Archspire Interview

Hi Dean! How’s your day? What motivates you lately?

Hey, thanks for having me. My day is fine. Everything is fine and I have a new guitar stand on my desk and I am sitting here marveling over all the guitars that I have. And I have a few things to do. I have to write some music and it’s the first music I’ve written in months. So I gotta work on that, but other than that playing guitar and stuff. It’s kind of a broad question.

The music of Archspire is bombastic, and it explodes like it has an infinite amount of ammo. How do you sustain this intensity in the music?

Bombastic, that’s an awesome word! The intensity is not something we really struggle with. Like we always wanted our music to be that intense, but we couldn’t really play that intense until we all found each other. It’s never a problem for us to keep this intensity, if anything it’s trying to keep it less intense. So that it’s more listenable. And on the last album that we worked on I think we managed to bring the intensity up in some areas, but also down in others so that the songs are a bit more cohesive. So yeah, intensity is never a problem until we bring it into the studio and our producer Dave Otero sorta arranges it a little bit.

What do you usually say, who resembles your music the most? What do you think is appropriate?

The bands that we all liked when we started playing together are pretty much the bands we like now. When we all started we all wanted to play a combination of Necrophagist and Origin and Fleshgod Apocalypse and Corruption and Dying Fetus. All of our favourite tech death bands, and some of those at that time were very new. Like Fleshgod Apocalypse had only been a band for about 2 years back in 2008 as far as I remember. Same with Corruption. I think they started in 2008 as well. I could be wrong, but they started not too far behind us. So those influences are still there, and the big one for us when we started was Brain Drill. And I don’t think that they are an existing band anymore. As the years have gone on we still kept them as our favourite influencial bands, but we’ve added a few. I personally really like Infant Annihilator and they’ve got some really cool music that I took some inspiration from for this album. I also presonally really like Blotted Science and Ron Jarzombek the guitar player. And then in addition to the tech death metal stuff we all love Tech N9ne. So if you think about our band it could be an inspiration of Origin, Brain Drill, Tech N9ne, rip off Mozart or ripoff jazz Bach or something.

The band started in 2009 and yet most of the people that started the band are still members today. Is the level of camaraderie this high? What is your secret recipe?

You are right, we’ve been a band for twelve years now. So I’m 33 and I started jamming the band when I was 21. People change a lot and in that time period I was in my early 20’s and now I’m in my mid 30’s and I’ve been in the same band for the entire time and that’s pretty terrifying when you say it like that. The camaraderie is good. We’ve made sure to keep our writing schedule and jamming schedule all in person, and I think when things happen in person it lends itself more avoiding misscommunication. What I see nowadays is that a lot of bands or the majority of bands are online. So they do zoom calls and they send riffs back and forth, and I find that when you do this kind of messaging, it’s very open to misinterpretation of what somebody else is saying. And it’s really tough to deal with. So keeping things in person as much as possible deffinitely helps us stick together, because the four of us, Oli, Tobi, Spencer and I have been in the band since 2009 or 2010. I think Oli might have joined in 2010, but other than that it’s been us the entire time, and now with the addition of Jared in 2016 we are much tighter then we were 5 or 6 years ago. The difference being is we don’t live together now, wich I think was maybe too much. So now we have our own places that we kinda leave to keep our personal lives and the band’s live not entirely connected, but we are still friends and we still hang out. Everything is still good.

All the 3 albums of yours are well-known by the fans and gives an impression of a steady development process wich focuses more on quality than quanity. How do you see your albums looking back?

If you are referring to our albums as of October 29 we will officially have 4 albums released. Our first album we wrote was with a bunch of member changes and stuff, and we recorded some songs and then we rerecorded some parts and then we finally released the full thing in 2010 I beleive. Maybe 2011 as a full CD, and it was really crazy and over the top and the production wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but at the time we were really proud of it. Musicly I am still quite proud of it, but it feels all over the place in my opinion. Still some good stuff. The second album ,,The Lucid Collective” we wrote it with more of an effort as a full band and we were touring quite a bit more during the writing of it. It’s a lot more cohesive in songwriting, but there are still a plenty of songs that kinda meander and not something that we would write now. The production was better. The third album ,,Relentless Mutation” was the album that pushed us into a bit more of a well-known status. People kinda started knowing us before we went on tour and it was a bit better. Not that we didn’t have a fanbase before, but that album sorta pushed us in front of new poeple, and we toured with bigger bands and other stuff. And this new one ,,Bleed the Future” is in my opinion the best songwriting that we’ve ever had, and it’s the most cohesive of an album, and it’s definitely the most challenging for me, but I imagine I would speak for everybody if I said that musicly this album is the most challenging. Productionwise it sounds better than all of our other albums. I am just really really proud of it and it took us, like I said it before 2 and a half years to write it. Wich is the longest we’ve ever taken to write an album. And I personally think it shows and that people agree, because when you put out an album you just hope for the best and that’s what we are doing. We are just hoping for the best.

