Converge are pioneers in the metal/hardcore world. They’ve helped define the genre of extreme music for over 15 years and continue to release groundbreaking albums.
Their latest opus, ‘Axe To Fall’, was recently released via Epitaph and we caught up with guitarist and renowned producer Kurt Ballou to chat about it all.
Hey dude, let’s start the interview off with your name and what you do in Converge?
I’m Kurt and I play guitar among other things and record the band’s records.
Lately there have been a few fake flyers circulating the internet about an Australian tour (which to be honest I fell for), I want to put this to rest before we move on, when can we see a Converge Australian tour?
Hopefully in early 2010.
Axe to Fall was release in Australia on October 23rd , currently you’re on tour with Mastodon, Dethklok and High on Fire; How’s the reception going towards the new material? Any tour stories you’d like to share?
It’s been great so far. It’s a really diverse tour with show-goers of varied taste there for varied reasons. But despite our expectations, we’ve generally been quite well received. And when we’re not, we usually find some way to make light of the heckling, so its fun either way. Mastodon are old friends of ours, so its great to be with them again. The other bands are super cool too!
The recording of Axe to Fall was updated to the public via twitter, can you explain the writing and recording process from start to finish?
With any record, we just follow our instincts and try to make music that is new and exciting to us. We try to approach each song differently, paying attention to what the song wants more than what we want. It’s very important for a record not to feel like riff soup. In a lot of metallic hardcore bands, it sounds like the songs are a collection of riffs. We try to think bigger than that.
Was the process any different to previous releases or do you generally go about every Converge release the same?
The basic approach is the same; 4 people who respect each other musically, in a room together, sorting through ideas. But as people, we’ve grown in the 3 years since our last record, so the way we express ourselves is naturally going to be different.
You and Nate have outdone yourselves with the riff aspect, how’s the process when it comes down writing the guitar and bass parts?
We just noodle around by ourselves to come up with some raw ideas to bring to the band, then as we see how other people interpret them, we adjust and add to the ideas until they become a song.
There have been a lot of guest appearances from other artists on ATF, how did these come about? The likes of Steve Brodsky (Cave In), John Pettibone (Himsa) and Chris Taylor (pg99, Pygmy Lush) make an appearance in one way or another.
We wanted to have an opportunity to share in the creative process with some friends. Making music should be fun, and including other people made it new and exciting.
What’s your favourite part of the recording process?
All of it. I love seeing things come together and being able to listen back to the tangible accomplishments of the day.
And your most hated part?
The beginning of the mixing process when I think everything sucks.
Who is “The Rodeo”?
A friend of mine from Paris. Her music is great. You can check her out on myspace here: www.myspace.com/iamtherodeo
The album was publicly leaked from MetalSucks.net, with Shaun Hand doing the dirty on you guys, understandably you guys we (and probably are) still upset about it. Could you elaborate on what happened?
Epitaph used a method of distributing watermarked audio tracks to the journalists that were reviewing the record, so if the record were to leak, they’d have a record of where the leak originated. All we did is release the name of that individual, then let people form their own opinions about it.
Wonder-boy Jacob Bannon has yet again pulled something great out of his hat with the artwork, what’s the process like when he’s drawing? Are there many scrapped versions of the artwork?
I couldn’t tell you the details of how he works, but I know the he puts great care and time into each project.
Converge have always been vinyl friendly when it comes to releases, any reason why?
Because vinyl is a tangible product which lasts forever, the art Jake does is much better represented in that size, and we love to listen to and collect vinyl.
On the same note as vinyl, I saw a copy of Jane Doe’s 1st pressing go on eBay for something like $200; Why do you think they go for such a high price?
Supply and demand I supposed. Maybe I should sell some of mine.
What bands are getting you stoked right now? Anything you can recommend us?
I like Snowman, Kvelertak, and Woven Hand a lot.
Thanks for the interview.
Converge‘s latest album ‘Axe To Fall‘ is out now viap Epitaph. For more info on the band head to their Myspace page.