The Prog Report: USA
Roie Avin catches up with young US prog rockers Native Construct
There often is a point when listening to a band where the thought might occur, ‘what if this metal band didn’t scream so much,’ or ‘what if that pop band had a bit more instrumentation’, or ‘that rock band could use more vocal harmonies.
Native Construct, a new prog trio out of Berklee in Boston, seemingly answer those questions throughout their impressive debut album. You find yourself saying, “this is what Queen would sound like if they were a bit more metal,’ or ‘this is what Between The Buried And Me would sound like if they added some Beatle-esque harmonies’ or ‘if a band like Silverchair shredded like Dream Theater.’ The incorporation of such vast influences and styles, often in the same song, make this band and their album Quiet World one of the most exciting and inventive albums of the year.
The band made up of guitarist Myles Yang, vocalist Robert Edens and bassist Max Harchik, have only been together a few years. They formed in 2011 while at school and wrote and recorded their debut album while taking classes, sometimes turning in pieces of the songs they were writing to professors as part of their assignments. Their demo got in the hands of Thomas Rogers from Between The Buried And Me who immediately shopped the album to Metal Blade, the same label for BTBAM. The band was signed quickly and the response to the album, which was released on April 21st, has been overwhelmingly positive. Singer Robert says, “It’s pretty surreal. We didn’t know what to expect. We had no idea what the reception was gonna be like. We’re honestly blown away by how positive it’s been.”
Guitarist Miles talks about the beginning of the group, ”The band started out as a passion project on the side as we pursued our studies at Berklee College of Music (the birth place of Dream Theater, among others). It was just like a group of kids here at school who started jamming together and eventually we realized we were finding a heading that we were interested in pursuing more seriously so we kind of focused up and started dedicating more time to this project. It was a very slow process at first because we were doing school full time. It took us forever to get this album written and produced. We did it when we could and slowly the music flourished and eventually ended up being a full length LP that we recorded in 2013.”
These songs did not come together while jamming. Rather, the group write out every note in classical composition format before every playing a note together. “Everything for this album was written before hand and totally finished and the vision was there before we started recording. One person sits down with paper and pencil or notation software and just work it all out and really get in there and meticulously make sure all the pieces fit together. It’s a style of writing akin to classical composition more so than the traditional rock band format of jamming out songs and throwing out ideas.”
As far as all the style changes the group says it is to match the flow of the story, which is about a character who is a mute and is in love with a girl who does not return the feelings so he creates new world for himself. “The music and lyrics serve the story that we had. In most cases we had the story mapped out before we started writing the music and lyrics. So those left turns and sudden changes happen because something is happening in the story that we are trying to represent musically or lyrically.”
Also impressive is the production and the fact that the drums are entirely programmed by the band as well. As the band tells “We did it because we weren’t able to get a drummer on our budget. You save a lot of money, but it was way more work.” The band are now rehearsing with an actual drummer and a second guitarist and hope to hit the road soon. This is one of the bright new bands to keep an eye on the years ahead.