I assume you built a strong connection with Dave Otero because you recorded with him again. What pluss values does he bring to the table? How was is it to be in the studio?

When we track with Otero we go to Denville, Colorado. And this was our second album with him. The benefits you get from working somebody like Dave is first off you are doing about a 5 or 6 weeks long retreat style recording session, wich means you stay in the studio essentially, you basicly live in the studio and you work 5 or sometimes 6 day a week depending on how much work you have to do. You work on the songs all day. If you are in the back and somebody is tracking vocals then you are working on a guitar solo idea or you are working on how to make a clean section better or you are helping somebody figuring out their part and trying to go over the edits and making sure everything is all good. So it really is 6 weeks of just focusing on the music and it’s stressful and also monotonous and tedious, but it gives you a lot of time to make the album better. And speaking of making the album better, Dave Otero will literally take your instrument from you and play an idea and say, what do you think about this? Over top of something that’s already composed and that is pretty amazing to have an outside influence into the band. So when you are recording with someone like Dave, he isn’t just looking for the best take, he’s also looking for the best songs. And if he has an idea, wich he often does, of how to make a song or a part better, he’ll say it and he’ll push for it and 95% of the times he is right. It’s something you have to go with an open mind, otherwise you won’t really get the full benefit from him. It really is the only way for us to go. It makes the album so much better to have someone that has a vested interest in making the product not only on the production side, but in musicality and in listenabilty as well.

On Youtube you have a few new songs available. How excited were you about the reaction of the fans? Do you sleep less due to the adrenalin rush?

Well usually when we have songs coming up we are getting ready to tour, and that’s what we would be doing now, if this would be a normal year or a normal circumstance we would be probably on tour next week, and making sure we sell albums on the first week and making sure that we are getting people out to shows and helping us making the record launch as big and as succesfull as possible. So this time around it’s a lot more digital and a lot more online interaction, wich has been good. It’s something we are all used to now in the last 2 years and everybody kinda got used to it. But the circumstances are a lot different. So yeah we are watching the reactions, we are getting messages for seeing posts and it’s really exciting. It’s also just really scary to release a piece of music that you’ve been working on for years and just hope that people like it. It’s kinda what you have to do at every album, but with this one I think it’s more nerve wracking and I was a bit stressed out, because there is so much more expectations 4 albums in. You have some expectation on your second album, a plenty on your third, but on your forth you need to go up on the charts. Because people can go: ah their old stuff used to be better; ah they are not really… you know. Not only this album needed to be as good as the previous ones, it needed to be better, and I think that we did that, but I just hope that people will agree with that idea. The reactions are good, and there is still a lot to do. We have 8 tracks and we released 3 of them, and some of the best music we have ever written is on the remaining 5, and I am very very excited for people to hear it.

I really like the cover of the album. Eliran Kantor did a great job. What did you tell to him about what you wanted it to be?

That’s sort of a question for Oli. Eliran did our last album ,,Relentless Mutation” as well, and for that album we wanted something very unique looking, so what you saw a lot in that time in technical death metal in the mid 2010’s late 2010’s was bright colours, sharp lines, hot and cold colour schemes, so lots of oranges and reds contrasted with a lot of cooler colours like blues and purples. That was like THE style for technical death metal, and we wanted our album to stand out amongst those other album covers, so we went with a colour scheme that is very different from those, and also the art style is not perfectly clean lines. The details are there, but the art is a very different style from what you’ve seen in albums that came out in 2017. It was a lot more abstract in a lot of ways and it was more compressionistic or something less precise, but still very cool. So for the new album we wanted the same thing. We knew if we did the same colour scheme it would be strange. So the story is, if you watched the lyrics video for the song ,,Bleed the Future”, you’ll see the term “gold blood” a lot in the lyrics, and if you look at the cover there is basicly a creature that has golden blood coming out of it’s mouth, and that’s the very very basic idea for the cover. Of course I don’t have all the details in the storyline. I wouldn’t wanna misrepresent Oli, because his lyrical ideas are really really cool. So I just say that the mouth and gold blood coming out of the mouth is lyricly part of some of the songs on the album. I think 7 out of the 8 songs, and that was kind of the starting point. We also wanted to contrast really well, so a black and gold cover was our starting point, and then Eliran took it from there, and made it aggressive and cool. Again, not perfectly sharp lines, not contrasting colour schemes hot and cold, it’s more like an abstract style of horror art, and I think it turned out fucking awesome.

How easy it is for a fresh canadian band nowadays? Are there any opportunities for them?

