Notable for having virtuoso guitarist JD Simo as their centrepiece and namesake, Nashville based power-trio SIMO are a force to be reckoned with. Widening their sound with slow-smoked soul ballads, stax-worthy funk rockers, psychedelic desert-rock instrumentals and hard-edged, bluesy barn burners throughout their recently released album Rise & Shine, we caught up with the man JD himself to get the inside scoop and learn more about SIMO…
“Adam Abrashoff (drummer) and I formed the band five years ago as a side project to have fun with,” Simo announced as we launched into conversation about the band’s early days. “I was mostly making my living as a session musician, whereas Adam was actually touring with acts, but eventually it got to a point where I wanted to try this band thing for real and that was a huge commitment because it meant that we both had to jump out of our lucrative careers, as it were, to focus,” he explained. “So we did that together, then the year before last Elad Shapiro (bassist) joined the band, we signed a record deal, got management and all of those other things that go along with being in the business.”
Now flash forward to last year which saw SIMO release their debut album Let Love Show The Way and spend 300 days of the year on the road, touring. “It was just insane!” JD added with a laugh, before continuing on to discuss the groups fast evolving sound. “We started off with a very derivative 70s rock sound but over the course of last year and being run ragged by all of those shows, we kind of turned away from that and started to incorporate all of the other influences we share which is everything from R&B to hip-hop, techno, EDM, modern rock music, experimental, funk, you name it. So when we went into making this new record, it was just about us trying to come up with the best thing that we could and I believe that this record, more than anything we’ve ever done before, is us. We worked really hard on it and we’re very proud.”
Taking only two days to make Let Love Show The Way, the four solid months the band spent this time around working on Rise & Shine could only be described by JD as “a very intense experience.”
“The quick way is good from the perspective of capturing an energy or a vibe, because when you don’t have the time to over do something you’re more apt to capture something that has an attitude about it,” he explained. “Whereas, if you have the opportunity to actually take your time, you have to be sure to use it wisely, because it’s so easy to go down that rabbit hole of burning 10 hours screwing around with various instruments sounds. So I think it’s important to work quickly for the first while so you can get a basis of how to get a take and as you move along you can experiment a little more because you earn the right to do that,” he concluded.
The other benefit to having more time in the studio JD points out, is sonically. “If you have a clear picture in your mind of how you want the production to be then you can take your time to sort that out, because that stuff can take a while. Be With You for example was a one take. We played it once at five in the morning and that’s the version you hear on the record. Then there’s others like Meditation which I think we probably played about 30 plus times and not because we were messing it up, but because we were looking for a very specific feeling for that track and we had that luxury of being able to work on it until we got it right.”
“Oh man, it was a lot of hard work!” JD speaks of self-producing the album. “There’s thousands of decisions to be made when you’re making a record and in the end a producer is generally the one who has the final authority, so for me it was a lot of hard work because you really have to keep perspective. There were times when it was difficult, but something that I’ve learnt over time is that you just have to trust your instincts, because when something isn’t working it’s usually pretty obvious and I think the biggest trick is in deciding whether something is worth chasing or not and in the end you don’t really know until you try,” he confessed.
While touring for 300 days of the year alone is a highly impressive feat, so is finding the time in the remaining 65 days of the year to write, record and release another record. Something that if you listen to Rise & Shine you will soon learn SIMO mastered exquisitely.
“It is hard for us to work as a unit on the road because there’s just not an ample amount of time for the three of us to be in a room with our instruments to hash stuff out,” he admit. “’But it’s almost two conflicting scenarios because in the course of writing what ended up becoming this record, I found my groove of being able to write anytime and anywhere, so I’m always writing now. But everything for the group gets hashed out between the three of us, so we do require time to be set aside where we can all work stuff out and because I’m impatient I’ve tried multiple times to take over a soundcheck and turn it into a, ‘hey guys I just wrote this, lets work on it,’ but it never works,” he laughed.
“I hope something I’ve written in there might resonate with somebody,” JD confessed when asked what he hopes fans take away from listening to this record. “Some of the songs on there are so deeply personal, they’re uncomfortable for me to listen,” he admit. “I’ve been through a lot of rough stuff in the past year, dealing with things from my childhood and issues I’ve been needing to deal with for a very long time and I think a lot of young people have that in common and it’s all up to when you’re ready to start dealing with some of that stuff, so I hope that in the end there’s something there that might resonate with those people, but more then that I couldn’t really say.”
SIX60 and Nico & Vinz’s Hawke’s Bay show at Black Barn Vineyards has sold out within minutes of going on on sale, but there’s good news for those who missed out, an extra show has been added for the following night, Wednesday 10 January.
For the first time ever in New Zealand, multi-platinum and Grammy nominated R&B legends SWV (Sisters with Voices) have announced one NZ show. Joining SWV will be fellow New York natives Allure, also on their first visit to New Zealand.
SIX60 have landed back on New Zealand soil after wrapping up the massive European leg of The New Waves World Tour with Nico & Vinz. Now they’re getting set for another Kiwi summer, and they’ve got news.
In the mid to late 90's, when grunge began to wither away and MTV strived to find the next easy to access label to attach to new batch of up and coming rock bands, global attention started to shine on the Alt Rock scene.
The I Love The 90s Tour returns to Auckland next year March 23rd at Auckland’s Spark Arena, with a completely off the chain lineup featuring classic Hip Hop crew Naughty by Nature. Vin Rock from the Grammy Award winning rap group speaks fondly of this country and love of our people.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!