Interview: Periphery Discuss Their New Album, 'Periphery II: This Time It's Personal'
Periphery talk about taking their music to the next level with Periphery II.
What about “Facepalm Mute”? It’s one of your more “metal” songs.
MANSOOR Our singer wanted to write a heavy song for the band and that was the result. Spencer’s not a great guitar player, but he can play his riffs and he can record himself well enough to where you would never be able to tell. We heard it and we were like, “Dude, this is awesome. We didn’t know you wrote metal!” I produce other bands, so I’m used to working with raw ideas and arranging them. He showed me how to play the riffs and I expanded on it, but I wouldn’t have written a song like that if he hadn’t brought in those ideas.
Can you point to as something that is specifically new territory for Periphery?
MANSOOR Yeah, there’s this section in the middle of “Ji” that is probably one of my favorite moments on the album by virtue that we’ve never done anything like it before. Mark and I composed what I would call a “rhythm solo,” where the rhythm parts just evolve, layer and never repeat.
You guys have been one of the champions of the Fractal Axe-Fx system, an all-in-one amp modeler, preamp and effects processor. Is that still your primary sound source?
MANSOOR Yes, our work with Fractal is still evolving. “Erised” was the result of an experiment with the Axe-Fx. One night I was playing guitar to my girlfriend, who was playing video games. I thought, If she’s going to listen to me, I better play something pretty. So I dialed in a really trippy-sounding patch, and it ended up being that sound you hear in the beginning of “Erised.” I really don’t know how you’d recreate a sound like that on any other rig. It’s just insane.
BOWEN It’s definitely affected how we perform live. For example, we don’t have pedal boards—our computer does all of our switching for us. It’s great, because we can stand wherever we want and just play. We are definitely using the technology to our advantage.
Do you ever feel like the Fractal is too digital sounding? Do you miss the tone of a tube amp?
MANSOOR No, not at all. The new Axe-Fx II has this Tone Matching feature that is just incredible. And don’t get me wrong; I love amps. I have a killer EVH, but the Fractal is so much more practical when you are playing live. I feel like Fractal is at the point now that if you don’t tell people, they will really have no clue that it’s not a traditional tube amp.
You have three guitar players in the band. As time passes, have your roles become more defined?
BOWEN Absolutely. With the personnel changes that we’ve been through, we’ve kind of realized that there’s a lot more to being in a band than just showing up at a gig and playing the parts. There are a number of things that need to be attended to when you’re in this business. When it comes to figuring out who’s going to do what, it’s always best to play on the strengths of what each member brings to the table. I think its pretty clear to everybody that’s in the band what their role is. That’s why Mark fits in so great. He’s eager to pick up new responsibilities and he’s eager to learn.
Besides playing and writing, I’m primarily dealing with the business and financial side. Misha is very heavily into the production side of things and making sure everything fits this vision that he has for the sound. Matt, our drummer, contributes creatively, but he also has this other business that he runs in parallel with the band called Band Happy, which is an online music web site where you can take lessons from your favorite musicians. While it doesn’t seem connected, he’s networking our band to all these people who would never normally listen to us.
MANSOOR Periphery is more of a vessel to find likeminded people. I actually have less power than I did a year ago. I don’t make micro decisions anymore, and I love it. I handle the big picture—the deals and the concepts for everything, and the vision for what the business side should look like and the vision for what the artistic side should look like. But the details come down to everybody: it’s all split up, and that allows me more time to focus on being creative. It just makes for a much more well-oiled machine. We are all business partners—we’ve all invested in our LLC. Our stake is a financial one, as well.
When you are a band in the music industry, you are always dancing between that line of art and commerce. You are trying to monetize your creativity as best and as efficiently as you can without destroying the artistic side. And it’s a dance that you do every day, but you have to manage the business side of it or it will go to crap and people will take advantage of you.
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