Band: Jupiter Down
from Charleston, South Carolina, United States of America
Album: The Hell Inside My Head
LISTEN HERE & “FOLLOW” THE BAND:
Many things drew me to Jupiter Down, but the first and most important reason was that there’s a cause behind the band. A part of the new album’s profits are going to the Invisible Illness foundation (linked below) that helps battle depression. We at Djentmag think that this is a noble cause worthy of discussing here and now and that musicians can also help solve all kinds of problems, as it has been proven in the past. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that Jupiter Down is also a kickass band that djents hard and has a lot to show. I hope you enjoy this interview.
Austin, the band’s “brain”
DJENTMAG: Hey there, Austin! Thanks so much for agreeing to talk to me on the phone tonight. Believe me, if I could I would totally fly over to South Carolina and do this face to face.
Jupiter Down: No problem man! I’m always down for this.
DJENTMAG: I also can’t help but acknowledge that your music is perfect for us – you make this, as you call it, kind of ‘soundscape’ music…
Jupiter Down:Yeah, we try to convey as much as we can without words…
DJENTMAG: Yeah, this was what I was gonna ask you about first. See, I have a couple of friends who will like the music, but as soon as they realize that it has no vocals they’re gonna be like “Hell, no!”… Why did you decide not to have a singer?
Jupiter Down: Well, this band started out as a solo project. Austin Livingston was its name, that’s my full name. I already had plans to release this record, I had it written down, all I had to to is record it with a backing band. I liked the sound of it and I liked what we were doing so I decided, why not make this into a full band? It’s cool that it evolved in this way, but the reason there’s no vocals is because when I had this idea for an album I was really inspired by Steve Vai and all these other guys. I just wanna play, you know? I’ve had my run with singers through my music career and sometimes singers are a pain to deal with, ha-ha! I have always wanted to do a heavy guitar musical project. I feel like I got off on a good start. You said that you friends wouldn’t like it without vocals…
Jupiter Down: I feel like this is just a common misunderstanding. It almost feels like some people think that there’s a hierarchy in the music world – that if there aren’t vocals it’s not as good. And I think that the record media and the record labels confuse people’s minds people’s minds to perceive music that way. Because I feel like sometimes music without lyrics can speak to you more.
DJENTMAG: Yeah, that’s a good answer! And when you think about it – for the longest time music had no words! They’re actually something fairly recent in the grander scale of things. I mean, Mozart never thought of having someone sing.
Jupiter Down: Yeah, that’s what I thought, ’cause everyone likes classical music and that has no words. I think it’s just a matter of perception and all that. I think if the major labels stopped pushing Taylor Swift and all those pop artists, then tell people “Hey, instrumental prog rock – that’s what’s “in”. That’s what’s “cool” – then all of a sudden this genre will become what’s mainstream and what’s Top 40 stuff! We don’t control that – “The Man” controls that, we just do what brings us personal enjoyment and hope we can get fans along the way.
DJENTMAG: That’s what I thought as well but hey, some of the bigger shots are afraid to take their risks. I guess it’s their loss, ha-ha! Anyway, what really caught my attention is that you’re donating your profits to a non-profit, can you tell me more about that?
Jupiter Down: Yeah, I guess I could say this record was my personal story. Well, I wouldn’t like to say it’s completely my story, but it’s definitely about the journey of a person with depression and anxiety, making it out to an actual better life. I feel like it’s something many people can relate to at some point of their life and suffered from some form of depression or anxiety. But there’s also some people who don’t recognize depression as a serious illness. I’m friends with this nonprofit in South Carolina that’s called The Invisible Illness and I just thought “what better way to market a new band with a new record than getting back to the community – we’re gonna give a portion of our sales proceeds to donate to this organization and create awareness on anxiety and depression.
DJENTMAG: How did you come up with the name Jupiter Down, by the way?
