In honour of this amazing opportunity, we have dedicated every Tuesday to promoting Tesseract's music, in order to show everyone why they should be buying tickets!
This included showcasing their music and album reviews for all of their releases. What better way to end off the build up, than with some words from TesseracT themselves.
GENRE: Progressive metal
Acle Kahney – guitars
James Monteith – guitars
Jay Postones – drums
Daniel Tompkins – vocals
Amos Williams – bass
Let me set the scene for this interview real quick. I am incredibly nervous...James Monteith has been one of my favourite guitar players of recent years and I was about to have a Skype call with him. We start off by just quickly chatting on Skype messenger to make sure we are ready to go...he tells me he needs to finish his sandwich...I tell him I will crack open a beer...he says 'good' job'. We start the interview off just chatting about his sandwich and what beer I was having...he's having a chicken mayo and I'm having a Black Label. He says he's heard of them so I offer to buy him one when he's here....we are now all set for the meat of the interview where we discuss live rigs, upcoming material, influences and the fact that pineapple, regardless of what the internet says, certainly does belong on a pizza. Let's get into it.
ABOUT 4 YEARS AGO JAY POSTONES (DRUMS) WAS INTERVIEWED ON ONE OF OUR LOCAL TV SHOWS CALLED MK ONDERGROND WHERE THEY MADE A NICE LITTLE CARICATURE OF HIM AND HE SAID THAT TESSERACT WOULD LOVE TO COME TO SOUTH AFRICA.
Ah yes I think I remember that, that was really good.
WELL NOW THE TIME IS FINALLY HERE. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE PLAYING IN A COUNTRY YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED YET?
Oh it's pretty awesome to be honest. It's one of those many places we'd obviously love to go but it's a long ways away, so it's a once in a lifetime thing. It's great that we are coming and we are very excited.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
I got no idea to be honest. I guess, it's an interesting one because I can't quite imagine what it will be like as there's a lot of places that you have a preconceived idea about but with South Africa I'm quite intrigued to see what it's like.
DO YOU HAVE ANY DOWNTIME WHILE YOU ATRE HERE TO SEE THE SIGHTS?
We're pretty much in and out, but we'll have the daytime in each city to see what we can.
HAVE ANY OF YOU BEEN HERE BEFORE ON HOLIDAY PERHAPS?
No, it will actually be the first time for all of us, So it's very exciting.
I KNOW SOMETIMES WHEN A BAND PLAYS SOMEWHERE THEY HAVEN'T BEFORE THEY ADJUST THEIR SET SLIGHTLY - WHAT CAN EXPECT FROM TESSERACT?
We'll probably do the same headline set that we have done now recently in the UK but it will cover all the albums. I don't think we'll be playing any new stuff just yet.
YOUR SONGS CAN BE PRETTY INTENSE AND TRICKY, HOW MUCH PREPERATION GOES INTO A TOUR BEFOREHAND?
With some of the older stuff, yeh we will go through everything to make sure we are up to scratch, but with the newer material we've played it so much that it has become muscle memory in a sense.
I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO SEE YOUR SHOW AT THE KOKO (London) LAST YEAR AND IT BLEW ME AWAY. THE LIVE SHOW IS INCREDIBLE AND I KNOW EVERYONE HERE WILL BE STUNNED BY IT. WHAT I NOTICED WAS THAT YOU HAVE SUCH AN AMAZING FOLLOWING IN THE UK - THE CROWD WAS SO RESPONSIVE. NOW, HAVING PLAYED ALL OVER THE WORLD, ARE HOME CROWDS THE BEST? OR DOES EACH PLACE HAVE ITS OWN MERITS.
It varies from place to place, but I don't think it's specific to a country. Of course the London shows are particularly awesome, but we've played some amazing shows in New York and Los Angeles in the States, Canada and also Berlin in Germany. Wherever we go it seems people are up for the shows, so there's been no particular bad place.
I WATCHED A FEW OF YOUR LIVE RIG RUNDOWNS AND I'T'S QUITE INTERESTING HOW EVERYTHING IS MIDI-BASED AND AUTOMATICALLY CHANGES GUITAR EFFECTS AND EVEN LIGHTING. IT'S ALL QUITE HI-TECH, BUT WAS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN YOU GUYS USED STOMP BOXES ON STAGE?
In previous bands and projects yes, but with Tesseract no. It's something that we started with from the very early days in the rehearsal room, and the main reason would be because we use a lot of delay effects and those have different tempos for different tracks and it's almost impossible to keep the tempo you need and change it manually for the next song and we would end up making so many mistakes and I reckon we would be the worst band ever haha.
HAHA WELL YES THAT'S TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE. I ALSO SAW ON ONE OF THESE RIG RUN DOWN VIDEOS THAT SOME OF YOU WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT CLICK TRACK TO ANOTHER? HOW DOES THAT WORK?
Well, because there are lots of poly rhythms and different things that everyone locks on to, some of us want the click in 3's and some of us in 4's, everyone gets used to what their preference is. One of the main reasons is that one of the click tracks has Keys and there are certain parts that start at quite difficult times, in other words the timing is so odd to come in on. So there are lots of moments like that. Some of us don't like to hear the keys because it's confusing to what we're playing. It's a challenge, but it works for us.
WELL THAT JUST MAKES YOUR MUSIC SO MUCH BETTER AND TIGHTER SO...GOOD JOB!! DOES ANYTHING HAVE TO GET COMPROMISED IN TERMS OF YOUR LIVE RIG WHEN PLAYING SMALLER VENUES?
Not really. I think we sometimes struggle in smaller venues because we don't have cabinets on stage and so we are 100% dependent on the PA, so if there's a small PA it doesn't quite have the weight we need sound-wise and then we probably don't sound as good as we would in a big venue. But in terms of our actual rig, we don't need to compromise anything as it is rather small being just two rack units all linked together. We carry less gear than your average touring band in terms of space volume.
YOU'VE SAID IN INTERVIEWS THAT EACH ALBUM HAS A SLIGHT DEPARTURE SOUND-WISE BUT STILL RETAINS THE CORE TESSERACT RESONANCE. IS THIS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS ORGANICALLY OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU WOULD DISCUSS BEFOREHAND IN THE WRITING PROCESS?
It is much more of a natural evolution really. I think on each record the sound has matured and got simpler in some ways and more accessible. Not necessarily through trying, but rather just from becoming a better band. I think the early stuff was a bit more technical and complex, and that was interesting to us then, but as we get older we are more interested in trying to write actual songs, but still retaining interesting aspects and still being progressive and trying to think outside the box and do unique things. I guess the plan is to write music that is listenable.
SO WHAT'S THE VIBE FOR THE NEXT ALBUM? HOW FAR ALONG IS IT?
In terms of raw ideas there's an absolute mountain, but in terms of songs there's not many. Vibe-wise, some of them are really heavy again actually with some quite chunky riffs coming back for this record. But, anything could happen between now and when we finalise it. There's also a lot more expansive and atmospheric parts trying to be more dynamic. Dan's (Tompkins, vocals) doing a lot of experimentation with his voice as well - some crazy ideas. Some of it's really out there and might not make it to the final product but it's great he's doing such extreme experimentation and from that he might find something that works and is unique.
LET'S TALK A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR CUSTOM SHOP IBANEZ...WHAT MAKES THAT THE GUITAR FOR YOU?
Basically, I'd been looking to get an endorsement deal and I thought - must've been about seven years ago now - what do I really want and need in a guitar. I love extended range necks and most are around the 26.5" range but I extended mine to 27" - partly because Acle (Kahney, guitar) plays a 27" scale guitars and I wanted to get the same sort of attack and decay of the strings which helps us be much more in tune.
