Consider the Source bring ‘Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion’ to Wisconsin

New York-based instrumental trio Consider the Source is difficult to categorize, with a sound touching on progressive rock, fusion, jazz, and “alien sounds soaked in Indian and Middle Eastern styles,” according to the band’s bio. Fans range from “jam-band hippies and jazz cats to corpse-painted headbangers and prog geeks.”

Formed in 2004, Consider the Source features Gabriel Marin on fretless double-neck guitar, bassist John Ferrara, and drummer/percussionist Jeff Mann. The group has independently released five studio albums and two live albums. It’s toured the world, including extensive appearances across the United States and gigs in Israel, Turkey, Germany and India. With its most recent release World War Trio (Parts 2 & 3), the band continues its trek down the experimental track.

What is the source to consider?

The group has been influenced by a wide spectrum of artists. Creative spark is drawn from jazz artists (The Bad Plus, Chick Corea, John Coltrane, John McLaughlin); metal bands (Opeth, Meshuggah); prog rock  (Emerson, Lake and Palmer); classical composers (Chopin, Phillip Glass, Debussy); and rock bands (Radiohead, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden). Also contributing to the band’s style and sensibility are indefinable artists such as Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle and Primus. Guitarist Marin studied music from North and South India, the Balkans, Iran, Turkey and Central Asia, in addition to studying classical music in college.

“Electric fusion like Mahavishnu Orchestra changed my life, and King Crimson began the path, which we hopefully walk on,” says Marin. “A secret weapon is the huge soft spot I have for slow doom metal. I don’t like much heavy stuff anymore, but I still love dropping the occasional sludge riff.”

For bass player Ferrara, influences come from outside the musical realm, as well.

“I pull a lot of inspiration from books I’ve read, life experiences and such,” says Ferrara. “Louis CK is a huge influence. His comedy is so on point, and he thinks like a jazz musician, flipping the script on his own performances, doing things like starting his set with his closer so that it forces him to step up his game night after night. He’s always challenging himself, and I really admire that about him.”

Consider the Source takes its myriad influences to new dimensions, putting them together and turning them into a sound the group calls “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion.” Earlier in its career, the band took a more improvisational approach to the writing process, jamming on Balkan and Turkish pieces to see where the music would take them. These days the band concentrates more on ideas that each member brings in, with the other members adding their voices to the songs.

“We still improvise a lot live, but more in the solo sections, which are very much created in the moment,” Marin says. “We listen and interact and change things on the tunes from night to night as well. Sometimes introductions to songs can get created on the spot, and we will work our way into the composed parts. Part of this group is that we all trust each other enough to let parts get written organically.” 

Consider the road

Touring has been an important component to Consider the Source’s success. It’s brought in new fans and inspired new perspectives. Band members view travels — both across the U.S. and internationally — as learning experiences.

Consider the Source Live
Consider the Source, from left to right: Gabriel Marin, Jeff Mann and John Ferrara.

“Traveling has had an impact for sure,” says Ferrara. “The India concerts were amazing, because we played festivals that had musicians from all around the world. We saw firsthand what some of these places’ traditions were, and that was really eye-opening.”

The band says it would be excited to tour with groups such as Primus, King Crimson, Tool and Dream Theater. Though it has played shows with a multitude of artists, so far Consider the Source’s most enjoyable tour was teaming up with German group Panzerballet.

“They are by far the most musically intimidating and inspirational band we’ve had the pleasure of performing with,” Mann says.

“We are used to being the most intense, crazy thing on the bill, so playing with a band like Panzerballet made us really bring the ‘A’ game every night,” says Marin.

“Touring in general has definitely given the band inspiration, mainly through being together listening to a lot of the same music day in and day out,” Ferrara says.

In addition to its Wisconsin shows this fall, Consider the Source plans to film its first-ever DVD in October at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, including a full set of Radiohead as well as a set of originals. The band will also perform at Progtober Fest in Chicago, playing the same day as Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy.

For more information on Consider the Source, visit considerthesourcemusic.com. 

On Stage

Consider the Source plays The Frequency (madisonfrequency.com) in Madison on Friday, Sept. 30 and The Source Public House (thesourcepublichouse.com) in Menasha on Saturday, Oct. 1.