Category Archives: Interview

Retro Jade: The Interview

Finding Retro Jade was a task to be honest, first hearing of them through the social grapevine. Then finding a music video and becoming even more interested. I couldn’t find more and I wanted to find more. Eventually I came across them in my Facebook feed and I knew I had to talk about them. Soon after, I began speaking to Nikko Pisciotti (Lead Vocals) and an interview was set up and ready. Here now is the final cut. Formatted to fit your screen.

SSNW: Where did the name “Retro Jade” come from?

Retro Jade (Nikko): “I came up with the name, I was reading some books, and there was a group in this one book. Had a name like ‘The Jade Sons’, ‘Order of The Jade’, and I really liked the color of it. So really, I was just messing with different patterns of words. Kinda like that game ‘Mash’ you know? But it fit, and I kinda knew it had fit when I saw it and it was nice, like it was something that I didn’t have to try and think about.

SSNW: Currently, “Bad Company” seems to be the only released song. Can we expect the rest of your music to have that same sound?

RJ (Bryan): “So, Bad Company, for the most part is, besides Nikko, a different band. A whole different group. Such as Gus is the Drummer, I’m the Guitarist, and Ramesses is the Bassist. So, with Nikko being the singer, the way he imparts his style onto the music, you’ll definitely get some of his elements. Plus our mood is still the same with the Rock and Roll, and the Bluesy-ish, gumbo mash up thing.

SSNW: What genre would you place yourselves into?

RJ (Bryan): “I think right now, if you check our site, I don’t remember who titled us “Soul groove”. And hey, I’m not denying it, I’m not playing it either. But we’re definitely in that camp. We fit in then with it,  and we fit in now.

SSNW: Is there any sort of album or EP in the near future, or anything we can expect as listeners?

RJ (Gus): “Yes, we’re going to be working on it during Summer.”

RJ (Bryan): “We have, more than enough material for it. And right now we’re just in the process of picking how many songs, what kind of release, if we want an EP or a full album.  Also with each of us having such a meticulous sound, we just need to find the right studio and engineer who knows how to dial us in the way we want. But we understand that for as long as we’ve been p[laying and the fan base we’ve accumulated, people do want something they can play on their systems. So it’s all definitely in the process on that.

SSNW: I (personally) heard a rumor that you all record on campus at Evergreen State College, is that true?

RJ(Gus): (A chuckle.) “Well. we definitely wanted to. We tried. But it did not work out. The guys that would be recording us, they had some technical difficulties. We ended getting completely set up, but never got any sound into the board. It was a complete bummer. We spent, like three or four hours in the studio that day too.

SSNW: Do you each individually individually, have past musical experiences?

RJ(Ramesses): “Yeah, so I’ve been playing for, I don’t even know. Ten? Eleven years at this point? But I’ve been playing Bass with Bryan since at least High School. Club 27. We recorded an EP back in the day, and played some shows in town. When I moved to Washington, I played with Lab Potions for, five years. Than we disbanded, because everybody moved. But I guess I’ve been playing in bands for a good chunk of my life. I love it, I love playing for people, and recording music.”

RJ (Nikko): “I guess I’ll go next, I played guitar for the first time when I was 15, my Grandma got me the old Takamine from Costco. So I got into it, and I guess my parents realized I wasn’t doing it because other people where doing it, because I wanted to do it. And I just kept playing. Eventually got a Fender Squire and started playing electric guitar. My dad got me some recording equipment, and I started messing with recording, and because I didn’t want to ask anyone else to sing, and I kinda just started singing. Actually, my choir teacher cohorst me into taking Choir. And it was a great way to slowly get out of my box. I joined a band when I was like, nineteen, so maybe, 2013. But they were called Blue Laces, and we played a little too much cover music for my taste. But it was fun, but I really got my chops there.  

RJ(Bryan): “So Ramesses and I actually grew up together in Virginia, and we’ve known each other since the fourth grade. And we started Club 27 in the early stages of High School. Maybe ninth or tenth grade. I picked up the guitar at thirteen, and at first I thought I was going to be a drummer, and I’d play Rock Band with my friends and while I was cycling through songs, on expert drums mode. But that’s when I started to like the rifts and I love rhythm too. Which I think is the universal to all instruments. Is you have to have rhythm to do it. But I decided for Christmas, right before my thirteenth birthday, I’d ask for a guitar, just because I wanted to do that. So ever since then, I had a Fender Starcaster, and I ran that thing into the dirt. But my parents saw me play this thing until it fell apart, and I’d like to thank my family for being so supportive of my musical interests since I’ve shown any. I play a Gibson right now that was a graduation gift from them and I love that thing.”

