Song of The Day: The Justin Kemp Band - 'Borrow A Kiss'

Country artists The Justin Kemp Band return with a track for all those lonely men and women striving to find that special someone. 'Borrow A Kiss' is a traditional country track with an atypically touching subject in the form of love.

The legendary Larry Baird helped produce the track in Nashville, Tennesee. 'Borrow A Kiss' starts with a pleasant fiddle playing in the background, accompanied by the steady strums of the steel-string acoustic guitar. Kemp bursts into song in an affable and warm fashion, which makes this track even more relatable to the topic. The tempo builds in the bridge to a melodic and pleasing chorus that results in a satisfying climax.

New Mexico-born Kemp was brought up along the Texas border. Growing up in a musical family, he began to pick up the guitar at the age of eleven years old. He began songwriting in High School and pursued music at South Plains College in Levelland, Tx. Kemp has received much support in his career from his father David, who also plays bass in the band. Justin co-writes many of the original songs from the band, including recent releases  'Better Man', 'Heart’s Desire' and' Legends Never Die'. Justin and the band tour nationally and he also performs as a trio with David and their fiddle player Megan Poppe. They have opened for many major acts including Joe Nichols, Chase Rice, Dylan Scott, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker, Josh Abbott Band, Kevin Fowler, and Wade Bowen to name a few.

They recently played with Confederate Railroad, Neil McCoy, Wade Bowen and this month Aaron Watson and LoCash.

Words by Anselm Anderson










Multi-instrumental songwriter Hani Abadi has now released his latest single  "Distance." from his upcoming solo project album that is coming in Spring 2022. Abadi is an original member of the Jordanian metal group, formed in 2001.
He was born in the former Yugoslavia and raised in Jordan in the Middle East. His band have toured Europe and his home continent, as well as received wide coverage in Terrorizer and Decibel Magazines.

'Distance' is a melodic track that evokes images of the grim realities of our planet. Abadi croons over simply strummed chords and a rhythm section that sounds intimate and personal to the listener. The beautifully arranged flamenco influenced outro is evocative of the message behind the track.

The song was recorded in the North Bay of California – USA and mixed and mastered by Tom MacLean in his studio twelve-tone in the UK. Tom Commented on the song: "If Pete Steele had been the frontman of Opeth
on Still Life." 

Hani further  Commented on the single release:
"This project has been on my mind for
many years, and at last, it came to fruition. With "Distance," I've tried
to capture our current grim reality, and I hope listeners will relate to
the song in their own way as we all experience the same event in different
ways on a global scale. It was a pleasure working with Tom as he was able
to capture the soul of this project. "

The song is currently available on all digital outlets such as Bandcamp,
Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify.

Words transcribed by Anselm Anderson


This week The Rambling Man grabbed an opportunity to speak with Firewind Guitarist Gus G about his fourth solo album Quantum Leap, released last month via AFM Records. 

The release is a follow up to 2018's Fearless record and is the guitarist's first instrumental solo album. I spoke to the guitarist about the album, his history performing with acts like Arch Enemy and Ozzy Osbourne, and how the pandemic shaped this impromptu album. Scroll down to read the full interview below.

I am here today to talk about your latest album ' Quantum Leap', which came out last month. What can you tell me about it, and what has been the reception to it so far?

Yeah, um. Well, this is my fourth solo album overall, and my first all-instrumental album for the first time, so it was quite the task for me personally. It was like, um, overcoming a lot of insecurities that I had about doing this all-instrumental project I kinda' thought about for years. And, um, yeah, it was written during the first lockdown, mostly. The reception has been good, actually. I didn't expect anything really going into this project. I know it is like a much smaller corner if you like. You know, the overall business of whoever is listening to this kinda' thing. But, yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. The album had charted in the States, and, yeah, it was great!

That is great. With music these days being heavily focused on vocals. It is impressive to release an all-instrumental album. How significant is it currently to release an instrumental album?

Um, I think right now we are living in a time that there aren't really any taboos in the market, at least. Ten to fifteen years ago if I went to a record label and said that I want to do this they wouldn't even look at me, or sign me to this. They wouldn't even pay me in advance to record because they would be like "Nobody cares about that", Um, nowadays! it's a different thing because I feel there is a place for everybody. You can play whatever you want, whatever you put out. whatever music you want. And, um. There is an audience for that. It seems to be like that because of the demise of the physical product. Because, you know, with print, media, friends. All those things. Everybody is turning online, scouting for these things. You know, things like that.

 We are relying on things like algorithms. It's kinda crazy, right! To talk about these things. A lot of people discover music that way and there are fans of everything out there, man. so, ya, know, but like I said, I wasn't looking for this to be commercial to be accepted, and things like that. I am just happy that my fan base supported me and they, um, love this record. So, at the end of the day, it all comes down to that, who is your supporters, and will they support you, even if you experiment a little bit, which I did here. Yeah, but luckily everybody responded positively".

You started Firewind in 1998, and you have performed with many acts like Arch Enemy, Mystic Prophecy, Nightrage, Dream Evil and England's very own Ozzy Osbourne. How much of that experience do you feel has helped you throughout your career, and improved you as a musician?"

 It has helped me loads. It's done amazing things for my career, just, you know, collaborating with other bands, being a member of other bands. Learning so much from other people, you know, bands that it didn't matter if I was a founding member or a hired gun playing a smaller project or a bigger project. Obviously, bands that I have played with gave me other things to bring to the table. Um, but yeah! All these things shaped up who I am today. You know, all those collaborations, all those participations, projects and bands. So, they have been very important.

I say you have been lucky. You have had a very storied career...

Well, yeah! It takes luck. It is about being in the right place at the right time and everything. Meeting the right people in your path, but also, I believe its opportunity meets preparation. You have to be the right guy for the gig. so, ya know. Believe me, I have had other opportunities that I felt I was not the right guy. I just didn't do it. I could've been with other bands as well. Big bands! hahaha.

What is the difference in your mind to preparing material in a band in contrast to writing and preparing material for a solo album?

'Umm... Usually, the way I look at the solo project is like the project I will put ideas that will probably not be used in Firewind. Whatever has a little bit more difference, whether it is metal or rock, it doesn't matter. Whenever I have something that feels like, 'Yeah, that doesn't suit Firewind's style' and I can't hear the vocals over it I will leave it on the side for a solo project. You know, with that said, there have been quite a few times I have written things and thought this will end up for a solo record and ended up on Firewind. Um... and vice versa about songs and ideas I thought 'This is going to be a great Firewind track' and all of a sudden it is like 'oh, this is perfect for the solo project now, so it's kinda strange, I don't know how to explain it. 

I think it depends on the mindset when I go into a project each time because I collect a load of riffs and I have a vault of loads of riffs I pick and choose whenever I get started on a project and whenever I set to work on a new project and um..that gives me some type of direction and then I go from there so, nowadays, I write and try not to separate the two so I write a bunch of stuff and leave it on my computer and when the time comes I go back and listen and see what I like and feel is the right way to go. And then based on that, I have half-finished ideas and finish them.

I read that 'Quantum Leap' came about during the lockdown and you had some ideas lying around. Was this like an impromptu project?

Um..it was, you know. What happened with this album was I wasn't even considering making an instrumental record. It was, like, I was writing ideas and doing press for Firewind, just like I am doing with you now, and between phone calls actually, I was like, waiting for the next interview and, like, opened up my Pro-Tools. I put down a little riff here and there. I would do that every day and, then I thought, maybe I should do something with these ideas, and I had some ideas I wanted to record in my head, so I did that and thought 'Well, I better save up' because, you know, the pandemic, this thing is boiling. We might need to cancel things and sure enough, we had to cancel things and stuff.

 I started writing things here and there and then eventually went back to my old ideas and thought I better start working on these. I was keeping all these ideas and I thought ' well, I better start making a new album' and I was trying to find what type of album this could be. I didn't want to make another thing with vocals I just did an album with Firewind and there is not going to be a tour, so I just wanted to do something different. So, making an instrumental record was what made the difference to me. It made me excited to work on it, so it was a combination of all the other ideas. Things I kept writing at the moment and, yeah, just figuring it out.

The album is quite diverse with different elements of prog, blues, and metal. There are some aspects of it that sound like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. What were your influences, and what was the reason behind the album being is so diverse?

Well. I like making albums so diverse in general, even in Firewind. I don't like making albums that sound the same, ya know. I just blend rock stuff, 80's stuff and more palm metal stuff. And the same thing goes for my solo stuff. I thought now is the time to even branch out even more so, like I said, you hear bluesy stuff and there is even a synth-wave track, more proggy things and more adventurous arrangements so, I just went all in and thought why not there are no vocals and I don't have to worry about that anymore, I just had to worry about making really cool melodies and, speaking of influences, yeah, Joe Satriani and Vai you mentioned were big influences because I listened to those guys when I was growing up so, um, yeah, I guess it shows I listened to a load of them and was influenced so, yeah, even many other things too. 

The way I was trying to go with this was to make was an album that was 40-45 minutes long with plenty of soloing. So, it was just a case of making 45 minutes of actual music, of songs, you know, the guitar is taking the place of the voice.

So I am going to ask you about how the album came about. I read it was due to a chance meeting with drummer Vincent Velazco. What can you tell me about that?

Vincent reached out to me. He is always making something on social media and he was like,' I am working on some stuff.' I mean he just reached out. I didn't even know who he was. He just said send me some links and said,' dude, if you need a drummer for this project. I would love to play and love instrumental music' and I checked him out. Luckily, he had a studio at his home he could record his drums because at that time last year we couldn't fly anywhere, we couldn't go anywhere. We were all stuck. You know, if I didn't have a drummer like Vincent who had recorded himself, I probably would have had to do it myself and use the drum machine and programmed drums myself, you know, which I did originally, but luckily, he was able to track everything in his own studio and, yeah, that is how he joined the project.

 I read that you programmed the drums, and played keyboards on the album yourself?

Me? Yeah, I did everything myself. I basically played everything, ya know, on demos I play everything. I programme drums I play guitar, keys whatever it is, ya know. The only thing I don't do is sing. Um, I do everything, ya know, I give it to the other guys and the drummer does his part and then I went to Dennis Ward and I asked him to play bass and if he felt like it. Actually, he didn't even play bass on the whole album. I think he left a couple of tracks to my own basslines on there. He thought they were good enough on their own.

How did it come about that UFO guitarist Vinnie Moore appeared on the final track 'Majeure'?

That is an older song actually. That song is from 2018, which I released as a stand-alone single right after my album 'Fearless' came out. And I was going to go out on tour to America with Vinnie Moore and I put out this instrumental I thought, it was like some leftover idea, but for some reason, I didn't put on the 'Fearless' album for some stupid reason, so I had it there and I knew it was a great song and, I was like, I'm going to put this out like a separate single to promote the tour. so, I asked Vinnie to do a solo, and that is the story for that song, and it became my really most popular tracks, you know, my solo tracks and it is like the biggest track I have on Spotify, and it is doing really well and whenever I play it live people love it. So, it was not part of these sessions, but I thought it would be nice to include it on an album. So, we have it now and it exists on an actual tracklist because that is why I included it and I put it last there.

It was one of my fave singles on the album, too. You have released four singles and videos for 'Into the Unknown', 'Exosphere', 'Enigma of Life' and 'Fierce'. What can you tell me about those tracks, and how they play a part in the formulation of the album?

I mean the idea was to put out singles first because that is the new formula that labels are trying out. I mean it is almost like old-school when they put out, you know, 45-inch vinyl and stuff back in the '60s, and they then include singles on the album. I guess that is what is happening now in a digital era. They were like let us put out some singles every 1-2 months and let it do its thing. Keep the excitement and give people some new music every couple of months and go from there. That was the initial idea. I chose a few songs and did a few videos, and we went from there basically. We just tried things out really because it was like uncharted territory for me, and each song is a little bit different from one another. 

The response was great on all the singles. And then you announce the album and that is it.

One video I liked was 'Fierce', in which you are dressed as some type of death metal artist at home. What was the story there?

That was the peak of my quarantine boredom hahaha! I started trying on makeup, Ya know, corpse makeup. And I thought instead of doing another performance video why don't we do a home video. So, you know, I made my wife put on that corpse paint makeup, so I came up with a script about this kinda sad rocker who keeps his girl in his cellar, who is somehow a prisoner, and then they eventually fall in love and form a band with their cats haha. I don't know, it is one of those surreal things, I guess I stayed locked up for far too long. It's a fun video. People enjoyed it.

Do you have any favourite tracks on the album?

