Charleston musician John Bias produced a rock record last year that made my No. 1 pick of local albums. "Pandemonium & the Ever-Expanding Inexplicable Sound" is psychedelic and groovy in moments, and dark and contemplative in others. It pays tribute to classic rock but also provides some daring modern elements that ultimately make it a really good record.
Now Bias is back with his first new song in a while, and Charleston Scene's second song premiere of 2019. Listen to jazzy single "Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow," and read a Q&A with Bias.
Q: First, I have to give a shout-out to the album that made our No. 1 slot on the list of best Charleston discs of 2018. What were you setting out to do with "Pandemonium & the Ever-Expanding Inexplicable Sound"?
A: For the first record, I just wanted to make a no-frills rock 'n' roll record that sounded like the stuff I was listening to: The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, Harry Nilsson.
Q: So, what about this new song? It's taking a turn from rock 'n' roll into the jazz sphere.
A: As for the new single, I’ve always been interested in non-standard time signatures, so this I guess would be my first crack at trying to write music using odd time.
I’ve been listening to more music, and a lot of it has been jazz or has jazz influences. I think that the approach to music that jazz musicians have is wildly different than the way most pop music is created, and I wanted to try and get in that head space.
Q: Who did you work with on this track and your upcoming album?
A: I definitely could not have made this record without the help of everyone who played on the track. It’s been a dream of mine to work with as many musicians as possible and, on this track, I was lucky enough to have a group of immensely talented friends.
It was recorded at Rialto Row (with Wolfgang Zimmerman), and features Clay White on trumpet, Tyler Sim on piano, Sam Jaeger on bass, Austin Ramirez on mellotron, Brett Nash and Dakota Bristow on drums, Alex Kohel on congas, Joe Synnett on guitar and me on guitar and vocals.
It was produced and engineered by Khari Lucas, mixed by me and Andrew Halley and mastered by Matthew Garber.
Q: Wow, that's quite a crew. Is this song a preview of where the rest of the record is headed?
A: I wouldn’t say this single is an indicator of the direction I’m going, but more of a statement that my musical reach is constantly expanding and the music I make should and will reflect that.
Q: What's next for you?
A: We are going on tour from Jan. 18-25, traveling along the East Coast.