Friday, April 7, 2017

Iapetus Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?

Matt: Well, as it turns out, promoting an album is nearly as difficult as making one—so we’ve been putting most of our time and energy into doing so. Most everything else has been put on the backburner while we reach out to the media, respond to the fans (something especially important to us), figure out merch production, etc… Both Jordan and I are relatively new to the machinations of the music industry, so we’re learning as we go; and, of course, everything takes a bit longer when you’re only a two-man operation. That being said, we’ve also been carving out time to work on material for the next album.

2.In March you had released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

Matt: I think the album sounds exactly like what it is, which is a crazy mash-up of all of our influences—something neither Jordan nor I have ever been ashamed to admit. We’re proud of our musical heritage. The album has a bit of everything; some neo-folk, some melodeath, a good amount of prog, some symphonic aspects, and a bit of black metal, to be sure. To quote one reviewer, we “cover a lot of ground.” It doesn’t differ at all from what we’ve released in the past, actually, as our only previous releases—one demo, and one EP—feature songs that also and were always meant to appear on the full-length debut.

3.This is the first album in 5 years, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time span?

Matt: I wish there were an exciting story here, but the answer in reality is: nothing too much, really. For two years after the release of our EP, we continued to work relentlessly on the album, tweaking, arranging, rearranging, and finalizing everything about it, from the actual songs to the concepts and the artwork. Then we went into the studio. The process of recording, mixing, and mastering the album took another two years—a consequence of restricted studio access, a low-budget recording strategy, and our obsessive, manic perfectionism. Then, for nearly another year, we sat on the master tracks and awaited the final artwork. The last piece of the puzzle. So when we say that this album took six years to make, we mean it quite literally.

4.The lyrics on the new album have a concept to them, can you tell us a little bit more about the songwriting?

Matt: Sure! To start, the title “The Long Road Home” is in reference to the fact that the chemicals that comprise all terrestrial life were initially forged in the hearts of stars—and the album dreams of a future when man realizes his place in the cosmos, and returns to the stars from whence he came. It encourages a kind of cosmic perspective. It asks us to acknowledge two truths: that we are entirely insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe, and also that we are fundamentally a part of the universe. It posits a kind of romantic, hopeful nihilism, if that makes sense.

The songs themselves likewise explore the nature of human existence and humanities’ relationship to the universe. They do this in ways both big and small, abstract and intimate. “Savior Solitude” is about a man whose loneliness manifests itself into a physical, tangible being with which he can have a conversation—whereas a song like “Eviscerate Divine” explores human existence on a more macrocosmic level, and examines man’s proclivity to express himself through violence; an artform over which he has unique dominion. All the songs deal generally with mortality, religion, ontology, psychology, space, and science. Each of them adds a certain perspective to the album’s overall theme.

Our songs always start with an intellectual concept—whether it be through a title, a theme, a set of lyrics, or an idea taken from another work of art. The concept then influences the structure of the song, and how the music will sound. We apply the same logic on a larger scale, too, as we tend to view albums as singular, cohesive entities. So we write albums, moreso than songs; it’s all one thing to us—a continuous piece from beginning to end—so we make sure that, just as the music serves the concept of each song, each song also serves the concept of the album.  

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Iapetus'?

Matt: For our purposes, Iapetus is the name given to one of Saturn’s moons—a moon which is, incredibly, entirely black on one side, and entirely white on the other. I first came across the word in an Astronomy textbook as I was sitting in an Astronomoy 101 class, and I knew, immediately, that I had found our name. Jordan and I are both science and space nerds, for starters, but we also thought that the moon’s dual nature was uniquely representative of our music, which switches so frequently between distorted sections and acoustic ones. It was only afterward that we discovered that Iapetus was also a figure in Greek mythology—the titan of mortal life. In other words, he was the titan who decided that human beings would ultimately die. It made the name even more fitting.

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

Matt: We have never played any shows! To this point, Iapetus has been entirely a studio project. The lack of an actual band, the lack of funds for proper live equipment, and the lack of access to capable stage musicians have all contributed to this—but we’ve also always felt that it was a bit nonsensical to play live before we had anybody who wanted to see us play.

7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

Matt: No immediate plans, no. But as we’ve stated elsewhere, it’s something we’re definitely looking into, and should we find appropriate stage musicians, it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later. Jordan and I tend not to do anything unless we can assure it’s quality, so once we have that assurance, playing live is something we’d absolutely love to do.

