Latest release: Man is the Enemy (independent)Website: www.canobliss.com

Starting way back in 1997, Canobliss is a modern rock/metal band from San Diego. It’s been almost four years since the line-up has finalised, and in that time they have released two albums with a third on the way, and had great success across Western USA. Now ready to take the world by storm, drummer Mike Russo talks to Christine Caruana.

Q: First off, I have to ask, where did the name Canobliss come from? Does it have some specific meaning?

Mike: Haha! It’s funny because we get asked about our name ALL the time… it’s just a shame that we don’t have a good answer for it! So I’ll just have to stick with the truth, and that is years ago Sam [Pedroza, guitar], Chenzo [Vidalez, bass] and some of their buddies were hanging out, drinking beers, partying and trying to come up with the band name. Then, someone mentioned their beer was a can of bliss… and well the rest is history. To us, the name is all about good times and good vibes.

Q: That’s really not a bad story for how you got your name. I will think of that story when I hear Canobliss and smile over the fact it just took the words “can of bliss” to come up with it. The band went through quite a rough patch in the beginning , how did it feel when you finally had the right line up and things were starting to fall into place?

Mike: You have absolutely no idea! My brother Jon [guitar] and I joined Canobliss back in 04, but even at that point the band had been around for several years with different line ups. Then the audition process we went through before finding [vocalist] Johan in 06 was pretty epic, and it was such a huge relief to finally have a front man that we felt could take us to the next level! After jamming with this line up for a few months, I think we all knew that the talent and chemistry was there, and how far we got was just a factor of how much effort we put in. Things have been building up steadily, we’re pouring our hearts into it, and we are very optimistic about where we are headed. It really feels great to be in a band with such good chemistry and a unique vibe going on.

Q: Before “Psychothermia” and Liberation of Dissonance, there was Wicked Necessary and “Demon Angel”. No one ever really talks about those releases and many people may not even know they exist. Is there a reason why you keep those first two releases of Canobliss in the past?

Mike: Wicked Necessary was released way back in 98 back when the band first got going and had a different drummer and singer. Sam and Chenzo were the only two members around back then. Next came “Demon Angel” which was released with Jon and I in the band, but Johan still wasn’t in the picture. Liberation of Dissonance dropped in 2007 and was the first album to feature the current line up. We don’t talk about or jam the tunes from the albums before LOD mainly because not only was the line up different, but the style was different as well. Don’t get me wrong, there is some cool stuff on those albums, but we have grown a lot since then and like to focus on the material written by the current band.

Q: I can understand that. Seeing that Canobliss is finally where you want it to be, it makes sense that you would focus on the work done with the Canobliss we know and love. Now, you guys do absolutely everything independently. How has the journey been doing it this way?

Mike: Being a completely independent band has its advantages and disadvantages – we have our own home studio where we can put out quality recordings, we have been successful at booking our own regional tours (and have networked with a lot of cool people in the process), we are computer savvy, etc. so we are already doing for ourselves most of the things indie labels do for their bands, but with total freedom. The disadvantages are that we don’t have financial backing from a label, and it’s hard to reach mass markets completely on your own. Our current plan is to remain independent but at the same time explore opportunities to work with promotion companies to help get the name and music out there.

Q: Another problem I see arise in purely independent bands is the arguments that arise over decision making. Has it ever caused problems between the group, if one person does more than the others? Does anyone ever feel left out, or get annoyed that one of you is trying to take over and have complete control?

Mike: Egos always become an issue in bands like ours where the members are basically the managers as well. We have had our share of debates and arguments, that’s for sure! But at this point I think we are each starting to find our own niche within the band – what we can do to apply our individual skills and talents to benefit the group. Jon handles the recording, I do the bulk of our booking and website development, Sam is our video and photo guy, Johan and Chenzo hit the scene and spread the word. We all have our place and work together towards our common goal of rocking out!

Q: What can people expect from the new album? Did you decide to do anything different with this album that you have not done in the past?

Mike: We are always trying to mix things up, evolve, and never set boundaries for ourselves. Man is the Enemy is no exception. You will hear a wide array of styles on this album: everything from double-kick drumming and an old school metal vibe to some Spanish vocals and flamenco guitar… and that’s just one song! We feel that Man Is The Enemy is our best and most complete album to date. Our first album with this line up, LOD was written partly before Johan even joined the band, and was released soon after. Because of this it has that raw energy but is a little rough around the edges. We love how the next release “Psychothermia” came out, but that was more of an EP – almost an aftershock from LOD Now, with MITE we have a full-length album that was put together by a band that has had the time to feel each other out musically, and that is an expression of everything we have seen and been through in the past couple of years. With this album our goal was to take everything we do to another level: 11 new songs, tight production, custom artwork, new band photos… we put everything we have into it.

Q: You guys have made this great name for yourself across Western USA, but unfortunately haven’t had that break into the overseas market. Do you see yourselves getting that break soon? Are you planning to market this new album like crazy to get your name to all corners of the globe?

Mike: We have been working our asses off to try and get our name and music out there, but as we’ve mentioned we are completely independent and most of our promotion is fairly grassroots. That being said we do intend to market the new album as much as we possibly can! We will be touring, contacting radio promotion companies, sending the album to magazines and webzines, working our street team members, etc. We have a lot of faith in the new album and our eyes are open for every opportunity we can find to get it heard.

Q: You’ve been working in the music industry for a while now, and heard many stories it. Is there anything about the music industry that you particularly hate? Just one thing that really frustrates you and wish you could change?

Mike: I hate that even the best hard rock and metal bands in the world struggle to be anywhere near as successful as bullshit commercial pop and hip-hop artists. Who are the people buying this crap?

Q: Is there anything you would like to share with the metal heads of Australia? A special message from the mouths of Canobliss.

Mike: You never know when an opportunity will come up and we’ll be on a plane over to Australia… so we just want to say keep an eye out for Canobliss in 2010! If you want to listen to our new album Man Is The Enemy then head on over to www.canobliss.com.