Progressive metal-oriented bands from Oregon, USA has been on the rise for me lately. One of the bands that I was recently introduced to, thanks to the PR wire, is a quartet from Salem, who are about to launch their fourth studio album “ReAwakening” later this fall.
Guitarist Josh Brewer sat down to answer my question about the new music, influences, favorite records.
You will release your new album “ReAwakening” this fall. How do you feel about the release?
This release is probably the most excited I have been about releasing an album since the first record. The process of recording a record is time consuming and takes a lot of effort when you approach it DIY. I also feel that makes it considerably more exciting when you finally get to release it. When the first record was finished it was a strong sense of accomplishment and I am feeling that way again as we are finishing this record.
How much of a challenge was to work on the album?
It was a considerable challenge to work on this record. It took a long time for me to find the right musicians to really bring this to life. In the past I have always worked in a pretty solitary fashion and I think that really showed with the music. For the majority of time writing and recording this record I lived very far away from the rest of the band. It made it important that we all spent time working on our own. I also got very adept at using the internet for online collaboration. We pretty much all mixed the record together using remote connections over the internet which gave this record a pretty unique experience.
Where does this new album stand comparing with your previous efforts?
I think this is by far the best work we have done yet. If you listen through the records there is a clear progression. Over time more keyboards were introduced as well as more varied styles. This is the first record that I feel does not have a genre I can attach to it. Part of that comes from being able to collaborate with strong musicians and part of it comes from my musical tastes diverging considerable in the past few years. I feel the world of metal, in all forms, has become a little stale and so I felt a need to move away from it. I think this is our “growing up” record.
What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Portland are you friends with?
One of my favorite bands from our area is City. They are a progressive metal band in the vein of Opeth, Devin Townsend, etc. They have been friends of mine for a long time and just released their debut record. I also really like Ireshine. The scene here in Portland doesn’t have that many people so most of these bands are made of people we used to play live with all the time. We have a pretty tight knit scene.
What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?
That is a question that would be far better answered by our bassist Myke haha. I am not personally a fan of progressive metal. I feel modern production techniques have really taken away from metal. The use of sample replacement and Axe FX has really brought about a homogeny to the genre. Most releases tend to have the same feel and sound to me and so I haven’t been able to find a way into it for a few years now. But I am pretty jaded so definitely take that with a grain of salt.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
My influences have become a bit of odd bedfellows lately. I grew up on punk records. I listened to a lot of bay area punk bands as well as a lot of bands out of NYC and the DC scenes. Minor Threat had a particular influence when I was younger. I tend to like a lot music that I feel I can hear passion in. I really like well-produced and polished records but only with certain genres. I really like a great sounding Michael Buble record but if it is more aggressive music I tend to like the grittier nature of less expensive recordings. I think the DIY ethic involved with a lot of early punk bands probably has influenced me the most. It gave every artist their own unique flair.
What are you listening to these days?
These days my listening is pretty varied. Jethro Tull, Plini, Run the Jewels, Thrice, Journey (before Steve Perry), Camel, more Michael Buble than I care to admit, Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20, Kendrick Lamar and The Backstreet Boys are all on pretty heavy rotation. I also love anything Motown. I listen to a lot of Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, and pretty much any great Motown compilation I can get my hands on. As far as metal goes I may throw on an old In Flames or Opeth record from time to time. I still really like Enslaved as well.
Your 5 favorite records of all the time?
The Jester Race – In Flames
Mirage – Camel
Traced in Air – Cynic
It’s Time – Michael Buble
All Hallows/The Art of Drowning – AFI (Can’t choose between the two)
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “ReAwakening”?
We did the drums with Focusrite interfaces and my UA pres. Liam had a DW kit that we recorded with. For guitars I used the Marshall head I have been using since the first record for some of the heavier stuff as well as my Egnator head for pretty much everything else. I used an old 2×12 Mitchell cab from the 70’s that weighs a ton. For bass we recorded direct with the UA pre and a Neve DI box. We used Amplitube and a few other plugins for the tone in the software. And then vocals we used an SM7B and the UA pre. I use Reaper for my DAW and then tons of software synths for all the keyboards, of which there is a lot on this record.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
Next on the agenda is playing some shows to support this record and then beginning to write new material. I am thinking we may take a new step with the next record and try something different. I have been writing pretty dense music for a while now that has a lot of orchestration and layering. I am kind of interested in stripping things down and maybe going for something a little bit less intense. But we will see how the next year goes.
Any words for the potential new fans?
We are a band that is decided on evolution. I am not interested in any shape or form of repeating a record or even a song if at all possible. I would say that they should keep their eyes open since we will have a lot of stuff coming as a band and individually. We all have outlets where we release music, videos, art and other media and will continue to do so in addition to working on this record. Also come check out our site or various other media outlets and say hi.