01. A Thousand Years
02. Wait
03. Alabaster
04. Should Have Known
05. Bardo 1
06. The Road To Sto-vo-kor
07. Bardo 2
08. Report From Ganymede
09. Paramatman
10. Bardo 3
11. Perihelion
12. Bardo 4 


2014 Indie/Groovestand

Check out songs at the above links.



"All About The Album" - If you'd like to feature your band/album, email: urban

FROSKULL : "Froskull"

FROSKULL -  lovely "space-age indie Prog" from Nashville/USA with retro elements resembling Yes, Rush, and King Crimson, but with dramatic changes, fusion moments, and electronic undercurrents. Indeed. The brainchild of Stephen Rockford Hammond and simply just the exciting project as their self-titled debut album goes through several different stages of progressive and experimental rock. Find out more about the album and its melodies, here's the man of the moment:  Stephen Rockford Hammond

How has the reaction to your latest CD been?

The album has been happily received. I began promoting the album several weeks before its release and almost immediately read positive feedback from a number of music journalists and blogs. Today, it has been about four months since the release, and the cumulative feedback has become more than I ever expected. The CD has been especially well received outside the US, particularly across Europe. Special attention has repeatedly been given to the guitar and vocal performances on the album. Since I'm responsible for all the vocal performances and 98% of the guitars, reading these kindnesses has refreshed and reinforced me as a musician. The positive feedback encourages me as an artist, and the acclaim helps me look forward to writing and recording more music.

What can you tell us about your personal background and music(al) history?

I have composed music since I was a child and began writing electronic music long before I ever learned to play an instrument. Back then I was really into Michael Jackson and was always listening to his albums. When my teenage hormones started making demands, I became very attracted to rock music. I listened to a lot of Alice In Chains, Pantera, Stone Temple Pilots, Led Zeppelin, and Tool. This is when I decided to learn guitar. I'm primarily a self-educated guitarist, but the few lessons I had in those early years helped define what I am today.

My teachers' lessons weren't ever geared towards the rock music I liked, but I nevertheless enjoyed the education. I was learning and using diatonic modes long before anybody clued me in on what a blues scale was. I learned guitar behind a shelter of acoustic jazz and played Django Reinhardt at recitals. In high-school I joined an award-winning show choir. While I gathered confidence as a guitarist, I began multitracking to combine my electronic compositions with the newer guitar and vocal flavors. Ever since high-school I've been leading and writing in rock bands, trying to become the best artist I can become.

How long did this CD take to make from start to finish?

The CD was a long and patient DIY process that I engaged about a year after my 2008 release called/FLUX PUNCH/. The fact that I produce music in my own studio allows me all the time I need to be meticulous about sounds and performances. This way the music I imagine gets recreated exactly in the studio. Whereas most records begin with writing several pieces before moving to record them all at once, my pattern has been to compose one piece and then immediately record it while I still have the idea of how I want to produce it. I compose one piece, record it, and then begin composing the next piece. This strategy also has the quality of making each song on the record uniquely distinguishable from the others. I work on fresh sounds and use different combinations of instruments and recording equipment each time I record a song.

The first song I recorded for /Froskull /was “Alabaster,” which I began recording in Summer 2009. The last track I did for the record was “Bardo 3” in Winter 2013.

What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to recording

It might be obvious to anybody listening to the CD that the very first track has a certain homage to classic music like The Beach Boys and Yes. Although the subsequent tracks often break that mold and other molds, I wanted the CD to reflect on the sound of classic recordings. I felt it was important to preserve the fragile dynamics of the arrangements while maintaining a round analog fatness. I admire Brendan O'Brien's production and mixing style. My admiration was probably more obvious on the 2008 release, but evident fragments of that sound carried over to /Froskull/. Sometimes the album can resemble O'Brien's work on /Superunknown/, but in general /Froskull /is rounder and fatter with more layering.

Perhaps the only confusion I have read about the CD is the production. The primary trend nowadays is to make a record sound very bright and loud with snappy, compressed transients, hot and punchy gated drums, and long, glassy reverbs that snugly fill the dynamic range of the recording. This is also true for modern progressive music, chiefly prog metal, and productions that come out of small-time independent studios. It's a perfectly strategic sound in a world where your song is in a shuffle playlist with other mp3s competing for earspace. I wanted /Froskull /to be an album-oriented experience, so I preserved a subtlety in the dynamics that asks you to just turn up your speakers a bit.

What kind of input did the producer have during the process?

As composer, performer, and producer, this record was my baby. I am responsible for all the primary inputs and final says with all aspects of producing the album. I spoke regarding this in an interview last year for an episode of Songwriter that explored my songwriting processes. I have been making music recordings for a very long time, exactly as long as I have been composing music. At this point, my composition is inseparable from my production. As I discover which notes work well together I'm also deciding how to express them in a performance; I'm deciding how I want the notes to sound when they play from a stereo system.

