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Doylestown, PA | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Doylestown, PA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock Progressive




""Talented dude… interesting music!""

"Introspective with Queen/Floyd-esque musicality...Talented dude…interesting music!" - Ron "Bumblefoot Thal, Guns N' Roses - Bumblefoot (Guns N' Roses)

""A young man whose passion knows no bounds""

Some of you may remember my review last year of the initial EP release from Doug Rausch, a young man whose passion knows no bounds. Well Doug’s been hard at work putting the finishing touches on his first full length CD and it’s now been released. I’m happy to say that it more than lives up to expectations set by the EP and in some ways surpass them. Those who are interested will want to check out his MySpace page because it makes for quite an interesting read. Rausch handles all the keyboards as well as writing, arranging and producing the music. He’s ably assisted on guitars and bass by Gary Wehrkamp and on drums by Joe Nevolo. The album was mixed by Rich Mouser of Spock’s Beard fame.

The self titled CD consists of nine tracks all around five or six minutes. Four of these tracks were on that original EP so excuse me if I borrow from my previous review. Rausch’s take on prog style is an upbeat, modern approach to the genre; in fact it might be more appropriate to describe the music as Art Rock rather than prog, simply by virtue of its major chord feel. Each of the tracks goes through a number of musical permutations but always hangs on to the core melody. The primary instrument is Rausch’s piano which is embellished with drums, guitar, bass and other keyboards. The longest track, “The Pros & Cons of Linear” [6:39] has a Pink Floyd epic feel to it. Starting off with a catchy vocal line, piano and crunchy guitar, within 38-seconds the song builds into a grand symphonic flourish before returning to the opening crunchy theme. Then just after the two-minute mark we’re introduced to a soft introspective, moody feel with piano taking the lead. The musical themes build and build to a grand climax. Track two, “Bipolar” [6:31] starts with what I hear as that modern style of lyrical delivery that’s almost stream of consciousness, less concerned with singing a line than it is with delivering the feelings and emotions contained in the words written. Again the music goes through a number of starts and stops, returning again and again to the melodic chorus but taking any number of pleasurable short detours. Recurring themes and pleasurable musical riffs abound in these compositions. Virtually every one of these pieces is jam-packed with some wonderfully engaging musical change-ups.

This is a very accomplished and polished disc. The music has broad appeal and fits neatly within the styles of bands like Spiraling, Spock’s Beard and Ambrosia. It’s the kind of thing you could have on when your non-prog friends pop over and use as an introduction to music that has a little more going on in it. It’s also music that holds up well over repeated listening. Doug Rausch should rightly be proud of what he’s created here. Well Done! - jerrylucky.com

""A triumph for determination and self-belief over adversity – a refreshing venture into musicality""

Doug Rausch's debut album - a triumph for determination and self-belief over adversity – is a refreshing venture into musicality. At a time when the music industry is changing, at a time when even most of "progressive" rock is anything but progressive, comes along this young man, with a clear passion for music, and delivers an album that sets down a challenge to the world. The challenge is this:- "STOP what you are doing, and just LISTEN to my music; it will reward you."

Rausch is clearly a talented musician; but whether he goes on to fulfill the promise shown by the debut album will depend on many factors, most of which will be out of his control. I say that because it is not easy being a musician these days, let alone a progressive one, despite the fact that the genre seems to be increasing its popularity again. So, as you listen to the Bohemian Rhapsody undertones within the opening track (also a single), "No Fair", you might want to consider that that particular track came on Queen's fourth album. Another band whose piano playing and composition Rausch brought to my mind are also British, the "art-pop" 10cc, whose stunning "Une Nuit a Paris" adorned their third album. Now, neither Queen's debut, Queen, nor 10cc's very own 10cc, were anything other than good, perhaps very good, albums that showed promise. Which is what we have in Rausch - a good, perhaps very good, album that shows oodles of promise. The problem is that he almost certainly doesn't have the forward-looking contracts that those iconic bands did. But then, that was the 1970s!

Still, Rausch could have done worse than produce a very good album. He has done well to associate himself with some fine musicians and professionals who have added their class to this endeavour, to its benefit. Joining Rausch on guitars and bass is Shadow Gallery player Gary Wehrkamp, and Joe Nevolo plays drums. Richard Mouser did the mixing of the album. Rausch himself plays piano and occasional guitar (all of it on "Ode to Pain"). The CD's sound is good, the playing is good, the music is good. It's a very good debut which stands apart from today's other progressive music – Rausch has brought his own compositional style and ideas to the feast.

