Wed, 22 Jan 2014 10:12:58
With Clear, Periphery change the game yet again.
The Washington, D.C. outfit redefines what "progressive" is. Veering between polyrhythmic battering ram riffs and entrancing vocals, it's an enigmatic collection emblematic of the band's forward-thinking ethos and approach to creating music. It's also the perfect stopgap until they unleash their third masterpiece for Sumerian Records later this year.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Jake Bowen of Periphery delves into Clear and so much more.
Where did the idea for Clear come from?
Well, we had been talking about doing an EP for a while and we didn't know what direction it was going to go in. We went on tour with Deftones last year, and we were chatting with Stephen Carpenter the guitar player. He has a lot of ideas for bands and things like that. Maybe they don't get used with Deftones or maybe they do...He said, "It would be really cool if you guys did this". He basically described the idea pretty closely to what we're doing on Clear. We tailored it to our band a little bit to make it work with how we write and things like that. The idea was to basically take one melodic idea and incorporate it or write a song based around that one idea. That's what we did. Each member collaborated with somebody else in the band or didn't. It was really up to the member. We all got to choose how our songs turned out.
How did that differ from making the last album? Was it weird? Was it liberating?
It's sort of new, but it's also not too far from how we already write. The only difference is, if somebody wanted something in his song, that's the way it had to go. When we write Periphery music for Periphery, it's presented to the whole band. If two people write it or the whole band contributes, we all have to come to a compromise with what riffs or grooves end up staying and where the song is arranged. That's really the only difference. Other than that, it's pretty much how we normally write. One person will take a riff and bring it to another in the band, and they'll start making a song around it. That's how Misha Mansoor and I work. That's how a lot of the songs we have now have come about. It's just us working together. It's cool. You can hear it sounds pretty different when everyone gets to do his own thing.
The seven songs intertwine very well. Is that because they spired off the same idea or are you guys especially locked in right now?
I think that's just a testament to our chemistry as a band and our influences and the type of quality we're going for. We have a very polished sound when it comes to studio recordings. Each track, while it sounds different production-wise, is pretty polished production-wise. They're pretty tight. They're all heavily produced in terms of the sound.
What's the story behind "The Summer Jam"?
I started writing that song quite a long time ago. I had a bunch of riffs when we were touring on Summer Slaughter 2012. There was a little Roland Micro Cube. They had it on the bus. I picked up the guitar, and I was jamming on the same tempo and feel. I came up with a lot of riffs for that song then. I decided that would be my track for the EP when we went in to record it. It's really just a collection of riffs from that tour that I held on to and I felt really represented my style. It's also got an upbeat and positive vibe to it whereas everybody else's is pretty dark and pissed-off sounding.
It's different, but it fits what Periphery is.
Good, I'm glad! I'm an interesting position in this band because a lot of people aren't really sure what my voice or contribution is. A lot of people think I only bring the synthesizers and the electronic elements, but the truth is I write a lot of riffs and things for huge parts of songs too. It's good to finally air out what my influences are and what I think sounds good. I'm glad it was included.
Where did "Pale Aura" come from?
That's a Mark Holcomb jam. Mark writes things almost effortlessly. He'd disagree and say he puts a lot of effort into it. It seems like whenever Mark sets out to write something it's just solid gold right out the gate. He's one of those guitarists. I really look up to Mark as a player. It has this vibe that really is very unique to Mark. He had a band Periphery played with many times before called Haunted Shores. It's probably one of the reasons he's in Periphery. We remain close with them. The vibe in "Pale Aura" is very much a Haunted Shores vibe. If you go back and listen to that band, you can definitely hear the evolution of that song. His track is also very black metal-inspired too towards the end. He's a huge black metal fan, and he tries to put that influence in there too. You can hear it with the blast beats, the really fast double bass, and chord progressions.
How far into album number three are you?
We have a ton of material. That's the killer part about it. It's like taking the best things, but it's also about picking ideas that will sit well together and get the concept across. This next album will be something of a concept record. We have a ton of material, but it's a matter of pulling it all together. I wouldn't say we're close to being done, but we're well into writing it.
Did Periphery II: This Time It's Personal and Clear lay the groundwork for it?
Yeah, absolutely, especially with all of the collaborative things going on lately in the band...The first album was written almost entirely by Misha and the vocals were entirely by Spencer. I did some writing, but not nearly as much as Misha. Periphery II came along and more band involvement happened. Clear was equal parts everybody from the band. For the third record, we're all writing songs and trying to figure out what it's going to be. It's hard to say what it's going to turn out to be.
What's been inspiring you lately?
Well, I've been working on an electronic album that I just finished writing material for. I'm mixing and mastering it. If I feel inspired, I may throw a few more songs on it. It's my outlet musically. I have all these melodic ideas and I don't really know what I'm doing. It's a fun way to put out music that's done by myself. That way I don't have the pressure of writing for the band. There are times all of us write things and the band isn't stoked on them. It's material that's worked hard on though. This is my way to get out something I like and make an album that's really chill. You can put it on in the background, and it's not offensive volume-wise. I've been working on that. I've been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V too. That's about it.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Can we do it for Periphery II: This Time It's Personal? I'd say Terminator 2: Judgment Day [Laughs]. That's an interesting question. Maybe we could say T2 for all of them?
Clear is set for a Jan 28th North American release and you can pre-order it now at sumerianmerch.com.
What's your favorite Periphery song?