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Interviews

Brian Landrus: The Low End Theory

By Published: November 14, 2013
He explained, "When you're talking about personnel with that record, I feel there's a balance. Back then, I was very careful with that, as far as attitudes, egos, things like that. Garzone was definitely the equalizer; he's one of my favorite people in the world. With Bob Moses, I'll be perfectly honest: a lot of people are scared of him. He can be a bit of a loose cannon. So a lot of the planning was getting people that would even each other out. Moses is intense but he's a genius! I got Mike to be in the record and Mike is in Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
b.1942
drums
's band, who's Bob's favorite drummer. So they're really all in it together. Having someone else to keep everyone in check helps." Palmer was also key in creating a balance. "Jason's sound and his playing are so completely opposite of mine and it works so well. It was the first time I had gotten players together who were so established."


Cain would go on to be a frequent collaborator with Landrus. He spoke extremely highly of Cain's strength of character both musically and personally. For Landrus, Cain ended up being someone to go to for insight even beyond the keyboard. "Mike was a teacher of mine at NEC and he feels like a brother to me. Musically he was right there with me on everything and he constantly teaches me things. His ears are amazing. Being in the studio with Mike was shocking; he was hearing things and picking up on all these frequencies. He was one of those guys who I grew up listening to and first it's kind of shocking because then he's hiring me to play!

"There was a bunch of music that he produced with me and he came up with these amazing ideas. We'd be working on some stuff and I'd send him the charts and he'd send it back with one chord different and it'd be amazing. Unfortunately he lives in Canada, because he has a great teaching job out there and I have to have someone who lives in town who can do the hits with us."

Capsule (BlueLand Records, 2011) was a remarkably different sound than his previous and later jaunts, though it fit right into his wheelhouse as far as taste and influence. Texturally and artistically, the record leaves few stones unturned in the exploration of different groove-oriented music, jumping from reggae to R&B to drum n' bass. It was also a record that provided some challenges for Landrus as far as stating a purpose to his audience.

"It was hard to get into words exactly what I wanted the band to do. I've used sequencing programs before and I wrote a lot of that record using Reason. I made drum beats for everything and it was very much in the electronic world. I love groove; I've always loved that music and I always come back to it. I love the way it makes me feel and how audiences respond to it. I really wanted to go back to my roots with that record. It's hard when you make a record where people can't attach something to it as far as trying to market it, because there's some rock, but there's also some RnB, some reggae. There's even a drum n' bass type thing, so it's hard to categorize what it is, but I just embrace that now."

Capsule appears one place ahead of Landrus's Traverse, even though it was recorded earlier. Landrus was issued a few pleas not to release the record at all, via the advice of some of his confidants. "I had actually waited to release that record for about a year and half since I even had the copies in my hand, because I had sent it to some people in the business and a couple guys said, 'This is going to ruin your career. You have this trajectory going on and because this is more electronic, people aren't going to listen to your music again.' So I waited and recorded a straight-ahead record which was 'Traverse,' before releasing 'Capsule,' which was bullshit anyway, because that record did great!"

The record was also helped greatly by its musicians, whose experience allowed everything to operate both on the level that Landrus expected and in many new ways as well. A crucial component in creating all the different groove templates was drummer Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston

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. Landrus recalled, "I was playing with Mike [Cain]'s band and he was telling about this drummer I needed to hear. We had done this hit and right from the downbeat, I was like, 'What?!' And it was a lot of the stuff I loved, the real groove-oriented but had an odd-meter thing, too. He was just hard-hitting from the start. For a lot of jazz drummers I've encountered, their sounds are very thin to me, so if we're going for a James Brown vibe, it won't be there. Rudy, though, clearly grew up listening to a lot hip-hop and all sorts of music, so as premier as his swing is, his pocket in any genre I've heard him play is amazing."




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