Framework – Ascending the DivideThursday, 9th November 2017
Dead Rhetoric: As a drummer, you’ve mentioned in previous conversations your love of Derek Roddy, Marco Minnemann, Krimh, and Steve Gadd among others. What do you take into account from these drummers that helps shape your outlook and abilities on the drums?
Applegate: As I mentioned Vörnagar was the band that got me into blast beats and strange things like that, but Derek Roddy was the one who made me take it seriously. I was a member of the Derek Roddy forum for years online- when the other guys on that forum included George Kollias from Nile, Virgil Donati, John Longstreth from Origin- the who’s who of top tier death metal drumming during that time period. Derek Roddy to me was the king of all that, his power is something I’ve always really respected as well as his endurance. I need to get better, so I would play to his material for hours.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I take a lot from Steve Gadd- he’s one of the greatest drummers of all time, not just because of his groove. When you hear him with Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, or any of the trillion of things he’s played on, he always writes the perfect drum part. Live there is a little variation, but there’s still the same parts, and the feel is amazing. You watch him play live, and he makes it look so easy. I try to take those things in. Krimh I have to give props every time, I feel like he’s one of the fresher guys in death metal. His parts are so creative, if I was ever in rut I can look to him as a building block. And then Marco Minnemann is just a freak (laughs). I spent from when I was 17 to 19, running through Marco Minnemann exercises every day. I didn’t develop my groove at all, but I was just like ‘yeah, I can totally play 17/19 comfortably’. (laughs) Screw you, it sounds cool! I took something from all those guys- they are on the forefront on my mind as far as heavy parts and things.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you think about the changing music consumption model, in terms of artists often releasing EP’s with more frequency versus full-length records? Do you believe this could be the standard in today’s digitally driven, fast-paced technology marketplace to enable artists to stay top of mind with their fans and not get lost in the deluge of releases?
Applegate: I definitely think it’s going to be a trend for a little while. In my mind when I think of when albums where relevant – the technology of the time before full-length records, you would have singles. The single would have one to two tracks, and that is it. Then the technology evolved, to the point with a CD you can put over 70 minutes of music on one disc. People were interested in that because it was new. If we look at the consumption models today, people listen to three or four songs, and then they stop listening. Everybody and their mother is on Bandcamp, and if you want, talk to your friends and ask what their full-length listening stats are like. It’s very clear, most of the time the drop off point is at the fifth song or so. They listen to the first four songs, think it’s cool, and then move on to listen to something else. It’s definitely going to be a trend for the next couple of years.
One of the things that’s going to hold it back though, is that the costs behind an EP are still comparable to that of a full-length. You would think since there’s less tracks, that it would be less money. It is still less, but it is still a considerable investment. You have to factor in distribution and album art- the artist doesn’t care if there are four songs less for a full-length, you are going to get charged the same for their art. It’s a matter of trying to make sure that all these factors are cost-efficient. You save a little bit of money because you are not in the studio as long, but when it’s all said and done because of the other stuff that goes into it cost wise that you can’t change, the layout, the packaging, etc. Also in terms of time- if you are working a full-time job with four other people and don’t have a record label behind you, then it gets really difficult to release an EP super quickly. I was talking to somebody at a show recently, and they mentioned we’ve been talking about this EP for a while- they thought it would be done in three months. That is unrealistic. I want to see where it goes. Have you ever heard of a band called Godmother?
Dead Rhetoric: Yes.
Applegate: They just release a new EP that’s absolutely great. It’s really going to be a matter of if people release good EP’s. In prior years, a lot of times bands put out EP’s of songs that didn’t make the cut off our previous record.
Dead Rhetoric: What is the philosophy behind the band’s cover art- is there a consistent theme that you go for?
Applegate: I wouldn’t say so. Again, this is one man’s opinion- we like to give the work to artists that we enjoy, give them the music and give them free reign. Normally, we really like the results. Honestly I can’t think of a time where we did… there was one time with merch, but not with album art. I suppose the only theme that is consistent, this is one person’s interpretation of the music. I love what Gustavo Sazes did on this EP, all the colors, I’ve literally spent hours staring at the album art and thought it was so cool. It makes me feel like a kid again looking at Iron Maiden or Metallica covers.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider the biggest obstacles and challenges to getting up to a higher level of acceptance in the industry or building an audience as Framework?
Applegate: One thing that helps for sure is being a part of areas where people have some sort of musical scene going on. And the New England as a whole has a great musical scene- I could literally name drop some awesome bands. Joey Concepcion’s solo project, Carnivora, Aversed, Dainsleif, Lord Almighty- all these cool bands. It keeps going on and on. Where we are in New Jersey, we are right on the cusp of New England, so we are up there pretty frequently for shows.
Whereas around here in New Jersey, it’s a little bit more challenging because people don’t go really go out to shows that their bands aren’t playing. I try to do what I can- this last year I didn’t go out to as much because I’ve been dealing with my own stuff- it’s just one of those things, and I hate speaking in generalizations- but one thing I’ve observed is people don’t go out to support live music unless there is a reason in New Jersey. We will have our album release show coming up at some point in the next month, and we know the turnout will be great. But let’s say it’s a weekend show and we are coming through to play with bands that we really like and enjoy, we will hustle to get people out, but without that extra reason to be out, people aren’t going to go to the show. In different parts of the country, that’s a little different.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about your work with Windfaerer – do you enjoy the differences in style between Framework and this band, and how do you balance out the workload between the two acts?
