Who are the Electron Prophets? They are musicians that have seen the future of music and are ready to go where ever the winds of creativity take them. The ship is piloted by Jesus Christ and the crew varies from project to project; sometimes from song to song (But - once a Prophet, always a Prophet!), but they all have one thing in common - the need to step out and do what they were called to do - make good music that everyone can enjoy!
Their debut, full-length album "Merry Christmas from the Electron Prophets" is fast becoming a favorite on internet radio stations, at holiday office parties, in classrooms, and just about everywhere Christmas music is played. "I've always loved it when artist's take the 'same old' Christmas songs and spice them up - make them interesting," says Robert L. Strupe. "After playing around with some concepts and sketches This project started to take on a life of its own. It was simply amazing how the music seemed to decide for itself the direction it wanted to take."
Electron Prophet and Nashville veteran drummer Mark Helms enjoyed putting a few snare touches on the more traditional numbers, "We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed making Merry Christmas..."
God Rest Ye Swingin' Hipsters is an acoustic take on (of course...) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (or as Mark continues to call it, "God Rest Ye Jerry Mental Case.). "We played around with a swing/shuffle type arrangement and ended up with just a couple of acoustic guitar tracks and a brushed snare drum," says Rob. "It ended up being heavily influenced by the late Doc Watson with maybe some from Garrison Keillor and the Guys All-Star Shoe Band.
Carol of the Big, Ginormous Bells (Yep, you guessed it), came together as Rob was playing around with some soft-synth sounds. As the song evolved he realized that their weren't actually any bells in the arrangement. Rob continues, "I started going through my library and found a Carillon. It actually startled me when I hit the first note, but I quickly saw the potential in adding a big, huge, dark sound to the piece." It quickly evolved into a favorite of everyone who stopped by the studio to have a listen...
O Holy Night was at the top of the list to be included in the project. Rob wanted to keep it simple and intimate but found that the combination of Alto flute and English horn that he started out with seemed a bit thin especially if the song was going to be stretched into a 3-minutre piece, "I was definitely looking for a way to fit a tapped bass line into the project and it ended up filling in the bottom end of this piece nicely," said Rob.
Angels We Heard at the Beach started out as a fairly innocuous rendition of "Angels We Have Heard from on High." When searching for a lead instrument, Rob began playing around with a B3 and quickly heard a Beach Boys influence emerge as he also added a shuffled drum line to the song. I wish they all-could-be... :)
We Three Funky Kangs is the finished product of a small funk groove idea that was tucked away in the archives. "I was practicing a little slap bass line with the groove one day and the 'We Three Kings' melody just started working its way into the number."
Little Country Drummer Boy was the product of another practice session where Rob was playing around with an acoustic riff with a drop-D tuning. Rob says, "I have always liked the drone of a drop-D number. It must be the Highlander in me." Rob collaborated with Mark Helms on the snare drum to render a simple, yet haunting version of a timeless classic...
O Little Town of Bethlehem comprises a couple of soft-synth pads with an acoustic rhythm as well as making good use of Akai's EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) to give a smooth, yet slightly edgy lead to this well-known Christmas classic.
"I was playing around with one of my favorite electric guitars one day, trying to get some clean tones set up through my pedal board," says Rob; "I ended up messing around with the melody of Joy To The World and began imagining what it would sound like at a 50's sock-hop." Thus, Joy to the World of Really Cool Cats took shape. Rob even brought his old 1960 Pan-Am tenor saxophone out of mothballs to add to the old-school, rockabilly sound.
The First Uilleann Noelleann came about simply because the melody seemed to fit nicely with the small, Irish pipe. An acoustic guitar was added to fill out the sound of the track and the string hits add a nice, percussive rhythm to the song.
While Shep Watched via Smartphone was one of those "It's Alive!!!" type moments. The original carol, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night, is over 300 years old. Rob wanted a classical peace on the album but quickly found that a classical number was logistically difficult given the deadlines. "I just rolled the dice on this one," Rob said. "I had some other, more electronic ideas I was wanting to try." The end result? Listen and find out!
Rob has always been a big fan of the driving rock tunes from the likes of Springsteen, Mellencamp, and Huey Lewis and the News. He continues, "Seeing as how I dusted off my old tenor sax, I thought it would be a great opportunity to really 'rock one out' so to speak." Hark the Herald Angels Sing seemed to just naturally fall into that style and thus, Rockin' While the Angels Sing was born.
The album concludes with a soft, spacey rendition of Silent Night. "I wanted to end the album leaving the listener with a sense of peacefulness. At this time of year when 'hustle and bustle' seems to reach a fever pitch, it's nice to end some things on a soft, yet positive note," says Rob. And this final number does just that.
Merry Christmas from the Electron Prophets! Thank you for enjoying and sharing this project with everyone.
Produced for the Electron Prophets at Rough Sketch Records, Welcome, North Carolina, USA, Planet Earth
Special thanks to Mark Helms, Joshua "Tek" Teklemarium, and Gedion Gebremichael for all your help! The Electron Prophets also wish to thank Jesus for His blessings and favor. Thanks also to our families for their love and support!