Comadose knows there must be some
"pain for pleasure"
By Naughty Mickie
The J-card resembled an old-fashioned advertisement, the kind for some weird wacky wonder cure so popular when the consumer was innocent. But the music on "Re-Up" (Screaming Ferret Wreckords) by Comadose is a ready cure for the savvy sound consumers of today. The intriguing combination of old and new conveyed an offbeat sense of humor-- I like that in a band -- and I wanted to learn more. Just my luck, Comadose was gearing up for a tour and I could probably swing an interview with them.
The Southern New Hampshire band is slightly larger than most, with six members, vocalist Michael Roberge, guitarists Thomas Ackroyd and Jack Worster, bassist Jason L. Martin, drummer Jacob Brown and deejay/sample guru Dan Cicchetti. The sextet works together well, combining their varied talents to a groove-filled end. I had the pleasure of speaking with the personable Ackroyd, who was willing to share their tale from the beginning.
"It started with me and my drummer, Jacob," Ackroyd starts. "I had been in bands in our hometown area and, through a mutual friend at a job, I met Jacob and started practicing with him. I realized that it was something that was very workable and I contacted Mike, who's now on vocals. Myself and Mike had been doing bands for almost 10 years. So I called him up saying I had something going and we eventually called Martin, who was also playing bass and drums in other bands and then Jack and then Dan. It just fell into place.''
I skip ahead to ask Ackroyd about their unusual name.
"We were tossing around names for a while, almost eight months of not
being able to pin down something. We had ideas, obviously, that had been taken
and whatnot," explains Ackroyd. "Then one day, my singer's
ex-girlfriend as a matter of fact, Shauna, she was watching 'Saturday Night
Live' with us one night and spit out the name Comadose, which happened to be on
one of their skits. I guess it's a skit about cough syrup made by the makers of
Comadose. And my singer called me right up and said, 'Comadose.' It immediately
stuck with me. So he called up all the other guys in the band and we all loved
it. We stuck with it.
"We played, rehearsed, for probably only six months and we went into the studio and cut our own CD, which is really hard to get now, but we're hoping to get it more readily available," continues Ackroyd returning to their start. "It was a self-titled six-song kind of debut rough cut kind of thing. And that was actually without our DJ when we were still in the process of looking for one. We knew we wanted one, but couldn't find one that fit.
"After the six months of rehearsing and getting into the studio and doing that, that it was probably another three months, and then we had about three months of playing gigs and meeting the owner now of Screaming Ferret Wreckords, Tom Koukos. Through that, for the next six months, he kind of was our mentor, as well as kind of a manager to us; just a really, really good friend in the business. He had his head on his shoulders and he's been around," Ackroyd goes on. "One day he walked up to us, probably about a year and a half after, he said, 'I'm thinking about putting a record label together, are you guys interested?' And over the next couple of months, we had enough material to do as much of another album as we could and we really wanted to get back into the studio so we thought that sounded really really good. He was going to pay for it and he just wanted another album out. So we signed not thinking that much was going to happen. We just started taking off.''
"We really started getting noticed in about a year and it took about,
I'd say two years to get things moving. One with the label." Ackroyd pauses
and smiles, "Yeah, we count ourselves as very, very lucky. It usually
doesn't happen like this. We've been together now for only three years.
Especially coming out of New Hampshire, usually that right there will shoot you
back and few years. We know it's luck. Any band will find that out when they
try. It was the right time and meeting the right person. We're not even sure if
we've met the right people yet, we're just going to keep on rolling along.''
"All right," I say. "I know what you sound like to me, but how would you describe your music?"
"I don't like to make comparisons, but if I were to, I would say we try to make rock, or what you call metal, as heavy as possible without being absurd," replies Ackroyd. "Another way to describe it is all of our music is driven to get the audience going. We write it with the audience in mind; we perform it with the audience in mind. Everything we do is about all getting them moving and doing as much as they can.''
I ask Ackroyd to divulge Comadose's writing secrets.
"We'll get together for practice or rehearsal and we'll do our half an hour bit of going over the songs we need to cover, making sure we've got it all down," shares Ackroyd. "Then someone will spit out a riff, usually they'll start on one of the guitars and start flowing from there and then comes the vocals. My singer right now probably has, I'd say close to three or four hundred songs already written. All he does is sit around writing lyrics, so when it comes to showing him an idea, all he really does is grab something from the file in his head, something that might match and start putting those ideas together. Now granted, those words won't stay exactly the same, but he already has his rhythms, the beats down in his head for a certain idea. Our songs, the songs we tend to keep, usually come together within 15 minutes to a half an hour. If they take too long to write we know they're not going to be right. Usually they just flow right out and we know that that's a keeper pretty much.''
"Did any or all of you have a musical childhood?" I query.
"I'd say myself and the singer probably have the most background." Ackroyd says, "I grew up with older brothers that were heavily into music and played instruments, as well as my uncle. My singer has been playing classical piano since he was four. We had the history and all the other guys, like my drummer, when I met him for this band, had only been playing for six months. My other guitar player had only been playing for a year. Our bass player's been playing for probably five, six years and our deejay's been playing only for probably two years now.
"I would say my first time (playing guitar) was probably when I was 12," Ackroyd continues. "I had been playing the drums for a few years. My brother played a guitar, it was much easier to start learning from someone who was right there in the house than trying to lug drums around and learn from other people. He's the one that stuck it in my hand and showed me the chords. I really never took any lessons or anything, I was all self-taught, so he just set me on my way and told me a few pointers and let me go. It was pretty cool of him not insisting that I take lessons.''
