Janus, hailing from the city of wind, Chicago, is made up of four minds with one common goal of creating truly inspiring and moving music. Driven by various forms of art, their electronic induced and heavy yet melodic sound has been compared to the likes of Deftones, Coheed and Cambria, and Tool.
Their intense and focused energy is not only captured in their
recordings, but in the countless live shows they have played across
Some of the bands most notable accomplishments include:
•The video for Eyesore was premiered on MTV’s Headbangers Ball in October of 2009 and is now in rotation on MTV2.
•Janus’ Eyesore is currently in the top 30 at rock radio and continues to build steam and move up the charts.
•Janus has played with nearly every platinum level rock artist in the second half of 2009 and looks forward to exciting touring opportunities in 2010.
•Janus has been featured and interviewed in over 40 magazines and online music sites.
•The Janus songs "Your Arms" and "If I Were You" were featured in
"The Real World: Vegas Reunited" & "The Real World vs. Road Rules" on MTV.
•Janus was featured in Volkswagen auto show "Sights and Sounds" kiosk in over 30 locations across the US and Canada.
David Scotney - Vocals
Alan Quitman - Bass
Johnny Salazar - Electronic/Acoustic Percussion
Mike Tyranski - Guitars/Programming
"Armor" - Full Length - LP - 2004
"Red Right Return" Released through Warner Bros' ILG 9.22.09
Review: Janus - ‘Red Right Return’
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Overview: For those of you itching for some quirky information on Janus, I can only offer you a few ...Overview: For those of you itching for some quirky information on Janus, I can only offer you a few savory morsels. The band’s drummer Johnny Salazar used to perform with Relative Ash, a now defunct Chicago based act who released an album through Island/Def Jam in 2000 called ‘Our Time With You…’. Those who caught my “Why the F–K Aren’t They Signed?” segment on Cage Rattle Radio this summer might recall my spinning “If I Were You”, a standout tune from their demo. To conclude this piss poor background information piece, Janus will drop a brand new record called ‘Red Right Return‘ on November 18.
The Good: As you know in life there are certainties. You will eventually die. You will become prey to the IRS. The Cubs will not win a World Championship. Add to that list the fact that ‘Red Right Return‘ is good. Not Rex Grossman on his best day good, but more like the Bulls of the 1990’s good. Letting ‘Red Right Return‘ speak for itself, the album smashes into your life with the face-melting, fire-breathing trend of the audacious “Six Letters Sent”. The tune aces the depth test, thanks to a tandem of prog-esque spacey electronics and the vocal wizardry of vocalist David Scotney. Although “Six Letters Sent” wastes no time in proving his worth behind the mic, it is the first of many spine-splitting screams courtesy of Scotney, whose yell is one of the most catastrophic you have ever heard. Think 30 Seconds to Mars on a RedBull binge, and “Six Letters Sent” is the fruitful result. Get into the dreams of Evans Blue, and you might see “If I Were You” floating around. With haunting tip-toes in the verses that build into a massive, towering chorus, “If I Were You” has single tattooed on it; despite its instant infectiousness, “If I Were You” is no lukewarm radio baby. The wails that rip from David Scotney’s throat in the bridge would make even the mutants from The Hills Have Eyes curl up in a corner and suck their thumbs (or whatever finger portion they have left) in submission, satisfying anti-radio hesher-types in the process. “Maybe It’s You” is the most mature and seasoned portion of the first trinity of ‘Red Right Return‘, where majestic verses gently glide forward to a soaring, titanic chorus. The churn and burn of its bridge spells out balance most eloquently, and the doleful serenade of violins/violas adds a whole new layer of mood to the track. After a celestial opening gaze, “Say It” rips wide open, exposing a colorful and radiant trail of consistency from the top down; “Say It” is also the upbeat rollick of ‘Red Right Return‘, but a subtle approach helps the song retain its sternness. Janus uses “Skin Deep” to deliver a disclaimer with a touch of energy and urgency, with the song teetering from rousing verses to the bursting zeal of its choruses. All is merry, until Hurricane Bridge of “Skin Deep” makes landfall, blowing you to shreds. The storm surge is not far behind, as Mr. Scotney’s shattering shriek to seal this deal is far more ominous than any wall of water. The nimble “Your Arms” is the most lyrically gifted tune on ‘Red Right Return‘, thriving on the sensitivity of its poignant, thought-provoking rhetoric. Janus shuts down at the bridge for a moment of tranquil charm, which is outdone only by the sensual stray notes of a string orchestra that gift the patient listeners at the very end of “Your Arms”. Frisky and thirsting for throttle, “The Nerve” rides the thunderous drive of Alan Quitman’s hulky bass-line. With such a thick canvas upon which to play, “The Nerve” emanates a highly stimulating and engaging scent; David Scotney haunts the end of “The Nerve” with a tantrum that will chuck you in a blender and turn you to goo. “Stranger” is as punchy as it is scrappy, living in ethereal harmony alongside the commanding and muscular riff that drives the song. “Stranger” embodies growth, morphing from a brisk, guitar-driven slab into a shrewd and idealistic jaunt chockfull of a vast array of aural-auditory sensations. ‘Red Right Return‘ hangs ‘em up on a very warm and cozy note, as “100 Years” dictates. Janus feeds you a hearty helping of lush, enchanting melodies, to award “100 Years” as the disc’s most resplendent tune. Upon your initial listen, you might feel as though “100 Years” doesn’t quite fit in with its nine predecessors, however you will become more hopelessly addicted with each subsequent spin thereafter.
