Intervals Show New York City The Way Forward
The Way Forward Tour
In the metal genre, there are bands and then there’s Intervals. The Way Forward Tour showcases musicianship on a level either not often seen or often overlooked by the average music fan. Aaron Marshall (a.k.a. Intervals) is on top of the instrumental metal list, and closely following him are Jason Richardson and Nick Johnston. So when these guys joined up for a tour like this, it promises to leave crowds in awe of what can be done on a guitar.
Nick Johnston hails from Canada. He’s a guitarist who has been making waves with catchy, melody-driven instrumentals and has succeeded at standing out in a crowded genre with just his guitar. His unique style is a direct correlation of the various styles of music he listens to, and are easily seen as influences in his own music. Nick’s eclectic sound ranges from blues to prog, jazz and everything in between. His music is known for being technical and always evolving but always recognizable as his. Nick’s insanely strong work ethic and love for the music makes him one of today’s greatest guitarists. His dynamic guitar playing has landed him sponsorships with major international music brands like Friedman Amps, Seymour Duncan and Schecter Guitars to name a few. You can hear his music and support him right HERE.
Jason Richardson is a metal guitar player, composer, and teacher, best known for his work in bands like All Shall Perish, Born of Osiris, and Chelsea Grin. He’s got an insanely original and technical style and is highly praised for his abilities on seven and eight string guitars, and making it look easy if I may add. Through a highly successful crowdfunding effort, Richardson set off to the studio for his debut solo project, which he played many of the instruments himself. He also enlisted the help of fellow musicians drummer Luke Holland, Spencer Sotelo of Periphery, and Rick Graham. The album titled I was released in July, 2016 and has 11 tracks, featuring Nick Johnston, Jeff Loomis and Mark Holcomb. You can pick up the album and a ton of other merch from Jason at his official site HERE!
Intervals and the man behind it, Aaron Marshall, has been an ambassador for progressive instrumental guitar music since 2011. In 2012 the band released their breakthrough EP “In Time.” From then through 2015’s highly acclaimed The Shape of Colour. Marshall consistently pushes the envelope of possibilities for an instrumental band in a highly saturated genre consisting of vocalist. He’s the voice of guitar instrumental music and he knows it. The band’s newest effort The Way Forward, which was released in December of 2017, shows Aaron’s natural evolution of sound. The album features high energy rock driven riffs and ethereal sounds while still maintaining catch hooks all without a vocalist. Aaron is known for heavy touring around each albums release and has received praise from instrumental metal alumni Animals As Leaders, his non-stop work ethic and dedication to his art has made him a household name and inspiration to so many up and coming musicians. I highly suggest you check out the band’s newest album “The Way Forward” as it’s out now and available right HERE.
I won’t lie and say I’m super familiar with the instrumental realm of the metal genre, because… well I’m not. I do however know each one of the band’s on The Way Forward Tour, mostly from my crazy musician friends who worship the stages these guys play on. Through passing I’ve been showed songs and play through videos etc… What I do know about these guys is their insane technical abilities and the musical risks they’re willing to take to expose their craft.
Made my way to The Gramercy Theatre as I make my first instrumental show the one with all the top instrumental acts on the bill. As I arrived to the show on this rather warm Wednesday evening, I immediately noticed something! A completely different metal crowd; a crowd made up of late teens, early 20’s, and many 30 year olds who were mostly musicians. There were tons of t-shirts advertising bands I had never heard of; clearly I was not the cool kid at this party. Despite that I felt welcomed, everybody was incredible friendly, and the fans were very much a joy to be around.
I made my way inside to catch Nick Johnston, a true artist. I had heard a ton about this guy and was excited to see him having heard about his blue’s influences. Nick took the stage to a pretty packed theatre at around 8:15 pm and instantly I could tell I was gonna enjoy his set. Johnston comes out with just enough lighting; not too much but not too little, just perfect enough to capture the vibe of his set. The first song of his set was “Remarkably Human” and was the perfect song to set the mood; the crowd appeared to be instantly enjoying it. The one thing I noticed right away was the fluency of his fingers – how easy he made it look and the sounds being heard as a result of his actions. In the second song of the set, “Poison Touch,” Johnston really got into it and he was clearly feeding off the vibe of the crowd.
