Paranoise: A new genre is born ?

DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean


PARANOISE is surely very different from most of the other progbands you know. But let’s try to describe the band with their own words....

Sorry, but I don't know a lot of things about your band, so at first some "standard questions"!
Please tell me something about the history of the band, something about the members!

This is our standard bio info:

JIM MATUS-Guitar/vocals

Jim Matus studied guitar and composition at Berklee College of Music and privately with John Scofield. In the early 80‘s, Matus brought his radical stylings to New York where he played with many cutting edge downtown ensembles. He has performed and recorded with such diverse musicians as Don Cherry, Anthony Jackson, Dave Weckl, Percy Jones, Steve Marcus, Lenny Picket, Roy Nathanson, David Torn, Elliot Sharp, Philip Johnston, Gary Windo, Billy Bang, Melvin Gibbs, Al Anderson, and Bern Nix. Early Musical influences such as King Crimson, Spirit and Weather Report later evolved into an obsession with the indigenous music of Africa, the Middle East and India.The Sufi music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and the Moroccan Master Musicians of Jajouka have recently inspired the latest incarnation of Paranoise, along with the philosophies of Noam Chomsky and Terrence McKenna. THORNE PALMER-Lead vocals/lyrics Thorne Palmer studied voice and composition at the University of Connecticut and the Hartt School of Music. After he forgot everything they taught him he started playing punk and reggae around Connecticut Massachusetts and New York.

ROHAN GREGORY- Electrified Violin

Rohan Gregory played with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page on their last tour. He Has recorded with the Cajun-Klezmer funk band Hypnotic Clambake. He tours regularly with the Klezmatics, including a Great Woods appearance with Itzahk Perlman. He has performed with Joni Mitchell and his own group, the Arden String Quartet.


Bob Laramie has almost 3 decades of experience. He has studied with Michael Manring and played for 8 years with Matt "Guitar" Murphy. He toured Europe twice with trumpet player Laco Dezi. He has played with Moralli Coryelle and Hip Hop/Jazz musician, Saskia Laroo. Bob Builds his own basses, which are as esoteric as his playing, and has repeatedly won the Hartford Advocate reader‘s poll as "Best Bassist".

GEOFFREY BROWN-Drums/Percussion Geoffrey Brown first gained recognition with The Monster Band, winner of the Hartford¹s best Funk Band. In 1997 he created Ninja Rhythms, a solo act consisting of percussion and vocal loops created live. He performs as a harmonic singer and percussionist with the critically acclaimed group Lehland Burr led by overtone singer Jim Cole. He also regularly appears with the funk/rock band Superlove, featuring guitarist Jen Leigh. He was a member of the world renowned Bayonne Bridgemen drumline and has performed in the Far East

How does it came to the band name and what about the symbol pi?

Paranoise just seemed to me like a cool word, bringing to mind thoughts of "paranormal" or "parallel" musical dimensions. The symbol on our album covers is an actual object. I found it in the woods while I was roaming around high on mushrooms. At the time it seemed to me like some kind of an ancient symbol that was placed there by aliens for me to find. It¹s really just a 3 inch piece of a metal grating broken off in this curious way so as to resemble the pi sign, (sort of) or maybe even a double cross. As you might imagine, it has a deep and mysterious meaning for me personally, so I made it the Paranoise logo.

Are there earlier releases?

There were 3 earlier releases. 1999: "Private Power" on Ancient Records, 1992: "Start a New Race" on Ozone Records and 1988: "Constant Fear" on Island Records

How was the idea born to create such an non typical sound?

I‘ve been fascinated with world music since the 60‘s when I first heard Ravi Shankar (thanks to George Harrison). When I discovered John Coltrane, and realized that he was using African rhythms and modes, it seemed like a natural idea to blend east and west. Not to mention Mahavishnu. I guess the reason I waited so long to incorporate it into my own thing was that I needed to develope a vision that was original and not derivative. I experimented with African percussion on the first two albums, but most of the tunes were not suited for anything but balls to the wall guitar, bass and drums. All the time I was writing punk/jazz and atonal prog, I was listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Hamza El Din, The Bulgarian Women‘s Chorus, Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, Jajouka etc. The tuning point was Peter Gabriel‘s soundtrack for "The Last Temptation Of Christ". This gave me a tidal wave of ideas and marked the beginning of a new phase for me. The first experiment was working with some loops from the Master Musicians of Jajouka. That became the first cut on PRIVATE POWER, and permanently changed the sound of the band to what I would call, progressive world music.