RJ(Gus): “So, I kind of share the same history with the Rock Band, the first instrument I picked up was the guitar, my dad had one lying around. I remember listening to Tom Morello do the DJ scratch on the guitar. And I realized I didn’t need chords to make noise. I was taking guitar lessons when I was eleven or twelve, and since my mom is a designer, we would got o her clients houses and one had this electronic drum kit. And I would always ask if she was going over there so I could go bang on the drum set. Since none of their kids ever used it, they actually gifted it to me one year. I think when I was older, they knew I was never going to put it down, they got me an actual drum set. My first band after that was this psychedelic metal band. It was all in like, C sharp. I came to Evergreen, I met another guy and we played in a death metal band with him for a bit. And as the teen angst settled down, and my musical avenues changed, at this point I met Bryan, we talked about playing together, finally got around to it, and here we are.

SSNW: Are you currently signed to a record label or is this an independent endeavor?

RJ (Nikko): “I think I can answer that one, I looked at it as even though this guy is kind of outside or genre, (Retro Jade is currently signed to BLM records) Macklemore was I think an independent, when he released The Heist, but he got, deals with labels for distribution and to help distribute his album. So he wasn’t owned by whoever he signed a label to. I think it shows a shift in the market and the industry in general. I’m no expert in the field, but I’d say a mix of us recording and owning our own music, but having corporate help.”

SSNW: How did you guys meet?

RJ (Bryan): “Sure, I think I can speak for the three of us.” (Motioning to Gus, himself and Ramesses.) “So when I decided I wanted to go back to school, and I had been looking for drummers and singers and I’d sit in at Open Mics and Karaoke and talk to people who I thought fit what sound I was looking for. Then, I had been to a couple house shows and it was than when I saw Gus playing in a band. I noticed him, didn’t really talk to him, because I didn’t want to steal this bands drummer, for a project that hasn’t even started yet. So we ended up meeting through mutual friends, and we met at this bar we used to frequent. And in passing, take a couple of shots and bullshit with each other than go our separate ways. Than at the end of every conversation we’d say ‘We have to jam together sometime!’ and that of course, repeated itself until one day we did end up jamming. It was a quick mesh, Gus wasn’t so in the metal scene, so he could see where I was going. We had a band, called Djinn and we had this keyboardist that we know down here. So we got him on it, and eventually got called Sugar Mama before things started to fall through with scheduling. So when Ramsses become more available, and he wasn’t playing in his other band, we’d all jam together. Gus and I went to Open Mic at Buzz’s and eventually that’s when we crossed paths with Nikko, and from the initial meeting, it eventually found its way into all of us meshing together.

SSNW: As someone who has not seen a Retro Jade show, what can we expect from a live performance?

RJ (Bryan): “A good friend of mine, who is almost religiously at all our shows, told me recently and he said something sets us apart, is that we don’t fit in the same group for too long. We’re very cut and dry. Be prepared for a surprise. And even in one song, theres a lot of dynamic, where at one point everyone’s borderline moshing and and the next thing you know, it’s sit down and really listen, and feel into that. We try to give something for everyone to enjoy, we don’t have a demographic. We want to spread to every ear that will listen.”

RJ (Nikko): “Definitely rhythm based, if you’re looking for that explanation, interactive with the audience.”

SSNW: Do you have any upcoming shows to advertise, or are you going to hint without saying explicitly?

RJ (Gus): “Well, coming up we have that McCoy’s show, that’s local Oly. (Olympia)

RJ (Bryan): “We’re plugging Hempfest. We got the Hempfest gig this year in Seattle. We’re really going to bring the noise for that.

RJ (Nikko): “August Sixteenth, Three PM. Main Stage. We’re also doing the Yelm UFO Festival at the Thurston County Fair Yards. Technically we’re headlining the whole festival too.”

RJ (Bryan): “And then we have RiveStock. It’s down over by Rife Lake.

SSNW: What’s your guys’s favorite venues to play at?

RJ (Bryan): “I think we like the Rhythm and Rye, because it has such a big stage, it has accommodating space. Which is real important to me, and to us, which is the ability to stretch your legs. That’s the most frequent one that we play that can accommodate that need.”

RJ (Gus): “I think as though for us to be at our best, we also need decent sound equipment. So when the stage and the space can accommodate our needs to make the music sound the way its supposed to be, it’s the little larger stage and the good equipment.

SSNW: Do you each prefer playing live or playing in the studio?

RJ: (Full resounding answer in favor of live)

SSNW: For upcoming artists who want to find the same success?

RJ (Bryan): “I think you just have to love what you do. Because I know a couple musicians who are ready to pump out what’s hot, Just so they have something to give to people. And not having any true emotional investment in it. Regardless of the concerts, the fans, the shows, I can say we’d all be happy just playing together. You gotta want the music to make it.”

