[Exclusive] San Diego band QUOR has been popping up on several radars lately after their award winning indieFest video for ‘Let’s Rise’ from their debut EP, ‘We Are Going To Be Awesome’ was released. QUOR recently released their second album, Human Paradigm. Two of the album’s songs have already found their way to radio and are currently climbing.
Brian Corn, lead vocalist and guitarist of the three piece group and I talked about what went into the making of the new album, experiences with the band, and upcoming plans for the near future:
Ashton: With the recent release of Human Paradigm (Deluxe Edition), The tracks on QUOR’s first EP, We Are Going To Be Awesome are included in the new album. Why was the decision made to combine the two?
Brian: We set out to do two separate EP’s and when we completed the Human Paradigm record – just by coincidence listened to the records back to back and they fit together really well. They told the story so far. The first record didn’t see a whole lot of light and so it just made sense to combine the two into a special edition release. The physical release will be one package but it will have both CDs in there. We wanted to show our story so far. It made a great full record to have them both combined, however we wanted to maintain the integrity of the individual works.
Ashton: You stated the first EP, “Didn’t get much light… “However the song Let’s Rise, from We’re Going To Be Awesome, has received a fair bit of publicity. With Let’s Rise getting as much attention as it has, was there any concern that the hit might pull attention away from the new songs on the record?
Brian: No, there wasn’t any concern. Part of being a true indie artist group is we can do whatever the hell we want. We really didn’t have that concern. Obviously there can be some confusion when you try to group something together like that. We didn’t put any consideration into that.
Ashton: You wrote, directed, and helped produce the indieFest Film Festival awarded video that accompanied Let’s Rise. Can your fans, the QUORalition expect another self made video with the Human Paradigm release?
Brian: Yes, that’s on the horizon. We’ve been talking about a couple different ideas but haven’t quite landed on one yet. If we had it our way we’d do some kind of video like that for every, single song. We will definitely be doing be doing something in the near future. We enjoy doing the process. The first one was a bit of an experiment and there was some risk involved but we’d been trying to put out a video for some months prior with some groups, we had some meetings, but everything just kind of fizzled out. I said to the guys, ‘You know what? I think we can do this ourselves, we can accomplish it.’ Winning that indieFest award was a big honour after all the work and what we put into it. Having the experience we did, we are going to something independently again.
Ashton: Which song do you think you’ll be doing the next video for?
Brian: Oh god (laughs), I don’t know! Maybe Human Paradigm, our title track; It just hit radio. When The Gods Speak, just recently got picked up by radio as well within the last couple weeks. So that’s a possibility.
Ashton: You worked with Dan Whittemore, and recorded the title track to Human Paradigm in Swagger Studios out of Los Angeles. I understand you actually camped out in the studio through a weekend; tents and all. How did this come about and how was the experience?
Brian: We set out to go up to L.A. to get out of San Diego. We wanted to try to challenge ourselves and track a full song in a short amount of time, like over a weekend. We were in contact with Dan [Whittemore] and he said, ‘I’ve got a good sized rehearsal room inside the studio, you guys are welcome to come and campout over the weekend so we can really get some work done.’ We took it literally and showed up with our tents. They had a table that looked like a picnic table inside the studio so we had a table cloth out with our marshmallows and ice chests full of beer on it. It was really cool that he let us stay in the studio. We worked our butts off, we were doing 12 hour days from Friday to Sunday. On Saturday morning I woke up and heard this half stack blaring, full blast, tubes running hot and I looked out of my tent, which was on a small stage. I see everyone’s heads poking out of their tents and thought, ‘Man, this is glorious.’ It was a really cool experience to go up and do that and I am really proud of the song and they way it came out.
Ashton: What inspirations are behind the new songs on the new album?
Brian: The new songs are a progression of our journey over the last 3 years. It’s the most developed and the most personal works that we’ve done. Even lyrically its much less abstract. It builds more on what we’ve been going through. In the guitar and everything, there was a lot more feeling involved in this second set of songs.
Ashton: Some lyrics from the song Human Paradigm are,
“… Try to imagine
to live as another, see as the other
The right and the wrong
of each alone, and it feels like dying.”
Could you elaborate on the ideas that inspired those lyrics?
Brian: I live down by the beach, I was taking a break one day and noticed there was a lot of people out that day. I was sitting out there and I got to thinking about all those folks and how everyone is doing their own thing. I thought, ‘Are we all just living in the same box? Do we have the option to step outside that box?’ It made me think more about how we as humanity take step forward, how we evolve or devolve and how that happens when someone steps outside “the box”. I looked at everyone as they carried on in their day. I wondered, ‘Does everybody have that in them? Do they all go through a cross-roads in their life in which they can step outside of what’s normal for us, either evolve us or devolve us.’ That last line ‘… it feels like dying.’ is because that’s truly what it is, we go through our paths and we go through life. Do we get a chance to go out and step outside and change our humanity or do we just run the course?
Ashton: While listening to the album, Human Paradigm, you certainly pick up on the variety QUOR has to offer. Are certain songs influenced more by each member of the group?
Brian: Yeah, they are. Part of not having to bow to the machine, as you’d say, is that we get to do the songs that we feel in the moment, with that style. A lot of it is written on acoustic. Its amazing how some of it translates for how heavy this record is. The style is very much transformed by all three of us. When it gets run through the melting pot that is QUOR, each of those songs get a different taste of style. You get a lot of heavier rhythms and percussion from John [Cordes]. I noted that he’s moving into some sort of thrash and punk feel in his drumming. Doug [Smith] is the same way. Each song is a an evolution in our playing and its a progression going through these different styles and these themes.
Ashton: The band has referred to itself as the “Three Headed Dragon.” Could you elaborate on the reasoning behind that?
Brian: We’re kinda nerdy and we like dragons. (Laughs) The idea that there’s three of us just plays into that role. It spawned from just being on the road and having some laughs. We, at some point just started referring to the project as the three headed dragon. Every head’s going to take a bite and process something before we get a product. Our drummer, John, his nickname is Snap-Dragon because he’s snappy. We’re currently working on getting him to legally change his name to Snap Dragon Cordes because its got a nice ring to it.
Ashton: I could get behind that, for sure. What are some of the advantages of being a three piece band?
Brian: You don’t have to carry as much shit around! You get to carry one less brain around. When you’re in a tight knit group that is riding, performing and spending a lot of time on the road together, a three piece is just an efficient machine. We were never solid on having a three piece, we could have brought in more instruments, or another guitar. From the beginning from when Doug and I started the band, we said, ‘Let’s just add what we need and if there comes a day where we think the music will be better off with another instrument, we’ll put it in.’ So far its just been a really fun challenge to try and get a very full and aggressive project out of three members and it makes us work harder.
Ashton: What are some of the disadvantages?
Brian: With a three piece, if you’re not careful you can lose the thickness. We do some overlays in our tracking and that is a challenge but its fun to try and fill in those blanks. Live shows are probably the main disadvantage to a three piece. You’ve gotta put in more energy and the right work on the art to make it all sound full.
Ashton: You and the band speak very highly of beards and show a great appreciation for a well kept beard. Were the beards something you all decided to do together as somewhat of a uniform for the band on stage?
Brian: (Laughs) We started growing them a year ago from June but I’m really the last man standing with any beard power. A few years ago we were on tour, we went to get something to eat after a performance and a person had attacked me and I was hurt really bad. I got hit from behind, my skull cracked on the concrete so it jacked me up pretty good for awhile. At the end of that ordeal, with courts and things like that. We were going out on tour and we all looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve survived a lot of shit and put a lot of work into this very young project already.’ We decided that day to grow our beards for one year. We didn’t really have a cut off date so mine’s still going; I like it. Ironically beards have come into style. I didn’t grow it for style but dammit, I finally hit one. I’ve never been in style so I’ll bask in the glory for a little while I guess.
Ashton: QUOR has upcoming tours through the U.S and even Europe. Are there any other plans for the band in the near future? Possibly any shows hitting Canada?
Brian: Right now, Europe is in for late spring of next year. We shifted our tour schedule for this year. We have a couple dates in California before the year is done. We’ll be going through Nevada and all of the southern states in December. We’ll be going as far as Texas. We’re gluttons for punishment and the is going back into the studio again in January, for at least a single. Next year we’ll be going through most of the states and Europe, at this point. Canada is on the agenda for next year. We had a lot of folks that came out of the wood work from Canada that were voting for us in a recent video battle. We’re going to get the band into Canada next year. I don’t know how far in we’re going to get but I know we’re going to hit the Western side of it.
Ashton: You’ve been through Europe before with acoustic Folk Edge tours. What will be different from this tour, than the last time the band made it over seas?
Brian: Just inherently, having the full band. The acoustic tours have travelled pretty far, we went through Japan last year too. Most of the time that’s just me and a guitar. We have done the Folk Edge set with all of us, John playing on a cajon and Doug on an acoustic bass. The music does translate over really well into that environment and it’s fun to see the reaction of folks that normally would be apposed to or prejudice to music with distortion. We were playing our acoustic set at the Orange County Fair a couple years back and I had an 80 year lady come up and say, ‘Oh that was really nice!’ So that set’s always fun to do. Going over [to Europe] with the acoustic set, made me hungry to want to go back with the full band because its a totally different experience with the whole project. I believe its the way the music is meant to be displayed. The energy is far different when the whole band is there.
Ashton: Personally, what are you hoping to achieve from this tour and what are your expectations for the upcoming shows?
Brian: A lot of great stories (laughs), great shows and seeing new places. We give it our all to make great music and we put our passion out there, on the table. Our expectations are to push ourselves and to get out there and do the best that we can. That has paid off for us. We’ve seen bigger crowds, gotten more publicity and everything that comes with it. We’ve been very fortunate.
If you want to join the QUORilition, the band’s newest album, Human Paradigm is currently available on iTunes!
You can also check them out on their social media sites: