Æpoch – The Inception of AwakeningTuesday, 15th May 2018
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the most important thing that you consider with songwriting? What makes a song work in the long run?
MacIntosh: I think one thing that’s very important are transitions that fit, and do not ruin the flow of the song. One thing I’m proud of on our album is that I think the songs flow – they may change time and tempo a little bit – but to me, when I am trying to listen outside of being in the band, it flows and it feels consistent. I want the songs to be catchy but also be progressive and challenging. They have to flow, but I like to change key and time-signature at my own freeness. As an example, the opening song, “Time : Perspective/Ouroboros Reborn” and the last song, “Karmasphyxiation,” they both have a main transition that we gave a slight variation to, and we keep that transition as the main one in the song. Even the riff in “Tabula Rasa” is the main transition.
If you can find something that helps you go from riff to riff smoothly, I think that’s important. What I’ve noticed in almost every review of our new album is our songwriting, so I think it’s something that’s key. One thing that we’ve never worried about is being overly impressive. We want the song, the way that it’s written and arranged, to impress people…not the shreddy-ness. People may be impressed with a guitar solo but we don’t have to be flashy for the entire song. That’s not always memorable.
Carvalho: I really think a collaborative effort between all the band members really helps a lot too. Taking everyone’s suggestions and ideas and putting together in a way that we are all satisfied. It’s kind of hard, since Brett and I are the only two founding members at this point. We have some past material that we are still going to release, and it’s also written by our original guitarist Chris. I didn’t contribute to the riffs or the structures – that was Chris and Brett mostly at the time. Even just hearing it, I think it’s amazing. So not just everyone collaborating makes a great song, there are some good songs that have been written that only some people have collaborated on, and having a different perspective. They wrote a couple of drum parts, which were cool to hear, because I didn’t expect that – so there’s a few ways to appreciate a good song.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the tech-death progression? What’s needed going forward?
Carvalho: Bass. [Laughter] Fretless bass definitely helps.
MacIntosh: It helps in the initial impressiveness, as long as it’s still memorable. It sucks to say this, because it kind of contradicts my last point, but I feel that something that is almost necessary these days is a certain level of flashy-ness. I’m not trying to throw shade, I really don’t want to say it because I love this band, but as an example – Alterbeast. They are almost pure flashy. I love Alterbeast – I’m not trying to insult in any way, but they get mad hype because they do sweeps really clean and things like that. Are people going to be listening to that album every day of the year? Maybe not. It’s hard to say without sounding like a jerk, because I already sound like a jerk. I love Alterbeast, let me reiterate that. I just feel like flashy-ness is important. They are a popular band. Archspire – these days everything is unintentionally compared to Archspire. To some degree, in the technical death metal genre, flashy-ness is necessary because otherwise people will be unimpressed if you don’t have it.
Carvalho: The speed is necessary too – there’s stuff like Rivers of Nihil, that might be technical but they are more on the progressive side because they aren’t doing that quick, technical Archspire/Alterbeast type stuff.
MacIntosh: They also have a fantastic bass, even though it’s not fretless.
Carvalho: They have fantastic songwriting. Archspire and Alterbeast also have great songwriting, but they keep the speed and intensity going.
MacIntosh: There are bands that are just as good as Alterbeast/Archspire, but they aren’t as flashy and aren’t as popular. I think, to some degree, flashy-ness has something to do with immediate popularity.
Carvalho: Flashy-ness and speed, yeah.
MacIntosh: From there, it still has to be memorable.
Dead Rhetoric: In terms of your own goals, now that you have a full-length out., do you want to be signed to a label or do you prefer independence?
Carvalho: We like doing the independent stuff. It’s actually quite fun – mailing the merch and doing all that stuff. It’s more on a personable level. We are definitely open to getting on a label, but I don’t think we are searching. If someone were to offer us something…
MacIntosh: That’s where I’m at too. If we get an offer that’s really appealing. If a label was like, “Hey guys, it seems like you have picked up and are getting popular in the scene – what if we give you an offer to pay for the studio time in your next offer?” Then let’s talk about potential distribution and how you aren’t going to rip us off. Because we get a really good deal on our merch and cds, I don’t think it’s necessary to sign to a label unless they are going to massively help us with distribution, get us on big tours, or pay for our studio time. At least one of those three things is what it would take for us to consider a label.
Dead Rhetoric: With the way things work nowadays, as long as you are into the process, which it seems like you guys definitely are, it’s just as well to stick to your own and keep it meaningful and impactful.
Carvalho: It’s more work, but in the end it’s more gratifying to say, we did this without anyone’s help [outside of the fans].
MacIntosh: To be honest with you, Bloodshot Dawn’s independence up to their newest album – being independent for so long inspired me to take this route. They were successful – toured Japan, India, Europe as an independent band. We have to work hard, but we can probably do it too. Not only that, but we (Greg, Kyle, myself} promote locally and run LIFE Entertainment – it’s an acronym for “Living Insanely Fun Everyday” because we want to do what we enjoy. My goal is to turn our promotions company into not only booking tours, which we are getting our foot in the door for right now, but I want to eventually turn it into potentially a label. That way it would be touring, promotions, and a label. We would have a hand in everything. Obviously I would need assistance because I would be totally swamped, but that’s the goal. We have the ability to get things for a good price – if I could find out distribution info and know-how, the goal would be to start out our own label and help out local bands that we believe in.
