[Interview] Exclusive interview with Alex Schrock

Dear readers, in this article we have the pleasure to offer you an interview with an American Progressive Metal project and its creator. We welcome Alex Schrock.

Hi, how are you?

Alex: Hey Jacopo, I’m doing great. The summer weather is great in Ohio right now and I’m up to my eye balls in music; working on new Vision Swords music, teaching lessons and getting prepared to teach some summer classes.

With your project you propose Progressive Metal sounds, where does your passion for this genre come from?

Alex: I remember whimsically buying Reflux’s album “The Illusion of Democracy” back when it came out in 2004 and was blown away by the intricate riffs and interesting rhythms. The guitarist in this band was Tosin Abasi, who eventually became well known in Animals As Leaders and the bassist was Evan Brewer, who also played in Entheos and Animosity but at the time, this was just a random band that I had no idea about; I just bought it because I liked the album name and song titles.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

Alex: The inspiration really changes month to month. I can say that when I first start writing music for Vision Swords, there were a few instrumental metal bands that really blew me away and inspired me to go in a different direction with my writing. I remember very clearly driving home from a jazz gig that I played and listening to Nyu.’s EP “Flux” and thinking “this is it”. The guitar tones were bright and colorful and they had such a great sense of harmony: it resonated with me not only as something that I really liked but something that was within my capabilities to do. I was listening to other instrumental groups like Animals As Leaders and Polyphia but there was something about Nyu. where I said “I should be doing music like this”.

I also started listening to Cloudkicker’s “Subsume” around that time and since Ben is coincidentally a Columbus guy too (I had no idea when I started listening to Cloudkicker), I was able to link up with him and talk about music, which was really awesome.

The last push was becoming friends with Owen Swerts from Frequency Eater. He gave me a lot of encouragement to record my stuff and get my music out.

The fact that I was able to connect with some of the artists I was listening to gave me the push I needed. So if you hate all my music, you can blame them.

You recently released a new single ‘Ultra Instinct,’ do you have plans for a new studio album in the near future?

Alex: There is another studio album on the way but I can’t really say too much about its release at this time. I’m going to be releasing some singles and other things while I prepare for the bigger operation of releasing an album. So, no new album in 2023 but there will be plenty of things to look out for.

A year ago your album “Next Awakening” was released, how would you describe this work?

Alex: “Next Awakening” is the debut Vision Swords album and it contains all the riffs that initially made me really excited about the new direction my music was going in. As an album, it has a very cohesive sound and has a lot of very melodic, memorable lead parts. As far as recording and production go, there are definitely things I see that I could’ve done better but that’s par for the course; every band gets these details together more and more as they go along. I think it has its own sound and it’ll have its own place in the discography when all is said and done.

Many of your fans and our readers are wondering if yours is just a studio project or if there will be a chance to hear your music live?

Alex: This is a question I get asked a lot! Unfortunately, I don’t personally know any drummers in my area that would be available and able to get this music together. They might be somewhere in Ohio and I just haven’t met them yet, so it’s definitely still possible.

In an ever-changing music market, how do you see the future of the Progressive and Metal genre specifically?

Alex: I feel like artistically, different genres of metal will be infused with more technical sensibilities and wider sound palettes. For example, Periphery is a very popular metal band and their new album “Djent Is Not A Genre” is quite technical and draws from a lot of different sources. Some of the most popular bands and metal have strong prog sensibilities; Opeth, Animals As Leaders, Leperous just to name a few.

If you look at Progressive Metal as it’s own genre, it has total freedom to go where ever and get as weird and diverse as it wants. It still has so much territory that it hasn’t even touched yet. That’s exciting by itself but I’m just as excited to see how bands are incorporating more diverse elements into established genres.

What difficulties do you face in making a name for yourself by proposing a more refined sound like Prog?

Alex: Often times when people hear music, they need to frame it a certain way to process it. I feel like most people listen metal an instantly go “oh this is death metal” or “this sounds like modern metal core” and that makes it easier to digest the music. I feel like people often have trouble giving instrumental music a frame.

A few people have mentioned that Next Awakening sounds like video game music; it doesn’t at all though! I think maybe what they are getting at is the melodic sensibility. The video games that people have played a lot, they find that they can pick up on the melodies and sing them even though it is all instrumental. People can easily pick out and sing the melodies on tracks like “Twisting Alley” and “Innervate.”

What advice would you give to new artists approaching the music world by proposing more elaborate sounds like Prog?

Alex: I’m definitely to wrong person to be asking for advice! Something I’ve been thinking about is how the music industry has gotten really fragmented; most people think this is a good thing because they don’t see major labels and such as gatekeepers but the big negative is that it’s harder to build a network of people around you. That’s something that really hampers a lot of independent artists (myself included). I guess if I was going to give any advice it would be to try to build a network, know people who do good work when it comes to photography, video, press, promotion and even tour planning. The people who are involved in the music industry that aren’t trying to be on stage are massively important and the more of them you know, the better.

Do you have any other passions or artistic activities outside of music?

Alex: There are a lot of things that I’ve dabbled in but I find that everything ends up getting pushed aside by music. Between writing and recording Vision Swords music, teaching lessons and playing with my jazz trio, my days are pretty full. Maybe someday the dabbling will turn into something bigger.

I thank Alex for the interview and wish him all the best for the continuation of his artistic career.

Alex Schrock |Official Website|Facebook Page|Instagram|YouTube Channel|

Vision Swords |Bandcamp|Facebook Page|Instagram|YouTube Channel|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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