Five & Five: Codec

As you already know, EMURG is dedicated to exposing new and emerging artists to an ever-hungry audience who constantly search for new music to satisfy their musical vices. In doing so, we spotlight a band that the fans and our staff think is truly unique and deserve great recognition in our monthly, “Band of the Month” series. This month, EMURG showcases Colorado’s very own, Codec. Since the band’s incarnation, Codec has been turning heads with their miraculous sound and presence that can only be explained by listening and experiencing their music first hand. I had the opportunity to speak with guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist Dan Barnhart about Codec and why Codec is a band that is ushering in a new era of how fans listen and interpret music on a higher level.

PART I

KC: What artist/bands/songs/albums influenced you?

Dan: Each of us have different artists that influenced us on a this record, but some common ones were Alice In Chains, Amon Tobin, Filter, Meshuggah, Return To Forever, Pink Floyd, The Police, Intronaut, Genesis, Iron Maiden, Matthew Good, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, and Minus the Bear.

KC: What are you currently listening to right now?

Dan: Strangely enough, lately its been a lot of metal and Motown from the late 60’s and early 70’s. I’ll bounce from Etta to Zeppelin to Aretha to Sabbath to Bacharach to Judas Priest and Yes to Stevie Wonder to Rush and Blue Oyster Cult. The skill in every facet of writing, performance, engineering, and just raw emotion in that era is unequaled. Of course, I always have some Meshuggah and Amon Tobin in there for good measure.

As for the rest of the band…

Brian: Chick Corea Electric Band on vinyl

Jody: Gojira, Septic Flesh, Deftones

Ryan: Matthew Good, Minus the Bear

Greg: Edith Piaf, Codec, Alice In Chains

KC: What has been your favorite show/performance so far in your career as a musician?

Dan: Personally, it was probably playing with Snow Patrol at a sold out show at the Fillmore with my 9 months pregnant wife in the audience, but all five of us have different ways of perceiving performances. Most of us have been fortunate enough to play fairly big shows with thousands of people, but the best shows always come down to EVERYONE being on and in the moment. When the five of us are playing and emoting our best, the audience is fully into it and responds with the same feedback. That’s the shit and that can happen at any size venue with any size audience. It’s all about the energy!

KC: What made you decide to form Codec?

Dan: Probably, at base, it is really just to have an outlet for honest creativity. It seems like there’s a real need for that now. So much in this “reality” world is premeditated and staged. It’s like all of the antidepressants have gotten sort of depressing. People seem to want something that really IS real. Unquestionably, there is a lot of music that is starting to sound more honest out there. The recent resurgence of folks, or maybe more accurately, “pop-folk” , shows that the masses want some honesty. Sadly, sometimes it feels more like fashion or repackaging for TV commercials than an actual movement toward a new kind of music. The most profound musical shifts always come as a powerful undercurrent that subsumes everything, changes culture, and alters perception. It just feels like music as an art form is on the brink of something like that again. That hope is what the band draws its energy from.

KC: If you want people to remember one song from you it would be?

Dan: Ugh! Tough one! Probably the first or last song on the album. The first song, “Bifurcate”, has a raw energy and feels like it’s beckoning change, while the song, “Horizontime”, really is the culmination of the concept of the band. It’s kind of an apparition to us. I’m not sure we all even remember writing and recording that particular song.

PART II

KC: How and why did you come up with the band name, Codec? How does this name represent you as a band?

Dan: The name Codec really came out of a higher concept for the band which relates to deciphering the information we are each given. It might sound esoteric but there are several posits that ideas, thoughts, transmissions, etc., that travel through the universe and artist, inventors, and delphis that are really listening hard can pick them up. For us, it’s really about being attuned to that. Decoding those transmissions and translating them into art to communicate in our own way. We basically took the pedestrian idea of a Codec, the technology that we all use to code-decode or compress-decompress data, and elevated it to the spiritual level. As a consequence, the entire Horizontime album is actually a story in the form of a cipher. We will be releasing keys from time to time to allow those interested to delve deeper. In fact, some of the images on the physical CD are purposely put there to aid with this.