Ackroyd did not attend college, but he had his future planned. "From before high school I had bands going so as soon as I was done with high school I knew that pretty much music was where I wanted to go, so I just stuck with it after that,'' Ackroyd says.
Just because Comadose is getting noticed, it doesn't mean that the guys can quit their day jobs.
"All of us have always worked, we still work now," states Ackroyd. "We lucked out, some of us are in contracting and the other is in restaurants, so when tours come up we can leave and go back to make money. Still, even now, with an original band, you have four or five shows a week, but you're not making that much money. I have been doing contracting lately, roofing. Half of the band are in contracting and two others are in the restaurant business and the other one is in electronics.''
But don't think that Comadose is all work and no play, they still find time for hobbies.
"Some of us are into sports, like my deejay, Dan, and he's really into basketball, he actually is a coach in his spare time for kids down out the Boys and Girls Club I believe," says Ackroyd. "Myself and my bass player skateboard and I still ride bikes to stay in shape. And other than that, it's mostly music-oriented, whether it be going to shows, sitting around together having a few drinks writing songs or pulling out the acoustics around a bonfire. It usually has something to do with music, we find ourselves not getting away from it too often."
I ask Ackroyd what kind of bike riding he enjoys.
"I do free-style mostly, like street riding," answers Ackroyd. "Obviously I do skateboarding, that says something there. When we're on tour, we keep it ourselves and head out to the parking lot or whatever.''
As usual, our conversation turns to today's music scene.
"Our local scene has been tough, New England's always been tough," states Ackroyd. "I think it's a little bit pickier than other parts of the country only because we don't get as many people that actually go out to clubs in the scene. So it's a little harder pressed to get the numbers showing, which makes it a pretty good stomping ground to learn how to hit things. As for the music from our scene, I would pretty much think out of New England, I'm not really too much into the styles that come out of here. New England's pretty much been more or less known as a rock scene and that was just one of those types of music that I left behind a long time ago. I wish there was a little bit more heavier stuff out here than there is now, but I will say that it's definitely on the upswing. But the kids that are coming out of high school right about now are really into the heavy stuff and we're getting a lot of kids that are just now starting up bands, really pushing out the heavy stuff.''
So what does Ackroyd think of the national scene?
"I like everything, I think that everything that's going on right now is really cool, even everything from the bubblegum pop stars down to what could be considered still the hard-core rap scene," Ackroyd says with spark. "I like the fact that it's really diverse; I like the fact that people have a choice in what they want to listen to. I also like the fact that metal is getting, well, speaking from more of a personal side, metal is getting much more personalized. It seems like metal is weeding out the weaker bands, bands that don't really stick to their guns. And bands that have really been there, tried and fought, I think those bands are starting to pull away from everybody else and I'm digging that a lot.''
I continue on to the most controversial subject among many musicians-- the radio.
"I wish that some of the bands they have on there..." Ackroyd stops and changes his course. "I can't say too much about other bands because I do like the fact that the music is really diverse nowadays. I can say that I don't get into a lot of the scene that's on the radio right now. But I find myself actually, just because of where I'm from and me being the oldest and been into music the longest, I find myself listening to rap bands a lot more than the rock channel. It's easier to listen to R&B type of Boyz to Men stuff than a lot of the rock that's out right now, it's just so has-been and done so much.''
Being as involved with the Web as I am, I decide to pick Ackroyd's brain for his opinion.
"I love it," Ackroyd says with excitement. "Internet is definitely someone's gift to bands. I never knew it could be so much help. Ten years ago, when I was just starting to get in bands, playing around, it wasn't that big, so I saw the actual change. I was like right there along with it from the point where once in a while you were lucky if you got flyers made up and you didn't end up playing for yourself. Now you can write one e-mail and connect to 400 people that are on your e-mailing list. Then you can get 50 people at least to show up.''
I hesitantly mention that Comadose's Web site is a little confusing to navigate for a novice.
"It takes a while with our Web master, he's a friend of ours," explains Ackroyd. "He's done our Web site now for three years and we've never paid him a red cent, so that's one of the reasons why we keep him. But right now we have been having meetings talking about getting it more user-friendly. We're also trying to get the record label-- they didn't really want us to put any MP3s out. So the only MP3s you can get right now, not even from our site, from CD Now and whatnot are from our first CD.''
After this latest release, the band is hoping MP3s will be allowed on their site to aid with marketing. They are also working to bring in more photos and shops.
"Our Web master and us are trying to open something up to the local scene, that's why it's taking a little while." Ackroyd goes on, "We know that a lot of people out there can become kind of pricey for keeping Web sites for bands that are up and coming. And it's hard for bands to pay that because we were there and are there. So our Web master's going to try to make a kind of local music mall out of our Web site. And that's right now what we're thinking.''
Our conversation has gone on for nearly an hour and I know that Ackroyd has things to do, so I ask him if he has any last words for our readers.
"I would just like everyone to really try to come out and see us," Ackroyd replies. "We try to get our CD to show what we do live, but there is no way to compare. We have lots of drive when it comes to our live shows. People come out and actually pay money to see us, probably more than once, so we definitely give them their money's worth.''
I press for one last question, as I am aware that Comadose's record company assists them with their bookings and wonder if there are any plans to get on some of the bigger tours such as Ozzfest.
"We trying to get our name to the people that are running the bigger tours. 'Cause we're totally into, 'Give us fifteen minutes in the parking lot for christsakes.''' Ackroyd tells me, "We do so much work for three or four gigs a week when all we want to do is give up our jobs and play seven days a week. That's all we want to do.''
If things continue to go as well as they have for Comadose, they might just realize their dream. Good luck guys!
For more information on Comadose visit www.comadose.com and www.screamingferret.com
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