An Interview With The LA-Based Power Rock Trio REBEL RAMPAGE About New Music and The New Year Ahead!
Posted On 16 Jan 2019
The Los Angeles power rock trio, Rebel Rampage, recently released their ferocious debut album Divided We Fall, featuring Angelo Moore (Fishbone) and Emily Armstrong (Dead Sara). The politically charged and controversial collection is a fiery addition to L.A.’s historic lineage of protest music, which includes, Rage Against The Machine, Kendrick Lamar, Bad Religion, Fever 333 and more.
Rebel Rampage are on a mission to galvanize and inspire the public to clean out the United States government, uphold civil rights and the Constitution, and hold people accountable. They rally behind the motto, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall! Respect my existence, or expect my resistance!”
They are playing at The Viper Room on January 23rd ahead of their appearances throughout NAMM Week.
Learn more about Rebel Rampage in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Thanks for having me! This is Graham Czach, songwriter/vocals/bass. I’m working on wrapping up our new music video for “Scorched Earth” which will be released at the end of this month and practicing for our Viper Room show next week on 1/23.
Now that a new year has started, what musical goals does this band have for 2019? What are you most proud of about 2018? Do any of you make any New Years Resolutions? Mine is to read more for fun!
Our goals for 2019 consist of doing some national tours in support of our debut album release, ‘Divided We Fall’, which we are in the midst of booking currently. We also intend on releasing a couple more music videos for some songs off the album as almost every song on the album lends itself to a visual to back up the important messages and stories they tell. On top of all this, we plan on writing a new album and hopefully get one or two new singles out this year. In 2018, I’m most proud of recording and releasing our debut album, releasing two singles with music videos, doing a couple album release shows, and most importantly putting out messages through music to inspire people to take action for equality and justice.
Not sure about the others, but one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to work out more consistently. As a full time working professional musician in many bands, it’s really difficult to maintain a regular workout schedule when your schedule is all over the place with gigs and traveling etc.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
I wrote all the music on the album and demoed it out, almost fully produced, then approached the others in the band to see if they’d be interested in being in this band with a mission to resist government oppression and inspire change for equality and justice. We do this through the music and the messages as well as taking to the streets and putting on powerful live shows. The guys were down and we fleshed out the songs with parts and arrangements, lyrics etc and hit the studio at Rancho De La Luna with owner Dave Catching to record the album. I came up with the name after going through many options because it seemed to fit the vibe and music the best. Basically look up the definition of the word Rebel and Rampage separately and put them together. The Rebel part speaks for itself as we are a power trio protest rock band standing up for the rights of the people and the country. The Rampage part is what the music makes you feel like, say at a live show, which makes you rock out uncontrollably because the music takes hold and you get lost in it.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
Where we grew up and the influences are definitely present in the sound and how we play for sure as well as how we carry ourselves. The guitarist, Dylan McGee Jones, and myself are from the Midwest. Myself from Chicago and Dylan from Milwaukee. There’s a lot of Midwest edge in the music and sound like that Smashing Pumpkins grit in the guitars and riffs. We weren’t spoon fed anything and don’t take anything for granted as we had to make our own way from the bottom up, which gives us a more real and darker sound and vibe. We are fed up with the broken system in this country and we intend on trying with all we’ve got to fix it and make change for the better. The aggressive raw rock style in the music and how we play comes from that angst growing up in Chicago and Milwaukee respectively. The drummer, PunKy Balfour, is from Palmdale and moved around a bunch when he was younger. His more West Coast vibe and sound is apparent in the music also with a lot of that pocket and back beat feel. He was way into punk, go figure, and harder forms of music as well as R&B and he’s got those gospel chops too. We all meld a lot of different feels and genres into our sound and playing which naturally comes out. For example, I mainly play upright jazz bass for a living so it’s all over the place. I’m a rocker at heart though. We carry ourselves as the music sounds, “Respect my existence, or expect my resistance!”
With all the bands here in LA, I am curious how this group sets yourself a part from them all? What is it like being a band in this city?
No other bands are doing what we are doing in LA period. If so, point one out, would love to hear it. The closest thing to us which I think is in LA is Fever 333 but they are totally different in the sound. The messaging is similar by speaking up about issues but that’s good. More bands and artists should be speaking out against injustices. What sets us apart is that we are real, we are all trained professional session musicians that can play, we aren’t playing to tracks, our sound is huge raw and powerful with messages that mean something because we are playing with our balls out, we aren’t trying to be like anyone else and follow a cookie cutter formula or trying to write hits, and I don’t know any bands that are singing like I am up high with that grit but also melodic. You can hear and feel the difference, it’s palpable.
To the second part of the question, it kind of sucks to be a band in LA because there are a million wannabes and mediocre musicians who think they are great and have nothing to back it up. All talk, no walk. Tons of fake ass motherfuckers that are trying to be someone else, not themselves. And LA caters to that bullshit because the music industry out here only wants to get behind something that they know will do well or milk a hit out of an artist because it sounds like something else. The days of taking a chance on an artist and believing in them and backing them because they are different and have quality material are over. All the taste makers care about is making money, has nothing to do with the art form and the art. On the flip side, there are some artists that can slip through the cracks and I still maintain hope that there are people out there in and out of the industry that care and want good quality new music that’s unique.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
You can hear all our musical backgrounds and influences come out in our playing individually, which creates a really unique sound when you hear it together. The sum is always greater than the parts. I think we do a good job of not thinking or trying to sound like any our influences but just letting the musical backgrounds come out naturally. The more complex harmonic riffs and progressions as well as some of the rhythmic complexities and melodic extensions come from some of the jazz and classical backgrounds as well as some R&B soul influences. It’s also obviously tied into the 90’s grunge influence and even earlier classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.
