Equipoise – Tech Metal AlchemistsSaturday, 16th March 2019
It doesn’t really get much more showstopping this year for tech death fans than the recent release of Equipoise’s debut, Demiurgus. Seven members with grade A credentials backing them (and a massive list of guest contributions) have come together to make a release that people are sure to be talking about for quite some time to come. For their brand of tech might be completely over-the-top and indulgent, but it’s also grounded in melody and fantastic songwriting. The combination of which keeps them at the head of the table for extremity. Vocalist Stevie Boiser was kind enough to answer some of our queries about their Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood concept, completing the band’s line-up, and even some thoughts about the extreme scene.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel the band has evolved since the release of Birthing Homunculi?
Stevie Boiser: A lot has happened since we first released Birthing Homunculi. We’ve joined The Artisan Era, which has been nothing short of spectacular. Mike and Malcolm are incredible partners and have really helped us gain traction and get our name out there. We solidified our line-up, and most importantly we have begun to grow together musically.
Overall, I guess you could say that we’ve evolved from a four-piece studio project into a complete seven piece band with sights set on writing / recording more material and touring in the future.
Dead Rhetoric: What steps were involved in solidifying the line-up for Equipoise?
Boiser: Originally Equipoise was started by Nick Padovani and Zach Hohn. After they had composed a decent amount of material, they began reaching out to musicians via social media to fill out the rest of the band. That’s where Hugo Doyon-Karout and I joined. Nick and I started playing with the idea of introducing keys and orchestration- for that, Nick recruited Jimmy Pitts, who has been a fantastic addition. Unfortunately, we were unable to lock down a drummer at the time, so we decided to carry on and released Birthing Homunculi.
A short while after that we spoke with Phil Tougas about adding some solos to the album and much to our surprise we ended up absorbing him into our ranks. However, we still needed a drummer. I hit up my good friend Chason Westmoreland who had just left The Faceless. We had been trying to be in a band together for a while and the timing finally worked out. Shortly after that Zach left Equipoise and we brought in Sanjay Kumar to fill the void. The transition was very natural since Sanjay had performed a guest solo on the EP, and he had also mixed and mastered it. Equipoise was ultimately made possible by solid composition and social media.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel the orchestral elements and flamenco guitar add to the experience of Equipoise?
Boiser: Incorporating other instruments such as flamenco guitars, violin, viola, keys, etc. allows us to texture our songs in a variety of ways. At times we utilize them to build to the madness by adding a sort of atmospheric tension. Then, we have tracks like “Reincarnated” or “Eve of the Promised Day,” which serve not only as a musical bridge between songs, but also as a palette cleanser for the listener- a breath of fresh air before diving back into the depths of Demiurgus. We wanted the record to have numerous peaks and valleys, and the addition of these instruments helps to make that possible.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the songwriting process look like, in a general sense?
Boiser: Our songwriting process is actually pretty simple. To date it all starts with Nick. He’s our primary composer. Typically, he’ll write and arrange all of the material for guitars, bass, drums, and keys, and then he sends it out the rest of us to see what input we have. After alterations are made, I usually get started on writing vocal patterns and lyrics while Chason works on drums. Solos are usually one of the last components to be added and are written and arranged by their performer.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss the influence of the anime series Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood on the material?
Boiser: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is my favorite anime series and something that I’ve always had a deep connection to. When Nick approached me about going the band, I was excited to hear that I had free reign over the lyrical subject matter. I almost immediately selected this as a topic.
As a result, I have written the album from the narrative perspective of a variety of key characters in the series. Most of which is that of the main antagonist Father who is also known as The Dwarf in the Flask Homunculus. I made a conscious effort to explore the plot of the series from different vantage points while ensuring that the vocal phrasing and lyrical tone flow correctly through the confines of the music.
Dead Rhetoric: In a somewhat related note, what are your thoughts about brotherhood in the extreme metal scene?
Boiser: While elitism and ill-minded mobs certainly do exist within the extreme metal scene, I would say that on average I see much more of a sincere sense of belonging and community both online and at shows. The Artisan Era Society Facebook group is an excellent example of this in my opinion. It consists of nothing but excitement about the bands, merch, funny memes, and above all else it’s a platform where fans become friends with other fans, band members, and artists.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss some of the details of the fantastic cover art.
Boiser: This lovely piece of work was crafted by Justin Si-Set Abraham. In essence, it’s a scene taken from our single “Waking Divinity.” The antagonist (Father) activates a country wide transmutation circle and sacrifices the lives of 50 million Amestrians in order to open the Portal of Truth within the Earth and ascend into the heavens to open the moons portal as well. Upon gaining this power he becomes Demiurgus.
Dead Rhetoric: How much emphasis is placed on making sure there is something memorable going on? How important is the contrast of technical flourishes with more melodic moments?
Boiser: When Nick first asked me if I would be interested, he sent me a Guitar Pro file of what would later become “Alchemic Web of Deceit.” I was hooked! The thing that really stuck out to me was a great blend of technicality and melodic hooks. To me, that’s what Equipoise is all about. We strive to write music that is technically proficient while also providing a discernible melody that gets your blood flowing.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the state of technical death metal at the moment? What’s it take for a band to stand out?
Boiser: Technical death metal is absolutely thriving right now. Any way you look at it, tech death bands are releasing absolutely inspiring albums. From seasoned bands like Psycroptic, Obscura, Archspire, or Gorod, to newer acts such as Mordant Rapture, Aethereus, or Dark Matter Secret. there are so many astounding releases to explore. As far as what it takes for a band to stand out, I would say that first and foremost it begins with songwriting. Developing a cohesive voice for yourself is important, so don’t be afraid to experiment. When you experiment, you allow yourself to grow and mature.
Secondly, I would say that having quality content is a must. Today’s world is so saturated with bands trying to break out that you really need to double down and give your listeners a reason to stop and digest your band in more than just an auditory sense. Having cool merch, visually appealing playthroughs or music videos, and an open online presence are great ways to do so. Being able to make your show into an experience is important as well. Play your songs correctly, but make sure you put on a show. It’s been my experience that energy begets energy, so talk to the crowd, move around, and above all else, be passionate. Finally, it takes time; time to hone your craft, to build your discography, and time to place yourself into the hearts of your listeners.
Dead Rhetoric: What plans do you have once Demiurgus has been released?
Boiser: As of now we have three priorities. The first of which being, promotion. Equipoise is a relatively new band and Demiurgus is our first album. We would love to get it out to as many people as possible. So far, we’ve been met with an incredibly positive wave of support, and couldn’t be more thankful for our friends and fan. Secondly, we’ve been discussing the logistics of what it would take for us to tour and are currently working on making that a reality. Most importantly though, we’re slowly beginning to write new material. It’ll take a time some time to compose, refine, record, and release but fragments of our sophomore album are already in the works!