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Time Rift's Levi Campbell: "We asked ourselves "How do you make it more Hard Rock? Do you try to interpret it with how you think Billy Duffy would play it? Or how would Richie Blackmore play it? Are the drums and bass more Saxon or Judas Priest?""

Interview with Levi Campbell from Time Rift
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 26 September 2020, 5:03 PM

To bring back the past to kick one's ass, yet in a different kind of way. No artist out there, inspired by the past, which is most of them, is aiming to copy early efforts, yet to capture them in order to suit them for its own created image. Time Rift has been a part of a major wave of bands that wished to rehash the sensation behind the 70s Hard Rock and proto-Metal years. Taking a turn from Stoner and Doom Metal into the crispy Hard Rock shindig, “Eternal Rock” was presented to the world. Steinmetal had a chance to talk with the band leader, Levi Campbell about how it was done, influences, directions, a few moments of challenge and more…

Hello Levi, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing on these crazy times with Covid-19?

Hey, thank you for inviting me! It's a pleasure to meet you and answer some questions.

Ha, these are some weird times. I spent a lot of my Covid quarantine watching musicals, working on new music/song ideas, digging deeper into my own spirituality and identity, and absorbing music old and new.

Staying creative as much as possible to keep the malaise at bay and do my best to not squander an opportunity to just be who I want to be.

Would you say that it has been insane on your end, simply hard to believe all of this is real? Do you believe that people already understood that we have to live alongside the virus, protect ourselves and just let it fade away in time?

I would say there are definitely moments of feeling like I'm going insane, watching various parts of the world burn literally and figuratively, foreign and domestic. However, with that I remind myself that everyone is going through some kind of hard time. Life is about finding a balance for sure. Do what you love as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. I would definitely hope that people actually listen to science and work to get this virus quelled so musicians can get back to being the bards of modernity.

Time Rift, your band, is a name that I slowly started to be aware of, even though it is not that uncommon to come about a 70s Hard Rock driven band nowadays, and there are plenty out there. Nonetheless, you guys are certainly close to those days in general.  I have to ask first, while the large part of the Rock and Metal scenes are embracing the modern sound, and some even the image, what motivated you to go open that time rift and go back in time?

This is true, there are a lot of awesome 70's Hard Rock bands out there.

For Time Rift from my perspective, we had been part of the budding "Doom/Stoner Rock" scene before, so we were getting to a point of "is this what we really want to be doing with music?" Sure it was fun but you know if all your songs are 8 to 12 minutes long you can only play 3 or 4 songs live and that felt kind lame because I'd be so amped to play live and then it's already over after a few songs. A kind of a WTF moment.

Don't get me wrong, I do like stoner rock and psychedelic music such as Monster Magnet and Cathedral.

Justin and I had discussed going for more of a hard rock style and move away from the lingering precipice of being stuck in stoner land, yet not losing our heaviness.

Lots of talk of early Scorpions, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, early Judas Priest, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, and Grand Funk Railroad.

Which bands of that great era of giants are you a fan of? Which of those influenced you the most?

Hoo boy! Ha ha ha, that's a big one!

I pull a lot of influence from the aforementioned bands: Scorpions, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, and Grand Funk Railroad.

As well as: Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Iggy Pop/The Stooges, The Doors, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, YES, Hawkwind, Rush, Saxon, The Misfits, Black Flag, The Germs, Discharge, Black Sabbath, Kiss.

The ones who influenced me the most are definitely Bowie, Motorhead, BOC, Deep Purple, Maiden, Priest, Zeppelin, Zappa, Saxon, The Doors, Sabbath, and The Germs.

I try to pick out specific things I like the sound or feel of, or if I get a jolt of awe/inspiration I then amalgamate them and channel it through my own creative lenses. It can be an arduous task when I have several ideas I want to try at once.

As a contrast between those classic years where Rock was majorly developing, and with Metal at its first baby steps, what do the contemporary forms of Rock and Metal are missing in your opinion? Is it the spirituality of it all or perhaps mainly the sound and genuinity?

I think a lot of the "grit" and "sleaziness" is missing in most contemporary forms of Rock and Metal. You can taste the sonic grit and a heavy menace with Blue Oyster Cult or Motorhead for example. Then you have stuff that is very melodic and clean, which is nice, but to me it borders on monotonous after a while. Some of the middle albums of bands in the 70's kind fall into that "radio friendly" sterility, that's my opinion though. It's important to be authentic and have a belief in something.

A hard thing to combat for myself is my love of eccentricity and sticking to an image or idea for a long time because I just want to evolve creatively. I've got a restless mind and I don't want to be bored.

Riding on the fumes of your debut EP, Time Rift is releasing its first full length album, “Eternal Rock”, via Dying Victims Productions. I guess it is pretty straight up as the title suggests, Rock is eternal, no more, no less right? Are there any other interpretations that you may have thought about in regards to this title?

Rock is eternal, absolutely. We wanted to have a title that impacts you but also sums up our energy and sound. You could think of it from the perspective of art is endless in its creation as long as humans are alive and aware of our dreams and subconscious imagery. Also, like radio signals are travelling through our atmosphere and out into space, right? So like Rock N Roll is forever sailing the cosmos. I don't know if the rest of the band shares this point of view though ha ha.

