Ian Ratliff, an independent musician and producer based out of Scottsdale, Arizona, started out with an old mixing board he found in his family’s garage plus a version of Garageband. He was in his junior year of high school at the time. Two years later he has taken on the artistic persona of Travis Bickle and released his 6 track EP “The Future of Rock As We Know It”. Travis plays the drums, bass, keyboards, and guitar, as well as handling the vocals. This allows him to explore his creativity in every facet of the performing, recording and producing process. Rock is alive and well with Travis Bickle, and if other rock bands could bottle it, they’d all be incredibly more interesting. Travis is authentic with exceptional musicianship and airtight production, but he is just as bold at reimagining classics of the genre.
Honest and thoroughly unpretentious, “The Future of Rock As We Know It” takes all the things Travis Bickle does well and gives them real focus and power. Travis’ influences are writ large, and with the stellar production, boundless energy, and infectious melodies, it makes for wonderfully nostalgic and heady results.
From acid rock, to classic rock and psychedelic rock, Travis Bickle weaves a wondrous journey through some legendary sounds. But it’s not just the vocals and the music – the production and the soundscapes also recall the aesthetics of rock’s golden ages.
Right from the opening track, “The Things We Say”, Travis Bickle will drag even the staunchest cynics into his irresistible alternate reality of psychedelic rock. It’s an exuberant escape from our current-day corporate rock scene. Rolling basslines, jangling acoustic guitars and oh so sweet melodies, backed by crunchy leads and riffs. “Friends” sees Travis Bickle cover the Led Zeppelin classic taken from their 1970 “Led Zeppelin II” album.
The uncanny thing is, Travis Bickle is able to replicate the authentic aura and atmosphere of the original template, without mimicking Robert Plant or the Led Zeppelin recording, in any way.
Travis’ version is less angsty and urgent – in both the vocal delivery and the music – but highly impressive all the same. In the realm of retro-rock, authenticity is everything. There’s a very thin line between homage and pastiche, which Travis Bickle manages to straddle perfectly.
“One Giant Leap” unpacks a warm and swirling organ motif which pervades the atmosphere, before Travis Bickle launches himself into the EP’s centerpiece, a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”, which comes off their 1971 album, “The Song Remains The Same”.
Again, Travis sticks to the original template without trying to clone the song in any way, and comes out a winner, as this is another superb interpretation and perspective, while maintaining the raw, yet sophisticated original sound.
“One of Us (Railroad Runaway)” is the sound of two songs rolled into one. The opening section is draped in slow-burning instrumental flourishes and harmony, while the second part of the arrangement explodes with gritty guitar riffs and a grinding rhythm, as the vocals soar into anthemic territory.
Slamming drums and angular guitars drive the underbelly of the euphoric psychedelia on “On A Roll”, where Travis Bickle unleashes the edges of his more aggressive rock n’ roll voice.
Travis Bickle isn’t just an artist with strong retro-rock influences. He has a unique identity, with shades of some of the past rock greats. He has a firm grip on his sound, and you’ll hear that authenticity on these tracks.