Interview: Abiotic Guitarists Discuss Debut Album, 'Symbiosis,' Gear and More
Based out of Miami, Florida, technical death metal band Abiotic released their debut album, Symbiosis, on Metal Blade Records in late 2012 and are now preparing for a busy touring cycle even as they continue to write more new material.
I recently caught up with guitarists John Matos and Matt Mendez to talk about the debut album, gear and other things. Read the conversation below, and check out Abiotic here for more info.
GUITAR WORLD: Your debut album, Symbiosis, came out earlier this week, and you’ve only been a band since 2010. It must be a great feeling to see things happening so quickly. Some bands take a lot longer to release their first full-length album.
John: We've been very grateful for the opportunities we've come upon as a band. It's still surreal for me. It just goes to show that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. It's an amazing feeling being able to do what we do.
The fact that your first album is on Metal Blade Records is also great. Just for the sake of those who might not know, how did you get signed to Metal Blade?
John: We self-released an EP and had been doing some touring around Florida in support. Soon after, we released a music video for the single off the EP, and a few weeks later we had an email from Metal Blade asking if we were tour ready. I'll never forget it!
Florida has such a long and decorated history of death metal, but does it worry you that people who haven’t heard your music might assume you’re going to sound like the Florida death metal bands?
John: It doesn't really worry me because death metal has evolved so much in the time since it was created. It's constantly evolving, so I think that fans of the genre never know what to expect with new bands or even bands they're already into. Bands like The Faceless, Obscura and Between the Buried and Me are really pushing the limits of modern death metal and leaving listeners guessing as to what's next.
Before Symbiosis, you released a seven-song EP, A Universal Plague. Have you re-worked any of those songs into this full-length album, or is it a brand new set of tunes?
John: Every song off the EP was re-worked into Symbiosis. The songs were remixed, re-mastered and tweaked to keep them fresh but still familiar. We're really happy with the way they came out in comparison to how they sound on the EP. This is how those songs were meant to be heard.
Looking at your list of influences, there’s quite a bit of variety in it. How did you arrive at the sound that represents Abiotic? Would you describe it as a mixture of all your influences?
John: Our sound is most definitely a mixture of all of our influences. We try and keep everything interesting and different with each track. Try and throw in some influence from every aspect of our musical taste. Everyone in the band listens to a lot of different things, so I think that has helped us develop somewhat of a unique sound in the genre.
Can you describe the gear setup you usually go with for your recordings and on-stage performances?
Matt: On our album the guys at Sonic Assault Studios re-amped the guitars with a Peavey 6505 Plus through a Mesa Boogie oversized 4-by-12. Live, I run a Fractal Audio Axe FX Ultra through my Mesa Boogie Mark IV as a power amp. I use its graphic EQ as quick tweaks live instead of having to go through the Axe Fx. I run all this through a Mesa Traditional 4-by-12 cab for a tighter response. I also have a Peavey 5150 as a backup.
I see you’re already endorsed for a few of the gear components. Does that limit you from trying out different things, or are these products the exact ones you always wanted?
John: As an artist, you can always try different things out and see what works best. The goal is to make sure you like what you're playing and you're comfortable with it. Right now we couldn't be more comfortable playing with our EMG pickups. I've been using them for years and don't see myself using anything else. We're also very stoked on the endorsement we just got with ESP. I've always been a huge fan of ESP as well and look forward to showing the world what we can do with them!
Aside from their music, have you ever paid attention to the gear used by the musicians that influence you?
Matt: Of course. I would always check to see what amps were being used at shows or research studios to see what amps they would use on my favorite albums. I'm a huge fan of Lamb of God, and they were the reason I decided to buy the Mesa Mark IV and go with the traditional Mesa cab instead of the oversized.
The term "progressive death metal" is probably the best description of your musical style. In your opinion, does that term get thrown around a little too much these days, even for bands that are not really progressive?
John: At the end of the day, everyone is going to have an opinion. Everyone considers a band a different style or a different genre, so I say it's better to go with your personal opinion on a band's style.
Now that the album is out, what plans do you have for the near future?
John: Our plan is to tour as much as we possibly can in support of the record and to continue writing. We want to spread our music all over the world!
Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website -- with the help of a small group of people. Up till February 2012 he was based in Los Angeles. After that, he had to move to India, but is still carrying on his heavy metal endeavors with the same intensity.