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Bandsintown

Bio: We are a progressive rock instrumental trio from Orange County, California, USA. We released our first album in November of 2011. We’ve been out supporting the CD ever since, performing showcases all over Southern California, and as far east as Nashville, Tennessee. We are currently operating as an unsigned band, although we’re open to the possibility of a relationship with an established label. Since our inception, we’ve been selling our music on most music sites around the world in addition to our website. We’re also on several internet radio stations, with the hopes of gaining ground in the terrestrial radio market.

Ted Morton (drummer): The back story is that Keith Moreland (guitarist) and I met back in 1992 when he got my phone number from somebody who recommended me for his band at the time. I ended up auditioning and got the gig. The next thing I knew, we were playing out quite a bit. We ended up making some personnel changes, and recorded our first album between 1994 and 1996 which was never officially released. During that time we both were also playing with many other amazing musicians in separate projects.

We had all gone our separate ways by 2000. Keith and I remained very good friends, and we played together on several other projects that I was producing and recording drums on throughout that time. All the while asking him to join forces with me again in order to write for a new band.

In 2009 we met in my home studio and began writing. A year later we had enough material for an entire album. We hadn’t yet secured a bass player, so we decided to ask my friend Matt Bissonette to join us. I had played with Matt on a couple of previous occasions and he is simply a monster musician, and a great guy. He brought something special to every track, and it was a real treat to have him play on the album. Matt is currently on tour with Elton John. Given the fact that Matt was unable to join us for the live shows, we were in dire need of a competent bass player. A singer friend of mine by the name of Dexter Espinosa recommended a bass player named Russ Reshaw, who had been on tour with the band Two or More for the last ten years. I contacted him and after several rehearsals, we played our first show at winter NAMM 2012 in Anaheim, California together where we only had enough time to play two songs, but it went over very well. Russ has been with us ever since.

Genre: First off, we love all kinds of music. We both grew up listening to a lot of the progressive rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, Kansas, Genesis, Rush, and into adulthood with bands like Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and Spock’s Beard. But we also loved bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and so many of the other great rock bands of our time. There’s something very special about the way that these bands construct their songs. They create scenes in your mind with the music, soundscapes that are unlike typical rock or pop music. We wanted to write something that didn’t necessarily copy the bands we love, but instead complimented them.

Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements: From the start, Keith and I agreed to write what we wanted to write. To be able to create in an unobstructed environment, and with no preconceived ideas. Most of the time, either Keith or I would come to the studio with an idea or riff, and expound on that idea, trying out different time signatures and modes. sometimes we would work out an idea for days, only to scrap the entire idea when we listened back. Huge sections of songs wound up being trashed if we both didn’t agree that it was something good.

Because of the fact that we were working on instrumental music, we often times would create songs based on a thematic approach. For instance the first song on the album called “Stimulus Package” is based on a musical approach to secret agent films. The song “Leopard Dance” is based on animal documentaries. Seven Fifty Seven is named for some of the prominent time signatures throughout the song. “The Chase” is based on a chase theme for a film score. “Master Cylinder” has a robotic theme. “Busa” is named after the Hayabusa Motorcycle which at the time was the fastest production motorcycle on the market. “Shark Boogie” is just a straight ahead boogie song in the style of Joe Satriani. “Steve” was written as a dedication to guitarist Steve Vai who is one of Keith’s favorites. “From the Deep” has elements from several of our favorite bands like Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Procupine Tree. “Letter From Home” has a war theme, with a hybrid funeral march at the end on the snare drum. “Via Sonrisa” (Sonrisa meaning “Smile” in Spanish) has latin influences along with early Rush influences. And lastly “Song for JnJ” is a short Vignette dedicated to our wives, meant to be a sort of palate cleanser at the end of the album.

Ideas about the album: In a word, yes, we’re very happy with the way it turned out. Given the fact that the two of us wrote, recorded, produced, engineered, mixed, and agonized over every aspect of this album without the benefit of a budget, and without a record label, we think it turned out pretty well. The parts that we could have improved upon are: We didn’t have the ability to play the music in front of a live audience for months at a time before we recorded it, so naturally there are some nuances that we’ve picked up after having played the music for a while in live settings, that we wish could have made it onto the album.

Reception: The reception has truly been overwhelming and extremely humbling. We received a standing ovation at our first proper concert, and all of the live shows since have been very warmly received, for which we are immensely grateful! You never really know how your project is going to go over live when you’re in the studio writing and recording. All you can do is hope that people will like it somehow, and have a desire to come out and see you again. The fact that people seem to really enjoy the music is a huge reward.

Preference; live or studio: Clearly, it’s extremely exciting to play live, in front of people and receiving feedback from everyone, being in the moment and knowing that you’re bringing others together to have a good time.

The recording studio has a different kind of excitement altogether. The excitement of creating something new and fresh, after having started the day with a blank page. The satisfaction that you get when you believe that you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

Next step; live or studio: We’re still out there playing as many shows as we can and working very hard to increase our fan base. We have begun writing for the next album and we now have several solid tracks that we hope the fans will like. As far as touring is concerned, we are working hard to put a tour together for parts of the United States, and It would be a dream come true to tour internationally.

Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: We started this project with the idea that we wanted to make ourselves happy with the music first, and that hopefully everything else would follow. So far, that strategy has worked well. We believe that people know if you’re authentic or not, there are a lot of very smart listeners out there who can tell if you’re the real deal, or just faking it. We set out to be completely honest with what we created, and it’s very clear to us that people really appreciate it.

How'd you come up with your name? We went through countless band names, some of them serious and some were downright comical. We decided to call it Pet Shark because we didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously at the time, and we also thought that we could create some fun graphics with a name like that. Thus, Pet Shark was born. 

Anything else? Just that we’ll be working hard to bring you a new album as soon as possible and we’re looking forward to seeing you on road.

Let’s talk about the Music Business. There, I said it, ‘business’, businesses are there to make money, profit, dosh, whatever you want to call it. They are not a charity, they are, at the highest level, soulless corporations that exist solely to be the best at leeching money out of you.

To my eyes, the music industry at the heady heights is not about the artists, it’s about how much money the artists can make for you. These endless talent shows on TV are a case in point, how many artists go on to have a successful career? They are milked by the management and left by the wayside to wither and die.

I like to co-exist in the world of independent labels and artists, a world where it is all about the love of the music and not the love of the almighty dollar. Here the artists write about life, love and experiences, yes they’d like to make some money but, just so they can record the next album, not so they can buy a flashy supercar or waste it on Crystal champagne.

There is an honesty and integrity to this small part of the so called ‘music business’ that most of the bigger players wouldn’t know if it came up and bit them on the ass! The downside of all this is that the majority of the artists just don’t get the recognition they deserve. Whilst coke addled mega stars sell out ten thousand seater auditoriums, the smaller acts can sometimes be considered lucky if they attract an audience of above a couple of hundred true and hardy music lovers.

I don’t know the answer to the problem but, as a music writer who does it for love and not money I am always doing my bit, like my fellow authors, to sing the praises of these superlative musicians far and wide. When, occasionally, something I have missed or has slipped under my radar arrives at Progradar towers then I consider it my duty to bring it to the attention of the general public.

This week I got home from work one evening to find a package shipped from the good old US of A had been delivered through my letterbox. What was in it you may ask? It was the first CD release from American instrumental rock band Pet Shark. Now, I must admit that, when Nem asked me if I wanted to review said album, I had never heard of the band before. Would these minnows turn out to be big fish in small pond? (see what I did there). Before we listen and find out, a little history is required.

Hailing from Orange County, Pet Shark are a progressive rock instrumental trio consisting of Keith Moreland (guitars), Russ Reshaw (bass) and Ted Morton (drums). The bass on the album was recorded by the well renowned Matt Bisonette (Elton John’s band) but he could not join the band for the live shows so Russ took over. Also appearing on the album were Roger Charles (bass), Lindsay Jagich (cello), Chris Jagich (keys) and Jason Lee (vocals).