The brightest jewel in the crown of ‘Red Right Return‘ is “Eyesore”. Janus drops tremendous gusto on its opening, rolling out a red carpet of tympanis and a xylophone. From there, the only thing you hear from “Eyesore” is achievement and progress. Enterprising and studious, “Eyesore” is also notoriously dynamic on all fronts, most notably in regards to the masterful range surveyed by David Scotney. “Eyesore” mirrors its introduction around the song’s halftime, which is just one of the tune’s instances of sheer craftiness by Janus. The band ends “Eyesore” firing on all cylinders, a final and fitting testament to the unrelenting and unforgettable nature of “Eyesore”, as well as ‘Red Right Return‘.
The Bad: To bastardize ‘Red Right Return‘ would be cruel and unusual, because the last thing I’d call this album is so-so or average, let alone bad. The only wish I have would be for ‘Red Right Return‘ to be longer than ten songs, giving Janus more opportunities to razzle and dazzle. If I had to so much as drizzle on this parade, I would say that David Scotney’s screams are not for everyone, nor the faint of heart; as a result, some listeners might require some extra “appreciation time” with the record to help fully digest Scotney’s vocal lightning bolts.
Bottomline: There’s no need to beat around the bush here-’Red Right Return‘ is a near flawless affair. The fact that Janus are an unsigned band still baffles me, because the group accomplished with ‘Red Right Return‘ what many bands strive for their entire careers. From the tight and pinpoint precision of their musicianship to their enviable and poetic penmanship, Janus are years and years ahead of the pack. ‘Red Right Return‘ is an orgasm to 30 Seconds to Mars fans seeking the next generation, so all you bandwagon folks leftover from “The Kill” would be damned not to take a flyer. I’ll digress and give Janus the floor, because they not only deserve your undivided attention, but also earn it with ‘Red Right Return‘.
Janus | ‘Red Right Return’ CD Review
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I have heard the hype about this band. I have read some of the reviews; I have even given some track...I have heard the hype about this band. I have read some of the reviews; I have even given some tracks a listen on Myspace. What I heard was intriguing but it wasn’t until the album RED RIGHT RETURN hit my speakers at home and I got the ability to listen to the album in full that I understood what the hype is all about.
This band by far has the edge, they create mystery in each song and create passion and edgy quality driven songs for the alternative rock arena. First thing that catches your eye is the artwork from the Myspace page to the album cover it gives you the ambience of strength and power, showing that this band although still a Indie band has the ability to not stop until they are known throughout the world. More importantly is the music and I will say right now I don’t care if you are only into metal or only into Emo or only into mainstream rock JANUS is going to make you a fan. They have luscious layers of beauty, purity and driving power. I took away from the album influences of a band like 30 Seconds To Mars and even a little hint of Deftones in some songs.
They have placed the tracks in a smooth and seamless musical adventure on the disc where each song glides effortlessly into each other. EYESORE a song that is a hit on Myspace is a hit with me. It has a cryptic and dark sense to it; it’s heavy but with a very melodic driving power from verse to chorus. It shows the different vocal angles this quality singer can maintain. SKINDEEP is a keeper, I love the flawless vocals and the simplicity of piano at the beginning just gearing you up for the outbreak of rock guitars. STRANGER brings out the electronica that makes the disc dark and blissful. IF I WERE YOU heads down a slower pace but staying eerie and peculiar but in an amazing way. I believe these guys are on the verge of Exploding so Chicago get ready to be pretty damn proud of the band JANUS but I’m sure you already are!!!!
An Interview with Janus
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This past Saturday while haunting Chicagoland, I attended a show at The Metro. I walked into the mai...This past Saturday while haunting Chicagoland, I attended a show at The Metro. I walked into the main room to find a sprinkling of people awaiting the opening band. I sat back, had a beer, and chatted to friends with a nice, easy view of the stage. An hour and a half later, I find myself standing on tip toes trying to get a view over a small legion of heads which had quickly filled the room. These heads and I all had one thing in common, we had collected together to hear the musical musings of Janus.
A few months ago, I was stalking around on MySpace looking for bands to feature when I stumbled on Janus’s website. The first song I heard was “Your Arms”, a song which left me humming the chorus for the next few hours. When I found they were playing in Chicago, I decided I’d like to see them live.
When Janus came on stage and struck their first riffs, it was a welcome change from the opening bands. Their heavier riffs mixed with the singers more melodic voice filled the room and the crowd with some much-needed energy.
After the show, I had the opportunity to talk with David, the band’s lead singer, and here are some tid-bits from our conversation:
That was a great show. You guys had a lot of energy. The fourth song you played, “Your Arms”, you guys seemed to really get into it there.Yeah, I think so. I’ve never jumped off stage at metro before, that was the first time and everyone seemed to be really into it. The closer I got, the more animated people got.