8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

Matt: Neither. We haven’t received any inquiries yet, and we’re also not actively looking. Iapetus has always been steadfastly DIY. Because this is just a hobby for us, being unsigned allows for a certain freedom that an obligation to a record label would likely take away. We also have very strong feelings on how, when, and where we distribute our music—and I doubt any record label would very much appreciate us giving it away for free. That being said, if the circumstances and terms were right, signing with a label is something we’d certainly consider. Nothing is entirely off the table.

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of progressive and extreme metal?

Matt: The feedback has been absolutely insane. Beyond anything we could have possibly imagined, and well beyond our wildest hopes or expectations. We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and interest from new fans across the world—some of them already writing incredible, heartfelt messages—and reviewers to this point have been amazingly generous and kind. We’ve gotten attention from some of the biggest sites in the metal media (sites that we probably don’t deserve to be on). We only wanted people to hear our music. We hardly expected that they’d love it, or even like it. It’s utterly surreal. Whenever I read an amazing review, or get a compliment from a fan, I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m reading about someone else’s band. It’s quite a trip. Especially considering that we would’ve been content with a couple of views on YouTube and a handful of semi-enthusiastic words.

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

Matt: The music we’re writing now is a bit more mature, a bit more focused, more sophisticated, and a bit more varied. Most of the songs written for the debut were written when I was 18-22 years old—I was young, inexperienced, less technically able, and it was before I discovered a good deal of the bands that I know and love today. I just know more music, generally speaking; my horizons have broadened significantly, I’ve become a better player, and I’ve learned much about songwriting. What used to be a kind of singular obsession with all things folk-y and melodeath-y has now become an obsession with more atmospheric music; with more post-rock, post-black metal, shoegaze, ambient neo-folk, noise, etc… So our new music strongly reflects those influences (while maintaining the old ones). It’s generally just a bigger, grander, spacier, more cinematic, and more emotional version of what it was before. We’re taking everything to the next level.

11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Matt: There are so many! Agalloch is my favorite band of all-time. They’ve inspired my most fundamental thoughts about music in general—about what music is, as an art-form, about how it should be presented, about what it can achieve, about what it can mean to the people who hear it. They taught me that music is visual, that it is textual, that it is physical; that a good song contains a narrative as does any good book, or movie, and that an album should be created and treated as one singular work. Agalloch’s stamp is on most of the acoustic parts on the record; they’re the reason I often choose minimalism and melody over flash and technicality.

Opeth has also obviously influenced the structure of our songs—from their lengthy, progressive nature, to the frequent juxtaposition of acoustic guitars and distorted ones. I get almost all of my sense of melody, harmony, and riff-structure from the Gothenburg greats like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. The cinematic grandiosity that I try to impart on my music has been significantly inspired by Ne Obliviscaris and Wintersun, who’ve shown me, mostly, that songs are like movies—they should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and they should never end in the same place that they began. And my penchant for atmospherics comes from bands like Alcest, Anathema, Katatonia, etc…

Recently, I’ve been enjoying the incredible bounty of music that 2017 has already given us; the new releases from Junius, Heretoir, Persefone, Violet Cold, Falls of Rauros, and Sleepmakeswaves.

12.What are some of your non musical interests?

Matt: Outside of music, I work freelance as a writer and an editor, with a general focus on politics, human rights, and social justice—and I also dabble occasionally in fiction of the horror/fantasy/sci-fi variety. I’m a fanatical, hardcore gamer, so I’m never not playing something (Horizon Zero Dawn is my current obsession—it’s phenomenal). I’m also a film/literature enthusiast, and an ex-professional/still- professional academic (when the time calls for it). But generally speaking, I’m into anything to do with philosophy, science, sci-fi, space, horror, or politics. And if you couldn't tell from the album, I really love Carl Sagan.  

13.Before we wrap up this interview do you have any final word sor thoughts?

Matt: Thank you, first of all, for doing this review—it was an absolute pleasure! And thank you for the great review of our album!

There are no words that could possibly express my gratitude to those who’ve taken the time to listen to our record, and to show us support. Every compliment, every kind word, and every show of enthusiasm means the absolute world to us, and we couldn’t be happier that people are enjoying what we’ve made. We are honored and humbled beyond words. Thank you all for your interest and your support.

Lastly, a shout-out to my bandmate Jordan, who couldn’t do this interview because he’s in Thailand, on his honeymoon. Congratulations on the wedding, brother—hope you’re having fun out there!

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