RJ (Gus): “Enjoy practice. We always have fun at practice, no matter what attitude I have going into practice, I come out always in a good mood. Practice should not feel like a chore.”

SSNW: Do you have any entertaining stories as a band that you’re willing to share?

RJ (Gus): “My gears split from the rear axle. I got my car all loaded up, I made one turn on the way and there was this big, tearing sound. Every time I accelerated, there was this bad, awful noise. I didn’t go on the highway, I went slow, through town, and for some reason every time I turned it was worse. So when I got to the gig, I made a U-turn and the axle separated, I could only roll.”

RJ (Bryan): “Gus came careening into the area and he said ‘Hey, I can’t really move my car right now.’ At first I thought he was just joking, like not as dire as he said. Upon further inspection, that car had quit right as he got there. I was cool that it made it. He had it loaded, drum gear, equipment, everything.

SSNW: Do you each have something you’d wish to plug at this time?

RJ (Nikko): “Well, after our issue with the studio, if there’s any sort of Audio Engineers if they want to help us out. We have a team already, but definitely any producers or people that want to help out, feel free to email us. (EMAIL) It’s a call for help, we can’t do this on our own. The whole ‘build it and they will come’ mantra has been our thing.

SSNW: What’s your process for writing the new music, such as do you each have your own individual parts?

RJ (Bryan): “Really, it just takes getting us all in the same room.  Next thing you know we have a couple songs just from one little jam session during a smoke break. It’s a lot of our process, we’ll bring our own ideas and we’ll bring it to the rest. Really, we can hang out and something will be created of it, every time.

SSNW: What is your individual music preferences?

RJ (Bryan): I have always been a proprietor of good sound, so I’ve spent money putting a nice sub-woofer and system into my car, as well as speakers and that, for the best audio output. I do spend a little more than I need to, or I did. But there’s like, Trap Music I’ll listen to, but also I’m really into blues. Albert King, all the way through modern stuff. So, that brings the fusion of jazz into my music. My girlfriend loves Tool, so I hear that, and I appreciate all music.”

RJ (Gus): “I, ironically don’t listen to music, or most things. Sometimes, I listen to the things that I’m making. My CD and radio player is broken, but I do listen to alot of drum education videos. Also Low-fi hip hop, old school hip hop. I’ve been making myself listen to more pop and rap even though I don’t like it, just to hear what they’re using, how they sound. Like, studying the structure of it, and how they sound.”

RJ (Nikko): “I’m a lot like Gus, in that way that I won’t listen to a ton of music, but sometimes I’ll listen to the same music over and over. Lately, I’ve been listening to Afro Beat, The Family Stone, Temples, James Brown, Van Halen, I like rhythm and texture in my music.

RJ (Ramesses): “I feel like it changes for me, based on my mood. If I’m going to a show, to pump myself up I’ll “listen to some Migos, something to get me into the hype mood. Or if I’m just cruising, I’ll listen to Queens Of The Stone Age. Mostly it depends on my mood.”

SSNW: Can we expect Retro Jade to be in full band mode in the coming moons?

RJ (Nikko): “Yeah, we want to record, and we want to do, we’re here to play.”

SSNW: Is there any sort of closing remarks you’d like to add?

RJ (Bryan): “Well, thank you for giving us an interview, if anyone seems interested, check us out and you won’t be disappointed.”

RJ (Gus): “Come to the shows, we’re nice guys, we’d love to meet you.”

Check out the events for Retro Jade below:

TESTING TRINITY: An Interview with Mike Lewin

I won’t lie, doing this interview was mildly terrifying and downright scary. As someone who has never given an interview or anything along the lines, a request was sent out, “I’m trying something new. I’m working with a little blog called Scene Stories NW, it focuses on musicians in the Seattle and nearby areas. I’m technically doing my first “interview” and I was wondering if you’d be interested?” And with that, I had thrown myself down the rabbit hole. Not ten minutes later, a response slip into my inbox. “I would be honored!” was all it said. Okay, step one complete, let’s move on. Eventually apologizing for my lack of experience within the field of interviewing, Mike Lewin of “Testing Trinity”, (which sound’s very ominous to say the least) was understanding and welcomed the idea of opening up. Some might have heard this Seattle based group before, or even the man himself, at locations such as Louie G’s and Studio Seven (Club Sur).

“Heavy, dynamic music with great melodies that you can head bang to!” Okay, straight to the point, solid. One might ask what this group has to offer, which currently is limited to a 9 song, self titled EP, that was released October of 2017. The first display of what this group could achieve was stunning, from the calming and serious vocal lines, to the deep, grooving drum tone, songs such as Priviation, Privileged Lies, and a personal favorite of not only my own, Empty Houses.

