Formed in 2008, Tension Rising is a four-piece hard rock band, based in New York City. Frontman and Rhythm Guitarist Chris Garrigan connected with Lead Guitarist Nicky Van Page through a mutual friend, who was the Bassist for the band up until 2015. Nicky commissioned a drummer that he had known from high school, and so the first iteration of the group was born. With the arrival of current Bassist Alex Repetti in 2015, the band felt ready to enter the next phase in its musical endeavor.
To seek out a finite way to classify Tension Rising, in today’s smorgasbord of genres, would be a disservice to those very same influences which have played such a prominent role in what the band has formulated since day one. A true work of art rarely leaves its audience with a clear answer. Drawing from a rather wide array of influences, Tension Rising keeps its sights set on one thing – to rock. To emote the primal euphoria one feels when listening to music. And they do that, with no apologies. From modern djent and progressive metal to classic rock and alternative, there are no limits when it comes to the band’s inspiration. Among their most prominently cited influences is a who’s who of legendary rock acts – Dream Theater, Metallica, Pantera, Alter Bridge, and Led Zeppelin are the first that come to mind.
The band is currently wrapping up its newest release, PENUMBRA, which is slated for release in the Summer of 2020.
As of June 2020, Tension Rising is currently seeking a new drummer.
XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
ALEX: We just put out a new single/lyric video for Doomsayer which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlwqmuW0L8w
Our upcoming album PENUMBRA is coming out on September 7, 2020. We’re really excited about it! It’s the first Tension Rising album that I’ve been a part of. Aside from being very involved in the writing, and of course playing bass, I also did a lot of backing vocals on this album, which is something I haven’t done much of in the past for any of my other musical endeavors. I’m also proud to say that I was the recording and mixing engineer for this album as well!
XS ROCK: So how long has the band been together?
NICK: We are Tension Rising. We’re a hard rock/alt-metal four-piece band. Chris and I met in college back in 2008. We started up a cover band, played a few local gigs for about a year, and we decided to start writing our own material. I knew Alex from high school, and around 2015, we needed a new bass player. He professed strong interest in joining, and I knew he would add a new dimension to what we were trying to accomplish.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for originally starting or being in a band?
CHRIS: Originally we just wanted to have some fun and play some classic tunes on stage. As we bonded more as a group, we wanted to shift over to doing original music, and share our ideas with people.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
ALEX: I started playing music when I was 16, after hearing “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin while browsing through AOL internet radio stations. I was not a good beginner at all. Music did not come naturally for me whatsoever. I was even told I was tone deaf by someone who I respected. I remained self taught for a few years, and eventually went to college for music. I have a BA from Brooklyn College in Philosophy and Music. I’ve been in the band Infinite Spectrum since 2007, which is a progressive metal band in the vein of bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X and Haken. In more recent years I’ve been delving into audio engineering and production. Everything I do is music and audio related.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
ALEX: Our upcoming album, PENUMBRA, is a big musical shift from what Tension Rising was doing before. Our themes are very dark and heavy this time around. I think we’ve truly embraced the band name, Tension Rising.
XS ROCK: What are your current music career goals?
ALEX: For Tension Rising, our goal is to continue releasing new music and videos, and once the world starts getting back to “normal” and shows are an option again, to start gigging/touring and playing festivals. We have a ton of enthusiasm and energy that we want to share with the metal community.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
ALEX: It’s really difficult for me to answer this. You’re asking me to choose between Peanut Butter and Jelly! If I had to pick one, I suppose it would be the writing/recording/production side of things, but I truly love the live performance aspect as well. The picture isn’t complete without all of the above.