Rausch's piano playing is particularly impressive – it is the sonic highlight of the album. The piano is played melodiously and emotively. Rausch's singing voice complements this basic element perfectly; it is soft and supple, able to carry the melody so that Rausch is occasionally able to do that most wonderful of things – pare everything down to a single instrument (not always the piano) and let the music speak in a very clear way, the melody being the key, the emotion in the voice, the story-telling in the lyrics. It's not always like this, of course, this is a rock band album after all, but sometimes stripping away the clutter brings great beauty. The overall feel of the album is that of a rock opera such as The Who's Tommy. I sense that, overall, Rausch is trying to tell a story but, if so, I failed to grasp the thread that unites these songs, though, unless the thread, loosely speaking, is "struggle" – the struggle to get to this point in life.

This melodic strength that I've mentioned does not undermine the album's progressiveness, rather it enhances it because it makes it more accessible to many listeners. The cleverness and flexibility in Rausch's compositional style is beautifully illustrated by the wonderful "Minimalism", which is a clever pastiche of a pop song with amusing, almost self-mocking lyrics, and turns out to be the catchiest track on the album – it's the one you'll be singing in the shower. 10cc would have loved to have written that song (alright, Doug, Freddie Mercury too!). Just prior to this comes the album's finest moment, possibly the most progressive, in "The Pros & Cons of Linear", featuring a gorgeous symphonic arrangement and some very tasty guitar from Wehrkamp. - Sea of Tranquility

""...Debut single “No Fair” is off to a blazing start and there is a very bright future ahead for this killer band""

Rausch is a name that you may not be too familiar with but that’s all set to change rather soon. Their debut single “No Fair” (Ronim Rojam) is off to a blazing start and there is a very bright future ahead for this killer band. - New Music Weekly

""An innovative sound that...will bring a breath of fresh air into a less than exhilarating pop musical landscape""

From the hinterlands of Pennsylvania, commonly known as Doylestown, home to both Pink and American Idol’s Justin Guarini, comes Rausch, a musical entity that combines pop sensibilities with progressive rock musical prowess. With Jersey shore powerhouse drummer Joe Nevolo bringing his heavy beat to the compositions of Doug Rausch, along with the guitar stylings of acclaimed fret man Gary Wehrkamp, the group has created an innovative sound that they hope will bring a breath of fresh air into a less than exhilarating pop musical landscape.

“I am responsible for the majority of what you hear,” Doug explains. “All vocals, all pianos, keyboards, synths, and any other miscellaneous ‘blips and bleeps’ you hear. Hope you’ve got headphones!”

Doug’s musical vision became complete, however, with the addition of Joe and Gary. “Fortunately, when the other two musicians came on board, I knew we were going to have a real ‘magnum opus’ on our hands,” he says. “With each passing day, I am more and more of a believer that things happen for a reason. Gary and Joe not only found my vision unique and interesting, but equally as important, they understood it and could execute it to perfection. Now I’m finding myself saying things like, ‘I don’t know what I’d do without them.’ Gary provides about 81 percent of the guitars, and all bass, and Joe is the drummer. They have both been in several bands, but they are currently best known as musicians in a band I was already a loyal fan of, Shadow Gallery. When I found out that Gary and Joe were actually not inaccessible people, I went on a mission and would not take no for an answer. Hearing the music now in its final form, the way they play their hearts out as if every note was their own and their very lives depended on it, I have to say, thank God they said yes.”

Is it possible to have what one might call “thinking man’s pop music”? Doug seems to think so, and time will tell if he’s correct in that assumption. “You see, I want to show people that it’s not just ‘either/or,’” he says. “You can have something profoundly affect you besides the same three chord go-around you’ve already heard a million times. Yes, at the end of the day, a good song is a good song, and I love a lot of the aforementioned three-chord masterpieces, but sooner or later, whether we realize it or not, music history is going to need a kick in the ass. Personally, I believe that time is now. Can I definitively say that out of the catalog of Rausch you are going to hear something you’ve absolutely never heard before? Maybe, maybe not. But I’d like to start a conversation. I would like more people to see that the interplay between intellectual and emotional can enhance and augment the experience. To me, music really is life.”