Typing with mild uncertainty and fear, the first of my questions were sent to the void for answering, and did they get answered.  

SSNW: What would you say started you down the path to becoming the musician you are today?

Mike Lewin [ML]: My first love of music began during the 90’s grunge era, when I latched onto the melodies and raw energy of groups such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Rancid. When I was 13 my best friend and I thought that “Hey, we could totally do that too!” so he bought a bass, I bought a guitar and we started our first band. It was around this time that I first heard Megadeth and was blown away – I had no idea that music could be that heavy, technical, and melodic all at the same time! I spent a summer in my room learning how to play most of Megadeth and Metallica’s discographies, and was never the same

SSNW: What do you feel is the best song you’ve released with your current project?

ML: There is a song that we released on our first album called “Empty Houses” that I think is the best representation of Testing Trinity: heavy, groovy, melodic, and dynamic. It was the first song that let everyone’s individual strengths shine while still being a cohesive band effort. To this day, I think it is one of Mel’s (vocalist) most catchy melodic efforts and Oof’s (bassist) most flavorful achievement. Seriously, listen to the bassline during the chorus!

SSNW: Speaking of current projects, you’re working with Testing Trinity. Where did the naming stem from?

ML: The name comes from the Trinity Test which was the first nuclear bomb detonation that was conducted by the United States Army in 1945 before the end of WW2.

SSNW: Can we possibly expect a full length album from Testing Trinity in 2019?

ML: While there are no immediate plans for a full length album, we are currently working on a 3-4 song EP. The bass and drums are already done, so we’re working hard on getting the guitars and vocals finalized for a summer 2019 release.

SSNW: If you could play any genre (and be entirely successful at) what would you play?

ML: I would be bored with any genre other than heavy metal, specifically, the stuff that I do with TT. I am extremely fortunate to play the music that I love with a group of people that I love and admire. To be able to be successful would just be the icing on the cake.

SSNW: Do you have any pre/post show traditions that you follow?

ML: Pre-show tradition: beer. Post-show tradition: beer. Haha

SSNW: Again, with shows, is there any upcoming ones that you’re particularly excited for?

There is a show coming up in June, that I’m not at liberty to discuss just yet, that we are extremely excited for. The venue, lineup, and details of the show are all important to the scene and we are honored to be a part of it. As soon as the specifics are ironed out, we will be heavily promoting it.

SSNW: What group of band would you want to play a show with the most?

ML: I would love to play a show with some of the bands that I have been heavily influenced by: Faith no More, Megadeth, or Opeth. There are also some great local bands that we haven’t played with yet that are on my wish list to share the stage with – After the Fallout are a highly talented group that does headbanging heavy metal in the vein of Unearth and Trivium. Great riffs, solos, and an awesome group of people. Slam Shifter is another group that I would love to play with. They are possibly the best local band in their vein of heavy music – extremely dynamic, tight and groovy – they are a hidden gem in the local scene, check them out! Lastly, Arisen from Nothing is a amazing group with a similar style to Testing Trinity, but heavier, that I would love to share the stage with.

SSNW: What would you say to up and coming musicians in the Seattle scene?

ML: Every group works differently and has varying interpersonal dynamics, but what has worked best for me and Testing Trinity is to make sure that we are passionate about what we do. Each members’ voice and opinion is important so we are all willing to compromise to ensure that the end result is something that we all enjoy.

SSNW: Following the line of the Seattle scene, how long have you been a part of it, and what was your favorite memory?

ML: I first joined the scene around 2002 with a prog band called Lyranthe, then moved onto a thrash band called Solace in Black before joining Testing Trinity. There are so many great memories with Solace in Black that I couldn’t narrow them down to one specific moment, but some of the best that come to mind are “Dick Darts”, “Bubba Chang’s white trash/Asian fusion eatery”, and “Cocaine Island”. The people that know us already know the details of the hilarity that ensued, and those that don’t are missing out on some of the greatest drunken times that fives guys can get have together.

SSNW: Is there anything you’d like to showcase or say to those that are fans-to-be?

ML: We love making and meeting new fans and hope that you might give us a listen and share the love. Testing Trinity is primarily a heavy metal band, but our unique mixture of influences keeps the music interesting and diverse: Mel’s vocals are very catchy and melodic due to the grunge era and 70’s-80’s pop influence, Dan and my guitars are thrash and prog based, Oof’s basslines are smooth and cohesive in the vein of funk and reggae, and Shannon’s drums are heavily punk influenced. We are active on all social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and if you would like to hear what we have to offer, our album is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and Google Music. You can also stream our music for free on our website along with bios, photos, and details on upcoming shows.

-Theron Puckett