Welcome to the second installment featuring winners of the Lights and Line album writing contest! This week, we’re chatting with Bob Prince of Rebel Tramp, whose Intra Dimensional Fantasy took home a prize for top EP. Describing the EP, Prince explains, “I tried to be my weirdest self on this one. I mixed my love of blues rock with electronica music and tried to still sound like me.” Curious to know more? Read on!
An EP in a month! How did you do it, and what did you learn from the experience?
When I first heard about the album writing club, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity so entered and thought I’ve got nothing to lose. Luckily, I always seem to have bits and pieces of songs recorded on my phone or computer that I save as idea starters for another time. For Example, Wavetashia started out as just a short key board riff I had recorded spontaneously while I was experimenting with synthesizer sounds. It was about 30 seconds long, just one track and a drum loop. After searching through my inventory of ideas I picked a few that I thought would work well together and went from there. After I had five song ideas in front of me, before moving any further I worked on a name for the EP and the title tracks to help me to set the vibe or overall sound of the EP. To help with time and focus I basically listened to the song ideas over and over while I drove to work on my breaks, basically any free time I had. This helped me greatly and I do it with all the music that I want to record so I when it’s time to lay down something I feel prepared. I think the layed back approach from the team at Lights & Lines really helped too. I didn’t feel pressured and I as I said I just kind of went with anything goes approach, or as said before “I was my weirdest self”. On this EP I really learned to trust my ability to take on the part of producer and to go with my instincts. I also learned to think of the project a whole piece of work instead of focusing on each track and hoping they connect after the fact.
What kinds of challenges did you face?
I think time was my biggest challenge, between work and family I had to make the most of my free time. I stayed up pretty late early on working the frame work of the tracks so I wouldn’t feel rushed as the dead line approached. One of the other challenges I think I faced was the vocal part. I’m really just starting to record my own vocals so I did minimal vocal work and focused on instrumentals letting the keyboards, guitar or whatever sounds I was recorded do the talking. Initially I had tried to see if anybody wanted to collab but then realized that working with somebody else might end up being more challenging and time consuming so I decided to go it alone. Doing it alone was somewhat challenging as I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of.
How did you find out about the album writing club?
I saw Mikes post on twitter about the Album writing club and got really excited about it. I had been following Mike5 and New Music Saturday for the last year and really found them to be intriguing and fun to follow. Knowing these were some cool dudes made me excited to be a part of the album writing club. You have to have a bit of confidence about your music and having just finished my EP Urban Frequencies with my other project Amplitude & Frequency with Shaun Charlton on vocals I was feeling pretty confident about my music which I think gave me some momentum.
Who’s in Rebel Tramp, and who plays what? Or is it all you?
Rebel Tramp is just me. I play guitar bass, keys and attempt to sing. I mix and master my own music too. I have done several collabs and at times have used drummers from sound better. With my free time always being limited, being in a band that makes original music has been challenging, Rebel Tramp has been a way for me to make the music I’ve always wanted to make without compromise. In the end Doing the project solo has been easier. Intra Dimensional Fantasy is just Rebel Tramp no collabs. I will say my experiences collaborating having been nothing but amazing and great learning experiences. I’ve collaborated with Amie Bishop, The Talking Tears and Shaun Charlton so far.
Is there a theme that ties your EP together?
I definitely tried to do that. Although this EP is nearly all instrumentals except for the opening track Deep Space Blues I think the cohesiveness is there. The theme is about creativeness, searching deep inside and imagining things that maybe will never be but could be. When I make music, I often use imagery to help guide the direction of the track. For example, Deep Space Blues is about getting to a place within yourself were there are no distractions, and letting your creativity go wild. Imagine different worlds, life forms, ways of experiencing life. It’s kinda similar to a sci-fi theme, I guess. Not sure that makes any sense.
What’s your approach to recording when you’re not trying to complete an entire EP in a month?
I would say it was the same approach. Mike had encouraged the album writing group to submit what we did even if it wasn’t finished. So, I submitted an EP that was about 80% finished. I also used logics drumming program instead of real drummer which cut down time on mixing. That being said, once I get an idea that I think is solid recorded on logic I’ll start adding and experimenting with multiple guitar or keyboard tracks (synthesizers, strings etc..). I’ll then listen to the track and play along using effects from either logic or from my Line 6 pod go looking for the perfect complementary tones or effects. Then I listen, lots of listening like over and over and over. This either leads to ideas for melody lines or lyrics that I’ll record later if they stick ( I only use the ideas that keep coming back to me ) or when I’m sitting down with an instrument in hand it gives me clear idea where I want a keyboard part or guitar to land on the track. I had somebody comment on my track Future Dreamers saying it was “great sound weaving” which I think was brilliant and a great description of what I try to accomplish when recording. I find adding lots of track helps, although I might not use all of them, I often will use a small bit form a track here or there that really brings it all together.
There’s definitely a funkiness to the tracks you’ve released on Spotify. Who are some of your influences?
I’ll take that as a compliment. I’ve played in lots of blues bands and have a huge blues influence. BB king, Albert King, Mike Bloomfield on and on. Also, Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius, John Coltrane, Any Jazz Fusion from the 70’s, Metallica, and Sound Garden are probably my biggest influences.
I’m also curious about the cosmic imagery that you employ. Can you say a little about that?
I’ve always been very intrigued by the unknown places within our universe. When I think about space or the cosmos it reminds me of how magical it is to be alive and I try to convey that in my music. I also think making music is very similar to painting at least in my mind. There are just so many cool images in the cosmos with lots of beautiful colors that inspire me. It’s also as simple as music being my “get away” a place where problems of the world can’t reach me. Obviously I can’t travel to space but I try to through music
Any plans to play Intra Dimensional Fantasy live any time soon?
I wish! Right now, with my job (got to pay the bills), family responsibilities and no actual band mates it seems very unlikely, but you never know! Hopefully one day I’ll have the musical skills to pay the bills!
What’s on the horizon?
I just Finished the final edit of the first single off the EP Wavetashia and I believe that will come out officially with Lights & Lines sometime in September. The rest of the tracks on the Intra Dimensional Fantasy EP need to be finished so that will be my priority for now. I’ve been doing some work with Martin Holley (DIY Indie Musicians) and recently did a very small guitar lead part for The Talking Tears new album Deja Vu. I already have some ideas for a Rebel Tramp album and I’m hoping to do some more music on my other project Amplitude & Frequency with Shaun Charlton (Chuckas Indie playlist) in the next year. I’m really looking forward to being part of such a great team at Lights & Lines and will be definitely be helping to promote the other artists on the label. Last, I want to say thank you for interviewing me and coming up with some really great questions.
Thanks, Bob! The pleasure was all mine!