Monday, September 12, 2011
40 Watt Sun Make Beautiful Heavy Music
The first thing that hits you is the guitar; it’s heavy and fuzzed out, like it’s bearing the weight of the world on its shoulders. Then there are the bass and drums, pounding out time at a slow, deliberate pace. And finally that voice, hits you, but it’s not your standard doom bellow, it’s warm and emotive, more folk singer, than lord of metal. What you hear sounds familiar in some ways but different in others. It may be doomy in some regards, but it definitely isn’t doom in the traditional sense.
Singer/guitarist/songwriter Patrick Walker of 40 Watt Sun wouldn’t want it any other way. You see while us critics like to label things in the most simple ways possible, artists like Walker enjoy messing with our conventions and give a totally fresh take on a very venerable type of music. In fact 40 Watt Sun, is his way of getting out of the shadow of his former band Warning, who were much respected in doom circles.
“I started Warning when I was sixteen years old. It was no longer representative of me as a person or of the music I wanted to make. It was time for me to make a clean start,” said Walker.
Warning ended in 2008 and 40 Watt Sun was started up in 2009 with the sole intention of writing honest songs that reflected his current state of mind. There are some similarities, but the differences are major. They’re more reflective of the here and now and don’t bother with conforming to certain rules of the genre.
“Well obviously I still sing the songs and write the music as I did before. And it’s “heavy”. These are, I guess, obvious but superficial similarities. I think the music is more “song-based” now; Warning was very “riff-based” wasn’t it? But I don’t like to analyze things. The music is just representative of where I am now, that’s all,” said Walker.
One thing that is evident on the band’s, which also features bassist William Spong and drummer Christian Leitch, debut release, “The Inside Room” (Metal Blade/Cyclone Empire) is that while the music on it does bear hallmarks of doom, there are little tweaks to the formula that make it totally unique. For instance, there is a subtle pop element to it, where the songs just aren’t based around the riffs. They are expertly crafted things, ones that stretch boundaries. But even though it’s poppy don’t go trying to put any labels on the music because Walker isn’t having any of that.
“I just wanted, and want, to write good songs; that’s all I was aiming for. I’ve heard “pop doom” used before actually – it’s not a new one. It just sounds like another pedantic, over-specific genrefication term to me and ultimately more than a little ridiculous,” said Walker.
The vocals are another striking feature of the album. In a genre where most vocalists need to sound angry and raw, Walker’s vocals are plaintive and emotive coming off more Michael Stipe than Messiah Marcolin. It’s this commitment to singing more naturally that gives the album more of a special quality. They’re more human. Just don’t go thinking that vocals were made a focal point of the album, because Walker sees it in a complete different way.
“Actually quite the opposite. After "Watching from a Distance" (Warning’s final album) people talked a lot about the vocals on that album and it reached the point where I felt a little uncomfortable about it; adjectives such as “dramatic” or even “theatrical” would sometimes be used. With the 40 Watt Sun record I wanted the songs to speak for themselves; I didn’t want there to be a kind of “vocal performance” at the forefront of it all. So we set the vocals back somewhat. They certainly weren’t meant to be a focal point,” said Walker.
And one more thing, don’t you dare call the record “sad”.
“I think my issue was with people labeling the record “depressing”, albeit in a “complimentary” way,” said Walker.
So, there you have it. 40 Watt Sun are creating genre free music out of the bits and pieces of different genres. By throwing out the rulebook they managed to create one of the more interesting heavy releases of the year, one that is definitely worth checking out, just like the band themselves when they play Daniel Street in Milford on September 18.
If you are a fan of heavy music, you won’t want to miss this one.
Manic Productions Presents:
40 Watt Sun
Sunday Sept. 18
21 Daniel Street
7:00 pm – 21+ - $12
BUY TICKETS NOW or buy them at Redscroll Records