In regards to philosophical views, where does “Eternal Rock” stand? Where does it float once it penetrates the mind of the listener? What messages does it inhibit?

The message I hope to convey is don't be inauthentic and lord your arrogance over people. The lyrics of "Another band who want their asses kissed" is directly addressed in the next verse of "Another band who needs their asses kicked" and the pre-chorus of "I can't take it. They don't defend the faith. They just fake it."

We talked about the straightforwardness of the title, and with the music it is the same thing, blue collar styled Hard Rock, with a few proto-Metal elements that might entice NWOBHM enthusiastic. Was your idea to simply recreate the old days of the music or perhaps capitalize upon it and find a certain niche within that can help you develop it?

Originally we were trying to just write stuff that was more Hard Rock oriented and move away from the over saturated scene of Heavy / Doom / Sludge / Fuzz / Stoner bands.

We started looking at what that would / should sound like to us and started pulling inspirations from like Priest, The Cult, Trouble, Motorhead etc. As well as pulling inspiration from Graveyard, BOC, Witchcraft, Grand Funk etc. That mix of clean and heavy but keeping that edge and grit.

When it comes to the70s Hard Rock / Rock revival, and it has been going on various scales, what do you think that makes Time Rift special in overall, and “Eternal Rock” in particular, in comparison to other bands talking the same talk?

What I feel makes us unique is that we try and push ourselves creatively with our approach to the music and lyrical content.

As an example, the song "Another Name" was very Bauhaus influenced originally when I wrote it. We asked ourselves "How do you make it more Hard Rock? Do you try to interpret it with how you think Billy Duffy would play it? Or how would Richie Blackmore play it? Are the drums and bass more Saxon or Judas Priest?"

I think it's easy to get pigeon-holed if you only draw / allow inspiration from sources that are within your musical comfort zone.

What can you tell about the chemistry between you three while writing the material for “Eternal Rock”? Would you say it was smooth sailing all the way?

We're all pretty easy going. The energy is mostly collaborative, everyone brings something to the table that inspires us and pushes ourselves to be better. A lot of the collaborations are with the arrangements and some of the lyric writing. Lots of trying different riffs/pre-chorus ideas, drum fills, bass melodies that I can play and sing at the same time.

Some of the older songs fell into place pretty smoothly, for the newer songs we focused on honing a more specific structure over time. We like how easy it is to edit songs while using a straightforward formula. You know, like, "Verse, Pre Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Solo, Chorus". There are like a handful of takes where we like it one day but the next day we hate it and then we shelve that song for later reworking.

In your opinion, what were the main challenges throughout the creation of “Eternal Rock”, including the recording sessions? What made you go berserk for instance?

Coming up with lyrics that fit the newer songs, arrangement changes for some of the older songs, the held out notes during the bridge of "Eternal Rock". Trying not to be a perfectionist about my vocal takes in the moment. I make sure it sounds good, but I don't want to be the guy who's like "This one note didn't sound good to me," when no one else can tell.

Some of the songs we have been playing for years prior to recording the album. So going in and editing parts and changing lyrics after having the muscle memory built up was kind of challenging.

For recording, I often underestimate how long we will be in the studio. Thinking "oh we'll be done in a few hours or so" in reality it is usually a 12-hour day.

When you listen to the album, which of the songs speak to you more than others as if you find yourself in the zone while listening to it? Please elaborate on your pick

"Starcrossed". It encapsulates really well our musical inspirations, evolutions, and the feel of the band while being catchy and a fun old song of ours.

“Eternal Rock”’s sound certainly shares that vibe of the late 60s, early 70s and I might even argue near the end of that great decade. How did you find the right sound? What actions did you take in order to have that edge that could capture the magic of those years?

The elusive quest for the perfect tone! Terrica's massive Ludwig kit, Justin's Marshall full stack, and my Sunn & 8x10 bass rig all bring that spectrum of tonality to life on the album. Also, Charlie Koryn and Brad Boatright were instrumental in bringing out more of the magic with their mixing & mastering expertise.

With the circumstances at the moment not allowing the ability to play live, other than special cases of open air occasions, what Time Rift have been doing all this time? Were there thoughts to work on a new album perhaps or venture through ideas?

Oh yes! We are being very meticulous and really working on the elements of what we want the next album to encompass / emanate. I've been writing a lot during the quarantine and bringing stuff to the band. Lots of ideas gestating and swirling around.

It became rather common for bands to go live on stream nowadays, first in order to maintain the fanbase, and second, to continue marketing themselves. What is your opinion about that?

Live streaming "concerts" and events has been a good work around and adaption to the social distance measures while still getting music and entertainment out there to the fans and other people. As great as that is though, I hope we musicians can get back out and physically tour, play shows and make a living again in the flesh.

Once this pandemic is over, or close to being over, do you have any plans to tour or perhaps do festivals?

Hell yeah! We have a postponed mini tour to reassemble that Covid shutdown fairly quickly. I would love to get back up to Canada again and we are always open to playing festivals and doing tours.

Levi, thank you for your time and effort for this interview, it is much appreciated. You guys certainly ripped that rift and made the past a reality. Cheers.

Thank you! Cheers!


 



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