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One of the latest sensations out of The States is the band HUMAN RHYTHM, a band playing an excellent mixture of Progressive Rock and AOR, with a lot of clean melodies in each and every song on their debut CD (recently reviewed by us). I had to do an interview with them to find out more about this New Jersey settled band...

Please introduce us your band, when did you form HUMAN RHYTHM and did any of you play in bands before HUMAN RHYTHM?

Human Rhythm's lineup consists of James Douglas (lead vocals/guitars) and Mike Zaffarese (guitars/backing vocals).

James: We started Human Rhythm back in May of 2001. We played a few local clubs with acoustic guitars and the response was overwhelming. With this positive energy in our favor, we went directly into the studio and started recording our full length album. Since the CD release in February 2002, we have been preparing for
live shows and touring while we market ourselves to the public as well as labels. Bassist and long time friend Frank Tuozzolo has recently been recruited into the band. His solid playing and deep interest in our music make
him a perfect fit. While auditions for Drummers are still underway, we expect that to be completed very soon and have our lineup ready for the live stage. This selection is an important step in the process because a solid rhythm section is critical in order to recreate the dynamics and emotion of the songs when we take the live show on the road.

Mike: Before Human Rhythm, both of us were in Herbal Junkie. James was recording a demo in my home studio back in Feb.1999. I really took an interest in the songs and we decided to form a band together. I was working with a band at the time but things were on the downside, so I decided that this was a good opportunity to start something fresh and new. We ended up writing more songs with some recruited members from my former band. We recorded and released 1 album, and played quite a number of shows receiving some good press. However,
After about 18 months , we decided that some change was needed in order to evolve as artists and become more serious towards taking the next step. That is when we decided to branch off and form Human Rhythm.

Can you tell us all about your fantastic debut CD?

James: "We knew that we wanted to write songs that were more melodic and heartfelt." "I had real life topics and issues to touch on in my lyrics. There are things that I have seen in my neighborhood while growing up and within my surroundings throughout the years both good and bad that have made very big impressions on me." "I wanted to have the listener actually relate to the lyrics and know what I was thinking and feeling. I want people to feel the emotion." Each day, real people experience many things in daily life varying from Happiness to Tragedy, and there are many extremes. We see violence and depression in the world every day in the news and in front of our faces, but sometimes we are lucky enough to see the good. I wanted truth and emotion, instead of writing something stale and not true to life." We completed the album as a team effort. We wrote the songs, arranged them, and produced them together in the studio. Both of us took on many roles going as far as becoming multi instrumentalists and producers. "We wanted to make music without influence from other musicians that had contradicting ideas. We had a formula that we wanted to follow and both of us believed in it strongly. The melodies and harmonies have to reach out and hook your ears." We invited five different bass players who were also good friends of ours to come into the studio for guest appearances to finish the bass parts after the album was near completion. This approach worked out perfectly and provided some very tasteful lines that compliment the songs quite well.

Mike: James and I wanted to concentrate more on melodies and chord progressions rather than just riffs and guitar solos. We made a conscious effort to come up with memorable melodies and build the rest of the song around that. This was a different method of writing than what I was used to. Many times, we would come
up with parts in our heads and later figure them out on the guitar. This is a much less restrictive way of writing music. You're not bound by the limitations of the guitar and it opens your creative process to a broader spectrum. We know this method was working for us when we started writing songs in very un-guitar-like keys such as C sharp and B flat. The only downside is that its harder to play on the guitar. But this only made us better guitarists
in the end. It was an eye-opening experience.

Your music has influences from 80s AOR as well as Progressive Rock, which bands influenced you? (I guess RUSH and BOSTON were major influences)

James: "I am definitely a big fan of Rush, Van Halen, and Journey". I like many styles of music ranging from Pop & Rock, to Reggae and Classical with no limits on a specific time period. If a song has a great melody and it
makes you feel something, then it's basically timeless. That is what I believe makes music great. The Beatles, Van Halen, and The Police all wrote great songs that will still be great 100 years from now. People may get a little tired of hearing them on the radio but you can't say they weren't great songwriters. There are songs from every decade that are still great when you hear them today. Every time period has its immortal classics. I feel that way about The Scorpions from the 80's.They were a big influence on me, (along with Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen) to pick up the guitar in the first place and start practicing.

Mike: Rush is definitely one of my favorites. I also listened to bands like Yes, Genesis,Van Halen, Boston and AC/DC during the time I started playing guitar. I guess thats why my songwriting is influenced by these bands.
They showed me that it was possible to write music that was both complex and enjoyable to listen to.

You're coming out of New Jersey, a state that mainly brought us many BON JOVI clones (some good, some bad), how's the scene nowadays? And are you popular in your area?

James: There are still many bands fighting it out to be noticed. The Jersey scene has in many ways changed a lot over the years. There aren't too many places to play original music. The people in the area aren't usually very open to new original bands until they hear them over the radio airwaves. Bands have to mix covers in the set to keep the crowd going. Luckily, our pop melodies catch the ears quickly and stick in their heads. We are still
very new to the scene, but We have a definite growing fan base in and around our area. We believe that if we continue to play and market ourselves, with the help of our fans the music will spread worldwide.

Mike: The scene is definitely not what it used to be. A lot of clubs have been closing while others only book cover bands. Its become very difficult to draw people to local clubs. I think this is partly due to the number of bands on the scene increasing while the quality has gone down. Its an unfortunate side-effect of bands like Nirvana and
Green Day. I mean people like Kurt Cobain made it look like all you have to do is be loud and obnoxious to be famous. The sad part is, most kids didn't understand that there was real talent behind it. They started their own bands and tried to sound just like someone else. After a while people got tired of paying good money to go to a club and hear 4 or 5 bands with no real talent.

Have you tried to get in touch with European labels yet?

Mike: Not yet! We definitely want to. We aren't too familiar with the proper way to go about it and which labels to contact. In the US, a lawyer is needed to shop material in nearly every case. However, based on the response we have been getting in Europe, I think that is going to be the next logical step.

What are the plans for the next coming months?

James: We plan to continue supporting the album and increase our popularity. We hope to organize touring of various US cities and create a strong demand. If that goes well, maybe we can venture overseas for a European tour. As always, we are constantly writing new material as the ideas keep flowing. This band will most certainly continue to progress and evolve. With each new experience in life, we also learn to reinvent ourselves.

Finally, do you have anything to add to our readers?

James: We would like to especially thank the European music fans and media for their support of Human Rhythm, and their strong interest in Independent American Music. We hope to reach the ears of every open minded person and to have our music touch them in some way positive. We want to make music as long as we can. In our eyes, there aren't many things that are more rewarding. With the support of our fans everywhere, we will keep growing stronger. We thank you all.

Mike: We hope that you like the album. We put a lot of time and effort into it and are satisfied with the results. We really believe that we have put together a CD that has musical integrity and is accessible to a wide range of
listeners. Take a listen and let us know what you think. Thanks.