Marketing in 2016 can be an interesting beast. You could, for instance, set up a bunch of lures for the Pokémon Go players at your shows, but that fad is thankfully dying out and fast. Or you can just be like Attila and just be edge lords in general. Another way to generate buzz is to do what Newcastle’s Blind Oracle recently did; announce they were parting ways with vocalist Brodie Paul over his punching of a magpie that had swooped him. Now, the amount of people who thought that was legitimate was fucking staggering (and provided many laughs). Of course, it was bullshit and all of this public attention helped in the reach of their follow-up announcement for vicious new single, ‘Bloodlines’. Faux lineup changes and magpie punching aside, and as far as ‘Bloodlines’ and Blind Oracle’s next move is concerned, I spoke with guitarist Seth Murrant to find out what we’ll be seeing next from the band, among other things.
I think it goes without saying that ‘Bloodlines’ won’t be just a one-off song and will be part of a larger release…?
There is nothing that concrete in terms of what that will be yet. It will be on an album, it’s just not finished yet, but its close. We have about 12 songs written so far, but no album title, solid track listing just yet. It’s been so cut-throat with the deadlines that we’re really rushing to get it all out. With Bloodlines, we just wanted to get something out there as we’re heading in a direction, we believe. It’s just that we’re more mature in our songwriting. Our basic writing process used to be us just throwing riffs together on Guitar Pro and seeing what worked. Now, we’re taking this approach where we don’t want to write anything for anyone else, we want the writing to be natural; not to be forced out. We see music as being a manifestation of a particular mood, so the next part can’t come until you’re back in that same mood.
It sounds kind of wankey, but we wanted it to be honest and personal, and structured in a cohesive manner.
I get what you mean about it sounding “wankey” but if it doesn’t come from a genuine place or a genuine feeling then people can see through it.
Exactly! I think you can see through it when certain bands make music. You can see that it’s a product, they’re just targeting a certain demographic but the music that sticks with you is the music that comes from a personal place.
It’s interesting that you mentioned mood earlier because the mood of metal can be so dark and bleak at times. Yet I doubt you’d think of yourselves as depressed or sad individuals?
[Laughs] yeah, most of the time we’ve very happy-go-lucky people. All of the music we tend to create comes from a dark place: the “forever empty” that exists within everyone. We like to use that as a vessel for creating our art.
Well, you can’t really talk about comedic content in metal like this unless you’re a YouTuber like Jarrod Alonge, Jared Dines or Stevie T. If you want to be a legitimate band, you can’t really do it as it doesn’t correlate that well. So, do you ever feel like you have to be the kind of metal band because people expect it, or because you can’t really do anything else with this style?
Like I said, when we write, we make sure it is all from a personal place. I’d say that metal is the best expression for that. It’s probably the only vessel for that. We’ve all gone through hardships and we’re all still struggling but metal is the best outlet for us. I don’t think we would be as happy as we are if we didn’t have this outlet. If we made pop music, we wouldn’t be as happy because it wouldn’t allow us to let out the dark stuff within us.
Well, how do you label the band’s music? It seems to be generally seen as deathcore or under the wide banner of extreme metal?
You know what? I don’t fuck with any of that [laughs]. If it’s deathcore, well then it’s deathcore, I guess. There are some tracks on this album that are so far from what you would consider deathcore, that it’s not funny. We’re a typically heavy band but we just make whatever we want.
With ‘Bloodlines’, it has it’s “blasty” sections and I always feel that there are elements of extreme metal that a band can probably never ignore when writing.
Oh, absolutely! Bloodlines does fit into a genre quite easily. It’s arguably the most straightforward song of the bunch. In the future of our music and what we’re making, it doesn’t fit into a box.
Right on, keen to see what you dudes do next. I love the way the song ends with that really rhythmic section where the low end of the bass… falls away, it’s high-end punches through as the all guitars chug away. It’s really cool and it helps wrap the song up.
Oh, thanks man! Chris Benson, the other guitarist, pretty much made the entire song. He made that in his bedroom and when he showed me that part I thought it was perfect. It’s how we’re improving the structure of our songs now. We want it to start intelligently and end intelligently. We like really big climaxes and what follows in-between. I could just talk for hours on what makes a good structure for us.
With the single’s artwork, I’ve seen people refer to it as a cover for a Ghost release, which gave me all kinds of chuckles.
