Noise making machine Periphery are set to unleash their new album ‘II‘ this Friday via Roadrunner Records Australia. The album features guest solos from the likes of Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats), Wes Hauch (The Faceless) & John Petrucci (Dream Theater). No strangers to our shores, there’ll be many locals itching to get their hands on the new album, so to find out a little more about it, and see if there are any plans for a return to Australia, Deborah Konopnicki recently caught up with Misha Mansoor for a chat. Expand this post to check it out. You can pre-order a copy of the album now [Here].
Hey Misha! How are you going?
I’m going just fine thank you! Yourself?
I’m pretty good, mate! What are you guys up to at the moment?
Well we’re about to head over to Europe to play a few festivals including Download Festival! We’re just getting ready for that and we’ve kind of been working on the album and getting all of that stuff sorted out so it can come out the way we want it to. Other than that we’re just sort of decompressing from tour. We got back from this last tour in May and we haven’t had a full break since last November so it’s been nice to veg out a little bit!
Enjoy your well-deserved fleeting time off then! It’s not too long until the album comes out and thanks to the lovely folk at Roadrunner I’ve spun it a few times. Holy shit, man! It’s blown away any expectations that I had from the first note in the first song. It would have been a very different experience from the first record just having so much time to work on it, and especially for yourself. How would you describe the process for this one?
Oh wow man! Thank you! And yeah it’s absolutely been different in just about every way. The first album was done with a low budget, or I should say with no budget! It was done in my living room. I did it myself and it was mostly my songs. It was my project that I kind of started, and I had my members and they were happy to play. This time around we have a lineup that’s a lot more collaborative and everybody has their time on this album and I think that’s really cool. I think it shows that I’m not necessarily the only one doing everything so it’s really cool to have everyone else’s input, especially when everyone is on the same wavelength. Everyone has really cool writing chemistry, which makes for really cool experiences. I think that we’ve also grown as musicians. We wrote that first album without ever having toured so we also know what songs feel like and I think we think that we can hear these songs and feel that they’re more enjoyable to play live. Some of the songs that we thought would be cool off the first album we were like “Aw, this sucks!” We tried to make a balance of songs that sounded cool and ones that were fun to play live. The main thing is that with Spencer – our vocalist – he entered so late into the game into our last album. Everything was already written. The vocals, the lyrics, all the melodies; they were written so he didn’t have much room to move in them. He was pretty restricted in the time frame that he was working in. He pretty much joined right in time to re-record the vocals. It didn’t offer him much to be creative with. Also, he was very new to being a vocalist back then. He has never toured before. Now he’s got a few years of touring under his belt and he has so much experience in the studio because he’s become so obsessed with recording that he actually become a really good vocal studio prouder in the last year! He actually handled all the aspects of the vocals this time around including he production and editing and all of the work with the vocals, I didn’t have to touch a thing. That was probably was one the biggest things; you’re really hearing him on this album.
The songs were so well refined by the time that it came to releasing them on the self-titled. Now that you’re entering into the second record, you’ve set the bar at a certain height and have the label support again but also this weight of expectation that wasn’t there the first time around. Are you feeling that at the moment?
I feel there’s a tone of expectation! We’ve always just done whatever has felt cool to us and it was not very cool to like this music. When our album came out it was suddenly cool to like it. People are now calling us the front of our genre and that we’re like pioneers. I hate things like that! All I want to do is just write music! I don’t want to pioneer music, I just want to write what sounds good. When people put labels like that on you then there are expectations and you have to keep that up. I’ll never be able to keep that up and none of us will! Our goal is not to pioneer anything! Our goal is just to write stuff that sounds cool to us. We’ve definitely felt that pressure, and our reaction to it is to say “Screw it! Let’s just do what we were going to do anyway!” The way that I see it is that this album came out different than the first one, it came out the way that we wanted t to come out and I honestly don’t know how people are going to react to it. I’m happy that people say that they like it and I’m happy that you like it but honestly, I have no fucking clue! All that I’m saying is, it just has to be something that we can be proud of. If people don’t like it, then at least we did something that we’re proud of. That was our approach! Screw the expectations and screw everything! We’ll just stick to what we do, which is just make songs that sound good to us.
Well, from a personal perspective I had huge expectations from this new record because I loved your first album. I was hoping for something along those lines. I can’t remember the track names right now, but the first track on the new record in incredible. It’s so powerful and different while still maintaining that trademark Periphery groove. It feels like you’ve brought so much more to the table in terms of influence and style.
The thing about Periphery is that we do it how we want to do it. As much as that is true for me, it’s true for everybody else in the band. You might notice that the first album is pretty diverse in the ground that it covers. There’s screaming the whole way through and it’s extremely aggressive. There are also some slower songs on there that you could hear on the radio. The point was to kind of cover as much ground as we could on the first album so that in the future we could expand on that even further without us getting weird! I’ve always felt that bands have put out and album, and then put out and album that was so very different and that would through a lot of people off because it wouldn’t sound like the same band. I would always try and want to be able to express ourselves in any sort of direction that we were hoping for. That gives you the likeness to do whatever you want. No matter how weird it is! It’s just progressive! I’ve always thought that it was a cool genre to have. I sort of thought that if we make our first album pretty diverse that in the future we could expand on that in any one of those directions and it wouldn’t sound weird and it wouldn’t be strange for us to do that because we’ve already established that direction. We kind of just ran with it and did whatever the hell we wanted.
