Friday, June 10, 2016

The Static Dial: Detroit Indie Fusion

Earlier this year, while checking my email inbox I did spot a message someone has sent to me back in late May 2015, yet to read. I am not the excuses and apologies, kind of person, but due to a quite considerable number of submission requests and to the literally huge load of music alerts from a variety of sources that keep coming, on a daily basis to my email, this particular message was not opened back then. It should not have happened so I finally did read it at last almost eight months after its electronic arrival.

This article is a much-delayed answer to that message. I feel thankful for the hazard that in a specific wintery January 2016, afternoon made me go through my inbox and thoroughly check out if any, of all received messages escaped my radar because otherwise I did not have come to know this band as easily as I use to with most of them. So, let us get to business.

Since 2011, The Static Dial had four fourth different lineups. Initially, it was Bill, Evan Starr and Faris Ansor. Travis Coakley and Josh Burd replaced both Evan and Faris. Afterwards, both Travis and Josh left the band with Mike Frizzell and John Shideler joining in. The Static Dial is actually an electrifying trio formed by Bill Gerazounis, the only founding member, on guitar/vocals and with songwriting responsibilities, plus drummer Mike Frizzell and bass player Mike Fredericks.

Just like many musicians, The Static Dial members are not full-time musicians, but quite the opposite since like many others, they face the insurmountable challenge of that fragile, but pragmatic/realistic equilibrium of daily life concreteness and art ethereal reality, which mean they have to work hard for the money in order to survive and make the music going afloat. The Static Dial hail originally from good old Detroit in the Michigan State, also worldly known by the epitome of Motor City and the heart of automobile production in the USA.

The city was also recently word of mouth in mid-2013 due to a formal file for bankruptcy after decades of mismanagement, which have left Detroit, plunged into a severe social crisis but the city is not just cars and economic disruption. Detroit has always been a hub for art, music, artists and creativity of all sorts with a prominent relationship towards the musical world, from Motown to Detroit Techno, from blues-rock tradition to the memorable relation Detroit maintains with the Jazz history.

The “D” as the city is sweetly called transpires music at every corner and I must say that The Static Dial stand as giants in the heart of the Midwest. In the beginning the band formed as a mere instrument if this is appropriate to say for displaying the solo material of the founder member guitarist/singer/composer and music educator, Bill Gerazounis.

This was mostly due to the desire of interaction with other musicians, in order to develop a sustainable and eclectic musical dialogue that would help shape an indie alternative sound, rather exquisite not to say unique, that we can relate to as being some sort of indie-fusion. In fact, one of the first things to grab my attention was precisely their concept of indie sound, which has to do much with the attitude and the open mind as well as with the blend of different roots.

Their indie-fusion concept it does not correspond to any indie sonority crystallization usually more grounded to some evolutionary post-punk trends or to alt-rock or even to garage rock from the 90’s. The Static Dial is too far away from a confined sonic orthodoxy. The Static Dial is just the opposite since one can easily acknowledge that they enjoy to explore and to experiment a wide range of styles without endangering their core of sound and the band’s identity.

When you listen to The Static Dial the best option is to keep an open mind because the label “Indie” can actually be luring. They are not easy to target in a musical genre for the simple reason that they stretch their musical horizon. They may sound indie-rock, classic rock, indie-pop rock or even some art-pop the problem is that they aren’t entirely anything of this but have a bit of them all plus more. The superb musicianship of the band allows them to masterfully blend and combine the different genres and styles without risking a tasteless musical “pot-pourri” some sort of “all genres in one” but just the very opposite.

The Static Dial has, so to say a musical backbone highly centered on Jazz and Classical aesthetics and techniques which make the combination of styles to which they call “indie-fusion” work really well whether they combine it with rock, reggae, Caribbean or even Afro sonorities. It sounds refreshingly good and makes The Static Dial a very consistent and coherent band quite different from the rest of the bunch. Their sound is not a bubble gum pastiche, quite the contrary, it reveals passion, articulation, effortless work to perfection because eventually that will pay.

The Static Dial is one of those bands that seem to constantly challenge some musical dialogues and in doing that they come with a pretty well known background sort of influence which is only natural, but are not as reflected on their sound as they probably think of and that’s quite obvious because when you read their interviews and press releases you tend to believe that the Static Dial are a kind of reincarnation of the famous 80’s British band The Police.

They are not and they could not be it no matter how much they believe they are influenced by them. Yes, I am not a particular fan of The Police as I am of The Static Dial anyway and apart from some rhythmic details and some jazz guitar riffs very much in the line of the notable guitar player/musician and composer that Andy Summers is but not much more than that.

After hearing again the whole The Police studio discography to clear, some doubts I have difficulty to acknowledge an effective and marked influence of them on The Static Dial. In fact, when one listens to their self-titled debut EP the feeling that arises is that it sets the path for the musical ground in which they want to move in and that is clearly a domain of dialogue between Caribbean and Afro rhythms, Rock, Latin Jazz and Fusion Jazz tempered with Flamenco.

