Souls' Release

Celebrating Their Debut Full-Length Album

With the rise of digital music, online downloads, iPods and other new media formats for creating, distributing and listening to music, there is still something special about releasing an album. Every musician who takes up an instrument and begins to dream of performing and making a career on the stage thinks about getting into the recording studio, or just setting up a DAT recorder in a bedroom or basement and working on those original sounds. Since the early days of rock and roll, having one's name on a record, cassette tape or CD, has always been one of the goals of a working musician and often the first sign of taking things to the next level and moving beyond the garage.

New Jersey-based quartet Souls' Release released their debut EP, "Go," in 2004. This early representation of their sound features four tracks that only hinted at their potential and the dynamic of their live sound. At the time, the band itself was just coming together and evolving and there was still time for the unit to develop into a tight and cohesive band that could bring something special to the stage or studio. Even at the nascent point in their development, critics loved the EP, adding it to their "best of" lists and creating a buzz for the band as they began to undertake a heavy live performing schedule.

As 2005 rolled around, they headed into the studio ready to take things to the next level and emerged with "Through the Feeling," ten tracks that showcase the band's diverse styles and influences in a coherent whole that flows effortlessly from beginning to end. The band alternatively rocks and rolls with a lot of soul infused into the mix, bringing the emotion seeping out of the speakers.

Chorus and Verse interviewed the four members of Souls' Release, Joshua Van Ness (guitars, lead and backing vocals), Nick Ferriero (guitars, lead and backing vocals), Jonathan Andrew (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Sean Calcamuggio (drums) about all of the time and effort that has gone into the production of "Through the Feeling" and how they feel on the eve of their CD release party to officially unveil it for the world. The interview reveals a thoughtful group of musicians who have worked very hard to get themselves to this point and are clearly ready to do even more to push things further.

The band has been referred to as a phoenix rising from the ashes of its members' former projects. Start off with a little information about where everyone comes from before Souls' Release and how the band was put together in 2003.

Nick: In 2003, Joshua and I were bandmates in the Crayons, a New Jersey-based indie band. While on a three-month, 40-state U.S. tour, we realized we wanted "more". We returned home from work and immediately set out to see if our chemistry would work in another project. During our first jam session, we wrote SR's first tune, "Savannah," which was featured on our EP "Go". We knew there was magic there. We came up with the name Souls' Release and began playing out as an acoustic duo. Our intention from the start was to become a full-on electric rock band as soon as possible.

During the summer of '03, we recruited an interim drummer/percussionist which added further depth to our live sound. In August '03, we shared a bill with Ciampi, a cool indie band from NJ. It was there where we met Jon Andrew. We didn't even know he was a bass player at the time. He sang harmonies during Ciampi's acoustic performance and blew us away. We later found out he was a kick-ass bass player.

Ciampi broke up just a few months later and we contacted Jon. During our first jam session the magic was apparent. Jon's musical style and personality were an immediate and perfect fit into SR. The only piece of the puzzle remaining was a full-time rockin' drummer.

In 2004, we heard about a great drummer who was in-between bands. The source from where the tip came was very reliable. So we contacted this dude right away. We set up a jam session and, once again, the magic was apparent from the first tune. Sean Calcamuggio joined the band in June of 2004 and the lineup has been personally and professionally rock solid ever since!

You're celebrating the release of your latest CD, "Through the Feeling". How long has the record been in production and when and where was it actually recorded?

Sean: The album was recorded and mixed at Mix-O-Lydian studios in Lafayette, New Jersey. We went into the studio around the second or third week of January. All together it took about seven months until we had the finished product in our hands. We did a lot of weekend block-out sessions. We would go in on Friday, record all day Saturday and finish up on Sunday evening, as well as any other day we could fit in during the week. Then there are all the graphics and design layouts, photography, mastering, and duplication. So recording was about half of the whole project.

"Through the Feeling" is your second release, following-up the four-song EP, "Go," which was praised by critics. Do you think there has been an evolution in your sound since "Go" was released and what do you hope that those who enjoyed the EP will think when they hear the full album?

