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Poison The Well

Met een geweldig projectiel van een album beschiet Poison The Well deze maand de wereld metal markt, en hopelijk met succes. Je hoort bands altijd opscheppen over hun muzikale integriteit en hoe weinig ze beinvloed worden door de hype van het moment, maar Poison The Well laat in plaats van woorden de daden spreken. Toen het major label Atlantic, waar het vorige album 'YouComeBeforeYou' op uitkwam, het nieuwe album hoorde vonden ze het niet hitgevoelig genoeg, waarna Poison The Well direct opstapte daar de band weigert om consessies te doen aan haar sound. En wat voor een sound! Op 'Versions' is er wederom samengewerkt met producer Pelle Henricson (Refused) in de Zweedse Tonteknik studio met verbluffend resultaat. De banjo's, raspen en slideguitars vliegen je om de oren en de nummers zijn semi-catchy zonder aan agressie in te boeten. Een wereld band dus, en om dat te bevestigen doet drummer Chris Holbrook zijn zegje vanuit Wales, waar de band bezig is aan zijn Europese tour.

Door: Jasper | Archiveer onder different metal

band imageHi! How's Poison The Well doing at the moment?
Doing pretty good. We're in Newport, Wales at the moment. Today is the second day of tour and it's starting off pretty good. A few of us are sick which kind of blows. We'll live.

Tell me why the new record 'Versions' is the best album of 2007:
Well, I'm not sure if I think that. I mean I believe in the record and am proud to have been apart of making it. But, the fact of the matter is for me to say that is bold. I will say that I do think it's a different record and an interesting one, but to say it's the best would be arogant.

Tell me about your experiences in the cold North of Sweden, I can imagine it particularly inspired you lyric-wise: “Give me sunshine, make me happy”?
It was a rad experience. We've been there before to record, so it wasn't a fully foreign experience. It was just super cool to go back to Umea and finish recording something we started a year and a half prior. It was nice to leave with a record you've put your heart and soul into and thought that would never be completed.

What was the initial reason to go for the Tonteknik studio with the previous record and why did you choose it again, is it really the “Refused mysticism” that is going on there? Aren't there studios like that in the US?
No, not really the “refused mysticism” at all. I mean it was cool to work with them initially because they had worked on records from that band that I really liked a lot. But, after we started doing preproduction for “You come Before You”, that totally didn't matter. They're brilliant dudes to work with in making records and I've learned a lot from both experiences. In making a record, they help bring things out in the music that you normally wouldn't hear in your head and push you in weird directions that, in the end, are really cool. I'm sure there are studios in the US and maybe for the next record we'll work with different people over here. We felt that both the records benefited by being made with Pelle and Eskil. They own Tonteknik and we where able to make it all a package deal and affordable, which was cool. Plus, who would pass up making a record in Sweden? That's a once in a lifetime experience. You'll also have to ask Jeff about the lyrics, but I don't think they have anything to do with going to Sweden to record.

You used a lot of special instruments on the record, lately I saw the Swedish math metal band Crowpath use a slide-guitar on stage which worked magnificently well, where did you get the ideas for these unusual instruments, is it your Southern roots? They appear to be mostly country-style
instruments, right?

With the slide guitar, it just worked and Ryan is a great guitar player. He's played around with slide before and once he had a chance to actually apply it to what we're doing, he did. The idea for using different instruments came from wanting to build a wall of sound. Being a loud band with more than just drums, guitar, bass and vocals. Adding different colors and textures to the music that normally isn't there with other bands in our genera. I wouldn't say all of it is southern style but there are those moments…

How is Poison The Well going to play all those instruments live?
We aren't going to need to. Most of them are made to build a wall of sound and aren't super important when playing live. Certain things that need to be re created live we will figure out how to do. It also cool to for things not to be exact live than on record, creates a different vibe.

Speaking about live performances, I saw you on tour with Burst and Dillinger Escape Plan a couple of years ago and singer Jeffrey Moreira seemed to have a little trouble combining clean and raw vocals that time. I don't know what caused this but the new record has even more vocal variation and it must be very hard to pull it off live, how is that working?
Yeah, I'm sure it's not the easiest to do. He may have been sick on that tour, I don't fully remember. We haven't played all the songs live yet but I'm sure it's going to be a challenge, which is cool. It might be rough the first few times we play them but after a while, he'll get the hang of it.

