“We don’t have a message about life or love or war or religion,” says From Satellite guitarist Ryan Cleary. “We are not politically motivated, nor do we care about changing the world.” Drummer Pat Pedraza finishes the thought: “We are a straight-forward rock band; we know what we are.”
No-bullshit simplicity and unaffected identity-how refreshing is that, coming from a rock band in the day when everyone has an ego and an axe to grind? “We’ve all played in good bands in the past,” says singer Ian McDonnell. “But we never seemed to get our feet under us. This band got together and we all wanted to do the same thing. It came out really easily.”
Easily, once they got their sea legs, anyway. Besides the sundry other bands the five men that comprise From Satellite were once occupied with, there was the first version of From Satellite. This edition sprouted in early 2001 with guitarist Cleary and Pedraza. They had a different singer and were writing, recording demos with Armand Tambouris, but not necessarily in earnest. Pedraza still had a full-time gig with No Motiv, and the lineup was less than static.
Then the material, the earnest, visceral, exhilarating rock and roll that would comprise their vibrant “When All Is Said And Done”, began to resonate among the “band” and Tambouris, things quickly coalesced. Tambouris, a guitarist, was so inspired by the material that he picked up the bass and joined ranks. Shortly thereafter, From Satellite was showcasing for major labels…until they parted ways with their singer. Cleary approached McDonnell, an initial first choice that previously passed.
“Ryan had seen me in an old band and brought me a demo without vocals. I told him I’d listen to it, but I was in the middle of trying to start a new band and was focused on that. Three months later, I was hearing about the showcases and was kicking myself.”
This time, he went for it, bringing along longtime friend and bassist Justin Huth, enabling Tambouris to revert to guitar-a move that would galvanize From Satellite’s sound. From Satellite would then hunker down, spend three years refining their music. “We’d all been in bands,” McDonnell says, “and understood you had to put effort into shows and building a fan base, but we really wanted to focus on writing songs.”
When From Satellite ventured out for their first shows, they almost immediately landed a management deal, and were back showcasing. They came close to a deal, but determined it wasn’t right for them. They held off, opting instead to sign with upstart label Pat’s Record Company, whose artist-friendly platform appealed to them. Then the band hit the studio with producer Matt Hyde (No Doubt, Monster Magnet, Hotwire) to lay tracks for From Satellite.
The record opens with the triumphant “Hundred Days,” on which From Satellite mines decades of rock n’ roll to come up with a new millennial rock anthem-big n’ thick, but catchy as hell. Every song on the record, from the grinding “Fair is Fair” to the mid-tempo ballad “Just Another Girl” to the kickass rocker “Mouth” is built on this foundation; melody, in this band, is tantamount to the towering homerun exhilaration of The Big Sound. Again, it’s all about a good tune, delivered properly.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” McDonnell explains. “But we’re not the same big, modern-sounding, chugging rock band, and that has everything to do with Ryan and Armand.”
The guitarists’ styles-Cleary’s whomping, wall-of-sound way; Tambouris’ old-schooly, melodic tendencies-are indeed key to pulling off From Satellite’s something-for-everyone blend of hard rock (classic and contemporary), power pop, and metal. But the coming-apart-at-the-seams vibe is the result of five guys coming together at just the right time wanting to do the exact same thing. Five guys who know who they are and what they wanna do.
It is that simple.
Purchase these products from Amazon: