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Comet Control interview with Chad Ross

January 6, 2015

Comet Control interview with Chad Ross

Born from the ashes of Quest For Fire, Comet Control bares a
great resemblance to whence it came, but the devastating guitar duo of Chad
Ross and Andrew Moszynski aren’t interested in retreading ground or doing
something they’ve done before.  There’re
elements of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club going on, running head long into late
60s and 70’s rock ala Cream, absolutely mind melting lead lines and solos
dripping from every part of Comet Control’s debut self-titled offering on Tee
Pee Records.  Songs run the gambit from
balls-out rock and roll, to some seriously tasty laid back jams like the eight
minute behemoth that is “Blast Magic”. 
Haunting vocal melodies echo in the midst of thunderous, fuzzy dual
guitar riffs, bass that could as easily knock a needle out of a groove as it
could a heart out of rhythm, and some seriously massive drums are what define
Comet Control for me.  They take things
in a decidedly psychedelic direction as well. 
Firmly planted in the hard and heavy sound of the early 70s experimental
rock scene, Comet Control almost sounds like an album the label wouldn’t let
them release in 1974 or something. 
There’s a sense of expansive majesty to Comet Control’s music that’s
hard to label or define with words, but is deafeningly apparent upon the first
listen.  Bringing collective experiences
spanning decades, Comet Control made their existence known with one of the best
debut albums in recent memory. 
Guitarist, singer and founding member Chad Ross powwowed with me about
his musical history and just about anything you could ever want to know about
Comet Control.  I seriously dug Quest For
Fire and was bummed when they called it quits, so it was a real pleasure for me
to conduct and now to be able to finally present this in-depth interview to all
of you.  That’s it, no more from me.  Just kick back, take in the words and stick
on some tunes, you’re gonna wanna pick this one up; guaranteed.
Listen
while you read: 
http://cometcontrol.bandcamp.com/
Who’s in Comet
Control and what do you all play?  Is
this the original lineup or have you all gone through any changes since you
started playing?
Nicole Howell (Bass), Chad Ross (Guitar and Vocals), Andrew
Moszynski (Guitar), Jay Anderson (Drums) and Christopher Sandes (Keys).  It’s the original lineup.
Obviously a few of
you have pretty illustrious backgrounds in the Canadian music scene, which
isn’t to undermine or diminish anyone else’s accomplishments!  As an American I unfortunately don’t hear
near enough about the absolutely stunning Canadian scene that’s out there, so I
like to do as much research as possible and expose people to as much of it as I
can.  As I mentioned before, I know that
several of you have released stuff with other bands in the past, and have even
worked together in some of those cases. 
Are any of you currently in any other bands at this point, or do you
have any active side projects going on right now?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that?  Who all have you released material with in
the past?
Andrew and I were both in the Toronto garage rock band The
Deadly Snakes and Quest for Fire.   I
often do acoustic records under the name Nordic Nomadic.  Andrew has a garage/punk band called Wrong
Hole.  Chris Sandes plays in a
garage/punk band called PANIC amongst other cool big band endeavors, and Jay
Anderson plays in a great band called Biblical and is involved in many other
projects.  We’ve all been involved in
Toronto bands for years…  The list goes
on and on.
How old are you
all and where are you originally from?
We’re all in our thirties to varying degrees.  Jay, Andrew, and Chris all grew up in, and
close to, Toronto.  Nicole’s from a
cottage town called Washago and I’m from a small town called Schomberg north of
Toronto.
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Were
you very involved in the local music scene? 
Did you see a lot of local shows? 
Do you feel like it played a large or integral, part in shaping your
musical tastes or the way that you perform?
Nothing cool happened where I grew up…  Except nature and hash.  As soon as I hit sixteen, I went out and got
my drivers license, had to.  We could
finally get out of the small town.  That
opened the doors to Toronto, and all of its amazing music.  The punk/hardcore scene in Toronto was the
first thing I got into, in the early 90’s. 
Because of its open door/all ages policies, I saw lots of amazing bands
of that era.   Punk shaped my tastes in
years to come.  And early skate vid[eo]
soundtracks.
What was your home
like when you were growing up?  Was there
a lot of music around or were any of your close relatives musicians?
My mother was the musician in my family.  She’s an amazing piano player.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
My parent’s record collection and the instruments lying
around our family home.   
If you were to
pick a moment, a moment that seemed to change everything and opened your eyes
to the infinite possibilities that music presents, what would it be?
I remember listening to Cream’s Disraeli Gears as an
adolescent.  I’m not sure how old I was,
but it was my first real taste of electric guitars.  Mind blown. 
