Album Review – Ponch Satrio “Start Again”

“Start Again” out now on Zoester Records!!
(https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/ponchsatrio/start-again-2)

I proudly own Ponch Satrio’s two previous albums “Get The Vision” (2010) and “Guitarville” (2011) and am a huge fan, but having been lucky enough to work with the man himself over the years, and also having met in Jakarta in 2017, I had occasionally heard bits and pieces of his music that were more vocal oriented (including the 2018 single release “Forever” which also appears here) than those albums, and really liked what I heard and hoped for more. And make no mistake, this isn’t to take anything away from those albums – they are incredible, and as a guitarist Ponch Satrio is one of the modern day greats, but as mentioned, I always hoped to hear more stuff with him lead singing on his music as well. So when I got the news that the new album “Start Again” (released May 2019 on Zoester Records) was going to be a vocal album, that certainly made me very happy.

Pleasingly, he handles this situation extremely well, providing great memorable lead and backing vocals for all 10 songs on the album, as well as playing all of the instruments aside from drums, which are played by Kevin Dwi. The production is crisp and modern but definitely still very real with a rawness to it, self tracked at his own Watermelon Productions, with Angga Irwan handling mixing and mastering.

It could be said that the album shows another side to what we know of Ponch’s music, but it is another side that is completely a part of his overall picture, and feels just as natural as his instrumental guitar work from previous albums. The album is just full of great hooks and melodies, and is very well composed with the song overruling everything else.

The guitar playing while very “hooky” also still has a good amount of heaviness and cool riffs (the intro to “Wicked World” for example) to go along with the great textures and layering in the parts. It also should be noted that while there is some ripping guitar playing (especially the solos of “Tell Me When It’s Over,” “Emptiness” or “Wicked World”) it absolutely never outstays it’s welcome. When you have chops for days and know so many amazing licks that you run your own Guitar Dojo (true story! – Ponch really does run his own school in Jakarta, Guitar Dojo), and I suppose even if you don’t have chops for days, or run your own Guitar Dojo, the secret is knowing when to use those licks, or more importantly knowing when NOT to use those licks. To quote a former teacher of mine and great man, “it’s like sprinkling salt” – too much of it and the whole thing is ruined and there is no going back. None of the songs on “Start Again” have had too much salt added to them. Fans of The Foo Fighters and most definitely the “Normal” album by the great Bumblefoot will definitely find a lot to like about these tunes, as well as rock fans and music lovers in general. Listening to the songs I can feel the soul of the lovely guy who created them, and that is what it’s all about.

Favourite songs – ALL OF THEM!! Perhaps a special mention to “Wicked World” for the heavy intro and ripping solo, but honestly all of these songs are extremely well written and performed, and I feel they are best consumed as part of the overall picture. We may be able to purchase songs as singles very easily nowadays compared to the past, but let’s get back to listening to full albums. Like this one! Crank it!

Gig Alert – June 16 @ Whole Lotta Love!!!

Hey All!!

There is a pretty cool event happening this Sunday (which just happens to be my 63rd birthday as well) at Whole Lotta Love, which I hope if you’re in Melbourne you’ll consider coming to!! This will be my first time playing a full set at that cool venue, so to say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement.

The bill is looking killer – TSAR GREENAnthony Mastrullo – MusicGeorgia Dodds and myself kicking off around 3pm. Gonna be killer fun, and I’m stoked to be asked along!!

Since I always kinda go my own way with things too, I promise that if you live somewhere else aside from Melbourne I won’t even spam you with an invite to the event – afterall what would be the point of that?

Haha cheers guys and I hope to see you on Sunday!! 🙂

Update – May 04, 2019!!

Been a big couple of months, I figure I will just do a summary of everything here since I didn’t manage to keep up with adding everything along the way!! Hope everyone is well!!

TUNES AND PARMAS WITH FRIENDS:

Early March I was at the Royal Oak Hotel in Fitzroy for the first time, and in the crowd were a few of my good friends from New Zealand!! We closed my acoustic set there with “Slackers and Wankers” and they didn’t throw us out, so that was good!! 😀

Will be back there on May the 8th @ 8.30pm!!

THE ART MASTER BRANCHES OUT:

Next up my mate Dan Verkys who has handled artwork for myself and The Feckers for 10 years and going strong, came to me with the idea of having more articles on his website to go with the amazing artwork that has always been there. He was kind enough to have me as one of the first things he did with the new format of his website. When that guy comes calling, I am THERE – I don’t mind what it is. Thanks so much mate!!!

JAMMING WITH A LEGEND:

Early April, my brother Skube had tagged me in something about local guitar legend Phil Para inviting people to come and jam with him at his gigs. Skube and I have sunk quite a few pints in the crowd at Phil’s gigs before, and I always remembered (despite the pints) how amazing he was – I HAD to do this!!

