Herephemine' is a very strong album, right from the start. I was asked to review your album and I was having a rather lousy day when I put it on, but wow, I was immediately submerged in everything that I heard going on, and it was quite a wonderful trip. What a great achievement. How do five guys meet up and decide that this is what they want to do?
Hi Bart! Thank you for your praise! It's great to hear that you found the album as immersive as we intended. Chris, our singer and keyboardist, has also done an amazing job in extending that notion to the visual aspect with the two videos we have already released for 'Interrotron' and 'New Mutiny', and two more that we have got lined-up. All four tie together and link the album to the visual concept and elaborate on the meaning we have assigned to the album title and the music itself.
In terms of your question, that is a bit of a chicken and egg situation really! I think actually the converse is true with The Ever Living - I feel that we had all already decided we wanted to make this kind of music and all that was needed was to meet, and that was just down to good timing and good fortune. Chris and I had known each other for a few years leading up to the start of the band and had casually talked about doing something together. We had no idea until we finally got round to it that our ideas were so well aligned and that our approach would work so well together. We managed to get the rest of the guys into the band right before we first went to record through a mixture of mutual contacts and Gumtree (a London based ad service; red), but that too was surprisingly easy despite taking a fair while at the time.
Ross is our drummer and Mark, our bass player, has recently just re-joined us from some time in Barcelona. We recently replaced our other guitarist Craig, who just moved to Brisbane, with a new guy Charlie who's working out really well.
I tried to look up the meaning of the word Herephemine, but even my trusty, paper dictionary did not give me anything. What does it mean and where does it come from?
Hah! You won't find 'Herephemine' in the dictionary; only in my subconscious, sleeping mind. I'm aware this will sound cheesy, but it doesn't make it any less true - I actually just woke up one day with that word in my head. It started out as the working title for the track now known as 'Interrotron', which was also the first single and video we released for the album. When it came to finalising the song names and coming up with an album title, we realised that we actually had a great asset with 'Herephemine', since we could completely own the word and make of it whatever we pleased. There's something about it that we all liked and at the time we thought it sounded like some kind of drug you could imagine the Skinjobs in 'Blade Runner' getting high on. When we expanded on the idea though, it became the name of the immersive-reality machine that you see the family using in the 'New Mutiny' video; something that we wanted to portray as even more addictive, consuming and destructive than any drug could be.
You wrote that the main theme around this album is experiences with excess through technology and other means. It sounds like something that really befits the current time and age. Can you please tell us what you mean with this and why you thought it appropriate to dedicate an album to it?
In part this is true; Chris's specific lyrical themes address exactly the ideas that you mention. In many ways the band is also a symptom of the technology of the day too which makes this an interesting counterpoise. However, since Chris writes the lyrics himself, I can only really talk about what I drew from and the inspiration in my mind at the time of writing the music, which although unique to me, aligned very well with Chris's lyrical themes.
Aside from continually striving to exist and find fulfilment from my achievements within the real world and resisting the seduction of my enforced cyber-identity that is now a part of everyday life, for me, there are repeated references to the feeling of desperation and the response of the individual in those situations. The dawning of realisation that you have arrived at a situation you never set out to be in and have no control over. To be in that state of complete lack of influence for me is terrifying and where the only options you have are to accept or to struggle in futility. Much of the feeling of dread and tension invoked in the music is borne of this through our compositions.
It does not sound like the music is coming from a very happy place. It is dark, brooding and ominous, and I can think of a lot more adjectives that are appropriate and all have an inclination towards the sinister. I am not a musician, but as a lover of music I do experience it in a certain way, and I can imagine that a certain way of thinking, a certain mindset, is necessary to create an album like 'Herephemine'. What is/are the thing(s) that inspire and motivate you
We're not interested in making music that sounds "happy" and in my mind, most beautiful music of depth does not. I also do not think that you can achieve the sense of grandeur that we are aiming for without a sinister or ominous edge to it. I think Chris and I have always been drawn to the darker side of things, even if only to observe, but channelling that into music is far healthier than participating in some other way.
For me the biggest part of inspiration is the process of actually creating the music itself. It therefore becomes a self-fulfilling and self-fuelling process, which as we get deeper into the writing only becomes a more intense feedback loop. Getting started is always the hardest part, but once it's flowing, you just have to see it through, even if that means a 3am finish with a 7am start for work. This tended to happen a lot writing the album, in fact I completed the guitars and bass on 'New Mutiny' in a single night, the same day Chris sent me the keyboard track, which led to an exhausting day after, but a feeling of complete satisfaction at the same time. It has always been worth it.
A friend of mine recently asked on Facebook if people could post some links to songs with a soothing nature. This was the day that the video for 'New Mutiny' was put up, and I did not hesitate to post this on her timeline, since to me it is a very tragic, but also a very uplifting song. (She liked it, by the way.) Do you think it is possible for music to instil opposite emotions in one person?
