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Progressive Rock Interviews

Ampledeed

Interviewed by G. W. Hill

Interview with Ampledeed from 2016

MSJ:
Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?
Max Taylor -  I started studying classical percussion in fourth grade that continued through high school. I then got introduced to jazz and rock, as a musician, in middle school playing drum set and vibraphone. After high school, I went to two separate collages studying jazz performance and film composition. Since then I have switched over to keyboard which has become my main instrument for both Ampledeed and the various cover bands I make a living with. 
Aaron Goldich – I started really enjoying playing keyboards right around the same time I quit taking piano lessons - irony.  The first real band that I was in was another prog rock group, The Source.  I was originally signed on to be just the keyboard player, but when we couldn't find anyone to sing lead, the guitar player Harrison Leonard tricked me into doing it. The Source released their first album in 2006, and then another one in 2009.  That group has slowed down quite a bit, but we plan to release some more music soon, hopefully this year.  Max and I had the idea to form Ampledeed while we were going to college together.  Luis was already a guitar player for another group that Max and I were in at the time, so he was by far the most convenient choice.  He's just so convenient.  There I go getting all emotional.
Luis Flores - I grew up in Venezuela in a family of salsa musicians, I tried my best to rebel and do anything else!  It was only after emigrating to the US that I embraced my musical self.  Now my whole life revolves around it; starting in classical guitar and moving onto jazz and progressive music.  I also engineer full time here in Los Angeles.
MSJ:
If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Max Taylor - Probably something regarding sports or martial arts. I studied Kung Fu for nine years, got my black belt and almost started competing before I had to quit (because of music). I also played basketball and volleyball all through middle and high school. However, it’s just as hard to make a career out of those professions as it is for music, so I’d probably try and get some job based in technology. 
Aaron Goldich -Most likely dancing naked in the forests of Northern California.  But all jokes aside, I'd be in an asylum.
Luis Flores - Probably carpentry and furniture making, I definitely have a passion for that.
MSJ:
How did the name of the group originate?
Max Taylor - We had just started writing music, and Aaron and I were driving together talking about what we wanted to do with the band. Before we started recording the first album, A Is For Ampledeed, it was originally going to be a concept album revolving around a person called “Steve” and his journey. So we were talking about Steve, and one of us mentions that “Steve is a man of ample deed.” In other words, he is someone who performs many deeds, whether good or bad. From that we jokingly thought, “what if we name the band ‘Ampledeed?’”…Yeah, it’s that stupid. 
Aaron Goldich - It happened just how Max said, although I don't think we were driving around in a car when we thought of it.  Although, I'm probably wrong; memories are weird.  And speaking of Steve's deeds, most of them are bad.
MSJ:
Who would you see as your musical influences?
Max Taylor - When writing for Ampledeed, I take a lot of my influences from: King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Kneebody, Mats/Morgan, They Might Be Giants, and Snarky Puppy. There are so many more, but these are the first that come to mind. A lot of that comes from my jazz and classical background, as well. 
Aaron Goldich - Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Between the Buried and Me, Gentle Giant... honestly just way too many to name.  The Beatles.
Luis Flores -Right now, prog metal band Between the Buried and Me, and Antonio Lauro (classical composer) but it's always changing!
MSJ:
What's ahead for you?
Max Taylor - We will continue to make albums, obviously. We are planning to dip into the youtube pool. We want to make videos as a band, not just music videos, as well as have a place where each of us can showcase our individual music. I would love to start playing live, but the nature of this band leaves us without a core bassist or drummer. The three of us are also constantly busy, so just practicing to play a show is hard. 
Aaron Goldich - Ampledeed has always been a studio group, so playing live would be quite a treasure.  But on the recording front, we have actually already begun laying down our next album.  We have decided the next release will either be an EP or a shorter length album.  We are hoping to cut down on the time between our releases; less lengthy albums hopefully means they can be produced quicker and more frequently.  I suppose the quickest way to release an album would be to have no music on it at all...just sell a blank CD in a Ziploc bag.  Smart.
MSJ:
I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Max Taylor - It’s so hard to define our music. We all come from very different backgrounds, so when we collaborate on music together, we bring varying musical genres to the table (rock, jazz, classical, metal, etcetera). The community has sometimes labeled us as “Canterbury rock,” which I had never heard of before we released our first album. I think “progressive rock” is the best description you can give our music. 
Aaron Goldich - Before Ampledeed, I never knew how many subgenres of prog rock there are.  We used to try to define ourselves as a blend between progressive and psychedelic rock, but I don't think that quite covers it.  Lately I've seen the term "eclectic prog" being thrown around, which sounds like a copout to me... so I'm going go with that.
Luis Flores - I think of it as good ole progressive rock, maybe eclectic. I didn't even know about Canterbury or RIO until our first record came out and people started labeling us under those categories...I had to look them up.
MSJ:
Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Max Taylor - I think we all love to collaborate with other musicians, and it shows on our albums. Aaron, Luis and I are the core writers and we have worked with the same drummer (Isaac Watts) on most of the tracks, but, we have had multiple bassists and singers record for us. I think anyone who comes along that can offer something we lack is more than welcome on our albums.
Aaron Goldich - Like Max said, we adore collaborating with people on our albums.  The more collaboration the better, in my opinion.  An amazing musician that we worked with a little on our first album, saxophonist Colin Kupka, is someone who I would really like to have come back to lay some smooth notes down.  He's a time traveler though, so I'm not getting my hopes up. 
Luis Flores - I know it's not prog but I would love to work in a control room with Josh Homme.
MSJ:
Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Max Taylor - I don’t believe it helps the careers of musicians except for maybe the small exposure they get. However, it’s just small piece of the pie graph regarding all the issues in the music industry, especially in America. It’s nearly impossible to make a decent living as a musician and that’s based on multiple factors. Near the bottom of which might be illegal downloading and streaming. 
Aaron Goldich - I suppose I would say both.  Given the choice between getting paid for our music and not getting paid, I would, of course, want to see some kind of compensation for the hard work we put into our art.  But exposure is good too, and if someone had his or her mind set on not buying the album, I would rather they get to listen to it for free than not listen at all.
Luis Flores-     Both actually, depending on where you are in your career.
MSJ:
In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Max Taylor - Unless that fan is someone making money off our content, I have no problem with it. It’s just free marketing for us and hopefully exposes our music to someone who may not have listened to it otherwise.
Aaron Goldich - When it comes to Ampledeed specifically, I agree with Max on this one.  But also, we don't play live yet.  So there's that.
Luis Flores - Sure, if we ever play one.
MSJ:
If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Max Taylor - The Left-handed Lobotomizer…cause my left hand sucks! 
Aaron Goldich -If I were a superhero, I would be Bono from U2.  Putting that aside, my arch enemies are my bandmates: Luis and Max.
Luis Flores -Any whiny girly male singer, they drive me crazy.
MSJ:
If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Max Taylor - Damn, that’s a hard question. Assuming alive or dead: Bill Bruford on drums, Squarpusher (Tom Jenkinson) on bass, Cory Henry on keys, Bill Frisell on guitar, Michael Brecker on sax, Freddie Mercury on vocals. I would love to see a show, with these musicians, where the music is comprised of songs based on the genres each musician is best known for. It would be interesting to hear how each style gets interpreted. 
Aaron Goldich - I have toyed around with the answer to the "dream band" question for many years now.  I pretty much have to fully agree with Bruford being the drummer.  Tony Levin on bass, Keith Emerson on keys, maybe Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. on vocals, and definitely Doctor G on guitar (that's David Gilmour, incase anyone is not aware).
Luis Flores - Anyone in BTBAM.
MSJ:
If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Max Taylor -Thank god I’ll never have that power because I have no idea! 
Aaron Goldich -So, so, so many bands.  Pink Floyd would headline.
Luis Flores - Us, Steven Wilson, BTBAM, Snarky Puppy, Duk, and the list goes on.
MSJ:
What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Max Taylor -The last CD I bought was the Kneebody/Daedelus collaboration Kneedelus. I have been listening to and watching Reggie Watts a lot lately. 
Aaron Goldich - The most recent album I purchased was the Frozen soundtrack.  Because it's amazing.
Luis Flores - Last CD I bought was Adele 25 (because I engineered a song on it).  Can't stop listening to MF DOOM's instrumental album Secret Spices or something like that.
MSJ:
Have you read any good books lately?
Max Taylor - The last book I read (re-read because it’s great) was The Phantom Tollbooth, but that was a long time ago. I’ve been more into comics lately and just finished reading a very engaging graphic novel called “20th Century Boys.” 

