Relatively new to the scene alternative rock collective KOMOX – comprised of Bryce Soderberg (Lifehouse), Kris Persson, and Pelle Hillstrom – has been gearing up for their upcoming EP release to show the world what they’re really all about. A project that began when Soderberg’s passion for music wouldn’t sit idle during a brief hiatus with Lifehouse in 2012, KOMOX now has a name, and has blossomed into a three piece alternative indie-pop sound machine.
Dreaming Awake Vol 2 will be released on September 23rd (Dreaming Awake Vol 1 is available now), but we got the chance to sit down and speak with the insanely talented – and polite – Soderberg between recording times with KOMOX. Check it out.
Alright, so for some base facts. What was the first song or album you remember listening to, and who introduced it to you?
It was Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion II, back in 1991. That was the first CD that I gravitated toward. My friend DJ Page – my best friend in elementary school – bought it for me. That was right before the Seattle grunge scene really started and then I got into Nirvana. There was a lot of CD buying in those days.
So the band name is inspired by the Comox Valley, but I also saw you guys rolled through a couple of other names. What made you land on KOMOX?
We had a couple of changes because we went through so many developmental stages of this project. It started off with me writing songs over the last ten years, just kind of throwing different ideas and inspirations from different genres into it. We knew the band had to play a ton of shows and develop together to get that chemistry going. Just through the phases, we landed on KOMOX because it got me back to the roots of being a Canadian and where I came from musically. There were a lot of cool 80’s bands that I was listening to like Depeche Mode and The Cure and Tears for Fears around that time when I was taking vacations to Comox Valley. It’s a name that means something personal to me, which brings out a lot of positive creativity.
What is the origin story of KOMOX?
Well they’re both a couple of Swedes so, by default, they’re great songwriters. So that’s great. We basically met through the Los Angeles music community which, surprisingly, is a smaller music community. A lot of people know each other and there’s a lot of great networking around here. These guys shared the same musical influences as I did when I met them. I met Pelle when I was going to Musician’s Institute a long time ago, and I’ve been working with him ever since. I met Chris through some mutual friends and he’s a very musical drummer with a great songwriting background. We just kind of lock as a unit within the studio, which is really important, as well as on stage.
Forgive me for not knowing you went to Musician’s Institute. That’s awesome!
Yeah I don’t mention it much, but I met a ton of people and those connections kind of led me to where I am today with Lifehouse and everything. I lived in Hollywood in a dingy apartment for a long time, playing gigs around the Sunset Strip and all that. I moved to Los Angeles to go to school and I just never left.
So you dove into the songwriting scene a lot when you had a tiny hiatus with Lifehouse. Do you have any stories from that time?
I wrote with so many different people – I still do – that come from different backgrounds and different genres. Hip hop, spiritual rock, the scene has pretty much changed these days. And with technology, you can go and write in a park with someone’s laptop and get production done at the same time. I wrote a lot with Alessandro Cortini, a friend of mine who plays with Nine Inch Nails. Tommy Walter from Abandoned Pools. A lot of lesser names and a lot of bigger named people. It’s kind of showed me what’s going on in the music world, what works commercially. It’s also helped me with my own songwriting, kind of pulling from it and being exposed to all these different types of people.
Do you have a favorite track of KOMOX’s, by chance?
I like “Tidal Wave”. I think it has a very vibey atmosphere to it. Lyrically, it kind of connects to some life experiences I was going through. “Raining Gold” was off Dreaming Awake Vol 1 and gets a really great reaction when we play live as well.
Are you in-studio right now for the upcoming LP?
Yeah, we’re literally working on a track right now. We’re experimenting and coming up with sounds. We wrote a lot of ideas over the summer, like 40 or so ideas that we’re just kind of whittling through and finding out which ones are the strongest. We want to make the best record possible.
What’s the production process been like on it? Any days you don’t want to do it?
There are always days where you come into the studio and try to vibe around for a few hours and then you wind up going to get margaritas. Luckily, we have a pretty good formula here where Chris will work on the drum parts on his laptop, Pelle will work on guitars and I work on lyrics. We’re constantly trying to move and be productive. There’s the right brain side with writing and creativity which is really fun and then there’s the left brain side which is logistics with cutting and pasting and editing. It’s not as fun, but both are equally important so we’re getting after all of that instead of staying stagnate.
Your newer single “Untouchables” (off the upcoming Dreaming Awake Vol 2)is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t see it not being a hit. Do you have a story behind it, by chance?
There are a lot of songs that range in depth. For this one in particular, we just wanted to make a fun, atmospheric, summery kind of song that encapsulated the mood of wanting to stay in the honeymoon stage of a relationship forever. This song was about a relationship that had re-convened and I wanted to pick up the slack and keep it going. It’s a personal song for me, there are many layers of the onion to it. Lyrically, and on the surface, it’s just a fun summer song that is supposed to be carefree.
I always wonder about rider lists. Do you guys have specific things you like to add in?
The rider varies from time to time. When I was younger, it was Skittles and Mars Bars and candy. Now it’s a little more organic. Give me your organic pita and hummus. We always want lots of water. Not as many energy drinks, I kind of overdosed on those when we had them. We try to keep it relatively healthy, but we aren’t too boring. I don’t know what it’s going to be like with these guys. Perhaps Swedish Fish or something like that. (laughing)
Who is your favorite superhero and why?
It’s a tossup. I have to say Batman because he’s a human. He’s more vulnerable than the other guys, but he makes it happen and he’s kind of a badass. Plus the best movies are Batman. But Green Lantern is pretty awesome. He can shape shift and mold and do things the way that he wants. But I’d also say Superman because he can fly, has unlimited strength, and only has one weakness.
You asked me a tough question.
But if I had a superpower to pick, it would be that I could run through a library and touch every book and have read it as I touched it. The power of intellect.
That is awesome. Alright, if your music were a donut, what kind would it be and why?
It would be a maple donut because I’m Canadian. Tim Horton’s – a huge donut chain in Canada is like our Starbucks – has a maple donut and it’s a classic. So it would have to be a maple donut with some Swedish candy on top of it. Like Swedish Fish again. Maybe with a side of like a Crystal Pepsi. That’s very 80’s, and we’ve got an 80’s element to our music.
What can we expect next?
Our video is coming out very soon, and the EP comes out September 23rd. We have a show on September 29th, and we’re also hoping to go to South by Southwest and tour this spring and summer in support of the LP. We’re so grateful for everything happening the way it has. It’s very unexpected that we’ve been received as we have, and we’re so thankful.
Dreaming Awake Vol 2 is available September 23rd.