Jupiter Down: When starting out I wanted it to be a solo project but after it became a band I didn’t feel good about it having the name Austin Livingston, I didn’t feel like it was marketable and all that jazz. I’ve always been fascinated with space & astrology and stuff like that, so, I’m a Pisces and Neptune is my ruling planet but I couldn’t think of anything creative that flowed with the name Neptune. BUT, Jupiter is the old ruling planet of Pisces so I rolled with that. Now, I don’t remember how I wrote this down, but after Jupiter the first word that popped up in my mind when I was trying to think of something was Down. When I looked at it it seemed phonetically pleasing. I slept on it and afterwards I showed it to some people along with other names and all of them found it phonetically pleasing just like me. And when you look at it it also falls in line with Jupiter falling down as the ruling planet, to Neptune.
DJENTMAG: Ohh, that’s kinda cool! Also, a couple of hours ago before this interview NASA released some new photos of Jupiter, from the Juno mission. Of its southern hemisphere.
Jupiter Down: Oh, I gotta check that out! Also, another cool thing about it is that Jupiter is actually getting smaller. It’s going to disappear in a couple million to billion years from now.
DJENTMAG: Damn, that’s crazy.
Jupiter Down: Yeah, maybe it’s because it’s technically a star. But it’s really good at keeping its hydrogen in. It also rains diamonds on Jupiter.
DJENTMAG: That’s really cool!
Jupiter Down: Yeah man, I can talk about space all day.
DJENTMAG: Me too. You know, when NASA were counting down to the releasing of the pictures of Pluto from the New Horizons mission one month in advance, I would keep checking NASA’s website every day. I even watched the livestream on the same day. It was such a big day for me because I have always wondered what Pluto looked like…. But anyway. One thing I wondered about your album is about the story it tells via its song titles. Can you tell me more about that?
Jupiter Down: If you’ve heard of Dan Sugarman, he’s an instrumentalist in the same genre like us, played with Angel Vivaldi and the such. Anyway, I was looking at him when writing the songs. I feel like when telling a story with an instumental album it has to flow really well and to have a certain vision for it. For my album I could tell the story of a person and how he progresses and that really adds flow.
DJENTMAG: Cool! Another thing that kinda bugged me was the production, and not in a negative way. How involved were you and can you tell me more about it?
Jupiter Down: Really involved, actually. I’m still learning production techniques and working on my own, but I went to a studio here in Charleston. Are you familiar with the band Shinedown?
DJENTMAG: Oh yeah, they were like a hard rock band, right?
Jupiter Down: Yeah, their studio is here in Charleston and it’s right across my house. I also know the guy Eric, who was also the sound engineer for Shinedown. He tried really to create a good sound for me while trying not to copy all of these popular bands. And even though I really love Intervals and Polyphia I try my record to stack up to them. I am very self concious myself and I am always thinking about how I stack up to them, so it was a really in-depth process. It got to the point where I had none of the rhytm parts I had at the start, so that added a good several weeks to a month to the recording time in the studio. And I also tend to overthink things, maybe that’s also why it took longer than it should. I also try not to shred, I don’t like them to sound like mindless noodling, I want them to make sense.
DJENTMAG: I think the guitars seem really good, they gave me a bit of a classic metal or a neoclassical metal feel. Is that what you were going for?
Jupiter Down: Well, I have always been inspired by the 80s hair metal stuff. I’ve actually been in a few hair metal bands, we were wearing spandex and all that. I didn’t really get into instrumental prog until a few years ago. I’ve always wanted to do instrumental stuff, be it like Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen, but man, there wasn’t really anything left of the genre. But then I discovered all these new bands so I said to myself “Now is the time”. But yeah, man. My favorite band is Def Leppard so I always try to make things as melodic as possible. You can tell from my songs that I am always trying to structure it like a pop song, like, there’s always a verse, a chorus, a verse, a chorus… It’s not super progressive, like a 12 minute song that fluctuates from part to part….
DJENTMAG: Yeah, and the way it sounded to me is that it sounded really in key “major”, if you can say it like that, while metal typically is closer to “minor”. But yeah, I have always liked these hair metal bands because they also had that major sound and had a lot of triumph and bravado, which I like my music to have.