What’s your favorite song to perform live?
My favorite song to perform is Maybe It’s You, which is a slower one, and the guys, that’s the first one they want to cut when we have no time, but I like it. It breaks up the set a little bit and it also means a lot to me personally.
What’s the special meaning behind it, if you don’t mind me asking?
It pretty much sums up any argument, any disconnect I’ve ever had in any relationship where you start expecting the other person to think like you, be more like you, and those expectations get put out there and when people don’t live up to them, that’s when the arguments start, that’s when the fighting starts. It’s about realizing it and recognizing it.
You guys had a record come out pretty recently, and it’s got this whole war theme going on, is there
something to that?
Well the album is called Red Right Return. Our first album, it came together really quickly… it just felt like what other people wanted us to be and we decided to write a new record and the whole idea behind it was lets get back to playing for ourselves.
So we wrote this new record and I said to the guy lets get back to doing our own thing. So Red Right Return is actually an old nautical term, it means, ships when they are returning home to port, they say Red Right Returning, keep the red buoy on the right side to stay safe to port, and it seemed to fit. The whole theme to the record is a 1920’s Russian constructivist kind of look, and the bombs were just a really quick sketch but they turned into our iconI didn’t want a picture of us on the record, I wanted a concept, I want a whole theme, and push the record out under this whole umbrella of another persona. How did you guys get started?
Mike and I started writing songs together when I was in a former version of this band, a three piece, and it wasn’t really working, I wasn’t able to play and sing very well, and he just has a much better ear for music and guitar than I do, I started singing and he came in the band and started writing and he and I became John and Yoko and just happily ever after since then. Then we picked up Al, and then lost a drummer, and then picked up Johnny, and he’s just phenomenal, he’s amazing.
How did you guys come up with your sound?It was an accumulation of the things Mike and I do. Mike is into heavier music, and I’m into all sorts of stuff. I listen to a lot of mellow stuff, and I try to sing as much as I can the stuff he writes. He pulls me in his direction and I pull him in my direction, kind of leaves us stuck in this gray area of not really sounding like anyone. What’s your writing process like? Mike usually comes to the table with a shell of two or three parts, and the guys will jam on it and I will just kind of start making up non-sensical words on top of that and then I’ll start to feel the bones of a song and start to play with it and put melodies to it and work on the lyrics, just start recording demos and refine it from there. Mike sometimes helps me out with melodies because he writes a lot of keyboard parts.
As my first face-to-face interview, talking to David was a lot of fun, so I would just like to thank him for making it so easy on me. The guys all seem very down to earth, and really enjoy what they do. Personally, my favorite topic of the evening was when a fan made a comment about keeping Mike out of trouble, which forced me to ask the guys what trouble they get into. I couldn’t help but laugh at the following answer, which perfectly described my evening with the band of guys I was attending the show with:
So Mike is the trouble- maker? What kind of trouble do you guys get into?Whenever we are together collectively, it’s like a weird sociological experiment happens, like a bunch of younger males get together in a room the more they de evolve into a bunch of six year olds, and Mike just goes straight dick and fart jokes. It’s really perverted.
You can find Janus’s new record, Red Right Return, on Itunes, and can also get a good taste of it on their MySpace website: www.myspace.com/janusband
They have an upcoming show on Saturday at Austin’s Fuel room before they head to New York to showcase their new album, so go check them out!
Review: Red Right Return
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Janus learned their lessons well in the art of playing melodic rock from the ancestors of the genre ...Janus learned their lessons well in the art of playing melodic rock from the ancestors of the genre such as Def Leppard. The thing about this band is their strong ability to combine powerful chunky metal chords with a backbone of melodic rock. The deadly and lethal combination that takes Janus to where they want to go on Red Right Return will bring many listeners along for the ride.
In 10 tracks, you get energy at level +10 and it does not let up. This is great music if you want to feel all pumped up there is no doubt about that. David Scotney puts out some vocals that find equal ground with the music pounding away behind him. Thanks to the pulsating thumping beats provided by Johnny Salazar (percussion) and Alan Quitman (bass) everyone else gets to do their thing with pleasure. Mike Tyrnaski peels off some heavy-duty string bending that drives the Janus machine along on cruise control.
Perhaps the most versatility and talent is evident in ever changing songs like “Skin Deep,” which flirts with being a ballad at the opening then gradually builds into a crashing crescendo of guitars, bass and drums, which is more typical of the Janus musical map like you hear on “Eyesore”. All the songs prior to that are good but have a tendency to lack a lot of variation and give you pretty much the same hard driving rhythms and chords that are patterned after the track you just heard, which is typical of this genre actually. Although this is the case, I certainly cannot fault the band for lack of consistency and probably giving their fans exactly what they want. Many bands do the same thing with great success so it is not a failure by any means.
