by Keavin Wiggins
We're starting 2003 off on the right foot
with a profile of one of the stars of the first antiFEST, Solarcade!
I was first introduced to this band through their publicist. Since she
had a track record of representing great artists (she was the one who turned
me on to Bird and Twelvehourmary, two artists who have been covered here
in the recent past) I was enthusiastic. She invited me to see their Halloween
concert up in LA and since I didn't have any other pressing plans I said
sure I'll check them out! Lucky I did because they delivered.
Since my personal music tastes runs the
gambit from hard rock to story tellers and classic rock, I have a lot I
can draw from when checking out new artists. I'm always on the look out
for great new bands to feature here. Solarcade more than fit the bill with
their melodic yet rockin' sound. So for those of you who were not able
to attend the antiFEST, here is your second chance to discover Solarcade
as we discuss the band with lead guitarist Pomilla. Enjoy!
RNW: The standard opening question,
how did Solarcade come together? And where has the journey taken you so
was formed when the drummer Heath called me and we started jamming with
bass player Jonathan and preparing tunes for when we found the right guy.
About 87 auditions later the right guy walked thru the door, his name is
Paul Van. We quickly started getting songs down and less than 90
days we were in the studio recording our most momentous track “When She
Comes” which has gotten critical acclaim. We began to ease our way
into playing in LA and OC and the journey has opened doors like Borders
Music Tour, and calls from Dennis Rodman to play for him. The Fans
have recognized Solarcade as a Los Angeles staple of a true rock band that
can only be summed up in one word: songs. But like Steven Tyler sings,
“Life’s a journey, not a destination, and we just cant tell just what tomorrow
RNW: Where did the name Solarcade come
Pomilla: Solarcade was derived from
an initial idea from Heath of Soul Arcade and we wanted one word so it
got smushed together and dropped the letter “u”. Solarcade is the
revolution and relationship of the earth around the sun. I like to
think our music is doing that with our fans...
RNW: Personally, I hear a lot of different influences in your music.
Vocally Paul reminds me a lot of Bono or Depeche Mode or even David Bowie
at times and the guitars remind me of Billy Duffy (The Cult), a little
bit of The Edge and even Slash at times. Where would you place your
sound in the musical spectrum?
Pomilla: First let me say that this
is a huge compliment because singers like Bono and Bowie have set the STANDARD
and anything else is just settling. Slash is my favorite since I
first saw GNR way back when and The Edge is an absolutely timeless guitarist/songwriter.
We tell people that we are combo of U2, Train, Radiohead, and Coldplay.
If potential Solarcade fans can relate to these great artists then they
will really get what we are doing. Solarcade is in the music spectrum
of Modern Pop Rock like some current artists like Remy Zero, The Doves,
RNW: In other words, how do you describe
yourselves to those haven’t heard you?
Pomilla: It is simple. If you love artists like U2, Radiohead,
Stone Temple Pilots, and Depeche then you will enjoy the sounds of Solarcade.
If you are into Korn and Linkin Park then you may not get it but we have
proven otherwise with our live show.
RNW: Since I mentioned those other artists,
who are your biggest influences?
Pomilla: Drummer Heath notes Jimmy
Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins) as a key player to his development while
bassist Jonathan really digs Jimmy Eat World.
Vocalist Paul really pulls from Depeche
Mode for their style and songwriting.
Being from Houston, TX I am heavily influenced
by the greatest guitar who ever lived: Stevie Ray Vaughn. I love
Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots), and of course Slash and The Edge are
staples of my guitar playing.
RNW: If you only had one chance to win
a fan over with one song. Which song would you use, that you think best
represents what you are all about?
Pomilla: Hands down we would have to go with “Song For Staes”.
It is such an anthem that I believe will never go out of our set list.
Solarcade fans demand this tune electric or acoustically. You cant
argue when your fans have spoken. I guess we will be like Metallica
one day going, “Damn, we have to play ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ again tonight?”
RNW: What first inspired you to become
Pomilla: Easy question. One
Word. Slash. By the way, he is the coolest dude I have ever met.
Don’t get me started on his playing....ok, too late!! This guy is
the one person that I can honestly say changed my life. When I was
younger and I saw him play I was completely blown away. I thought
it was so refreshing that in a time when hot rod guitars were the thing
here comes a guy with a Les Paul that would later on revitalize its popularity.