KC: You’re a relatively new and unknown band to the music scene and newcomers deserve to know more about Codec. Can you tell us a little more about the band’s history and how the band came to be?

Dan: Jody and myself put together a band with Brian and Ryan after our previous drummer, Jeb Freedman, had to bow out for family reasons. The four of us put together some songs with the intent to add a proper lead singer. As fate had it, we found Greg who had just moved to Colorado from Arizona where he had success with a band called 32 Leaves. 32 Leaves had run its course so we all decided to do a trial recording of a few of the songs we had written and see where things went. What came out of those sessions were Bifurcate, Sunlight, and Lived A Lie. We felt like we might be on to something and started working toward a full length album. We are also fortunate that Greg and myself have engineer/producer experience so we were able to look at the process from all angles and create something with a little more depth than some debut albums.

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KC: Your debut album, “Horizontime”, is a collaborative piece of work by five talented musicians who push the threshold of how we listen and interpret music on an individual level. Can you give our viewers a more in depth view of what went into creating the band, the inspiration(s) and process of writing new material, and how Horizontime spawned into a monumental album?

Dan: Well, it came out of multiple seances…To be honest, none of us are really sure where many of the songs came from specifically. We do know that something interesting happens when we all get in a room together to create music. Many bands these days work and record by emailing riffs to one another. Things get cobbled together and they may become pretty good songs and sometimes they “sound” great, but they don’t always “feel” great. Music is such a spiritual thing and if band members do not get in the same room together and have true physical and spiritual interaction, you lose the “feeling” and the art suffers. If you listen to John Coltrane’s, “A Love Supreme”, or The Beatles;, “Rubber Soul”, or even Alice In Chains’, “Dirt”, you will really “feel” the music and the emotion found in those songs. Our focus is really on creating and capturing that feeling.

We all draw on different things as inspiration but definitely good friends and family play the lead role. We all have had to endure some shitty things in our lives. We are pretty similar people but have somewhat different musical tastes. Jody leans toward dark metal and dark art, Greg loves good food, fine art, and great melodies, Ryan digs things on the pop side of Prog, Brian is a basic Budweiser guy but tends to lean toward the more technical side of things, and I kind of lean toward the emotionally dark side and I can’t even fucking drink beer because of a wheat allergy. All in all, we tend to gravitate toward the same exact songs by the same artists-the prerequisite seems to be that it hits you hard emotionally and mentally.

KC: It seems that Codec has just begun on their conquest of taking over the music scene, but what sets you apart from other bands and artists?

Dan: We do feature a bit more keyboards and sound design than most of the guitar centric bands in our genre. Maybe our conceptual approach is a bit different as well. Also, we are all capable of shredding and mad solos but in the context of the band, none of us really show off or pull constant OMFG licks like some in our genre. We are more about trying to give people their own personal experience than getting people to experience us personally. The fact that we are really pretty much just emotional nerds may weigh into it as well.

KC: What is on the the horizon for Codec? Will fans see a tour in 2013 or new material?

Dan: If all goes according to plan the answer is yes and yes. As you know, this business is dodgy at best. Artists that do things a little differently are not really that attractive to people hoping to make money. The things we can control are writing and recording so we will definitely be doing that. We’d love nothing more than to be able to get enough momentum and a large enough fan base to go on a massive tour, but small mini-tours are probably more likely. It’s so cool to talk with fans in different places around the nation, and the world for that matter, but it’s always a bummer when they ask if we are going to be playing in Belgium, Paris, or even Cleveland this year and we cannot just say yes, we will see you then. So being able to answer yes to more questions and get the opportunity to shake hands and play for those people is definitely a major goal!

Indeed, Codec is a great presence in music that has just begun spreading its brand of highly emotional and thought provoking music. If you haven’t had the chance to experience Codec, please check out our review for their music and pick up their debut album, “Horizontime”.