(In the preceding post today, TheMadIsraeli reviewed the debut EP from Canada’s Intervals. In this post, he follows up the review with an interview of Intervals’ main man, Aaron Marshall.)
A short introduction before you read this interview. Aaron was kind enough, and willing to take a risk, by obliging a bit of experimentation. I interviewed him, real time, in a Facebook chat to see how it would come out, as opposed to an email interview. In my opinion, this is one of the best interviews I’ve gotten. Maybe I need to try this more often.
Israel: Hey man. So about this interview, your call. Do you want to do an emailer or are you willing to subject yourself to an experiment and do this shit right here on the spot?
Aaron: I have a few minutes before I give a guitar lesson so we can do this now if you like.
Israel: So how did this Intervals thing start? I’ve been following you since the “Still Winning” playthrough vid was posted. You’ve got a unique take on what I’m going to call the tech-djent style and I’m really impressed with The Space Between.
Aaron: Thanks dude. Glad you’re enjoying the EP! Intervals started as a sort of moniker or outlet for me to create under about 8 months ago. I was playing in a band for about 3 years at that point with my close friends and things had unfortunately appeared to have reached a ceiling. We were experiencing some creative and ethical differences, so it was time to part ways. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, leaving a band comprised of my best friends, but music is not something I take lightly and it was make a move, or go insane. The video for “Still Winning” was literally a spontaneous decision on behalf of my good buddy Ben Dundas who is an aspiring film director. He showed up at my place with a camera, and that video is what came of that session!
Israel: I can imagine. With that said, we both know you are going to get pegged under the dreaded djent label. I only use the label for journalistic purposes, but in the end, how do you feel about that? Would you be happy to have it pegged as djent or do you feel the style is hitting as much of a dead end as say, deathcore or metalcore have? And as a consequence, do you feel like it could be a negative label to be attached to what you’re doing?
Aaron: Hmm…Well, this is a fine line to walk. I don’t necessarily view “djent” as a negative connotation, however I believe its definition is convoluted and misconstrued. I’m sure we could both spend all day splitting hairs about that, so I won’t go there. However, my thoughts (in a nutshell), are that it seems to perpetuate an enthusiastic community of technical/progressive metal fans, which definitely helps to sustain what artists like myself and others do. In that regard, I’m open to the idea. I tend not to classify what Intervals is under that label, because I feel we have more to offer than what’s expected from the term, but if it helps people put a handle on what we do, than I’m into it!
Israel: So… how’d you acquire the band? And are there any plans for a vocalist to be introduced?
Aaron: The formation of the band happened in a few steps. I was hanging in the van with my buddy Matt Halpern (drummer for Periphery) outside a show they were playing in Toronto at The Mod Club. At that time I had just left my previous band and he was asking what I was up to. I played him a very early version of “Still Winning” and he asked if I had a drummer yet. At that point, other members hadn’t even crossed my mind yet.
A few days later, I got a message from Anup Sastry who was turned on to Intervals by Matt. Anup asked if I minded if he recorded a play-through video of “Still Winning”. I, of course, was ecstatic, considering I had been a fan of Anup’s drumming for quite some time at that point. He literally hit me back with a video the following day and a few days later, we had our first show offer for the Frak The Gods Tour, with The Contortionist, The Human Abstract, Textures, and Periphery. We made arrangements to begin rehearsing and it went from there.
I met [guitarist] Lukas [Guyader] through a friend at work and Matt was a buddy of his. Everything all seemed to come together quite quickly. In terms of Vocals, we are beginning to accept auditions in the beginning of the new year, however, it is more so a point of curiosity rather than a predetermined notion. We haven’t let the lack of a vocalist hinder us from doing what we want to do, and we don’t plan on letting that be a deterrent in the future. We’re merely exploring our options at this point, but we are well open to the idea! There is a note about this included with the thank you’s in the download of the EP from Bandcamp. Anyone interested in submitting an audition can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Israel: So, have you any new ideas already roaming around in the riff closet? This EP feels like it only taps into the tip of the iceberg of potential. I assume the next round of Intervals material will push the boundaries, now that this seems to be a working thing for you.
