Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Our schedule doesn’t change too much from day to day! My day usually starts around 11am. I’m a coffee snob so the first thing I do is get out my V60, scale, dripping glass, and burr grinder, and make an awesome pour over for myself. I’ll make a quick omelette and hash-browns in the kitchen of our bus, then I’ll usually listen to a podcast for 20 or 30 minutes in the front lounge and enjoy the silence before getting to my work! Those 20 or 30 minutes are the only silence I’ll have for the rest of the day! I then do emails and interviews from about 1-3pm, load in, and then sound check around 4pm. I workout from 4:30-6pm usually 5 days a week. If I don’t workout, I get nervous I’m going to have a bad show, mainly because I’m a little superstitious. Working out also puts me in a great place mentally and helps my body warm up for stage. I eat a big meal immediately after and then won’t eat again until after the set. I start my warm up routine about an hour before the set which is usually around 8pm. I do scales, different hums and buzzes, stretch, get into my stage clothes, get my in ears and pack on, stretch again, take two shots of tequila or bourbon to help with the nerves, and then take the stage around 9pm! Once the show is done, I shower, put my stage clothes back into the wardrobe case, eat, and then try to wind down! It's difficult most nights to relax after playing a show so I usually can’t fall asleep until 2am or so. Netflix, PS4, and iBooks usually consume my nights, unless we have a day off the next day! If we have a day off, it makes the night of the show “roadie Friday”, which means we all hit the bars and have some drinks! I love taking things I do at home and try to continue them on the road because it makes me less homesick.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
I loved the creative process for one of our new songs called “Encoder” because it was so different. Kyle came into the studio with the original idea which started as an electronic dance music song and the idea we could make it “heavy”. We all thought he was crazy, but after a few more listens we realized it was possible to make it awesome! So we put some guitars on it that we tuned down extremely low (drop F) and strummed them with quarters instead of a normal guitar pick just to make it as heavy as possible! It took a lot of time and some trial and error, but once we put vocals on it, the song really came to life.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I’m very particular about where I am when I am writing or being creative. If I’m stuck on something, I’ll change up where I’m working! Sometimes I like being in nature on a beach or on top of a mountain. Since I love coffee so much, I also like working in coffee shops! And if I’m really feeling different, I’ll go to a bar or a brewery! If I’m trying to think of what I want to write about, I like having a drink ... A little alcohol makes me think slightly differently. Once I figure out what I want to write about, I love caffeine. It helps me zero in and focus and expand my thoughts. I get distracted easily from notifications on my laptop and phone, so I will turn off wifi on my computer, and put my phone on silent. I often get distracted if there is a lot of noise or a lot of people around, so I prefer a quieter environment most of the time.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
We write songs with a live setting in mind and write them trying to think of how they will sound and feel live. We don’t improvise a lot live because our fans like to hear the songs the way they were recorded, but at the same time, if you feel a certain way or a certain emotion live, a little improvisation is cool and appreciated by fans who are present!
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
There is a huge connection between composition and sound! For example, I don’t like the way our Self-Titled record sounds. Although I like a lot of the songs, I’m not sure they came together correctly or are portrayed the right way because of the timbre of each track. With our new record, Cold Like War, the mix helped bring so many songs to life especially when it comes to the dynamics of each song.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
The obvious answer is music videos. We always write our treatments for videos as a way to tell a deeper story about what the lyrics of the song are about. I love our new video for “Foreign Fire” because it's so simple, but seeing Kyle’s emotions as well as my own pour out while singing all the lyrics, show how much that song means to us and how deep the lyrics go. When you combine visual emotion with the sounds you hear, it creates a feeling much deeper than just sound can.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
For me, it’s a way to express my feelings and release sadness, frustration, anxiety, anger and any other negative feelings I may be feeling. If you’re performing, creating, and writing without purpose, your listeners can see right through it and they won’t respect your art or whatever it is you’re saying. Whatever you are writing about needs to come from a deep and genuine place.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I feel that with electronic music taking over the way it has, the industry needs to swing back the opposite way at some point. If I had to guess, I’d say it will come back towards raw instruments and raw emotions in the human voice, rather than computers and overwhelming electronic noises. I don’t think it will ever change much more than it already has. It was always be a form of expression and people will be drawn to it as long as they can find a way to connect to it.