The Updraft Imperative
SINCE the day I discovered The Updraft Imperative…
I have been following their music closely. Chair was released last year, and remains one of my stand-out reviews: not because of the quality (would never blow my trumpet that hard); but because it introduced me to something new- a genre of music I am not usually familiar with. Aside from dabbling with Sixpence None the Richer- a Texan Christian-Rock band- the Christian-Rock genre was little-known. Many of us here (and throughout the world) may see it is a niche genre- unfamiliar with what treasures lie within. Being an atheist myself, I find much to recommend (with regards The Updraft Imperative). Mixing U.S. Rock sounds and traditional Christian-Rock- music that is constantly inspiring and upbeat- few can deny its charms. Having a good relationship with the band (and their manager Diane Sherwood) I was keen to catch up; how new music was progressing- what inspires their music.
Having known you guys since Chair's release, I am amazed at your progress. Can you sum up 2015 for everyone?
So far it's been a crazy year!!! Crazy-busy with all our personal lives/commitments, and of course crazy in the way our album has been so well received worldwide. From N.Y. to London, Australia to France, it's been (bar from a few exceptions) embraced by D.J.s and listeners alike. The Updraft Imperative has featured on multiple well-known indie radio station charts, along with numerous charts here in Aus. So, yeah, so far it's been a pretty amazing year....certainly wouldn't have thought the last 12 months would have panned out so incredibly well as they have!!!
It's been a mash-up of hard work from all of us including our promotions manager, answered prayers, great conversations opening and closing doors- and a growing number of awesome supporters.
Did you ever think you would come this far: have the attention of big stations and names; have such support behind you?
For me (Murray), no. I honestly abandoned the idea of making music heard on radio stations around the world a little while ago. It appears that my ideas and the realities that can occur do often not align.
It is sometimes hard to see how far you've come, when there is still so far to go. So many opportunities to arise and fulfill. But there are so many things that have happened that we never really thought would. Largely due to supportive radio stations and individuals. For which we say a big thanks!!
How much does the fan support- on social media- mean to you guys/your music?
Twitter & Facebook is an amazing way to link with so many different and diverse people from around the globe; you are an example of that. It's easy to let your focus either slip from it, or become transfixed on it, but sharing what you can when you can, and having people engage with that, interact and partially own it is truly cool!!
So it actually means a great deal. As a band we don't aim to fill every weekend with shows as we all have jobs and families. So social media and recorded music are important tools. Meeting people through social media who love our music is always an inspiration and will continue to be a major part of our music.
I know what inspires your music; are there particular events/situations that compel you to write and record?
For me (Murray), usually it's a good drum rhythm/beat, with either a bass groove or guitar riff. The rest flows on from that.
There are events and situations that inspire song writing. As an example, the last two songs Josh wrote... One came from listening to a guy who had been part of many difficult circumstances, and meets many people of the same. It was a reminder to look deeper into people and not make surface judgements and that life is often 'messy'. The other...we are involved and support a mission that rescues and educates young girls that would otherwise be involved in sex trafficking. A story of one of these girls being stolen away recently inspired a song that will hopefully help bring these tragedies to light.
With so many bands and acts coming through; what challenges does The Updraft Imperative face?
Stay true to our vision of seeing people changed, and challenged by our music. At the same time, acknowledge that some of our songs cut to the quick a little more than others, so try to work on that 'formula' without abandoning our core sound. But we also must keep adapting/growing as a music entity. Though people may have liked Chair as an album, I think they would like the next offering we make to be more of the same, not exactly the same.
I guess to be original is an important goal of ours, so as not to blend in with the main flow. Sometimes that can be a challenge in itself, because being slightly outside what might be considered the norm or in a particular genre can make your pool of listeners smaller. But we trust that if we make consistently cool music, people won't be able to help but catch the T.U.I. train.
Not knowing too much about the music of Australia, what is the scene like there? What kind of genres and acts are breaking through/most popular?
Hip-hop and Electro./House/E.D.M. is probably quite strong in Aus. at the moment. Yes there are Indie bands, but if you have a Mac and a half-decent mixing program anyone can crack out a half decent sounding dance track.
We're by no means experts in the Aussie music scene. There are areas that have a great music culture. I'm not sure Brisbane is the best of them. I think most would consider Melbourne to be the place to be. And I do think there is quite a variety of genres that do well. But as I said. We're no experts!
If you guys had to choose your favourite three albums (each member can choose their own) which would they be?
Murray - Soundgarden- Superunknown, Petra- On Fire, Miles Davis- Doo-Bop.
Josh - Downhere - self titled, Ed Sheeran - X, Jason Mraz - Mr. A – Z.
Pete - Right now, the top artists on my playlist include Asgeir, alt-J, and Royksopp. There's a decent amount of "Classic Baby Lullabies" appearing in my Spotify feed... but that's another story.
I understand there is new music being planned. What can you tell us about that guys?
It's.....new ;) It's like we said before, more of the same, but with a matured sound that hopefully reflects where we've come from as a band, and where we are going to in the future.