Then in high school, the older punks started making me mixtapes; good
taste for youngsters.  Circle Jerks,
Curtis Mayfield, Black Flag, Motörhead, Neil Young.  The older dirt bags definitely opened my eyes
to real possibilities in music.  I went
from someone obsessed with skateboarding, to someone obsessed with mixtapes and
record collecting.
When did you
decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you?
When I was sixteen, I went and saw the bay area punk band
Econochrist at a Queen Street west country and western/dive called Bronco’s, in
Toronto’s west end.  I remember that was
my first time thinking that I could start a band.  I was focused on the revelation.  Soon after, my friends and I started making
noise in our parent’s basements.
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get that?
My family always had instruments lying around, drums,
acoustic guitars and pianos and such, but I saved up from my first job, to buy
a shitty electric guitar and a Peavey Rage. 
My first real deadbeat instruments.
How did you all
meet and when would that have been?
Andrew and I go back to The Deadly Snakes days.  I joined the band for their last two records,
Ode To Joy and Porcella.  We all met
through years of hangin’ in Toronto.  I
guess I met Jay and Chris through Andre Ethier the singer of The Deadly
Snakes.  They’ve been part of Andre’s
band through out the years.   I met
Nicole at a Happy Endings’ show.
What led to the
formation of Comet Control and when was that?
Andrew and I wanted to keep playing after Quest for Fire
broke up.  We had a few Quest For Fire
songs that we wanted to record, songs that we were playing on the last Quest
For Fire tour.  Nicole and I had already
talked about doing a music project together, so, it was a pretty natural transition
into Comet Control.  We called Jay Anderson
of Biblical and started to work on songs/direction.  In the spring of 2013, we dove into making a
record.
I dig the
name!  It summons these swirling
psychedelic landscapes of lights flashing in the darkness for me.  What does Comet Control mean or refer to in
the context of the band name?  Who came
up with it and how did you all go about choosing it?
Nicole came up with the name…  Sounded cool.
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
“He, or she, who leaves the pack, must find their ‘effin own
way back”.  Pretty handy, used that one
in a few groups.
Where’s Comet
Control located at right now? How would you describe the local music scene
where you all are at?
We all live in the west end of downtown Toronto.  It’s an amazing city with a pretty colorful
music scene.  Sometimes it feels kinda
dirty, playing a music business game in a big stinky city.  Other times, it feels really easy and
exciting.   It’s usually easy and
exciting when you’re playing small local shows with your friend’s bands…  Party Island.
Do you fee like
you’re very involved in the local scene? 
Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything?
None of us book shows, but we all try to go out as much as
we can to see friend’s bands.  Sometimes
it’s hard to go out in Toronto, because there’s something going on every night
of the week.  You’re usually afraid to
get swept into a party hole, but we all bump into each other, drunk on the
town, from time to time.
Has the local
scene played an integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Comet
Control in your opinion or do you all feel like you could be doing what you’re
doing regardless of where you were at or surrounded by, and stuff?
The music scene in Toronto is very diverse, but not very
influential on our sound.  I would say
it’s more influenced by our personal tastes as music heads.  That being said, there’re a lot of great
bands from Toronto who we love.  Lot’s of
good sounds and great people come from Toronto.
Your music evokes
a lot of different sounds and ideas to me, it sounds like there’s a lot more
going on beneath the surface than a lot of people are going to take the time to
pick out and understand.  Who would you
cite as your major musical influences? 
What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just
individually?
We’re all crazy music fans, with varying/similar
tastes.  I can say that it’s fun to be in
a band with open doors, we can play the soft and heavy.  Acoustic guitars and fuzzed out
sounds/heaviness… I love 60s and 70s folk, rock, and country and 60s/70s
psych, garage, classic rock, kraut. 
Those are the bins that I usually visit first at a record store.  Maybe see if they have a Voivod section;
can’t pin down just one.
I love working
with Psychedelic Baby and I love talking to bands, but I only talk to people
that I really dig and respect as musicians so it’s a little nerve-wracking for
me sometimes when I have to describe all these amazing bands to readers who
might not have ever heard them before, and not only make do them justice and
make them sound as interesting and engaging as their music, but I feel like
it’s kind of my responsibility that the reader goes in with some rough
understanding of the band that they’re about the learn about before they ever
read question one.  Needless to say, it’s
become a bit of a neurosis for me; seriously. 
It keeps me up nights a lot and I’m always worrying I’m going to put too
many of my own thoughts and perceptions into things.  Rather than giving me an ulcer, ha-ha, how
would you describe Comet Control’s sound to our readers who may never have
heard you all before?
