NO REST, the debut solo album from Joshua Travis perfectly balances his spectacular songwriting and musical vision with a “hands-off” approach when it comes to the EP’s many guest features. Created with a goal to make a raw and real sounding release, something that you can close your eyes and feel like you’re in the same room with the band, Joshua not only made sure not to over-produce anything, but he even refused to interfere with the creative process of those who also had a hand in the EP – from vocalists and features all the way to the artwork. Both Joshua and his collaborators had full creative freedom when working on NO REST, and the result is a powerful, explosive and technically superior five-song release.
Joshua Travis is no stranger to the music industry. Fans might know him best from his work with bands like Emmure, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza and Glass Cloud, and he is taking his knowledge from years of writing and recording music with his other projects to create the strongest debut solo release possible. The EP finds him not only playing bass and guitar, but also lending his talents to the drums as well, and with features coming from members of acts such as Polaris, Fit For a King, Monuments and more, it promises to be filled to the brim with exciting twists and turns from start to finish.
Joshua travis kicked off 2022 with the release of the EP’s first single, “Web of Lies”, and with NO REST out on March 18th, he recently gave fans another new sneak peek into the EP’s prowess last week with the release of “Leviathan” featuring Ryo Kinoshita and Chad Kapper, who’s vocals perfectly balance each-other out. Fans can listen to “Leviathan” and read what Joshua Travis had to say about the upcoming release now below.
Pre-order the EP HERE.
Prelude Press: You are getting ready to release your debut solo EP, NO REST this month! What are you most excited for fans to hear on it?
Joshua Travis: I would have to say the direction of the production across the whole EP. Compared to something that’s bordering on over-produced, the goal was to have everything sound as real as possible. Almost as if you’re standing in the room while the music is being played live.
I hope this approach reaches people and allows them to see that you don’t always have to go along with the polished, modern metal industry standard in that regard. Personally, I don’t want my stuff to sound like all the other music out there. Not to say that other artists’ work doesn’t sound great, I just don’t want my music lumped into the same bucket along with everything that has a similar vibe, textures, and things like that. So, giving people’s ears something different from what they’re used to hearing is probably what I’m most excited about.
You’ve released a handful of solo singles, and of course have been involved in tons of other releases with Emmure, Glass Cloud and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, but NO REST will mark your first solo EP. With that in mind, did you have any major goals when you first started working on the EP?
My biggest goal with the EP was to just be me. With this project, there was no need to constrain things to a certain style or vein. No one told me “don’t get too wild” or “don’t write things that are too gnarly or will go over people’s heads.” I was free to do whatever I was feeling, and that was great!
Looking back, I’d like to think that this idea applied to everyone involved as well. When you have such a collaborative effort, I believe that any and all of the artists should be able to work without boundaries. I didn’t want it to feel like there was someone standing over them like, “I think you should do this” or “let’s re-work that.” I wanted everyone to act one-hundred percent on what their instincts were telling them. When it comes to a project like this, I’m not giving anybody any direction. I’m not going to tell them yes or no. I want them to do what they do best.
You were responsible for recording bass, guitar and drums for the EP, which you haven’t done in quite some time. Were there any challenges you faced while writing and recording?
Not with writing. I’m used to doing that by myself. If I’m working with a specific drummer for example, I’ll try and program the drums based on how they play. In the case of my solo work, I just focused more on how I would play instead of someone else.
Originally, I did actually have a guy locked in to track drums for me. But, the day or so before I left for the studio, he hit me up and told me he couldn’t make it. I remember thinking “oh no!” I already knew that I didn’t want to have programmed drums on this EP. So, I spoke to my engineer Josh and told him it’s just going to be you and I! He was like “yeah, we got this. We have a kit here. Let’s just set it up however and just hash it out.”
When I got there, we set up the kit and I kind of tinkered around on it a little bit until I felt like, “ok, I think I’m going to be able to get through this.” Since I wrote all of the material, it helped that I knew what it was that I was going for. Of course, applying it in real time was a little different. I had Josh in there screaming at me like play harder! Play harder! Haha.
I was not at all conditioned to play drums for any duration of time, so that was definitely the most challenging aspect. Just being able to lay down all those parts in a way that I felt good about took a little bit, but we made it through it!