Slash did to the lead guitar what Michael Jordan did to basketball in the
late 80’s. He changed it from the screeching solos to ballads like
“November Rain”. I told you don’t get me started....
RNW: What is your songwriting process
like? Does one person come up with the songs and the rest of the band add
their parts to it or is it a full group effort?
Pomilla: Our songwriting process is quite similar to Led Zeppelin.
I first work on a catchy riff, pitch it to Paul where he then creates some
hook and then we all get together to formulate and construct the verse
and chorus into a song. Hook is the key, if you can’t write hook,
then f@ck off...
RNW: You guys have been getting a lot
of attention with your Borders Books tour. For those who don’t know what
that is can you describe what it’s all about and also how you got hooked
up with it?
Pomilla: The Borders Books Tour
kinda fell into our laps with one performance at Borders in Santa Monica
and the Area Marketing Manager Lita Weisman caught wind of it and proposed
we play all the Borders. It has been very successful in the fact
that we are getting new fans that we would have never gotten at regular
shows in LA. Solarcade performs acoustical shows that is basically
like MTV Unplugged format with the drums and bass so we can do everything
like our electric shows. People love the acoustic versions of “Song
For Staes” and “Midnight Mile”
RNW: You guys have been making waves
on the LA scene, apart from playing the antiFEST what do you make of the
state of live music in LA right now?
Pomilla: With the decline of true
music due to “American Idol” I think people are looking for true musicians
and songwriters, not some fabricated teen idol just because a TV show says
so. Fortunately Solarcade has been invited to perform in Circle of
Songs which depicts emphasis on songwriting and is currently being piloted
as a TV show. The LA music scene seems to be saturated with tons
of bands with lack of hook. Solarcade will change that...
RNW: Some people may have heard Paul’s creation and not known it since
he is credited with the theme song to the Showtime Sci-fi series Jeremiah,
how did that come about?
Pomilla: Well, a good friend of
the band Tim Truman wrote the theme song “Looking at Forever” for the TV
series starring Luke Perry and was looking for the right blend of vocals
and called up Paul and he really fit Tim’s vision on the piece. It
really is a cool show set in the future and the song was beautifully written
and we are glad to be part of that.
RNW: Speaking of Paul, he started out
in his native South Africa and even toured with Depeche Mode there, what
was the deciding factor in making the move to the US and also do you think
down the line we might hear a little more South African musical influence
thrown into the Solarcade sound for extra flavor, so to speak?
Paul Van: The deciding factor to move to the US was prompted on by
Depeche Mode’s tour manager. He had seen my band at the time ‘The Outsiders’
play several shows during the tour and wasted no time in telling us he
was impressed, and that we should take the show abroad. We had already
been to England so we thought ‘Hey, lets go to the US’ Needless to say,
The Outsiders split. Our credit was up!
RE: African musical influence: Finding
your own bands true identity is one of the hardest things to solidify.
To incorporate an African musical influence into Solarcade is something
I would love to do in time, but to jump onto that boat right now would
be mayhem for us. We’d have to many toys to play with...in a manner of
speaking. When we do get to that writing point, I would wish for us to
travel and actually be in the heart of Africa so my band mates can hear,
feel, and see the African tribal culture. I grew up listening to tribal
sounds so it is certainly in my blood. More so rhythmically than melodically.
RNW: I noticed live the guitars have
a very unique tone, the bass and drums hit a bit harder and overall the
sound has a harder edged than the recordings you have made so far. Is that
from just the way you recorded, different heads or guitars or do you intentionally
kick things up a few notches live or approach things differently?
Pomilla: I think when we recorded
the initial track “When She Comes” it came out very smooth and safe sounding.
As time has went by we have become more aggressive in our live show than
in our previous recordings. Some tunes show our aggression in the
instrumentation of “She.”
RNW: What do you think of the current
state of rock? Any bands that do it for you?
Pomilla: If there weren’t bands that didn’t do it for us then we would
have nothing to look forward to. The current state of rock is going
away from the tired rap rock sound that was been cornered in the market
by Kid Rock and Korn. I think it is on the way out. Songwriting
and real singers are back in the drivers seats like Dave Mathews, Remy
Zero, Ours, and The Doves, and Coldplay. These bands are timeless
and we will be listening to them one day like how we still listen to old
Zep and Doors.
