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[AltWire Interview] Thank You Scientist: “You Can Really Do Whatever You Want Musically”

tys_maps_front-FINALThe New Jersey rock scene has always been the birthplace of some incredible talent. Credited as the origin state for many  highly talented artists such as My Chemical Romance, The Misfits, and Bruce Springsteen to name a few, the Garden State certainly has never seen it’s shortage of great and truly talented musicians.

Together since 2009, and newly signed to Claudio Sanchez [Coheed and Cambria]’s Evil Ink Records, the experimental progressive rock group Thank You Scientist, are now hoping to add themselves to that list of talented and famous alumni. Consisting of seven different  members, who play close to 20 different instruments total, the avant-garde and highly experimental group from Montclair, NJ are definitely unique and possess a progressive sound that defies categorization.

We recently had an opportunity to speak with front-man Salvatore Marrano an hour before he and the band were set to play a gig at The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC. Read what Salavatore had to say below!

AltWire [Derek]: Congratulations on the re-release of Maps of Non-Existent Places! For those introduced to you via this album, could you tell us a brief introduction to your band? How did you first meet Claudio and get signed to Evil Ink Records?

Salvatore Marrano [Thank You Scientist]: Well we’ve been together for a little under five years; I think we formed in late 2009. A few of the guys went to Montclair State University and that’s where they met. They were in the music program there, and I had found them on Craigslist. I saw that they were looking for a singer, and I auditioned and the rest is history so to speak [laughs]. In regards to the sound of the band, there are just so many different influences within the seven members of the band that I think that’s what makes our ‘sound’ unique.

With Claudio, we got a call from a promoter for The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. We had played there on April 1st, April Fool’s Day of this year, and they had called my trumpet player and told him that Claudio Sanchez had called her and requested to be put on the guest list. We didn’t know if it was a joke or not (with it being April Fool’s Day), but he actually showed up, he dug the show and we had some words after the show. It wasn’t anything business; we were just talking to him personally and getting to know him. And we had dinner with him about two weeks later and that was it. He invited us out on tour with him and the rest is history with that as well!

AW: Speaking of Claudio, I understand you’re also touring with Coheed and Cambria as support for their Neverender tour. How has that experience been for you so far?

SM: It’s absolutely unbelievable. A lot of us have been working really hard at this for a long time, and to be recognized by Coheed especially (when we’re big fans of Coheed), it’s just been kind of surreal. They’re the nicest bunch of guys on the planet; and they’ve been very concerned with how we’re doing and they’ve also been very supportive. It’s been an awesome experience, it’s exhausting, but it’s also unbelievable.

AW: With seven different personalities in the band, do you sometimes find it difficult to come to a consensus as to how a song should sound, or is the recording process usually very straightforward?

SM: Well, with seven people, anything can be difficult when it comes to getting people on the same page. As far as music is concerned, however, that’s the easiest. I think we’re all really lucky in that respect. In the recording studio, we all have our ideas on how we want a song to sound, but we’re all somewhat on the same page. I would say everything outside of music…that would be the trickiest part. Getting all seven people on board with the decisions that are being made, that aren’t directly involved with the music. Naturally the bigger the band, the more opinions you have, but we’re all pretty level-headed and understanding, so there hasn’t been a big problem as of yet.

AW: You’re currently hard at work on your third release, due out sometime in 2015. What can you tell us about the upcoming new record? How do you feel it differs from your two previous releases?

SM: I just think it’s the next level for us; it’s a natural evolution for us. Obviously we want to push the boundaries musically, and I think that’s something we should always strive for, to push it as far as we can go without alienating anybody. There’s some pretty far out tracks on there so far, but there’s also some stuff that is a little bit more easily accessible as well. There’s a nice mix between the two and I think one thing people really dig about us, is that we do a lot of really technical stuff, but there’s a lot of really great melodies, and stuff that people really latch on to.

AW: Your band name and the art direction of your latest record, definitely gives me a bit of a 1960’s science fiction vibe. Are you guys vintage sci-fi fans, and if so what are some of your favorite sci-fi films and TV shows?

