Catch the fever of Epidemic
By Dave Schwartz
Photos courtesy of Elektra Records

It was press day.  That long anticipated day when a band stands before the world media and presents their latest work.  A day greeted with as much anticipation as trepidation because you never can be too sure what the press will write.  I had Epidemic's self-titled debut release in my hands for several days prior to the interview and had already formed several opinions.  Crunchy guitars and persuasive yet subtle lyrics allow the listener to feel the power and emotion of a song without being bludgeoned with judgment.  This was a pleasant change of pace from much of today's music where attitude is presented to the listener in vulgar surplus.

When I finally hooked up with the members of Epidemic, it was the end of a long and eventful day.  Even after doing the "grip and grin" with a couple of dozen writers, I found drummer, Tim Ganard, and the vocalist, Boris, to be in high spirits and eager to share their good fortune. Looking for an appropriate place to start, I chanced the obvious question.

Congratulations on your deal with Elektra Records.  While shopping your debut album you decided to pursue a major record label rather than an indie, why?

"That's very simple," Boris began.  "We wanted to have our music out to as many people as possible.  We felt that a major label was the only way to do that.  And with Elektra we found one that didn't mess with our music."

Many bands will argue that this is a case of creative freedoms and artistic values versus the very literal term "commercial release."  But ultimately, this struggle is about identity; it's about being yourself. You often hear stories of a label taking a closer interest in the creative process and eventually altering the artistic vision.

"It depends on your music I think," Boris continued.   "It's easy for me to say, but I think we had our record done, like 95 percent, when we were signed.  It made it a lot easier."

From your bio I see that all four members of the band had creative input on this record, four very different perspectives.  What are some of your influences?

"As far as this band goes, there was a lot of indie-minded stuff through the '90s that I listened to," Tim explained.  "Jesus Lizard, Fugazie, stuff like that.  The band as a whole, it's really diverse.  It goes from hip hop to modern rock to experimental to drum and bass.  You know there's a pretty wide range of ideas coming together."

I did see a list of influences that included John Lennon, Led Zeppelin and Metallica, but these are influences that don't predominantly appear in the music that I'm hearing.

Boris offered further insight, "Regardless, if it's about influences or whatever, the fact that we don't necessarily sound like our influences is a good thing.  I like (those) bands, but I don't want to become them.  I think that happens a little too much anyway.  I think we sound like that band Epidemic!  You know we are drum, bass and guitar.  We are fucking rock that's been done for decades.  We're not saying that we're reinventing music, but we do try to add a fresh new flavor to our music.  If there are some other bands that you hear similarities to, I wouldn't really know."

Tim continued, "I think that whenever we build songs and start with a foundation, like I was saying, like drum and bass or hip hop, a lot of times we'll come up with beats and ideas that start there but end up a whole different way by the time we complete the song.  So I think that this band really looks for originality and approaches songwriting in a unique way.  I think we all compliment each other and I think it shows on the album."

Los Angeles continues to be a destination for musicians.  I know the four of you traveled from very different locations before assembling Epidemic here in Los Angeles.  What brought you here?

"I was making music in Holland," Boris said.  "And because I didn't really get what I wanted out of it there, as in money to pay my rent, I got bummed with music and I started traveling around the world doing other things.  After a while, I just got fed up and bored so I just decided to give it another shot.  So I moved to Los Angeles."

Tim's story was a bit less worldly, but no less driven.  "I definitely wanted to pursue a music career.  My two choices were Austin, Texas, or Los Angeles.  So when I finally decided Los Angeles, I picked up and took off. I really didn't have any aspirations to try and stay around Louisiana and go for it there because I figured that it would take too long and I knew that there was plenty more I could learn in a city with more of a scene.  You know there are thousands of bands here and I figured that if we could stand out here, if we could make music that stands out in Los Angeles, we could stand out anywhere."

All right, so your debut album is coming out on June 25th.  When is Epidemic planning on hitting the road?

"It looks like June 12th is going to be our first date and we're going out with Nickelback for about a month and a half," Tim responded.  "It looked like we were going to do some dates before with the band Default, but it looks like that is probably going to fall through.  I was excited about doing those shows; I hope we get a chance to play with those guys again some other time."

Interested if there were any tracks on the CD that stood out for the band, they naturally referenced their first single, "Walk Away."

"Check out the song Disconnected," Boris added.  "It's got acoustics on it and Rick Parashar, our producer, plays the Hammond B3 organ on it. And there's a whole orchestra on 'Burden of a Thought.'  It was conducted by David Campbell."

Like most interviews, I only had a short amount to time to gather as much information as possible.  Does Epidemic have what it takes to become a major force in the music business?  I hope so.  The members of the band are well-grounded and certainly understand the road ahead of them.

Having stopped for a figurative moment to record their debut album, this foursome is about to begin a new journey down a road less traveled. A year from now, they will know where it has led them.  Until then, I must share perhaps my fondest memory of this interview.

While saying good byes there are often awkward moments between a band and writer.  During one of these pregnant pauses Boris took the opportunity to share his feelings, when in a very hesitant and boyish voice he blurted, "I, I love you!"

What could I say?  I love you guys too!  Good luck on that journey.

Check out the Epidemic Web site, www.epidemicband.com

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