From strictly technical band into progressive monsters – here comes Son Of Aurelius! Their debut was great but the follower is one of the best prog death metal albums I’ve heard in a long time. They combine extraordinary maturity with complex, yet catchy compositions. Very warm and positive release and nice guys beside everything. I wasn’t wrong commenting their coming through as a “rising star”. Go and listen to the “Under A Western Sun”!
Hello! This year is full of great releases and Yours is one of them. Congratulations!
Cary Geare – Thanks! It’s definitely been a great year for releases. This summer in particular.
Let’s get straight to business. Why we had to wait so long for the new album?
Cary – Most of the delay was out of our control. There were some ongoing negotiations with our label about a new album for the past three years. In the end we ended up deciding to end our relationship with our label and put out an album independently.
“The Farthest Reaches” was really great album but the follower is far better. What’s Your opinion on the debut right now?
Riley McShane – The Farthest Reaches is a great album. When I first heard it in the summer of 2010, I had some initial skepticism about it. Funny enough it was the vocals that threw me off a little bit, but by the time I had joined up with the band later that year I had realized them for how awesome they are. TFR took some time to sink in with me, but once it did I was in love. I feel the same can definitely be said about Under A Western Sun.
Cary – When we listen back on the farthest reaches, it’s something we’re very proud of. We had a lot of fun recording and performing that album.
After debut album, You’ve changed vocalist to Riley. Why Josh left the band?
Cary – Riley got the band out of a tight spot after Josh Miller wasn’t able to make it to our first couple full US tours. Under extremely short notice, Riley performed with the band for dozens of shows to support the release of The Farthest Reaches. Josh had recently started what is now a thriving business, and was unable to participate in the band because of his new responsibilities. Josh is still doing music, and he’s got a couple of very cool projects he’s getting off the ground.
Over 70 minutes of playing time is pretty big thing for a single album. Didn’t You fear that people may skip songs? This is great concept by the way and always makes my day.
Cary – When we decided what songs to record for this album, we had a list of approximately 25 songs. Every cut was hard to make, so basically it came down to how much we could afford to record and fit on to one CD. We probably would have made it longer if we could have. We actually played two songs live that didn’t even make the cut. We know the album is too long, so we tried to put the track list together in such a way that it wouldn’t get too tiresome.
I must admit I suffer from insufficiency about the cover artwork. I was surprised about the minimalism and almost feared how the album will sound like hehe. Why it looks like this?
Cary – The art was very deliberate. We wanted something simple that would stand out. There was also an effort to show through the artwork that this was a very different album than our last. There was a lot of discussion on the cover art, we had multiple pieces done. I think it took us two or three months to finally decide what we wanted for the cover.
Could You tell us a little about lyrical concept of “Under A Western Sun” and how You come with this?
Riley – Definitely! I was given a lot of creative freedom during the writing process, so the whole process was really fun. The lyrics for this album can be grouped into three different segments, the first of which being a sort of narrative from the mind of Marcus Aurelius but with a modern twist. I pulled from a lot of stoic philosophy for these songs, really emphasizing the inner-turmoil that can come with the notions of ethics, politics, and religion. The Stoic Speaks is a good example of a song that is full of this kind of writing. The second group is one that touches more on what’s going on today in the metal scene. There are a lot of bands trying to expand their sound right now and really take the genre in new directions, which I think is great. However, there are also a good chunk of bands out there that have latched on to this new 8-string notion of progressive metal or are still stuck in the million-riffs-a-minute style of tech-death. While I love both of these styles of metal, I just don’t feel that the bands belonging to them are really doing anything to move the genre in a forward direction. Metal started off as a genre that pushes boundaries and goes against the grain, even from band to band. Now that there are so many bands that have so many similar features, “progressive” metal has become more of akin to pop music in its industrialization than it is to either prog or metal. Check out the lyrics for Attack on Prague, it’s definitely the most straight-forward song on the subject. As for the third segment, sometimes you just gotta write what comes naturally and, as a huge nerd, I definitely wrote a few songs about some nerdy shit like video games and anime.
