By Joseph Kahn
Photos: Alex Morgan
Oh geez, if someone told me I’d ever have the opportunity to not only interview the members of one of my all time favorite bands, but to also write an article about their tour, I’d have to hurl myself down a set of stairs to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
Canadian Tech Death masters, Archspire make a round through the U.S of A for the Tech Trek IV tour with Virvum, Inferi, and Wormhole, and boy am I excited. These dudes have been making a huge impact in the technical death metal scene, with remorseless riffs and furious vocals; it’s hard to imagine them not sticking around for a long time. If you’re looking for a band that’ll make you feel like the machines are taking over while aliens simultaneously come down to masturbate and blow their cosmic loads all over your enslaved faces, this is definitely that band.
What is also pretty damn cool is the cover art for their newest release “Relentless Mutation” was painted by artist Eliran Kantor, who did a lot of work for old school favorites like Testament and Atheist. I’m going to have to stock up on extra faces, because these guys, along with the rest of the lineup, are seriously going to melt mine clean off. So if you happen to wake up without your face, don’t worry, I’m putting it to good use.
I also wonder what it would be like to make love to this band. Uh, as in listening to them whilst doing the horizontal tango… with a lady of course. The band already practically makes sweet love to me every time I hear them, so, I guess I’m not opposed to a hug *wink wink*.
It’s really no surprise these dudes are from Canada, some of my favorites like Cryptopsy and Beyond Creation hail from the North. It must be their water, cause Canadians are constantly pushing the boundaries in metal, while America is still grasping onto Pantera riffs and Bud Light. Not to say America doesn’t produce some kick ass bands, but I’ve noticed a lot of game changers tend to come from places with good healthcare. Coincidence? I think not.
As I mentioned above, I had the opportunity to interview them, and kind of touch base on the insanity that is Archspire.
The Vent: The tour hasn’t kicked of yet… What do you do to get ready for the road?
Dean : Right! Our tour prep is a bit different this time. We usually run through our set quite a bit in the weeks coming up to a tour, but this time we’ve been playing a bunch of one-off shows recently so we feel pretty warmed up. We ARE adding a song to our set that we have never played live before, so that will be where most of our time goes. Wish us luck hahaha.
The Vent: I remember being quite fond of the “All Shall Align” album and habitually listening to “Deathless Ringing,” and thinking, this was it, this is the shit. Then, “Lucid Collective Somnambulation” dropped, and it blew me away with how vastly different it was, not only instrument wise, but also vocal wise. What goes into making that much of a change between records?
Dean: Between those two records there was a big change, yeah. It was recorded with the same producer (Stuart McKillop) in Vancouver here, but Lucid Collective was our first album with Season of Mist records. So we had feedback from them, we were a bit more confident and knew what we wanted to change from the album previous. But switching producers, studios, and even the fact that we did a “retreat style” recording session with Dave Otero for our most recent album ‘Relentless Mutation’ was an bigger change. We feel it led to a product we really couldn’t have been happier with.
The Vent: What is the inspiration for such mean ass riffs?
Dean: We all love death metal, from old school to the newest shit, so we find common ground in there. The riff is generally where the idea for a section starts, so if we are going to have a killer section, we really need to start with a solid riff. It means we end up throwing a lot of stuff away, but what remains is hopefully good hahaha.
The Vent: There’s a lot of technicality built into each and every single song I’ve listened to, and it amazes me that multiple members can come together and create such an astounding sound. Can you briefly describe the process as a band when creating a song?
Dean: Our riffs, drum parts, bass parts, vocal rhythms are all decided with a unanimous process. If someone doesn’t like a couple notes in my solo and they speak up, I’ll change them. If a bass part isn’t working for someone, it gets tweaked. Our process is mostly just spending hours in our Jamspace grinding through ideas until something clicks.
The Vent: Do you want to throw in a plug for Kiesel guitars or anything else?
Dean: Of course! Kiesel has been great in providing us a guitar for our giveaway contest to promo the tour. We all three of us play their instruments, and seriously can’t say enough awesome things about the stability and quality. I fly to Europe and pull my guitar out, it plays just like it did when I was at home.
The Vent: What’s a non-music related product or company you’d endorse if asked?
Oli: Nike is the best product ever. Period. Please give us free shoes!
The Vent: Archspire’s vocals seem to have been a standout factor in the technical death metal scene. Can you tell us what kind of techniques are used to belch out what I can only describe as the sound of Cthulhu’s grumbly tummy?
Oli: The whole foundation of Archspire’s vocal style is based on rappers who execute a specific style that’s known as “Chopping” It’s when a vocalist writes and sings in a style that focuses on speed and precision. There is a common tendency for most death metal vocalists to sing over the music rather than with it. The intriguing elements of speed rappers is that “Chopping” is more about matching every syllable with the music at whatever pace the music is, instead of singing over top of a track you match or create a pattern of vocals that sits within the track.
The Vent: Was that specific type of vocals something the band initially wanted to do?
Dean: We originally had a vocalist who was doing more traditional death metal style, which was fine. After he left, we had a short time with someone who was doing very very low guttural vocals, which again was fine and worked with the music. But when we realized that matching the vocals to the instruments, more specifically the snare drum, it made sense to get someone who was into fast rap and wanted to mix that into a death metal style. So yeah, originally we had no clue what we wanted but it sorta just worked out that we found Oli, and everything came together.
The Vent: Since our healthcare sucks here what’s your plan if there is some kind of lighting truss or faulty drum riser accident in the middle of a show?
Dean: Oh man, if we travelled through America without travel insurance I’d be absolutely terrified. We have tons of American friends who have horror stories of something happening and paying a bunch of money or whatever. It’s not even something we think about here in Canada, but I know there’s tradeoffs to that. Suffice to say, we’ll be using Tobi to prop up most of the drum risers and lighting rigs. He fits in most small places, he’s very sturdy and has a strong back. He’s like a human swiss army knife.
The Vent: Lastly, is Spencer even human?!
Dean: Sure he is! He eats all the food we leave in his cage, we change his newspaper twice a week and make sure he has a full water bottle. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. There you have it, they’re people just like you and I, except, not as boring. I happen to be in one of the opening bands for the local show happening here in Corpus Christi. I got to say, it’ll be a full on pleasure to share the stage with these heavy hitters. Throwing in a little plug for my band, An Eaters Curse, you can catch us opening this insane tour May 18th at Boozers. Orale.