From “Skin Deep” forward is where this listener gained more appreciation for the overall talent and capabilities of Janus and the realization that I could easily enjoy the sound they have to offer from start to finish once I realized what they are setting out to do here. A lot continues to change in every track from 6-10. The variations and transitions are excellent and totally put to bed my previous observations. I think it’s quite brilliant how they present this CD and the more I hear it the more I like it and my confidence in them grows.
The artwork and packaging is eye catching and very pleasing and once you open up the tri-fold cardboard gatefold sleeves you get all the lyrics to sing along too, which you can actually read by the way, and the CD slides into one of sleeves just like the old vinyl LPs. You have to love it. Just as an aside, you will not find any pictures of the band, just the cartoon artwork of their images so you will have to catch them live to see what they really look like…yet another stroke of brilliance in presentation and marketing. This band has the right idea and will go far if they keep on the right track, with their sharp skills in all aspects of their music and presentation.
Review: Red Right Return
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There are a few bands that, given the opportunity, could take the radio by storm. Janus is a perfect...There are a few bands that, given the opportunity, could take the radio by storm. Janus is a perfect example of this type of band. If they were given the chance, and played on some larger radio stations alongside all of our alternative "favorites" (sound-alikes), they could earn themselves hordes of fans.
I know everyone has their one radio-rock band that they just love, however hard it is to admit. I tend to be partial to Breaking Benjamin, as well as Jared Leto's half-cooked concept, 30 Seconds to Mars. Janus has grabbed all of those things that make these radio-ready bands such a hit and combined them, however indirectly, to create Red Right Return.
Okay, maybe the previous sentence is misleading. They're actually more towards the progressive (and/or experimental) side of the alternative spectrum, and stylistically, they're very much like 30 Seconds to Mars. However, you can be sure that if Leto's crew had released this album initially there would be much less hate for them. They've also got a quality that reminds me quite a bit of Evans Blue's jams. I think this mainly has to do with Janus' vocalist's tendency to sound like him a bit during those powerful choruses and bombastic verses where their vocalist gets that soaring quality going that Evan's Blue's Kevin Matisyn was so adept at. Their instrumentation is pretty tight throughout. The guitarists don't really shine above the vocals, but Janus' synth work more than makes up for it in the scheme of things. They utilize a synth more often than not, and in many places it gives the tracks an anthemic feel.
For some reason, every review I read about this band make them out to be "metal." Well, they aren't. I'm not sure if that's by preference of the band, or otherwise, but they rarely play anything heavier than a riff you'd expect out of 30 Seconds to Mars. When they do, they can play it to a "t" and they nail the whole charging power-riff in the end of "Skin Deep" and a couple of other tracks, but for the most part, they stay at a moderate range as far as heaviness goes. The screaming, as well, is few and far between, though it is pretty sweet in the few places where they do use it.
Red Right Return is progressive alternative in top form. While there are times when you may say "Hey.. that sounds like," there are many places where they sound unique enough to render them their own vibe. They've combined the powerhouse aspect of Evans Blue, the creepy, melodic feel of Breaking Benjamin (think "So Cold"), and the slight experimentation of 30 Seconds To Mars to create the ultimate progressive-alternative soundtrack. America, if Red Right Return hits the radio, be prepared for a readily enabled takeover (i.e. every jock at your school buying their shirt).
Review: Red Right Return
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Finally, a band that provides more harmonic quality, depth, and melodic twist to what would otherwis...Finally, a band that provides more harmonic quality, depth, and melodic twist to what would otherwise be nothing more than a CHEVELLE-rip off. There’s a million bands out there doing what JANUS so effortlessly accomplishes, but only two that I can press myself to think of, on a level that deserves being singled out and called an innovator: DEFTONES and, of course, JANUS.
The first big difference that JANUS has over the slew of others is that their guitar attack is on a level that rivals DISTURBED; Sharp, meaty, and totally METAL. Weave in a few solid, syncopated and tasteful drum patterns that dance on the edge of TOOL psychosis, and top it off with great vocals from a voice that bellows power while delivering melodic brilliance on the level of untouchable in this genre and you’ll still be ill-prepared to face Red Right Return. I had to listen to it six times before I even felt comfortable giving it an honest review. It is not easy throwing out praise of this caliber unless you have a handle on what would make something this complex actually sound like crap. In simple terms, it’s much easier to tell you what JANUS isn’t, rather than creating things that are comparable just to say, “You really need to check this band out!”.
Truth be told, even after a good handle on the tunes, I’m still not sure they fit any one genre that would do it justice in comparison. While tracks like the opener, “Six Letters Sent”, and the brawny “Stranger” sound like something created in the mind of DISTURBED’s David Drainman, you get so much more than surface-audio with tracks like the haunting “100 Years” (one of my favorites, complete with a breakdown from hell!). Again, facing a loss of words, not something I ever find myself in the predicament of, I’m left with the lame advice of, “You really need to check this band out!”. Brilliant on many levels and impeccably engineered and produced to perfection, Red Right Return could have been a contender in my Top-25 of 2008 if it had been available to me earlier.
Head over to JANUSMUSIC.com to purchase one of the early highlights of ’09! Very, Very Highly Recommended!!!