XS ROCK: What are your songs’ lyrics about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
ALEX: This album isn’t exactly a concept album, although a lot of the lyrics are dark. This album was largely written during the COVID19 pandemic, and so while this album isn’t about the pandemic, we do explore a lot of ideas and themes that are very relevant in the world right now. There are some tracks that are more introspective, talking about what it’s like to deal with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. Some songs explore ideas of the end of the world (in a more fictitious type of way, where the things happening in the world are characterized as horror movie styled monsters). Some songs also explore the difficulties that people in relationships might be struggling with right now, which I think is very relevant to the world we’re in right now, dealing with things like quarantine (either with or without your partner). We touch on some current events as well. Ultimately, someone listening to this album from start to finish will probably notice that while we aren’t speaking about the pandemic, we’re exploring all kinds of things related to what people (and the world) might be going through right now.
XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?
ALEX: To love the music I’m creating or performing. If that isn’t there, the rest doesn’t matter to me. I’m a composer because I want to hear the ideas in my head come to fruition.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
ALEX: “What happens on tour, stays on tour…”
CHRIS: What he said.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
NICK: On one of our recent Instagram posts, someone commented “Churn my butter.” I took a trip to Lancaster recently, so if that guy’s timing was better, I would have gladly shipped him some freshly churned butter.
XS ROCK: Are your friends and family supportive of your choice to play in a rock band?
ALL: Yes, 100%. We couldn’t do it without them.
XS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?
ALEX: Follow your passion. If that passion is music, especially metal, still do it, but know that it will not be an easy road. Money is going to be a serious challenge. Push through it anyway, because if you love it, you have to do it.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
ALEX: With Tension Rising, we haven’t been able to perform the new album live yet due to the pandemic, but I’m very excited to play “Find The Betrayer” at our shows. You can find a bass playthrough of me performing it on our YouTube page.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
NICK: From a guitar player standpoint, I would say Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Nuno Bettencourt, and Steve Lukather
ALEX: Led Zeppelin is the band that made me want to become a musician. Dream Theater is the band that most influenced my musical trajectory. I also love Neal Morse, Symphony X, Haken, and The Beatles.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
ALEX: I think for Tension Rising, being able to tour with bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium or Godsmack would be great. Personally, I’d love to tour with Dream Theater, as they’re my musical heroes.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
ALEX: Musically, I’m really proud of our upcoming album PENUMBRA, as well as Infinite Spectrum’s upcoming album. Both albums are excellent in my humble opinion.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
NICK: I used to enjoy writing when I was in grammar school. I might have pursued that venture, if I didn’t feel music was in my cards.
ALEX: I’m already a musician and audio engineer, so I would just stick with the audio engineering. I love it.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
ALEX: I’m currently playing a Kiesel 5 string headless bass. I sometimes use my Beardly Customs bass, as well as my Musicman Bongo bass, but I’m leaning toward the Kiesel most of the time now, as it just sounds and plays beautifully, and is only 7 lbs (which is really light for a 5 string bass).
NICK: I use a Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster. I love the classic guitars.
CHRIS: PRS. Always PRS guitars. I have a tattoo along my forearm that looks like the fretboard of my guitar. Absolutely love PRS.
ALEX: Aside from instruments, Nick and I have both converted to a very new setup. No more big amps for us. We are now each using an iPad with BiasFX, and a midi controller for sound changes. We will also be using inner ear monitors moving forward, so we can try and preserve our hearing (lol).
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
ALEX: It’s great in some ways, and really rough in others. It’s amazing how artists can put their music online with relative ease now, not to mention for a relatively inexpensive price, one could record their music in very good quality at home. The downside is that now in the world of streaming, it’s very hard for artists to make a living from their music. Live shows and selling merch are such giant portions of the modern musician’s income now, and with the pandemic, artists are completely cut off from these sources of livelihood. It’s scary.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
ALEX: I was a World of Warcraft addict… I mean, player… for around 10 years. Our song “Find The Betrayer” is related to this.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
ALEX: We can’t do this without all of you. Thanks for believing in us, and we hope to keep putting out new music for a long time to come.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS ROCK!
ALL: Thank you for the great interview! We had a great time! \m/ \m/
No More Goodbyes lyric video