Source’s Perseverance: Return to Nothing
Scott Rowland • September 13, 2016 • Art •
Metal, the most unlikely of music genres to break the Boulder bubble, has found its potential. And to be honest, most of Source’s success has come from raw talent and dedication.
A lot has changed since I met Ben Gleason, guitarists and frontman of Source, a little over a year ago. At the time he was focused on booking shows in the area and writing new songs. Source’s self-titled EP had just released, but they were having trouble getting consistent gigs, let alone building a following in Colorado.
Since that time, Source has signed with Pavement Entertainment, finished one national tour, and are now scheduled for two more. They are also preparing to release a full-length LP, Return To Nothing, on Friday, Sept. 23. With an admiration for their perseverance, I spoke with Gleason and his band mates, Georges OctoBous (drums) and Dan Crisafulli (bass), to find out more about their progression.
ALOC: Let’s start with a little background. How did the three of you come together to play music as Source here in Colorado?
Ben Gleason: I met Dan when he applied to work at Isolate, my flotation tank center in Boulder. We hit it off and started playing together. A few months after, I attended an ayahuasca ceremony where the shaman put his guitar in my hands and said, “You play.” I told the shaman, “I don’t know how to play guitar.” And the shaman replied, “Yes, you do.” After that I played guitar for two to three hours a day for three months straight. I wrote “Veil of Doubt”, the bonus track on our new release, and the first track on the album “Forgiveness” in those two months. Right when we started working on “Forgiveness” I met Georges at Easton Training Center in Boulder. So I asked Georges to come jam with us. We started showing him “Forgiveness”, and the first thing he played became the intro of the song. We’ve been together for two-and-a-half years now, and we have come an unbelievably long way in that time.
ALOC: The opening track of your EP incorporates a vocal sample that examines the idea of source and its connection to beyond-ness and the infinite. It’s a curious synopsis to say the least. What inspired you to choose the name Source?
BG: The intro track on the EP made it onto the full album. We shortened it up a little bit and made it WAY trippier! Actually, that sample is what made us go with Source. I had been listening to Bentinho Massaro’s podcast “Making Love With The Absolute” over and over for weeks, and the section about the word “source” really stood out to me. What really inspires me musically is my own process of understanding the human experience. One of the biggest questions I had to answer for myself, and I think most humans feel the same way, is “Why are we here?” There is an old Hindu saying: “The creator is the creation.” I believe everything is created by our collective consciousness with intent and is designed to serve us in our exploration of ourselves as consciousness; pleasure and pain, light and dark, good and evil, tranquility and chaos. In this sense, we are consciousness, and therefore the world, too, is consciousness. All these things are essential parts of what makes life beautiful and what makes being a human such an awe-inspiring experience. I think the reason many of us wonder why we’re here is because we’ve experienced immense suffering. The word Source is my way of remembering that suffering is an essential part of what makes life beautiful. I do a lot of work on myself so that I can be as happy and relaxed as possible, but that work requires me to feel and process a lot of pain. That process is what inspires me most musically, and that is what all of my lyrics are about.
ALOC: The release of your album Return to Nothing is coming up in a few weeks. What changes have you made to refine your sound compared to the EP?
BG: The biggest change we made for the new record is bringing producer Scott Wilson on board. Wilson is the bass player for Tantric and an amazingly skilled producer. His touch is really what gives the new album its fullness and its majesty. Along with hiring Scott, I also rock two new PRS guitars and a Dave Smith Prophet 6 analog synthesizer. The new guitars bring a whole new level of depth in tone, and the Prophet 6 makes the whole thing way more psychedelic.
ALOC: Since Return to Nothing is being released through Pavement Music, how have they benefited your rise in the music industry?