Citing influences varying from Led Zeppelin through RushGenesis and Steve Vai, there is enough there to offer an intriguing mix of styles. Enough waffling, it is time to have a listen and give my considered opinion, hell we’re off to a great start with the excellent album cover anyway!

‘Le Debut’ consist of 14 tracks so there is a lot to get your teeth into and the first track Stimulus Package starts the album off in a very nice way. Hints of early Rush abound as the intricate drum work and solid bass back up some sublime guitar playing. Urgent and fast paced there is a strong hint of prog about this track, the tricky guitar riffs are complimented by some fierce guitar licks to leave a satisfying taste in the mouth. Leopard Dance keeps that heavy 70’s prog influence in place but is much more deliberate and considered proposition. The riff builds in momentum and is delivered purposefully. This track really impressed me, for three guys, they make a pretty impressive sound that is complex and layered with just as much substance in the background rhythm as in that delivered by the superlative guitar. The solo burns brightly holding your attention as it feeds your musical needs and the song fades out as impressively as it entered into your domain. Well, what a superb start to the album! Radio Flyer is a very short interlude that is exactly what it says, like someone turning the dial on a 50’s radio trying to find relevant stations. The band carry on with the overt progressive influences with Seven Fifty Seven , a superb riff and monster drums leading in the track, ably assisted by the solid bass. The guitar line is slightly distorted and works very well adding in a superb heavy blues feel to the track. The whole song reeks of strong tobacco and even stronger whiskey, this is serious rock music for serious people, wimps and lightweights need not apply. To be honest, I find myself nodding my head appreciatively to the music, like you see seasoned fans do at a concert, it is decidedly mature and intelligent stuff. The ending is a work of art, the mad drumming preceding a superb keys and guitar led run out.

In a move away from the progressive edge and more in line with blues/rock, the intro to The Chase is a superb rendition of a searing blues lick which runs into a funky southern blues riff that has my feet dancing of their own accord. This track puts a huge grin on my face, it is hard and heavy but played with a reckless abandon that can’t help but make you smile, blues that is good for the soul and has nothing to do with ‘waking up this morning’.Add in a solo that just screams passion at you and there is nothing you can find about this song that you don’t instantly love.  An electronic intro leaves you wondering where Master Cylinder will lead but, don’t worry, we are now in hard rock territory with down and dirty riff that screams sweat and leather at you. Mean, moody and monstrous this track has a maleficence about it that runs throughout, not quite evil but with a more than a touch of darkness to it. I don’t know what it says about me but I love it. The crunching riffs, driving bass and dour drumming all add to that feeling, like a Stephen King novel in musical form.

The next three tracks stand out as a tribute to those guitar playing legends Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Lighter but still hard rock edged Busa has a seriously funky feel to it and the screaming guitar licks almost have an organic feel of their own. If you ever doubted the supreme skill of these musicians (which, incidentally, I didn’t) those doubts will have finally blown away by now. This song may be a nod to his heroes but Keith Moreland has enough sublime ability of his own to stand tall in such exalted company, upbeat and incredibly catchy, it is another fine track on this album of superlatives. A huge grin breaks on my face as the seriously cool and funky riff starts on Shark Boogie, this is a song that could have come straight from the seminal ‘Surfing With the Alien’, there is a joyous and hopeful feeling about this track and, when the solo starts, it just goes right off the scale. The guitar really has taken on a life of its own and grabbed its buddies, the bass and stylish drums, to go on a musical journey that leads who knows where. I am captivated by the music as it dances around my aural receptors, just superb!  The final track of the trio, Steve, is dedicated to the great Steve Vai and, as the band put it,

 “This is a tribute song to Steve Vai, who is one of Keith’s favorite guitar players. After Keith came up with the melody and outline for the song, Ted wrote a drum part that he thought would be a tribute to some of the great drummers that have played with Steve. After the guitars and drums were tracked, Matt Bissonette added an amazing bass track to the mix. We hope you enjoy it!”