Review: Red Right Return
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ou know when you've been waiting for the new CD from one of your favorite bands, and then you get it...ou know when you've been waiting for the new CD from one of your favorite bands, and then you get it and it's everything you hoped for, and you play it over and over and over until you can hear it even when your stereo and your computer and your iPod are turned off? That's how I feel about the new Janus CD.
I have listened to these 10 songs so many times that I should, by all rights, be so sick of it that I'll never want to hear it again. Instead, every time I get to the end of "Red Right Return" I feel like I'm saying goodbye to a lover as he heads across the country for a month. I know I'll see him again, and I know when it will be, but there's a feeling of longing and impatience and a sense of emptiness.
Yes, it's that good.
Janus sounds like no one and like many. In passages I hear the Cure, Metallica, Breaking Benjamin, Nine Inch Nails, and others from all spectra of the alternative genre. They seem to have plucked the best of these influences and folded them into their own unique sound.
They reach what musicians strive to achieve. Certain notes and passages elicit physical and emotional reactions. I'm touched on a visceral level. My pulse quickens and my heart yearns.
This is a very, very personal reaction and I almost hesitated being so open, but I couldn't listen to what I perceive to be honest and authentic music and then be anything but.
The CD release show is at Reggie's (2109 S State, 312-949-0120) on Wednesday. I recommend grabbing this opportunity to see them at a small venue - it's unlikely they'll be in rooms this size for long.
An Interview with Janus
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Everyday, I talk to bands and solo artists and when it comes to the topic of 'music industry', almos...Everyday, I talk to bands and solo artists and when it comes to the topic of 'music industry', almost every single one of them cries revolution and rightfully so. Just turn on any rock radio station (more than likely owned by CLEAR CHANNEL) these days and what you hear is not the brashness or the rebelliousness that has often come to signify rock n roll, but consensus - a consensus reached by a bunch of fellas in white shirts and black ties sitting at a conference table. Every indie artist is right to call for a shake up in the way things are done but the Chicago-based JANUS are taking a stand as bold as the constructivist artwork that adorns their latest release 'RED RIGHT RETURN'. "It's almost got a revolutionary kind of feel to it." says JANUS guitarist MIKE TYRANSKI "The meaning behind it is about revolting against opinions of the music industry in what they feel that people want to hear. We're all about shutting things like that out and forging ahead. We're going to be in charge of our destiny."
ROCKWIRED spoke with MIKE TYRANSKI over the phone. Here is how it went.
Just yesterday In interviewed an artist named XIREN and the title of his album emphasizes three R's as well.
Yes it is. His album TRIP-R stands for ROCK N ROLL REVENGE and your's is RED RIGHT RETURN.
Explain the title?
'Red Right Return' is actually a nautical term. Ships use it when they are navigating back to port. There these bouys that serve as markers out in the ocean and they use red ones on the right side of the boat when returning back to the port. We use that as a metaphor for returning to what we as a band do and not what the industry might want us to do. We are really focused on making good songs and making the music that we enjoy and if that goes well, then hopefully it will be widely accepted. So the title is a metaphor.
What's different this time around from your previous release?
So many things. The writing is different this time around. We've learned so much more about how to create and write songs and use different techniques for layers and really open up the box to not feel limited to bass guitar, drums and vocals but to add electronics to it and see where we could push it. We came up with different ways to structure songs. Stylistically, the first record we had was pretty raw and pretty rough and we had a lot of really good experiments with melody in there and on this album we took it a step further and really focused on having a lot of really strong melodies and keeping the verses as interesting as the choruses. There were also some line up changes from the first record to this record. The bass player and the drummer are different and that added a whole new element to things.
Now that the album is out there for everyone to hear, what are your thoughts on the finished piece?
I'm extremely happy and extremely satisfied with the final package. It came out as I expected it to. Are there things I would change? Probably but I could probably do that until the end of time. Sometimes, you've got to just let it go and this album was ready to be let go and we released it. I'm extremely happy with it and I'm extremely happy with how well it has been received by not only our friends but by people that we don't even know.
And it is a great CD, by the way!
What drew you to music in the beginning?
I think what drew me to music and what still draws me to music is the emotion that you can invoke when listening to it and creating it. In listening to and creating music, it evokes really powerful emotions and when you mix that with lyrical elements and you've got a whole other set of emotions as well. It just kind of adds on to it. It's very powerful and it's like a drug. You want it all the time and it takes you to some amazing places.
Why the guitar?
That's funny because I had actually played bass in all of my other bands throughout high school and beyond. I played a lot of bass and when I first joined this band, our singer DAVID played and sang. He was the only guitar player at the time and he suggested that I come and play guitar because he was thinking about just singing. I was like 'Oh, cool! I can do that! That would be fun!' That was how it started. JANUS is the first time that I've ever played guitar in a band and I love it. It's such a versatile instrument and there is a lot of room to explore different sounds and techniques. I love electronics to and I love experimenting with different pedals and effects and finding things that make my ear perk up. It feels right to me to play that instrument!
What perks your ear up? Was there ever a sound that you wanted to emulate as a musician?
