I doubt anyone on Killyourstereo.com needs an introduction to Michael Crafter. The loudest man in Aussie hardcore had a talk with KYS about Confession’s second album, The Long Way Home, recording with metal maestro Fredrik Nordstrom in Sweden and why Frenzal Rhomb is the best punk band in the world. Catch the Confession lads on The Long Way Home Tour with Thy Art Is Murder and Antagonist A.D. across Australia starting October 7.
Who did the cover art for The Long Way Home?
A mate called Scott Meller, from Perth. He’s done a bunch of rock stuff, and he’s got a nightclub and stuff in Perth. He’s done heaps and heaps of different things over time. I thought lets get a mate to do it. He did Break Even, Miles Away and a Birds of Tokyo layout, so he’s done heaps of band stuff. He does heaps more commercial stuff as well. I had some concepts and he came up with a few more ideas. He said we should use the plane as it fits in with the theme.
What’s the meaning behind the title The Long Way Home?
It’s the same as I was in school. On Friday it’s two in the arvo, you know you can go home soon, but those last hours take forever. It’s the same for a person at work on a Friday, they just want to get home. They’re sitting there looking at the clock. It’s the same as being on tour, the last week seems to take 50 times longer than any other time. You want to get home, you want to see friends and family. When it’s like that, you overthink, you start getting stressed, and you just want to get home. That’s the long way home.
Speaking of touring, are you thinking of heading overseas after the Antagonist tour?
We’ve got some stuff lined up for early next year. We had a couple of offers for the end of this year, but we’ve already done a couple of European tours. So we wanted the next one to be a big tour. You’ve just got to wait for that. We were like ‘if it doesn’t come then it doesn’t come’. And then an offer came up, and it was too good to refuse. We are going to be in Europe, playing to a few thousand every night, so hopefully it goes down well. I can’t say who with just yet.
How was it working with (producer) Fredrik Nordstrom again? Did you work well together back in 2006?
When I was working with Fredrik in Prom I was in a bad state. I just hated being there and it was so tense the whole time that I didn’t really get to enjoy the recording process. But at the end of the day when I listened to Prom Queen’s album, I was like ‘Fredrik’s so good, and he makes stuff so heavy, it’s just perfect.’ When we thought about who we were going to get to do record, we thought about Shane (Frisby), who did The Ghost Inside and Bury Your Dead, and then Fredrick just popped into my head. I said ‘it’s worth emailing him and seeing what he’d charge.’ For some reason he said he’d hook us up and do it so cheap. We were like, ‘this is the perfect scenario for this band’. Going to Sweden, being away from everyone and recording the heaviest thing we possibly can. And that’s what we got, we came back with an album better than anything we dreamed of. Every element we have shined though on the album, it’s the perfect thing for this band.
Fredrik has produced some amazing albums (Opeth, Dark Tranquility, Arch Enemy). What kind of role did he play in the album recording? Did he just record the tracks or did he get involved in arrangements?
Fredrik and Henrik did come in to play a lot with certain things. For example on one song, we had a fast part, and he suggested slowing it down. We never thought there were bits we could do like that. The riff still went with this slow beat in this song, and it made it sound like an epic part, rather than just a fast part. Little things like that and little changes to the vocals, telling Dan to hit higher notes or lower notes in his singing parts. That was where Fredrik played the biggest part. He loved the songs the way they were. He was like ‘this is what you guys are, you’ve written a good album so I don’t want to rip it apart and make it something it’s not.’ He helped us add fuel to the fire and make it a bigger thing. We were stoked. There were a few times that we argued, you know, when I or Dan didn’t agree with something he said. But that was just because we had conflicting genres that we were into. We came from a hardcore background, and he came from a metal background. He didn’t get that you could dumb stuff down a lot like we were. In the end, he understood why we were doing it. We’d be like ‘people at shows can sing along to this type of part’ and stuff like that. He 100% understood once we explained it to him like that.
What was the name of song you mentioned with the slower epic part?
The first track. It’s called Confused and Hopeless.
Fredrik’s obviously known as a metal producer. Do you think this had an effect on the sound of cd?
I think that’s the best thing that we could get. Today in music, if you listen to what people go for, it’s that Sturgis dude, or Adam D, or Zeus, all those kind of people. They have their sound. I think the Europeans have their sound as well. Nothing was fake about it, it was a proper recording. We used Vox cabs and heads that were older than we are. On rock parts it made it sound way better. We used Fender guitars in melodic parts, when we’d never done that before. With Fredrik’s touch of being a metal producer he made the heavy parts heavier, he made the rock parts stand out more, he made the melodic and acoustic type parts just stand out so much in the mix. He brought things so much more forward than we would have done if we recorded with someone else I think.
Confession have a pretty layered, melodic sound on their albums. Why did you choose to head that way rather than something more back-to-basics, kinda raw sound to it?
If you look at the way music is nowadays, if you listen to anything on Rise Records, or Sumerian or stuff like that, you’re not going to get a raw recording, not even close. Someone probably doesn’t even play drums on that recording you know, someone’s probably pressing buttons and making it. We went to Europe, to Fredrik, because we knew we’d get a real recording. There’s a big room to make the drums sound huge, there’s old gear, there’s new gear, there’s everything we needed. As far as recording, it’s not raw, but it’s as real as it could get. I think that’s better you know. If you want a raw recording, you record to tape, you jam it out in one take, and if you don’t get that take you go again. That’s a raw recording to me. If you’re Mindsnare, or maybe I Exist, or one of those Australian hardcore bands, or a rock band, you can do this. But when you’re a metalcore band and you have bits and pieces that are so different, you just can’t do it. We wanted extra guitars and stuff like that, just to make it sound massive. I’ve never been a fan of raw recordings, at all. Unless it’s Converge or something, one of those kind of bands. For a metalcore band, it always just sounds bad I think.
Why did Dan do all the guitar and bass parts? Did you think about getting Tim (bass) and Adam (guitar) to do them?
When we started writing the album, Adam was busy with work and other things, he had a lot on. So when we started writing the album in Byron it was only me, Shane and Dan. It just started flowing so much better than what we’ve done before. We were kind of in shock. We had nine tracks, and we were like ‘what the hell happening, how the hell is this happening so fast, is this bad, or good?’ We showed a couple of mates who were around at the time, and they said it was way better than anything else we’d done. We were like ‘well maybe this is working really well.’ When Adam came it just slowed the process down, because there was another cook in the kitchen. We thought, if Adam’s not going to be writing the songs, then it’s just going to be easier and quicker if Dan does it all himself. He doesn’t have to sit down and show Adam all the parts. Bands do this all the time. In Parkway Drive, two guys write the albums. Yeah, everyone records the album, except for Jia, the bass player, he doesn’t go to recordings. Some bands do it this way. It’s just a better process to have a couple of dudes writing the album. This way just worked 50 times better. It was really small living quarters that we were in. One more person there would have made it a lot harder. For the best outcome, this was it, and we had to make that decision. And Adam was fine with it. As soon as recording was done him and Tim flew over to Europe and we went out on tour with Raised Fist. So they understood how it was. When they heard it they were like ‘whoa, you guys have just recorded a CD we haven’t even heard.’ They were real stoked to be hearing it. They’d heard the demos and that but they hadn’t heard the album. It’s one of those things, I wish everyone could have been there, but we needed to do what was best. We had a short amount of time and we made it work the best we could.
Does Dan write any of the lyrics?
I write all the lyrics. We’ll sit down and I’ll give him a guide for the singing parts. There were parts on the album when I was doing vocals real late at night. I’d just go through and talk the singing parts that I think would fit. I’d dumb it down so much. I think there was two songs on the album where Dan did the phrasing. There’s a few tracks where I talked the singing parts, real simple and I think they worked. We just bounce ideas off each other and worked that way. It was a bit different this time around but it definitely worked.
So you laid down a scratch-track and then he re-did it?
Yeah, I laid down a guide track for the timing of the singing part. I’m real good with phrasing, but obviously I can’t sing for shit. I just talk it, then he’d go over and sing it, add the melody and add his touch to it.
What do you think of the latest Frenzal LP?
I haven’t listened to it in full. I actually downloaded it last night. I tried to get Shock to send me a copy, but no-one replied (laughs). I’m going to give it a good listen, I’ve just busy all day. The songs that I’ve heard are so sick. The fact that we got to tour with them on No Sleep is out-of-control funny. They are the best punk band out there. They’re still hilarious, they’re like kids. They are still killer. They were massive every day on tour. It wasn’t a shock to me as they’ve always been huge. At least a thousand or two thousand people would sing along every day. And that was sick. For a band to have been around that long and not drop off, like Bodyjar and all those kind of bands have dropped off. Frenzal’s still killing it. The album charted so high, it’s the second highest they’ve ever charted. It’s crazy. It’s so good that they’re still selling so well. They must have sold a fair few thousand in the first week to get so high.
You’ve released one song online so far from the album. Are you going to release a second track before the album drops?
We’ll put the title track up next, and we’ll put the film-clip for the title track up just before the tour. The next song will go up just before the album release. It’ll give it that extra push and people can hear a song that isn’t the same as the last one. It’s still fast, but this is the most rounded song we have on the album. I think people will take out of it that it’s a bit of a different sound than what the band is known for.
How is the title track different to the rest of the album?
It’s got its fast parts, it’s got its melodic rock-y parts. I toned my vocals down a little bit, and didn’t go out, and kind of screamed stuff a bit more. I tried something different because I felt the song needed it because it was different to the other songs. I think when people hear it they’ll be like ‘whoa, this was not what I expected.’ It’s my favourite song on the CD. It’s got a massive sing-along part at the end, and gang-vocals and there’s shit going on everywhere. So if people don’t like it, I’m an idiot (laughs). It’s the song that I’m backing the most off the album. We did a film-clip for it. I sent the track to Graham (Resist Records), and he was like ‘this is *the* song off this album’, which is good to know.