Today we’d like to introduce you to Christian Gerner-Smidt, Jack Reed and Alex Morrison.
So, before we jump into specific questions about your band, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Christian Gerner-Smidt: I think for all of us, it’s been a story of wanting to take ownership of a project. We all met playing together in the Atlanta-based rock band ZALE, where I play guitar, Jack plays bass, and Alex plays drums (though Jack and I have known each other since college). Personally, for the majority of my music career, I’ve always been a sideman—supporting other people’s music and helping put their ideas together. Most of that was due to my lack of confidence in my own singing and songwriting. In late 2019, I decided to make some demos for what I thought would be a solo project and had Alex help me recording. By the second or third demo, I think we both felt that the project was turning into a band. Then, Jack came over and we recorded the demo for our first single “Flux.” in less than half an hour. After that, we all just looked at each other and said, “well, I guess we should do something with this.” Within a few months, we’ve released two singles and are now preparing to release our first EP Liftoff around the end of May.
Jack Reed: In terms of other projects, we’ve all kind of taken a backseat in the performance and leadership process. We all felt this need to step forward a little more, which for me was a bit difficult—in a lot of the other projects I’ve been involved with, I’ve felt like I had to play a more subdued version of my style, which has left me feeling pretty stuck on more than one occasion. This band has been an opportunity to pull out those stops and really see what’s under the hood.
Alex Morrison: We all came from projects where we’ve worked together, and I think there was a general consensus of wanting ownership of our musical product. We each had something to say, and now we’ve come together to form something that gives us a platform to speak and express ourselves. This is not to say being a “sideman” or a “session musician” is a bad thing at all. If anything, it opens the first door to help anyone become great. Once that point is reached, it’s not a difficult thing to take the next step yourself and do something new and creative.
Has it been a smooth road?
Christian: So far, it’s been relatively smooth sailing. Having to adjust to handling the entire business side of being in a band was definitely a little challenging at first. Learning how to market a band and figuring out music distribution was tough. I will say, working for a small biotech startup during the day, where I’ve had to figure out lots of random aspects of running a business, really helped in handling all of that stuff.
Jack: I would say it’s been a smooth ride so far. We were friends before we started this group, and have performed together pretty extensively at this point. So, the time that it took for us to gel as a group was practically negligible. For the first EP, Christian had already written most of the songs, so it was a lot of fill-in-the-blanks, but even that was quick and easy because we set out to record these without getting too much into our own heads. We want to create something that’s real to us, first and foremost, and when you create from that kind of space, the process flows naturally.
Alex: We’ve all played together before and honestly, the rough patches have kind of ironed themselves out. There are times of disagreement or tension, but we have enough experience to push past those things and see the greater good in all of our decisions. Fairly smooth, I would say.
We’d love to hear more about your band.
Christian: For me, it’s just a rock band. Of course, rock these days has become such a broad and almost unbounded genre. The only prerequisite we have is that as long as the music sounds good to us and we’re having fun, we’re happy with it. So I guess us being the only real judges of our music is what sets us apart. The crazy thing in all of this was getting almost 4K Spotify listens in less than a month and all the encouraging text messages and calls when we first started releasing music.
Alex: It’s a progressive rock act, not really in the way you’d think. We do play with odd time signatures and explore other realms of music theory and note choice, but we honestly downplay a lot of the complexity. If we end up writing something that’s more “progressive,” we smooth it out and make it easy to listen to. What good is music if you can’t dance to it? I particularly specialize in drumming and audio production. I think it does any audience a disservice if I, as the artist, put out something that’s “just ok.” I want to make sure that every experience we provide is inspiring and awesome to witness. I think the fact that we are more progressive and focus on sounding as best as we can set us apart, honestly. There are many great bands out there, but we like to focus our craft as best as we can. With that being said, we have no bounds in terms of sound or where we want our musical direction to go. The band lets us—and me—go as far down the rabbit hole as we want.
Jack: All of our genre tags say “progressive rock” or “alt-rock,” but I feel like even those labels are kind of limiting. We don’t really write songs with a specific genre in mind. We just write what’s true to us and whatever it sounds like is whatever it sounds like. Personally, when I write anything, I try to keep it genuine, but leave room for some interpretation so that the listener can take whatever it is that they need from my music. I think our willingness to really explore what our instruments and musicianship can do, even beyond the bounds of more “traditional” rock sounds, chord progressions, and time signatures is what makes us unique, in addition to our willingness to be our authentic selves and engage in a musical dialogue with our listeners.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Christian: My favorite part about Atlanta is definitely the diversity and the way of life in the city. When I first moved here from Europe a little over a decade ago, that was one of the first things I noticed. I immediately fell in love with the city because of that. My least favorite part about this city, though, is the lack of public transportation (something most Danish people live by) and all the construction.
Alex: Atlanta to me is a smorgasbord of variety. There’s tons of culture, which brings abouts tons of diversity, food, events, music, etc. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts around the city and each one is kind of its own unique experience. I hate the weather though. We honestly have some of weirdest weather patterns in the US. When it’s supposed to be hot, it’s cold, and vice versa.
Jack: I love how alive and diverse the music scene is around here. There’s always some kind of show or event going on to check out, be it a sonic healing session or a raucous, raw punk show, at least during calmer times. I’ve met some of the coolest people I know from being out amongst the other Atlanta musicians, and I’ve found some of my favorite bands that way, as well. Not a particularly big fan of the drivers around here, though. Turn signals are a standard feature on every car. Use ‘em, folks. The heat/humidity combination during warmer months isn’t my favorite, either. — VoyageATL