How do you think that you have grown as a band since forming? What has remained the same?
We only formed not even a year and a half ago in the fall/winter of 2017 when we started rehearsing the material for the album. However, in that short period of time we’ve grown a lot together by understanding how each of us works and how to listen to each other’s ideas. We run the band as a true democracy and there’s 3 of us so there’s never a tie 😉 I usually take the helm as final decision maker because this project is my baby and I’m funding it but we all have an equal say at the end of the day. I think our communication is improving which is the key to any successful entity and relationship. What remains the same is that we all like to have fun and party!
What did it feel like releasing your recent album, “Divided We Fall”? What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you once you were all in the studio? How did you celebrate the release?
It was a great feeling releasing this album as it is releasing any body of work and art piece that you’ve spent endless time, money, and energy on. It’s a creation that finally comes to fruition and manifests itself before your ears and eyes. Once we were all in the studio and started laying these songs down, we all felt like this was something special. We are very proud of this first album and continue to push it out there to the masses. We celebrated the release with an album release show back in November at the York Manor in LA with Angelo Moore (Fishbone) as a special guest, who also appears on “Red Star” on the album as well as partnering with the ACLU SoCal. We are looking forward to many more shows across the country this year in celebration of this album while we write the next one.
While it’s difficult, can you pick out a few of your favorite songs on this album? How did they get to be on this collection?
“Scorched Earth” is the band’s collective favorite. It just pushes the boundaries genre wise and sonic-ally came together the best. All the performances on that song are just alive and magical. The bridge pushes you off the cliff. Love it! A few other favorites are “Immigration Man”, “Red Star”, “To Be Free”, and “I Am The Power”. I pretty much wrote the songs specifically for this album, even the arrangement of “Immigration Man” , which is our version of the 1972 Graham Nash hit protest song.
Generally, how do you all go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
For this first album, I wrote all the music separately and then formed the band. However, we did write some of our own parts, lyrics, and tweaked arrangements together after the songs were written. We also produced it together. Moving forward, we plan on writing together more and I’m really excited to see the songs that come out and the direction it goes.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
I think we are all happiest on stage performing together. When we hit the stage and the music starts, it’s like a freight train or roller coaster that’s unstoppable and sometimes feels like it’s going off the tracks which can be exciting and scary but makes you feel alive. The chemistry live is amazing and we all feel the power we have and how special it is. It’s like someone just ignited a bomb on stage. It’s intense!
Where can people see you perform next? Do you have a 2019 tour scheduled yet?
We are doing a Pre-NAMM show at the Viper Room on Wed. 1/23. Doors at 7:30pm / Show at 8pm. The bill is Dr. Maddvibe & the Missin’ Links feat. Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Rebel Rampage, Doctrin, Aboleth. There will be D’Addario String giveaways and more. See attached Flyer. Ticket Link – https://bit.ly/2F95KEI // Facebook Event Link – https://www.facebook.com/events/2000314063386153/ We are in the midst of finalizing our first 2019 tour which should be in late Spring/early Summer. Stay tuned.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
Yeah, social media kind of sucks. Not a fan. It is overwhelming and a lot of it is fake and so narcissistic. We do it ourselves and actually need to be better at it I suppose, oh well. I like Instagram the best. Twitter is also good especially for the resistance we are a part of. You might as well call Facebook, Spambook at this point. Haha.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Yes, you are correct, it is immensely trying and takes a lot to keep up the fight and carry on. Music is definitely healing and we wrote this music and put it out there to help people to get through and carry on, get inspired and take action. It’s a very cathartic experience playing music especially this music where you can release it all through the music and address these issues head on, sometimes screaming about them in the music which I like to do;) Rather than an escape from all the current events, this music meets them head on and punches them right in the face. I was never one to bury my head in the sand. I’m going to stand tall and fight back for everyone and everything I can. This music is my way of doing that and it feels good. It bring us joy helping others cope and deal with issues. They can lean on us and we will help where and when we can. I just wish we could get this music with these messages out there on a larger scale. It’s really hard these days just to get people to have a good listen to anything. Information overload.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
There’s definitely some no brainers and some musicians I’ve met here and talked with about collaborating. Here’s a few off the top of my head. Tom Morello, Dave Grohl, Serj Tankian, Brittany Howard, Mike Patton, Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, Kendrick Lamar, Matt Bellamy, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Tim McIlrath, James Hetfield. And as for artists that inspire this group and my music since day 1, I’d have to say Led Zeppelin, Rage Against The Machine, System of a Down, Muse, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Pantera, Living Colour, Fishbone, Jeff Buckley, and too many more to name.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope the message of the music makes itself clear because the album as a whole and each song really address a lot of issues and we took a lot of time to make sure these messages were clear and resonated in each song. I hope that people continue to get charged up and inspired to make a difference and take action from listening to these songs to make this world and country a better, kinder, and more fair place to live. If we can change just one person’s life with this music and make a positive impact, then our mission is a success. One person at a time.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Yes, please take the time to take a listen to the album on your preferred platform and watch the videos, follow us on socials, and spread the word if you like it and it touches you. Come to show near you soon. Here is the master link to listen/download on your preferred platform – https://smarturl.it/rebelrampage
More info at www.rebelrampage.com