Currents – Approaching the EndThursday, 4th June 2020
Having done some rising since the release of their debut, The Place I Feel Safest, modern metal/metalcore act Currents now sit upon the release of their second full-length, The Way it Ends, at the end of this week. Their more modern take on the metalcore field embodies some heavier elements, while not shying away from the more gentle moments that the genre can also illustrate. The result is something that works remarkably well. They have a firm grasp on the basics and take it in a direction that still feels fresh. We spoke with vocalist Brian Wille about these aspects of the band, as well as some thoughts on lyrics, breakdowns, and some future goals for Currents.
Dead Rhetoric: How does The Way it Ends compare to your last release, I Let the Devil In?
Brian Wille: They are kind of thematically connected for the most part, but I Let the Devil In was a small piece of what this record became. We had a few songs that we were working on after The Place I Feel Safest, but we weren’t ready to start a new record yet. But we wanted to strike while the iron was hot and keep things moving and put some music out. So we brought together I Let the Devil In, which was an EP. From there, that was where we met Ryan Leitru – he is in For Today but he does a lot of production work and songwriting. All of that kind of stuff for bands. So that was our introduction to him, and we decided to work with him again on The Way it Ends. So the two are connected by the same producer and the same train of thought – we were trying to continue off of The Place I Feel Safest.
Dead Rhetoric: So did it feel more comfortable in working with the same producer twice in a row?
Wille: Yeah, we are more comfortable with Ryan and knew what we were going to be getting with him. As well as what he brought to the table and his abilities. There was a lot of learning that we didn’t have to do. We picked up where we left off and got things moving again.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you talk about the lyrical inspirations for the new album?
Wille: There’s definitely a lot of lyrical inspirations. When I write lyrics, I try to pull from personal experiences, but I also like to pull from things that happen to people around me. I pull from things that are close to my personal life. That way, maybe myself and I can relate on the same thing, and I can write a song having them in mind. Later I can show them what I wrote and see how they feel about the song. I like to write things that the people around me can get excited about and hopefully get something out of. I hope that it translates to other people too.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you discuss about the cover art for The Way it Ends?
Wille: The cover was painted by our friend Adam Burke. I say friend, but I haven’t actually met him in person or anything. But we have emailed back and forth. But he painted our cover art for the record, and it is a thematic continuation from The Place I Feel Safest. We had these two people that were falling off of a cliff in the background of that album. Now we see them at the forefront, falling into what we now know is this crazy, apocalyptic/hell-looking abyss that you see on the cover. The way that Adam drew the piece, it just fits everything together perfectly. There’s so much detail in his artwork. I think it drives our point across – what we wanted everyone to see and feel when they see the cover. It sets the tone for the record in a great way.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering the continuity of the covers, is that something you’d like to explore further in the future?
Wille: It’s one of those things where we don’t want to do anything that seems like we are just ripping ourselves off. Maybe we can continue this sort of thing, maybe this story goes somewhere else. Perhaps it picks up into something entirely new next time. If it makes sense to follow this same storyline going forward, we will do it, but I would be open to seeing what else we can do as well.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s important about the contrast between heaviness and melody with Currents?
Wille: I think just the balance – that’s the term we like to use. You don’t want to check your boxes, as that sounds kind of cold, but you want to have a balance. For the very light, as the kids would say, the emotional parts with the pretty guitars, you want to have the soulcrushing mosh breakdowns – the two opposites on the same record, with everything in between. But at the same time, not having anything feel like it is a crazy reach out of left field. I feel like everything we approach on the record is within the realm of what people would expect, with a couple of surprises and things that are hidden in there.
Dead Rhetoric: I think that would translate to the songwriting piece. I can hear that everything maintains that feeling throughout. It more how put those tracks together and have that sense of order within them.
Wille: Yeah – does it make sense in the song. When we are putting the record together, we do songs piece by piece and then a lot of the real story and conceptual stuff comes with arranging the songs in a particular way. Maybe this song didn’t make it, or this song was just better than the other one, or that another one is more fleshed out so it fit better. It’s a thing where you want to have them arranged in a way that makes sense and leaves you satisfied in the end. It’s like, “Wow, I got a lot of out that. There was a lot going on, but overall I enjoyed it and thought it was cool.” That’s the best we can hope for.