He had a flow and to watch the passion in which he plays was amazing. The guy really is an incredible guitar player; song after song he just kept getting more fun to watch. As I looked back at the audience I saw fans staring in awe and just feeling the music. After all… that’s what it’s about. Nick Johnston played six songs in his set and each one had its unique sound and feeling. He had a way of letting his guitar do the talking and a great blend of Blues, Rock and Jazz. I highly suggest you look him up, check out his videos and give him a listen. I have no doubt we will be hearing much more from him and I really hope we do!
Next up was Jason Richardson. He would bring the shredding through his semi-instrumental set. Joined by one of the best drummers around Luke Holland formerly of The Word Alive, with just the duo and a stage full of red lights Jason wasted no time in bringing the heavy with the song “Tonga.” After the song, Luke took to the mic to express his excitement to be back in New York City. The next song of the set “Omni” featured Richardson heading over to his riser on stage right and doing some of the crazy guitar work fans have come to love from him. The set – heavy with no vocalist needed.
The crowd was bouncing their heads to the drum and guitar onslaught that was happening in Gramercy. The duo teased the New York crowd mid-set with a new song “Tendinitis” which is perfectly named for the finger work Richardson was doing across the fretboard. After Luke asked the crowd “What did you think?” as the question was met with cheers of approval. The set also included the song “Retrograde” with a little help from Spencer Sotelo of Periphery’s vocals on a backing track. All together the set consisted of seven songs, and heavy ones courtesy of Richardson’s seven and eight string guitar arsenal. Luke Holland’s drum playing was amazing and as fun as ever to watch. Overall after seeing these guys I think we can all agree they’re doing better musically on their own!
The night’s finale would be an exciting one, as it was time for Intervals! The band made their way on stage with vibrant pink/blue lights and a stage banner draped across the back of the stage. The band began with “Touch and Go,” which is also the opening track of their newest album. Marshall, hat and all, immediately set the tone of the set with smiles and his ability to make a riff any music lover could feel. Marshall is considered one of the best in the genre and he shows it off during “Impulsively Responsible” and “A Different Light,” both songs also off of The Way Forward. His technical abilities shine and the songs speak to you, it’s his guitar doing the singing and only like Marshall can deliver. Next up, Intervals would shred songs from 2015’s The Shape of Colour with fan favorites “I’m Awake,” “Sure Shot,” and “Fable.” In true Marshall fashion, even live, he pushes the evolution of what progressive music is. At this point the crowd was fully invested in the performance; many barely even blinking so they didn’t miss a note. The set would also include the songs “Leave No Stone,” “Epiphany,” and “Libra” to name a few. To cap the night off from the already awesome show each band put on, an added treat was a jam session between Intervals, Jason Richardson, and Nick Johnston, which was an insanely cool treat for the night’s audience. It’s not everyday you get to see the best musicians around all play together on the same stage nevertheless at the same time, definitely an incredible way to end a great night of technical, inspiring and different kind of show.
I found myself really enjoying the show. It was interesting to see three acts who are all well respected within the instrumental world as well as the metal world all have their own unique styles. I loved the fact the same fans who were there for the softer Jazz style stuff of Nick Johnston hung around and enjoyed heavier stuff from Jason Richardson. I can’t speak highly enough of the fans at this show and the level of respect shown for each musician. New York City brought their best tonight!
Unfortunately if you’re reading this and have not seen the tour well you probably won’t as the tour wraps up on tomorrow in Toronto, Canada. Intervals currently has no other dates scheduled, Jason Richardson finds himself in Mexico on March 3rd and Nick Johnston also has no currently scheduled dates in 2018. Hopefully that will change soon for all the acts and I look forward to catching each of them again!