INTERVIEW: Christian Peppas of The Amatory Murder

27 08 2011

The Amatory Murder is a New York City band to watch!

At its core is founder, composer, and lead vocalist Christian Peppas, who was able to transform his passionate project into a full-blown electro/synth-rock band that recently headlined at Gramercy Theatre for their latest release, A Different Frequency.

It doesn’t take long at all to see how dedicated Christian is to his craft. This band is built on good ol’ fashioned hard work, a genuine love for music, a fascination with communication, and a meticulous attention to detail. We spoke with him to find out what life is like on his frequency, making music in NYC and living a lifelong dream.

First off – where are you from and when did you start making music? If you weren’t born there, how did you come to Brooklyn?
I’m a born and bred New Yorker originally from Flushing, Queens. As a kid I was always writing silly songs about anything – usually just for myself – but it wasn’t until high school that I was in my first rock band. Around that time I also purchased my first recording device – a Korg D8.

I moved to Brooklyn about 7 years ago because I wanted to be a part of the whole artistic resurgence that seemed to be happening. For me, between all the art galleries and music venues that keep popping up, Brooklyn is the new Rome of New York. Andrew [Archey] and Eric [Grossarth] are from Queens as well, Mario [Drakos] is from Greece, and O.T. [Turbold] is from Mongolia. We all met each other by way of Craigslist.

The Amatory Murder seems to have began its journey as YesMisterBloodVessel. How is TAM different from that band, and how and when did TAM come to be?
I got to a point in my life where I realized I didn’t want to continue working corporate jobs where I had to sit in a cubicle all day. I mean, I could do it, but aside from the money it was never really fulfilling for me. Music is the one thing that’s always been consistent in my life, that’s always made me happy (or in some cases moved me to tears). Ever since I was a kid watching old videos of The Beatles I knew I wanted to be a rock star.

Getting a serious band together – a band that is really willing to sacrifice and work at their goals – in New York is a lot harder then you would think. Everyone says they WANT to be in a band, but many times when it comes down to it that isn’t the case. It truly is a job in itself, so not everyone is up to the task (which is totally understandable). So, I decided to create my own from scratch, and thus YesMisterBloodVessel (a name I came up with while watching Magical Mystery Tour) was born.

Over the last few years, the band went through so many different lineups before it was what it is now. Additionally, I got very versed in utilizing synthesizers and atmospheric textures in the composing process, so the overall sound of the band changed. Ultimately, myself and Mario decided to re-name the band to The Amatory Murder, a name that is way easier to say and remember than YesMisterBloodVessel.

As the founder and primary composer, the music must be very personal for you. What inspires you – music and in general?
Writing – whether it be through music, poetry, visual art, etc – is a very personal thing for most people. Being a composer has allowed me to channel energy into art – in this case songs – and have an outlet. Plus, I’m lucky enough to have people in my band that are amazing at communicating on their instruments and totally “get” the things I write about. I’m inspired by emotions and communication, within myself and with those outside. The human mind is an absolutely astounding thing. When you’re really honest with yourself and willing to explore your darkest recesses, it’s pretty fulfilling because you end up confronting certain truths and learning things about yourself.

What can concert-goers expect at your live show?
An interesting thing about our band is that we’re very electronic. Most of our songs, while very guitar-driven and loud, could be considered “computer music.” We’re very much a band like Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails in that the way we play our songs live may sound a little different than on the actual album. For instance, on our most recent record all the beats and several arrangements were programmed utilizing different sounds and textures. Live, you bear witness to [live] drums and other organic instruments interpreting many of those sounds. An example would be  how most of the bass tones on A Different Frequency were done using the low registers of synthesizers. Andrew Archey has since joined our band. Watching and  hearing him interpret (and sometimes re-write) those parts live is just an incredible experience.

You recently released A Different Frequency – tell us about it.
A Different Frequency in a nutshell is a concept album about communication, both within one’s self and the outside world. Friendships, relationships, politics as well as introverted emotions are all explored. The actual engineering/recording was all DIY between myself and lead guitarist O.T. Turbold. I spent a long time thinking about production in crafting the record and took special care in all the arrangements to the songs. Every single note, texture, drum hit and guitar part is there for a reason. Every sound is communicating with each other and the listener. And to top it off, we worked with one of the best mixing engineers in New York, Jonathan Jetter, who took the album and polished it into a final product we’re collectively proud of.