If you are a canadian band you are immediately in a lot of disadvantages but also some potential advantages that a country like the US may not have. So geograhpicly Canada is fucking massive, populationwise it’s really spread out. We are on the West coast, the population is on the East coast, or at least close to it. Toronto and Montreal. When you live in the West coast like us, you are opposed with as a band trying to grow your fan base by touring, at least for us. We wanted to tour. That’s our number one way to grow our fanbase. Let’s say you are going on tour, so you have 2 choices: 1; you have to go through Canada wich at least in the first few years it’s probably not going to be profatable at all, and it’s also gonna be very time consuming and kind of dangerous. There is a large open streches of highway especially on Oterio where people are known to hit moose in the middle of the night and the weather is very cold in the winter and it’s not safe to drive a 15 passanger vehicle and a trailer at night in a certain time of the year. So you can either to that, wich is what we did for many years, 2; or you can go South and play the US. And if you do that, you have to play a lot of money just to cross the border to play shows, becuase you have to pay the work fees. That also takes a lot of expertise, so you need to have helping hands. So you can either go across Canada, that is dangerous and you will make less money, or you can have a large upfront cost and go into the states and try to break into an international market like that. So those are both not the greatest options, but we live in the West coast, it’s even worse for us, but if you live in Oterio, you already have such a large population centered there. You can build up your fanbase a little bit more before you start to branch out. That sounds pretty grim, but at the same time the canadian government there is some support for the smaller artists, an if you do have the right people working with you, you can get grants from the government, so that’ll help reduce the costs of touring. So right away you are in a disadvantage, but there are some potential things that you can get that you wouldn’t be able to get in other countries. And us being on the West coast flying to Europe is a bit more expensive as well, but I mean if you are a canadian band, you also have the benefit of playing for canadian fans. And there is a certain pride canadian bands playing canadian markets, because there is only 36 or 35 million people live in Canada for such a huge country. And people definitely claim ownership of artists that they love if they are canadian. It’s a point of pride for us, so it’s kind of a mixed bag, but I do love this country and we all love this country, and I don’t think that any of us is going to move anytime soon, but it is tough to start out, but the potential is quite big.

What was the first place where you had a concert with Archspire? How did the night go? What did the audience think?

The first show we played we played without a vocalist, we played 3 songs, my amp broke in the middle of the set, so it was feeding back the entire time. Everytime I stopped playing it started screeching super loudly, and we didn’t have a vocalist. So no vocalist, guitar amp schreecking, we played 3 songs, but we played the last show at a legendary metal bar here in Vancouver. It was fun, but stressfull, and tobi, our guitar player was not in the band then, but in the audience. So I was playing, and I’ve never even met him, so fast forward 2 months and his other band he was playing in decided to break up, and we wanted to have Tobi in the band for quite a long time at that time, at least Spencer had, and so we moved Tobi’s gear from the stage from the band’s last show to our jam space, and as we got the amp in I said to him: I never heard you play guitar, are you good? And he said: Yeah, I’m pretty good. And I said: Okay, I hope so. Hey, it turns out he was right, he’s quite good.

Do you think Archspire have always had it’s life on track? Would the you guys redo anything that has been done in the past?

I think the only thing that we could say is I don’t know, this kind of music puts a toll on your body. So when you are playing 25 shows in a row with the same really fast blasting or really fast tremolo picking or harsh vocals, it does put a toll on your body. And we’ve all had to deal with our physical illments, because of playing such fast music. I wouldn’t say that I wanna write easier music, but it would definitely feel a lot nicer if at the end of the show I wasn’t in pain. Because of having to keep up the indurance so much in a 45 minute long set of playing 300+ bpm tremolo pick riffs or whatever. It’s kind of our signature sound, but also it would be easier if I were growing old a little bit more gracefully, but other than that everything that we have done was either a learning experience or a positive thing, and we’ve been with a great label for the last 3 albums, and we’ve met a lot of really awesome people and we managed to make a living out of playing death metal wich is not something everyone can say. If I could regret anything I feel that I’d be doing it wrong. Nothing really to regret. I think we all are just really thankful for being able to do this and not have to do an office job when we get back from tour to play the rent.

How do you imagine your futrue? What are you plans? What is possible amongts them?

I would say that the furute of the band is to try to support this album as much as possible. At some point we will start writing music again, I don’t know when, because we sorta taken our time off since the recording of the album. I would like to see the band get bigger, I would like to see the band tour with bigger bands, I would like to see us becoming a bigger headliner, and those are just natural things that every band wants, because at the end of the day this is a business, and the product is not only the music but also us. I wanna keep investigating why people like this band and keep pushing into that and I love writing death metal and I love making goofy videos, so I don’t really have any expected change in plans any time soon. So let’s just keep going and we’ll see if our bodies will break down when we are 40.

Thank you for you answers. It was a blast talking to you. I will totally see you live!

Great! Thanks for having me!

The interview was taken with Dean Lamb on 06.10.2021.

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