Absolutely, and we seem to have struck this dichotomy right between the eyes with a lot of what we have put out. There is no doubt that the music comes from a dark place, however Chris and I are always surprised when the term "hopeless" (unfortunate term) is used to describe the music we write. The perspective we take is from the bottom, looking up, but many of our reviewers do not find the hopeful element in there. To us it is clear. Think of the name of the band; this is deliberately opposed to the normal death and doom vibe that bands of our ilk gravitate to for their band name.
The music on this album sounds solid and coherent, and not very much like a debut album in regards that I get the impression you have been playing together for ages. Of course, I have not seen you live yet, but I have no doubts the music is even more intense at a live performance. How does this happen? How can a debut album (I know an EP went before this) sound so professional and developed?
My counter-question would be, why should it not sound professional and developed? This should not be a surprise and if it is, then that is a damning indication of the music industry right now. We are not "trying something out" here and we are not "finding our sound". We know what that is and we know how to get it. The entire existence of the band is grounded in our shared vision of the music and if it hadn't worked right off the bat then I don't think we would have even made it to the EP. We've been around the block in other bands and projects enough to know when something is working and when it is being forced or when the compromises being made are to the detriment of the music, or even worse, to satisfy an ego.
There are also a couple of intermezzos on the album, although I really do not want to call them thus because they are full-fledged songs on their own. I mean songs as 'Prismatic Dissonance', 'Spectral Dissonance' and 'Nocturnal Itch'. Somehow they stick out a little as being different. What is the purpose of this?
I'm glad you said that because we absolutely consider them fully-fledged songs and spent just as much time and attention on these as we did any of the other tracks. However, they do also perform the purpose of breaking up the album so that we are not constantly bombarding the listener. Even on our EP we did something similar with 'End Of Red I' which I think helped set the scene for some of the more post-rock elements on 'Herephemine' and opened the door for us to expand our sound and include instrumentals as an integral part of what we do.
Most of the titles allow the reader (even before listening) to get a glimpse of what is to come. I think it is quite an art to think of titles that radiate a sense of dread wonder, and that is exactly what is going on here. Again, none of them are particularly joyful: 'The Great Defeatist' or 'Foreboding Epiphany' for instance. How do you come up with titles like that and, again, what is their purpose?
Song titles are always a bit of a game for Chris and I, trying to out-obscure each other; but aside from making sure that they suit the song perfectly, we are adamant (Chris especially) that the titles we pick are completely original, and search extensively for any song that has the same name as the one we have come up with. If we find one, we change the name. We don't get too precious about this, or even the parts we come up with music-wise; we would rather keep the quality control as high as possible, and re-think things than satisfy anyone's ego.
I ask about the purpose of some parts of 'Herephemine' because I have the feeling that a lot of what is on there is done very deliberately, very well thought out. Am I right in thinking this? It is okay if your answer gets technical!
Again your assessment is correct. In terms of "how", we don't do anything in terms of being creative in the rehearsal space, so nothing is ad-libbed or improvised in a band setting because we just don't write that way. Everything is written remotely by Chris and I sending Logic projects back and forth in an iterative process that ultimately results in the fully-formed demos. We initially program the drums and once we are happy with the tracks, farm them out to our drummer Ross, to make the drums his own and to add his natural human flair and imagination to optimise the dynamics and think beyond our non-drummer minds. Equally, very little then changes between the demo stage and the final recording in terms of parts and arrangements, so all we are really doing in the studio is optimising the recording of the organic instruments and capturing a proper, professional mix from our producer, Jonny (Renshaw, also guitarist with Devil Sold His Soul). In terms of the "way" that the music actually sounds, intensity is the order of the day. Again, we deliberately set out to create tension by offsetting electronic with organic, machine with human, vintage with modern, sparsity with density and melody with dissonance. The Sci-Fi / horror sound and feel of the album is a direct result of that.
The whole album (cover/visuals, song titles, sound) seems to me one complete story, everything that needs to be there is there and everything that need not is not. Although 'Herephemine' is still very fresh I cannot help but wonder what your next step is going to be. Is the next album going to be a continuation of this or is it going to be an entirely new chapter of the book that is The Ever Living?
If the next album happens the same way as 'Herephemine', we will have written half of it before we've even realised or consciously decided that we are writing an album. Everything in the band and between Chris and I happens very naturally and organically and I think that's partially what gives the music it's authenticity. Nothing is contrived and nothing is bigger than the music itself or the song at hand. We are not trying to fit a mould or follow a trend. I'm not sure we could even if we tried!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. If I left anything out or you want to tell our readers anything, you are welcome to do so!
Just a thank you for your questions; it's really nice to be interviewed by someone who has clearly spent some decent time with the music and has put real thought into what to ask, rather than the same old, one-size fits all "What are your influences?", "What is your favourite track on the album?" bullshit, which as a fan I have always found completely unsatisfying to read and as a musician, completely mind-numbing to answer.