What are some standout moments from your journey with this band – highs and lows?
At this point, I think the moment that stands out the most for us was our record release show when we headlined Gramercy Theatre. It was very cool to see our name on that marquee and rock out where so many great musicians and big names have played. It was very rewarding to look out into the crowd and see new faces rocking out to our tunes. We were like, “wait, people bought tickets to see US?! Sweet!” Personally, that has been one of the best moments of my life. Something that started as an idea was finally being realized.

I think the biggest lows come and go when we let things get to us. The music industry right now is so saturated with corporate mass-produced music. You never really hear about straight up rock bands getting the payoff after suffering for so long like you used to. I mean, the Red Hot Chili Peppers lived out of their car to get to where they ended up. Trent Reznor was a janitor who would sweep the floors of the studio he interned at in order to use their consoles. When’s the last time you heard a story like that? Nowadays it’s usually over-privileged kids with rich parents who can’t really sing who just know the right people and have their voices auto-tuned into something useable. When we think of where we want to ultimately be and how far we have to go and everything I just said, it can really bum us out!

Can you recommend some other awesome bands you’ve shared the stage with, or recommend some of your favorite bands to see live (BONUS points for NYC bands!)?
New York has some really incredible bands right now, but unfortunately you’d never know it by listening to mainstream radio. You have to go out and see them! Lucky for us, we’ve shared the stage with many of them.

Face The King is one of the bands who opened for us at our record release show that has quickly turned into a band we go out and see whenever we have the chance. Their singer has an incredible Matt Bellamy-esque voice, and the band is tight ashell. Plus, they’re really nice, humble guys.

Consider the Source is another band I’ve gone to see more times than I can remember. They’re an instrumental band that plays a fusion of prog rock, sci-fi rock, and funk with a Middle Eastern influence, and they are amazing to watch live – they’re just incredible. They tour relentlessly and really work at their career. I’ve roadied for them a few times and have developed a close friendship with John Ferrara, their bassist. They are absolutely down-to-earth, chill people in addition to being a huge inspiration in more ways than one.

Ghosts Of Eden is another New York band we love to see live. They rock out!  And again, really nice people. That’s something I’ve noticed about the really good bands in New York that have developed big followings: they’re nice people. It’s refreshing to know that nice guys don’t always finish last. It solidifies my belief that the more positive energy you put out there, the more you’ll get back. I think Paul McCartney was right.

There’s just so many great bands and musicians right now, and I’m sure I’ll remember a bunch later. Die Pretty, Miwa Gemini, The Rakehells, Guitar Bomb, Dead Till Tuesday, Vespertina, Seaflux, Cue the Sun, Clearview, the list goes on! There’s a wealth of great talent in New York alone, and I think it’s important to support the scene.

Aside from making music, what are your other favorite things to do, or places to go in NYC?
I’m a foodie, so I love to cook and eat! Seriously, I look forward to eating from the moment I get up in the morning. I also like to hit up the bars in New York, Fontana’s and Lucky 13 are two of my favorites. I enjoy going to support bands. I love hanging out with my family and friends.

What puts a smile on your face at the end of the day – or at least gives you the motivation to keep pushing forward?
At the end of the day, I like to remember how fortunate I am to have such a loving family and friends to support me and share my life with me. Making my parents proud makes me happy. Every yin has a yang, and so I try to constantly keep that in mind. And when I see bands I know and admire succeed – such as Consider the Source – that makes me feel really happy, because it keeps me hopeful that hard work does ultimately pay off.

What’s next for The Amatory Murder and what are you most looking forward to?
We’re very excited to be playing the first annual KoreFest at Sullivan Hall on August 24th, as well as Berlin NYC – a monthly underground electro-goth party – on September 2nd. The Amatory Murder currently is a great lineup of talented guys that I’m so happy to be working with. We plan on writing some more stuff once we’re done promoting our last, A Different Frequency. We have a few ideas for music videos floating around – so stay tuned!

Get A Different Frequency on CD or download it through iTunes and Amazon. You can also catch The Amatory Murder on Facebook and Twitter!

interview by audrey leopard; photos by rob menzer

You can also check out these live clips of the band:

‘Perverted Views’ & ‘A Different Frequency’ Live (fan video)

‘Eleanor’ Live (fan video)




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s