Animals as Leaders

Animals as Leaders’ unique brand of progressive instrumental rock has seen them become one of the most talked-about acts in heavy music over the past few years. Now back with epic third LP ‘The Joy of Motion’, chat to guitarist Javier Reyes about the album.

‘The Joy of Motion’ has just come out, how are you feeling about it?

So far so good. I think we’re pretty happy with how the album came out, as far as musically, as well as the production and overall sound. It seems like the response we’re getting from it so far has been positive so we’re happy with that as well.

In the past you’ve talked about the previous albums having kind of an initial starting point or goal that you build the album around. Was that the same for this album?

More or less. We were trying to take what we’d done with the previous albums and include that but at the same time go in directions we haven’t in the past, and then just kind of create a more definitive sound of what we actually want to be. The first album was essentially Tosin and Misha, I wasn’t included and Matt wasn’t even in the band at the time, so the band’s evolved since then. I think this album’s the most Animals as Leaders, considering we had Misha involved, and even Navene was helping out with the electronic parts. There’s more stuff written by myself, and having Diego Farias involved has really added to what Animals as Leaders sounds like. Diego co-wrote ‘Physical Education’ with us, one of the songs that’s getting the most attention. In a way, it sounds the most different to whatever we’ve done but for whatever reasons is still very much us.

I really liked that track ‘Physical Education’ because that’s how it felt. It displays you all as very technically skilled musicians but the songwriting also has this melodic focus and is very textured rather than just going crazy with riffs.

Yeah. We’re typical players in that because we’re fans of our instruments, and for us to keep playing as long as we’ve been playing, it’s always been about trying to create music that’s technically sound and entertaining for us to play, but as the same time we’re all fans of music. Simple music, pop music, catchy music. So I think the goal is to create music that’s palatable to anyone, and the technical sound is something that’s kind of in it for us.

Putting the album together, there were several people outside the core band helping out. I know Adam Getgood and Navene Koperweis actually produced the album, and you mentioned Misha Mansoor and Diego Farias having a hand as well. Was that the first time you’ve had an album be such a collaborative process like that?

Definitely. The first album was produced by Misha and Tosin, and the second album Navene produced, so this one definitely had more of us, more of Matt and Diego as well, which added a whole new flavour to the mix.

You guys are on tour at the moment over in the States where you’ve been presumably been playing some of the new stuff. Do you have to sit down and kind of re-configure what you’re doing for a live setting?

Yeah, absolutely. When we’re tracking things I’m not switching patches or anything like that, so there’s a level of having to translate certain things live and getting away with things live that obviously aren’t there on the album. For us, there’s definitely a level of precision that we want when recording that may be humanly impossible to recreate considering when you get to a venue the P.A. doesn’t work or the stage isn’t as your comfortable as your living room. There’s all sorts of factors that affect that.

The band toured Australia at the start of the year with Periphery, how was that?

It was awesome, it was really cool. For one, we love touring with those guys, we’re close friends, and sister bands in a way. Also, Australia’s a great market for both of us, so it was really cool to be able to do that together. We always say we want to tour as much as possible, and they keep getting great opportunities.

Just to wrap up, obviously the album’s come out and you’ve got a lot of touring planned for it, do you have anything else on the horizon for 2014?

We have more touring to do here in the US, we have a couple of festival dates, potential tour in Europe later in the year. We really just want to tour as much as possible and promote the album.

‘The Joy of Motion’ is out now through Sumerian. Read our review here.

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