[Laughs] well, I’ve never listened to Ghost but I’ve seen their image and it made me laugh too. The artist, Travis, he’s done all of our art since Holocene. What we found was that we liked his art, but we didn’t love it. I think that was because we set all of these parameters on him. So we just gave him the song and he put that all down on paper. When you let people act intuitively, the best product comes out.
Well said, man. Now, I didn’t have the lyrics on hand, and even with listening to the song a bunch of times, I couldn’t quite make out what Brodie [Paul, vocals/magpie puncher extraordinaire] was saying but-
-Oh man, don’t tell him that! He’ll hate you [laughs]. He’s so keen on his pronunciation lately, so that’s so funny to me.
Oh, shit! Well, that isn’t a diss at him; he’s got a solid vocal style!
Nah, I get it, man. He does and when you’re screaming like that, it can be hard to hear!
Of course, and from the artwork and the lyrics that I could make out, it all centres on the power and hypocrisy of religion.
Yeah, that it does, dude. But it’s funny, even though we’re considered a “deathcore band”, that is actually the first song we have we have ever written about religion.
Oh, really? Damn, A Night In Texas would be proud, dude! But that’s so interesting to me about the thematic meaning there. Because on ‘Extinction Rate’, there’s the lyric “Suspense is the distance between blade and flesh”. Which is a cool lyric…it’s just so “metal”.
Yeah, it’s just metal; it’s just violence. I get what you mean man, but what else can you sing on a song like that? You’re not going to talk about fairies and angels or how there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You’re going to tell people how it is, that life is bleak, that there’s no purpose and that you should just kill people [laughs].
See, when you put it like that, it sounds like you should be on a watch list of some kind.
[Laughs] maybe! But as I said, I’m a happy-go-lucky guy, man!
I think the inverse is true sometimes. At shows, you see the most intense looking people and they’re so approachable, and it’s the people who look so “normal” that are actually the dickheads?
For sure man. In comparison, how many people die at raves or at EDM festivals each year as opposed to how many people die at metal shows?
Yeah, I know a lot of it can be anecdotal but it’s a big difference. As you bring up raves, I take it that metal isn’t the sole genre of music that you and Blind Oracle listen to?
Well, I have not stopped listening to Frank Ocean’s new album since it came out. I even had Bieber fever once! No joke, I listened to My World 2.0 a fair bit cause the dude can sing! I was raised on artists like Steve Via, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and all kinds of stuff. I don’t want to compare ourselves to these greater metal bands, but a lot of the big metal musicians don’t listen to that much metal.
True and with the bands you mentioned, I think that’s so telling of your own approach to guitar in Blind Oracle.
I really do think that more guitarists should listen to older virtuosos as that’s where you can learn the best stuff. A lot of people are listening to Polyphia these days and getting all of their tricks from them. If you had listened to Steve Via, you would have been way ahead of Polyphia. I love that band, I do, but I think if you go back in time to the original source, you can find the real inspiration, as opposed to the middleman.
[Laughs] Damn, that sounds like I am dissing every single band today, but it’s not! I just think that you’ll find more inspiration there.
No, I get what you mean. As much as I love them, people will sweat Animals As Leaders so hard and yet not go back to find old jazz and metal virtuosos because it’s simply not AAL; not the band they love.
Forgive the pun, but I think that Animals As Leaders are a different animal, just because they’ve been so genuinely innovative. The same goes for Periphery, and they have the exact same approach to music as we do. Misha [Mansoor] said he doesn’t care what the fans want because playing for himself got him to where he is now.
True! But I do think that when you release music, you sort of pass on ownership of it to the listeners and to the fans, for better or for worse.
Well, to me, when anyone gets a hold of your music, it can become anything to him or her. That’s the beautiful part about it; it can all be so subjective.
Of course, and with that, this may be a good place to end this interview. Is there anything you’d like to add, Seth? This is your time after all.
I would say that we don’t have a message. We’re an anti-message band. We feel that the messages have taken over the music as I feel some people go to see a band simply due to their life philosophy and life beliefs. I think it should come back to the music and our “message” is just listen to our music.
Cool! Well with that, I’ll let you get on with your day, Seth!
No worries! Thank you, man, it was good talking to you!
Blind Oracle’s new single, ‘Bloodlines’ is out 10/11/2016.