Thus far, the new CD has drawn a positive reaction from those who’ve been exposed to it. “Fan reaction to this album has completely blown me away,” says Doug. “When you are just starting out nowadays, assuming you opt not to get processed and molded into someone else’s plan, there’s no label support, no grand scale promotion, nothing. As I say in my liner notes, you’ve got to do it all yourself. Even without having played a note live yet, people are responding. Often you’ve got to be a well established platinum artist to hear things like, ‘Your music saved my life,’ but even if the quantity of fans has yet to reach that next level, the quality of the reactions is right on the mark. It’s encouraging. I recall a quote about King’s X: ‘There’s two types of people in this world—those who love the band, and those who never heard of the band.’ Those who know about my music truly get it and I am grateful for that.”

We may be hearing more of Doug’s vision soon, as the CD has just been picked up by a major independent radio promoter, Gary Leftkowith, and Gary has some great things going on for the band. We will also soon be seeing Doug bring that sense of musical revelation to the live stage, and he expects to be hitting New Jersey venues during 2010. “Just like with the recording process, the obsessive perfectionistic nature of this takes time, but within those parameters, I’m moving as quickly as I can,” he says. - The Aquarian

""A strong debut album that really came out of left field...his future in music will not be denied""

It has been an interesting journey for keyboard extraordinaire Doug Rausch. His life has been fully consumed by music starting with piano lessons at an early age and culminating with a degree from the Ithaca College of Music in New York. You can tell all the years of piano lessons and hard work has paid off when you listen to his debut album simply entitled Rausch.

The instrument of choice is Rausch’s piano and he is an excellent player. Rausch’s classical training can be heard throughout the album and is a definite highlight. However, Rausch does not do it alone as he is joined by the considerable talents of Shadow Gallery main man Gary Wehrkamp (guitars, bass) and session musician Joe Nevolo (drums). The album was mixed by Rich Mouser,who has been behind the board for releases by Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic.

Rausch has a quirky style that can be categorized in the progressive realm, but there are other styles cropping up like pop, alternative, classical and jazz. He has taken a queue from bands like Queen, Pink Floyd, City Boy and A.C.T but Rausch has made a diverse album with a sound that is quite unique. His piano is front and center but he also adds a variety of keys to further diversify the sound. Wehrkamp is excellent as always and Nevolo shows considerable skill behind the drum kit with his timely fills and numerous tempo changes. The music is quite accessible while still retaining a complexity that should satisfy fans of progressive rock and is really just fun to listen to.

The album starts with “No Fair”, a quirky mixture of pop and progressive rock beginning with classically inspired piano leading to crunchy rock riffs. Rausch’s vocals are very good, sometimes reminding me of bands like Queen or A.C.T and he does a great job of changing tempos as the music starts and stops often, even adding a jazzy motif here and there. Next is “Bipolar” with its melancholic beginning of piano and vocals before leaning in a punk/prog direction with heavier guitar riffs and excellent drum work. Quieter piano parts soon follow suit ensuring there is something for everyone here. “It Happens” features Queen-like vocal harmonies and “B.P.M.S.”, which stands for Bitch, Piss, Moan and Scream has an acoustic vibe strangely recalling Pink Floyd’s “Mother” and a vocal arrangement reminiscent of Queen. “Minimalism” is a pretty piano led love song with sweet acoustic trappings from Wehrkamp and “Survival Instincts” combines heavier rhythms and Eastern tinged acoustic melodies before twisting and turning through various musical change ups. Although a good song, perhaps Rausch tries to do a little too much, adding different sections that sometimes do not flow as smoothly as they should. Please keep in mind this is a small complaint and should not dissuade you from checking out this excellent album.

The album ends with “Slow Suite: I Grey”, a lovely little song that focuses on Rausch’s melodic piano work, reminding me of Elton John. He keeps things simple here and the song is all the better because of it.

This is a strong debut album that really came out of left field. If Rausch can remain focused and show a little bit of restraint, his future in music will not be denied as he has the talent to produce something truly exceptional. - Progressive Ears

"For Doug Rausch, the music is all that matters"

The lifelong Bucks County resident will celebrate his long-awaited second album, “Book II,” with a release party Feb. 3 at the Ardmore Music Hall.

Doug Rausch spent the night of the Eagles’ last Super Bowl appearance at a piano bar in New York City, an ambitious young musician anxious to share his songs and vision with a discerning audience, however small.

“The night offered to me was Super Bowl Sunday, and it was take it or leave it, so off I went, Super Bowl be damned,” the lifelong Bucks County resident said. “Of course this was WAY more important to me than football.”

Thirteen years later, the Eagles are back in the Super Bowl and Rausch, performing the night before the game, will once again be playing a special show, the football hype that has enraptured an entire region again the furthest thing from his mind.