Umm... 'Enigma Of Life' is one. 'Chromestesia' is another. I like 'Judgement Day'. Yeah, I like them all, to be honest. I feel strongly about this album. Even though I did it one year ago, listening back now I think it is one of my most complete works, even though there are no vocals on it, but I don't usually look back on stuff. It is a little bit easier now making an instrumental album, rather than listening back on other things, Personally, it feels like the complete work for me because it is 100%, Gus.

There is no co-writes with anyone. This is a total thing that came out of me. I didn't rely on other collaborators, so I'm proud in a different way, ya know, like in a way that doesn't mean I am not proud of the other records, but the other records have been collaborations with so many singers. Everyone brought their thing, you know, it was like a totally different vibe, but this one, there is something to be said to make an instrumental album totally on your own.

I guess it is like writing an autobiography, it is cathartic.

Yeah, you are right. Every album is cathartic. Maybe doing it on my own, maybe even more.

And in conclusion, what is next for Gus G?

We are doing some things with Firewind. We have just announced a 20-year anniversary tour for next year, so we are touring Europe. So that is what is up next. I would like to reissue the first album because it is the twentieth-year anniversary next year of our debut album. I will see if I can do some solo gigs, as well. See if I can fit something in. 

It is a strange time right now, but, um, we'll see because it is under current discussion. Maybe if the right opportunity comes up, I will do some gigs in some specific countries, but I am not sure if I am going to go on an extensive tour. To be honest, I didn't make this album to tour, I did it to pass lockdown, but we'll see if there are some gigs for next year. It is under current discussion for next spring, or sometimes. We'll see. And then, maybe. we will go into making another Firewind album record, you know, right now we are getting offers for worldwide tours and festivals almost every day.

2022 is almost fully booked. And then again, we will have to be careful and see if we can travel everywhere. It is a weird custom in 2022/23 to see if we can do them There are a load of exciting things in the pipeline. And in the middle of all that we shall try to find time to write another album.

Thank you for taking time out to speak with the rambling man's review.

Thank you, you are welcome. Take it easy, my man!

Interview conducted by Anselm Anderson


'Into The Unkown'

'Enigma Of Life'



Album Review- Apollo Stands- Interstellar

UK Progressive Metal Act Apollo Stands have released their highly expected album Interstellar. Formed in Norwich, England five years ago, the band first gave insight into their unusual blend of modern drum and bass, progressive metalcore, and contemporary metal with debut LP 'Join Us', which ensured the band's place on regular slots supporting acts like Sertraline, and Fingers Crossed , as well as festival appearances at Rockstock, Trick Bag festival and Volume 19

As of 2019, The band consists of Alexei Swatman - guitars, vox, keys, lead vocalist Ry Hase, lead guitarist Olly Smith, bassist Matt Heyward and drummer Edgar Taljaard. This seven-track follow up to 2019's  EP 'Minds' combines classical elements with film scores to create something far-reaching to a rock product.

One such piece of evidence comes in the intro "Void", which sounds like an eerie theme tune to some Sci-Fi Netflix show segues nicely into "Insolarus", a track stuffed with a charging guitar sound, accompanied with soaring melodic vocals cancelled out by the erratic, and unnerving harsh vocals. It is a regular component throughout the album that sees Swatman and Hase trading differing voices over some awe-inspiring musical qualities. The band seem to have paved the way with their own identity, as a means to move away from bands that try similar ideas.

This continues with the latest single "Pick Up",  as Swatman is on double duties with some nice synths throughout the LP. The two vocalists exchange clean and harsh vocals over enchanting passages, as Smith contributes with thunderous breakdowns. Smith and bassist Heyward prove a skilful combination as they make each track sound like a force to be reckoned with.

There are some tracks that feel disconnected between parts, but this is overridden with the intense "Please Wait", a true metal song with elements of 2000's nu-metal bands, whilst "Hive" explores the vocal range and emotions of Ry Hase over mid-tempo instrumental phrasing. And finally, "The Arbiter" sees the band finish on a brutal finale. The groove and swagger of the riffage let Hase loose with hollowed howls and thunderous drumming by Taljaard. 

Overall, 'Interstellar' is an intriguing listen with some well-written musical passages and impressive vocals adept to a seemingly new love for metalcore. It will certainly leave you feeling out of this world.

Words by Anselm Anderson

 ‘Interstellar’ track listing: 

1. Void; 
2. Insolarus;
 3. Synthetic;
 4. Pick Up; 
5. Please Wait; 
6. Hive; 
7. The Arbiter.