I've been a huge DEFTONES fan for a long time. Before that, I was really into things like HELMET, QUICKSAND and bands like that. Hardcore stuff. I do a listen to a lot of metal, lately. A lot of prog metal. Usually, I go for heavier, chunkier riffs as far as tones go, but there is a whole element song structure-wise that really perks up my ear to. It isn't anything specific. When you hear it, you know and that is how I go about writing. You write and write and write until you hear something that catches your attention. You don't know why it's great or why it sounds great to you but it just does and you've got to capture those moments.
Explain how JANUS came together?
The initial version of JANUS came together when our singer DAVID grew up in Maryland and he started the band with his buddies in high school. Then they came out to Chicago because they thought that LA and New York were saturated and they thought in Chicago they might have a chance at breaking through some of the noise. Over time, one of the guitar players left and they went on as a three piece for a while and that was when DAVID called me and asked if I wanted to play guitar. So I jumped in. He had done a lot of the writing as far as the songs go and then I started writing all of these parts and started putting songs together and a bunch of stuff came out. That was when we started creating that first record. Shortly after that, the bass player took off and headed back home to Maryland and we picked up this guy AL who is really great. Sometime after that, our old drummer RITCHIE left and we picked up JOHNNY who was from a signed band RELATIVE ASH. They were signed to ISLAND/DEF JAM. He was like sixteen years old and he was in bands actively in the Chicago scene. I called him up and I was like 'Hey, we're looking for a drummer, do you know anybody?' and he said he was interested and that he wanted to try out. He did and he nailed it. It all worked out. This latest line up is really clicking. Everything is really solid. We've found the right people to really make this record.
What's the story behind the name?
The name itself was literally taken from a dictionary. I think a lot of bands do that. The meaning fits us perfectly. JANUS is the Roman god of beginnings. It is depicted as a two faced entity with one face looking forward to the future and the other looking back. I think that is great for us because we are always learning from our past but we're trying to move forward. We don't want to get stuck in the past.. It fits perfectly with us.
Talk about each of the members of the current band and what you think each of them brings to the table not just creatively, but personality-wise?
When we were going through some line up changes, one of the most important things to us, besides being able to play their instrument, was how well we all get along with each other. And we do. We get along great with each other. It is absolutely integral to have people that you get along with if you are going to be spending this much time with these people in a confined space. It doesn't mean that we don't get on each others nerves sometimes, but we all have a similar sense of humor. It is generally a great experience. It's super fun and everyone likes to laugh and that makes the process much easier. As far as what each person brings to the table, DAVID SCOTNEY has a great artistic vision. Not just musically but visually as well. He did all the art work for the record, the merchandise and the website. He is a great lyricist and a phenomenal singer. He is always willing to learn something and go that extra mile. AL QUITMAN will surprise you. He plays a multitude of different instruments. He is a tremendous bass player and he will surprise you when you are working on stuff with him. He is hilarious but you are not sure what he is thinking if you don't know him that well. He might come off a little serious but he is a hilarious character and it's great to have him in the band. JOHNNY SALAZAR is a rock! There is nobody better behind the drums. He is just phenomenal. He's got a great technical ability but also a definite style in the way he plays and how he tunes his drums. He's got a unique drum sound. He's also a great guy and he takes criticism very well. There is nothing he wants more than to be in a band. As for myself, I like to think of myself as less of a guitar player and more of a songwriter. I think my biggest contribution is writing riffs and writing changes and arrangements that fit together really well. It's great to have this group of guys to work with. Sometimes I'll come up with an entire song and be able to bring it to them and we'll tear it apart and rework some things and chop it up and then we're able to come to a final agreement.
Is the songwriting process ever frustrating?
Yes. It can get so frustrating that you don't even want to do it anymore. At least for me. Sometimes you work on something and it takes forever and you feel like you're not getting anywhere. You have ten versions of a song until you you find the right version and then some songs just come out really fast and that's like a treat. Other times it's just a lot of hard work and you've just got to keep at it. You get an inkling that there is something there still and you don't want to throw it away and you keep working at it. The end result, which is this record, was completely worth it.
What songs off of 'RED RIGHT RETURN' stand out for you at the moment and why?
My favorites right now are definitely 'EYESORE'. That song is definitely unique. We found a lot of ways to pull in a lot of different instrumentation and sounds that we had never worked with before. It's got a lot of great parts to it and a lot of originality yet it's very heavy at the same time. Part of our sound is to have these really heavy songs that are bordering on metal but also have these great melodies in there too that are almost like a pop song. I think the combination of the two is very powerful. Another one of my favorites is 'STRANGER'. That song is one of the fastest songs on the record so I really like playing that song live. The bridge of that song stands out for me. It's got a lot of cool textures and a lot of vocal layers. Every instrument sort of breaks off and starts doing a different thing. The third favorite of mine is 'YOUR ARMS'. It's an older song but it's got a great melody and great chord changes and it's got another great bridge in it. I love how it deconstructs and builds back up again before the last chorus. Very cool song! I think the bridges on all of the songs on this album are very cool and very unique to the song but also to the record but those are my top three right now.
The war motif of the album art is very striking! You've already told me who the artist was but how did the band decide on it. Were there other ideas being considered as well?