SM: Yeah, I think overall we’re just seven geeks [laughs]. A lot of us are big sci-fi fans; and we’re into a lot of different stuff. I know some of the guys are into old sci-fi stuff, and some of us are into the more modern stuff.

As for me, I’m really into the alien conspiracies and all that jazz, and so I would say my favorite sci-fi movie is Fire in the Sky. It’s probably not up there as far as sci-fi classics are concerned, but I saw that as a kid, it totally creeped me out and it’s definitely one of my favorites.

AW: That movie still freaks me out [laughs].

SM: It still freaks me out as well, and I probably saw it about 7 or 8 months ago. The score too in some of the more intense parts, it really sets the mood and it really gives me goosebumps. It’s really creepy. Great movie though!

AW: Going back to the sound of your band, in many ways your style feels like a nod back to the progressive rock of yore while also moving the genre forward. How would you compare today’s modern rock music to the classic artists of the 60’s and 70’s?

SM: Well we all different opinions about that, but my opinion is – and how can I put this – well, I feel like nowadays you get a trophy for coming in last place in sports. Back in the day people weren’t afraid to tell people that they weren’t good. Nowadays people are getting kind of coddled along, given pats on the butt and told ‘great job you’re doing great’. I think that there’s obviously going to be great music in any generation, but I feel – and this just me speaking here, that the songwriting isn’t the same as it was back in the 70’s, 80’s and maybe even a little bit of the 90s’. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, and so that stuff is always going to be close to my heart. I’m not a big fan of modern music, there’s some good stuff out there, but nothing that really tugs at my heart strings.

AW: What music did you hear growing up in the 80’s and 90’s? Was there one record in particular that truly inspired you to become a musician?

SM: Tool’s Ænima without a doubt. That was one of the albums that made me realize that this was what I wanted to do. I think I was like 15, and it just blew my mind. I didn’t understand how a four piece band could sound the way that they did, and all the songs were amazing on that album. It really opened my mind to the possibilities of songwriting that you could do with a rock band, and so that was definitely THE album for me. I grew up with early 90’s grunge, and as a young kid, I had four older siblings who listened to a lot of 80’s stuff which I still dig to this day. But yeah, when that album came out it made me realize that this is what I really wanted to do, you know?

AW: For people who might be listening to your music and getting inspired in the same way, what do you hope people will take away from listening to your music? What’s the message you hope to deliver?

 SM: Listening to our music and seeing our live show, I just hope that people realize that you can really do whatever you want musically. If you believe it 100%, people are going to see that and they’re going to hear it, and you don’t really have to follow the same path that other people are taking. You can do your own thing, and I look at it like relationships. If you go into a relationship and you’re lying to the person you’re with, then you can never truly be yourself, so you always have to be that false person. So musically, if you’re always true to yourself, you’re going to find the people who really like your music for what it is. You don’t ever have to go “oh well i don’t think we should write this song, because I don’t think people are going to dig it”, you know, and then you can’t be yourself.

So stay true to what you do! If you’re hard working and 100% passionate about it…as long as you have some talent, people are gonna dig it! To me that’s the most important thing, to be able to love what we do, and have other people love it as well, and to be able to see it on people’s faces when we play live.

AW: Lastly, what’s next for the band? Anything you’re excited to talk about with the fans?

 SM: Our last date with Coheed is October 7th, and then we’re going back to Jersey and we’re all going back to our job. We’re looking to record the new album sometime at the end of the year or early next year, and then hopefully, you know, we can just keep this up! In the ideal world we’d be recording the album at the end of the year, and then when it comes out, we’d just be touring our asses off to promote you know? This is our first major  touring experience, and it’s been very eye opening. It’s made us realize that it’s possible, and that this is what we all really want to do. We see the payoff every night, talking to our fans, and Coheed’s fans who tell us that they are now our fans. It’s really great, and it’s good to know that we can reach not only Coheed’s fans, but other band’s fans, and other music fans in general which is always a positive.

 

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