Protean Collective – Colorful in Collapse Part II

Thursday, 3rd August 2017

Read Part I HERE.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the attitude and philosophy of Protean Collective live- and what types of reaction are you used to from the audiences? What have been some of your favorite shows or tours that you’ve done?

Zappa: I feel like the general aesthetic of what we want to do live is have a very energetic live show, that’s very interactive with the crowd, that’s not just us looking at our instruments to get the tightest show out there. We want to be able to sit in our rehearsal space and play the songs so well that we don’t even have to think about them to interact with the crowd. Favorite shows- we’ve had a lot of good shows, and we’ve had a lot of bad ones. The best show for me was playing with one of my favorite bands of all time, opening up for Cynic. We were soundchecking and I looked at stage left and it’s Sean Malone, their bass player who I have been immersed with since I was 14 years old. I was in the green room just warming up and Sean Reinart and Paul came by- tried to keep it cool. In my head, my 14 year old self was losing my mind. Cynic was a great show- the crowd was amazing, the bands and fans were great. We have a lot of metal/rock fans that are very energetic, sing the songs and occasionally mosh around. We have other people who are into the music, but very much in the periphery and on the outside, just looking into it and very musician based. If you are coming to our show, either way, you are enjoying it and having a good time, you are welcome.

Goyer: As far as what we go for live, we want to feel that our audience is engaged with us. I try to look at people a lot when I play, I try to make faces. I’d rather make a mistake doing something that’s going to make somebody smile than make zero mistakes. Not that we don’t try to be tight.

Ehramijan: One of my favorite shows had to have been with Twelve Foot Ninja in Worcester. They were just the most fun people you would ever meet. Then they went on stage and they absolutely killed it- it felt like an honor because they are from Australia. It stood out in my head, it was an awesome. On stage, I want it to be loud, full of energy, and as engaged into the music as we all are.

Zappa: I subscribe to three different acts when it comes to the live show. 1)The Dillinger Escape Plan 2) James Brown as far as the tightness. My third one would be Rush. I saw them when I was 18, they played for so long and kept it strong. They always look like they are having the time of their lives.

Goyer: Rush does look happy when they play. I’m always happy when I play!

Zappa: There’s so many bad things that go on in the world, when you are up there on stage, just give everything and have fun with it.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you personally define progressive metal – especially given the transformation and types of bands that get that tag today compared to say 25 years ago?

Zappa: That’s a great question. Progressive to me is such a strange, nebulous term. It doesn’t necessarily mean too much. If a group plays something that’s just pushing… outside of metal, a group like Queens of the Stone Age to me is progressive rock, but not in the aesthetic of say Yes, King Crimson, or anything like that- but they definitely push themselves further. From metal lines, there’s obviously a lot of technicality and musicianship that goes into it. I feel like the term doesn’t mean too much – there are a lot of acts that put things out there that aren’t necessarily all about the musicianship. Personally, I don’t like the term progressive- we have progressive influence, yes there is King Crimson and bands that push things. We just make the music that we want to hear.

Goyer: I feel like when you listen to all the bands that have the tag progressive metal today there are usually bands that are melding together a lot of different influences. We kind of fit into that genre. It can be songwriting that is longer or shorter that takes jazz, classical, and different influences- that’s the umbrella of progressive metal.

Dead Rhetoric: Can you let us know about your work with the Plugged In Band Program and how you empower youth through music? What has impressed you most regarding the gains that are made with these young musicians?

Goyer: The Plugged In Band Program is a really cool organization. I’ve been working with them for about seven years now. Matt and Dan work with them too. It’s a program started by a couple, Tom and Sandra, who realized there was a need for a place for kids to go and jam and be themselves without the pressure of needing to be perfect. Just to be able to come together and play music. Something they started in their garage has grown into this wonderful concept where the kids get together and form bands, we coach these bands, and they pick a charity together as a group to raise money for in different ways from concerts and recording CD’s. We strive to teach them, but don’t demand perfection. It’s more about discovery and expressing yourself. What you see is a transformation from day one where they would never want to stand on stage in front of people or never try a guitar, putting all these limitations on themselves- and you see them learn to take risks, and understand that if they don’t immediately succeed at something, they feel supported. No one is out to bully them or not say they aren’t doing a good job- just by trying something new you are doing a good job. You see kids really develop confidence, I didn’t have anything like this when I was a youngster.

Zappa: I would have killed for something like that when I was a kid. Trying to help them build their confidence and self-esteem. We all subscribe to having a rough day and then going to a practice space to play for two-three hours and come out feeling that much better with everything going on, with us personally. With Plugged In, some of the students are really young and really good, really strong players. We have this one student that I teach in there, he’s a drummer, and he’s trying to do a YouTube playthrough of “Dead Ends”- he has a great ear and I think you’ll see him soon doing that. It’s very weird to try to teach someone your own music. If you do mess up, no one is going to boo you. If anything, that didn’t work- let’s try it a different way. A light switch goes off and they see they can try anything.

Dead Rhetoric: Being together for over a decade, what do you consider the greatest strengths of the band – and what obstacles/challenges have you been able to overcome and work through?

Goyer: Two things. One of the greatest strengths of this band is we genuinely like each other. I think that’s important. We have been together for over a decade, so we really like each other- and we really trust each other. We all have different strengths- I’m a big picture kind of person. A lot of times we will write a very bare bones structure of a song, and I’ll think it’s not good. Matt will say, no- this is a good song, you have to know. I can’t see it unless it has three guitar parts, full vocal harmonies, and Matt will say trust me- and I do. In this band, if somebody feels really strongly about something, especially something creative, we have to trust that.

Bacher: I think the glue that keeps us together is we do everything really collaboratively. Everyone is invested in all of the songs, we don’t have someone writing the songs and everyone is playing along to that one person’s songs.

Zappa: In the past, we’ve tried to have a bunch of ideas from one person, it never really worked. Like Steph said, we are all friends. There are a lot of groups though that really don’t. The car and van rides are the most important litmus test of any band that wants to get out there and tour. If you can’t deal with each other for 14 hours in a van, you are not going make it.

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