Tim Narducci - Vocals / Guitar
Adam Ruppel - Guitar
Johny Bechtel - Bass
Shaun Bannon - Drums
Acclaimed hard rock band Systematic may have called their new album Pleasure To Burn, but the group's formidable songwriting duo, vocalist/guitarist Tim Narducci and guitarist Adam Ruppel are the first to admit there were some painful moments spent in the boiler room on this one.''Our mindset coming off the road was that we really wanted to push ourselves on this album as far as writing the songs went,'' says Adam.
It was a ballsy challenge, considering the band had already turned a lot of heads with their signature big voiced/guitar scorching sound on their 2001 debut, Somewhere In Between. As one critic aptly noted: ''they avoided all the cliches; there's no rapping, grunting, shrieking, whispering, or any other mod clap trap.'' Their searing, slow-burn of an anthem ''Glass Jaw,'' was singled out as a bellwether of even better things to come, and constant touring with the likes of big name rock draws such as Godsmack, Staind, and Cold, (ala Ozzfest), as well as memorable jaunts on The Tattoo The Earth Tour, among others, established the bay area foursome as a new force.
Somewhere In Between Part 2?
''A lot of bands would have,'' says Tim. ''There's so much cookie cutter music out there. We didn't want to repeat ourselves. We didn't just want to capitalize on the success we've had. We had the luxury of taking about nine to eleven months after coming off the road and just writing, using all different approaches.'' Adam agrees, saying the duo were their own harshest critics. ''First we wrote about ten songs and gave them out to people to listen to. People who know our music. Everybody came back and said. 'It sounds great. Sounds like Systematic. Just what we expected from you guys.' That's when Tim and I knew we had to dig even deeper. We pretty much trashed everything we did and started over because we didn't want to just do what was expected of us. We wrote about twenty more songs. The question we asked ourselves every day was 'is this the greatest sound we can put out at this moment'''
Happy to report the answer is yes.
Pleasure To Burn is the kind of growth record only great bands risk making. With instant Systematic classics like the scathing ''Not Like You,'' and the soul searching ''The Water Cure,'' Systematic have raised the bar of the entire genre. One listen to the cavernous bass-drum pummel of ''Leaving Only Scars,'' complete with Narducci's heart-stopping vocal performance, and you realize Systematic has successfully engineered their transformation. The new disc is loaded with jagged masterpieces that aim for the throat and heart. ''This record is a huge step forward for us in every way,'' says Tim. ''Lyrically, I think we tried to be too complex on the first album, too abstract. We're breaking it down more, simplifying, as well as coming up a step in musicianship.''
The band has added a new rhythm section to their roundtable with drummer Paul Bostaph and bassist Johnny Bechtel. With Ruppel and Narducci as their core, Adam says the live element of Systematic will continue to shape and define their sound. ''Before making the first album Lars (Lars Ulrich, Metallica drummer signed Systematic to his Elektra imprint, The Music Company in 2000) suggested we hit the road and eat, drink, live and breath the atmosphere of a band. That was the greatest lesson we ever got. Now we thrive on touring. As soon as we finished the first album we hit the road for a year.'' The band hit the road after completing Pleasure To Burn, as well, setting off on 2003's Jagermeister Tour, which also includes Saliva, Hed (pe), and Stereomud. ''Playing live cements the relationship with our fans,'' says Tim. ''Rock used to be about hitting the road and building that following. We don't put ourselves on any pedestal. We're a family, and we look at our fans like we're all in this together.''
That cohesive attitude stems from the close working relationship of the group's creative axis, of course. Tim Narducci and Adam Ruppel first met in 1996, and began writing and performing together, slowly refining their signature sound that would eventually garner them industry-wide attention. In the spring of '98 the group hunkered down in Adam's home studio and recorded another 20-plus songs. It was that tape that got them their deal, and Narducci and Ruppel haven't looked back since. ''We always want to step it up,'' says Tim. ''One of the goals on this record was to get a little heavier with the sound.''
The group enlisted producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Blindside) who added to the motivating atmosphere that pervaded Pleasure To Burn. ''Howard pushes you. He challenges you to get the most out of each song,'' says Tim.
Adam cites a couple of defining songs on their sophomore effort, ''Breakable,'' and ''Not Like You,'' among them. '''Not Like You' is saying it's OK to clench your fist once in awhile. It's about not following other people and pretending to be happy because everyone else does. That it's OK to be willing to go against the grain. We call 'Breakable' our F.U. song, where you don't really care about what anyone is telling you to do. We're saying we'll just pack our bags and move on. It's our 'nothing to lose' song.''
Tim points to ''Shine'' as one of his favorites. ''It's just a real aggressive song and pretty much gets to the point, which was one of our goals on this record.'' When asked about other milestones they've achieved with Pleasure To Burn, he smiles. ''I think we've captured the energy of the band to come across the speakers on the stereo. It's got more energy than our last one. It's more believable. It's real.''