Andy Khachaturian, vocals
Art Karamian, guitar
David Hakopyan, bass
Sammy J. Watson, drums
“This album is full of bursts – each song is a flare of life and spirit,” says singer Andy Khachaturian of Random Bursts, The Apex Theory’s debut (released July 31, 2001, on DreamWorks Records). “There’s a journey in every one, but the creative path each of them takes is absolutely different. Evoking strong emotions is what unites them.”
The eclectic and powerful music of this Los Angeles four-piece is crafted from the vast universe of experiences, perceptions and influences of its members – Khachaturian, guitarist Art Karamian, bassist David Hakopyan and drummer Sammy J. Watson.
“For me, the beauty of the band is that even though we always create together, it’s completely different each time,” says Art. “Musically, we’re always on the same page, but we each come from such different places. There’s no feeling of being boxed into any one style, which truly makes our sound our own. What really excites me is the possibility of what we’ll do in the future, where we’ll take it.”
Remarks Andy: “This band is very give-and-take; it’s an open channel. We all like to write, but there’s no set formula for doing it. Someone will come in with a new idea, and we’ll work off it. It’s pretty much wide open, and everyone contributes in their own unique way.”
This creative tradition was inaugurated soon after Andy (who started out as a drummer) met bassist David during their early teen years. Andy and Art, meanwhile, had played together in a pre-Apex band. After enduring a long series of frustrating drummer auditions, the three finally scored with Sammy.
All parts securely in place, The Apex Theory officially designated themselves a band in January 1999, playing their first formal show just two months later, at the famed Troubadour in West Hollywood. The band quickly developed a local reputation for its intense live performances.
These packed Hollywood club gigs drew increasingly rabid fans, as well as record company scouts. But, says Dave, “We never sent our music to record labels. None of us were into the industry end of things. The whole idea was, let’s just write some songs that come from the heart and go out there and play shows.”
The band eventually signed with DreamWorks Records and went to work on their first album, which was recorded in early 2001 at NRG Studios in L.A. with producer Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Sugar Ray); the album was mixed by Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle, Smashing Pumpkins).
The Apex Theory’s primary concern in this endeavor was to translate their live energy into a cohesive recording. “It’s almost like you have to be two bands at the same time when you go from playing shows to making an album,” says Sammy. “There’s your live energy and your instinct of what you’re doing in the moment. And then there’s the whole process of capturing something in the studio and having it be a representation of where you are at that point in time.”
Andy, Art, David and Sammy credit Gilmore with helping them make this transition from the stage to the studio. “When we were considering producers,” Andy remembers, “we’d sit down and talk to see if we saw eye-to-eye as people first. Sometimes you can have a really talented producer, but you can’t relate to them. We decided to go with Don because we immediately vibed on a personal level, and we thought he made some really good suggestions about where we could go with our music.”
Says Art: “It was interesting collaborating with Don because we’d never allowed anyone that close before. He had specific ideas for some songs, while he felt others were ready to be recorded as is. Don is also a very funny guy, and his sense of humor was a big help. He kept the climate loose and fun.”
The resultant recordings bear the band’s self-described “heavy Mediterranean groove,” which is created by each of the four members, with Andy contributing lyrics.
“Writing with this band is fun because it happens in so many different ways,” Art illuminates. “Someone will bring an idea to the band, and by the time we’re done it could be a totally different song. We’re lucky because that’s what keeps the collaboration fresh.” Echoes Sammy: “There’s a lot of open-mindedness, so the music is constantly taking turns where you wouldn’t expect them.”
As for his lyrics, Andy says that writing from the heart has always worked best for him. “Writing your thoughts out – I think that’s good for anyone,” he attests. “I think everyone should try to explore themselves that way. When you have something in front of you and you can read it back, it makes you feel good. It takes you to a place where you feel comfortable, and I think that’s a very positive thing for everyone.”
Despite their personal nature, he says many of his lyrics are open to interpretation. The band’s name, too, can be viewed from a number of angles. “We came up with The Apex Theory,” Andy comments, “when we starting talking about what we wanted to accomplish with our music, what we wanted to say. When I visualize the four of us playing together, the feeling I get is of moving forward and upward, musically and spiritually. It’s this idea of trying to go for it in life, trying to strive for the positive in everything.”
Says Art: “The name of this band means different things to each of us. To me, it’s about empowerment.” Dave explains: “The apex is the highest point of something. It’s the thing you strive for. But there’s also the journey of getting to that point. We’re in that journey now. I really believe that if you put your heart into something, you can accomplish anything you want. That’s what it comes down to – that’s the ‘apex theory.'”
Random Bursts is the latest landmark on the band’s path to their collective apex. “I would love to bring this record to as many people as possible,” Dave continues, reflecting on the many tour dates ahead. “I would feel great at the end of the day knowing we might have made a difference in someone’s life. I’m not saying we’re genius musicians, but I know what we’ve created with this album. It’s pure and it’s honest, and I think that’s all you can hope for.”