In the rock n’ roll music scene it is not surprising to find up-and-coming bands distinguishing themselves with trademarks of their influential predecessors.
Guitar-smashing, stage-diving, and muttering obscenities under one’s breath have surely found a way into today’s standards of rock normality, as well as the rise of the emo/punk counterculture.
But all musical trends cannot last forever, nor stand the test of time, unless they compete with the up-and-coming; the new, fresh appeal of the unheard.
While the ’90s opened the vault for grunge and hip-hop, the new millennium is still open for interpretation. Yet many feel that progressive rock could easily be a candidate.
Progressive rock in itself has actually been around for quite some time within the experimental sound of bands like TOOL, The Deftones and even Pink Floyd. However, no concrete definition exists for this form of music, except that it is often innovative, creative and “artfully heavy,” as described by MTV’s Kurt Loder.
Such bands of this genre, including the new trio Messenger, ultimately feel that for the music world, “the change is coming.”
“I would have to describe the band’s musical genre as progressive rock because the compositional method is progressive in itself; ever-changing and incessantly pushing forward,” says lead vocalist Jonathon Kustin.
Kustin first formed Messenger almost 10 years ago when he began composing music, along with guitarist Michael Stern.
“Mike and I met at a jam session that took place in a ratty, dust-infested basement where we spent all day hacking up old Nirvana songs,” laughs Kustin. Bassist Brian Balch joined the band soon afterward, and the three have been together ever since.
Twenty-five-year-old Kustin not only composes and sings vocals, but also plays keyboard and drums as well. To accomplish such a task not only requires great skill, but the right tools as well.
“We created an instrument called the ‘V’ to control the principle aspect of our live performance,” says Kustin. “It consists of an acoustic drum set integrated with digital triggers, placed alongside a keyboard work station and microphone in the shape of a ‘V.’ Basically, my job is to sing, play drums, and operate the sequences.”
For those of you who have come across Messenger, you most likely could not help but compare the band to other infamous prog-rock acts, especially when comparing Kustin’s voice to that of Maynard James Keenan, front man of TOOL and A Perfect Circle.
Kustin comments on this comparison: “As a composer, my job is to portray what’s going on inside my head as accurately as possible, so there is never any deliberate intention to structure or mold the music in any way. However, in my opinion, any comparison to these musicians is a form of flattery.”
With musical influences ranging from Genesis to Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead to Roy Orbison, it is clear that Messenger is eclectic and anything but ordinary in their sound.
Perhaps even more important is the driving force behind the music that allows Kustin to create such uniquely powerful yet delicate lyrics and compositions.
“The principle force behind all my inspiration is my sense of spirituality. It drives everything I do musically and lyrically.”
Kustin also notes that there is seldom any conscious thought process involved when forming an arrangement of music.
“Since I was young I have heard music completed, for the most part, in my head first. The music will come to me in sections over a period of time, until they begin to gravitate toward an arrangement,” says Kustin.
“I have only committed myself to music that originates in this fashion ever since. Therefore, I am just a messenger or ambassador for the music that exists independently from my immediate thought process, hence the band’s name.”
It has been said that a bigger impact is usually made on the world when you come out of nowhere, rather then displaying talent that hasn’t fully developed yet.
As mentioned on their MySpace website, the band, “who has seemingly rose out of thin air,” has been ” taking unexpected audiences by storm, with the music being so well-written and executed.”
Indeed, the band couldn’t find a better time to emerge in the music scene. With four singles already recorded, the band plans on releasing its debut album, For Aoede, sometime later in the year.
Maynard James Keenan of TOOL once said in an MTV interview that the reason he never includes lyrics within his album covers is because he doesn’t want fans to initially think about the music; he wants them to feel it.
The ethereal intensity of their music, which is a courageous exploration of textures and sounds in itself, already proves that Messenger is willing and able to take you to a place you’ve never been before musically.
Kustin’s stunning vocal arrangements also work surprisingly well with the music, with Kustin sounding poetically tangible; not whiny or indecipherable like many other vocal acts.
It appears that Messenger is not only worthy of their predecessors, but may just be a positive omen for what’s to come in progressive rock.
The change is coming, indeed.