Jupiter Down: Yeah, totally. I mean, I love metal, but I feel like sometimes there has to be room to breathe with some softer and happier sounding metal. In high school I was in the marching band and I was playing drums. I played guitar earlier too, but my teacher kept trying to show me to play things that were super oldschool and boring like “House of The Rising Sun”, so I didn’t wanna play guitar anymore because I thought it was boring. Then I got the “Live at Donnington” AD/DC DVD so from there on it was guitar all the way down! That’s how I found all the other hair metal bands too. Poison, KISS, but Def Leppard will always be my hands down favorite band.
DJENTMAG: This is a concept album as we already mentioned, but did you have any other similar ideas?
Jupiter Down: Sure, if the guys from the band are cool with it. I mean, they seemed to be cool with this concept, but anyway, I have a plan for early next year to try to release a new concept album that has the four elements of life – Fire, Air, Earth and Water and try to say how each element would sound if they were music. After that there would be a bonus track which is like a Unity and it would combine all of their sound into this epic long track.
DJENTMAG: That’s a very prog concept! When you’re doing prog you either go big or go home. Kinda like Yes. Anyway, I wanted to ask you about the main topic of the album – depression. Because it’s a big topic in the news right now, and in the last year or so in general, if you’re cool with that.
Jupiter Down: Yeah, sure, totally, go for it.
DJENTMAG: In the UK right now, people are actually taking the most time off work for mental reasons. Not for being sick or hospitalization but purely for these reasons. So it’s a really big topic pretty much everywhere because in your country – the United States, people are talking about how the country has a very big mental health problem that’s causing all of these horrible mass shootings. So these things seem connected and I wanted to hear your take on it.
Jupiter Down: Mental health… The human mind was never conditioned to work in the modern time. There are way too many stimuli out there that are too much for the brain to handle. I think that the human mind was originally evolved to hunt and survive and that’s it. Not have constant social media, or news, or negativity, or constant stimuli or anything like that because it can really affect your mood. There are studies that showed people who took a week or a month off social media and they felt ten times better than they normally do. For example someone looking at instagram can feel guilty of it because they’re not getting the same attention as somebody else. Like, as many likes or shares, you name it. But social media is just a highlight reel, you don’t see the other things, while that other person probably feels the same as you do. These things can cause depression. Well, I feel like my depression is kind of different, mine stems from OCD, which makes me think about the same things over and over, so for me it’s possible to think about a negative thing over and over again. As far as mass shootings go I don’t know what your laws in Bulgaria are…
DJENTMAG: Well, we’re one of the countries that don’t really have guns, basically to get one you have to jump a lot of hoops and you’ll also get tracked by the police as a bonus. It’s kinda expensive too. But it’s different in all parts of Europe. In Switzerland for example they have mandatory conscription and after it’s over they can take a gun home, so more than 20% of the population owns guns there, and at the same time they don’t have any mass shootings either. It’s actually pretty mindblowing.
Jupiter Down: Yeah, we have a lot of problems in America, I’m sure the entire world has heard about them.
DJENTMAG: Yeah, it’s all over the news…
Jupiter Down: But I don’t think gun laws are the problem here. Every country has a different state of mind and making the laws stricter than they’re already now won’t help it. The laws for having a gun are already really strict. Making them more difficult will only make it harder for law abiding citizens to get a gun, while the criminals already have guns. It’s pretty crazy in here. We also have doomsday preppers, have you heard of them?
DJENTMAG: Not really, no…
Jupiter Down: They are these people who prepare for the doomsday, they build bunkers in their house, stockpile weapons, ammo, firearms, food, medicine and all kinds of things in case the doomsday comes. There’s a lot of them too, more than 250,000…
DJENTMAG: Oh my goodness.. Well, to get back to the essence of things, people are weird and I think we raised plenty of awareness on the important topics. I’ll also be sure to leave links to the Spotify and the nonprofit.
Jupiter Down: Great! Thanks man, I actually have guitar lessons in 15 minutes so I better get going.
DJENTMAG: We’ll be in touch. Peace!
Jupiter Down: Definitely man. See you.
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