How one question sprouted supergroup ElixirOnMute
Published: Sunday, October 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 14:11
Sometimes bands are formed by brothers; some come together while in college; others form within a local music circuit or by happenstance between bored actors, co-workers or spouses.
Rarely does one hear a story like ElixirOnMute's, in which a then-20-something band leader and guitarist Jordan Ferriera recruited a fluid line-up of former members of Guns N Roses and The Mars Volta to join his "band," despite living on the other side of the country.
And how did the former Mindwalk Blvd member from Massachusetts get former drummer of The Mars Volta, Thomas Pridgen, to join him? He just asked.
It really was as simple as that. There was no talk of musical likeness and Ferreira didn't even have to "prove" himself.
"I think he liked that I just approached him," he said. "We literally didn't talk about music or I didn't have to play for him. He didn't really know anything about me before then. The first time we really heard each other play was in the studio a couple months later."
Ferreira looks up to The Mars Volta's guitarist, among others, and shortly after starting ElixirOnMute he posted on Zappa.com, a Frank Zappa fan site, about EOM: "This band is essentially modeled about what Frank did and what people like Omar [Rodriguez-Lopez] and Volta are doing. I wanna take the most insane/fiery players around and push them to the brink of what they can do and write some really exciting music."
It sounded like the kind of mission statement Pridgen would be on board with and with him on drums, Ferreira on guitar and Jon Reshard on bass, ElixirOnMute released a thrashing, progressive eponymous debut in September 2010.
For the band's upcoming full-length, The Long Halloween, originally due out in October, EOM has expanded its rockstar accolades by adding Volta saxophonist Adrian Terrazas Gonzalez and Guns N Roses' Ron Thal. To recruit Gonzalez, Ferreira "just sent an email" with some songs from the first record asking if he wanted to play on the record and he approached Thal in-person at a music convention in Anaheim.
While Ferreira may just seem lucky, the catch is that he's been surrounded by music his entire life and began touring when he was "11 or 12" with his father Jorge Ferriera's band and was on one of his dad's records when he was 5 years old.
"My dad is a European pop singer and he has a grand piano and a recording studio in his house," Ferriera said of his early exposure to music. "I just always remember people coming in and recording and the studio always being there."
Much like that scene in "Almost Famous" in which the young protagonist's destiny is changed by his sister's record collection, the touring guitar player for Jorge Ferriera's band exposed the 11-or-12-year-old Ferreira to about 40 progressive artists, including Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Dream Theater, Papo Delucia, Inkberry and Yes.
"I knew right away there was something really interesting about [Allan Holdsworth]," Ferreira recalls. "I had never really heard anything outside of what was being played on the radio before then. It's kind of strange, maybe, because there's a lot of weird harmony and stuff but I think it's really cool."
Ferreria's somewhat visionary playing is no doubt a by-product of the musician's fascination with film. He says he intends to make a film to accompany each EOM release and already has 10 screenplays in the works.
The band's nationwide fall tour features Ferreria on guitar, Rushard on bass and Dana Hawkins on drums.
ElixirOnMute, Open Source Project, Wednesday, November 2, 6 p.m., $10 adv, $12 dos