It came up in conversation and we started to do some research. It's like a constructivist period of artwork. Russian constructivism. That period was very striking and the more research we did , we just really fell in love with the style and felt that it was very powerful and thought we could tie that style to 'RED RIGHT RETURN' because of what the meaning behind it was. It's almost got a revolutionary kind of feel to it and the meaning behind it is about revolting against opinions of the music industry in what they feel that people want to hear. We're all about shutting things like that out and forging ahead. We're going to be in charge of our destiny.
Have people misinterpreted the artwork. And if so is it annoying?
I don't think it's annoying. I've seen one review and I don't know if they were kidding or just having fun writing their review but the artwork was attributed to communism - like we were trying to be political and we're not. Lyrically, there are no political statements behind these songs. At least in the common sense of politics. We're not communists. I can see how people would come to that conclusion but it's just not the case. It's only happened once and we don't try to defend something like that. We know the intention behind it. it makes people want to ask you and it's fun to open up that dialog.
How long did it take to record this album? You worked with MANNY SANCHEZ. Describe what that was like.
MANNYis an old friend of ours. He did some mix work on our first record and he has since put up his own studio in Chicago so when we called him up we were like 'Hey, we wanna do some drum work and some guitar work for this next record at your place!' He's got a great studio and a great two inch tape machine and he's just a really talented individual. We knocked out all of the things that we intended to do at his studio in just a few days. And then he gave us some mixes and we took those back to our studio and worked them and worked them and worked them. That was kind of frustrating, trying to get to the point where you are happy with the stuff. We started the recording process in November of 2007 and we were actually done with it in a matter of months but it felt like forever and you didn't know what to think anymore after listening to so many different versions of the album. We finally brought he album to where it needed to go. Wasn't sure we were ever going to get there but we did.
What would you like a person to come away with after they've heard this album?
I would love for someone to feel the same connection that I feel when I listen to other records that I really love and that was kind of the benchmark for us when we were writing. We asked ourselves how it made us feel. I would like people to come away with that same feeling. I'd also love for people to come away with their own interpretation of the lyrics. If people get what was intended by the writer than that's cool, but sometimes you pick up on things that mean something different to every person and I'd love for people to explore that whole range of emotion. I hope anyone who listens to it gets some sense of that.
An Interview with Janus
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Do I want to let music fans know about the Chicago based band JANUS? NO!!! The reason is because I a...Do I want to let music fans know about the Chicago based band JANUS? NO!!! The reason is because I adore them and their sophomore record RED RIGHT RETURN so much that I don’t want to share. But when the music is this enticing and beautiful then at some point you got to be the bigger person and share the goods!!! So welcome to JANUS a dynamic mystical dark alluring band that brings out the most delicate but powerful sound. The band supports a lot of genre of music into their songs, from the sentiments of Rock, Metal, and Electronica, The songs engage you with beauty, intrigue and brilliant arrangements that place you on a comforting journey through the soundscape of sound.
As I wait patiently for the band to get their butts over to the New England area to put this amazing sound into a live performance I had the chance to check in with Guitarist/Programmer Mike Tyranski and find out what the artwork means, how it feels to be respected in the hometown scene and what’s new in video land for them!!!
LET’S START OFF BY THE CONCEPT OF THE VISUAL ASPECT OF THE BAND. YOUR ART WORK SEEMS TO BE THE INTRODUCTION TO THE MUSIC. WHAT DOES THE VISUAL APPEAL MEAN TO YOU AS A BAND AND WHO DOES IT?
When we first sat down to talk about the artwork for the record, it was really important that it tie to the meaning behind “Red Right Return”. “Red Right Returning” is a nautical term that ships use to guide them back into port when at sea. The title “Red Right Return” is all about our struggle with our identity as a band and returning to what it’s really all about for us which is making great music. Our singer David approached the band with the idea of using this 1920’s Russian constructivist style artwork to visually strengthen that message. We all liked the idea, so David sat down and began drawing what you now see as the album cover. He actually does all the visual creative work for the band. It’s really a gift to have someone in the band that can do these things and do them so well.
RED RIGHT RETURN HAS BEEN OUT SINCE NOVEMBER 08 IS THERE ANY NEW MUSIC STARTING TO COME TO THE SURFACE AND WHERE ARE YOU TRYING TO TAKE THE NEW STUFF MUSICALLY?
We have lots of ideas floating around right now. I have a little digital handheld recorder I keep around for recording quick sketches of riffs or even whole song ideas. But most of these ideas are in pieces right now. As we jam on them more and more, they’ll eventually form into songs. Right now it’s hard to put a finger on where any of those ideas are headed. Some of the stuff is very reminiscent of the songs on “Red Right Return”. Other ideas are heavier and more abrasive. And other ideas go the complete opposite direction from that. Ultimately I think we will end up with a mixture of all of those.
THE SONG EYESORE IS PROBABLY THE STAND OUT FOR ME ON THE ALBUM, HOW DID THIS SONG COME ABOUT AND DID THE SONG KIND OF INFLUENCE THE REST OF THE RECORD?