Joshua: Our fans who purchased the new album via our exclusive internet presale have already responded enthusiastically to the new recordings! We feel confident that the general public will respond well, too.

We are very proud of "Go" and happy that it was received so well. Releasing "Go" was an interesting experience. We were recording that EP literally at the same time that we were becoming a band. Jon and Sean had [just] recently joined the band [at the time]. Shortly after we released that disc, we realized that our abilities as a band had already eclipsed what we had captured in those sessions. The recordings on "Through the Feeling" are a far better representation of who we are and what we can do as a band.

Our sound has definitely evolved. "Go" showcased our ability to write quality songs. However, it's a bit on the mellow side of what we do. People always tell us that our live shows are a lot louder and more energetic than what they hear on the CD. The songs on "Through the Feeling" still have plenty of hooks, but they are delivered with all of the energy and rock & roll vibe that we have at our live shows.

Let's discuss the band's creative process. Who is the primary songwriter, and how are new songs generally worked on by the band? Did the tracks on "Through the Feeling" stay the same throughout the recording process, or did you find that the songs changed once you were working on them in the studio?

Joshua: All of the songs on the new record are credited to Souls' Release. It is important to convey to listeners that each member of the band has a significant contribution to every song.

Usually, the songwriting process will begin with either Nick or I presenting a chord progression, riff and or basic melody to the band. We all learn the basic structure and then just play it a bunch of times. Once we get really comfortable with that structure, we start to step back and look at what we have. As a band, we dissect each part and make sure that it has the impact that we feel it needs. It is during this phase of the process where each band member communicates how we feel about how our parts are supporting one another. It's a great way to put together a song because it allows each one of us to really inject some of our own personality into the song. This way, everyone plays an important part in the song's creation.

Did you enjoy your time in the studio, and is the entire production and mixing process something that you enjoy doing, or just a chore that's necessary to complete the CD? Was there a point in the recording process when you realized that the CD was going to turn out really well and you knew that you'd be happy with the results?

Joshua: We really had a blast in the studio! Don Sternecker engineered the record and Bob Perry produced it. Those guys pushed us to be as good as we can be and at the same time they made sure that any frustrating moment never got too heavy! We get along better than just about any band I've ever been around, so it was very cool to be with each other for so many hours at a time. Most importantly, we know that all of those long days and hard work have produced a great finished product. So, it's all worth it!

You're having the CD release party for "Through the Feeling" at The Crossroads in Garwood, NJ on Saturday, September 10. Why pick that venue to host the show and who are the other bands who will perform that evening?

Jon: After playing two very successful shows there earlier in 2005, The Crossroads was our first choice of venue at which to hold our CD release party. The Crossroads is far and away one of the best live music venues in New Jersey. The atmosphere is excellent, the sound system is top notch, and the staff really knows how to treat a band.

Joining us at our CD release show will be two bands who are not only musical compatriots, but also great friends. Opening the night will be Dacks, fronted by our very good friend and loyal supporter Jon Dacks. This trio plays aggressive-yet-melodic modern rock music with a high-energy delivery. And closing the night out is the band with which SR has shared the stage most frequently over the course of our performing history, Echofission. Geb, John, Ken, and Jon are not only great musicians, but great guys to hang with as well. And, their heady concoction of indie rock with an improvisational feel has made them a favorite throughout the NJ rock scene.

Where are some of your favorite venues to perform around the New York and New Jersey music scenes? Does the band have plans to expand their touring area and visit other parts of the country and are there any places that you're hoping to visit someday?

Jon: Aside from The Crossroads, our favorite New Jersey venue is probably The Loop Lounge in Passaic. The Loop was the site of the very first SR electric performance, way back in March 2004, and we've returned there many times over the last 18 months. We've shared the stage at The Loop with great bands like Echofission, Butterspy, Particle Zoo, and Brothers of Industry, to name a few. Many of our are friends and fans always come out to The Loop to show their support, and always stick around to close the joint with us.

In New York City, we've enjoyed playing at Kenny's Castaways on Bleecker as well as at Tribeca Rock Club on Warren Street several times each.

