through music."
Their first album My Animal' was released in 1998. The track LA PLAYA was written in 1996 "and was inspired by my years as an Ocean Lifeguard," CRegg remembers. With his blond curly hair falling into his face and tanned skin, it is not hard to believe that he was once a lifeguard.
In 2001, Boy Hits Car released their second self-titled album, which includes their hit single I AM A CLOUD. Already written in 1997, this song is about "a young man's struggle with who he is and where he fits in the world, and the fear of bringing another person into his uncertain life. He grapples with all the decisions faced in early manhood, while fighting to keep true to his dreams," this from CRegg, who writes all of the lyrics. The song LOVECORE (Welcome To) is about "when the love that two people share evolves into an obsession, it's become love-CORE."
Boy Hits Car's third 2006 release The Passage' is a thoroughly outstanding album. The song ESCAPE THE WORLD "was one of the first tracks written for the new CD, and came about three months after 9-11. We were all dealing with the variance of the world as a whole, and the uncertainty of our future as a working band', and just longed to connect with passionate artists, positive music lovers, and escape' it all together," CRegg explains. The song BENEATH THE SEA'S BED starts as a very intimate song. Then the music and the vocals take you away until they explode at the end of the song, so that the listener can feel the passion and be right there with the band. The final song on the album THE PASSAGE is distinguished through its structure and its dynamic. CRegg says that "this track still amazes me, because the final version was put together the night before we recorded it. Conceptually, I had the idea for a couple years, but it really became what is heard today on our last jam, with the bass and 12-er feeding off of Lou's melodic chorus lick'."
Throughout their live performances CRegg likes best "the release, and connecting with my band, and fellow music lovers." If you haven't yet, make sure to watch the video posted on Boy Hits Car's profile and read in the section below, how CRegg speaks for the first time to what went through his head at his legendary jump off the hanging speaker stack at the concert at Krockathon 10 in Weedsport, New York. Also find out how the band got to play for the troops in Kosovo and Bosnia, and what their experience at the biggest rock festival in Germany was like.
"In your own words" – ONE on ONE with Mel and CRegg
Mel: CRegg, your jump at Krockathon 10 in Weedsport, NY, is legendary. What was going through your head and were you scared?
CRegg: My intention was to climb somewhere with a good vantage point of the audience, nothing more. However, once I ascended the vertical support, I found myself in the rafters more detached from the crowd. So I shimmied along the metal, before lowering myself onto the speaker stack, which was hung from the roof support. Once there, I realized I was in trouble. The whole rig began to slowly sway from side to side, and I began feeling a bit queasy. If you watch the video, you can see that I'm reaching back up toward the rafters to try and pull myself out of the very bad situation I'd put myself in, but couldn't really reach. However, what you can't hear from the video is the whole crowd chanting "JUMP"-"JUMP"-"JUMP"! Figuring I had one way out, I asked the crowd if they wanted me to jump, and all I heard was, "YES"! and "JUMP"! So after directing them into place, I took a serious leap of faith. Luckily, no one was seriously injured due to my poor judgement. Dodged a bullet on that one.
click here to see jump: http://www.indiesolo.com/artists/Boy_Hits_Car/Vibe.htm#Video
Mel: CRegg, why do you perform barefoot?
CRegg: It's just natural for me because I almost never wear shoes. I can also feel a better connection, if only mentally, to those performers who's blood, sweat, and tears have been shed on all those stages, and it makes me want to give everything I got to those brief moments up there.
Mel: Who are your influences?
CRegg: Musically, Boy Hits Car was initially influenced by bands like Quicksand, Jane's Addiction, Helmet, and The Doors. Then, in the mid 90's we discovered Middle Eastern music, and the entrancing sounds of the Sitar/Sirod, Tablas, Drone, etc.
Mel: How would you describe the difference between your three albums My Animal', Self Titled' and The Passage'?
CRegg: In a word: growth. My Animal' was structurally a bit all over the place with more Camel Rides' - our term for songs that are like a journey across the desert, and don't follow traditional structure. Self Titled' album was more concise and to the point, with virtually no Camel Rides'. With The Passage', we feel the CD offers the best of both worlds. Also, in My Animal' I had not yet incorporated the use of the 12 string, which has become so vital in our sound.
Mel: Which artist would you like to record a song with and why?
CRegg: Whoa, that's a tough one. The first person who comes to mind is the famous Sitarist Ravi Shankar. It would be cool to put vocal melodies to some of his licks'.
Mel: What would you like to achieve with your music?
CRegg: To express ourselves through this medium, while getting connected to others and hopefully inspire them to pursue their dreams and passions.
Mel: Which opportunities do you see with indieSolo?
CRegg: Hopeful exposure and the chance to get connected to fellow music lovers.
Mel: How did you get involved in playing for the troops in Kosovo and Bosnia?
CRegg: Lou's mom had a friend who knew the company that supplied the armed forces with entertainment. Lou submitted us, and the rest is history.
Mel: When did you play there and for how long did you stay?
CRegg: We did 5 gigs at various bases throughout the region from 12/18/05-1/4/06, I believe.
Mel: What impressions did you bring home with you and what did you learn?
CRegg: That having an international peace' keeping force is much more productive in the re-structuring of a conflicted region than a military occupation; that we can never get used to playing to an audience with loaded automatic rifles, and that some of the Eastern European troops don't know how to stage dive (laughs).
Mel: What was it like when you played two of the biggest rock festivals in Germany: Rock am Ring and Rock im Park in 2001?
CRegg: Surreal. Over 8 years after playing our first gigs on the Sunset strip to virtually no one, there we were in a Football (Soccer) stadium, sharing the stage with Linkin Park, Kid Rock, and Limp Bizkit, an incredible experience.
Mel: Where do you see Boy Hits Car in 5 years?
CRegg: Almost 20 years old and kickin' the LoveCore throughout the world!!!
July 25, 2007 by Mel in Toronto [Melanie Schade]
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