Noisy Cavern Q&A with Los Angeles power rock trio, Rebel Rampage
Our very own Luis caught up with LA's Rebel Rampage and discussed everything from the creation of the outfit to the thoughts on the current state of the political divide plaguing the country. Graham Czach has made it his duty to fight the oppression with powerful music and inspirational words that will transcend politics and inspire action. Rebel Rampage is Dylan McGee Jones on guitar, Punky Balfour on drums, and Graham Czach on bass.
Luis: Relive the first time creating the band.
Graham Czach: Well, that's interesting. I started writing these songs the day after inauguration on 01/21/17 with an immediacy to get these much needed messages with music out there. The first song I wrote was "Resistance March" and then continued on consulting the guitar player, Dylan McGee Jones, along the way by sending him demos for feedback and gauging his interest in being a part of the band. I knew I wanted to have a power trio because it's raw and allows you to really experiment and move around a lot musically and otherwise. Dylan and I had discussed the idea of the band before. The ridiculous crazy things Trump was doing during the election and after really solidified this with me to make this music and band a reality. After I had almost all the songs written, mostly produced, and demoed out, I sent them to Dylan and he was on board. He recommended PunKy and some others in the LA music scene did as well. So I hit him up and he came over one afternoon where we sat in my home studio and listened down. It was instant chemistry and we both felt the energy and the vibes. So we all got together to run a couple songs after learning them and let me just say, it was like a bomb went off. We all felt the power and incredible energy we had together and knew it was right. Within a couple months, we finished tweaking the songs/production and hit the studio in Feb of 2018 at Rancho De La Luna with owner Dave Catching. We finished all the basic tracking for all 11 songs in 2 days. It was amazing! An experience I will never forget that was priceless.
Luis: How does the creative process work for the band?
Graham Czach: I guess I kind of answered that question in the first question but I can expand on it. For this first album, I wrote all the songs myself and then would bring them to the band where they would tweak their parts or write better new parts as well as work on the production and arrangements together. There was no shortage of inspiration I had when writing these songs with all the topics and issues at hand from immigration to women's rights to the failings of the US health care system etc. Dylan and I would sit down with the lyrics and re-write some and tweak others to make the messages crystal clear and make sure it was digestible in a way we wanted it to be. Dylan and PunKy are great co-conspirators in this band and we all challenge each other musically, constantly. Always pushing to be the best. It's apparent on the record and in our live shows. We always give it our all because that's what this music and the people deserve.
Luis: How was the process of recording your debut album, Divided We Fall?
Graham Czach: It was an incredible experience watching these songs come to life. There was a lot of collaboration on this album within the band for tweaking lyrics and production as well as guest artists and listening to everyone’s thoughts on musical direction. The highlight was being able to go out in the middle of the desert in Joshua Tree to the legendary studio, Rancho De La Luna, where desert rock was born with the likes of Queens of the Stone Age etc. and record an album the right way with owner Dave Catching. It’s truly something special out there. The spirits and vibe seep into the music and permeate its membranes. The experience was priceless and we were able to catch some real magic on the album thanks to Rancho! It’s like a big awesome family at Rancho and we are grateful to be a part of it and the history. It was a cool feeling standing where Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme stood and recorded some of their best music. And the stories there go on for days. We did all the basic tracking and most guitar overdubs there. Then I went to Attic Recording in Nashville, TN and recorded all the vocals with Greg Magers (Lupe Fiasco, Umphrey's McGee) in about 5-6 days. The album really came together and we added in the special guests on the album, Angelo Moore (Fishbone) and Emily Armstrong (Dead Sara) in LA where we tracked their parts for "Red Star" and "I Am The Power" respectively. Adam Kasper (Nirvana, Soundgarden) then took the reigns for the mixing at Studio X in Seattle, WA to put on the final touches and get the balances right. This album was a dream come true for me.
Luis: How was it recording and filming with Angelo Moore of Fishbone and how did you get connected ?
Graham Czach: At Summer fest in Milwaukee 2017, I was performing with a band there when I met Angelo on the flight back to LA, who was also performing at Summer fest. I was on a flight with the whole Fishbone band and crew. I recognized Angelo because him and Fishbone were a big influence on me and I grew up listening to them. We immediately hit if off talking about music and politics etc and got each other riled up about the current political climate and situation the country is in. I told him about this Rebel Rampage album and project and we both agreed there were no coincidences about this and we tossed around the idea of collaborating. Fishbone and Angelo's messages have always spoken out on important issues especially racism. We exchanged info and he said to send some of the music over to see if we could collaborate on something. I sent a few songs over and he really dug the music which led to "Red Star" being the one to try out.