And, to be fair, I loved it. Slower and melodic, it is like musical catharsis and is quite dreamlike in places. The track gently wafts you along as if you are on a soft pillow of music, drifting along with the rhythm. It draws the emotion out of your inner core to be exposed along with your soul, like a journey of discovery for your musical core. Can You hear Me is anothershort interlude and consists of an overheard phone call in Scottish accents.

The longest track on the album From the Deep begins with an insistent bass line that is backed by some smoothly delivered drumming before the guitar begins with an expansive, room filling sound. Slow and calculated it is quite apprehensive and sits deep in your psyche. The keyboards add to the sombre mood and the generally serious feel to the song. Staccato and driven in places, the ominous and distorted guitar licks and riffs add to the feeling of suspense before a haunting, operatic voice breaks in overlaying an acoustic guitar in a sorrowful counter to the sinister feel of before. It is like a hope filled break in the gloom and is incredibly heartfelt and uplifting. This part of the song feels like a transition from the overwhelming darkness of the abyss to the transcendental feeling you get as you slowly move into the light and the brightness of a new found belief.

Letter From Home is the most emotional track on the album, the story behind this song is very moving.  Ted goes on to say,

“Letter from Home was written as a war theme because, as the story goes Keith had just got back from a funeral of a young Marine who had been killed and was very saddened by it. The young Marine was engaged to be married, and his fiancé had written him a letter about wedding plans etc. Well, soon after she sent the letter, he was killed and someone ended reading the letter at his funeral. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church. We were finished recording for the day on that particular song and I asked Keith to just record a solo at the end of the piece. He was very reluctant, I persisted, and he pulled out his guitar and recorded the solo in one take. On that day his daughter, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, was also ill and Keith felt that the solo was a complete release for him”.

The gentle acoustic guitar introduction begins the song in a solemn fashion and the guitar takes up the refrain with a touching lead. There is a reverence felt throughout the song and you feel the need to talk in hushed tones as long as it continues. The cello actually sent shivers up my spine as it takes up the narrative in a beauteous manner, ethereal and yet mournful in equal measure. The tempo is increased by a hard, crunching guitar riff that speaks of war and destruction, the vocal effects moving and reflective. You feel that the whole song is building up to something as the cello provides a short pause before Keith Moreland lets rip with the most intense and fervent guitar solo that you will ever hear, an outpouring of emotion that must have surely left him spent afterwards, it left me slack jawed in amazement and I was emotionally consumed after the song had come to a close.

Via Sonrisa has Rush written all over it in bold marker pen, not surprising as it draws inspiration from some of the band’s classic albums. The introduction is powerful and the guitar paying is intricate and passionate. Throughout the track Ted Morton is superhuman behind the drum kit and the technical skill is evident throughout from the notable bass playing of Matt Bisonette. Clever time signatures abound and it is a progressive aficionado’s dream and a plethora of delights for anyone who just loves the music. I get the impression that the band will love playing this live as it gives them the chance to just let loose and blow off steam. The guitar playing is, once again, remarkable and you are left shaking your head in appreciation. The album comes to a close with Song for J n J, a gentle ending to the album with a classy piano sound and acoustic guitar playing in counterpoint to each other. It is quite cathartic after the profound intensity of the rest of the album and brings things to a close quite perfectly as the sound of waves breaking on the shore washes over you.

I have reviewed quite a few instrumental progressive albums in my short tenure at Lady Obscure Music Magazine and, generally, they are technically brilliant jazz/prog fusion releases that really blow you away with their wizardry. In Pet Shark and their album ‘Le Debut’ we have something a little bit different, there is a huge dose of emotion and feel put in the mix and you end up with music that is more for the soul than the mind. I have to admit that I connected in a very strong fashion with this release due to the outstanding songwriting as well as the amazing musicianship on show. Best instrumental album I’ve heard since I started writing? A lofty ambition indeed but, you know what? It bloody well is! My recommendation would be to go and buy it now whilst you can, go on then, run along quick now!!!