Dead Rhetoric: Everyone always hypes up the Canadian tech death scene so I want to approach this a different way. What are some of the challenges of the Canadian scene?
MacIntosh: Not being from Montreal. Immediately that comes to mind.
Carvalho: We considered moving there actually 2 or 3 years ago.
MacIntosh: I love a lot of the bands from there and they are very nice people, but there’s a certain level of pride that the scene has. I’ve heard people from Quebec correct people from outside of Canada when they compliment Canada’s scene and they say, “Ahem, you mean Montreal’s death metal scene.” It’s like, B.C. has Archspire, and Ontario has Ending Tyranny and Æpoch – I meant for that to sound that way. We want to build ourselves as a landmark. We want to be the band that gives Ontario that rep.
Carvalho: We actually had a guy tell us today that the new album was sweet and he said he was glad he was from Ontario. That’s awesome – that’s what I want to do. To be known from where I am and put it out there.
MacIntosh: It does have a slight challenge in not being from Montreal. I’d say there’s a slight association with anything that comes from Montreal as gold in the genre. Outside of that, the fact that our currency sucks compared to the US is a challenge. And European currencies! I think we worked out the shipping better for this album, but shipping was expensive for the EP. We didn’t do the best math on it and let’s just say that the fans got a really good deal on shipping for the EP. We wanted to do vinyls and the quotes were in US dollars.
Carvalho: We converted it to Canadian and it was way too much. We would make a dollar or just the satisfaction of getting them out there. Or we had to bump the price up – but who was going to want that? People sell a double for like 35, so you can’t really do that.
MacIntosh: The currency is definitely a challenge. Breaking into the States is going to be a challenge because right now, the visas for Canada got a lot more manageable like a year and a half ago. There was a huge petition that over 100,000 Canadians actually signed it and the government actually abolished and rewrote the laws for touring musicians. So it’s more manageable and affordable – I don’t know all the details, but I know our good friends in Becomes Astral just got their work permits and visas. I think it cost them about 700 bucks per person plus a band fee. You have to go back every 45 days or your work permit expires – then you have to reapply and repay. So we basically have to plan out a year’s worth of US shows to make it worth getting the visas. That’s quite a challenge. If we can break into the US market it would be great for potential popularity.
Carvalho: My brother is in a band and they just played a show in Baltimore, and they are going back for another one in a few weeks just to keep their visas up to date. They’ve been into the States a few times, but you have to keep doing it or else you are just wasting your money.
Dead Rhetoric: You have to be pretty consistent too, or else everyone just forgets you.
MacIntosh: You have to stay relevant. One thing that Greg and I have talked about is potentially getting the visas by the end of this year and basically doing a bunch of scattered northern US shows, no less than one a month. We will always be returning to the northern states, and then do one tour that made it worth our vacation from work in the central/southern states. So we could hit all the areas throughout the year.
Carvalho: That might even make people want us to come out further into the States, and we could work a weekend warriors tour and do a few shows that go deeper and deeper.
Dead Rhetoric: In keeping independent, would you consider crowdfunding to boost your visibility/accessibility?
Carvalho: It’s definitely a touchy subject. People are either with it, or completely against it. I personally don’t think we’d run into that situation of doing it.
MacIntosh: The way I look at is that preorders are basically the same. If you have your mockups ready for preorders, people are going to bitch a lot less. That’s pretty much crowdfunding. Our album was more than half paid for by preorders. To us, we look at that as being the same as crowdfunding. This time, we were much more prepared than the EP. Next time we are going to be even better prepared. We will have the preorders up 3 months in advance, so it gives people more time to save. I view preorders, especially if the band’s independent, as crowdfunding in a way that is much less taboo in the scene.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s cool that you got such as strong response this time around.
MacIntosh: I’m very stoked on it. Like I said earlier, it has really been picking up this week. Our PR seems to think that it will pick up drastically after the album drops. What I’m extremely proud of, is that I think we were top in Bandcamp progressive death metal right now. That’s just amazing. We are stoked and humbled by the reception.
Dead Rhetoric: What else do you have planned for Æpoch other than the Bloodshot Dawn tour and album release?
MacIntosh: We will be performing at Quebec Death Fest in October. That’s huge for us. Autopsy is one of the headliners, and Chris Reifert, who was the drummer for Death’s first album…everyone who knows me knows that I’m a Death fanboy. We are losing our minds over that. We also have plans for two other shirt designs and shorts in the summer. The designs aren’t complete yet but one will be a baseball shirt – a ¾ sleeve kind of deal. It’s going to be a funny but brutal design. We also have a couple of shows in the works throughout Ontario for May, and one in Toronto in June. That’s all that is concrete. We have some potential plans for some more local shows in the summer as well. Unfortunately, we turned down a pretty big touring opportunity for July because of my work schedule and Kyle being on vacation. With us needing to find a fill-in guitarist, and me having to quit my job, which is a good job, it just wasn’t ideal. Maybe in the fall, if we get an opportunity that works with Greg and my work schedule, we will try to pursue that. We will not be entering the US until 2019 due to the visa situation. We are hungry to be relevant this year, and super hyped on the Quebec Death Fest right now.
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