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Acroma interview 

Submitted by Johan Wippsson on 2003-10-10
Slap ACROMAs Orbitals in your player. Set the volume to "stun." Push "play." Now close your eyes.

The albums opening track, "Careless Ones," swirls into view like a sandstorm on an uncharted planet. The sound is vivid, technicolor, tangible. In fact, all of ACROMAs thirteen tracks--from the cloud-scraping "Sun Rises Down" to the regal "Some Desert Night" to the frenzied "Motive"--have cinematic quality.
Hello Brian how are you?
Brian Christensen : I am well, thanks.

Youre touring at the moment, How is the tour life?
Brian Christensen : Tour life is really cool and really, really boring. Its a lot of hurrying to get somewhere so you can wait. I love it.

Can you explain how a typical day on tour is?
Brian Christensen : Driving! For the last tour we did, we had to drive 24 hours to get to the first show. So we were basically in a van playing 4-player Halo on a 13 inch tv for two days. I definately started to go a little crazy. I brought books to read and movies to watch and music to listen to, but its hard to resist the temptation of the X-Box. Once we get to the venue its usually really cool. A lot of places will give us a meal. In Little Rock they gave us free dinner at Juanitas, which was the best damn Mexican food Ive ever had! After food you set up and do a sound check which is cool because when you only play shows and drive, you start to miss playing loud and messing around like you can in sound check. Later, we play the show. Thats the best part. Thats why we do it. After the show you get to meet fans and hang out which is nice. The bad things? Hauling gear, no privacy, sleeping in a different bed everyninght, constant traveling, but boo fucking hoo, right? Were a touring rock band. Life could be a lot worse.

Which bands have you played with so far and are there any ones that would love to play with?
Brian Christensen : So far weve only played with a handful of national bands. Evanescence, Revis, Banyan, Manmade God, Grade 8. There are a ton of bands I want to play with. Janes Addiction, Radiohead, Zwan, Audioslave, Jimmy Eat World, The Deftones, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, A Perfect Circle, Live, just to name a few.

Your new album is out on Universal records and its a great dynamic rock album. You got to be very satisfied with it?
Brian Christensen : Absolutely. I took a picture of it sitting in the rack at the store rigth next to Aerosmith and AC/DC. Its a huge accomplishment and were really proud to have made it this far.

Is Orbitals the first album from you or have you done or have you released any independent ones before?
Brian Christensen : Weve recorded earlier demo versions of some of the songs that ended up on Orbitals, but that album is really the first time we were able to spend the time and money to get it right. Weve really only written about 16 or 18 songs together and 13 of them made the album. Not bad, eh?

What are your expectations for the album and have you set any goals for it?
Brian Christensen : First off we just want to get our music out there. We want to make our little mark on music. We really just want to do well enough that we can continue writing songs and recording and playing shows without worrying about food or gas money. Of course, once we have those imediate goals locked up, well move on to our real motives for starting this band...hoardes of followers/worshipers, global domination, fierce excess, massive social and political influence, loss of compassion for the everyday person, the inevitable deterioration of our very souls. Typical rock band cravings and aspirations.

And a following one is id youre nervous of not selling enough. I mean that the business is so tough and quite unfair to be honest. Some band does a masterpiece album with not much promotion and doesnt sell that much and at same time we have band X with a monster promotion and a poor album, which sells a lot.
Brian Christensen : We made our album. Well play any shows we can get. The rest is up to the monsters in the suits and the public. Well make our best stab at it. We signed a deal, which is frightening in its own right, but I wouldnt say weve sold out. Selling out is compromising your art for money. We didnt do that. The album sounds the way we wanted it to sound. It was produced by the producer we wanted. It stayed true to our artistic vision.

Has promoting been too important?
Brian Christensen : Were being promoted reasonably well, but it could definately be better. Our label likes to put the music out there and see if it takes off on its own, without too much promoting, then if it does start to move, theyll put money into it. So its kinda like waiting for some magical miracle that makes people notice your album. Other labels seem to spend more money first and try to make people like it, or at least make sure everyone hears it. I dont know whats worse. Our label is more profitable than the others, but I sure would like it if someone were spending a ton of money on getting our name out there...

How was you signing process to Universal and are you satisfied with your deal?
Brian Christensen : Getting signed was really cool. Our A&R guy first heard the disk on a Friday and called us immediately to say he liked it. Monday he called again to say he was flying out to see a show in a month. A couple weeks later he called and said he didnt even need to see the show, they wanted to sign us and we should start planning for it. We signed shortly there after. We got an average deal for a new band.

Ive heard that some of the major labels arent going to well at the moment. I think that one reason for that is the presence of downloading places like Kazaa and Direct Connect. What do you think of those programs as an artist and creator of music that got downloaded?
Brian Christensen : I love that our music has the ability to spread so quickly. Thats the whole point is to get your music heard. But it can definately hurt a new unestablished band. If people hear it and it makes them want to buy the cd or come to the show or buy a t-shirt and support the band, then it is good because it makes it easier for a band to make more music and have a career. If they just take the music and never support the artist, their favorite artists might not get to make another album. Record labels drop bands who arent selling. Thats just how it works. File sharing is definately bad when music gets out that isnt finished yet. An artist goes through a lot of different stages when creating something, and its a shame when people start falling in love with early drafts. The fans start to disagree with the artist in decisions and it just gets ugly. I dont want anyone to hear my stuff til its done. But on the other hand, Im like anyone else. I want to hear new Radiohead or Audioslave ASAP so if its out there, Im gonna find it!