Going back to their so-called Police-esque influence one can say that the British-American band was keen about mixing Jazz, new wave and Afro beat (Stewart Copeland) along with some inevitable punk. Robert Fripp (Andy Summers) influenced their work and to some extent, they tried a sort of reinvention of late 70’s Prog Rock with the introduction of jazz elements and Afro rhythmic structures. That is when they give their music a reggae accentuation.

Curved Air, Soft Machine and Van Der Graaf Generator are highly present in their music to be considered irrelevant. The adventurous mix that characterized the British-American trio is in no way comparable to The Static Dial. In fact, only the excellence of musicianship can be comparable not the aesthetic roots.

When one listens to The Static Dial what we sense from the very beginning is a strong jazz fusion vibe blended with Afro-American rhythms along with some guitar techniques that seem to pertain to Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin more than to Randy Rhodes, Prince, Jimmy Page or Andy Summers.

Audio Nomad their debut album is an awesome sample of what The Static Dial are aiming at doing. They have a solid music expertise which helps them to make the right options, but without making the music sound like an ontological exercise of mere music theory.

They are in fact very good musicians always focusing on the creative possibilities music, dialogues can open and on how to make them a rewarding aural experience. There is both a structural and textural richness in The Static Dial aesthetics as a direct result of the mix of influences and the way they are stitched in their music.

Song after song the listener is offered a feast of rhythms and harmonies that seduce the ear and call for attention to the details. Even though most of the listeners or The Static Dial fans are not properly musicians or have a musical education, the path the band has persisted in since the release of their debut EP up to their debut full-length not only demands that one is quite at ease with the evolution and the intersection of music styles but also aware of the top quality performance of Gerazounis, Frizzell and Frederiks.

What one has here with The Static Dial is a guitar that sounds clean and at the same time with a warm tone that captivates and it does not take one much time to understand that all makes sense: riffs, hooks, phrases and solos nothing seems to be in excess but precisely the opposite. Everything seems to be in the right proportion not that it makes the song structures predictable, not at all but makes them understandable.

The same goes for drumming with a fusion of jazz, rock and Latin rhythms that helps each song to have a proper identity and independence. All of it highlighted by the flirting with the bass guitar work which is of very good taste always looking for bass lines that sustain and enable the rhythmic dialogues that flow eloquently from the Static Dial’s music and namely on their debut full-length.


Audio Nomad was written and arranged by Bill Gerazounis and released in the last day of March 2015. To say it briefly this album has an undeniable Jazz skeleton underneath, fleshed out with a range of different sonic modulations, and stylistic sensibilities that work out extremely well. Audio Nomad is a wide catalogue melodic guitar, textured chords, big tone eclectic drumming and inventive bass playing.

PAPER SHELLS is a good alt-rock song nurtured by some groovy psychedelia guitar solo that remind to some extent to Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa. ICARUS FALLING is a true beautiful pop rock tune with additional jazz fusion dynamics, but also an Al Di Meola touch and a cool guitar solo.

SHAMELESS blends an Alt-rock vibe with an undeniable jazz groove tempered with some eastern feel. SUFFERER'S PRAYER sounds to a laid-back reggae rhythm blended with some eastern perfume. One of the most interesting aspects of this song lies in the superimposed guitar textures classical feel and technique with the background rock guitar with the rhythmic section. SCREAM OUT OF MY SKIN it is a delicious light indie pop rock song that deeply reminds the Bossa Nova (also known as Brazilian jazz) groovy feel and nostalgia stitched with a pleasing jazzy guitar solo and some good indie rock sonic blast that literally massages the ear. SILK ROADS is a tribute to Al Di Meola “Race with the Devil in a Spanish Highway” but also to the exquisite Flamenco guitar playing technique of Paco de Lucia. A brilliant song. An excellent example of musicianship from these folks from Detroit, which are always thriving to combine classical, jazz, ethnic with a modern inventive indie-rock language.

FRAYING ENDS remind a Tango rhythmic structure from beginning to end, something not strange for the band crossed with a reggae swing and a subtle pop rock touch mixed with flamenco guitar elements and technique identified in the song chorus. It reminds Al Di Meola’s “Midnight Tango” and some Sting. WOUND NURSING sounds to an Alt-rock track blended with eastern elements and enriched with a psychedelic guitar solo halfway Al Di Meola and Carlos Santana again with some Flamenco embellishments. THE LION AND THE LAMB this is a very good example of the fusional nature of The Static Dial’s music with clear influences of Afro and Afro Caribbean rhythms. A mix of Funana groove, Cape Verde national rhythm, with Calypso in indie pop disguises. Danceable and full of rhythm. Works unbelievably well. DUSTING OFF THE LEECHES has with a very interesting sonic structure easily jumping from some Pixie-esque blast intro to a gradual Ska swing with a strumming rhythm guitar pattern.


The Static Dial is actually in the studio recording their sophomore EP due release this year and we are really looking forward to check out their new six tracks. In the meantime, they are heading for a Summer USA Tour so if possible go give them some live support because they maybe playing at a venue near your neighborhood.