That’s a pretty interesting way of looking at things actually, and when you put it like that it actually puts this new record into a bit of perspective. I guess this next question kind of follows on from that. There’s a lot more clean vocals and singing on this record. Spencer has taken it up a notch and it just sounds like he’s got a much stronger base for these songs. Would you say that him having a bigger part in the writing process has lead to that change up in vocals?
Yeah. I mean the thing that it comes down to is what the songs call for. When you hear a song you could be like “Ok, this section calls for screaming, and this calls for singing”. There were a lot of sections that called for screaming because they’d be very difficult to write vocals for. Spencer would go for them anyway and just see what happens. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes we were just like “Nah…this isn’t going to work” but a lot of the times it was like “Oh wow! I wouldn’t have ever heard that! That’s cool!” So there was that and the fact that he had a hand in arranging the songs. He’d say things like “Ok, I need this part to be twice as long or I need this part to be moved here”. Some of the songs were re-arranged pretty drastically to fit the vocals. That’s sort of our way of collaborating. One of the songs, he wrote entirely! He wrote pretty much all the parts to it as well. It’s just cool that anyone can contribute to any aspect. We just really ran with that idea and it was really cool.
Another thing that got me really excited was that it felt like a lot of these songs would transfer flawlessly in a live setting. Was that something that you took into account when writing?
Oh yeah, absolutely! I think that’s a very big thing. I might have said this earlier but you play some songs and they don’t translate live. Since we weren’t a live band when we wrote that first album, we didn’t know any better. We just went off and wrote what we thought would work. It would also work in both directions. Sometimes you’d write a song that you didn’t think would be so great live and it ended up being one of your strongest ones. Some of them end up sucking and you never want to play them again. Every band goes through this when you start touring. I won’t say that we think about that with everything that we do, but when we’re writing and playing it we just know that there are some parts that are going to be so much fun to play live.
I remember that the talk last year was that there was going to be two albums coming out in 2012. One being the upcoming record and then a concept record. Is that still very much the plan or is all of your focus on this upcoming record?
Well, here’s what happened. Originally we wanted to take a lot of time off to do two albums. We were going to take off five or six months and just write. We had all of these ideas and we had been working on this concept album at least as an idea for a while now. We really wanted t put it out. We thought that we could take the time off then we could do them both. Then right after agreeing to do that we got an offer to do a Dream Theater tour, which was smack-bang in the middle of that. It was like a six-week long venture! For us, that’s an easy decision to be able to go on tour with one of our favorite bands in the whole world. You re-arrange your life to go on a Dream Theater tour. As a result, you end up cutting into the time for the first album. That ended up delaying the album and then we had another tour scheduled. The album got delayed by several months because we kept on going on tour! You can’t really work on it when you’re on tour. That caused a lot of stress for us and we probably won’t put ourselves in that situation again. We are writing currently for this concept album and we really want to get it together but we don’t really have time with the current plans that we have. As much as we’d like to be able to do it, sometimes planning and scheduling never really works out the way that you plan it to or expect. We are working on that though and I am really excited to be able to do this concept album that hopefully isn’t too far away. This album is very much song orientated and is very much about putting out songs. The concept album is very much about telling a story so the songs will be driving the story more than anything. There will be no traditional arrangements or be traditional by any means. You’ve got to follow the music, the story and the mood. It’s almost like scoring. It’s going to be a very different experience for us and I think that it’s going to be very challenging but a fun challenge. We’re all really excited to work on it.
Well I’m getting pretty excited hearing you talk about it! I feel like I asked you this the last time that we had a chat as well, but is there anything that you’re able to tell us about the concept?
I’d like to keep it under wraps, but all I can say is that it deals with the concept of immortality.
That sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting topic to delve into!
There’s a lot of different directions that we can go in, and I’m not going to go that far. We’re actually working on the story right now.
I know that I’m getting very ahead of myself, but when it comes to playing something like the concept record live, do you envisage yourself playing the album in it’s entirety and then playing a separate set of album material?
You know, our biggest problem is that we just don’t think about those things! We are truly a compositional bands in most ways. A good example of that is when I go on the road I take at least six, but probably close to ten guitars with me. We play in so many tunings! We probably play in about four or five different tunings. If I could go back and tell myself to do one thing, it would be to stick to one tuning and one guitar! When we’re writing, anything goes. We never really think about what the repercussions will be for playing live. In the same way, I’m sure that whatever we do on this album will be a huge pain in the ass for us live, so I don’t want to say that we’ll play it front-to-back or whatever because that isn’t really the goal. The goal is to challenge ourselves as far as the writing goes and to put ourselves in a situation that we’re not normally in. It’s something that will keep us on toes.
I won’t keep you too much longer today because I think I’m just about to run out of time! You’ve been pretty good to your Aussie fans since the first record was released. You came out and played with The Dillinger Escape Plan and then were back last year for you own headlining tour. Is there anything on the cards for the upcoming album? I’d love to see some of these tracks live!
There’s nothing set in stone at the moment, but we will come back and play in Australia! It’s one of our favorite countries to play in and it’s just like a vacation for us. We’d take whatever opportunity we can to get over there. We’ll be there as soon as we get an offer. Hopefully we can work something out sooner rather than later. We know that we won’t be able to go this year but hopefully early next year, knock on wood we can work something out because it’s been a while and we miss you guys!
PERIPHERY – II
Available this Friday 29th June via Roadrunner Records.
Buy your copy online [Here] with free postage.