I guess the first reviews of your new album ‘Formshifter’ are coming in, how are the reactions so far?
Ryan: Actually they have been pretty shocking and flattering. We have received a couple perfect scores and a lot that are very close. We are super appreciative that people enjoy the new record and hope that it continues to spread and people continue to enjoy it for some time in the future.
Who is responsible for the song writing in the band?
Greg and I do about 50/50 when it comes to basic structures and riffs and general outlines of songs etc. We write on our own and program on our own (since we all live a ways away from each other) and we usually send each other rough drafts, finished versions etc. At that point everyone in the band usually gives a yes or no to the general idea and after that will start to nitpick at parts, transitions, etc etc. Everyone is involved in the lyric writing process. Sometimes one person may write a whole song and sometimes everyone may help with parts of one song, just depends usually.
Playing such a technical style, it must be difficult to write songs without them turning into a potpourri of virtuosic loose parts. Is it a long process?
I think for the most part we have gotten to the point where we have done it enough to where its actually kind of easy. Not to make it sound like we just sit down and shit out songs because yes there are songs that take a long time to finish, but its usually the fine details that take a while. One song on formshifter I literally wrote in an hour and there was another that I worked on for probably 6+ months. There's a song I hope to have on the next record that has been in the process for about 5-6 years, so it better not suck when its done ha ha. Just depends on the song. I hate saying a song is done until I've tried as many ways to make it perfect as possible, not that they always get there though.
On the new album ‘Formshifter’, JP Andrade took care of the drums. Is he going to be a band member, or are you looking for an other drummer?
Its still kind of up in the air at this point. JP live on the other side of the country, which isn’t a super huge issue, but it just makes practicing and scheduling a bit harder. Inevitably we will probably have to find someone that lives out of state anyways.
What is in your opinion the biggest difference between your debut ‘Fragments of Form and Function’ and this new record?
I think maturity. Fragments had really old and really new songs on it, so it was kind of all over the place. Formshifter is mostly newer material, some songs weren’t even totally done when we went to the studio. There are a couple older tunes that more closely resemble the songs on fragments but for the most part id say the difference is cohesive songs that more closely resemble a band in its “current form” rather than songs from years and years ago.
Your music is of a very high technical level, are there members with a music education are is it all autodidact?
Greg was classically trained for classical guitar but other than that I think everyone else is pretty much self-taught, for the most part. I personally just grew up with tab books and figuring things out by ear and writing my own songs, so that’s all really helped in my current writing style. A lot of the greatest guitar players couldn’t tell you anything they are doing on the instrument and although I'm not necessarily in that category id say I more resemble that brand of musician than someone who follows closely the correct theory of how notes should fit together. I've always flocked to weird sounding and really unique sounding riffs, riffs that don’t necessarily make any sense as far as theory goes but sound really cool, I tried more on this album than the last to go back to my roots and that really involves that style of riffing. On Fragments most of my riffing that I wrote revolved around a particular scale mode, which is fine but it gets Old.
I guess you must be fans of the legendary band Death, am I right?
Yes, I know Greg and I both like them, not sure about the other guys since they are a little younger. That being said I don’t think we are “Death” heads by any means, we have respect and enjoy them but I personally haven’t listened to them in quite some time. Death was one of my “high school” bands, meaning I listened to them obsessively and kind of overdid it so now its sparingly.
One of the things that outshines on the album is the excellent melodic guitar solos and leads, what guitar players or band(s) are you influenced by?
Well Greg and I both like the old 80’s thrash (Greg way more than me) the 90’s death metal and late 90’s early 00’s European metal. I try not to mention bands that we are influenced by because people try and lump us in that category but as for guitar players, my personal favourites when it comes to metal are....Per Nilsson, Jeff Loomis, Jari Maenpaa, Kristian Neiman, Dimebag, Michael Romeo, Yngwie, Jason Becker....the usuals ha ha.
Influences of black-metal, thrash, death and even some groove can be found back in the songs, do you listen a lot to new bands, or do you stick to the roots of those styles?
Well answering for Greg and I since we write the guitars....Id say we stick to the roots or at least with newer bands, bands that represent the old ways more than the new. I don’t personally listen to a lot of new metal because a lot of it tends to be a replication of some other current band and that gets old to me. So if anyone has any good bands to check out let me know.
Like your music, the lyrics seem to be important too. What subjects can we find back and where does the band get the inspiration for the lyrics?
A lot of lyrics are about science and history. We are all kind of nerds when it comes to that stuff. Any good show on the history channel or science channel may end up in one of our CDs ha ha.
Is there already anything you would change on the record if you had to record it again?
Hmmmmmmm..... I don’t really know. Maybe, if I had time to really nitpick but nothing jumps out. We really only had 3 months to prep for this album so maybe a little more time before could have been helpful.
Are there plans for a tour or some festival gigs?
No tour plans as of yet, although we do have some smaller US shows that we will be headlining this summer.
Which 5 albums should every metal fan have in his/her collection?
If I were to give you 5, almost every young kid would hate them ha ha, since I'm a musician it would be shit that the young kids wouldn’t get at all. But if I'm speaking to a young kid who wants to have my exact same views on metal, I would tell them to get....
This list should be extended to top 20 but whatever.
Anything else you want to share with our readers?
Buy our CD or I will kill our bass player....
Interviewed by Reinier de Vries