The Great Wall

The Great Wall

BandRockMetal

Fearlessly inventive and authentic progressive rock with a melodic/experimental bent, performed with synchronized backing samples and cymatic visuals. For fans of The Mars Volta, Dillinger Escape Plan, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Propagandhi, Intronaut, Animals As Leaders, etc.

Biography

Los Angeles rock band The Great Wall began in 2011 as a reformation of Bernard's Millions, a progressive hardcore/metal group that featured members Chris Waldrep and Jesse Kirberger (best friends and musical collaborators since high school) on guitar, along with a rotation of various singers, drummers, and bassists.

After the departure of third lead vocalist Jason Butler (following the international success of his post-hardcore band letlive.), Chris and Jesse decided to take on vocal duties themselves. They spent the first half of 2011 constructing an album's worth of completely new material which reflected this change, recruiting renowned session musicians Dave Elitch, (former touring drummer for M83 and The Mars Volta), and Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, (bassist for Suicidal Tendencies, Erykah Badu, and Flying Lotus) to help them lay down the finished product in-studio during the summer and fall of that year.

The end result is The Great Wall, a full length, self-titled debut album released independently in March of 2012 that means to expand upon what is traditionally labelled as "heavy" to include a wide variety of musical interests, influences, and goals; soaring vocals, roller coaster dynamics, cinematic compositions, and unapologetically proficient musicianship define the album's aesthetic.

"To me, art is art," says Waldrep. "Whether you're writing a song, preparing a meal, or designing a building, art is defined by the care that goes into creating something that's meaningful; first to yourself, and then hopefully to others, simply as a result of being true to your instinct and experience. When people hear this music, I want what they're hearing to evoke something honest and significant. These songs demand a certain level of attention, and that's exactly what I expect the music I enjoy to ask of me. None of it was written to be in the background of a car commercial."

But a band must be encountered firsthand to be truly understood. With the addition of Will Jenkins (a protégé of Elitch's) on drums, and Pete Griffin (former bassist for Zappa Plays Zappa) on bass, The Great Wall sought to present a live show that would reproduce the full wall of sound from the album, while incorporating new sonic and visual elements.

"We knew when we started thinking about performing live that we had to do something more than just standing there and playing," Waldrep recalls. "We would never attempt to outdo a band like letlive. or Dillinger Escape Plan in terms of outright physical intensity, so we decided to come up with something else that would make our set interesting to watch, as well as hear. Artists like Squarepusher and Amon Tobin have done such incredible things with live visuals, we just felt like that was something we really wanted to try to tackle in a new way."

The visuals are directly inspired by a TED Talks presentation given by Evan Grant, a British creative technologist who expanded on work pioneered by Hans Jenny in the field of cymatics - that is, the manipulation of physical media (sand, water, etc.) via sound and vibration. By attaching a small dish to the cone of a speaker, filling it with water, and playing their music through it, the band created naturally abstract visualizations of their songs, which were filmed, edited, and attached to a master file. When they perform, a laptop connected on-stage to the PA and a projector plays back the file, which provides synchronized visuals along with samples and segues.

"Given the near-total collapse of the recorded music industry, we feel it's more important now than at any time before to write songs that are authentic, and to convey those songs in a way that stands out," says Waldrep. "We're a relatively new band, and there's a lot of ground to cover, but this is something that we do. Music moves our lives, literally and figuratively."

Lyrics

Third House (The Ballad of Felipe Fuentes)

Written By: Chris Waldrep

Underwrite everything when the forums fail. The curve expects this. Let the tone be disowned. Just know I'm not alone. I can't advocate a thing from the floor. Best if done when out of sight. Smoke reflected in the frame of a mirror. Fill your seats and reignite. Override anything when the law is stale. The rules suggest this. Let their own. Let alone. 'Cause soon we're headed home. I can't advocate a thing anymore. Best if done without a fight. Smoke reflected in the shame of an office. Resources drifting through the night. Board the doors and do it right. Sell your soul to keep the lights on.

Figures

Written By: Chris Waldrep

Familiar is the feeling of our own naive assumptions. Even now do we depreciate the things we have. Say that you'll keep our secrets. There are many that keep their own. Lionize with a distant conscience, telling lies of an icon set in stone. I've never seen a place to be, aside from these museums. Expire in an gallery lest we move along. Say that you're willing to keep my secrets. There are more than I've got room for. I'm a ghost of my intuition, pulling rank on the part I thought I should control. If you follow someone's directions, when you see someone ask them how it was to treat us this way. To dazzle diluted senses with a box someone has you begging for every night and day.

Magnetar

Written By: Chris Waldrep

We've approached ourselves from the middle so as not to startle the herd. Let me introduce you all, here beside our great wall. We were thinking it would be better if we could bury the past. But really, why should we bother if nothing here ever lasts? Let me introduce you all, here beside our great wall. Towers watch us from afar; betray the truth of what they are. We're fated to meet. That magnet will reach because our pulses are shared - signs of decay that we wear. Save our ship. Sound, our system.

Misanthropic Thunder

Written By: Chris Waldrep

I've made friends with these patterns. They obey my command. They should flow more freely, though, like our grains of sand. It grows at a pace that exceeds our most modest of assets and reliable means. Double down on catastrophe. My portfolio swells. Signify my conquest with the ring of a bell. It grows at a pace that exceeds our most modest of assets and reliable means. The mall in the right tone of voice satisfies all your longings. Let the selfish rejoice. We deserve it the way we go running around. We deserve it the way we go running our mouths. We deserve it the way we go running aground. We deserve it the way we go spiraling down.

The Verge

Written By: Chris Waldrep

It's just the way we are. It's the motions that carried us this far. An athlete drags behind our car. Can he reinvigorate? Can't we slow to a less fatal rate? There's a heart upon our plate. Our faces turned to stone; told our children to turn and go on home, and sent them down that road alone. Furl the sails. The mast becomes a nail. Can you please elaborate. Do our horses sit behind their gate? Does their finish come up late? Confusion bears our maiden name. The speed at which our ship descends remains the same. Still hold it steady. We'll stay the course, identifying faults on the ocean floor. We'll integrate when I like your ideas. We'll integrate when I know where you're from. We'll integrate when you answer my questions. We'll integrate when your argument's numb. We'll integrate when I like your ideas. We'll integrate with a smile and a nod. We'd be the same, were I blind to the writing. Well, you can see that it's right at the top. Corruption binds us to our fate. The manufacture of demise is here to stay. We're always sorry for all we need. I'm trapped inside my skin still screaming for release...

Discography

"The Great Wall" - Released Indepentently on March 28, 2012

Set List

The Verge
Figures
Do Not Pass Go
Third House (The Ballad Of Felipe Fuentes)
You're In Charge While I'm Away
Misanthropic Thunder

32:33 total