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  • Hot Sounds In The City


Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Mad Painter is a new band in the Boston area, deeply rooted in the melodic rock tradition of the 1970s. They play mostly original music, ranging from Woodstock-era psychedelic rock to glam tinged rock'n'roll a-la Mott the Hoople and the Faces and to epic heavy anthems in the vein of Uriah Heep. It consists of four individuals with widely ranging backgrounds. At the center of Mad Painter is Alex Gitlin, the songwriter and creator of the concept. He is backed capably by Julie Gee on vocals, drummer Al Hendry (Bubba Loaf, Tokyo Tramps), as well as bassist Kenne Highland, a true veteran of the Boston rock scene (ex-Gizmos, Hopelessly Obscure, Johnny & The Jumper Cables, Africa Corps.) and the newest addition is guitarist Al Naha (Thighscrapers), who plays with Kenne in Kenne Highland Airforce. They've played, in different line-ups and guises, many venues around the Boston area, such as the MIT, Out of the Blue Gallery, McGann's, Hennessy's, Club Bohemia, The Jungle Community Music Club and C Note in Hull, as well as the Winter Tanglefest in the Poconos. It's always a good time when you come to their shows, and you know what to expect - nostalgic 70s rock vibes and stage gear to match, great musicianship and songs that will make you get up and bop around, singing and clapping along. A party.

What is the biggest tip you followed when creating your sound?

In the age of loudness and distortion overload, creating a harmonious, organic, warm and balanced mix has become a long- and unfairly forgotten form of art. I believe our sound is unique, influenced by the British rock greats Uriah Heep and Deep Purple, who both thrived on the prominent presence of the Hammond organ (with occasional piano and synths) counterpointed by guitar. However, we do it our own way, just using the above as a blueprint. How did your sound evolve from the start to the finish?

In the six years the group's been in existence, we've definitely evolved. The first line-up, which debuted Oct. 2016 at MIT, was loose and jazzy. A lot more freeform. The present line-up and the sound are grounded in the tradition of melodic hard rock and heavy metal of the 1970s. Although the tracks on our new album, Splashed, are diverse, ranging from heavy to danceable pop, blues and balladry. Any tricks up your sleeve when making your latest music?

Stylistically and influence-wise, it's great to be on the same page. This is what gives the band its current musical chemistry. Every week I find out I have a lot of different favorites in common with the guitarist, we both love Hawkwind, Spooky Tooth, Sweet, Suzi Quatro and Mk I Deep Purple with Rod Evans. We get "anoraky" too on occasion, discussing "obscurities" such as Bloodrock, Atomic Rooster, Iron Butterfly and Captain Beyond. All of this has a clear influence on our own sound. Then we take it to the producer, Tom Hamilton, the only man I'll ever trust my music with, cause he does such a phenomenal job! He has a great ear for vintage analogue production. Sometimes we have a listening party together, playing old records, and that gives him (and us) a lot of ideas on how to produce Painter. This is how "Splashed" was made. Sounds simple, but it's anything but, there is a ton of nuances. Producing the basic "four on the floor" config (voice, keys, guitar, rhythm section) is quite different from a lushly orchestrated ballad with string arrangements. Was there a collection of ideas that you had or did you have a really specific idea on the music?

Nothing too specific. It's quite "spur of the moment". And always an amalgamation of our influences. You are what you hear, musically speaking. It's zany rock'n'roll with a melodic twist, solemn and majestic prog-like pieces, heavy and anthemic organ-led rock, whatever the mood is at any given moment is what we create. And then bringing an original to a rehearsal, there's a certain understanding that it's not going to be the same number you've heard "solo" in your head, we give it the collective "Painter" treatment. But the specific idea would be, whatever would fit and be acceptable between the years 1968 and 1979. Whatever would pass the muster back then. And it IS a challenge, because the standards were immeasurably higher then. How much time do you demand of yourself to focus on your music?

An infinite amount, as much time as it takes. Songs are born all the time, sometimes in one's dreams or in the shower, pretty much anywhere. The trick is to hang on to them and jot down the skeletal idea. Getting the song rehearsed and recorded is only half the trip. Then come different mixes, and each subsequent one is closer to "perfection". So you always chase the proverbial "perfect" and then in the end wind up making some (minor) concessions, when it feels like "alright, we've beaten this one to death, time to move on". But again, this is more about my interaction with the producer. Do you have any tips or tricks for our audience on how to manage your time when it comes to making sure your music is on track for release?

Spend a certain amount of time on social media, but don't overdo it. Don't stress about the small stuff. If you are confident your music has a merit and a marketable value, hire a good PR company. Shoot a promotional video. I prefer staged music videos to the talkfest where everyone chats about their music. Let your music do the talking. Pay attention to streaming platforms such as Spotify. But don't forget tangible media. A lot of people still love their LPs and CDs. Engage online (and terrestrial) radio stations worldwide. Be sure to stay busy. And, above all, keep the faith and be positive. With the right attitude, anything's possible and sky's the limit. Give us links and all to hear the music and follow you!

Illusion Samurai Let Him Go (Lyric Video) Illusion – our new single – is on Spotify: This is our YouTube channel: You will find some of our live concerts there.

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