RNW: What would be your dream tour,
the band you would most like to go out on the road with?
Pomilla: Stone Temple Pilots, Dave
Mathews, Coldplay, and of course U2. Their fans would definitely
get what Solarcade is all about. We may connect to the Ozzfest fans
in that setting but I think they would still dig it. Ozzy’s last
tune “Just a Dreamer” really grabbed me and made me think, “this guy really
knows what is going on in the current state of music.”
RNW: We talked about the Borders Books
shows. Are those unplugged? If so are you guys booking a lot of other
shows where people in LA can come down and check out your full electric
live show (note from Keavin— definitely check these guys out live if you
can, they put on an amazing show—ok plug done)
Pomilla: Well if you want a great
unplugged show then check our calendar for a Borders Show near you.
If you want to see a full on electric show arena style then mark down your
calendars for Sun March 16 to see Solarcade live at The Arrowhead Pond!!!
RNW: What do you think is the biggest obstacle for new bands there days
to making it in this crazy business?
Pomilla: Guidance. You want
and need guidance and must be disciplined to get out there and make a list
of how you will market yourself, sell yourself, and expose yourself.
RNW: You’ve been together a few years
now so far what has been your proudest moment as a band?
Pomilla: Solarcade does a lot of
charity work for causes we believe in and we did a private concert for
terminally ill children at Childrens Hospital in Hollywood and it will
remain the most memorable due to the fact that we made kids faces light
up with our music. No money or anything else materialistic can take
that away form the band. It was cool because KABC News came out and
did a piece on us and aired it to 12 million viewers and the emails and
phone calls came pouring in.
Solarcade wants to give all that we can
give and use our power to help causes we believe in.
RNW: On the other side of the coin, what has been worst experience?
Pomilla: We get to this place another
band so called “booked” and it was a disaster. The times were messed
up, and too many bands showed up to play. As a favor we just backed
out of the show and gave our “slot” to another band and stuck around to
watch the band who helped us get on. They were downright horrible.
We were just glad we weren’t associated with this band or show. Quality
is more important than quantity wouldn’t you agree...
RNW: Has the Internet helped you
reach new fans? Do you think like some that the net will eventually
open up the music business or will the major labels still dominate things?
Pomilla: The Internet has been a
huge factor in the success of Solarcade. We are a mailing CDs to
fans over in Russia, Italy, England, Finland, Spain, and Australia.
Mp3 has been a great tool in globally marketing Solarcade. The Internet
will never dominate the major labels and vice versa. It has enabled
a new market to open to up and coming artists like ourselves. The
Internet may hurt major artists like Metallica but it also can enhance
the careers of others like The Offspring.
It really depends on how you look at it
and decide to use it for you or not at all. Like music in general
you must be wise and change with the times even if it means technological.
RNW: What’s next for Solarcade?
Pomilla: Play, play, play, and play
more. We are about to release our new EP entitled “From the Deep
End” and tour to support it. We plan to make 2003 a prosperous year
in our musical growth as well as in our personal inside the world of Solarcade.
We hope everyone out there will choose to be part of it.
RNW: Where do you hope to be five years
Pomilla: In five years I see Solarcade
still going strong and redefining the music scene like our predecessors
have done. We plan to do a lot of work for RADD and spread the good
word. I want to go out and help up and coming bands like others have
done so for us. Give the people a good product and they will come
back for another. That is the key to being a successful band.
RNW: Finally, what do you want people
to take away from your music?
Pomilla: I want people to walk away from Solarcade and think about
the songwriting, the thought and intellect we put into our craft like we
do when we listen to Radiohead. If you get a feeling when you listen
to songs like “When She Comes” or “All My Demons” then we have accomplished
what we set out to do. If you are looking for thoughtless lyrics
and 3 chord strumming then look elsewhere. Solarcade does not want
to push the envelope, we want to shove it over the edge. Our music
is free at Solarcade.Com and you can email for a free Solarcade single
mailed to your door. Any further questions you can call the Solarcade
hotline at 310.521.8768.
Check out the
antiFEST photo gallery for Solarcade!
now that you know a little about Solarcade it is time to go to their website
and learn more, listen to some of their songs, buy their CD, check for
concert dates and just generally find out why they are cool!
of a great unsigned artist or band? Let us know.
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Photo By Keavin Wiggins
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