‘Intense, textural, articulate’ | Interview with Steroid Puppets

With larger than life riffs and explosive rhythm sections, you don’t need to listen for long to realize that each member of Steroid Puppets possesses outstanding technical ability. For headbanging, or to sit down and listen to every tiny detail, this project works both ways. Read our discussion with Ben Azar from Steroid Puppets below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Intense, textural, articulate.

Tell us a few things about Right Thing, Wrong Moment. What is the main idea behind it?

Does it happen to you where you’re doing something you believe is the right thing, but your timing is off and you get it all messed up? It happens to me way too many times, and this is the idea behind the tune. As the tune goes on and on, it overcomes its hindrances, keeps pushing forward and getting more and more intense, kind of like real life.

As for the music, even though it’s 8:30 mins long, it is actually made out of 3 musical parts, and their variations. Kind of like classical music, but also very common in progressive rock/metal, where you represent a theme and develop it throughout the piece. That’s basically what guides me throughout any writing process, to come up with ideas and try to squeeze as much juice out of them. The trigger point for that song was the riff from 0:25 which is being played on one guitar, where I’m playing the harmony on the bass strings and harmonics on the treble strings. I was trying to approach the guitar like a piano. It also happens on the second part at 1:22, and in more points throughout the tune. I remember when sending the tracks to my sound engineer he asked me why I didn’t separate the two guitar tracks, then I told him it was played on one guitar.

You have worked as musicians with a variety of musicians of different genres from classic rock and heavy metal to psytrance. How does that affect your songwriting process?

I remember after graduating Berklee College of Music in Boston I moved to New York and played a lot of jazz and gospel. I also recorded a jazz album “Organized Memories”, under the jazz/fusion record label Inner Circle Music. Then when I moved back to Israel I started to play with Yossi Sassi (Orphaned Land), did a European tour with Marty Friedman (Megadeth, Cacophony) jammed with Steve Vai and Ron ‘bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns n Roses) and opened for Dream Theater and Haken. That brought me back to metal and progressive music, which is the music I used to listen to and play back in my teens. Another element that entered was being a sideman and recording artist for various mainstream productions, and collaborating with psytrance artists DJ Skazi and Azax Syndrom which brought a whole new and different palette to the table. In Steroid Puppets’s songwriting process I organically combine the energie of metal, the intellect and harmony of jazz, with fairly accessible melodies and rich production of mainstream and electronic music.

You mostly release instrumental music. Is the absence of vocals an extra challenge when it comes to promotion?

It does make the promotion a bigger challenge. But, I was always drawn to instrumental music and soundtracks. I really like creating ambiance and taking the listener into a sonic journey. Steroid Puppets is basically my musical vision with no compromisation, it is the music I always wanted to listen to.

The second and very important element is the melody/hook. Every tune in the album, no matter how complex it is, has a singable melody or a hook that the listener can lay on, that engages him/her and makes them crave for more. This music is also aimed at the musician community, obviously the guitar community, but I feel that even though it’s guitar driven, is not guitar centric, the band is not just comping me while I’m doing my thing, there’s a whole composition to the bass and drums which makes it very enjoyable listening experience to other than guitar players.

If aliens visit us and ask us the best progressive metal album ever written, what would be your answer?

Hmm that is a tough one! I guess if they were to visit today I would say “Who Bit The Moon” by David Maxim Micic. A perfect blend of beautiful songwriting, amazing production and emotional music.

Progressive metal by default emphasises in technicality and experimentation. Should music as a fort of art always challenge the listener?

I look at music like a story telling. For instance, when you watch a movie or a TV series, you want to be surprised and challenged, of course to an extent where the story needs to be understood, but you don’t want everything to be obvious and simplified, if so it will just be a waste of time.

How did you come up with the name for the band?

The name came up with a quirky thought I once had, where us (and all earthlings) are puppets/machines being controlled and operated by our soul from a totally different location. I added Steroids because the music is on extreme steroids.

Future plans?

In the near future the band is going to release its debut album Earthguest on 17.5, with a spectacular video clip of the theme song, and a VERY special guest!!! The release will be followed with launching shows and tons of music/content which will be shared constantly.
Except for that there is an EP in the works, which I can’t talk about right now, but it’s going to have vocals and will involve some high profile musicians. It would probably come out some time during 2023.

Thank you!

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