Applegate: First off, I came in to replace their drummer JP. They were looking for someone else, and Mike saw me play with a group called Kill Deficient, where Andrew and I were filling in and then he saw with me Framework. After that, he wanted to jam, we talked online about bands we liked. We jammed, and after 10-15 minutes it felt right. Even though it’s heavy music like Framework, the style is different. Framework has this awesome thrashy, melo-death progressive elements to it- and Windfaerer is this cool blackened, folk metal thing. Our new record… we just finished recording it last week, it’s getting mixed right now. I’m very excited with both bands. In terms of balancing the workload, it definitely gets difficult.
On top of playing in Windfaerer and Framework, I also do freelance music work, I transcribe, I edit, I have a full teaching studio- I do all of the things a modern musician has to do in order to make a stable income. There are definitely points where I will book a show with one band- this last summer Windfaerer had four or five shows planned in the span of one month, and then I got a ridiculously good offer. I was put in that rough situation of how is this going to work. I do have a life outside of music, a small circle of friends and my girlfriend. It’s fun, sometimes I do better than others- but both the groups are incredibly understanding. The violinist in Windfaerer also plays in Thank You Scientist, and they tour pretty consistently. There’s a lot of juggling, but it works.
Dead Rhetoric: What types of short-term and long-term goals does Framework have over the next year to three years?
Applegate: Over the next year, we are trying to hit the road. We want to tour for at least five-six weeks out of the next year- which is comparable to what we hope to do with Windfaerer as well. Over the long term, we want to get more hype behind the records and get on more festivals. We’ve done Full Terror Assault out in Illinois, but I would like to see if we could get on a couple of festivals even further west.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider three of the best metal albums of all-time that you consistently return to for energy, mental fuel, or inspiration – and what have been some of your favorite concert memories that you’ve attended purely from a fan perspective?
Applegate: That’s a great question. I can only pick the three that I’ve consistently been into over the last couple of weeks. My greatest list changes way too frequently. My personal top three – Ride the Lightning by Metallica. That’s the quintessential, must listen Metallica. All the drumming parts are written perfectly on that album, the guitar tone, the vocals. I love about everything about that entire record. My next one would be The Joy of Motion by Animals as Leaders. That was the first record that had Matt Garstka on it, and you can hear how hungry he was. He was stepping into such a difficult situation musically- me personally, I am sure they all get along great. They are so hard, and if you go in to play with a band like that, you can’t have any moments where the new guy is okay. I love listening to that album. My third, King of All Kings by Hate Eternal, but I could easily swap that out with I, Monarch any day of the week. Depends on which track from each record starts first, then I’m fine.
From a fan perspective, it’s a toss-up between opening up for Napalm Death and watching them play from the audience. They have this really unique feel, the only band that I’ve seen comparable to it is Metallica live. I’ll elaborate on what that means. Lars when he plays live, doesn’t have the greatest timing- however everyone else in the band anticipates that, and switches on a dime. He’ll be playing in 4/4 and there’s a random measure where it’s 7/8- he will go to the next part, and the band anticipates it and it sounds amazing. A similar thing for Napalm Death – it’s not how it always sounds on the album, but they adapt in a live environment to make things sound killer and go through. Seeing Terrorizer with Pete Sandoval play- watching his blast beats was unbelievable. He can’t get the bombastic double bass anymore, but his thrash playing is great. Non-metal bands- I was able to see Ginger Baker from Cream, with an Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble at B.B. King’s in New York, and that was unreal.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your hobbies, passions, or interests that you like to pursue outside of music to recharge your batteries so to speak?
Applegate: A bunch of guys in the band follow politics pretty closely, so we discuss that. I am very into powerlifting- the drawback is you look like a meatball nine months out of the year. The pro is that you can carry all of your drums in one trip. (laughs). Those are a couple of things I do- Glen likes to go on hikes, he’ll disappear in the woods for days at a time. Andrew, it’s his guitar, watching people play guitar, and practicing guitar.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next twelve months shaping up for Framework in support of the new EP? Has work already begun on the follow up- and what can fans expect? Are you thinking about doing a conceptual video for one of the songs off Where We Divide?
Applegate: I know that there’s a music video in the works. We are really trying to hit the road- we have fans that are out west that we have never seen before and they’ve been following us since we were Exorbitance. They’ve bought our records, we’ve shipped them merch, and we want to see them. They’re support helped us to go to a brand-new place we’ve never been before. We want to tour at least a little bit. In terms of the next thing, we’ve started writing it for sure- but at this point, it’s just in the ‘I’ve written this cool drum part’ or ‘I have this cool guitar riff’ stage and we are sending it back and forth. In terms of when we hope to have that done by? I am going put pressure on everyone in my band by saying this publicly, we are hoping to record within 13 months from now. We want to write and rehearse, and hope to record an EP or a full-length. It will be the same standards that we’ve held ourselves to- so if you are a fan of our music, you’ll like it. Let us know how you like this new stuff! We are all really proud of this record.
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