We scheduled a time for me to come over to his studio and work on some ideas for horn parts and vocals. I show up and Angelo is running on overdrive like he always is, an amazing true artist savant and an inspiring individual. He instantly started playing along on his sax and writing parts right there and tracking them. I said he didn't need to record them or do it right then, we can just talk through some things but when inspirado is happening, you don't fuck it up and mess with the flow. So he continued to lay down some ideas and we guided it to the right place together. He then gets up and walks over to the organ where his theremin was and starts playing the song on theremin, it was incredible. So cool! It made me think of the sonar from a sub which fits perfectly for the Russian red star theme. We had a great session and he finished laying down the rest of the multiple Angelo army horn stacked parts you hear in the song and the theremin after I left on his own. He sent me the tracks later. We had one more session at my home studio where he came over and cut the vocals and also laid down all those thick harmonies on the choruses as well as the 2nd verse parts and the shouts at the end. Such a great experience working with him on this song. It turned out great and we are close friends now as well as tight musical comrades. Love that dude. And as for filming with him, it's as you'd expect...full of energy, inspiration, and a true rock star through and through.
This song is a head bopper for sure with an almost hip hop back beat groove in the verses which then morphs into a punk rock reign of terror in the choruses and the bridge. It calls out Trump and the administration for all the corruption and treasonous actions and sentiments. We are fine taking aim squarely at Trump and his cronies in this song for being in bed with Putin and the Russian oligarchs. It's the most UN-American thing any President has ever done by taking sides and defending Putin and Russia over America and trusted American intelligence agencies. Mark my words and make note of it here, this story goes deeper and there will be more indictments and convictions in this Russia investigation leading all the way to Trump. Wouldn't surprise me if he was a Russian asset. Follow the money!
"We have fallen so far. This is not who we are. Rise! Resist! Rebel!"
Link to Video - https://youtu.be/MgpmQAbswCs
Link to Album w/ the single "Red Star" - https://smarturl.it/rebelrampage
Luis: What are your hobbies outside of music/performing?
Graham Czach: I'm a huge movie buff and love watching great movies, always keeping up to date with the latest movies and revisiting the old classics. I love reading books and getting in some good workouts at the gym to stay in shape and be healthy. I'm also constantly working on new invention ideas and am currently working on developing one.
Luis: How has music influenced you as individuals and as a band?
Graham Czach: I can't speak for the other guys but I wouldn't be alive today without music. It is my religion and my first and always love. It's gotten me through the worst and best times. It's what I associate memories and experiences with and I've dedicated my life to it and the muses that take hold. Music is life.
Luis: Want to give any shout out to organizations/partners that support Rebel Rampage’s cause?
Graham Czach: Yes, shout out to the amazing ACLU of Southern California who is our partner and partnered with us for our album release show back in Nov. They are doing some amazing work! Please check them out and support this great humanitarian organization. Another shout out to RefuseFascism.org and March & Rally LA as well who we've also partnered with and are taking to the streets to demand an end to corruption as well as fight for justice and equality for the people. Go check them out and support as well. For the people, by the people!
Luis: What are the bands thoughts about the US Government shutdown?
Graham Czach: You mean the petulant child Trump shutdown?! It's a bunch of bullshit and beyond frustrating to see government workers doing a service for their country out of work or not getting paid for the work they're doing while Trump continues to profit off the system and his crony Republican counterparts receiving millions through the NRA from Russia. The whole system is fucked and beyond corrupt. We always kind of knew this but now it's so blatantly paraded in front of our faces, it's sickening. There needs to be serious election reform and money taken out of politics as well as overhauling of the two party system. It's archaic and proven to not work hence the government shutdown. Simple step forward in the right direction would be to impeach Trump and remove all his appointments from office and replace them. He's an illegitimate president. There was hope in the mid-term elections with the diversity and amount of women that were elected with the Democrats taking back control of the House putting some checks and balances on baby Trump.
Luis: What’s new for Rebel Rampage now that it’s the start of 2019?
We just performed with Angelo's band, Dr. Maddvibe & the Missin' Links at the Viper Room for a Pre-NAMM show which was awesome! And next up, we are releasing a music video within the next few weeks for "Scorched Earth" off our recently released debut album 'Divided We Fall' as well as embarking on a national tour in the late Spring/early Summer TBA. And with all of this going on, we are working on some new original songs to be released later this year including some new original music with Angelo. Also on our agenda is to release a live performance video of a song or two or a sampler of the live show because that's where you really get it and feel the power and energy in the music and messages.