Youre a new band for me and probably most of our readers. Can you give us a short AcromaStory how you got together?
Brian Christensen : Tom and I went to the same high school. We both picked up our instruments at the same time and played together in a group with some common friends. Around the same time that Tom and I started playing, Jeremy was starting to play in bands around Salt Lake City, and Josh was playing drums in Texas. After about four years, Tom and I decided to start something more serious. We put up some ads around town. Jeremy was looking for a new project and Josh had just moved to SLC and wanted to join a band. When Jeremy and Josh answered our ad, we all really clicked and the rest is history.

I know that youre from Salt Lake City. How s the music scene there?
Brian Christensen : There are some good bands and some serious music fans here, but overall its kinda tough. There is a pretty strong mormon influence on everything around here. Fewer people go to bars. There are fewer places for a band to play There are some strange laws that make things difficlut. A lot of people go straight from high school to marriage and never get out and experience the rock scene. A lot of lame, safe rock bands are formed. There are some good bands here and some good fans, but theres a lot of crap and a lot of hassle too.

And around the US. Do you like todays rock bands or do think that the rock was better before?
Brian Christensen : I think music moves in cycles. After the Seattle thing fizzled out, there wasnt much good for a little while. It seemed like popular music had lost its soul. But I think things are better lately. You have to be picky about which bands you take in and which ones you leave out. If you accept everything the corporate folks try to feed you, it can be pretty bleak.

Orbitals is produced by Sylvia Massy Shivy (Tool, Powerman 5000), which has done a excellent job. How did you come in contact with her?
Brian Christensen : Our A&R guy asked us to make a list of the producers we wanted to work with. She was our first choice. Her albums all have a unique sound to them. The bands have their own sound. She gives full attention to the smallest noise and the subtlest detail. Her albums have depth. She doesnt get in there and rewrite a bands songs. She just tries to get the best out of you. When we sent her a demo she loved it and signed on immediately. It was a good experience.

I think its cool with a female among all the mens that are dominating the producing/mixing credits on most albums these days. Do think that a woman have other skills that us men?
Brian Christensen : Women work and think a bit differently. They communicate differently. This can be good or bad. It was definately good for us. Weve seen horror stories on VH1s behind the music where producers would be drill seargents and pushy, power-hungry ego maniacs. We wanted to avoid that if possible so we could just focus on the music. Sylvia was a good fit.

Your sound is big rock with a dynamic edge, with influences of quite a lot of bands. It feels like you and your band mates have been listening to different bands, which is really positive cause you have create something own. Im I right do you think?
Brian Christensen : Yeah. Between the four of us we like a pretty wide variety from heavy dark industrial to political hip hop to blue grass to bright folk pop rock. Its good because we can find common ground but still have room to do things that are unexpected and inspiring.

I know Brian that youre into bands like Live and Smashing Pumpkins and have done a few question that you got to pick one band and also put a reason why.

Pearl Jam or Creed

Brian Christensen : Pearl Jam for sure. I have a ton of respect for those guys. They are just the real thing. Their music is honest. Their first two albums are great and theyvc had good songs on every album since. Theyre the kind of band you can believe in. Creed has moments that I like. They write good melodies and the overall songwriting clicks with me sometimes, but overall I just cant fully embrace them. Everytime they do an interview or I read the lyrics or they make a video or I just look too closely, theyll do something that isnt quite there for me.

Nirvana or Foo Fighters
Brian Christensen : I like Nirvana for what they did and what they stand for and how they changed everything. I like the Foo Fighters overall body of work more than I like Nirvanas. Nirvanas Nevermind is better than any Foo Fighters album. I like the Foo Fighters for still making a good album after so many years. If Kurt Cobain were still around I think Id choose Nirvana but since he punked out on us all, Im going with Foo Fighters.

Smashing pumpkins or Zwan
Brian Christensen : Smashing Pumpkins for sure. Siamese Dream is one of my alltime favorite albums. The production is incredible. Every song is well written. They kinda started to suck on some of the later stuff, so Im glad they threw in the towell. Zwan is better than late Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan is one of my guitar heroes. Im just glad hes still playing.

Live (1997) or Live (2003)
Brian Christensen : Throwing Copper was a really good album. I really like it. Mental Jewelry was a pretty good first album. Secret Samadhi has maybe two or three really good songs, and a lot of lyrics that just dont do it for me. I havent bought a Live album since that one. I have heard some good things from them here and there since then, but I dont know it well enough to have a strong opinion.

Whats the nearest plans? More touring?
Brian Christensen : Our second single, Wash Away (Some Desert Night), is going to come out in about a month or so. Were working on some more touring to go along with that. Our first single got us some recognition in a lot of places, but didnt launch us into superstardom. Maybe this will be the one...

Thanx for your time Brian and good luck to you and your buddies. Hope to see you in Sweden sometimes in the future!
Brian Christensen : Thanks Johan! I hope so! Thanks for putting together this interview and thanks for the support! Talk to you soon...Brian