This week we’re delighted to welcome three contrasting but tightly-linked industry professionals – and friends – to The Monolith to celebrate ‘Instrumental Music Week. We’ll start off gently with a few introductions from the three musketeers themselves, so please give a warm welcome to Lisa Coverdale, Paul Ortiz and Evan Dunn! Amongst many things, Lisa works for Basick Records, to whom both Paul and Evan’s bands are signed.
Lisa has been at the heart of the independent British music scene for a number of years now, working on UK Metal Underground and her own PR company, before joining Basick Records and founding the affiliated Hold Tight! PR with James Monteith of TesseracT. Her work has seen Basick go from strength to strength, releasing numerous records over the past few years to growing applause. From The Arusha Accord to The Algorithm, and Uneven Structure to Aliases, there’s a bit of something for all metal fans.
Chimp Spanner is a one-man instrumental band from the south of England, and writes proggy, science-fiction influenced music. He has three records under his belt, including his debut Imperium Vorago, the incredibly impressive At The Dream’s Edge, and his latest, an EP entitled All Roads Lead Here. The band’s more recently prolific live show has recruited some of the brightest talents on the scene, including Adam Swann of djent darlings Monuments, and will be playing shows this very week.
Finally, Evan is a music teacher (check out his Bandhappy page here!) and performer from Chicago who fronts Basick’s latest signing Alaya. Relative newcomers, Evan and his bandmates have nevertheless garnered hefty attention recently and are set to release their debut album Thrones through Basick Records later this year.
All week they’ll each be relaying some of their favourite instrumental, guitar-driven music, along with a mighty playlist – available at the end of this post – and you’ll bloody well like it!
Lisa Coverdale – Publicist at Basick Records/Director at Hold Tight! PR
Instrumental music is possibly one of my favourite things to listen to, and I listen to it a lot, especially guitar led widdly nonsense. One day, whilst chatting with Paul Ortiz, aka Chimp Spanner, about instrumental music, we started making a playlist of our favourite stuff and from there we got Evan Dunn, vocalist and guitarist from Alaya involved on this little project. He’s a full time guitar teacher in Chicago, so we thought we’d grab his take on it too and it’s now spiraled to almost ten hours worth of instrumental fabulosity on our Spotify playlist.
Out of those ten hours worth of music, we’ve each picked our five favourite instrumental tracks. It’s been an incredibly hard list for me to make, I love so much of this style of music that it’s hard to whittle it down to just a few favourites. But here they are.
Paul Antonio Ortiz – Guitarist/Composer at Chimp Spanner
My history with guitars is a weird one. I resisted for the longest time. I was all about keyboards, but I think that gave me a good sense of melody and rhythm for when I would eventually pick up the guitar. It also meant I learnt how to imitate other instruments long before I had the ability to actually play them.
I guess around 14 or 15-ish I started borrowing dad’s guitar and trying to figure out how it all worked, with his help. It probably wasn’t until after high school and college that I really set about learning how to play properly though. Still working on that…
I think things were influencing me long before I ever picked up a guitar. I’d always hear a sound that I liked in movies, on record, that I didn’t even know the name of. I was too young to go out and buy it – I just knew I liked it; the Transformers Soundtrack; the Wayne’s World Soundtrack – I just loved the way it made me feel. Even my MIDI work (which no-one is ever hearing ever) was kind of rocky.
Guitar wise, I’m still playing and loving my Ibanez guitars. I’ve got an RG2228a, RG1527, RG7420, RGD2127z and finally an Ibanez bass (SR505). I’m still trying out a bunch of different sounds and tones for the new album (I’ve come completely software now…yikes).
I’ve actually been working on a lot of electronic music but I feel it’s having a subtle effect on the Chimp stuff. It’s nice to be able to step outside of the constraints of guitar music and just get ideas down without the crippling feeling of defeat that comes with a bad guitar day. I’m also working hard at writing new material to pitch at clients needing trailer/game/etc. music – kind of getting back on track with one of my major goals there – but I think it’s naturally gonna have a lot of crossover with Chimp Spanner. So yeah, feels good to be productive again.
I’m also busy working away on the new, as yet untitled album. It’ll be out on Basick Records this year. As well as that, the band will be doing a few gigs before spring - supporting Sylosis and Devil Sold His Soul on January 24th at O2 Academy Islington and we’re headlining a show on January 25th at The Lounge Bar in Alton with support from No Consequence and Tempus Fusion. We’ll also be at Hammerfest V in March in North Wales.
Evan Dunn – Guitarist/Vocalist at Alaya
They say “you are what you eat”, and I believe this directly transcends to playing a musical instrument and what you listen to. I’ve always found it important to soak up as much musical influence as possible – so the creative outcome is unique and your own. For as long as I can remember, playing guitar has been my passion. Through out the years, it hasn’t mattered if it’s folk, rock, pop, blues, or black metal – if I don’t understand it or know “how” to do it, I want to. This has especially become true since I started teaching roughly 8 years ago – as Taylor Swift and One Direction tend to be popular artists’ songs to learn…
My guitars: I have a Gibson SG, and an old Alvarez “Frankenstrat” that’s all kinds of decked out, but I never play. I love them both, but my real baby is my Godin LGX-SA. It’s an extremely versatile instrument, considering it has synth pickups and piezo’s as well. The acoustic tone out of it is incredible, and used all over our upcoming record “Thrones” which will be out on Basick Records this year. I have another Godin, a Redline III with a floyd rose. That’s my live axe. If anyone is near the Cobra Lounge, in Chicago on January 25th, we’ve got a gig so just come along, say hello. Always happy to chat about gear!
My live rig is pretty simple and old school. Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier for an amp, and a D-Two rack Delay unit from T.C Electronics. Boom – all you need. I haven’t jumped on the entirely digital age bandwagon just yet.
With that, here’s the trio’s Spotify playlist! Stay tuned later today and for the rest of the week to learn a bit more about each of their favourites.