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Hey readers!

   Recently, I landed a role in a music video as the singer in the video's fed-up girlfriend for an awesome tune
Here Below: L-R: Michael Kossov, Scott Carruthers, Steve Song, Kyle Carruthers.
called "The Lost and the Found" by Aurganic featuring Scott Carruthers.  As the day of the shoot progressed, of course I'd mention your favorite radio station, Jamsterdam Radio, to new and talented artists.  The discussions of music opened, and I learned my 'video ex-boyfriend' happens to be the lead singer of the Toronto-based band called Here Below, which consists of Scott Carruthers (rhythm guitar/vocals), Steve Song (percussion/drums), Kyle Carruthers (lead guitar), and their bass player, Michael Kossov, who also happens to be 1/2 of Aurganic.  

Here is my interview with HB frontman, Scott Carruthers.:   

JGIC: What inspired you to get into music?
SC: I can’t speak for the other guys, but for me, I’ve always been a huge music fan.  My whole family is musical – I grew up listening to my parents, grandparents, uncles, and cousins playing the guitar and writing songs.  I think this kind of early exposure helped me find an appreciation for music; I knew I’d always be searching out and discovering new music, and even as a kid I’d be coming up with vocal melodies and writing songs in my head.
  I guess I started writing music to hear songs that I wanted to listen to. It’s almost like a backwards process. I mess around with a tonne of guitar riffs, drum patterns and vocals, and most of them are discarded. Every once in a while I’ll play something for myself that somehow rings true to me as a listener, and I’ll start developing the concept.
  In many ways I don’t feel like a song writer – I think good songs just sort of fall into your lap.  The inspiration to work at music comes from wanting to take those simple concepts of songs and melodies and turning them into a grand finished piece that other listeners can enjoy…hopefully, haha.
  I do remember writing my first song. I was watching the Wedge on Much Music and I saw a video by Chore for the song “The Hitchhiker”. It was so dark and it had a cool off-time feel – I thought to myself, wow this is really different and resonates with me. I can definitely write more of this kind of thing for listeners like me.  I couldn’t play guitar at the time but I picked one up anyway and started making up chords till a song came out.

JGIC: How did you start?
SC: Well I grew up with Kyle – he’s my cousin.  I guess we always knew that we’d be in a band together, haha. We’d be rocking out on top of climbing frames, in the back of the pick-up, on backyard decks – everything looked like a stage to us.
Here Below started when we both moved to Toronto, it was our first opportunity to kind of see each other on a regular basis. In retrospect it was pretty much set in stone that we’d start a band.
Here’s the goofy part: at the time I was writing a fantasy novel and I had written a bunch of songs based on the story. It was pretty much an all-out geek fest…elves, dragons…I played a lot of D’n’D, haha. So Kyle and I thought we’d write a concept album based on it and we started looking for musicians.
I have no idea what the appeal was to Mike and Steve. “Come play in our fantasy concept album project”, haha. But Steve was the first drummer we auditioned and Mike was the second bassist we tried out. It was like, poof, here’s your band.  We immediately started writing a bunch of cool progressive songs…and then we decided to drop the whole concept album thing, haha.

JGIC: Songs about elves and dragons?  That's awesome- I hope to hear them one day!  How did you come up with the band name "Here Below"?
SC: We struggled with a name for a really long time. One day, Kyle and I were just hanging out.  We were listening to “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age.  There’s this part in the song where Josh Homme says: “Heaven smiles above me, what a gift, here below,” and then there’s a background harmony that does this angelic “ahhh”.  In my memory, there was a shaft of light that came through the window and the warm glow of the universe filled the room – probably didn’t happen that way, but we had the band name.
  I think it works as a name because people can take it to mean many different things. For me it’s about being under the weight of this huge reality that is so much bigger than our understanding. It’s about being insignificant and grasping at straws trying to make sense of the size of space.  In a way it’s very depressing to me, but hey, I think we write pretty depressing stuff, haha.
There are no religious connotations. There is a Christian band in the states called Here Below, but fuck those guys.

