"Roads To Damascus, is about giving a Substance to the Bizarre minds of Calum Jamieson & Steve Simms .
Two very individual but strangely, similar personalities and creators behind the songs of RTD.
Cammy & Steve have a lot of life experience, and draw from similar musical references. The band is like nothing that Scotland has produced in 20 years. Strong on tunes, performance, personality and ideas. Looking for new ways to represent the thoughts that bubble around
inside their skulls. They are not scared to bring out the harpist, prior to levelling the place with a killer riff. It's about party, tears and tantrums. All life is present, They want to share and involve you in their music, and become a part of the music collection in your soul.
Their philosophy is simple...progression with accessibility. Weaving lyrical melody with melodic lyrics through a gamut of emotions whilst maintaining memorable hooks is top priority. And no mean feat!
In 2008, as guitarist and writer Calum Jamieson neared completion of an hour long concept piece entitled Roads to Damascus, he realised that he needed a singer who could help bring the songs to life. He found like-minded Steve Simms, who added his own drama to the dark and sometimes tongue in cheek word-play, contributing lyrics to some (at that time) instrumentals and editing some phrasing to suit his vocal style.
‘‘Those lines are great, but I’ll need to BREATHE at some point...’’ Steve Simms 2008.
Enlisting the help of a young local drummer, they set about recording their eponymous album, with Calum Jamieson playing all the other instruments and additional percussion. ROADS TO DAMASCUS was released in December 2009.
ROADS TO DAMASCUS then set about recruiting some members, finding drummer, Dave White and bassist. Mike Bruce locally. Both have vast past experience and although having never met, within an hour of playing together, had developed their own brand of ‘rhythm section telepathy.’
The role of keyboardist was a harder position to fill however...
2010 was a year of chaos for the band with domestic issues to the fore, with the Jamieson and Simms families moving to new homes and Calum sustaining an almost career ending fractured wrist.
‘’I have to hold the guitar at a weird angle now ‘cos my bloody arm’s WARPED!’’ Calum Jamieson 2011.
It was amidst this chaos and recuperation that Jamieson and Simms wrote the second album, R2D2. Again, the lyrics are deeply personal in places, flippant in others and represent an insight into ‘where we are’ right now. The music has more depth, yet is instantly memorable.
R2D2 was recorded at Calum’s place in sporadic bursts over 2011, with the new members adding a dynamic boost to the sound. In the absence of a keyboardist, Calum assumed the role, as well as handling the guitars, mixing and mastering of the project.
Shortly after the release of album 2, Cammy had another disasterous accident. His love of extreme sports, saw him fall from the back of a feisty stallion, whilst horse riding. This led to a hospital stay and a worrying time, with suspected cracked vertebrae and internal injuries. Would the band be able to carry on...WHY YES! Of course :) Hes OK!
ROADS TO DAMASCUS are many things...they are musicians, writers, parents, appreciators of fine food , friends and grown-ups.
Dave & Mikey left the LIVE band on the 24th October 2012 because of busy work / life commitments, Thanks fellas!
DAVE WHITE has rejoined the band as the 3rd wheel on the wonky wagon. He has recorded drums for Album 3 "Precious Empires", due out in June 2015..
Annie Ashton has also joined the boys this time to record some haunting and beautiful vocals on the 3rd Album.
More than all of anything, RTD are proof that in an age, where youth and a hunger for the trappings of celebrity are the new gods...talent, an ear for melody and a love of MUSIC still
Join the family...lose yourself, find yourself...on the many ROADS TO DAMASCUS.
First REVIEW OF Precious Empires!
Thanks to Olav Martin Bjørnsen. (www.houseofprog.com)
"Scottish band ROADS TO DAMASCUS was launched as a studio based project back in 2008 and released their debut album the following year. Three years later they released their second album through US label Melodic Revolution Records, and following a further three year creation cycle the band have appeared with their third CD “Precious Empires”, this time as a self released production from what I understand.
As this album kicks off, the general style explored early on is one achingly familiar sounding, with 1980’s neo progressive rock in general and Fish-era Marillion in particular coming to mind. A tad more beefed up at times, but the use of plucked guitar motifs, relatively soft keyboard arrangements and even some phrasing details in the vocals department gives that impression. As the album unfolds we’re taken slightly away from this course, with what I’d describe as synth pop elements brought into the mix on a few songs, prior to transporting us back into more familiar landscapes again. The sparse instrumentation on Halo is another exception, an intriguing one at that with a delicate guitar motif and some at times exotic soft sounds accompanying the lead vocals, and on second to last track Get Up we’re treated to more of a US sounding construction with a foundation that brings southern rock as a genre to mind, alternating with more typical classic progressive rock vibes. Title track Precious Empires then concludes the experience in a slow paced manner, alternating between ballad oriented sequences and more majestic passages with more of a symphonic tinge.
Personally I generally found this album to be a pleasant affair, and occasionally rather engaging too I might add. Tracks like Halo and Get Up are among my personal highlights, even if not quite representative of the album as such, with the rather Marillion-esque piece Stonewall the compositions I’d select as the creation best representing this production as a whole in a good way.
When that is said, there are some weaknesses to this production as well. Mix and production will leave a bit to be desired for the audiophiles, and the percussion in particular comes across as a bit too harsh and dramatixc, at least for my taste. The layered vocals doesn’t always function as well as probably intended, and the lead vocals aren’t always the greatest either. These are minor aspects here though, and again mainly due to the aforementioned mix and balancing issues I’d suspect, although the vocalist does come across as straining at the borders of his capacity on occasion.
All in all this is a charming addition to the roster of neo-progressive bands out there in my opinion, and especially those yearning for a band that has a go at classic neo-progressive rock as it appeared back in the early 1980’s might want to have a go at this one. In particular those fond of Fish-era Marillion.
My rating: 71/100"