Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario. Mike Ritchie, April 24th, 2016
Prog experimenters Sierra have put together a unique musical project in 72. A one song opus, telling a story in chapter style and like any good song or book, you don’t want it to end. Recording a story about a young man, accused of a crime he didn’t commit after authorities found his girlfriend murdered in the early 70s, and the last person to see her alive besides the assailants. Many decades later, now in his sixties, the man received long overdue vindication when one of the accomplices confessed to the crime in a suicide note finally giving him some peace.
Their second release since 2012’s has woven a near 23-minute lyrical and musical voyage into the story of the man’s emotional lifetime journey, channeling his emotions and inner struggle through the strings. The EP is strong with influences of Kyuss, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, COC, Rush with echoes of Iron Maiden and a heavy Opeth feel. There’s blues, thrash and music played to hit the emotional chords of the man’s inner conflict and demons along with a celebratory end, honoring the girls memory. Vocalist, guitarist Jason Taylor recently spoke to Slickster about the concept of 72.
Sierra Guitarist Jason Taylor Tells the Tale of True Crime in 72
Slickster: What were your inspirations to play this kind of music?
The prog rock greats of the 70’s. Rush, Genesis, Nektar, King Crimson, Yes, etc.
What’s the story behind the band name?
Mountain was already taken, so we took the Spanish version.
Does the band like true crime stories or was this a one-time thing?
I imagine it’ll be a one-time thing, but never say never. If we come across another story like this that moves us enough we’ll do it again. I’ve never really put much thought into that actually… I suppose we could just hunt for stories!
How did the band find out about the story?
The main character from the story (‘him’) was a guitar student of mine. We ended up becoming pretty close and he told me his life story.
Did the man the main character is based on ask you to do this or was it a band decision?
After he told me about what had happened I was totally moved. I was like there needs to be a novel written or a movie made. He had been thinking the same for years. For a while I was fantasizing about writing a musical theater play about it. One night Robbie [bassist] and I got together and realized we were writing two songs that sounded very similar musically. That’s when we got the idea of putting them together. We figured we need a story to go with it, and we asked him if we could use his story. He was cool with it.
Was he cleared publicly of the crime and was there a public reaction?
He was cleared, but something like that obviously stays with you and in the minds of others forever. There’s parts of the story I can’t talk about, but all I can say is that dude has gone through some crazy shit.
Why did the band choose to record one long song and not split the chapters into separate tunes?
It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, our own prog epic.
The EP’s artwork was done by Felideus, has he done other CD covers?
I found out about him through his illustrations for children’s books. He’s got this really twisted kind of style that I really dig. I asked if he would be interested in working for us and it turns out he’s a huge stoner and prog fan.
What are the plans for your next record?
We’re writing and plan to be back in the Jam Room with Phillip Cope as soon as we can.