Aaron Goldich - No.  Sadly the last book I read was a few years ago... I think it was A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda. 

Luis Flores - Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda.

MSJ:
What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Max Taylor - Last year, King Crimson at the Orpheum theater. 
Aaron Goldich - Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.  I was with my good friend Amanda, and she got to punch Jello in the face.  Punk shows are great.
Luis Flores - The whole band just got to attend a Dweezil Zappa concert as his guest. It was a very special night.
MSJ:
Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Max Taylor - I don’t think there is any music I listen to that I would feel guilty admitting to. You can find something to enjoy in all genres of music. However, The Backstreet Boys is the answer to that question. 
Aaron Goldich - Yes.  Taylor Swift.
Luis Flores - Men at Work
MSJ:
What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Max Taylor - At Cal Arts, while heading to a rehearsal for a band I was in before Ampledeed, I walked in on the strangest concert I’ve seen to date. The audience was sitting on the floor rubbing it with aluminum foil. There was a guitar hanging from the ceiling that was plugged into an amp with volume all the way up, yet no one played it. There were various woodwind players sitting on chairs, blindfolded, playing random notes every once in a while. Finally, there was a man sitting in the center, under a spot light, in a toga, peeling and eating fruit. You can decide if that’s music. 

Aaron Goldich - An all-male band that I was in before Ampledeed once played a show in which all of us cross-dressed, except for the saxophone player who dressed as a lumberjack.  And yes, I looked real good.

Luis Flores - When tracking BYOB I lost all the organ, and we had to do it over, I felt bad when it happened, but in the end we ended up with way better tones

MSJ:
If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Max Taylor - Bill Nye, Paul F. Tompkins and Philip K. Dick (that’s right, no musicians.) 
Aaron Goldich - John Lennon, Joseph Stalin, and myself…awkward
Luis Flores - Hendrix, Fripp and Belew
MSJ:
What would be on the menu?
Max Taylor - Whatever they want! 

Aaron Goldich - Carrots and Peas. 

Luis Flores - Hot wings and beer.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Max Taylor - Thank you to everyone who has listened to our music, and I hope you enjoy (and continue to enjoy) it as much as we enjoyed making it. 

Aaron Goldich - I'd like to once again thank the Music Street Journal and also all the fans and listeners.  You guys are what make creating music mean something.

Napster, LLC
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