Up until recently I’ve never heard about Jolly, an American progressive rock band. Their latest album, entitled The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part One) is one of the best records I’ve heard so far this year. It’s certainly worth your attention when you’re into high quality progressive music. Drummer and producer Louis Abramson happily provided some insights on the album’s remarkable concept, the creative process within Jolly and his current taste in music..
Thank you for doing this interview with Home Nucleonics. I’m completely blown away by your latest album, The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part One). How’s the feedback coming along?
Hey man thanks. The feedback has been incredible. It’s just such a great feeling to visualize something, create it, and then have people really get it the way you intended them to. Seeing people’s responses has been amazing.
There’s seems a concept going with your record. Can you fill me in here?
The concept becomes a lot clearer when viewing the complete album artwork. The booklet goes into depth about what The Audio Guide to Happiness really is.The promo copies don’t give music journalists a chance to review this portion of album.The lyrics, descriptions of the phases and concepts, and the feel of it all add to the context of the music.When your readers get the album, they will see that the booklet actually includes all the lyrics to part two as well. In short, we collaborated with some people who are a little more qualified than we are to perform scientific research in efforts to add another layer of experience to our music.
The Audio Guide To Happiness has a rather special production which apparently stimulates certain parts of the human brain. What’s the story on that?
Well, as I said, we had the good fortune of meeting a few people through keyboardist Joe Reilly’s family that were interested in our idea of including “binaural tones” within our music.
The whole idea really took off from there. The idea behind binaural tones is that when you hear 2 different frequencies independently in each ear at the same time, it can alter your brains natural frequency thereby eliciting certain effects. The Audio Guide really seems to be eliciting effects in the listener. Now, whether that is the science at work or the actual music I cannot tell you. I like to think it is a combination of both.
Part One suggest that there will be a sequel. What can we expect from that record?
As I mentioned before, all the lyrics for part two are included in the booklet. This is because part Two is finished. These two parts make The Audio Guide to Happiness collection in it’s entirety.You can expect more Jolly which is just basically whatever each song decides to be.
How did the recording of your latest album go compared to previous recording experiences?
During the recording of 46:12 (previous record.ed) we were able to really fine tune the role of production in the writing process. We found that much of the magical atmosphere that Jolly emotes is crafted in the production stages. So basically the bones of the song are put together before recording, and then we do all the detail work as we go. This process was discovered while recording 46:12 and taken to a whole new level during Audio Guide production.
What I really like about your music is the fact it’s all about great songs instead of instrumental masturbation. The latter is a known phenomenon within the prog community. What’s your take on that?
You are right about this. There seems to be a common thread in the whole “prog” genre of “instrumental masturbation” as you call it. Great way to put it by the way, haha. This is why we have mixed feelings about being considered a “prog” band. I do believe in theory that we are progressive in the way that we have started with a simple foundation and built it up until it became something new and complex, but I feel there is a lot of progressive rock out now that merely follows the path of former progressive rock leaders. To me, this isn’t progressive at all. It’s just another subgenre branching out. I always associate the term “progressive” with something new. In a lot of cases, I don’t really see the progression. Jolly’s music is and always will be about the songs, as opposed to those performing the songs. This is complex music made for the listener, not just the musician. I always felt that the greatest bands were song oriented, and their greatness never depended upon actual technical ability. Of course there is value in technical ability, but it will only get you so far. Technical ability is a representation of the musician. Song construction for Jolly is a representation of the band, which is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s almost like Jolly writes the music and we just facilitate the process.
The Audio Guide To Happiness covers the whole range from heavy songs (End Where It Starts, The Pattern) to almost fragile, almost ambient parts (Story Time, Still A Dream). How important is it for you as a musician to add of lot diversity and atmosphere to your music?
I wouldn’t say that it is important, but rather just the natural result of all our musical desires. The music changes dynamically on such a drastic level simply because that’s what we want from music – a full experience. The inclusion of all these dynamics doesn’t really happen on such a conscious level. It’s the outcome of answering the question “does this sound good” about 10,000 times. Jolly‘s music is very cinematic, and any great film usually has more than one element of emotion within it.
A keen sense of songwriting is another part of what makes Jolly such an enjoyable band. What elements should a Jolly song have to make it to the final cut?
The fundamentals to any song, no matter what the style, should be groove, melody and texture. Once we are satisfied with these 3 elements, we have ourselves a Jolly song. Of course these are very general guidelines to go by. Because of this we are able to have limitless variations within these guidelines.Then usually once this is in place, the music helps us to write the lyrics. Once in a while the lyrics come first, but more often than not we use the tone of the song to let it write itself, seeing what concepts it pulls out of us lyrically. I have to add though, it seems very methodical when forced to flesh it out in an interview question, but the process is completely organic and unconscious. It’s like we are all hooked up to a mainframe and know exactly what the other wants from the song. I’m still trying to figure out how all of this works.
Progressive rock/metal and technical metal in general seems to be quite popular nowadays. What’s your opinion on this and which contemporary bands/musicians do you admire?
Personally I feel slightly out of the loop as far as contemporary rock is concerned. I don’t think any of us are really up to date with what’s new and hot in rock music. Most newer music I have listened to is straight up pop like Lady Gaga, or Rihanna and Katy Perry. There is a lot to be taken from this kind of music. I will say however that I have recently developed an obsession with Devin Townsend. I think this man is a genius of metal.To me most metal is pretty boring, but when someone gets it right, it feels like nitric oxide flowing through my veins. Devin has been able to do this for me, both in Strapping Young Lad, as well as his recent solo work. Props to this guy!
Time to wrap up this interview. When can we expect Jolly hitting the stage here in Europe?
Definitely some time in 2011, but I can’t say when for sure. If the fans demand it, it will happen.
Written by Raymond Westland