À Rebours is a musical conspiracy conceived and executed by Ian Stone. The project is intended for full band performances and the sound is a combination of several different genres colliding under a diffuse, overcast sky. The band and sound began in Southern Oregon in 1998 with the moniker “Maxwell’s Demon” but after consistent frustrations with flaky band mates and an even flakier music scene, an attitude and name change revitalized the music and sent it in the current, and correct, direction. Coupled with a move to Phoenix, AZ, things began to happen.
À Rebours was signed to Final Joy Records in October of 2006; the debut CD, “Vanish,” was subsequently released in September of 2007. A follow up album is currently being recorded.
À Rebours’ music has been played in numerous clubs in America and Europe, on assorted radio stations, and live with various band incarnations in several cities across the U.S. À Rebours’ goals are to build up a sizeable fan base, write, record, and release as much music as possible, and add to the quality of unique people’s lives. À Rebours is currently based in upstate New York.
Marching to the beat of a different drummer, always being the odd one out, the black sheep, the one thing not like the others, the lone wolf—this seems to be the process by which those among us turn their alienation with the world into a path towards truth, love and beauty. Herd mentality is a grotesque malady afflicting human beings today. Too many people in the world are lemmings ready to fling themselves off of the first cliff placed before them. In the wake of this gullibility and ignorance, the standard norms for behavior, for society, for the family, for being a man or a woman is mostly bullshit. One must rage against it all with a hard, gem-like flame. One must learn to resist all of that cultural flotsam and see the world with star-filled eyes.
There is, as the bohemians say, truth, love, beauty, and freedom to be found. À Rebours attempts to create sonic texturescapes that tell possible stories those eyes might experience. At the same time, there is an aim to present it in a way that is accessible and initially easy to digest. It should germinate later on inside the heart, taking hold of deep and complex feelings.
In the novel Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, the protagonist tells us:
The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.
There is an enduring truth in the imagination and there are people who obstinately occupy it during the course of their life. À Rebours is one possible radio station for that sphere.
The Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez said, “If they give you ruled paper, turn it the other way.” The phrase “à rebours” colloquially translates to “against the grain.” Thus, we reject the common images and routines placed before us, placing a screen between ourselves and the coarse world so that, like a skein, we can project that dream world over the top. It allows us to insert our own images into the timeline, to splice our own frames in. With practice, the world becomes that TV on in another room. It is this sentiment through which À Rebours finds its voice.
Growing up in Southern Oregon, Ian had few exposures to the hidden, distinctive elements of life, while contact with the boorish, brainless and asinine was truly in surplus. And yet, a thirst for life beyond the mundane, bourgeois obsessions with pretense and power, with the false respectability and hypocrisy of general society drove him to seek more and learn more, and he was thus always a bit of an odd duck. He has a natural attraction to eccentricity and cultural rebellion. He has lived in many different places and traveled to nearly as many.
Ian has been a musician and artist for his whole life. At 18 he entered an exclusive art school but, as is the case with artists who pay more attention to the whims and interests of their hearts rather than to what is practical, he left the school after six months to pursue his own interests. Nonetheless, he always remained active in art and music, doing freelance work and playing in numerous bands here and there.
Having played guitar for nearly twenty-five years now, Ian takes pride in a style that ranges from dense beds of atmospheric, dreampop and shoegaze noises, to jangly alternative rhythms, to prog-metal dynamics and blistering solos. He also plays mandolin and keyboards. He is the primary vocalist for À Rebours.
Ian has a B.A. in British Lit, a minor in Art History, and a M.A. in teaching. He is a professional dog trainer. Along with his wife, Christi, Ian runs a budding art business, Moulin Diesel, that creates fine art, graphic design, propmaking, and jewelry. Moulin Diesel is a natural extension of the aesthetics that À Rebours tries to convey.
Ryan's formal music training began at age 9 when he started playing the clarinet. At age 11 he acquired his first electric bass at the suggestion of his brother who had been playing guitar. He developed an intense interest in the bass and didn't want to be like everyone else playing the guitar. By age 12, he was playing in the jazz ensemble, studying under a very encouraging and supportive teacher, a percussionist himself who taught Ryan how to increase his skill by watching and listening to other great performers. Much of his technique is derived from studying players he enjoys and simply asking himself "What techniques do I need work on to play like that?" Taking his teacher's advice, he practiced countless hours everyday. He got his first pro gig at age 16, and was honored to receive the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in his senior year.
