Consider the Source, an instrumental trio from New York City, is a band with a sound that is difficult to describe in words. Writers have coined phrases such as “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Funk” and “Instrumental Sci-Fi prog-rockers”, but even those fall short of fully summing up their unique feel. Nonetheless, Consider the Source is on the rise, as their most recent release “Are You Watching Closely” has garnered them notoriety in music publications across the country. RELIX Magazine recently named them a “Band on the Verge” in their August ’09 issue.
As always, the band remains busy, as they are in the midst of producing a new record and preparing themselves for their first international tour in the fall. We spoke to bassist John Ferrara, who gave us a peek into the world of Consider the Source.
John: Yes, we all have been playing/studying music since our early teens. Justin Ahiyon (drums, percussion) and Gabe Marin (fretless double-neck guitar) went to college for music and I grew up in a musical household. We all study independently all the time and we are constantly being inspired and always following our interests.
LMN+R: Can you give us some insight into your musical influences? Is there any artist past or present you find yourselves comparable to?
John: The list is long, constantly growing and many are not even musicians. We are huge fans of The Bad Plus, a lot of fusion like Chick Corea and John McLaughlin, progressive rock like Crimson and Tool, a lot of music from the middle east and India like Ali Akbar Khan, U. Srinivas, and a lot of musicians who also combine east and west, i.e. Matt Darriu, Dave Fiuczynski, . But as far as being comparable to another band, we never set out to be any kind of band- we grew organically with just improvising and getting to know each other and because of that method I think we grew into a sound that stands alone.
LMN+R: How has being from NYC, a huge place rich in different cultures, impacted your selves as musical artists.
John: Well, you really can’t help but be influenced by other cultures here. The culture here is the conglomeration of many peoples, beliefs, foods, sounds etc., and I think one thing that the three of use have in common is that we’ve really embraced that. When on any given day you can go see any kind of music, eat any kind of food, meet a person of almost any race on the planet, you just become a product of that. Our music is just a reflection of the lives we live.
LMN+R: Your music has been described as greatly influenced by Middle Eastern and Indian music. How did this come to be? Do any of you have ethnic ties to these regions?
John: Ha! We are just three unforgivably white dudes from NYC. Justin and Gabe first met because of their mutual interest in Middle Eastern and Indian music and even went to India to study for a while under some of the greatest players in the country. Naturally, this sound rubbed off on me as well and the three of us continued our study by bouncing what we learned off of each other and experimenting with viewing them through the lens of different musical genres. Now it’s at the point where it’s part of our musical dialect. We rarely write a tune where there isn’t at least some hint of that influence.
LMN+R: As musicians, had any of you been active professionally before meeting and forming Consider the Source?
John: We’ve all been in a bunch of projects, we were hired guns for a while with various projects and have done and still do free lance studio work. CTS has taken over our lives at this point, but sometimes it’s fun to help someone else see their vision through. Plus, it’s sometimes healthy to step back from your main project to be able to come back to it with fresh ears.
LMN+R: Is there one moment that stands out in the formative stages of your band that you knew you had something “special?”
John: The very first time we jammed said it all. We came together expecting nothing and received everything!
LMN+R: When rehearsing and writing new material, how does Consider the Source operate? Does someone take the lead or is it more of a collaborative effort?
John: Our writing process is very collaborative. One of us will have an idea ranging from something nebulous and vague to something pretty clear and precise. Sometimes it’ll just be a riff or a rhythm and we’ll go from there. We try to steer clear of having a method of writing. We take every new idea on its own terms and see what happens.
LMN+R: Have you toured outside the U.S. yet? If so, how is that different than touring stateside?
John: We haven’t yet left the country but plan to get started spreading the name worldwide in October of this year. We are going to tour Israel and then Turkey and plan on doing Europe next year.
LMN+R: Any specific performances stand out as favorites? Why?
John: We have a great thing going on in Denton, TX by UNT. There is a venue there called “Cool Beans”, which is a bar with a roof top that has live music. So when a band plays there everyone on the street gets to come up and listen, which is awesome for us, but not so good for the stability of the roof top. So we’ll play a set and when we get to the most intense parts of our songs the entire roof shakes with all the people jumping around and dancing. The last time we played there about half of the booze fell of the shelves, the three of us almost fell over while we were playing, and the roof literally almost caved in. With the crowd clapping along, jumping up and down, and getting right up to us during our solo’s with every single person going absolutely nuts from beginning to end it made us get even more into it, which in turn made our audience get into it. We very much feed off our crowd’s energy and this was the perfect kind of environment for us to thrive in.
LMN+R: What is the inspiration behind the band name “Consider the Source?”
John: The saying urges one to not just say or think something because it is told to you, but to seek out truth for yourself. We try very hard as a band to live by this in demeanor and musically. Listening to or playing music is one of the most enriching things you can do in life. As players, it is worth searching deep within yourself to tap into your greatest source of creativity and as a listener you owe it to yourself to really let the music into your core so that you may learn something about yourself.
LMN+R: Are there any other bands in particular that you’ve developed a good relationship with, through touring or otherwise?
John: Oh yea, many. There’s a great jazz/rock band we toured with called Complex Complex from Wisconsin- great guys and great players. In fact we named one of our newest songs “Complex Complex” after them. There is also Infinien, who for a while were kind of our Philly counterpart. They do a progressive, Middle Eastern jazz thing as well but less on the improvising side with more structured tunes. We’ve also been playing a lot of shows w/ Dopapod from Boston who are a killer funk band making strides in the jam scene as well as a band from Chicago called The Hue who also make incredible progressive jam music. There are many others that we play with or are just in touch with though.
LMN+R: Going forward, what does the future entail for Consider the Source?
John: We will be sharing the stage with the one and only Victor Wooten here in NYC on 6/23. Then we have a pretty light summer, with a couple of festivals (weekend off and The Big up). We are in the mixing stage of our next album entitled “That’s What’s Up” and will be releasing it on those tours. We’ll be playing Israel and Turkey in the fall as well which will be our first international tour.
Aside from this, since we’ve had a lot of success in spreading such an unconventional kind of music and we enjoy playing more than anything, we intend on playing and spreading the word non stop over the next indefinite amount of years. We’ve also got some surprises up our sleeve for our album release, so keep an eye out!
Upcoming Consider the Source dates:
June 23 2010 New York, NYHighline Ballroom
June 25 2010 Midsummer Meltdown Festival Schuylkill PA
July 2 2010 Putnam Den Saratoga Springs, NY
August 5 2010 The Big Up Festival Ghent, NY
Check out Consider the Source: