There are many great local bands in the North Louisiana area and with these interviews I try to spotlight my favorites. The band i’m interviewing today is The Navigator, a very interesting/funky rock band who has been in the scene for quite a few years now. The Navigator are playing at both Delta Fest and Tsunami this weekend, you can check them out here.
How long have you been playing music? If you had to choose a hobby other than being a musician, what would it be?
Vance Box (bass): I’ve been playing bass for 15+ years and guitar for 3 or so. I can’t really think of much in the way of hobbies, music has always taken precedence over things like that. I do, however, love gardening. you know, plants and stuff.
Tony Valdez (drums): Ive been playing drums for about 11 years and if I didnt play music I would probably a pornstar or hunt or fish all the time. I love shooting hoops also!
Vinnie Fletcher (guitar): Oh about 17 years playing around with guitars and basses.
Fletch (guitar/vocals): Been playing for about 13-ish years. I would have killed to have been a comic book artist as a child, and have recently started thinking about writing children’s books. Silly, right?
What would you say is the main goal you are trying to achieve with your music?
Vance: As with any other form of art, I think the main goal is to express yourself. To have that outlet is important. None of us are getting any younger and the great thing about music is that it will always change with you.
Tony: My goal with our music is to look out in the crowd of thousands that are dancing and singing to our music.
Vinnie: To have fun and enjoy my favorite creative outlet.
Fletch: My main goal as a musician is what I’d figure any musician’s is: Be heard. Be enjoyed. Make people feel something in a way that’s relative to the sound and tone of the music, as well as creating an emotional connection between the listener and myself. Listeners can always connect with your music, but I think a truly successful musician will find a way to connect back with them.
The Navigator’s sound is incredibly diverse and not limited to any particular sub-genre’s of rock n’ roll. What bands or musicians would you say have had the biggest influence on your sound?
Vance: I’ve never been a big listener when it came to national/international bands and albums. Thats not to say that I don’t, I love bands like Crowbar, Down, High On Fire, Mastodon, Mr Bungle, and King Crimson. I’ve always been more into little bands that pass through town. I have several albums in my collection from those type of bands that I would consider the best in my collection.
Tony: Ive been a metal drummer for so long that my influences were Tony Laureno, Hellhammer, and Gene Hoglan but, now that ive slowed my roll with navigator ive been more influenced by Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age and The Polie.
Vinnie: Thanks, I think we are pretty diverse too. I come from a background of ’90′s rock…Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc… I went through a jazzy fusion stage liking groups like Mahavishnu, Bitches brew, Chick Corea, etc… I’m a big lover of groove oriented rock that’s not limited by anything. whatever sounds good, do it.
Fletch: This is a tough one. I think first and foremost, we as a band must draw inspiration from each other. And I think since we all have different musical backgrounds, it creates that diversity that we’ve aqquired. Now, as far as me… I am probably as finnicky as they come when talking about musical tastes, so I ask not to be judged when I share these. I am a huge fan of Clutch, which I think is heard in our sound, as unintentional as it may be. I’ve recently become somewhat of a mo-town fanatic. Also, I sometimes wish I was the son of Tom Jones, only so he could share some of that sweet vocal genius with me through genetics. And though some of these artists can’t be heard in our sound, I tend to draw influence from the way a certain songs makes me feel.
Most people you talk to in any city in the world will say that their music scene sucks; being a band that comes from a small scene, you too have seen your share of the perils of a small music scene. If you could change one thing about your local music scene, what would it be and why?
Vance: I truly believe that everyone in NELA is thankful for what we have. If anything, I wish there were more bands and a few bigger clubs that will accept a local show. it’s very rare that a local band plays at a large club.
Tony: If I could change anything about our music scene I would open the Blue Monkey back up because it gave people another place to play music, plus it seemed bands made more money there. We need more music venues. Different crowds. new exposure! I am greatful that we have Tsunami because if it werent for them guys we wouldnt have ANYWHERE to play… KUDOS GUYS!!!
Vinnie: Add casinos, not because I like to gamble, but because it would really pick up the people traffic in the downtown area of our city.
Fletch: I would love to see more venues. Venues that aren’t biased against original bands. I don’t think it’s fair for bands like us and many others to work so hard to write songs, approach places like 6th street bar, and be denied a show because we don’t play Tom Petty. But maybe I’m just jealous because I don’t know any Tom Petty songs. Who knows? I’d also like to see more festivals and events like DeltaFest put on by the city that support local bands.
You guys have been playing shows in and around the Monroe area for the last 5 years or so, in fact, you’re playing Delta Fest tomorrow which has featured bands like Jars Of Clay and The Fray. If you could choose one active band to play a show with, who would it be and why?
Vance: Drain STH….because they’re really hot.
Tony: If I had a choice who I could have a live show with it would probably be Faith No More.
Vinnie: Hmm that’s a tough one… I would have to say Pearl Jam.
Fletch: Not sure how to answer this one. Too many variables flying around. Afraid to offend the spirits of unchosen bands. Can’t think straight. DOES. NOT. COMPUTE. ERROR. ERROR. INITIATING. SELF. DESTRUCT. MODE. ERROR. ERRORRRRRRRR-BEEEEYOOOOOooooooop….. …Who brings the biggest crowd? I’ll play with them.