What a great bunch of guys he and his band are, and the staff at The Fyrefly where the event was held were also very lovely. An amazing night!!


LIVE AT SWAMPLANDS:

Late April I did a solo gig at Swamplands Bar in Thornbury, as part of a night that Dylan Beast runs there every week. Dylan and I used to play in an acoustic duo a year and a half ago, so it was a great excuse to catch up and play some tunes as well. We played solo sets and guested on a song for each other too. Amazing fun!!

THE FECKERS AND WHAT’S NEXT:

The next album from The Feckers is well underway and has actually begun the mixing process with Dennis Leeflang of Livelong Productions handling that stuff. The third song to be mixed is currently underway in his very good and capable hands and it is sounding KILLER.

This coming week I have the live set at The Royal Oak @ 8.30 as mentioned (May 08), as well as a two hour slot on Casey Radio as part of the Casey Beat program (May 11) where we’ll be talking and playing some songs live and studio. Should be great fun.

New Music – “Following”!!!

Full length video for the song “Following” that I wrote in 2003, when I knew that I had to leave my home town and move away to keep growing. At the time I played in the metal band Jigsore, but was also getting into more melodic things like this and it was coming out in my writing. Wanted to keep both things going, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Had been pondering whether I should wait til I have the money to give it the full production, or just release it quick, as is. Turns out with the loss of my old mate Keds recently that my soul really needed some healing, so I finished it up on boxing day. Here it is, warts and all. Music purely for the soul.

All vox, guitars, bass, percussion, mixing, mastering and video editing by me, artwork by Dan Verkys. Hope you dig! 😀

 

FULL LENGTH VIDEO:

 

LYRICS:

Dreams to follow, yet so bogged down
Nothing more for me in this town
Lands far away, they’re calling me
What they propose, I’d like to see

What exists now, will always be
Around as far as I can see
I will not change, what makes me me
Be back some day you will see

Want to acheive, in myself I believe
Don’t be sorry but, happy when I leave

Following that I dream
Much closer than it seems

Something I, I need to do
How can you know if ya don’t pursue?
And it may prosper, and it may sour
If my way’s had I’ll progress in the hour

I need respect, for what I’ll do
I’d have no problem if I was you
We’ll carry on, do what we do
All the things that get us through

Following that I dream
Much closer than it seems
Still a part of the team
The last of me not yet seen

Free David Bowie Cover – Roy Bratbakken and Chris Szkup – “Moonage Daydream”!!

Moonage Daydream cover artwork by Dan Verkys

Moonage Daydream cover artwork by Dan Verkys

A cover of the great David Bowie song, written of course by him, originally appearing on the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars from 1972.

This release is dedicated to Dan Verkys’ father, who is currently recovering from a stroke. It came about when Dan was starting to get the itch for a new exhibition of his amazing works, and mentioned the idea of having some music tied in with it, and this song quickly came up being a favourite of his. He mentioned that as great as the original version is, he could hear a heavier version of it in his head. No blast beats or death metal grunts, but just an overall bigger amount of “grunt”. Neither Chris nor Roy were familiar with the song unfortunately at that time, but definitely up for the challenge, and adding grunt is pretty much what they do in their “Dungeon Sessions” songs, so it was a goer!!

Vocals – Roy Bratbakken
Guitar, Bass, “Drums” – Chris Szkup
“Mixed” by Chris Szkup
“Mastered” by Roy Bratbakken
Artwork by Dan Verkys

Roys vocals recorded at The Dungeon, Skedsmokorset, Norway.
Chris’ guitars, bass and “drums” recorded at CS-Songs, Melbourne, Australia.

Grab it for free right now from The Bandcamp Store (or stream it below, but we reckon you should download it damn ya!!), and make sure if you’re in Victoria you get along to see Dan Verkys’ newest Exhibition “Archipelago”, launching at The Mad Gallery on Sunday June 10th. More info at his site, and the Facebook event is here.

We hope you enjoy listening as much as we did recording it!!

Free Deep Purple cover – Roy Bratbakken and Chris Szkup – “Stormbringer”

Stormbringer Artwork by Dan Verkys

Stormbringer Artwork by Dan Verkys

Cover version of the great Deep Purple mkiii song, written by Richie Blackmore and David Coverdale.

When looking for the next track for their “Dungeon Sessions”, Roy had mentioned that he always had wanted to attempt to sing the song, but he wasn’t sure if it could be done. Afterall, he’s singing the parts of both Coverdale AND Hughes – no easy task, but it sounded like a good reason to make this the next song in those sessions.

Chris liked the challenge of being able to build a track for him to attempt his vocals on, and got to work on things when this came up, while he was probably having some of the same thoughts Roy had along the lines of “holy shit, can I do this”? The results are obviously a new take on things that hopefully pay respects to the original as well. We’re certainly happy with it.

Visit the Bandcamp store from here, or click the embedded link below to listen / download!!

New Music – “Forgotten Ones”

“Forgotten Ones” is a piece I had for years and years that never ended up on any album. I actually recorded an early version of this with Colin Mahoney in 1994 that was my first time ever in a studio come to think of it! As there is a bit of a gap in TCSO studio releases coming out right now I thought it might be a good time to put it out 100% on my own, right down to the playing of all the parts, “mixing”, “mastering” and video editing, and liked the idea of a full length accompanying video for it.

I started it on March 17, 2018 and intended it to be all done within a day. Sometimes you just aim a little bigger than is possible though haha. So while I did most of it on that day, there was also a small amount of work a week later, and the final touches being added today on April 1, 2018. My shirt changes in some of the clips will give you an idea as to what was tracked when. I did some mic’ed up electric guitars for the piece but for some reason the direct recorded ones sounded better on this. So that’s how I kept it.

All up, a very fun thing for me to do, and something I may do again at some point! I hope you enjoy!! 

Free Soundgarden cover – Roy Bratbakken and Chris Szkup – “Fresh Tendrils”

Roy and Chris had discussed this song going all the way back to the making of The Feckers “It’d Be Rude Not To” album from 2013, both sharing a love for the album, and great band, being Soundgarden’s “SuperUnknown” album from 1994.

The guys had kept in touch since that album’s release, and in late 2016 had revisited the idea and started tracking the song, not really sure what the end result may bring, but being driven purely by their feelings for the album, and track in particular. A full “band” version was tracked during this time, with Chris playing guitar tracks, then building the “band” around those, adding bass and bad drums, that were tweaked a little bit, hence the quotation marks around “Drums” in the credits.

Fast forward a few months, all instruments, and Roy’s vocals had all been recorded, and the guys were talking about throwing the track out there when the tragic news of Chris Cornell’s passing broke all around the world. Devastated, the guys didn’t feel it was the right time to put their version of “Tendrils” out there at that time, although Chris did do their song “Spoonman” a bit with his duo partner Dylan Beast at live appearances as a nod to the amazing talent that was Chris Cornell.

Fast forward again to early 2018, and it’s time!!! It felt right to keep this version raw and “demo like” in some ways rather than hiring drummers, mix and mastering engineers etc – Music purely for the fun of it. We hope you enjoy it!!

Listen and / or download for free at the Bandcamp store here.

New TCSO single “Nobody Knows”!!!

The third in a “once a month or so” series of tracks from TCSO, a hard rocker called “Nobody Knows”, which sees the founding members of The Feckers reuniting for the first time since that album’s release in 2013, with lyrics here being written by Richard Anderson, and the music by Chris Szkup.

Featuring Mathew Szkup (guitar), Rob Lundgren (vocals) and Dennis Leeflang (drums and mix) alongside Chris Szkup (guitars and bass), this song was once upon a time going to be included on a 2nd album by The Feckers, however when those plans were halted due to life getting in the way, Chris was very keen to still have the song be heard and released, especially with a new ensemble that he felt could do good justice to the track. The rhythm guitar track on the left hand side is Mathew Szkup, while on the right is Chris, which is “a mark of respect” says Chris – it seemed like when we were growing up that all the great rhythm players in the metal bands we were listening to would usually be panned to the left hand speakers, and anytime a riff would “break down” to introduce a song or so forth, it would always be panned to the left hand side. “As I owe a great deal to my brother in terms of rhythm playing, it felt right to have him panned left on the songs he plays on” says Chris.

Once again, mastering on this track was done by Andy VanDette at Engineroom Audio in NYC, while artwork was done by Dan Verkys.

Listen in full and purchase (if you wish) via Bandcamp!!!

New TCSO single – “No Way Back For Us”!!

The second in a “once a month or so” series of tracks from TCSO, a cover version of the great song written by New Zealand artist Rob Smith of RPJ called “No Way Back For Us”.

Featuring Mathew Szkup (guitar), Rob Lundgren (vocals) and Dennis Leeflang (drums and mix) alongside Chris Szkup (guitars and bass), this song was originally intended to be used for GONE WILD when a third album was being discussed a few years back. However, when plans changed in regards to that album, Chris obviously had fun on the track and asked the question “can we do the song anyway”!!! Luckily Rob Smith being the great fellow that he is, agreed to it.

Once again, mastering on this track was done by Andy VanDette at Engineroom Audio in NYC, while artwork was done by Dan Verkys.

Check it out right now for free on Bandcamp, and if you feel like purchasing it, then thank you so much but either way, I hope you like it…….especially you Rob Smith!!!