Pet Shark Review 3/7/14
Barb Pitoscia / BackStage360

"Pet Shark’s performance at Ramona Mainstage was an incomparable musical experience that crossed several styles of music including rock, heavy metal, classical, and psychedelic. This thrilling 3-some consists of Keith Moreland on Lead Guitar, Ted Morton on Drums and Russ Reshaw on Bass Guitar.

Pet Shark performed 6 songs and although there were no vocals to accompany the instruments, all their songs had a uniqueness that made each song sound very different from the next. My favorite song was ‘From the Deep’ which immediately brought me into a meditative journey from start to finish. Beginning with the slow rhythmic moaning of the guitars and transitioning into a psychedelic-daydream melody and ending with a long mesmerizing Pink Floyd trance-like harmony. I found myself completely lost in the music throughout the entire song putting aside all other thoughts. The fourth song, ‘Shark Boogie’ quickly brought me out of the melodic spell introducing a more upbeat Van Halen-y sound with an exceptional guitar solo. Throughout all their songs, the guitars were fluid and the drums solid and unpretentious.

Keith, Ted and Russ are exceptional musicians who clearly enjoy and believe in what they’re doing. They kept the entire audience engaged and at times captivated throughout their entire performance. The instruments were in perfect synchronization that gave the sentiment of the guitars and drums singing back and forth to one another. It was also intriguing how they could start out with a real sharp heavy metal sound and slow it down to a soft classical symphony all within the same song.

I definitely recommend taking the time to check out these guys. Pet Shark is a great instrumental experience with pleasant, down-to-earth guys."

“I'll get to the Winery Dogs in a moment. I want to mention the two opening bands on this bill....Pet Shark who did an awesome job opening the show. Good songs and excellent musicianship all around. I recommend you check them out! http://www.petsharkband.com”

Pet Shark Live @ Coach-house pre MICHAEL SCHENKER Five Stars

By Swopper USA - Apr 13, 2013

Pet Shark performed Live in San Juan Capistrano, CA - Opening act for MICHAEL SCHENKER, In addition to Schenker was the treat and superb performance by the talented trio of PET SHARK who were as dynamic as possibly KING CRIMSON and ELP if you know what I mean. Got the album afterwards, it is a top piece of sound art. Get some of their songs or all. Cheers, to discovering new music. - Jay

WOW!!!
Five Stars
                            
It has been a while since I have been this excited about a new CD, but this new CD by Pet Shark is absolutely stunning!!! The guitar work is like a tapestry of interwoven scenes. Some scenes are hard driving, edgy and gritty. Like a good ...car chase in a movie, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, not knowing what is coming next. Other scenes have sublime beauty with melodic cascades of sound that just seem to envelope the listener and transport you to another place within your own imagination. While the shredmaster playing guitar (Keith Moreland) is certainly in the spotlight, the other members of this trio are equally talented and they complete the scenes that are being painted by the guitar. Ted Morton on drums and Matt Bissonette on bass both have some incredible chops and they interweave their parts in a way that complement the songs and yet stand on their own merit at the same time. Some of the drum lines hit hard and fast (and I mean hard and fast) and yet in other songs there is great touch and sensitivity, always flowing with the song in just the right way. My son is currently taking bass lessons, and we have listened to the bass lines in this CD over and over and each time he just shakes his head in wonder. I give this a raving 5 stars!!!! Awesome CD!!!

Progressive Rock geniuses! Five Stars

I bought this album a week ago, and it's been an amazing listening experience. Each song is well-crafted, satisfying and the melodies flow well. I think its deversity is what gives this album such replay value; no two songs sounds exactly the same, while still staying true to their style. You can tell that a lot of hard work was put into every track. I really cannot find a weak moment on here! 

Highly recommended for anyone who likes Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Dream Theater, Pink Floyd or any other progressive rock bands. The guitar work here is the perfect blend of soul and shred, and the sound quality is outstanding. "Le Debut" encompasses just about everything I love about progressive rock. It's a true musical feast that is worth every cent!! 

Must have! Great tunes - Five Stars

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