Interview With Randy Ross of Proven
PROVEN out of Portland, Oregon formed late in the summer of 2005. They have begun to quickly build a strong fan following throughout the Pacific Northwest, showing all very quickly that they are embraced on a nationwide audience as well by way of the attention garnered via traditional and XM radio satellite broadcasting. The band is now at its most pivotal juncture as they begin to record their debut full-length album with producer/engineer Billy Graziadei of Biohazard and Suicide City fame. Couple this with the fact that this act understands the furthering legacy of hardcore music rests in their very hands, Proven is a heavy music act to keep your eyes and ears open for. I am absolutely thrilled to have gotten this opportunity to conduct a Q&A session with the band's guitarist/vocalist, Randy Ross.
Rocket: Are you originally from Portland, Oregon?
Randy: No. Oregon yes, but I'm from Veneta... home of the Oregon Country Fair (Read: Hippie Fair!) it's a SMALL town outside of Eugene, on the way to the coast. I've lived here in Portland on and off for the past fifteen years, so about half my life.
Rocket: My mom's side of the family is from Oregon too actually. So when did you first start playing electric guitar?
Randy: I was 12 years old when I decided to play, but I didn't get serious until I was 14, and was being tutored by the bassist in my first rock band. I got a boost from my Dad, who plays fingerstyle, and that really helped with timing and meter quite a bit.
Rocket: Awesome. Who are some of your biggest playing influences? Past or present.
Randy: Wow, I'll try to keep this short!
Rocket: Haha. That is one loaded damn question, isn't it? It's like asking a pharmaceutical junkie what their favorite 'script is!
Randy: Tony Iommi.
Rocket: Let me just say that I can always tell who the real old schooler is when they answer with Iommi's name first. Horns up!
Randy: ... Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag, Trey Azagtoth, Billy Graziadei, Wes Montgomery, Bobby Hamble, Mark Knopfler, Sean Martin and Pepper Keenan have directly influenced me the most.
Rocket: All great names. Definitive artists and musicians that will stand the test of mother time. What kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio?
Randy: When I'm up on stage, I use my ESP-LTD DV8-R, with a dimebucker in the bridge position. I love that guitar more than words, and hopefully someday I'll get the chance to own a custom. In the studio, though, I like to use Les Paul's and other smaller, more traditional style guitars, as they allow for maximum comfort when you are sitting for hours at a time!
Rocket: What kind of amp rig?
Randy: I was using a Mesa Triple Rectifier, but that had to go so I could pay bills, so I'm just using anything I can get my hands on right now.
Rocket: All of us who have struggled to keep a roof over our heads while playing an instrument can certainly relate to you on that one.
Randy: I'm a huge fan of tubes, because for me, it's all about the "nuts" factor... how hard it hits you in the nuts when you crank the amp! My live tone is rounded out by a BBE Sonic Maximizer, which I recommend to anyone looking for crushing, brutal tone. A fairly simple, yet highly effective setup that achieves maximum crush and stomp.
Rocket: Yeah, tubes have so much more warmth and depth to tone. How did Proven initally form as a band?
Randy: Marc and I took off to Seattle in the Summer of 2005, to catch the Sounds of The Underground Tour, because he was writing an article for a magazine. We kind of kicked around the idea of getting something going while we were up there and after two days of drinking and screwin' around, we had 2 songs written (From Within and Ambush)!
Rocket: That had to give you guys an incredible boost. It all starts with the original song I've always said. If you don't have that, you haven't got shit as a band.
Randy: Shortly after we returned, I started advertising guitar lessons on Craigslist, and that's how I met Sam. I explained to him that at his level, he should just join a band, and we had an opening, so the lesson turned into more of an audition! John Gagne, and I were in a band together before Proven and he wanted to get something going as well, so he hauled his drum kit over and we made a career out of it. Unfortunate circumstances would see John moving back to the East Coast, leaving us without a Drummer, but as soon as we returned from recording our EP in New Jersey, we hooked up with Josh and he's been our guy ever since. Keith stepped up to fill the void created by a split with our original bassist. He has filled the shoes with ease and we are very grateful to have such a talented guy working with us.
Rocket: Let's talk about the debut album that Proven has now begun to record. What studio are you using and who is producing and engineering it?
Randy: We are tracking at Jackpot Studios, here in Portland this time around, mainly because conflicting schedules are preventing us from flying out to Jersey again. This album will be recorded & produced by the living legend of Hardcore Metal, Billy Graziadei of Biohazard/Suicide City, who is due in Portland very soon.