We gave you the background of a couple of them earlier but apart from that we are pretty pumped with what is evolving so far. There are a few added sounds that we didn't explore much last time, we think the songs are more focused and sit beside each other well. Music videos will accompany the single releases, and we should see an album dropped mid-2016!!
You have come a long way- in a short space of time- what does the rest of this year/next year hold for you?
Though we have some gigs/commitments coming up, spending time putting the album tracks together will be high on the priority. Oh...and filming a couple of music videos.
Are you guys heading to the U.K. anytime soon, and if so, can you head my way?
Oh we would dearly love to drop by your neck of the woods!! Not over-committing to large-scale ventures such as an international tour is something to watch, but we always have it in the back of our minds that if all the planets align in the future........ If we were to come to the U.K. we will be having dinner at your place, don’t worry about that.
Sorry we can't give you any dates as yet.
Being a Christian-Rock band, do you think the genre is underrated/ignored or is there a dedicated core (of fans/listeners)?
I think that's it's actually overpopulated with bands that 'claim' they are in the Christian-Rock genre, but when you listen to the message in the music, often the message is ambiguous at best- and fairy-floss nonsense the rest. When you listen to The Updraft Imperative, there is absolutely no doubt what we are about- not what we hold dear to and believe. You don't need to look at the genre next to the album title to decipher what we are about. The most amazing thing is, we have been picked up for radio play by mostly secular radio stations, and have found it a challenge (initially at least) to have Christian/Gospel stations play our tunes. I suppose there's something to be said for uplifting and encouraging music- in a world that is often far from that- and where people crave that more than a belting Rock song played on a 7-string B-tuned (though they have their place :)
There really is a massive group of listeners. But as mentioned earlier, I would say that much is very main stream/formulae driven songs. And that's fine, as is obviously what people want to hear. But we still want to be a bit different and have loved the fact that our music can be enjoyed within a secular environment as well.
In terms of fellow Christian-Rock bands, who are your current favourites?
Murray - I know it's naughty, but I'm drawing a blank (refer previous comment). Oh, wait, Strypers’ new album is kicking!!! And so too is Sacred Warriors’ new offering!!!!
Josh - Needtobreath, Leeland, Downhere, For King & Country When it comes to inspiring musicians- that have influenced you chaps along the way- who would they be? Murray - Cat Stevens, the groups America & Bread; Petra, R.A.T.M., Midnight Oil, Whiteheart, Living Colour; Sly and the Family Stone (I could do this for pages ;)
Josh - Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, Rob Thomas, Freddie Mercury
Pete - I would say my drumming style is most influenced by the likes of Chad Smith, Noah "Wuv" Bernado, and Lester Estelle. Not that I'm anywhere near as good as those guys...
What constitutes a typical day for The Updraft Imperative- in term of your music schedule and day-to-day activity?
Murray - As I manage a mechanical garage, I'm committed between 8&6, with music coming into focus later in the evening. I'm fortunate to have a reasonable music studio set up, and when we live out on the boondocks, one can make almost as much noise as one likes
Josh - I guess much of it would be interacting with social media. Discussing with each other certain events and decisions. Designing promo material, like single covers or editing video. If I'm lucky, sit down and play song guitar and have a sing.
What advice would you give to new musicians coming through- maybe those who are scared of the challenges of the industry?
Set your sights and standards high, but your expectations low. If you have it around the other way you'll almost be certainly guaranteed a disappointing music experience. At least if your sights and high and likewise your standards, though you may be surprised when the news comes on radio play, you can almost be guaranteed of a snowballing effect once there's activity and motion.
I would say that is important to have good people as your support who love your music and believe in what you do. Don't have your head too far in the clouds. Have realistic goals and work hard. And if people want to join you in the thing that you live to do, then great. Just remember to enjoy yourself. Life's not about "making it"
Before I finish, have always wanted to ask: how did you and your manager (Diane Sherwood) find one another? What is the tale behind that?
Twitter!!! Like all good stories of connectedness, it was through Twitter via The Bedroom Hour (that T.U.I. found Di). Murray made the initial connection, shared our iTunes or Soundcloud address (can't recall which)- and the rest is, as they say......
Di here! I can confirm this to be correct! I'm not altogether sure who found who, but it was away back in 2012, just as the boys were recording Chair. I seem to recall lots of 'joking' about how me managing a West London band- while based in Scotland- wasn't enough of a challenge; and managing a band in Australia would be a much better idea...
Two years later, circumstances had changed (with The Bedroom Hour) and that 'much better idea' and my new challenge became a reality. Some would say it was fate. I prefer to use an awesome word (pinched from our Josh) and consider it more of a 'Godincidence' ;)
Lastly- and for being ripper sports (my worst Aussie slang there!) you can pick any song- and I will play it here…
Murray has picked his favourite pick-me-up smile-on-face ever which is Temples on Fire, by Sacred Warrior (from their latest album please). If you aren't a fan of classic ‘80s style Prog./Heavy rock, tune out now
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