There was a time – in the 1990s and 2000s – when alternative rock bands dominated the airwaves and filled the big halls.
Crowd surfing, metal horn hand signs, moshing in the pit, and a sea of lighters were all common sights at concerts. From Ozzfest to The Rolling Rock Town Fair, people preferred their heavy, raw and aggressive live music.
Riley Schmelzer – a Boulder native who performs under the name No Signal – revives a faded genre from the early years.
On his most recent EP “Venus,” the self-taught musician showcases vocal chops and instrumentals that will feel nostalgic to many who came of age in the 1990s and early 2000s.
His song “Tantrum” is aptly named, with Schmelzer delivering impressive shouto vocals. Members of the Colorado Symphony also appear on the powerful track.
Sometimes Schmelzer sounds like Staind’s Aaron Lewis. To others, he is reminiscent of Adam Gontier – formerly of Three Days Grace.
And there’s a bit of Tool in the five-song collection, especially on the EP’s title track “Venus.” But, like a true artist, Schmelzer does not like comparisons.
Anguish, yet insightful and polished, the collection of tracks stand out among jam band grooves, dubstep beats and Front Range folk singer-songwriters.
It’s not rock coffee. He is explosive, inflexible and does not fear his darkness.
The piano intro to “Aphelion” is overlaid by Schmelzer’s crisp vocals and suddenly listeners can imagine an accompanying music video – perhaps something with candelabras and a macabre aesthetic.
On the track, he sings, “It’s getting kinda old/Separating perfectly/And in time we might be one again/Let gravity make amends/It’s kinda cold/Drifting so far/So I don’t can’t believe it every time/When we say/We’re fine.
He managed to create rock ballads that are filled with emotion and that are sure to elicit adequate headbutts.
Using the storyboard technique, Schmelzer cuts out each track with the utmost precision.
For Schmelzer, “every project is a specific color, a specific number, a specific flavor and taste and smell. Everything has to match, even down to the order and song titles.
On March 11 at 8 p.m., he’ll bring his arena rock sound to Lost Lake in Denver, featuring bassist Jake DeMarco and drummer Nic Kubes. Tickets are $12.
Eager to cultivate a new soundscape, Schmelzer used a Tesla coil, theremin, EKG monitor, two-way radios, and Moog synthesizers to achieve the desired sound on “Venus.”
While it’s easy to draw comparisons between Schmelzer and the mainstream rockers of not too long ago, it’s clear that he has quite a distinct take on his artistry and the music he makes. wants to offer.
Heavy drums, riffs, a hint of synth, the occasional vocal reverb and lyrics that convey disillusionment might just be what we all need right now.
We caught up with the 19-year-old musician to find out more about his musical journey, a little about the meaning of his stage name and who he aspires to collaborate with if he gets the chance.
Kalene McCort: I appreciate the tracks of “Venus”. Do you remember any early aha moments when you knew music would be your career path?
Riley Schmelzer: There was no specific moment that made me realize that was what I wanted to do. In fact, in the beginning, there wasn’t much thought at all. There was just to do. It wasn’t until I thought about the situation I was in the first two times that I realized that was what I wanted/needed to do. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but it almost feels like a calling, something I can use to change the world and art, but putting the passion into words has never been easy.
KM: What is the inspiration behind your nickname No Signal?
RS: It’s a bit difficult for me to directly determine what really started No Signal. When I was writing my first EP, it was a conceptual representation of many different thoughts and realizations about the world and my perceptions of reality that I had at the time. The things I felt had to be said and understood – you know, the substance. To put it simply, I want to show this area of music, performance and art that I believe is just as misunderstood and invisible as it is dead in the modern era. Art like this and the people who create it are a dying breed.
KM: What are you looking forward to most from your show at Lost Lake and what can attendees expect from your set?
RS: We are very happy to perform these songs, especially because they have never been shared with the world in this way before. It will be interesting to see how they will be consumed live compared to what we are used to, which of course is online. We hope the crowd has an open mind.
KM: I read that you were a big fan of the band Tool. What attracts you to this group and who are the other artists who have had an influence on you?
RS: I don’t like to name my favorite artists because that opens up a huge door for comparisons, but when it comes to the artists I listen to, I’ve realized upon reflection that they’re in that position because of their originality. They do more than music. It’s a whole realm of personality, intelligence and skill that they created for themselves that gave them their name and had the chance to break through to the masses with it.
KM: If you could collaborate with any artist on the current scene, who would it be and why?
RS: Personally, I would love to do production and writing work with Hans Zimmer. I’ve always been interested in film music and he’s someone I really appreciate. Finneas would also be fun to work with. I would love to produce or co-produce with him. I’m looking forward to collaborating with my bandmates, because so far I’ve done everything myself.