“I purposefully didn’t push to any severe extremity because I wanted this EP to serve as something to open the doors with. I don’t plan to stop here! There’s more coming!”
How do you feel working on a release like NO REST differs from your work with other bands? Do you find that you’re harder on yourself when working on your own solo material like this?
No matter what it is that I’m working on, who I’m working with, or what the material is aimed at, I feel like I always go into a tracking environment the same. I just try to jump in head first and nail the parts as best as I possibly can. So, other than the boundless creativity and the writing portion of a solo project, I don’t feel like there’s any large difference.
In fact, I purposefully didn’t push to any severe extremity because I wanted this EP to serve as something to open the doors with. I don’t plan to stop here! There’s more coming!
NO REST features a ton of exciting guests who all lend their own unique sound to the EP. How did you go about sending the music back and forth and building these songs around them?
I keep telling people how lucky I am with how this all worked out! Between the vocal features, the instrumental feature, all the way down to the artwork, I never gave anyone any direction whatsoever.
I started by writing the tracks. Then, between myself and SharpTone Records, we listened through and began thinking about who we could best hear over certain songs. We pitched the artists the tracks and that was it! They never sent anything back asking “hey, what do you think about this?” They just got the song and added what they felt was right. Again, this goes back to letting them have full creative freedom. I wanted the features to be able to put their stamp on the music, rather than have a producer come in and start cutting, extending, or rearranging everything. It was like nah, let’s just let them run with it. Whatever they do, I hope it’s sick because that’s what’s going to tape! And that’s exactly what happened!
Your latest single, “Leviathan” features Ryo Kinoshita and Chad Kapper – how did they help to shape the song? What did they bring to the table?
Oh geez! Everything! With the EP, I wanted the first song to seem like we were kicking the doors wide open, the middle section to be filled with a kind of chaotic energy, and the last track to feel like you’ve now gone through those doors and are seeing the person or whomever walking away from you.
Being the second track, “Leviathan” is very high-energy until you get about three-quarters of the way through. Then bam! It almost flips into a completely different song. Ryo and Chad have such polar opposite sounding voices, and having the two of them together was just like puzzle pieces falling into place.
I’ve always thought of “Leviathan” as a lot of fun, but it’s their dynamic that really makes the track stand apart like it does. And honestly, I think this is the case for all of the songs. If I were writing for an instrumental-type release, I would do things differently. But with this, I didn’t want the music going psychotic and leaving little or no room for the vocals. Rather, I wrote the songs with the vocals in mind.
By working with so many different artists on the EP, did you find that you were pushing and challenging yourself to try new things more than usual? Did you learn anything new during the writing process?
Yes and no. Because the collaborations were so free, there wasn’t any pressure to push or pull anything to make it fit into a box. Yeah, I could have been super relentless and went super tech, but I didn’t want to go down that road. I just wanted high-energy, aggressive music.
As far as learning from the whole experience, I found that there are a lot of sick vocalists out there who really have the power to shape a track. Also, there should be way more faith in letting artists do what they do best! It’s cool to see people work. And, if anything, working on this EP gave me a little more satisfaction knowing that people can be sick on their own. They don’t always need to have a “helping hand” all the time or a shadow looming over them. Just being able to have people be so openly creative is awesome!
What was the most exciting or rewarding part of working on the EP?
I’d say the most rewarding part was having a project with all live instrumentation come together in the way that it did.
Generally, I’m used to a lot of things being very digital. Drums being programmed, and things like that. I think with this kind of method, you can get all of the sweetest sound sources that are incredible before you even touch them in a mix.
But with this EP, everything was done the old-school way. You’re not sitting there with a bunch of pre-processed awesome sounding things right out of the gate. You actually have to mix because it’s all raw. Microphones, loud ass amps and cabs in a room, hums, nasty noises, and stuff like that. If you listen, you can hear everything clipping. It came out ferocious and that’s exactly what we were aiming for.
Being able to go through that whole recording process the old-school way and watch it go from where it started to what it turned into was the real victory here. That was the sickest part of it all for me!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, I appreciate it! I hope you all like the EP! If you do, I stream on Twitch all the time and play the new material along with a whole back catalog of other stuff I’ve done in the past. You can find me at https://www.twitch.tv/thejoshuatravis. Come hang out sometime!