JGIC: If 'Here Below' is a depressing band name, I wonder why that Christian band picked it as well... I'm won't going there. lol.  What are your top 3 fondest moments being an artist?
SC: 1. Our reunion show after a year and ½ hiatus while I was off recording and touring with A Primitive Evolution. It was an awesome show here in Toronto, HB came back with a bunch of new tunes and we shared the stage with APE – it was a great moment. The crowd sang “I’ve got a robot master” with me at the end of our song “Deep Machines”.
2. Finishing the album. It took long enough – we sat on the instrumental mixes for two years, haha.
3. Number three is still to come – we’re booking a bunch of festivals and showcases.  I’m going to reserve this slot for when that comes to fruition.  The big one coming up is Indie Week, Oct 19th at Cherry Colas.

JGIC:  What do you find is the toughest part of being an artist?
SC: The marketing and promotions are the hardest part.  I wish we could just write and record all day long and kind of send songs out to a waiting, slavering audience…that just doesn’t happen.  It’s 20% writing and that’s something that’s difficult to accept for some people. I’m kind of learning the ropes now, haha.

JGIC: Favorite bands?
SC: This is my favorite question.  I feel like Here Below reaches back in time to pay tribute to all of our favorite artists.  Maybe the songs don’t sound like it, but the inspiration from other bands shines through in different ways like structure, tone, emotion, energy.
My personal favs: Oceansize, Shiner, Failure, Sunny Day Real Estate. I also still love me some good hardcore / metal: Dillinger Escape Plan (the old stuff), Between the Buried and Me, Ion Dissonance, The End, etc. etc. At the same time I’m big on classic Canadiana: Tragically Hip, April Wine, Max Webster, and Colin James. I also love folk, jazz, classical, hip hop, country….I’ll listen to anything.
As for the other guys: Kyle is really inspired by classic rock and 90’s prog. Steve loves punk, hardcore, jazz, he’s got a hard on for the Deftones, Poison the Well, and shares my love of Death Metal. I introduced him to Reuben and he friggin loves it. Meanwhile Mike is pretty eclectic, but he’s got a big appreciation for electronica and anything with a cool production. He’s big on Massive Attack, modern jazz greats, but he’s not opposed to throwing on some Soundgarden when he’s feeling nostalgic. Mike also used to play in a metal band, haha. I’m actually really surprised we haven’t written anything with a breakdown or a blast beat…maybe that’s next.

JGIC: Oh- I see a few of my faves mentioned in there!  I have seen one too many musicians with jealous girlfriends because the stereotype about musicians is that chicks dig them, so of course, there would be potential for groupies hanging around them.  If you are/were in relationships, how would you deal with groupies?
SC: First off, groupies are awesome.  I’d like to encourage ladies to listen to HB, come out to shows, collect locks of our hair, tell their friends, etc.  Personally though, I’m not a very promiscuous person – I’m a bit shy and not really receptive to that kind of attention.  But really, groupies are important; they’re fans and that’s fantastic. 
  If I were in a relationship it wouldn’t change the way I act around people at our shows.  We all try to be really friendly, we encourage people to come and talk to us about the music and the performance – it shouldn’t matter if it’s a guy or a girl.  We’re not about being “mysterious” or anything like that.  My hypothetical girlfriend would have to just trust me. Maybe she’d be proud that other girls want to bone the singer.  
  But yeah, I’ve never comprised how I act at shows or around groupies because I’ve been in a relationship…it just comes with the territory.  Ladies: if your man is a musician and he’s getting touchy feely with fans, he’s probably just a crappy boyfriend.  At the same time, just because you’re a musician doesn’t mean you’re a man whore.

JGIC: *I actually snort-laughed out loud at the 'locks of hair' statement because I seriously just pictured it!* 

 If you could form a “dream tour” with any musicians of your choice, deceased or living, who would you choose?
SC: Oh man, just put me on a bill with Mike Vennart (Oceansize, British Theatre) and/or Allan Epley (Shiner, The Life and Times) and I’d be happy as a clam.

JGIC: Any shout outs?
SC: We love our fans! Big shout out to anyone who has ever seen HB live – you’re the heart and soul of the band.

JGIC: Anything else you would like to add? (Upcoming shows, etc..)
SC: Watch out for Here Below at Indie Week 2013 in Toronto! Our showcase is on Saturday October 19th at Cherry Cola’s. We’ll be on stage around 10:30pm!

JGIC: Awesome- thank you for taking the time for this interview, Scott!

  Here Below is new in the Jamsterdam rotation, so keep an ear out for them!  Keep it locked!


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