In addition to playing live for À Rebours, Ryan will also be playing on the second album, The Parliament of Rooks. He continues to pursue his music career full-time, receiving peer recognition in his currently performing group, Echo & Drake. He also continues to play in jazz ensembles, as well as participate in session work and professional collaboration.
Instrumental Music teacher by day—rocker by night. Actually, John is always a rocker. John is the newest member of À Rebours. At an early age, John was interested in music, specifically drumming, on his mother's pots and pans before his parents splurged on his first snare drum (thanks mom and dad!). His formal music training began in an upstate New York public school north of Syracuse. While in high school, he decided to focus on a career in music education. He now holds Associate, Bachelor and Masters degrees in music, and he has been sharing his affinity for music with many students over his almost 20 year career (Ryan included).
He enjoys a variety of music and is as comfortable playing in a jazz band as he is with a progressive rock band. John has performed and recorded in varied musical idioms throughout his career: jazz ensembles, concert bands, symphony orchestras, musical theater pit orchestras (both as a player and director), a marimba orchestra, and in various rock bands. John is also an accomplished guitarist and plays all woodwind and brass instruments.
John's drumming influences, concurrent with his musical taste, span drummers from all types of musical genres. Some of his biggest influences include: Buddy Rich, Dave Weckl, John Bonham, Neil Peart and Mike Portnoy.
Dowell Davis, “D” to his fellow players, has graced national and international stages with his drumming since 1983. Having professionally played a variety of musical styles from Zydeco to Jazz, Funk to Blues, and Rock to R & B, D has an innate understanding of grooving. He is a clinician at the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Tempe and Gilbert, AZ, and also lays drum tracks for the Line 6 Amp Company. He has toured with George Benson, Jimmy Smith, Buckwheat Zydeco, Mark Whitfield, Terrance Simien, and Wayne Toups. He has performed with Francine Reed, Poppa John DeFrancesco, Joey DeFrancesco, Nick Manson, Jack McDuff, Stevie Wonder, Marion Meadows, Joanie Sledge (of Sister Sledge), Wessell Andersen, Wynton Marsalis, Jermaine Stewart, David Torkanowski, Carl Lewis, Skip Scarbourough, Lonnie Youngblood, Khani Cole, George Young, Artie Shroek, Patti Austin, David Garfield, Michael O'Neill, and Randy Waldman. Dowell has also worked with some heavy bassists: Reginald Veal, Jimmy Woody, George Porter, Mel Brown, John Clayton, Stanley Banks, Bobby Vega, Ed Frieland, and Chuck Rainey.
The old French word rebours has no equivalent noun in English; it refers to the opposite direction of a fabric's nap. Today rebours survives only in the expression à rebours, which literally means "against the nap," but is also used figuratively to mean "backwards, wrong way."
À Rebours is also the name of a landmark novel from the French Decadence. Written by Joris-Karl Huysmans in 1884, it is the definitive novel of the aesthete, the dandy, and the ardent seeker of delicious experience. The novel has no plot to speak of and in fact, very little happens; its narrative concentrates almost entirely on the principal character, Des Esseintes, and is mostly a catalogue of his tastes and inner life. An immutable eccentric, he is a reclusive aesthete who has distanced himself from society because of an extreme sensitivity to the mundane, absurd and grotesque realities of human affairs. He therefore savors the most bizarre aspects of human existence in a never ending quest for novelty. Despite this simplistic premise, À Rebours contained many themes that became associated with the Symbolist philosophy, and the main character's pervasive ennui and disgust spoke to many people who felt disillusionment with common society.
Ultimately, the novel cultivated the extremes of Symbolism, and successfully transcended the definition of Romanticism into Decadence. It is often regarded as one of the most profound works in the history of decadent literature.
Since À Rebours was a field book for the sensual explorer looking to plumb the nether regions of experience, whether natural or artificial, it seemed natural to couple it with the meaning of the French expression, both literally and metaphorically. Thus, À Rebours is a perfect name for this musical and artistic endeavor.