If you were to go on a huge arena tour, what items would you request backstage on your tour rider?
Vance: Riders are for pussies. give us some water, a toilet and a sandwich.
Tony: If i was on tour on a tour bus, my special after-show request would be midget pornstars and lots of chocolate!!! BOOSH!!!
Vinnie: A private toilet.
Fletch: I would bring Neil Degrasse Tyson. He could tell me how the universe works while I lay nestled in a pallet. He could explain to me how the world won’t end in 2012 while I transcribe them into our next number one hit song. Him and a PS Vita too.
If you could go back in a time machine to any point in music history (ie the woodstock era, 80′s thrash metal, 90′s grunge etc) and be in a band, what era would you choose?
Vance: I would go to the early and later parts of any era of music because that is where the most experimentation would most likely occur.
Tony: If i had a music time machine I would hit up the 80s thrash metal man!!!
Vinnie: To be 19 years old in 1992 in the Seattle area with the musical understanding I have now.
Fletch: I would actually love to visit all eras of music. But if I had to choose one, it would probably be the Woodstock era.
What are your future plans for The Navigator? Are you planning on touring in the future?
Vance: I think we are all in agreement that a solid album is the only real landmark we’re shooting for. we’ve always been so busy writing and dealing with having a life that it’s something we’ve never put much time into. we have a great catalog of original music. the “stinky van, no food, no money” touring is something we’ve never been interested in. we all have homes and families here and those always come first.
Tony: Hopefully things will continue to progress with the navigator and we will bring you guys some funky chocolate beats!!! Touring??? Hopefully someday!!!
Vinnie: Not sure. We are planning on doing an album and doing weekend trips to places like Austin, Dallas, New Orleans, Florida, etc.
Fletch: I think the correct question should be “What are YOUR future plans for The Navigator?” By you, I mean the fans. We will be around as long the fans will have us. They are the reason we do this. They are the anchor that keeps us from going astray on this ship named “The Navigator”. Without them we’d be lost at sea.
After Delta Fest, we are going to start recording. Then, when we gather enough funds, plans for a tour will be set in motion. We will be playing Delta Fest Saturday, at 9pm on The Heritage Stage, then we’re gonna pack up, head straight over to Tsunami and play another set. We look forward to to seeing a lot of heads at both shows, and can’t wait to share our newer material as well.
Thanks so much for your time, Ringo. To quote our song Mars Agent, “See ya later, Navigator”
Before travelling to Little Rock to see Tom Petty this past weekend, I hadn’t been able to make it to many out of town shows this year. Thankfully a major tour finally came back to Shreveport and it was one for the ages. I’ve always been a big fan of Crowbar, in fact, I had seen them two times before, however I had never seen Prong live, but i’ve been a big fan of them for a very long time, so getting to see these two titans on the same bill was a dream come true.
The first band to play was Wall & Sky from Shreveport. They had a very modern upbeat doom vibe similar to Black Cobra or Bison B.C. and I was very impressed by them. There aren’t a whole lot of bands with that style that play around this area very often, so it was refreshing to see a legit local band busting out some tasty jams. The other band that played was Witchburn, a band from Washington who was a part of the package tour. I wasn’t a huge fan of Witchburn at all though. They had a alot of generic, rehashed southern metal riffs going on and got boring after about two or three songs.
Once Witchburn finished, I began to get very excited at the opportunity to finally see Tommy Victor and the boys bring the thunder and they did exactly that. The set starte off with “For Dear Life” and “Beg To Differ” from their legendary thrash album “Beg To Differ”. From there the set consisted of more greatest hits like “Unconditional”, “Rude Awakening”, and “Cut-Rate”. They also played two new songs from their album “Carved Into Stone” which actually came out that night, so getting to hear songs from it live on it’s release date was awesome. The best part of Prong’s set in my opinion, was at the end when they played the first three songs from their album “Cleansing”, which I consider to be a very important album in rock/metal history. Obviously the best song in the set was “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” which was the closer and it was kind of surreal hearing that song played live. Needless to say, Prong absolutely ruled in every way imagineable, and they proved to be one of the best live bands i’ll see all year.
Once Prong got off stage, Crowbar began setting up, and it was obvious that most of the people paid money specifically to see Crowbar. Obviously Crowbar was the loudest and heaviest band of the night. Crowbar’s set featured alot of older songs like “Planets Collide”, “All I Had, I Gave”, and others, but they also played quite a few songs from their latest album “Sever The Wicked Hand”, and the song “New Dawn” from “Lifesblood For The Downtrodden”. The songs from “Sever” stood out the most to me just because of how obscenely heavy they are. Specifically the song “Cemetary Angels” which features what Kirk called “The heaviest riff I ever wrote”. You could tell these guys were tired from being on the road, and incredibly glad to be back in Louisiana, but they did not lack a single ounce of energy or heaviness.
Overall, I feel this show was one of the better package shows i’ve ever seen due to it featuring two legendary metal bands famous for doing things louder, meaner, and heavier than everyone else. I have to say that Prong was my favorite of the night by far, but Crowbar was, by no means a letdown at all. I’m very glad Shreveport was able to bring in a show of this magnitude, and hopefully due to the great attendance for a Tuesday night, we’ll see more tours of this caliber headed our way.