With a name like Epidemic, you’d expect a band to unleash an unforgettable point of view. The good news about this shadowy new foursome is they stake their claim as one of rock’s most enigmatic new bands strictly through their music and lyrics. From the first guitar blasts from their self-titled debut’s opening track, “Walk Away,” you’re transported into a world of Epidemic’s making. Comparisons don’t do justice to blistering, grind-it-out anthems like the towering “Individual,” bolstered by equally charged vocals from front man Boris. The Holland born singer/songwriter manages to put the defining touch on this L.A. based quartet (with much more intriguing roots than your average rock outfit) on instant masterpieces such as “Disconnected,” and “The Slightest Trace,” among others. Guitarist Bruce Allan (Memphis, Tennessee), Drummer Tim Ganard (Louisiana), and bassist Jimmy McDaniel (New Orleans) provide Epidemic’s sonic muscle, mining the group’s rich musical veins. Vocalist and chief lyricist Boris thinks the strange combination of backgrounds has added to the band’s no-frills appeal.
The dynamically sealed wall of noise evidenced in shattering songs such as “Make No Mistake,” complement Boris’ evocative style. It’s that delicate balance of tension that gives the band its edge. But what about the name? “We’d like to think we’re getting our point across without preaching, but at the same time we can be very persuasive, almost contagious,” says the always quotable Boris. “Like an Epidemic we’re slowly leaking into the system.” The band does not kick in any open doors with political ranting but prefers to operate on a more personal level instead. “A lot of what we’re writing about deals with being de-sensitized,” says Boris. When asked to elaborate, he expounds on subject matter from pop culture to the simple highs and lows of trying to make a band work, as in the aforementioned ‘Disconnected.’ “That one is about the inability to communicate with each other.” After a false start with the band Frozen Sun, which garnered a little European attention, Boris decided to hit the road. “After a while I got sick of just hanging around so I traveled.” Stints in South-East Asia, North Africa, and Central America kept Boris moving until he eventually made his way to Los Angeles. His adventures there reads like a B-movie script. “I played in bands, burned through a number of odd jobs – even slept in my car and on peoples couches for a while. I hooked up with a group called Triggerpimp.” Again, the necessary buzz was generated, but it wasn’t until he met Tim and the rest of the guys and formed Epidemic that his musical future would take off. “We just clicked,” says Bruce. “In every way. Our songs reflect our life experiences, our point of view. I think they are the kind of things that are on everyone’s mind these days. Also, every individual in this band has a truly equal say in how our songs are put together which to us defines our music.”
A quick look at the individual profiles of each member helps map out the entire Epidemic story. Tim has been drumming since 16. Attended architecture school. Has a knack for building things up and tearing them down. He met Jimmy who got his first bass from a Sears catalogue and started the band Wingnut Supreme together. After that band split up Bruce and Tim worked on a side project together called The Broadcast Cycle for a short while. They decided to start a band with Jimmy and wrote for two years until meeting Boris. “The first time we played together we definitely knew we had something going on,” recalls Jimmy. “You look at our band and it’s a wonder we’re still going,” says Boris. “I mean we’re not your typical outfit.” After a year or so of shows, demos and more demos, they signed with Elektra Records. In spirit, at least, Epidemic is as far away from LA as you can get. Their nomadic leanings also seep into their musical tastes. Influences? “U2’s The Joshua Tree had a big impact on me,” says Boris. “I really discovered music after that. You know, worked backwards trying to catch up on stuff like John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, Metallica.” He says Jimmy and Tim are into the raw side of indie rock, with Bruce mostly tuning in to hip-hop stations. “Our interests are so diverse. I think that’s another reason why we sound like we do. Open minds.” It was that exact outlook that caused the band to call on sought after producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Nickelback) to helm the new disc. “He’s been the perfect choice,” says Boris. “He has a great attitude and is so open to ideas. It’s been great working with him.” And what are Epidemic’s ultimate goals if they indeed grab hold of the brass ring on this one. Says Jimmy: “Mine are simple. Play music and ride my skateboard a whole lot more.”