How do you feel about performing the more calm songs like 'Nagaina', and 'Slow Good Morning'? I know Dillinger Escape Plan chose not to perform their 'ballad' 'Unretrofied', which I thought was a terrible pity. Are you going to take the risk of making a gap in the set by implementing the more quiet songs?
I think we will over time. It's going to be a challenge to integrate them into the set. We want it to be natural transitions from older songs to newer ones. I'm not worried, I'm sure at some point you will be hearing those songs live. As it is now, we're playing “Nagina” at sound checks. I think the biggest problem is going to be having Jeff hear himself singing. If the monitors are shot, most likely we won't be playing them live.

band imageI imagine you probably don't care much when recording a record and writing new songs, but do you sometimes think about your audience, especially the fans of the older work like 'The Opposite Of December…” and “Tear From The Red” and how they are going to feel about the more progressive stuff, do you sometimes worry about losing more conservative fans? Do you get a lot of emotional reactions from them?
Not really. First and foremost, you have to be honest with yourself, with what you want to write and where you want to go as a band. I think if you don't do what you want to do, your cheating yourself and your audience. That to me is selling yourself short of what potential cool and interesting things musically you can do. If kids choose not to like us anymore because of that, there is nothing we can do about it. We have to do what we need to do as a band and feel good about making music.

What do you think of the whole metal core movement, it seems that you have been always on the forefront of things, but when things got really big you decided to go for more experiments which probably lost you a bigger audience. I can appreciate this very much, but doesn't it sometimes occur to you and the other members that you could have been rich by now if you just followed the paved paths some more?
Maybe. I don't think about things like that. There isn't any other path we as a band could have taken. I feel like you need to take risks in life and in music. You never know what could happen and by following your heart and creating something you believe in, you create something that is going to be remembered 20 years from now. I'm not saying our music will be, but I know that no one is going to care about the dime a dozen metal core bands selling tons of record right now in ten years.

Tell me what happened with the whole Atlantic Records deal, did they try to influence your music or were the sales of 'YouComeBeforeYou' just not what they had expected?
No, the sales are what we told them they where going to be. We told them it was going to do X amount and they where cool with it. The thing was for the second record they wanted a top 20 single. We where just going about our business writing music as we normally do and when they heard the material, they asked, “Where is the single? We don't hear it, you need to go back and write more.” At that point we had our record and wanted to record it. For us, it's like either you back us on this or you let us go and they where cool with releasing us. We have no problems with having a top 20 single, but only if it is natural and not forced. Kids can tell can tell when something is fake and that's just not our thing. I'm not trying to fool anyone, I'm just trying to make honest music that's good in my ears.

What can you advice other bands about record deals after your experiences so far? Do you think progressive heavy bands and the major music industry will ever work as a combination?
I think so. Look at a band like Mastodon. They're heavy, progressive and huge. I mean who knows if it will last, bands are only big for so long. I would think that if a band thinks they will be palatable to a larger audience and have no problem selling them selves in anyway they can, go for it. But, if you're not comfortable doing certain things and want to do what you do and not be fucked with, I would think that an indie is the best route to go.

Tell me about your relationship with Ferret, why go back to them and not for example to Trustkill where you probably had a more successful period?
Starting something new. For me, Trustkill is a certain era for us; we're not trying to go back to old places. We're trying to do our thing and continue down a new path that we've created for ourselves. Ferret was also one of the first labels to be interested in us and was willing to give us what we wanted. We've known Carl, the owner, for years. He's a good dude and we're happy to have the chance to work with him and his crew.

What is the best thing about being from Florida, and what is the worst?
Best thing is the beaches and sometimes weather. Worst thing is the humidity and hurricanes. Both of those things blow a tremendous amount.

Were you there when the presidential elections came down to the Florida vote? Do the Poison The Well have a political conscience, did all of you vote?
I don't remember where we where at, I think living in California or on tour. We don't have a political conscience that we would like to let the world know about, that's our business. We're not a political band in anyway. I wasn't able to vote, but fortunately the state I was living in went blue.

Which contemporary bands do you feel yourselves most closely related to?
Not sure, to be honest. There are bands that I really like that sound nothing like us, which is cool. But, I can't think out anyone like us that I enjoy.

Right about this time you're doing a small tour through Europe, and just one show in Holland. Are you coming back for some more shows any time soon?
We hope to come back towards the end of the year and do a longer run, come back to places we've been to and hit up some places we've never been. It should be cool. Keep an eye out for us. I'm sure we'll have some shows in Holland.

That's it, thanks so much for your time. I wish you all the best for the future!
Awesome, thank you for the cool interview!

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