Thus far, SR's touring schedule has been limited but aggressive. In addition to regularly blanketing New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania, we've reached from Boston down to Washington, DC. In the Midwest, SR has journeyed to Louisville, Cleveland, Detroit and Indianapolis. In the coming months we're looking to hit all of these cities again, as well as expand our reach further into the mid-Atlantic region, and at least as far west as Chicago, to continue expanding our fan base, one city at a time.

After going through all of the hard work to produce the new album, is finally being able to release it a relief, or are you more excited about what the reaction will be? Can you express some of your feelings about finally putting this new music out into the world and what it means to you to have gotten to this point?

Sean: The album was a lot of hard work. A lot of time and effort were spent on all of our parts. So you could say the CD release would be kind of a relief that it's all done. But for myself, and I'm sure for the rest of the guys, it's going to be more exciting to see where this album is going to go, or where it's going to take us. It's a full-length album with ten powerful songs. Each song has its own soul and body and sounds different from the rest. But, you still know it's Souls' Release when you're listening to it. People's reactions so far to the songs have been good, so I'm confident that it would do well out there, if it were to get there. This is a new step for all of us. In my mind, this is the biggest thing I've been a part of yet, and I'm sure it's the same for the other guys. So this release show is not only a relief, but a huge stepping stone for all of us.

Like many bands these days, Souls' Release has a page on MySpace to help connect with fans. How has MySpace, and the Internet in general, made it easier to promote yourselves and the new album and do you feel that doing so has created opportunities for the band?

Nick: We live in the age of the Internet. Sites like MySpace serve as a great marketing tool. We're able to touch listeners that we probably would not if it weren't for those mediums. Since we're a fully indie band we need to micromanage all of these sites ourselves. It takes a lot of time and effort, but we love doing what we do. We live for this band. So all the effort is worthwhile!

After your show at The Crossroads, you're going to be returning to a regular performing schedule. How does it feel to be back out and performing again after not doing so for almost a year? Do you have any worries that you might be a little rusty on stage, and are there any tracks off the new CD that you think will be especially enjoyable to perform live?

Nick: Well, the truth is that we have been playing regularly all along. We took about a month off [from] mid-January until mid-February when we started recording the album. But we resumed our live show schedule in mid-February. It was difficult to balance a full live schedule with a heavy recording schedule. Definitely a learning experience! However, we're workhorses and going the extra mile is a trademark of this band.

We love performing every single track from the new album. The dynamics are intense and the diversity is strong. Each song has a life of its own. Each tune breathes on its own. The key is song placement within a set. A tune like "Careful What You Wish For" is far heavier than "Tangled". Yet they both bring us to a natural high. It's all about the setlist and allowing the natural flow to occur.

And as far as rust, there is no rust. However, that is not an excuse to relax or take it easy! Our rehearsal schedule is more intense now than ever before. We're psyched to play the CD release show. It will definitely rock! But there will be many more shows to follow. And we want to be solid for every single set. We owe it to ourselves and everyone in the audience to perform to the best of our abilities. We're proud of our live show!

Where do you hope the new CD release will lead the band in the coming months? What do you see as the next step in your development and what are some of your goals musically over the next year?

Jon: We hope the release of this CD will help us expand our fan base throughout the local scene, as well as far beyond. People in all of the cities that we've played can order the CD via our Web site. And sites like MySpace and make the music available to a wider range of listeners than would be possible without the Web. So, in essence, we hope to use the CD to market the band to as many people as possible. All the marketing in the world isn't worth a damn if there's no good product to back it up. And we believe that "Through the Feeling" is a great product.

But, regardless of where the release of "Through the Feeling" leads the band, we're extremely proud of the record in and of itself. It is a document of how far the band has come over the course of the last two-plus years, and it's an excellent representation of what Souls' Release is all about. We're happy with the record and we're extremely confident that all of our fans, and all of the people we've yet to reach, will be happy with it, too.

[ Website: ]

Matt Mrowicki

Matt Mrowicki founded Chorus and Verse in 2001. He is a rock star designer and technologist, Internet professional, content creator, and entrepreneur specializing in web development, IT consulting, branding, social media and online marketing.