The difference is the vision he boldly outlined from a piano bench as a singularly focused 23-year-old on Feb. 6, 2005, now tangibly exists in the form of two epic rock albums — his 2010 debut “Rausch” and the long-awaited follow-up, “Book II,” which comes out Friday.

His eponymous band Rausch will celebrate the album’s release with a concert Feb. 3 at the Ardmore Music Hall, opening for Echoes, the American Pink Floyd.

This is no ordinary release show. For a man who values music above all else, who sincerely aspires to save the world with his songs, this album literally means everything to him.

“Somehow I’m still here, dangling by a string,” he sings during the bleak yet mesmerizing “The End,” maybe the album’s tour de force, “but take away my music, I don’t care about anything.”

If those lyrics seem overly dramatic, you haven’t met Doug Rausch.

“This record is such a big deal,” he said during an entertaining, hour-long interview in Doylestown, where he lived his whole life before recently moving to Yardley. “I’m nervous. I mean, I put my whole life into this, my entire being, my human existence.

“Seriously, I’ve sacrificed relationships, having a life, going out and doing things. Any time I’m making money that’s not this, it’s only because of funding this. At age 12½, I got hit with this music bug, and that was it, I never looked back.”

He actually began taking piano lessons at age 8 — and hated it. The “epiphany from above, the ooga booga in the air,” as he described it, occurred four-and-a-half years later, when “I discovered, oh my God, I can play Queen on piano. This was a life-changing thing for me, that I could take a Queen song or a Pink Floyd song and play it here, on piano. That blew my mind.”

Two-plus decades later, those influences remain at the forefront of his music — the epic song lengths, the complex structures, the theatrical elements, the unexpected detours. No three-chord pop ditties here (although tracks like lead single “Greener Grass” and the David Ivory-produced “Good Day” would both sound at home on rock radio).

With influences that also include Dream Theater, Steven Wilson and Neal Morse (with whom he shares an engineer), Rausch’s music definitely fits under the prog-rock umbrella, but there are also traces of jazz, metal and classic rock. No wonder he eschews labels, preferring such outside descriptions as the three-way baby of Queen, Pink Floyd and Muse or, more simply, “Queen on steroids.”

One influence you WON’T hear in his music is Nirvana.

“I was born in the wrong generation,” said the 1999 Central Bucks East graduate. “I grew up in the generation where you were required by law to worship Kurt Cobain. I didn’t see any musical value in it, to be completely blunt. I’m sure I’ll get the snipers on me now, but I couldn’t do it, so I went back and gravitated toward (older music).”

Rausch, who graduated from Ithaca’s College School of Music, also gravitated toward certain chords. He knows he loses people when he talks about it, but he raves about a minor-major seventh or a major-seventh, sharp-five the way other people talk about a new romantic interest.

“People who aren’t theory nerds, that might leave them behind when I start talking in that vocabulary,” he said, “but it’s like when you’re cooking, you don’t know necessarily what the ingredients are called and the chemistry behind it, but you know you love it.

“That’s my defense mechanism for this. That minor-major seven chord is going to save the world, whether you know what it is when it’s hitting your ears or not.”

Rausch has found like-minded musical souls in his band: guitarist Gary Wehrkamp of the Lehigh Valley-based band Shadow Gallery, bassist Joe Fine from Philly, drummer Chris Ruffini from Philly. The group has overcome personnel changes, as well as various hardships that contributed to the seemingly interminable wait between albums.

That, and the fact the music couldn’t come out until Rausch — “a self-professed, narcissistic control-freak, OCD workaholic perfectionist” — was absolutely satisfied with it. His quest was to make music that was “meaningful,” not just “fun.”

“Fun is a word I struggle with so much,” he said. “I don’t have ability to have fun, I don’t understand what fun is. The only thing that ever gives me any sense of a positive emotion is me being in the studio working on my music and being onstage.”

A couple of minutes later he revealed his one non-music interest — collecting pigs. He said he owns hundreds of ceramic pigs, pigs on the wall, etc. This hobby has nothing to do with the Pink Floyd song, “Pigs”; rather it goes back to second or third grade.

He combined his two passions in the music video for “Greener Grass.” During the animated portion, he’s riding a pig.

“Greener Grass” is the song that, in Rausch’s perfect scenario, will lead to his big break.

“This is my ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ my ‘Carry on Wayward Son’,” he said. “It’s what I always wanted — it kills all birds with one stone. It’s got artistic substance, it’s a commercial vehicle, it goes on musical adventures, it flexes its muscles with the major-seven, sharp-five chord, but at the end of the day it’s also a song, not a Beethoven symphony. And I get it done in five-and-a-half minutes, not 10, so I’m so proud of ‘Greener Grass.’ It gets it all done.”

