– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with TESSERACT?
Right now, I’m sat in my converted drum-shed jamming some of the riffs from the new album and hoping the neighbours can’t hear me.
– I read on the press release for your new album you have never fit in, you have always felt a little bit out of context to your friends and peers. Could you say this has given you more creative freedom and, therefore, having no boundaries?
I guess so. We’re all very different people with different interests and hobbies but we collectively agree on one important thing – Tesseract. We don’t follow a specific musical scene so have very little in common with a lot of bands but it’s somehow working in our favour to not be fashionable. We certainly do not feel as though we’re constrained by any musical boundaries. Original creativity can only flow if you’re truly open to new and perhaps uncomfortable ideas – that said we know what we don’t like and are happy to leave behind. For this new album, that was screamed vocals. We feel that there’s no time or space in this music for a one-dimensional sound.
– This being said; does the TESSERACT’s music have any limit?
We’re only limited by our own creativity and imagination… and coffee supply. I suppose the single biggest limiting factor on us all is time. We never seem to have enough of it to do everything we want to do.
– You have just released your new album, «Altered State». What are your expectations on it? And how have the first reactions been?
We didn’t know what to expect as, for those people who are familiar with our recent history will vouch for, we’ve had a tough time finding the right vocalist for the band. I certainly feel that it’s the best material we’ve ever written and that Ashe’s vocals suit the music far better than anything before – but what would the fans think – who knows? The response however has been so much more than we could have ever dreamed: glowing reviews from all major mags, charting at 94 in the US Billboard chart, 1 in the iTunes Metal US chart, 5 in the iTunes UK Rock chart… for a band like us who have not only worked from the ground up but hit a lot of shit along the way, it’s the realisation of an unrealistic dream and we’re all so grateful to everyone who supports what we do.
– As I said earlier, it seems your music has no boundaries, you have always had a pretty singular style and feels like you are constantly experimenting and trying new things. Due to this I would like to know how was the creative process behind this new «Altered States».
We have one main songwriter in the band – Acle. He’s constantly writing new material and eventually a new song will pop out – or at least the start of something new. Acle writes pretty much all of the ideas – even the base for the drum and bass sections. We then listen, learn (and repeat) and eventually get together to help with the song structures. Most of this is done over the internet though in emails. It’s both weird and amazing that we can do this to such minute detail in emails but luckily for us, technology has advanced to the stage where this kind of writing/reviewing is pretty simple. It takes a long time for us to be happy with a song though – sometimes years but it’s worth it.
– Getting deeper into this new opus; how have your life experiences affected the album’s concept? As it deals with changes.
There are levels to this album that I don’t think we really considered until it was written and upon us. When the concept of Altered State was suggested (by Amos), it immediately made perfect sense. Altered State deals with our interest in the micro and macroscopic changes in the physical world around us, and ourselves. It also deals with the change the band has been through. There’s obvious changes which are visible to the wider world but there’s also a lot of unseen changes which have affected us. This album is writing a line under a period of time for us but one from which we can move forward with all of the huge ideas we have.
– It feels to me like it’s also inspired by science, as you have always shown science is an important source of inspiration for you but, how important has science been for your new release?
I’ve just briefly touched on it but the science of change has been the influence for this album. There’s so much we understand and so much more we have yet to understand, it is without doubt the most interesting and consuming subject you can involve yourself with – other than music. We can witness the interaction between matter on a microscopic scale and also on a huge macroscopic scale – and witness the symmetry between the two. We know what was happening fractions of a second after the big bang, and when the universe will eventually fade to nothing. There’s stunning symmetry in all of this and it goes unnoticed by so many but for us, this is the source of the most profound and inspiring facts.
– After giving the record some spins, I feel «Altered State» has a more delicated sound. Was this something you were aiming for or do you just go with the flow?
We took Altered State in the direction that felt most natural to us. It’s not as heavy as ‘One’ but I’d say that it feels more energetic and emotional as a result. We’ve tried to create space in the songs and let them groove naturally – not force a complicated-for-complicated-sake riff or structure down the listeners throat. Some bands can do that incredibly well but it’s not our thing.
– It’s also more straight-forward, still complex and full of different dynamics. Has been easy to find a good balance between two, apparently, opposite elements?
Yeah, it’s been quite refreshing to work on as, while the riffs aren’t obviously complicated, there’s a crazy amount of detail in there which if you remove, makes the song sound very empty. Taking the drums for example – I use ghost notes (quiet snare hits) to create a constant feel throughout a lot of the tracks. If you take these away, the song loses groove and sounds weird. That’s just one element. Ashe uses vocal layers to create lush harmonies and help to ground the music. If you were to take those out, it starts to sound quite raw. It’s not even something we think about too much though. We just kind of know what works for us and know when to stop adding layers.
– And do you think this album could help the band getting to a broader audience?
Maybe. We’ve already seen it appear in the Billboard charts and it’s reached levels in other charts I don’t think any of us ever imagined we’d appear in. It’s funny, I received a message from a fan last week who had heard the album through his son. His email contained a note saying ‘tell your fans to tell their fathers about Tesseract!’. So maybe we appeal to the older audience now too haha. It’ll be girls next!
– Now it seems you have solidified the fact heaviness, amtosphere and melody are some of your strongest trademarks. I would like to know if you knew since the beginning how did you want the band to sound like and if you had a clear vision about what its trademarks should be, as it seems with «Altered State» you have makem them stronger.
It’s one of those things that is constantly evolving. At the very start, you think you know your sound but just as your interests in life change, so does your music. I like to think that we’re not limited by one sound or style but instead that everything we create will sound distinctly ‘TESSERACT’. Does that make sense? While Altered State sounds quite different to ‘One’, I think most of our fans would agree that it’s unmistakable as a Tesseract record.
– Talking about such, could you say «Altered State» is your ultimate album in terms of mirroring your personality or shaping your own essence is a constant process?
It’s one part of many I’d say. But it’s our most accomplished work to date. We just have a lot more ideas in the bag still to work on and album three will definitely have moved on from this. To where, I can’t say right now as we’ve not started to structure the songs, but the energy is there for the big ideas we have to grow into something we’ve only been able to dream of creating until now.
– As I stated earlier, you have a pretty singular sound, adding and mixing different elements so, how could you describe briefly your sound?
I’d say we mix groove and ambiance with rock and sometimes, metal elements. It’s so hard to describe music like this without sounding pretentious. I wish I could just hand someone a copy of our CD instead of answering that question.
– And how could you describe «Altered State» in just 3 words?
Tesseract, new, album. 😉
– Finally; what are your near-future plans? Where do you see yourself from 30 years now?
In 30 years – I’ll be bald and hopefully healthy. I’d like to think that the band will still be writing and releasing albums which sound fresh and original. If not, I imagine we’ll be writing and releasing albums which sound old and tired like all aging rockers these days haha. Near future – lots of touring. We have tours planned just about everywhere you can imagine. I can’t give away too many specifics just yet but suffice to say that you need to live on the moon to miss a Tesseract show this year. We’re heading out in the UK with Aussie rockers Karnivool and we’re heading over to Russia for a few headline shows too in September.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
No problem, thanks. I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s checked out the new album and to anyone planning on coming to a show. You make all of this possible. Peace.