Progressive metallers Periphery have been keeping busy over the past year. Along with constant touring (including a spot on Soundwave 2013), the band have been sporadically working on third full-length album ‘Juggernaut’ as well as writing and recording the experimental ‘Clear’ – in which each member composed and directed their own song. Headed back to Australia later this month with Animals As Leaders, we chat with vocalist Spencer Sotelo to get the lowdown on everything.
I’d like to talk about ‘Clear’. You’re releasing it this month, right?
Yeah, it’s the 28th I believe.
Talk me through it, each member did one song by themselves? Composed it, kind of directed it, right?
Yeah, it was really cool. The way we came up with the idea, we toured with Deftones in the States earlier this year and one night we were talking to Stef [Carpenter] and he was just kind of spitting ideas at us. He was like “One idea that I’ve always had that I’ve always wanted to try with my band – I don’t think it’d work for my band, so you guys should try it. Everybody write and direct their own song and use the same melodic theme and just interpret it differently throughout the songs so they’re kind of connected.” We thought that was a really cool idea and we just ran with it, and that ended up working out really well for us.
There’s this overture track, and then parts of that melodic theme are repeated – how did you go about that?
It was established before we started writing any of the songs. The way we picked the melodic theme, Misha had written a piano track that we’d never really planned on using. He was just kind of jamming with some new piano plugins that he had. There was this one melodic piece that starts the EP – that’s the overture – but when it was written it was just a piano theme. We thought it was cool, and thought “Well, let’s use that and try and interpret it into all of the songs”.
As far as composition and direction that was pretty much up to each member, but as far as actually putting the songs together, was that a collaborative full-band sort of thing?
Oh, no, no. I mean, we kind of did things in groups. Like, Jake worked with Misha on his on Jake’s song and then Mark worked with Misha on his. Nolly kind of did his himself and then I wrote mine myself, and me and Matt worked on his song. Matt and I have a side project called The Mothership, the song that we used for Matt was already a pre-existing Mothership song that we just decided to translate into a Periphery-style song and incorporate the theme. It worked out really well.
Saying that, I’d assume most members have a handle on multiple instruments, then?
Yeah, I guess we’re really fortunate in that aspect. I don’t know a lot of bands where every member is able to sit down and compose their own song. We’re all really lucky that we have that in this band. There was definitely no shortage of material at all.
In terms of length, it’s somewhere between an EP and an album?
Yeah, I think it clocks in at around thirty minutes, give or take. It’s longer than an EP but not quite what we would like to have for a full-length, so we didn’t call it an EP, didn’t call it a full-length, just kind of an experiment, you know? To hold people over until we put out the next record. It was just a cool little thing to do.
You guys are touring Australia later this month. You’re fairly frequent visitors – you were here in 2010, then 2011, then last year, and now this year. How have the Australian shows been historically?
They’re great every time, and they get better every time we’re over. The last time we came over we played Soundwave, and obviously the turnout for Soundwave is fucking incredible. We also played a couple Sidewaves with a band called Crossfaith and I think all of those sold out, so great turnouts. Smaller clubs, but there was a good energy and it was a good time, you know?The crowds are fucking great every time we come over.
As far as the live shows go, is there a kind of negotiation between getting the technicality of the studio recordings to mesh with the energy and excitement of the live atmosphere?
It’s tough. On one hand you kind of want to just stand there and perform as well as you can. A lot of our fans are musicians, and are there trying to see how well we can execute it. At the same time you want to please everyone, people that come to the shows that are just fans and have no hand in being a musician at all, who just go to the show for the show. You kind of have to walk that fine line – you have to put on a show, at the same time as performing well on your instruments. We try to do both.
Totally. You guys released a trailer video recently for ‘Clear’ that took inspiration from The Office and Office Space, whose idea was that?
(laughs) Oh yeah! That was funny. We had a meeting at our management office and one of the guys at the office… the meeting had nothing to do with this video or anything. One of the guys that worked for our management just had a camera with him and came up with the idea for the skit and wanted us to play off of the show and movies. We just picked our favourite scenes and things like that and kind of went with it. We didn’t know how it would turn out, but when our management was done editing it they thought it turned out so well that we’d put it online. It was never planned to go out like that, they just wanted to see how it would turn out and it turned out great. It was hilarious.
What’s the situation like at the moment with ‘Juggernaut’? Are you guys still working on that or is that on the backburner for now?
Yeah, we’re working on ideas here and there when we have time. This year has just been so busy for us touring-wise, we’ve been all over the place. Also with writing ‘Clear’, we haven’t had a lot of time to write for it. We’ve put together demos here and there. When we get back from this Australian run we’re going to be taking five or six months off to just write and record it so we can focus on it, we just want the album to be the best it can be.
Periphery tour Australia this January/February alongside Animals As Leaders. Head here for dates and details.