BAND BIO - AMERICAN ZEN
Coyote was raised in the canyons of Southern California. Catching rattlesnakes and donating animals to the San Diego Zoo, this nature boy was also equally at home bodysurfing with his school buddies Tom and Steve. Coyote was recognized for his talents early in life. At age 10 he was appearing on television and performing in public. His poetry was published and artwork exhibited. His motion picture debut was in Canada at age 16. Like the spiritual guide he was named after, Coyote is a storyteller. His action packed life story has already received movie offers. He's been kicked out of both Canada and the U.S., pursued by the F.B.I., and beat up by the police. His comments on religions, family life, politics, and even the entertainment industry have solicited praise from diverse celebrities such as Steven Spielberg and Michael J. Fox. Coyote is a humanist whose musical stories, though mostly autobiographical, portray the ambitions and emotions of a wide variety of America.
Rory G is a gifted guitarist. His blues stylings and emotional phrasings are never mechanical or common. The emotional depths portrayed in his performances give life to each song, carrying the listener to worlds and realities not known to most mortals. "My purpose in life is to transport the person's soul, or at least their mind, to a place of sanctuary, or emotion. Then each person can come to terms with their own self--by finding their way back." Rory uses no effects or digital devices on his guitars or amplifier. He doesn't even own a distortion box, chorus, or echo unit. On "A Long Way Home," he uses a phase-wah pedal. All the other sounds you hear were created by his dynamic playing, 50 watt Marshall amp, or the pickup switch on his Stratocaster.
Tom Calder is a California beach boy. If he had a choice, he'd probably spend every day with his jams in the ocean. ("Jams" are loose fitting floral print swimsuits.) "I didn't plan on a musical career. Someone needed a bass player and asked me if I could play. I told 'em if they'd give me a bass I'd play it." The band gave him a bass and Tom learned how to play it in time for his first gig a few weeks later. As this album proves: Tom is not only a fast learner, he's created a style all his own. From the bass solos of "In The Darkness" to the solid simplicity of "Thank You," Tom combines melody and rhythm giving American Zen its storytelling power. His Vox organ also adds an honesty to a world dominated by synthetic sounds and sampled copycats.
Steve Hixon is the fire under these psychedelic Californians. "Drums are supposed to be hit hard!" He breaks heads almost as often as Rory and Coyote break strings. (Even Tom has been known to break bass strings on stage.) Steve and the boys don't just play music, they live it. "Coyote has a policy," Steve explains, "If someone in the band doesn't feel like they can put 100% into a song, even at rehearsal, even during the tenth time we practice the song, we don't play it at all. Our rehearsals are just as good as any gig. Each of us may feel something different, or see something different in our mind when we play a song. That's ok, just as long as you see it and feel it intensely whenever you play the song." Steve's hobbies are surfing "toothpicks" (small surfboards) and "mountain-tripping." Although Ludwig drums are his favorites, Steve is adamant that, "anything you can bang on is a drum."
LEVEL 1 is the first of 8 albums which will detail this band of Zen boys as they pursue spiritual enlightenment, (and a few earthly delights), as Disciples of Zen Master Zhen Shen-Lang (who is also a musical artist of Shaolin Records). This makes them AMERICA'S FIRST BUDDHIST ROCK BAND. Technically, we had to come up with a musical genre for American Zen, and decided upon "FOLK ROCK" since Coyote fronts the band mostly on acoustic guitar, flute, and harmonicas.
Produced by Richard O'Connor, who is also the President of Shaolin Records, and engineered by Don DelaVega, American Zen strives for an honesty based upon sincere performances rather than studio effects and fancy equipment. Richard explains, "Sometimes a song like "Simple Lady" which Coyote cut in his home studio has such a wonderful feel to it that I prefer to just master his demo than try to recreate what is a great musical moment. As for their spiritual enlightenment--they are all really good kids and whatever they do will be great art. It's just a bonus to see them develop their musical talents as they also develop their souls."
American Zen: More rock and soul than America.