‘the Big Four’ | Interview with Gnarbot

Seriously good arrangement in this 7 minute long, progressive rock extravaganza.

Read our interview with the band below.

Describe your sound in three words!

Melodic. Relentless. Imaginative

How was Gnarbot created?

After years of playing primarily with South Jersey progressive jam band ‘Out of the Beardspace’, guitarist Zach LoPresti was looking to create a new project that drew on his metal roots combined with more recent jazz & progressive music interests. Zach saw Rodrigo Pichardo (bassist) perform in his former band ‘The Royal Noise’ at festivals and shows around the Philly scene and was impressed by his technical prowess, jazz vocabulary, groove, and musicality. Zach was also aware of the monstrously talented Chris Paprota (drummer) through a quirky situation in which he had replaced Chris as the drummer in a local band that Chris decided to leave. A couple years later, one of Zach’s students pointed Chris out by showing his videos with Meinl Cymbals, knowing that Zach would be into his playing. Zach decided to reach out to both of these musicians separately to play and see if the chemistry was there. It was! This lead to Zach getting the rhythm section together to try and write some music together and to see if they connected as a drummer and bassist…they did! After a few sessions together, the newly formed trio realized they were desiring a larger sound and more textural options. Although they originally thought this role should be filled by a keyboard player, it quickly became apparent that what was needed was a very specific skill set and very hard to come by. Zach then thought of including his longtime guitar-buddy and School of Rock All-Star “classmate” Zack Smith, who boasts a very high level of technical skill while also specializing in chords, harmony, and improvisation in a way that most guitarists overlook. Zack fit the role of “keyboardist on guitar” better than anyone in the Gnarbot network possibly could. Although Gnarbot was originally intended to be an instrumental group, Zack Smith has a unique and beautiful voice, adding a vocal element to the band which becomes more and more present over time. And thus, the Big Four were assembled, and the band became whole.

Your videoclip is incredibly in sync with the music. Tell us who made it, what was the inspiration for it?

This video was created by Matt Keppler and Drew Mercadante who operate as Supervoid, a Philly based visual design team who create content for all different kinds of performing artists. They took the characters designed by our artist Derek Knierim and animated them running through different futuristic/psychedelic scenes. Both Matt and Drew are actually consummate musicians so they were so spot on when it came to complimenting the song with their animations.

You have said that Gnarbot is constantly discovering it’s own unique musical universe. What does this universe consist of and has it changed through the years you are creating music?

When we started this project we had a loose idea of what we wanted it to be which became more defined the more we played and wrote music together. Our initial concept was to be a prog metal band that can collectively improvise over their song forms, essentially delivering a different and unique performance every night, somewhat of a hybrid between Kneebody and Animals As Leaders but, as we kept writing and evolving as musicians we’ve found our own style and it’s something that we have a hard time comparing to other bands, yet still firmly under the prog umbrella. As far as the metal part well, not all prog metal fans will like us and that’s fine.

What is the top Prog Metal album of the decade?

So hard to decide but I really think that Plini’s ‘Handmade Cities’ has to be up there in terms of influence and timelessness. It really shaped and inspired so much of what you’re hearing being made today by aspiring prog musicians. Hand in hand with that one would be Animals As Leaders – The Joy of Motion. Hard to decide like I said!!

Who would make a dreamy collaboration?

I would love to hear Brad Mehldau ripping a piano solo over some Meshuggah riffs.

You’d give up making music for…

That has never been an option so, nothing.

Thanks Gnarbot!

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