Keram, an accomplished musician, film and television actor and founder of the long-running Robot Pride Day, is an out-of-the-box artist. His newest album, Come To Life - executive produced by Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson - is a sprawling, other-worldly roots-rock adventure that took an army of about 30 musicians, whose collective credits include Coheed & Cambria, Zappa Plays Zappa, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and of course Rush.
From “Killing Days, Living Nights” that sounds like a cross between Neil Young and D’Angelo to the 12-minute “The Devil Knows Me Well,” an audio history of the blues that starts with the Delta, visits the Stones, pulls in Beach Boys-type harmonies and on to Hendrix, the 10-song opus is an unpredictable hybrid of Americana, new age, electronica, roots, rock, theatre, experimental, jazz, pop, and then some. It ends with the title track that then embarks on 20 minute improvisational ambient-jazz journey inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Recorded in Toronto and Los Angeles, Come To Life was seven years in the making. Keram says he chose the musicians for their improvisation skills. “I let them go crazy. We captured lightning in a bottle” — including Lifeson who appears on “Devil Knows Me Well,” “Mary Magdalene” and “Moving Dark Circles” and whose intuitive guitar solos work perfectly with the songs. The whole album was mastered by Andy Vandette (Rush, David Bowie, Dream Theater) and “Mary Magdalene” was mixed by Rich Chycki (Rush, Dream Theater, Aerosmith).
As an actor — who has appeared in the films American History X, Punisher: War Zone and Texas Chainsaw 3D and TV shows True Blood, The Mentalist and 24 — Keram (Malicki-Sanchez) brings that expression to his music too, writing from other character’s perspective to explore his themes.
Leading Blue Dog Pict in Toronto in the 90s, Keram created a movement with an elaborate stage show featuring multi-media, props and costumes. He had his own record label at 14, released three albums, and the cultish devotees known as “Sky Pirates” became part of the live experience. Major labels courted them. Then Keram was called away to LA so Blue Dog Pict was dismantled.
There, Keram got his legs back at breeding ground Hotel Café, performing acoustic shows that were influenced lyrically by living in Hollywood. “But it’s not just a record about Hollywood. I probably feared what the Internet might do to us all. Robots coming to life represented the technological age, the new machines.
“The whole idea is coming back to life, look beyond your little mobile screen, look at the world around you, and see how you can become involved in it.”