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Take Five: An Interview with Albuquerque's Cicada

Anyone wandering about the Rio Grande bosque in Albuquerque knows the distinct sounds made from insects known as cicadas. These sounds are made from “tymbals” on the sides of the insect’s abdomen.

Albuquerque progressive metal band Cicada.
Albuquerque progressive metal band Cicada.
Image courtesy of Cicada.
Albuquerque's Cicada play progressive metal.
Image courtesy of the band Cicada

Hailing from Albuquerque, Cicada are a progressive-metal band influenced by the enticing sounds that come from the insects and desert creatures in the trees and surrounding landscapes. The band’s goal is to create “a distinct aura that portrays the environment in which we derived from. We want to have that same effect on people.” Cicada have recently released their debut EP, titled In the Grand Scheme.

When and how did you come to form as Cicada? Explain your musical approach, particularly about how the shapes and sounds of nature influence the music you create.

Cicada: “In 2011, Paul Swick (rhythm/lead guitar) and Trevor Driggs (drums) formed Cicada from a previous project, known as Truth in Lies. Paul had his hands in numerous local projects throughout the last decade in Albuquerque and is also a seasoned sound tech at Audio Alliance. No matter the occasion, Paul is constantly immersed in music at all turns, driving his creative edge. Trevor has played with multiple bands from Albuquerque and Buffalo, NY. He comes from a background of heavy and driven punk rock with a more straightforward attack, but he has smoothly transitioned over to more progressive and metal style of drums. However, he still never forgets his roots, and if you listen closely, you may hear some references. Joey “Higga” Jaramillo (lead/rhythm guitarist) was the third member who joined in late 2012 from a background of a few different projects. Joey is the secret weapon, the swordsman of the scales. When not doing Cicada, he has a side project known as Flight of Miranda, whilst writing and composing his own pieces. Jacob Schutt (bass) came to the band in late spring of 2013, after being a vocalist for a local Albuquerque progressive and psychedelic rock band Rawrr! and a guitarist/vocalist with Becoming Relics. Jacob transitioned to bass for Cicada after both bands dissolved and went separate directions. He has a long history of primarily playing guitar and doing vocals in several bands throughout Southern New Mexico.

“The name CICADA was influenced by the sounds that were made from the insects in the trees. Having such a distinct sound that resembled something from New Mexico, we wanted to have that same effect on people.”

Any plans to record a CD or EP? If so, provide any details. Any way interested listeners could sample your music online? If so, where?

Cicada: “We just released our first EP, titled In the Grand Scheme, on February 22, 2014. You can download it at We also released a single track for ‘Invent’ on our page as well. We are in the process of writing a second that we are hoping will be out late June or early July 2014. During the time of recording, we will be playing out a few times a month; when that EP is released, we will be playing out much more to promote both albums and our single. Our upcoming shows for this month: April 15—Gasworks with Wrath of Vesuvius (San Jose, CA), Fall City Fall (Calgary, AB), and On Believer (Santa Fe); April 19—SFUAD with Jean Jean (Paris, FR), CRTTRZ (ABQ), and Ruder and the Shockwaves (Santa Fe); and April 25 at the Vault Nite Club with Screaming for Silence (Omaha, NE), 3 Weeks Later (ABQ), and Cast in Your Shadow (ABQ).”

Which do you prefer: playing live or working in the studio? Why?

Cicada: “This band was built from a metronome, so I’d have to say studio is what we do the most, but playing live will always trump the studio. We do a lot of writing and composing before we start playing out and even use a click live at times. The goal is to take the sound that we produce in the studio and mirror that live.”

How has living in New Mexico (and in particular Albuquerque) influenced your musical approach?

Cicada: “The metal scene in New Mexico has a strong sense of community. To be a part of that is encouraging and we love playing with other bands here. Our style is influenced by some of the bands that are coming through more often, such as Periphery, Protest the Hero, and similar artists. We try to be progressive, and everyone seems to like the energy we bring. We are grateful for our fans and the bands that play shows with us.”

What would you say first attracted you to the world of heavy metal, so much so that you wanted to form your own band? Which band would you say is the most influential to you as a musician? What band would surprise metal fans as being an influence?

Cicada: “What attracted us to metal, like a moth to the burning flame, was any and everything. It was all the energy, the technicality, the sheer aggression. It was undeniable for most of us and always an integral part of our background. These being backgrounds ranging from fast-paced punk rock to 90s grunge, some of the pioneers like Metallica and Pantera, or even classical roots. We believe metal is deeply rooted and derives from classical. Most influential bands we currently hope to share the stage with are Periphery, Tesseract, Animals as Leaders, Intervals, Protest the Hero—the bands bringing metal into a new realm. We are influenced all over the spectrum, from bands like Minus the Bear, The Mars Volta, Pink Floyd, to even Bluegrass and Hip-Hop. To us it is all relevant; it all correlates and intertwines. You’d be surprised what a lot of musicians in general are inspired and influenced by.”

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