I have been listening to the latest album today, prepping for our chat. Now, I’ve interviewed hundreds of bands over the years, reviewed dozens and dozens of albums, yet nothing has stopped me in my tracks quite like Revelator – I felt illuminated, and when I was trying to piece the interview together, I had not one question in my head. I was content. This album is just sense; it’s truth and about as necessary as oxygen. Let’s unpack it Tim.
A culmination of close to two decades of The Amenta experimenting, and the evolution and riding the rail has presented the opportunity for fans to get reacquainted with the band after an eight year hiatus – so tell me about the burn out; what was going through your minds at this point? “After our last album, Flesh is Heir, we were completely burned out – we were touring a fair bit, the album was a pretty intense recording, and then back into a couple more European tours and a lot of Australian shows. We’d been living and breathing it for so long and after being exposed to it you lose the love for it – it becomes a chore. When you get to that point, you lose inspiration, you lose the reason to do it. If we wrote a new album, it would have been a rehash of what we’ve already done. It made more sense for us as artists to not release something that would hurt the legacy. We saw the first three albums as a trilogy that really represented a chapter of the band and adding to that would have been cheap. So we thought to disappear for a while and wait for inspiration to return”.
A hiatus is always a hell of a gamble – thankfully it got the juices flowing again – how much creative freedom do you allow yourselves generally (an immense amount of freedom with Revelator, it seems), and with that creative freedom – do you have to pull the reigns in at any point or is the anchor sound of The Amenta pretty well ingrained? “We don’t set any barriers or boundaries, we essentially just play – its an experiment. Usually it’s two-to-three of us in a room keeping each other excited and this is how we find our new direction for an album. I guess there is a common language between us – we know when something is right even if it is completely new and a very different sound; the terminology we use in the band, we talk about it being ‘correct’. If we are working on a new sound and it is described as ‘correct’ then we’re in the ballpark. When you hear it, there is an eternal logic. If it’s correct – what’s the next step”.
Every inch of space is used intelligently in this album – there are so many layers to pull apart – where were the challenges conveying the tone or the atmosphere for the album – how was this in the beginning? “A lot of it comes out really organically. We will start to write with a drum machine and a couple of guitars and a lot of the ambient elements are in our minds, not necessarily written down. We start with a sort of skeletal bone of it, and as we demo the song and layer in the vocals; try some keyboard – it slowly starts to build up -chasing that correctness. This time around, we were really interested in a more organic and open sound – so we wanted to allow the instruments to breathe a little more – historically our stuff has been quite claustrophobic. This time we wanted a lot of room, to hear the natural reverb of the drums, notes ringing out a little more. All this came down to the mix. The mix was done by our guitar player Erik Miehs this time – I think he outdid himself. He introduced a lot of guitar pedals; reverb, tremolo and all sorts of delays; distortion. And most instruments were run through these guitars pedals to fuck the sound up a little bit. So we had the normal recorded sound and the affected sound, which were both layered into the mix which gave a lot more depth to the music; it’s a lot richer”.
Heading in a new direction – what expectations did the band place on yourselves to pull it all together? “We don’t think too much about external expectations – just ensuring we are happy. That during the writing process, we were inspired and that we do justice to the ideas”. Over the course of writing for the band, have you had an issue where you are trying to find something for the music and you just can’t get it? “We have techniques and systems that work relatively well for these sorts of situations. Though we have now learnt that when something isn’t happening there are options; leave it, come back later – the other, go to the pub, just give up – you’d be surprised how often that works. Sitting at the pub ‘fuck, I just had an idea’ you just have to step back at times, get your brain out of that rut. Most writers block is a mental rut”.
As far as this album is concerned – what track accurately represents The Amenta of today? “The centrepiece of the album is definitely Twined Towers, which is literally at the centre of the album – and I think that fully represents this aspect of the band. There are some intense ‘blast-beaty’ kind of moments on the album – however the ambience and the overarching direction of the album, the band, is within this song. We really nailed something that was unusual for us – I felt we nailed the orchestration on this song – everything happens at the right time, I’m really happy with it”.
From the foundations of the band, to this album; Revelator, it is apparent there are unchartered waters – many avenues to take – do you feel you will continue on this path for future releases? “This will be the place we work from. Our writing process is a reaction of what we’ve done. We don’t enjoy the idea of recreating something. I do think there is an element of this album that we will continue with – obviously Cain (Cressal)’s vocals; he is doing some amazing stuff on this album, a lot more expressive and open – I can’t imagine us reigning that back in. We’re basing everything on experimentation – I have no idea where the next album will go”.
Where has this album pushed you as a musician personally? “I have gone through a big change in the way I record music; for my parts – keyboards, samples, historically I would use keyboards and try to generate some unique sounds – this time I tried to keep away from the keyboard and computer as much as possible. I played with real world stuff; I’m sitting here looking at one of the instruments I played on the album – which basically is a delay pedal which is circuit bent and it has a couple of photoresistors in it – which allows you to change the sound by allowing or denying light into these things – I had it running through a feedback loop, I made a bunch of sounds – it was a cool way for me to get out of the area of the computer and playing something organically, there is a physicality to it which was cool for me – for someone who deals a lot with technology, the physicality of it is often lost”.
The album is garnering a lot of attention, the reviews are flooding in – how will you tackle promotion, where do you want to push, and where do you see the future of The Amenta? “It’s been a long time between drinks – our last gig was in 2014, so playing live is definitely the plan. It’s difficult that we all live in different states – we have to make sure we can get in and get out of states right now. Within the next few months we hope to complete some music that is related to Revelator and then after that – it’s the next album, with the aim to have it done within eight years”.
Revelator is out now. Read Sentinel Daily’s review of the album HERE