In terms of woods, I went for a Swamp Ash body and a neck-through design - and what's cool with Ibanez they have a nice flat fingerboard. I put on Bareknuckle Aftermaths pickups because they are really great with aggressive as well as warm tones. I did away with the Floyd Rose as they are massively impractical with changing strings and maintenance so I got them to put a fixed bridge in. I also got the ultimate machine heads - the laziest machine heads in the world!
Basically you feed the string in and you tighten it up and it trims it for you. I didn't even think of that but Ibanez got to know me and realised I'm a lazy bugger, so they put that in for me. The second guitar I got has very similar specs but I've gone for an older body - purely to try it out - a flame maple top and the tone is slightly different but not a massive difference.
SO...CAN I HAVE IT?
Have it? Well...when I launch my own signature production line you're more than welcome to buy one.
NO NO NO, I WANT YOUR ONE (chuckles)
You can *insert graphic sex act* me for it, maybe.
WITH ACLE HAVING A SIGNATURE MAYONES GUITAR DO YOU GUYS EVER HAVE FRIENDLY BANTER OVER WHICH IS BETTER?
Yeh, occasionally. He used to play an Ibanez in the early days, and got into the band Textures and they use Mayones, so he tried it out and fell in love with them and developed a relationship with them early on.
IT'S PROBABLY A GOOD THING USING DIFFERENT MAKES OF GUITAR SO THAT THINGS THE DYNAMICS COMPLIMENT EACH RATHER THAN SOUND THE SAME.
Yeh, definitely. When everything is too precise and too similar it starts to become unnatural.
WHO WERE SOME OF THE GUITARISTS THAT SHAPED YOU AS A YOUNG LAD?
I guess in the early days the first guitarist I really looked up to was Slash as I was a big Guns 'n Roses fan. And then obviously, Metallica - James Hetfield is one of the greatest guitar players ever, and his tone went on to inspire bands like Meshuggah who are a massive influence on me. From there I guess Dream Theatre and Pantera's Dimebag Darrel and Megadeth. That whole era of bands influenced me as a teenager.
WHAT BANDS ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS THAT DESERVE A MENTION?
Ooh, you put me on the spot. Well, in my day job as a music publicist, right now I'm listening to the bands I'm working with.
There's an amazing new French band called Fractured Universe (https://www.facebook.com/FracturedUniverse/) who are a kind of old-school tech-death vibe - very technical, very dynamic fantastic players.
There's a Belgian band called Bear (https://www.facebook.com/bearpropaganda/) who are awesome.
Uneven Structure's (https://www.facebook.com/unevenstructure/) new album is fantastic and very progressive.
There's also a band called Our Hollow Our Home (https://www.facebook.com/ourhollowourhome/) from Southhampton in the UK and they are a very Iron Maideny catchy band.
WELL WE ARE DONE WITH THE FORMALITY-LIKE QUESTIONS SO I WOULD LIKE TO DO A FUN QUICK-FIRE ROUND WITH YOU. JUST ANSWER THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO MIND:
BATMAN / SUPERMAN?
METALLICA / SLAYER?
Metallica by a mile - but if you're talking about a band's whole career then maybe Slayer.
FAMILY GUY / SIMPSONS?
SEINFELD / FRASIER?
I suppose the fashionable thing would be to say Seinfeld but I'd probably go with Frasier
DOES PINEAPPLE BELONG ON A PIZZA?
Absolutely, yeh, pineapple is amazing.
IBANEZ / MAYONES?
Do I really need to answer that one?
NOPE THAT WAS A TRICK QUESTION
OK, MAN, THANKS SO MUCH FOR SPENDINNG THE LAST FEW MINUTES WITH ME AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN SOUTH AFRICA.
Thanks very much! We'll have a couple of Black Labels together.
YOU CAN CATCH TESSERACT LIVE 28 AND 29 APRIL AT MERCURY LIVE CAPE TOWN AND RUMOURS ROCK CITY JOHANNESBURG.