All In Music Review had a chance to talk with lead singer Kent Summerour of the Dallas, TX-based Neo-Metal Band Phoenix Rising where we discussed the band, their latest video for “Do You Know”, their upcoming debut EP titled Ignite, what’s in the hopper for Phoenix Rising and of course music. Phoenix Rising is Kent Summerour and Scott Lathwood with vocals, Lee Deane on guitar, Mark Ridlen on Synth, bassist Allan Kurt and drummer James Espinoza.
All In: Kent, thank you for taking the time from your busy day to talk with us today.
Let’s start off with a little band introduction. Tell me a little bit about you guys, where you all came from? I know you haven’t been together for all that long, how did you all come together? How are you blending this diverse group of musicians into Phoenix Rising?
Kent: We started, I posted a Craigslist ad, looking for some musicians. I already had some of the music already written and was really looking for some great musicians that want to work and make it a serious thing. The ad was as simple as we are looking for a bass player and we are holding auditions, call me and we will schedule the audition. You play 2 pieces I gave them and one piece of their own and a brief interview. We did that for every instrument in the band, then we had a final audition for everyone who were finalists on each instrument.
You know, Craig’s list, you never know what you are going to get. Some people were all into the thing and then never showed up and there were some people who were super serious. This is pretty much how Phoenix Rising was assembled.
All In: So, you said that you already had a concept and music written so you were looking for a type of musician or a specific slot or were you wide open for anybody who would come in?
Kent: Really it was more of getting people who were on the same page as we were from a business standpoint more than anything else and guys you can get along with, that are good people and people you are not butting heads with.
How music writing works with us, I write the majority of the skeleton, melodies and chords and all of that kind of stuff but I am not a drummer so… I lay out some beats and give it to our drummer who is absolutely fantastic, his name is James (Espinoza). He is kind of a prodigy on the drums, he is really, really talented and he will take it and go I think I know where you are going for here and make it like 10 times better. The same thing goes for our bassist (Allan Kurt) and guitar player (Lee Deane) and synth player (Mark Ridlen). Then Scott and I go back and forth on writing melodies and lyrics together because we have two vocalists and that’s how it all comes together
All In: I have watched the videos and listened to the songs and each one seems to be totally different than the last one, musically and lyrically.
All In: I can kind of see, as you are explaining all of this, how each song would take on its own personality.
Kent: Yeah, it really does, everyone has got their own different kind of background and we really write what we think sounds best for the song and you know as we are modifying parts, each individual person, unless the whole band doesn’t like a part, everyone in the band gets to write what they want.
All In: All of those influences definitely come across in the songs and videos, it all comes across well and makes for some fantastic songs, right?
Kent: We think so, we wanted not to be a one trick pony, where you know we heard that one song from them and now we really don’t need to hear any others and now we don’t need to hear anymore because they all sound the same. We are trying very hard to avoid that.
All In: Let’s talk a little bit about the songs and music. you released your first song/video right after the first of the year, has there been a purposeful progression to get to the EP Ignite or has it just been as the songs came out and finished?
Kent: Well, we kind of have a different business model than a lot of other bands. First of all, we are not owned by anybody, we are not signed or anything like that. Everything we do is 100% independent so our mindset is like how are we going to separate ourselves from everyone else. Part of that was we wanted video content for as many songs as we can possibly do, and we already have our next two songs/videos finished, just waiting in the wings, and we are already planning the ones after that.
So having that visual component and not just drop an EP or a CD with a single and a video and then nothing else and hope you remember us what we are trying to do is release content on a regular basis, about every 2 months. I mostly digest my music from YouTube, I’ll see a great video I like, and I’ll subscribe to the band’s channel. I check my subscriptions every day and when I see a group who has posted something that I don’t remember, why? Because no one has heard from them in 2 years, which to me seems like a problem.
I would like us to stay always in front of people, as much as possible. I think it’s a really important concept, I think it’s what a lot of bands should be doing, bands or artists and I think so many people are still lost in the release an album, release a single and then wait till the next one. I think there is a better way to stay in front of people.
All In: Let’s talk about your videos, starting with “Do You Know”. To me the video is dark and ominous, maybe its just because of the lighting and the way it’s filmed? Where did the inspiration for this come from?
Kent: “Do You Know” is actually the first video we released, this right around the time of the Comic book one too. We just wanted to give people a taste of what we are like in a performance setting, really rocking out. I get really tired of bands doing the cliché’ warehouse videos where they just kinda stand there combined with some fast camera shots.
That’s one of the big things with us, our live performance is very different than most other bands. First of all, everyone, except our drummer is running all over the place, we really get into the show. We have risers at the front of the stage that we tag team on and off of them, whoever has the feature. We built our own light show and smoke geysers, all of this stuff is completely choreographed with our songs including the songs we play live that we haven’t released yet. We have screens across the front of the stage running videos as we play the songs, we are trying to go beyond what people expect.
We are a 7-month-old band and we have all of this stuff on stage, all of these effects and lights, its all about telling people we are in a band and the band’s name is Phoenix Rising. Even though we are new, we have been working on things behind the shadows for a while before. We didn’t want to release anything before every I was dotted and every T is crossed.
Our merch booth is just ridiculous, we built our own booth. It’s got screens and lights and videos playing, just all of this crazy stuff. We have a giant metal sign that a welder made for us and we put lights behind that with all of these different colors. People see that and are blown away.
Everybody makes the rock joke “Turn it up to 11” and we really are kinda trying to do that.
All In: You guys are in the entertainment business, you are there to sell yourselves, to sell your brand and you need to make a lasting impression.
All In: It sure sounds like you are making sure Phoenix Rising is etched in everyone’s mind.
Kent: we have this one motto, whether we are playing to 2 or 200 “Be Un-Deniable”. We are not playing for huge crowds, most people have no idea who we are but the ones who do are like “you have to check them out, they are pretty legit”
All In: Everybody draws their influences from many different areas, what are you currently listening and where do you go when you are not doing Phoenix Rising.
Kent: it’s a mixture of everything, It really depends on my mood, my background is in classical music so I love that. I also grew up in the rock and metal scene in the early teenage years and in the punk scene. My dad listened to country music so when I was a little kid I heard a lot of that. There is not any genre that I don’t like, You know, obviously I rap in the band so I enjoy that as well.
I do like a lot of underground artists like Zaid Tabani, He put out one of the best albums last year that I’ve heard, it’s this underground rap album that no one heard called Bos Angeles, it is just cool. It’s not about you are in da clubs and shake your ass, the sound is just so fresh. I ended up talking to him and building a relationship, the ”Open You Up” lyric video, Zaid actually made that for us and it was all because I was a fan of his.
I’m a huge music fan and I really geek out over artists that I really like. Zaid and I connect every couple of weeks which is really cool.
All In: People who are following Phoenix Rising, people who have subscribed and are following you on YouTube, people who might read this and fans new or current, is there anything you want to leave for them?
Kent: Thank you guys for all of your support! We really try to have a positive energy vibe to our music, hopefully, everyone can hear that in our lyrics. I’ve had so many people try to crush my hopes and dreams throughout my life and a lot of that is expressed in our lyrics and in our music and I hope that it all has a very overcoming kind of quality to it.
Catch Phoenix Rising live:
August 22 @ Trees Dallas with Orgy
October 16 @ Trees Dallas with (HED) P.E.