"Talented dude, interesting music…!" tweeted then-Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, upon hearing self-titled debut album of RAUSCH. Little did he know the road traveled to get just that far...
After devoting the better part of his early years to the piano, namesake frontman Doug Rausch earned his Ithaca College music degree - winning recognition as concerto competition finalist with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue - & plunged straight into self-imposed exile. Disillusioned by how mainstream music had all but completely plateaued by the early 2000’s – culminating in an eye-opening stint at Sony Music Studios - he found himself in a decade-long campaign chasing a long-held musical vision of his own.
RAUSCH caught his first compositional accolades when Jordan Rudess, keyboard wizard of Dream Theater, contacted him to perform in the very first KEYFEST; the invitation stemmed from a college demo that made its way into Jordan’s hands. There, RAUSCH unveiled the 11-minute FLOW - only to reveal he was saving that for “Album #3.” Meanwhile, he was hard at work in an attempt to craft the proper debut.
All these efforts attracted a kindred musical spirit in virtuoso guitarist Gary Wehrkamp, best known for his work with progressive rock titans Shadow Gallery. As Wehrkamp’s invaluable musicianship helped put a cohesive stamp on the tracks – and mix-extraordinaire Rich Mouser (Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard, Dream Theater) agreed to help deliver the baby - RAUSCH had everything in place to complete the long-awaited self-titled debut album (RAUSCH), released in late 2009. Leadoff single "No Fair" hit the top 10 on New Music Weekly’s small-market radio charts, & the haunting "Ode to Pain" earned an honorable-mention nod from the 2010 International Songwriting Competition (ISC). Grammy-nominated producer David Ivory (The Roots, Halestorm) "discovered" the band, opening yet another door…
Applauding the ambition, Ivory’s assertion that "‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ wasn’t until Queen’s fourth album" was as much a caution as it was a compliment. Via subsequent collaboration with Ivory, RAUSCH gained a hard-fought rite of passage, learning to flex a “commercial” muscle that would prove not mutually exclusive from the artistic one. In pursuit of uniting the best of both worlds, Doug briefly stepped away from the piano completely; first Ivory-produced track "Good Day" instead came through his guitar. To hold fans over, it was released as a standalone single in 2014 (with accompanying video directed by musical contemporaries in NYC's Jolly), and with that the band bought some much-needed time to put the finishing touches on some stubborn 10-minute “epics” that would ultimately round out the next full album.
It was more than musical perfectionism alone, however, that contributed to yet another "prolonged period of monogamy between music & creator." From as early as 2012, having barely broken ground on the debut's follow-up (and still hopeful to avoid "[GN'R's] Chinese Democracy Syndrome" twice in a row), RAUSCH’s battles against the darkest side of Murphy's Law were no laughing matter. Surgeries were required; relationships were sacrificed; and, in real life Spinal Tap fashion, musicians mysteriously vanished. When the band - featuring bassist Joe Fine and drummers Steve Lerro & Chris Ruffini - finally pulled its collective head back above water, they had time-traveled all the way to the doorstep of 2018.
Finally, RAUSCH releases second full-length album BOOK II. Heavy-hitting contributions come from the likes of Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard), and – in addition to the ever-present Wehrkamp - second Shadow Gallery guitarist Brendt Allman. Picking up where the debut left off, it remains painfully vulnerable & autobiographical of the band's trials & tribulations along the way. Things are "even more deep and dark" this time, observes the returning Rich Mouser who (along with Bumblefoot) applauds the "Queen-on-steroids" diversity running throughout. Lead-off single "Greener Grass" is adventurous and catchy; "Irked" at times flirts with jazz; "The End" is a nearly 10-minute atmospheric musical tapestry picking right up where Pink Floyd left off; the head-splitting "Speechless" shows the band clashing with Metallica-sized demons; and joining "Good Day" is 2nd Ivory-produced track "Swansong" which, by notable contrast, offers a glimpse of something completely unexplored up until now: optimism.