By Zach Schepis
Photo courtesy of Concrete Waves.
Never mind the Lords of Dogtown–here’s a different platoon of riders from the concrete vistas that you should know about.
Enter Over Lord (Sam Yannotti), Theory Lord (Pascual Araujo), Time Lord (Billy McFeely) and Splice Lord (Mike Corrado). Together these skateboarding compadres form the band Concrete Waves–a project that began as a folk duo between friends that has since morphed into an amalgamation of electro minimalism, classical textures, and Latin-tinged rhythms. There’s even an accordion.
The music is well-suited to cruising, with loping grooves and ambient progressions that pacify the mind and keep the wheels turning. Their recent release III is perhaps their most realized work to date, employing each of the band members’ unique strengths into a cumulative experience that never feels scattered or strained. Over Lord, Theory Lord, and Splice Lord offer BTR some of their inspiration and insights into why.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): With a name like Concrete Waves, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that you share a passion for “riding planks of wood with wheels.” In what ways do your love for skating and music inform one another?
Mike Corrado (MC): First off, it’s how we all met. I feel a lot of parallels between the two activities because ultimately they’re both a journey for self improvement. Learning new tricks on the skateboard and teaching yourself a riff on the guitar are very similar.
Also hanging out with friends is a huge part of both. What do you think Pascual?
Pascual Araujo (PA): Both have definitely taught me life lessons. I started playing guitar first and then skating followed right after, and since then they’ve helped me grow as a person. They’ve also taught me a lot about confidence.
BTR: I feel like there’s a natural rhythm to skateboarding that probably also translates well to music.
MC: I agree–there’s a major focus on isolating parts of your body and controlling them in fine-tuned ways.
BTR: So in the liner credits for your most recent release, III, Mike, you’re listed as Splice Lord, and the other guys’ names include Over Lord, Theory Lord, and Time Lord. How’d these come about?
MC: The reason why I’m Splice Lord is because I’ll man the recording program, and after we record a couple of takes back-to-back I’ll splice them together, or I’ll take the best parts of each. Maybe I’ll reverse something instead, or add effects to it. Billy is Time Lord because we have a cassette deck which he would use to slow down or speed up our songs to different effects.
We didn’t want to credit ourselves with instruments, because often one of us will end up playing two instruments on a song and there are already so many instruments on the album.
Image courtesy of Concrete Waves.
PA: I’m Theory Lord because I play classical guitar and go to music school; you could say that I handle most of the “theory”–meaning the analytical aspect of the songs. I’d say Sam is the Over Lord because ultimately Concrete Waves is his vision, he really started [it] and then everyone else joined in to collaborate.
Speaking of which, he actually just walked in the room now.
BTR: Welcome Over Lord!
Sam Yannotti (SY): Greetings, thanks for having me!
BTR: Speaking of all these instruments, whose idea was it to include accordion? It’s a strange choice, but fits really well into the songwriting.
SY: That was Mike’s call. I forget—how exactly did you stumble upon it? I remember it being a hand-me-down…
MC: I was at my aunt’s house and I found an old accordion that belonged to my grandfather. I had no idea how to play it, but started to figure out what the buttons were. They’re arranged in fifths, and I had a little music theory background so I was able to pick it up. It ended up fitting really well with what Sam was playing, and I think it’s become a central component of our sound at this point.
SY: We wouldn’t be the same without it.
BTR: In regards to that sound, how would you describe it in a sentence or two to someone who has never heard you before?
SY: Oh jeez.
MC: Psychedelic, neo-classical, post-rock… maybe? We’ve also heard people compare it to Muzak, or elevator music.
BTR: I think it’s definitely a lot more interesting than elevator music.
PA: Sam has a bossa nova background, I’ve got classical guitar, and Mike has folk. Together it becomes a blend of colors where you can pick out a snippet of each in the mix and hear how they interact with one another.
SY: Impressionist music has definitely had a big impact on us too.
BTR: I’d like to end on a non-musical note for a change: how about your favorite places to skate in New York?
PA: Astoria is the place for me. There’s a schoolyard in Jamaica, Queens called I.S. 238–it’s got nice ledges, great bleachers, and it’s just an overall good place to hang out if you’re down to go out that far.
SY: When the Brooklyn Banks comes back you can bet that we’ll be there.
To hear more from Concrete Waves, check out their Bandcamp or tune into BTR’s very own In the Den.