Rocket: I swear to shit. That dude is one bad mamma jamma. I saw Biohazard step up as a last minute replacement for some candy assed over-hyped act at the very first Ozzfest in Devore, California. Slayer and Sepultura were to follow them, to give you an idea of what they were up against. And the damn crowd had already literally booed off the first two acts,okay? And I tell you, and it still gives me goosebumps to tell this story, cause Billy and his crew simply tore that place down with their utterly classic form of mosh brutality. The crowd lost their minds and immediately began forming multi-pits everywhere. It was one of the heaviest thirty minutes I have ever seen. And I've seen em all. So yeah, this is really big time stuff you're into with Billy.
Randy: Once we are finished with the music, it will go to Mike Turner, partner of Billy and Danny Schuler at Underground Sound Studios, for mixing and the finishing touch. Mike has golden ears and the magic touch, and brings out the best in our sound.
Rocket: Do you have an album title yet and when is it going to be released?
Randy: Yes. Truth Reign Supreme will be the title of our first full length and we are anticipating an early Spring 2007 release.
Rocket: Well from the demos I've heard so far, this band definitely takes it back to that old school Biohazard thrash/core sound that we all know and love so much. Is that the same general direction the album will be taking?
Randy: Definitely, but way more brutal and intense. Over the past year, our sound has really grown and this album will encompass the strengths that we share as musicians. Billy and I have been working closely on this album to make it the best that it can possibly be.
Rocket: This is really exciting. I can totally here the potential from your early demo tracks on Proven's MySpace profile. I can only imagine what you guys are going to produce together. So who are some of the other local Oregon metal acts that have impressed you?
Randy: Era of Tragedy and Amongst Us are two local groups that I really enjoy. Brutal, fast, thrashy and definitely aggressive. I'd Better give a shout out to my brother's in It Prevails, because they are out on the road making it happen, and killing everywhere they play! Oregon has been stuck in a Nu-Metal time warp for quite some time now, so it's hard to find unique groups that break the mold. However, I think that in due time, Oregon will be a major producer of quality metal/hardcore acts.
Rocket: You know, the funniest damn thing is that you have all these pussy 'wannabe' hardcore acts that change their stripes once their record company tells them that hardcore is on its way out. I could name a bunch of names but then I'd get hate mail and an ass-chewing from my editor here. Haha. And I don't have that much ass left to spare from the trouble I apparently stirred up here last year! Haha. But these false metal whores know exactly who they are. And I say shame on them for turning their backs on an incredible sub-genre of metal, man. It pisses me off major, bro. I mean it. Listen to Sick Of It All for crying out loud. That's one of the heaviest bands around. And they have never changed their allegiance. Alright, now I need to breakout my circle jerk dance for a few. Haha. Let's take this shit back to the old days, you know? Haha. Listen, last year was a great time for metal in recent memory. What album was your personal favorite?
Randy: Brother, I know I'm setting myself up for the fall on this, because of all the die-hard's on the site, but I'm going to say it's a toss up between Hatebreed, All That Remains and the Heaven Shall Burn. Of course there were ton's of others, but most of the stuff just sounded dry and bland... scream, sing, scream, sing ya know? Bring back the metal, not that whiny top-40 friendly crap. Most of the Black Metal and Grindcore I've been hearing lately is amazing.
Rocket: Anyone who knows Rocket and The Metal Den knows how deep my blood flows for metal in general, the true shit. And you hit that on the head. Most of the stuff I'm mainly into now is all black, grind, thrash and death. There are some incredible acts going on Pulverised Records for one out of Singapore that I now work closely with, names like In Aeternum and Vanmakt... true artists, not copycats trying to benefit off someone elses creation... names that are going to make big waves soon here in America too. Trust me on this one. The shows are already being lined up. So what are some of the upcoming gigs for proven that we need to watchout for?
Randy: We are looking to tour in support of our album in the Spring, so if anybody can help us book it out, we'd love to talk with you!
Rocket: Thanks very much for taking the time out to do this. Please tell Billy G. he continues to make real 'heavy music soldiers' like me and my readership here prouder than ever with what he's doing to help Proven get up off the ground in a significant manner. Best of luck in '07. Please give a shoutout to your biggest supporters.
Randy: Rocket, we appreciate it and we'll be seeing you all on the road soon! Huge thanks go to Our Fans, Liquid Charge crew, Full Blown Chaos, Bio-Logic Consulting, Crave Magazine, Ark Photography, Mr. Gary Halverson and to ALL of our friends.
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