If you are expecting "Assisted Living" to be a residential setting offering you choices in personal care and health related services, think again. The Portland, Oregon trio is a synthesis of emotion, passion and energy. But, they are operating on their own accord. The band is best described as a synthesis of melodic choruses, electronic music with an aggressive edge that is raw combustible fuel.
Assisted Living’s “K-12” debut release “Represents the progression we have taken in music. It’s like going from the bottom, and graduating into the high school stage. We’re trying to stir up an emotion, and lyrically, just being direct,” says lead singer/guitarist John Colgate. Lyrically, it’s evident that these guys are intelligent, articulate, and unafraid of revealing their honest concern for the planet. They use their music to cope.
If you’re using free association, Assisted Living’s CD conjures up images, and sounds of artists such as Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, Peter Gabrielle, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Ja Rule, putting forth music for every musical taste. Their sheer musical variety adds to the mystic, and intrigue of the disc. The bands decision to create songs that vary the genres, and mixes it up, is demonstrated on the strong, musical production of the CD created by their producer, Sean Norton.
Why so many musical styles you may ask? Why not just focus on one style so the music buying public knows who you are, what you sound like, and how to find the band in the crowded record store or online arena?
“Well, for us, it’s like one style. We jump around a lot more than sticking to one style. I love the Beastie Boys, and if you listen to their records, it’s all over the board. It keeps you interested. You don’t get tired thinking that you already heard that song on the record before,” says Colgate eager to explain Assisted Living’s indifference to appeal to only one demographic. “AL” are equal opportunity musicians, and not hampered by one linear sound.
Commercial success was not the main goal of “K-12”, nor “AL’s” original intention in crafting the music for the disc. The band is concerned with the integrity of the music, and the quality of their lyrics. “I’m not your typical rock star, okay. I’ve got two kids, a beautiful house, two nice cars, and I make a good living. So, I’m not in the basement, starving, and hoping to get a record deal. If we get a record deal, that’s great. But you know, everybody wants a ticket to the circus, but I want to compete,” Colgate declares confidently, but not arrogantly.
And, do they compete. Take, for example, “The Time is Now,” an intense track, reminiscent of songwriter/producer Brian Eno’s ambient work with David Bowie. The song is a combination of electronic melodies, and a deep, aggressive, vocal track. Delayed guitar crescendos into sonic choruses. Colgate’s voice replicates Perry Ferrell’s vocal phrasing on this tune, lyrically investigates the concept of living in a the world without having a significant other in it. Life becomes robotic and artificial.
“Smoke and Mirrors,” teases you with the melodic, delayed, engaging guitar riff drawing you into the vibration. This could be the first cut released from the CD. But, this tune seems to be a little bit safer, less risky musically, than some of the other tracks as far as the intensity of the chorus, and the rhythms. Initially, the guitar track sounds like is has tremolo running through it, but Colgate says, “It’s just a delay pedal giving the effect to the guitar.” The guitar riff is simple, but memorable. At times the bass line intentionally acts like the lead guitar.
“Jelly,” an instrumental track heavy in percussion, was devised as somewhat of a fluke. “AL” wrote the song on the spot, and recorded the music all in one take.
On “Awakened,” a song which uses news sound bites, is very special to the band, primarily because of the political commentary conveyed lyrically. “9/11 was a real head check. Everyone walks around with an attitude, or a chip on their shoulder. But, I don’t know how that could be the same now. Is this what it takes to get everybody’s attention,” asks Colgate. This cut is haunting musically, and emotionally disturbing encouraging action with sensitivity.
“Tunnel Vision,” is a fine example of compelling melody, harmony, and an aggressive vocal track. “A lot of the writing happens as we jam together, and if it feels good, we keep it. This felt good,” says Colgate. The music showcased on the CD demonstrates the forethought the band has put into creating this song with their impressive melodies, and edgy bridge section.
“The Way,” is pure energy. The song would be explosive live. It’s the kind of tune that would encourage moshing, while lyrically discusses a relationship at a stalemate. The proverbial elephant in the living room, nobody’s accepting the blame, nor are they claiming there are problems, but how can you deny their differences, and not notice the dissention.
John Colgate/singer, Ben Holden/bass, and Jonas Marcus/drums, are a trio of musicians, not unlike the Police, where each musician is contributing to their unique sound. They are unafraid of creating many different musical styles, from the sounds of Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana/Bush, to RHCP. They are thinking musicians that hook you with their catchy, melodic choruses, and resonating, aggressive vocals, that are used skillfully in their brand of music.