Interview: Souls Extolled
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Interview is with JP Ortiz, bass player of Souls Extolled
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I can’t really pin-point any specific thing got me into music. It feels like it’s always kind of been there… It’s hard to describe. I guess if there was one tangible moment I can remember it was the first time I picked up a bass. I was in my high school band room and telling my teacher how I didn’t wanted to play percussion as I had been through middle school, and that I didn’t want to be in the marching band. He asked me what instrument I wanted to play, and since too many of my friends already played the guitar, I said bass. He went on to hand me an electric bass and put me in a practice room, and it just felt natural – like I already knew how to play it. And luckily, I had some good opportunities to get out there and play; my high school jazz band, and at a club downtown my Uncle worked at – the 311 club.
Honestly if I hadn’t gotten to music, I feel like I’d be doing a whole lot of nothing. I mean… A whole lot of nothing in some capacity. I don’t know man! That’s too hard to imagine. If I didn’t play I’d probably still go to shows and shit. With my Uncles being metal-heads, and growing up in Austin, I’d probably still go to shows.
What do you like to do when your not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Mmm, Jesus. This makes me think I need to develop myself as a person more. I guess… I work a lot man! And while that shit is soul crushing and stifles my creativity, it’s a stark contrast from the world of music I go home to, and I think that’s part of what makes it so sweet. It definitely feeds the frustration and angst that comes out when you play this type of shit. And I also like to watch shows and documentaries, mostly about historical stuff. I’m not sure if that really influences my bass playing directly… Come to think of it, not much does except for music itself and other bassists. I guess music is kind of an island in my life, and I like to keep it that way.
How long has your band been around?
Coming up on 3 years.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re based out of Austin, and I think the communal energy of this place, and the fact that it allows artists to find where they fit in so easily, has really allowed us to be as open and creative as possible without having to subscribe to any specific standard. We’ve had opportunities in so many different pockets of the scene, we know wherever we fall musically, there’s folks here who will appreciate it. So we can just do our thing!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
Well, Zach came up with the name. Or actually it was our boy Greg I think! It was way back before I met Zach… But I think the name of the band is really interesting because its kind of a microcosm for what everyone’s doing when they try and express themselves. In any capacity; whether its through art, or through song, or chopping your dick off and throwing it down the highway! It’s a microcosm of what everyone’s trying to do; trying to recognize their own existence, trying to recognize their own consciousness in this world. I think that’s what separates us from the dogs man. And I think that’s a very important thing in a humans life. Just like, community and self-expression.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Fuck Love Goat man! I wouldn’t usually say it, but they’re not even open anymore, so they’re free game! (laughs) Those were some pretty shit shows. But I don’t remember any shows being particularly bad. We pretty much made it work with most of the shows… The best show would probably be Come And Take It when we opened for Vallejo, with Jelly Ellington and Curtis Lee. We were just on point and had a lot of energy for that one. We were all super pocket. And just the venue too man. That’s a great place to play. Great sound system.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you
Empire’s a really great place to play at. So is Come And Take It… Shit man, I’d like to play at… Man, I’ve pretty much played all the venues in Austin! It’d be nice to play a good house party again! But the pinnacle venue I see Souls Extolled conquering is Stubbs. But I’m sure it won’t be long.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
I’d love to play on the same bill as the Osees… Yeah, I mean those guys. That’d be awesome.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
It’s more than just playing music together. You know, you got to have the connection too.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
If I could give myself advice? Be more present. Be more present, in the moment. If you don’t teach your mind to be more present, in the moment, you won’t have anything to smile about when you get old.
Don’t be so uptight. Have more sex. I don’t know!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
It’d probably be ‘The Crucible’. This one actually isn’t out yet, but it drops October 1st with a music video. But you know, what it talks about really speaks to me, with my religious upbringing. And it’s probably one of the better basslines I’ve come up with. You’ll see.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
It’s probably got to be ‘Seraphic War’ because of the energy me and Joe share together on that one. It might actually be the most requested too, because a lot of people say they like that song. As far as people’s favorite, it’s either that or ‘The Restless Kind’. That’s definitely got to be a favorite, and it reaches out to a more diverse audience.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Well, Zach comes up with most of the lyrical shit, and the riffs. I’m playing a lot of pretty shit between songs and sometimes things come out of that. For example, ‘Allegiant Swine’, I was just kind of playing, and it became a song. As far as what inspires my basslines, I still listen to a lot of Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine, because that’s my pedestal for like, heavy rock. And then it just branches off from there. But at least tone-wise, that’s the man. That dude’s got a lot going on. Other than that it’s just been… I haven’t actually studied another bass player in a long time. It’s just kind of from my own understanding of music. It’s just kind of what I think it should sound like.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Uhh, Fuck the Police. They are… entities of the state?
Hmm… People should think for themselves, instead of listening to institutions that tell them what to think.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Hardly ever man. The most difficult thing is just like, scheduling, because everyone’s so busy. But it’s not really a disagreement. When it comes to like, where to take the band, and what direction we’re going, it always just seems to be well agreed upon.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that coming up?
Just to keep evolving as musicians, individually and as a band. You know, always strive for more. Strive to be better musicians and to always be learning. I want to tell everyone to look out for an album next year… And we also got ‘The Crucible’ coming up in October. It’s a chaotic song, but in the end it makes sense. In the end it all makes sense… Next gig is ‘Freights and Sounds Festival’ down in San Marcos, Halloween weekend.