Ultra bright.
What’s the
songwriting process for Comet Control like? 
Is there someone who usually comes in with a riff, or maybe an even more
finished idea for a song, to work out with the rest of the band, or do you all
just kind of get together and kick ideas and riffs back and forth and kind of
distill a song from the exchange that takes place between band members?
Andrew and I write some songs.  We usually bring ideas, and hash them out as
a group over a bunch of beer and jams until they have a mind of their own.
What’s recording
like for Comet Control?  I’m a musician
myself and I think that at least most of us, can appreciate the end result of
all the time, work and effort that goes into making an album when you’re
holding that finished product in your hands. 
Getting to that point though, betting things to sound like they should,
and especially doing that as a band, can be absolutely nerve-wracking
sometimes.  What’s it like for Comet
Control when you all record?
It’s definitely a lot of work to get to that moment, when
you’re holding a finished product in your hands.  Basically, we jammed a lot, until the songs
were easy to play, then went into Candle Studios in Toronto and finished the
bed tracks in a few days.  The fun part
is, from that point on, when you can produce and finish songs.  We usually do overdubs away from the studio
in the comfort of my living room.  Salts
and peppers, stuff like this.  I never
get too stressed.  I just turn into a
little bit of a space cadet.
Do you like to
take a more DIY approach to things where you handle a lot of the recording
aspects on your own time and turf with your own equipment?  Or, do you all like to take a more hands off
approach and head into a studio, letting someone else handle the technical
aspects of things so you can concentrate on getting the best performance
possible out of yourself?
Both.  Donny Cooper
did an amazing job engineering this record in the studio and we did the DIY
thing at home.  I love the idea of home
recording in a space where it’s comfy; soft chairs ‘n shit.  We jammed, got the beds together in the
studio, then took it to my living room and got to know the recording.  No pressure. 
I have a little Pro Tools setup in a corner of my living room.  Andrew and I did a bunch of the guitars
there.  I recorded all of my own vocals
too.  Chris Sandes did his keyboard parts
in his wizard’s castle.  After, we gave
it to Josh Korody from Candle Studio and Beliefs, and he did the final mix back
in the studio.  It was nice to let it go
away for a mix…  It was getting a
little too ‘lost in space’ at home when everything was done.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into working out every nook and cranny of a song
before you all record it?  With every
single part of the composition and arrangement fastidiously planned out ahead
of time?  Or is it more of situation
where you get a good skeletal idea of how a songs going to sound, and then
leave some room for change and evolution during the recording process as to
avoid madness, ha-ha?
The songs begin to have a life of their own, the more you
jam them.  We tend to not over think
things.  But after recording bed tracks,
it’s nice to have enough time to familiarize yourself with the songs again,
even more.  Get creative with a couple of
drinks, and a set of headphones.
You all just
released your debut self-titled album not awfully long ago on the always jaw
dropping Tee Pee Records.  What was the
recording of the material for Comet Control like?  When and where was that recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Was that a fun pleasurable experience for you
all?
We recorded at Candle Studio in Toronto with Donny
Cooper.  He worked on both of the Quest
For Fire records.  I took it home for a
fistful of months and then gave it to Josh Korody, from Beliefs, for a
mix.  We recorded the beds in spring 2013
over a couple of days.  A lot of old
broken gear recorded by Pro Tools.  Old
guitars, broken tube amps, space echo, echoplex, box ‘o pedals, sweet mics,
analog synths, eggs, tambos, beer, smokes, pizzas.
With the release
of Comet Control not long ago, are there any other releases planned or in the
works at this point?
We’re working on a few projects for the German label Who Can
You Trust.  One song’s coming out on the
Sweet Times compilation series, other stuff to be announced.
I try to provide
our readers with as many possible options for picking up music as I can.  I know that postage rates just keep going up
and up, and while you may be exposed to a lot of stuff, it gets frustrating
sometimes with the insane shipping rates out there.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to
pick up copies of your stuff?  What about
our international and overseas readers?  
Your favorite independent record store!  Teepee has pretty good distro worldwide and a
webstore.
Are there any
major plans or goals that you all are looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014
or 2015?

Euro tour January 2015 is booked.  Some new songs are kicking around our brains
too.  One day at a time.
Do you all spend a
lot of time our on the road touring?  Do
you enjoy touring?  What’s life like out
on the road for Comet Control?
We’ve all done our share of touring.  Between Andrew and I, in The Deadly Snakes
and Quest For Fire and other projects throughout the years.  Also, Jay stays really busy with Biblical and
a handful of other bands.  Chris and
Nicole are well musically travelled too. 
I’ll let you know how it was, when we come back from Europe in February.
Who are some of
your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with over
the past few years?
We’ve been pretty lucky to play with some butt melting
bands.  Dead Meadow, Fuzz, the Night
Beats, the Human Eye, No Joy, Mark Sultan, to name a few.
In your dreams,
who are you on tour with?  
Crazy Horse.
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent,
such as fliers, posters, shirt designs, covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that
you’re trying to convey with your artwork? 
Is there anyone you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes
to that kind of thing?  If so, who is
that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?
Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to work with some
cool visual artists.  Andre Ehier, the
singer of The Deadly Snakes, did the paintings for both Quest For Fire
LPs.  Signalstarr did the work for the
Comet Control record.  Lots more in the
archives.  Nicole found Signalstarr’s
work on the web.  She emailed him and he
was cool to collaborate with, turned out well. 
We don’t put too much thought into the visual meaning.  That’s the artist’s job.  Everyone involved should just intuitively
know when it’s a good match.
© Dimitar Gadevski 
With all of the
various methods of releases that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium to release
your own music on?  What about when
you’re listening to and or purchasing music? 
If you do have a preference, can you tell us a bit about why?
I listen to vinyl at home, but I like to get the download
for my radio at work, and I love playing CDs in the van.  I like the vinyl with a download format these
days; best of both worlds.
Do you have a
music collection at all?  If you do, can
you tell us a bit about it?
Nicole and I have a nice vinyl collection when
combined.  A lot of folk, classic rock,
psych, garage, punk, soul, country, and metal in there. 
I grew up around a
pretty massive collection of vintage psychedelia, garage rock, plenty of
classic blues and a heavy helping of just about anything pre-1977 that didn’t
suck!  Not only that, but I was really
encouraged to dig in and listen to whatever I wanted to as a kid.  From a very early age I got really hooked on
kicking back with a set of headphones, reading the liner notes, staring at the
cover artwork and just letting the music carry me off on this trip, you
know?  There’s something magical about
having a psychical object to hold in your hands, to physically experience along
with the music.  It always made for a
more complete listening experience for me. 
Do you have any such connection with physically released material?
I definitely connected with that early headphone/artwork
experience.  It’s amazing when there’s
thought put into creative packaging, in any era, in any format, tapes and CDs
too.
As much as I love
my collection of music, there’s no denying that digital is here to stay – at
least for a while.  Digital music is just
the tip of the iceberg really though, when you combine it with the internet,
that’s when you really have something on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to a literal
world of music that they’re surrounded by and it’s allowed unparalleled
communication and access between bands and fans for the first time in history,
eradicating geographic and language barriers almost instantly.  Nothing’s ever black and white though, and
while people may be being exposed to a lot of new music they’re not always in
the mindset to pay for it these days. 
Illegal downloading is running rampant and it’s harder than ever to get
noticed with the internet giving everyone a somewhat equal voice and all.  As a musician during the reign of the digital
era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
On one hand, as a small band, it’s nice to have your music
heard at home and in far away places. 
I’m guilty of taking things for free, usually rare things that are hard
to find in hard copy.  If there’s a
record I love, I will buy the vinyl with a digital download.
I try to keep up
with as much good music as is humanly possible, maybe even a little more than
that even, come to think of it…  But I
digress!  Is there anyone from your local
scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of
before?
We all love the work of Rick White; Elevator, Eric’s Trip,
The Rick White Album, The Unintended. 
Inspiring music from a pretty trippy place.  He’s originally from Moncton, New Brunswick,
but now lives outside of Toronto.  Rick
shot a cool live video for Quest For Fire’s “I’ve Been Trying To Leave”.  I’ll dig up a link for you.  Quest For Fire was opening for Eric’s Trip in
Toronto in 2008, I think.
What about
nationally and internationally?
I love the Shooting Guns from Saskatoon (Interviews here and
here).  They’re kinda like a bulldozing
instrumental Hawkwind.  Good stuff, good
dudes.  Lorenzo Woodrose from Denmark has
been doing lots of amazing things throughout the years as well.
Thanks so much for
taking the time to fill us in on all the juicy gossip and back history!  Seriously though, it was awesome learning so
much about the band and I know my interviews aren’t short so thanks so much for
taking the time to make it to the end here! 
I swear, I’ve only got one more thing to ask you all!  Before we sign off and call it a day, is
there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you all would just
like to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about at this point?
Thanks a lot! 
Hopefully we get around to meeting you all!
DISCOGRAPHY 
(2014) 
Comet Control – Comet Control – digital, CD, 12” – Tee Pee Records
© Jr Jansen
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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