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AXIAL LEAD: Following The Lead

Bucharest based progressive/avant-garde metallers Axial Lead are set to release their first full-length album entitled Of Infamous Credentials this October. Having them featured on Progstravaganza 13 brought us to conduct an interview with the band, talking about their vision, influences, progressive music in 2013 among other things. Take a look below for the full interview and follow the lead!

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You are coming from Bucharest in Romania and by your own words you create progressive/avant-garde metal. Let us know something more about your beginnigs.

Well, only two of us are from Bucharest and we’ve been friends since high school, but it was kind of an accident how Axial Lead began.

We’ve all attended either design or architecture universities, and it was there that we all came together without any auditions or plans for the future. We hung out for a while; doing anything but music, while time was getting shorter and shorter, as the end of our studies was nearing. You might think it’s not such a big deal, but one of us had come for his studies all the way from Ecuador, and losing him wasn’t an option, so we started working intensively on our music, hoping that our group will somehow survive. Many experiences brought us closer together, and come 2011 everything fell into place when we finally had a name and a sound.

Now the college days are over and we’re still here, calling ourselves progressive, not only because of our sound, but also because of the nature of our collaboration. Somebody said we’re avant-garde and we liked it, because we could have never expected things to happen this way, and we still have no idea of what will come, although we have  big plans for our music.

Which artists/bands have influenced your work? How much of that influences is reflected on your music?

Sometimes it’s just surprising how different our opinions on a certain matter can be, almost to the point of ass-kicking, but we consider this to be our best and strongest feature, and it is also valid when it comes to our influences.

Since we’ve met, we kind of grew up together, and we found there is never a single right answer or solution to any problem, so we learned to work as one. Because of this, even if our personal preferences range from Michel Camilo to Rainbow, Rick Wakeman, Sikth, Cynic, Spock’s Beard, Beastie Boys, Paco de Lucia and many others, it doesn’t really matter what one person likes or wants, because it will always be filtered through everyone else’s interpretation and in the end it will have only a slight taste of the initial idea, but a full Axial Lead sound.

We’ve been told that our songs have an evocative and visual, ambient-like nature, and we think this is because our visual-arts background is a very strong influence.

When you are in the studio, do you already have all the structures of songs or there is always some space for additional experimentation and tweaks?

We’ve spent a lot of time on the preproduction, and we’ve recorded some DIY demos for all the songs on the upcoming album. Most of them were 100% completed by the time we started recording, even if some of the older ones went through multiple structures that were all played live, and lived their own lives. When we took them to the studio, one of them, the oldest song, had nothing of the original but two, maybe three riffs. Even the name of the song had changed and it was barely recognizable.

While some of them went through severe changes, another one had little more to it when we started recording, than a general idea of what it was going to sound like, because we’ve never actually played it before. Many fragments of the song were done on the spot and the lyrics and vocals were completed long after the instruments were recorded.

Even some of the ones that were completed, are a little bit different in the album version because we can’t help meddling with them. Moreover, there are some parts that we never play the same way live, because we like a little bit of improv. Either that or the vocalist keeps forgetting his own lyrics.

It was a unanimous decision to record this album now, because we have new ideas, and if we didn’t get these songs out of the way first, we would have kept changing them indefinitely.

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Combining all these musical genres such jazz, djent, thrash, flamenco (holy grief!), power metal and funk into an entity is trully marvelous. How do you maintain to keep this hodge-podge tamed?

 It’s not so much that we want to put everything in there, as it is the fact that it just kind of happens due to the way we compose. The variation of genres is not that obvious, and there’s always a dominant, while the rest, if there are any in the same song or section, are filtered through  a common denominator, sort of speak, which is the metal. Sometimes the song just calls out for another texture of sound and we try to keep an opened mind towards what can and what can’t be integrated in that particular song. But hey, it’s just globalization in action ha ha!

 The Progstravaganza 13 features “Your Greatness To”. Why do you think this song is the best representative of your work? Tell us more on the song.

 It’s not the best representative, we just happened to like how our demo version of it sounds, and we didn’t have any of the album versions yet, so we figured what the hell, and just went with it. We don’t think that only one song can be representative, because most of them have parts that are important to us for various reasons. Our songs are bits and pieces of experiences and this one is only a fragment from the story in the album.

The last verse says: “Midway beyond the grave, there’s a broken door made of silver and snow, with handles of mercury gold.” Imagine this portal and then imagine it is at the bottom of a dried up ocean that has crystallized in huge spirals of sulphur, 4722 years after the main character escaped from prison to seek this very portal. “your greatness to” is about crossing the wasteland.

So, what’s the situation with your first full-length? It’s said that you are planning of releasing it in the fall. What can be expected?

 We’ve finished all recordings for the album and we set a date for the release in October. At first it will be available as a free download but we do plan on making a limited edition, featuring the full illustrated story from the songs, sometime in the spring of 2014. We make our own artwork and we feel there is a very important visual component to our music. We’ve started work on two music-videos of which one is an animation, and will be released together with the limited edition. The other one we plan on finishing sooner if all goes as planned.

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Do you think that progressive music in 2013 is “open-minded” enough? There are bands that certainly sound more regressive than progressive. What’s your take on this?

Maybe “regressive” is the next big thing, ha ha! You never know where the greatest change may have its roots and inspiration. For instance, the Renaissance was built on classical foundations and there is a pattern of this happening throughout history. We do agree that some bands are riding the edge of the wave, while others never even got to the ocean, but it will all change someday anyway and the world is full of paradoxes. The most anyone can hope for is to be part of the this cultural heritage. In the mean time, we take pleasure in what we do because it gives us a purpose, no matter how close or far from the edge.

There is a saying: “Take a step back so you can take a big leap forward.”

Name five albums you listened to recently

Silent Machine – Twelve Foot Ninja

Pelagial – The Ocean

A Long Time Listening – Agent Fresco

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

Scurrilous – Protest the Hero

You had experience playing live before. Is the feedback you are getting from audience inspiring you in terms of providing more energetic performances? How does it feel being on stage with Axial Lead?

A while back, before our first performance we were very nervous, but somebody told us we could change all that, if we think of it from another perspective, because it’s all just adrenaline and it can be very very good for you. It was true, but there’s also something wonderful about feeling nervous and then realizing you’re up there by your own choice, with your closest friends, in front of people who support you. To answer the question: YES! it does help when you see a little bit of injury in the crowd ha ha! We cherish every mosh pit and sore throat.

This Fall will bring us lots of new experiences and we can hardly wait!

Thank you for the opportunity  to present our work and our upcoming first album. We’re proud to be part of Progstravaganza 13!

Follow the Lead!