UK post-metal/post-prog rock band, SÜMER, will be supporting Jinjer on their South African tour in May 2019. Jim Hall (SÜMER’s guitarist) discusses their band formation, song-writing process and their upcoming tour to South Africa.
First thing’s first… How does one pronounce the name? and secondly, what are some of the funniest ways you’ve heard it being said?
It’s pronounced ‘soo-mer’. The vast majority of people say ‘Summer’. The only other variation has been ‘Shumerrrrr’ (love you Kris). The umlauts were added in an attempt to help people pronounce it properly, predictably, that didn’t work! So unfortunately no funny ones to speak of.
This will be your first time in South Africa. I’m sure there are quite a lot of fans here already, but for those who don’t know you,can you give us a brief history of the band?
We can’t wait to get out there! The band formed in October 2010, Tim and Toby invited me to jam and see how things went. The first 2 rehearsals gave the basis for Progenesis and Pinch Cut, so we were onto something. Our former bassist Taria, who recently left to travel the globe came back from working on a cruise ship, and agreed to join pretty much right away. Ian joined maybe a year to 18 months later and away we went. More recently though, Jake has joined us on bass as Taria’s replacement – weirdly however, Taria will actually be at the shows in SA as she’s there as part of her travels!
What was the idea behind having a third guitarist?
That just kind of happened really. We were looking for a singer, Ian auditioned and won us over (he and I had played in a previous band together for 10 years) he joined as singer primarily, but he plays guitar, so that opened up a world of options with regards to layering. It’s a fine balance to strike with 3 of us making noise on guitars and 2 on vocals. But it all seems to come good in the end.
I’m loving the eclectic blend of influences you have. With so many sounds to draw from, how does a typical song grow from conception to birth?
Generally speaking, we like to jam new parts as much as possible. Try and explore any ideas that may come up. A lot of the time it’s from a small melodic idea, like The Animal You Are, or a riff (Pinch Cut). We’ll learn the part, play around with layers, mess with the dynamics and just let it all breathe as much as we can. There have been many happy accidents when we’ve been writing. Some ideas take a serious amount of refining, others just flow from the off and very quickly resolve themselves.
What would be the major themes and concepts that dominate the song-writing?
For me, lyrically I’d say the album (The Animal You Are) explores human interaction and the many facets of relations between people and politics, which I guess really is the fundamentals of the vast majority of songs ever written! Musically, we’re dynamically broad in scope. That is very likely to remain our thing. We don’t like to put and boundaries in place. There are pros and cons to being signed as much as there are to not being signed I imagine! A label gives you access to more contacts and resources (potentially). It’s arguably harder for an independent band to garner the same level of sway as a label would have. These days I’d certainly say it’s not an absolute necessity to be signed.
Your album has been described as “usering a new phase of modern progressive music”. Where do you see the progressive collective moving in the next few years?
Well that is an immensely flattering description to say the least. I have absolutely no idea where it could go. Like with any genre, you get a handful of standout bands pushing some boundaries that few even realised were there, and then a swathe of bands influenced by the innovators. Progressive music, for me, is just more interesting – it covers so much ground. There are so many amazing bands out there all doing quite wildly different things. It’s hard to imagine anything genuinely ground-breaking (like Meshuggah for example) coming along any time soon. But the great thing about music, is it has a way of surprising you.
There are a plethora of “post-” this and “post-” that genre titles to try and convey the type of music a lot of progressive bands are doing these days. Make up a few to describe your sound.
Post-me some ideas, these are dreadful.
You’ll soon be able to add South Africa as a destination you have toured. What other corners of the earth are you hoping to visit?
Corners? Are you suggesting the earth is a square/cube? We’d love to play anywhere we get the opportunity to do so. It’s be amazing to go out east, Japan, over to Aus and New Zealand. The Americas. Everywhere!
I want to thank you very much for your time and we are all looking forward to your performance. Last question: what is a hypotenuse?
It’s the thing that does the stuff. (Longest side of a right angled triangle)
Jim Hall (Guitarist)