Staring Into Nothing recently dropped a new album, called Power, which I reviewed. The album combines shimmering flavors of progressive rock with cutting social commentary. Intrigued by the lyrical thrust of Power, I thought it would be interesting to talk with singer-songwriter Steve Rogers about the band’s impetus and musical direction.
How would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as a seeker of knowledge in a world of noise. An observer, trying to understand the meaning of things, as opposed to what they are or appear to be. My conceit is that I just might be able to connect with someone through the interface of music and make them think. I believe the world can be a better place, but we have to learn how to retire outdated and/or incorrect fundamental assumptions about the way things should or should not be.
What is your songwriting process? Do the lyrics come first, or the music?
Sometimes music comes first, sometimes lyrics. I obviously care a lot about the lyrics and will more often than not adjust music to suit lyrics as opposed to the other way around. Generally, I write way too many lyrics and need an editor. The hardest part is arranging, much harder than coming up with the musical ideas or parts.
What musicians influenced you the most?
Our musical influences are certainly the bands of the Seventies, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Rush, etc. But we are also influenced by artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Leonard Cohen, and the Eels.
How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?
I guess you could say we were trying to create songs we would want to hear. The specific goal was creating music that sounded more like classic rock. Less compression, less hard-limiting and a more spacious sound. I have always wanted the ability to communicate ideas through well-produced music. Our influences ultimately help us seek to be as good as them, though we never will be.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
Inspiration for the songs often comes from books or documentaries. Inspiration comes from everyday life experience, TV, and the personal struggle I have watching pop culture eat what’s real and influence how we think. Inspiration sometimes comes from memory, like mine as a child of a person walking a tightrope between two buildings in New York.
How would you describe your style of music?
I suppose our music sounds more like classic rock. The heavy use of piano definitely gives the music a different texture than strictly guitar-driven rock. The music is often referred to as theatrical and I can see that for sure. I think a lot of our musical influences can be heard in the music.
I really like your new album, Power. Your lyrics present powerful commentary on a variety of subjects. What’s the motivation for your commentary?
The motivation behind the lyrics is to prompt people to think and reflect on the difference between what’s real and what’s just a construction of society. Just because we’ve always done something does not mean we should keep doing it. Locking people up for consensual crimes, legislating morality, schools systems at least 50 years out of date, these things need to change in my opinion. Doing things right is no substitute for doing the right things.
What’s the story behind the band’s name, Staring Into Nothing?
The band name means different things for different band members. To me the band name refers to a form of meditation. Staring into Nothing means clearing your mind of all the sensory inputs that overload us so often and truly contemplating the meaning of things.
What’s the inspiration for the two albums you’re working on now?
The next two albums are already written and were the result of writing a lot of material that seemed to fall into three different categories or themes. So we decided to do three thematically consistent albums as opposed to mixing things up. While the next two albums Love and War are often topics of songs, I would like to think we are going to take a few slightly different angles at these concepts.
Any plans to tour? If so, where and when?
We hope to tour this summer and in a position to perform the music with full video support in a forum where it can be presented best.