Dead Rhetoric: What makes a breakdown work for you guys?
Wille: I think we are always trying to do new things in that department, just because I feel like it’s hard to make a breakdown sound unique. Given it’s nature, it’s a string of open notes in some randomized order. I think Chris [Wiseman]’s approach, in particular, is to put his own spin on those sections and do guitar parts that maybe other people maybe wouldn’t or add his style in there. I think that helps bring things together in a way that maybe it’s not as heavy as another band, maybe the bass drops aren’t super crazy, or whatever you look for in those super heavy songs, but it lends them to be more unique.
Dead Rhetoric: Speaking of which, what do you feel separates Currents from other current acts at the moment?
Wille: It’s hard to say. I feel like everybody has their own thing that they bring to the table. A big part of us, that I think is an advantage, is Chris – he is such an interesting songwriter. He has his own distinct style. When we were starting the band, when I joined, Chris said something along the lines like, “Bands like us don’t typically have vocalists like you,” referring to me in the way that I feel like I try to be very rhythmic with parts and make the lyrics very emotional and heartfelt. We put a lot of time into the lyrics and I want to make sure that they are structurally sound. I want you to be able to read it as a piece of poetry as well as a line in the song. I think there is a lot of merit to that. I think we put a lot more attention to detail in the emotional aspects of heavy music than other bands do. That’s what sets us apart from everybody else.
Dead Rhetoric: What goals does Currents have as a band?
Wille: We just want to keep the fun going. We love what we do. We love touring and traveling and getting to meet people who are likeminded and enjoy our music, and get something out of it. It’s the best thing in the world. It’s something super special that not a lot of people get to experience and we want to keep it going. We are happy to be writing music and to be getting all of these opportunities. This record is our foot on the ground. We want to stay. We want to keep doing what we are doing and we want to solidify our position in this world. That’s about it right there!
Dead Rhetoric: Where’d you get the inspiration to become a vocalist?
Wille: I always kind of had it somewhere in the back of my mind that it was something I wanted to do. I remember listening to Linkin Park back in the day. I was like 13 or 14, and I always wanted to be like Mike Shinoda – the rapper guy. I don’t know why. But I think from that point, seeing him and Chester [Bennington] hype the crowd up and get people excited. The songs were already great but then going and seeing those live videos and seeing them bring it to life and crushing it. They were so good at what they do. That was a big inspiration for me.
As I was growing up and getting into heavy music, Still Remains, Bullet for my Valentine, All That Remains – All That Remains specifically where he had this crazy range. He was singing and screaming, doing highs and lows and gutturals, and crazy singing notes and harmonies. I thought that you could do anything if you put your mind to it. You can still sing and do all of that. So it was a mix of things. I knew I wanted to be in a band and be in a performer early, but where it really manifested was later when my musical tastes started to develop a bit more.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned that element of performance. Do you feel you bring that element to Currents in the live setting?
Wille: It’s one of those things where we are all still learning, and I’m still learning how to be a frontman and get people moving and excited. But at the heart of it – that’s the heart of live music is to try to inspire people and get them as excited as you are. To bring them into your world. I always want to perform the songs to the best of my ability to convey the emotions that were there when the songs were written, and channel the emotion of the people in the crowd that were maybe affected by the songs in some way, or have a connection to them. So there’s a back and forth between the crowd and our own energy.
Dead Rhetoric: What have you and/or the band been up to during this quarantine?
Wille: As far as I know, everyone is just chilling. Some of us have jobs that we work while we are home, and mine is also shutdown. I have been home, making sure that the record release goes well. Doing interviews, shooting emails, and doing all of the band stuff. I am Currents pretty much every day. Aside from that, I’m just hanging with my girlfriend, playing video games, and facetiming friends and stuff.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have anything in the works for the rest of the year?
Wille: We had some stuff planned for the end of the year – like November/December. Whether those happen or not is up in the air. One of those was not a fully fleshed out idea yet, so we are still working on that one. We aren’t entirely worried about, but we have another tour that we are really excited about that looks like if it doesn’t happen in November, it will happen in the beginning of 2021. There is already a back up for dates that are ready. So hopefully things start to open up, even if it is limited capacity, so we can get out there and play these songs.