What about the influence of other artists to you?
I don‘t really listen to very much current progressive rock except for King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, and King¹s X. Adrien Belew, Alan Holdsworth and John Scofield are my current favorite guitar players. Right now I‘m very isolated and only listen to indigenous music from the Middle East and Northern Africa and I¹m trying to absorb it into my background of Fusion and Prog. There are only two kinds of music: good and bad, I try to avoid bad.

How do you see the relation between art and political message?

I‘ve been interested in politics my whole life, but It¹s only been recently with my last two albums that I‘ve figured out how to incorporate my leftist philosophy into the music in an original way. I see a huge whole in the music scene now that needs to be filled by musicians who care about the future of the planet. The gap between rich and poor, environmental degradation and U.S. imperialism that is being sold to the world as "Globalization" are issues that can be filtered into mainstream culture through Art, if artists with opinions take the time and effort to stretch the limits imposed on us by the corporate run music business. There is a long history of political Art, unfortunately the quest for money and fame has won the battle against social consciousness, but this, I believe has to change.

What does the title of the record mean?

Ishq is a sufi word that means "transcendence". The title track combines a old Celtic chant, the "Charm of Making" with this word in an effort to demonstrate the universality of peoples desire to "cross over" into other mental and spiritual states and experience "the other". One one the goals of this band is to reintroduce ancient and archaic ideas and frame them in an original way, hopefully drawing listeners into regions of the world who‘s sounds they were not familiar with before.

What about your experiences in playing live?

We sound pretty much the same live as on record since we sync up to the loops and hopefully take it even farther whit improvisations and extended solos. We have opened for TransAtlantic and played at the Knitting Factory in New York as well as a few small Prog fests. We have yet to really hook into a tour or booking agent that knows what to do with our hybrid sound. In America the live club scene in horrendous - a joke if you are trying to do anything original or uncatagorisable.

How did you come in touch with your current label?

Ancient Records is my own small label. We are currently looking for a licensing deal in Europe and better distribution. I believe we have made great inroads as far as critical success, but the business end of Paranoise is lagging behind.

How would you like to develop in the future? Do you think about changing your style?

In the near future I see us staying with the current sound and fine tuning it rather that trying a new direction. Of course we will cover more new styles of world music and augment it with our sound but not in any radically new way. I still am filled with ideas about how to do "progressive world" music and develop it as a new genre. I see infinite possibilities within the sound we‘ve pioneered.

Is there a most important event in the history of the band?

The engineer who mixed our album, Paul Wickliffe, is a member of NARAS, and has placed us on the ballot for a Grammy in the World Music category this year. This along with "Private Power" being chosen #1 album of 1999 by New York‘s Tone Clusters magazine are proud accomplishments for us.

What about your success in different countries?

As of yet we‘ve only played in America. We seem to be getting known all over the world and most people are liking it, so it should just be a matter of time before we translate this critical success into tours and record sales. We just hooked up a distribution deal in Japan and we are being reviewed and played on radio stations all over the world thanks to the internet. So far, the progressive rock community has given us the most attention, but I think soon we will cross over more into the world music scene and the psychedelic scene too. We‘ve gotten a lot of attention in Spain through Margen Magazine and Mexico through I think that America is very closed minded about new music and Europe (especially Germany) are much more into "noncommercial" music.

What kind of compromises would you make to push your career?


Can you tell me something of the process of creating the new record? Were there any problems or went everything well?

I live in my own studio. I make my living recording and producing other bands and artists. We work at our own pace in our free time and are able to experiment without the pressure of a clock ticking. This is the only way I can work and although we have a very small budget, we were able to produce a pretty good sounding record.

How would you describe your relation to new media as internet, virtual reality, mp3...

The internet is a great tool for reaching people all around the world instantly. With the kind of music we play and the political message we‘re pushing, I can‘t imagine doing without it right now. The only problem is that there is such a huge amount of information out there that it is difficult to sort it all out. Word of mouth is still the best communication device and email is the new word of mouth.

So you could make a choice, with which band would you like to play live on stage, for example as support?

Playing with King Crimson or Peter Gabriel would probably put us in front of the most intelligent and receptive audience we could hope for.

© 04/2002 Renald Mienert
DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean