Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rock-A-Rolla Interview

The UK-based music magazine Rock-A-Rolla recently did an interview with Dysrhythmia in their most current issue. Below is the complete Q&A version of the interview, for those curious to read the whole thing.

Glad to have Dysrhythmia back, it’s been three years since the last album. Of course you guys are constantly busy with other stuff as well, so how much of those three years was actually dedicated to the making of ‘Test Of Submission’?

KH: Thanks, Jose. It is true we are always working on many things simultaneously. In the case of this new record, I would say we worked pretty consistently, without any real breaks, on the material. A track like "In Secrecy" dates all the way back to 2009. However, the title track was written just 4 or 5 months before we recorded it. And in between then is how long it took us to write the other 6 tracks. We are very concerned with details. Those little nuances are what can make a good arrangement into a great arrangement.

How is your usual method of writing, do you jam it out, does someone come in with ideas already… ?

KH: It changed over time from being more of a "jam on a few riffs" situation, to coming into rehearsal with a completed song ready for the other members to work on. In the case of this new album, I wrote 6 songs, and Colin wrote 2. However, when I say "write", I mean we wrote the songs ourselves on our respective instruments, then each of the other members wrote their own parts to that song on their respective instruments. Ultimately though, it all ends up being extremely collaborative. We love to leave room for each others creative inputs.

It’s obviously pretty complex music, or at least it sounds that way to regular human beings without your dazzling skills. Do you spend a lot of time perfecting the songs until all the parts gel perfectly with each other? Or is it more spontaneous than we might think?

KH: Yes, we do spend a lot of time on it. We want things to flow well, ideas to repeat but not in obvious ways. We focus on transitions. Colin and I are very picky about drums. This drives Jeff our drummer insane, but he's a good sport! One thing that was different for this album though is, traditionally, we would go on tour for a month playing our whole new album before recording it... to get the songs as tight as possible. This time we didn't do that. We were also changing and adding things on the fly while recording the guitar parts, which was fun for me. I liked having a touch more spontaneity involved this time.

If you had to play the music writer for a bit, how would you compare ‘Test Of Submission’ with past Dysrhythmia efforts? What do you feel has changed or evolved since the last album, for instance?

KH: It's certainly heavier. In one way this was unintentional. I was planning to use my usual Fender Stratocasters for the recording, but we discovered while tracking that they had intonation issues that couldn't be fixed, unless I replaced the bridges, since the screws were rusted and stripped. I still was able to use them here and there, but I ended up using my Gibson SG a lot more than I planned to, and even Colin's Ibanez Iceman. This lead to a heavier guitar sound overall, which, in the end was fine with me! I also focused more on textures, effects, and tones. Other guitars used on the album were a Fender Telecaster with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece on it, a Taylor 12-string acoustic, and a Starfire fretless guitar. I think you could also say this record balances our melodic and dissonant tendencies better than any of the others, though I'm still happy with the 'Psychic Maps' record as well.

Could you elaborate a bit more on the title of the album and its exact meaning?

KH: I think it's best to let people interpret it in their own way. It can mean so many different things. It has a dark, yet triumphant tone to it.

In fact, speaking of titles, how do these show up and when, in the whole process? Without lyrics and a singer giving it all out easily for the listener, it’s interesting to know if you ever actually write music inspired on a title or an image, or if they all come later when all the music is done.

KH: I come up with all the titles. They always appear after the music is written. Usually they are based on an image or feeling I get from the music. I take titling songs seriously. It's part of the big picture. I like the titles to have meaning. While working on the material, they usually have goofy working titles like "Old new song", "Band Intro", and "Colin 1".

The Profound Lore press blurb is, as always, awesome, and there’s this great bit there – “Dysrhythmia also write actual and proper songs with proper songwriting structure instead of merely showcasing that they can play the living fuck out of their instruments.” This is EXACTLY the problem with the large majority of bands operating more or less within your style these days, and the main difference why you rule and they don’t. Is this a particular care you have during the songwriting? Does it happen that you throw stuff away when it’s just too “masturbatory” and not enough of a proper song?

KH: I'm glad you hear it that way, because that is our focus when writing songs; coherency, without being predicable. First and foremost, technical skill is only a tool. We've never written music simply to show off our technique or whatever. That's lame.

Funnily enough, this sort of technical, instrumental kind of thing has become quite popular in the past couple of years. Are you reaping any benefits from this, have you noticed an extra deal of attention for the band? And, do you feel like pioneers, in a way, since you’ve been doing this since when people probably had no idea how to figure out what they were listening to when they put on a Dysrhythmia album?

KH: It's too soon to say if we're reaping any benefits from it yet. We'll see how the new album does, and how touring goes. Personally, I would love it if we were invited to play some of these larger festivals that are always happening. Even locally, it's rare that we are ever asked to open for any larger acts. In some ways I see this as a compliment, because it appears they're just aren't many bands people think we make sense playing with. We are sort of off in our own world. "Pioneers" is a strong word. I can't say we feel like that, we all come from somewhere.

Have you particularly enjoyed any recent band, say, bands that have appeared in the last four or five years?

KH: Certainly. There are some pretty obscure artists that I really think are doing some awesome things. A few of those being; Feast of the Epiphany, which in the main project of Nick Podgurski, drummer of the band Extra Life (another great act). Here he's mainly doing electronics and singing, invoking some sort of dark drone prog doom, unlike anything I've heard before. Their yet-to-be-released new album will fully showcase this. Fielded, the solo venture of Ga'an keyboardist/vocalist Lindsay Powell, is another really great project that I think should get more attention. Though not new bands, the more recent albums by bands like Deathspell Omega, and Blut Aus Nord are the most exciting things I've heard in the realms of metal in years.

What are the future plans for the band, are there live shows planned? Your live show is amazing, by the way – do you have any special preparations or little personal rituals before you go up on stage?

KH: We are scheduling a headlining US tour from October 17th to Nov 17th. This tour will miss certain areas like the Northeast, and Florida, which we hope to make up for early next year. As for pre-show rituals; nothing out of the ordinary... stretch, warm up, have a beer, pace around anxiously. The next plan, recording-wise, is to do a split EP with the instrumental band Loincloth, in which we will switch drummers! They will write a few songs for Jeff, and myself and Colin will write 2 songs for Steve Shelton, their drummer, who also happens to be one of my all-time favorite players in the world. So, that will be quite a trip.

José Carlos Santos / Rock-a-Rolla Magazine