When he performs it, and the rest of his set, on Saturday night, you can bet he won’t be thinking about a football game taking place 24 hours later. Or anything else besides the music, for that matter.

Maybe Doug Rausch won’t save the world with his songs, but his fans can take comfort in the fact he’s never going to stop trying.

Rausch and Echoes, the American Pink Floyd perform Saturday at Ardmore Music Hall, 23 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore. Show time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 day of show, $32 reserved. Information: 610-649-8389; ardmoremusic.com

To purchase Rausch music, visit rausch.bandcamp.com or search @rauschofficial - The Intelligencer


"Book II" (2018)

"Good Day" - single (2014)

RAUSCH (2010)



"Talented dude, interesting music…!" tweeted then-Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, upon hearing self-titled debut album of RAUSCH. Little did he know the road traveled to get just that far...

After devoting the better part of his early years to the piano, namesake frontman Doug Rausch earned his Ithaca College music degree & plunged straight into self-imposed exile. Disillusioned by how mainstream music had all but completely plateaued by the early 2000’s – culminating in an eye-opening stint at Sony Music Studios - he found himself in a decade-long campaign chasing a long-held musical vision of his own. Aside from select live engagements - including an invitation from Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess to perform at the first KEYFEST - all else was sacrificed. 

Early on, the first member to join was Philadelphia bassist Joe Fine. Meeting at his family’s sandwich shop, a particularly generous offering of hot peppers made quite the impression on Rausch; he's been on board ever since. Then came a fortuitous encounter in NYC with virtuoso guitarist Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery, Outside the Wall). Even more unifying than the bond created over their mutual love for all things augmented-major-7, however, was a lifeblood running equally through the veins of all three: the musical influence of Queen.

In late 2009, the adventurous-yet-song-driven debut album (RAUSCH) - mixed by engineer-extraordinaire Rich Mouser (Chris Cornell, Neal Morse/Spock's Beard) - was finally released. Leadoff single "No Fair" hit the top 10 on New Music Weekly’s small-market radio charts, & the haunting "Ode to Pain" earned an honorable-mention nod from the 2010 International Songwriting Competition (ISC). Grammy-nominated producer David Ivory (The Roots, Halestorm) "discovered" the band, opening yet another door…

Applauding their ambition, Ivory’s assertion that "‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ wasn’t until Queen’s fourth album" was as much a caution as it was a compliment. Via subsequent collaboration with Ivory, RAUSCH gained a hard-fought rite of passage, learning to flex a “commercial” muscle that would prove not mutually exclusive from the artistic one. In pursuit of uniting the best of both worlds, Doug briefly stepped away from the piano completely; first Ivory-produced track "Good Day" instead came through his guitar. To hold fans over, it was released as a standalone single in 2014 (with accompanying video directed by musical contemporaries in NYC's Jolly), and with that the band bought some much-needed time to put the final touches on some stubborn 10-minute “epics” that would ultimately round out the next full album.

It was more than musical perfectionism alone, however, that contributed to yet another "prolonged period of monogamy between music & creator." From as early as 2012, having barely broken ground on the debut's follow-up (and still hopeful to avoid "[GN'R's] Chinese Democracy Syndrome" twice in a row), RAUSCH’s battles against the darkest side of Murphy's Law were no laughing matter. Surgeries were required; relationships were sacrificed; and, in real life Spinal Tap fashion, musicians mysteriously vanished. When the band finally pulled its collective head back above water - aided in no small way by newcomer Chris Ruffini on drums – they had time-traveled all the way to the doorstep of 2018.

At long last, RAUSCH releases second full-length album BOOK II. Heavy-hitting contributions come from the likes of Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard), and second Shadow Gallery mainstay, guitarist Brendt Allman. Picking up where the debut left off, it remains painfully vulnerable & autobiographical of the band's trials & tribulations along the way. Things are "even more deep and dark" this time, observes the returning Rich Mouser who (along with Bumblefoot) applauds the "Queen-on-steroids" diversity running throughout. Lead-off single "Greener Grass" is adventurous and catchy; "Irked" at times flirts with jazz; "The End" is a nearly 10-minute atmospheric musical tapestry picking right up where Pink Floyd left off; the head-splitting "Speechless" shows the band clashing with Metallica-sized demons; and joining "Good Day" is 2nd Ivory-produced track "Swansong" which, by notable contrast, offers a glimpse of something completely unexplored up until now: optimism. 

Band Members