Local metal band Blizzard at Sea looks for funding


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Daily Iowan reporter Emily Burds chatted with Steven Douglas Ross, the guitarist and vocalist of local metal band Blizzard at Sea, about funding the band's upcoming album and why he sees the process as the future of the music business.

Audio: Blizzard at Sea

"Closed Universe"

DI: Who are all the band members and their roles?

Ross: The band consists of Jesse Cohen on bass guitar and vocals, Steven Douglas Ross [me] on guitar and vocals, and Pat Took on drums.

DI: Where are you guys all from originally? Are you all students at Iowa?

Ross: Jesse is from Ames, I'm from Ankeny, Iowa, and Pat is from Indianola, Iowa. Pat is an undergrad studying ethics and public policy at UI, Jesse has studied for several semesters at UI, and I have a B.A. in cinema from UI.

DI: What kind of music do you guys like to play or what is your "genre," so to speak, or how would you describe your sound? It's OK if you can't give me one. I'd just like to get a feel for what you guys think your music is.

Ross: Our sound is loud and heavy. We are a metal band that blends sludge, progressive, and post-metal influences. And when I say heavy, that doesn't mean that we necessarily have to scream our heads off and flail around the stage 100 percent of the time. The quieter, prettier parts can be just as heavy if they carry the feeling we're going after.

As for the songs themselves, we experiment heavily with structure, tempo, and time signature, and our songs also tend to be on the longer side. We're no Slipknot, and we're trying to break people's suppositions about what metal in Iowa can be about.

DI: Do you guys perform original songs or covers more?

Ross: Right now, we're only playing original songs. We really enjoy playing them, and with the new album that we're about to release, Individuation, we have plenty of our own material to play.

DI: How do you guys come up with your music? What is the process? Who does most of the creation?

Ross: So far, I have structured the songs first and brought my guitar parts to the other guys. From there, they've written their parts, changed things, and added things. By the time we consider a song complete, it is in a pretty different state than when it started.

DI: How did you come up with the name? I am seriously intrigued by this one, so you must tell me.

Ross: I must do nothing. What I will say, though, is that there's a good chance that the name is a result of some of the brutal winters we have in Iowa.

DI: How often do you guys perform? And where usually?

Ross: For the past few months, we haven't played at all, because we've been putting so much energy into getting these new songs recorded and mixed for the new album. I've also been spending a lot of time lately collecting footage for an album-length video that will accompany all of Individuation. We did the same last year with our first album, Invariance.

Normally, we have several shows a month, and Gabe's is one of our favorites, as well as the Blue Moose. Ideally, though, we would still be playing shows at the old White Lightning Wherehouse, but the Man shut that down last year.

DI: How did you guys get together as a band and when?

Ross: I was working as an RA in Mayflower, helping to put together a haunted house in the lower-level parking garage for Halloween in 2010 and happened to meet our previous drummer, who was an RA in another building. We played with several musicians before finally finding Jesse and making the decision to be a three-piece band. Later, when that drummer left, we met Pat through mutual friends and pretty swiftly started writing new material.

DI: What is the best way for people to hear your music or find information on your band? Do you have a website or just on Facebook?

Ross: The best way to hear it is definitely live. But the most convenient way is on our bandcamp page, at blizzardatsea.bandcamp.com.

But really, this music, and when you think about it, music in general is best listened to live. When music is coming at you at a live-performance volume, and when you can feel the music hit your body as well as you can hear it, there is a drastic effect on the experience of listening that headphones or home stereos just cannot get. Our official (janky) website is blizzardatsea.com, but we do also use our Facebook page.

DI: What is the best part about being in your band or about playing music together?

Ross: The best part is the music that we make. At the end of the day, that's really what drives us. It's about making the music that we want to hear.

DI: How did you come up with this Kickstarter campaign? Why should people support it? What would it mean to you if they did?

Ross: Our sound engineer told us about the website and knew some other musicians who had succeeded in raising funds for their albums. We are definitely a do-it-yourself band — we silk-screen our own T-shirts; I paint all of our album artwork; and I film and edit the videos we release — and Kickstarter is a do-it-yourself funding tool.

People should support this because it is the beginning of a new chapter in making music. The middle man is being cut out. There is no label worrying about our marketability or our demographics, only a few musicians making their music. And everything donated goes directly to finishing this new album.

With the way Kickstarter works, you're basically ordering the album and other cool stuff from us, and to give you a taste, we will upload one of the songs to Soundcloud when the Kickstarter project begins. In a way, it's all of these online tools that are radically changing the music industry today.

By supporting a project like this, people in Iowa City are directly contributing to their local music culture. And for those outside of the area, Kickstarter is allowing people to more conveniently and directly support the arts they appreciate.

>>Link: Kickstarter Page: Blizzard at Sea

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