You did a great job with catchy yet progressive melodies. They are always interesting and inspiring. Do You write music as a whole band or maybe someone has bigger impact on how it will sound like?
Cary – For this album we all worked together from the ground up. Since Riley was writing a lot of clean vocals, we knew that we had to lay a foundation of strong chord progressions and rhythms to support that. This meant a lot of back and forth and collaboration. As a guitar player it meant I had to step out of my comfort zone a little bit, which was really challenging and exciting.
Some vocals reminded me a little of Helloween and some melodies gave me Dream Theater / John Petrucci feeling. Are those bands somewhere near of Your inspirations?
Cary – It just so happens that both Riley and I are huge power metal nerds, but we tried not to go over the top with that vocal style. There is a little bit of that here and there I guess. I definitely get a lot of inspiration for writing guitar parts from power metal. One of the things that I wanted to focus on for this new album was chords, and I think Petrucci was a big influence in that regard.
Was there any problems with Good Fight label? Your biography note says You parted ways. Why is that?
Cary – We owe a lot to Good Fight, and we were very lucky to have worked with them on the first album. That said, it was becoming clear that the business relationship between us was not benefiting either party. We had discussions with them about it, and we both ended up deciding to go our separate ways. It was a very amicable split, and we would definitely consider working with them again if it made sense.
Are You searching for a label at the moment? How are You doing with self-promoting machinery?
Cary – We actually ended up hiring a PR firm for the month of release. We worked with Adrenaline PR, and they did a great job. We suck at doing PR. As for a new label, we’re going to look into it. Doing this album independently was an experiment. We wanted to see how well we could do releasing it on our own. If we had released the new album with a proper label, we would have been able to get much more promotion, but with that you lose a lot of control. It was a gamble that we were willing to take.
What’s Your non-metal inspirations in music?
Riley – I love underground hip-hop, Anticon Records in particular. Artists like Baths, Doseone, and ON LUX, are just a few from the label that I’ve been stuck on for years and years. I’m also really into soundtrack music from movies and games, composers like Nobuo Uematsu and Joe Hisaishi are really big inspirations of mine when it comes to melodic structure.
What’s You biggest goal in life as a band? Maybe some special concert or something?
Cary – Oh man, that is a tough question. Touring overseas is a big one. We’ve bounced around America a few times, so it would be amazing to do some gigs outside of the States.
It seems to me that lot’s of young American bands greatly supports themselves. Posting their stuff on facebook and things like that. Is there some major consistency in tech / progressive metal scene in America?
Riley – There are definitely a lot of American bands that do the self-management thing through social media, but it seems to be more of a way to stay visible to your fans when the band is writing or recording or whatnot. Unfortunately, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter don’t really have any kind of option to monetize the web traffic that comes to your page, so supporting yourself using social media as a foundation is something that just isn’t possible for a large percentage of American metal bands.
Could You point out some more or less known, Young tech bands worth checking out?
Cary – You can’t go wrong with Allegaeon their new album is utterly amazing. Same goes for Wretched’s new album. You’ve also got Inanimate Existence, Abiotic, Dawn of Dementia and The Zenith Passage coming up in the tech world. If you’re talking about some of our own personal tech-death influences; Gorod, Arsis, and, of course, Necrophagist.
Another point and shoot question. One most important technical band of all time (and why)? Feel free to elaborate hehe.
Cary – I hate to do this, but there are at least two big ones; Spawn of Possession is the most important modern tech-death band simply because of where they set the bar for songwriting. Suffocation is probably the most influential for tech-death, even more so than Cannibal Corpse.
Last question! How Your days go by? Do You often practice and jam as a whole band? Work, wild parties, bitches and baths in money? Release Your imagination hehe.
Cary – We wish! Rehearsals and band meetings. There is a lot to keep up with releasing an album independently, but we definitely keep a light heart about it. We love playing and writing our music, but if you can’t take a step back and laugh at yourself for what dorks you are, where is the fun?
Wish You all the best! New album is amazing. Can’t stop listening!
Hell yeah man! Thanks for having us!