Aaron: There are some riffs and things kicking around right now. Merely ideas at this point, but Anup and I plan to get together in February to begin to find a sound and a direction for what will become our full length album. I’m very excited to work with him on this material. We are very much on the same page when it comes to music, so a collaborative effort should yield something interesting, I think!
Israel: So what gear do you use?
Aaron: Haha, oh no, don’t get me started about gear. Probably too much, but I’ll just talk about what was used on the EP for starters. The 6 string guitars used for rhythms were an Ibanez S770pb with Dimarzio Crunchlab and Liquifire on the right side, and on the left. I used my Blackwater Customs 6 string that a local Toronto luthier built for me. That one is loaded with Bareknuckle Painkillers. For leads on those tunes I used my Music Man JP6 which still has stock pickups. For the 7 string tunes we used a Carvin DC747 with Crunchlab and Liquifire and a Bernie Rico Jr. (can’t remember which model) with Bareknuckle Aftermaths. Other than that, we used an Axe Fx II for all the guitars and bob’s your uncle!
Israel: What’s your favorite song off the EP?
Aaron: Hmm… That’s tough. I’ve played and listened to those tunes so much in the last few months that I’m almost numb to them at this point, but in terms of playing them live, I’d say “Duality” is a ton of fun!
Israel: And is there a chance you intend to do more longer-length songs like “Inertia”? That song is amazing to me.
Aaron: Thanks dude. I won’t really know until things start to shape up with the newer material, but perhaps! I guess the inspiration there was sort of rooted in my love of instrumental, guitar-oriented music. That and a little bit of a thing for ambience, or sort of post-rock style tendencies in the outro and all that. My states are constantly changing and evolving, so I tend to be influenced by what I’m listening to at that time, coupled with my previous tastes, or things that seem to stick with me.
Israel: I understand that mentality. As a musician myself, I’m immensely influenced by what’s grabbing me at the time, no matter how much I try to stick to a certain sound I want. I’m gonna be an asshole now and put you on the spot, even though I know this takes tons of thought. Top 10 albums for you of 2011. Go.
Aaron: Haha, ahh man. I won’t be able to pin-point all of those, but I will give you a small list of music that really impressed me this year. In no particular order, because I’m an indecisive prick. Tesseract’s One, Devin Townsend’s Deconstruction, which was a masterpiece, David Maxim Micic’s Bilo EP (you need to check this kid out if you haven’t), Vildhjarta’s Masstaden, which was dark and heavy as all hell, Red Seas Fire’s debut EP, and my current favorite is from my buddy Billy Anderson’s band Ever Forthright. They just released their debut full length album and it is seriously one of the best things I have ever heard. Really stoked for those guys. We’re aiming to potentially get out and do some shows with them at some point in the new year.
Israel: Masstaden has redefined groove-centered metal. That album whooped more ass than all of the potentially existing dimensions combined. If you don’t mind getting off base for a minute Aaron, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THALL MEANS!?
Aaron: Ain’t that the truth. Haha, I don’t think anyone does man. That’s cool though, no one knows what djent means…
Israel: It’s not fair. It could be the fucking key to happiness. But back on track though, what are the immediate plans for Intervals now that this EP is out? Reception has been extremely positive (and rightfully so), so I imagine that must feel pretty badass.
Aaron: The reception was seriously unexpected, so I’m just kind of taking it as it comes. The plan is to focus on writing and recording a full length album for sometime later in the new year and to iron out a few details so we can take some show offers which are starting to roll in. Once we have a full length release locked and loaded, we plan on touring and doing this full time, or as much as possible. We love music and this is what we live for. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Israel: Well, I know you’ve got a guitar lesson coming up (or you might even be giving it while doing this interview?) so I’m gonna wrap this up. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview, and for being my guinea pig in this format of interviewing. I’m looking forward to seeing great things from you and the other guys.
Aaron: No sweat dude. Thanks for your time man. We’ll catch up soon enough I’m sure!
Israel: Have a good day man!
Aaron: You too buddy!