While composing /Froskull/, I also worked within the arbitrary boundary of keeping all these prog rock songs under four minutes. I think it adds a high quality of caprice and constant motion. Pumping these shorter songs out in our live performances also provides a certain electricity to our set lists and keeps things exciting for the audience and the band.

And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)

Very pleased. I'm especially pleased with the finishing touches from my mastering engineer who was careful to preserve the delicate dynamics of the performances while bestowing a rich, round fatness. He was nominated for a Grammy this year (Don Cobb /Nashville).

Did the producer (you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or  recording techniques?

There are certainly some standard mic techniques that every engineer will use because they work, but any producer knows that in principle all miking is experimental. Moreover, every producer will approach recording an instrument with a vision that is uniquely his. Every producer will do things differently; maybe one could say all production is weird to some degree. I often used two mics at ninety degree angles from an instrument to encourage a richer sound while providing an opportunity to balance the mics in a way that served the eq. Another technique for room mics involved placing a mic in an adjacent room, out of sight from the instrument or amplifier, and then moving the door between closed and fully open to eq the microphone.

One time I used a room mic on a loud bass amp. I had never done that before, but it served to catch some room-compressed hi-mid frequencies and gave the bass a better presence in the mix.

Please inform us about your favorite songs off the album

My two favorites are “Paramatman” and “Bardo 3.” “Paramatman” might be the most sophisticated composition on the record. It is a joy to play this song live with all the dramatic flows of dynamics and time changes. Although I'm singing the song on the album, Brett does the vocals when we perform for an audience, and I'm free to express myself through every thrilling guitar part of the song. I love playing this song more than any other.

On the other hand, “Bardo 3” is an impossibility for the band to perform live given the eight part vocals on the record. I just love the deep synth, liturgical singing, and the absolute capriciousness. When the piece bounces into the combination of hip-hop drums, devastating synth bass, and layers upon layers of voices, this song becomes unstoppable.

Any overall theme of mood/sound that you're trying to capture while writing songs?

There is not one theme or mood that I need to express in more than one song. This album is all about change and motion. It's meant to be a roller-coaster ride for the album-oriented listener. One magazine hit the nail on the head when it wrote about the album, “Almost impossible to catagorise or classify, (not a bad thing!) Froskull present their musical expressiveness with about as much creative freedom that is openly available, touching on a number of dynamic genres.... Touching on every emotion possible.”

What's the story behind your moniker?

You should see me after nine months without a haircut. I grow big ugly afros in no time at all. My old friends gave me the nickname “Fro,” and when I bought my home, it became known as “Castle Froskull,” a parody of He-Man's “Castle Grayskull.” This is the same location where my studio is located and where the band rehearses. The band was formerly called Stephen Rockford Hammond Band, but that name was long and impractical. It didn't provoke progressive imagery. Since the band frequents my home, I renamed the band Froskull in 2012. The re-branding has been highly effective in gathering the attention of new fans.

How would you describe your CD to any potential new fan?

I describe the /Froskull /sound as “space-age indie prog.” I tell potential fans there are some retro elements resembling Yes, Rush, and King Crimson, but with dramatic changes, fusion moments, and electronic undercurrents.

Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)

I could write endlessly about the musicians I admire. I'll just name a couple instead. I think Richie Kotzen is an amazing musician. He is a limitless guitarist with a godlike singing voice. Let's not forget the versatility he has demonstrated as a composer and songwriter. When you compare something like his Inner Galactic Fusion Experience with his more recent rock singer/songwriter albums, you get a real taste of what the man is capable of. He's an underrated, overlooked genius and virtuoso.

Let me say that I deliberately stopped listening to Steve Vai years ago because some people were saying that I was starting to play guitar like him. I still go to his shows when he comes through Nashville. Let's face it; Vai is one of the most uniquely expressive guitarists on the planet. Just watch his cadenza before “I Know You're Here” on the concert video /G3: Live In Denver/. It's spellbinding. His virtuosity is just the tip of the iceberg. The man created a highly successful progressive label from scratch and wears almost every professional hat in the music industry. He's a man who makes the music happen with a vision that extends far beyond his individual performances.

If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do

Currently, the band is having the dreaded out-of-drummer experience, so while I'm a little occupied seeking the correct drummer, I've been mostly busy constructing a new DAW so I can get back to writing and recording. The challenge ahead will be finding the correct balance between managing life and a live band while finding the time to compose and record new music. Thanks again for everything, Urban.

Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
Photos from the band's websites 
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