BG: The guys at Pavement are professionals, and they’ve been doing this a long time. They are putting everything they’ve got behind this record. Around 200 people are working on the release over the next nine months. They’re the reason why bands like Candlebox and Flaw are high up in the charts and we’re just seeing the beginnings of what that team is doing for us. They hooked us up with Eric Richter who directed the video for “Memories Of Yesterday” and they got us out on tour with Another Lost Year and Artifas! Everything is just starting to ramp up, and I think you’ll really start to see what they’re doing for us once the release happens. But it’s been a ton already!
ALOC: You’ve recently completed a national tour as support for TRAPT. What was the most fulfilling experience of the tour?
BG: The first night of tour at The Complex in Salt Lake City was by far the most fulfilling. We got our own dressing room with coffee and tea. They had showers for us to use. I really felt like a rock star. We played for over 300 people that night. It was by far the biggest show of the tour. There was a point in the middle of “Memories Of Yesterday” where Dan goes back into the intro bass line. I put my hand in the air, and the whole place started cheering. That moment will probably always be one of my favorites.
Georges OctoBous: The most satisfying thing about the tour for me was performing my best every night. I succeeded in delivering every show in a professional manner while having the best time of my life. I have been hard on myself in the past, especially when I don’t perform well on tour I feel like it’s a big gig and I need to do well. I was very happy with the positive feedback Source got from almost everyone that saw us play.
Dan Crisafulli: Overall it was a really humbling experience. There was never really a dull moment. We were always doing something, whether it was driving, loading in, playing on stage, unloading, meeting and greeting with fans, partying or just hanging out chatting in our bus. It was an experience unlike any other. For me personally, the most fulfilling experience of the tour was getting to see so many parts of the country I had never seen, all while playing music that we created to share with everyone. I also have to mention that having such a positive response to something that I co-created and got to express through my on-stage presence was a really profound experience.
ALOC: Categorized within the genre of metal, and living in Boulder, CO where jambands, folk musicians and bluegrass dominate the industry, what advice would you give to struggling musicians trying to break through the adversity of a limited fan base?
BG: If you’re like us and live where there isn’t a huge scene for the style of music you play, there is only one thing you can do: Tour your asses off! It’s expensive, tiresome and stressful, but it’s totally worth it. My other piece of advice is to treat your music like a business. Your product is your music, but you need structure to monetize your craft. Nothing happens for free in this business; you need to invest in your business to make money. My biggest piece of advice is don’t be an entitled artist. Go out there and work hard. Play shows for free. But have a really good merchandise booth with t-shirts, stickers, CDs, posters, hats, keychains, the whole nine yards. Also, buy nice merch. We have sold tons of stuff to people who’ve never heard us, and it keeps us going financially. Keep making money on your own and eventually venues will start giving you guarantees. Don’t be an entitled artist. Go out there and work your ass off!
ALOC: Why is your craft of creating music important for culture and in society?
BG: I think music is one of the best ways we can feel and connect with other people. Really good musicians learn how to express the deepest parts of themselves, and in doing so the listener connects to the deepest part of their own self and the musician. I think music is so important because it allows us to feel the thing that connects ALL of us. It’s a way for us to understand ourselves and each other beyond words, beyond thought.
GO: Music has become a necessity instead of a luxury, and it’s been around since the beginning of time. You wake up in the morning to the sounds of an alarm, which is music, then you drive to work in your car and listen to music. And regardless of your occupation, if you’re a physical trainer, yoga instructor, or massage therapist, you need music or else it would be very difficult. So since music is not going anywhere anytime soon, might as well make the best stuff. I decided I want to be a part of that and help other musicians do the same.
DC: I think that music has been one of those ubiquitous things that has always permeated throughout our existence. That said, the importance of music as a whole has always been realized and never taken for granted. When it comes to Source’s music, the importance of the message, the creativity and the passion behind it will (I hope) always serve to be an inspiration for anyone, no matter your upbringing, geographic location or spiritual location. It is the greatest equalizer and teacher that we have aside from our own thoughts. It’s a glimpse into the shared creative drive that we all possess.