I originally had written that chorus riff on the acoustic and showed it to the guys. Everyone seemed to like something about those parts, so I went home that night and kept working those parts until I had what we consider the basic bones of the song down. From there, I started messing around with some orchestral instrumentation which really seemed to give the song this epic feel. Everyone really liked where the music was headed, so we started hammering on the arrangement from there and David started writing lyrics and vocal melodies. I don’t think Eyesore influenced other songs, but I think it quickly breathed some life to the writing process. Up until this point, we were in a bit of a rut and this pulled us out of that.
YOUR SOUND IS SO DYNAMIC AND SO MUCH MORE THEN JUST YOU’RE BASIC ROCK ALBUM. IN THE RECORDING SESSION FOR THE ALBUM WHAT ELEMENTS DID YOU USE TO GET A SOUND SO BOLD, ALLURING AND DIFFERENT?
The songs all start with the very basics of a 4 piece rock band. As we start to mold the music and the arrangement, we begin to layer in other ideas with keyboards and other synth sounds as well as different effects to use. The recording process was actually very short, but we spent a tremendous amount of time in pre-production tracking demos with all of our ideas in them. When it came time to do the final tracks, 99% of all the creative decisions had already been made.
DO YOU FEEL JANUS IS A BAND THAT INSPIRES FOR THE FUTURE OR TAKES A LOT FROM THE PAST TO CREATE MUSIC THAT IS UNIQUE BUT STILL CURRENT?
Both! We can’t help be influenced by our past experiences, but we’re not trying to mimic anyone in particular. We prefer to learn from our influences and build on them. Eventually you discover what works best for you and the band and how to turn that into something exciting.
AS A GUITAR PLAYER AND A PROGRAMMER WHAT GOT YOU INTO BOTH AND WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE IN BOTH WHAT DO YOU FEEL BRINGS MORE STRENGTH INTO THE BAND?
I’ve always loved the sound of a really loud guitar. But in working with synths, I’ve found a whole new world of possibilities which is great because these sounds have really inspired my guitar playing and vice versa. I’m not sure which adds more strength. I think they both depend on each other to form a unified sound. They’re almost like one instrument to me. To have one without the other would be incomplete.
A LOT OF CHICAGO BANDS HAS MENTIONED JANUS WHEN TALKING ABOUT GREAT TALENT AND AMAZING LIVE SHOWS. HOW DOES BEING A ROLE MODEL AND RESPECTED IN THE MUSIC SCENE MAKE THE BAND FEEL AND DOES THAT PUT PRESSURE ON THE BAND?
It actually gives you a lot of strength. It’s an enabler to have a great performance. You don’t feel like your trying to fill the shoes of people’s expectations, you feel like you already fit in them.
LYRICALLY YOU GUYS GO FROM AN INWARD AND OUTWARD APSECT TO GET THE BEST STORY FOR A SONG. ON THIS ALBUM WAS THERE ANY STORY LINE THAT WAS HARDER TO WORK ON?
The stories themselves aren’t linear and bits of each song evolved at different times the real challenge was developing strong melodies that the entire band could agree upon. In some cases 10 vocal parts or more would be written, reviewed and voted on before anything final was chosen. This is the first time we wanted everyone on board with vocal melodies so it was more challenging but ultimately led to a stronger record.
THE ATTENTION FOR YOUR BAND IS GROWING DAY BY DAY. WHAT IS IT LIKE KNOWING THAT YOU ARE GAINING MOMENTUM AND IS THERE ANY SET PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2009 YOU CAN LET FANS KNOW ABOUT?
It’s exciting to hear when you’ve put so much work into something. There is no room for complacency though. We’re always thinking about new ways to get our name out there and pushing this record. We have many things planned for 2009 at this point, but what I can tell you now is that we will be making a video for “Eyesore” in the very near future. We’re all very excited about that prospect and are hashing out the concept for the video right now.
ARE YOU SETTING UP FOR A TOUR?
Touring right now is going to be regional. We’re still building right now, which means we need to be getting back to the same places we play at within a few months. Otherwise, you loose the people you gained the last time you were out.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today. I hope your readers will be able to take something away from this and apply it to their own passions
Review: Red Right Return
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Janus' intensity is focused in sounding both heavy and lushly melodic at the same time. Its density ...Janus' intensity is focused in sounding both heavy and lushly melodic at the same time. Its density is bound up both in a heavy sound and a rich beauty. There's a bit of an expansive sound, a sort of prolongedness or protractedness about the way the music moves. These are hardly chugalug punk or thrash straightforward grooves. There's metal here, but rhythmically it manifests in a certain accessible complexity, waves that build a flow and atmosphere rather than just offer up ho-hum grooves. The vocals are a tight, clean line of sung words across the instrumental landscape, punctuated with occasional but appropriate lapses into screams. Technically, this could be qualified as a heavy fusion of modern rock and emo (with tufts of metalcore, accessorizing wisps), but such stigmas are attached to that latter genre classification that I probably shouldn't even have mentioned it.
If I Were You
Six Letter Sent
Maybe It's You
Sets are typically 30 minutes for opening spots up to 45 for later slots.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.