2015 has (so far) been a year where metal has really transcended genre like no other. It seems that with every passing month, the music being released is more difficult to define, categorise and pigeon hole, and that’s a good thing. Interestingly enough its coming from artists that could be considered underground, largely independent and most importantly expressive and emotive.
MAKE, hailing from North Carolina have just released ‘The Golden Veil’ and it definitely fits the above characteristics, you can listen and purchase it HERE. The Sonic Sensory recently caught up with bassist and vocal contributor Spencer Lee to discuss the new album, religion and their all-important gear.
The Sonic Sensory (Quinton): The Golden Veil is an enthralling but extremely cathartic experience, congratulations on the finished product. What are some of the changes you have made to your sound from Trephine to The Golden Veil?
Spencer Lee (bass/vocals): Hey, thanks, appreciate that! As far as changes to our sound go, I’d say The Golden Veil is a much more patient record than Trephine was. We knew from the outset that we wanted to use the writing of this record to further develop how we work with space and texture. To me, it feels both heavier and spacier than Trephine, and much more fully-realized.
Some bands find the writing process an exhausting one that generates conflict between members, How would you describe the writing process for The Golden Veil and is it a three-way collaborative process?
SL: I’d definitely consider us to be in the opposite camp as a band, in that we all really thoroughly enjoy the writing process, and enjoy recording even more. We try as hard as we can to essentially let our music write itself. When we’re starting from scratch we get together, jam, and record the sessions. That way, we have something that’s a totally extemporaneous stream of consciousness that we can then take and create the foundation for a song as it exists on the album. It’s all 100% three-way collaborative. That’s one of our biggest rules as a band.
When you’re in writing mode, especially during the vocal stages. Do you consciously make an effort to mix things up and be as diverse as possible or is it a natural process that flows from varied musical influences?
SL: Definitely a fully natural process. We generally focus on vocals last. It allows us to really craft them specifically to the rest of the music and treat them more like another instrument or texture. We come up with the concept for each record relatively early in the process so we can think about lyrics and just generally have a centering point to meditate on while we write, but the actual style of the vocals is decided at the end of the process so that everything melds well.
Did you approach the recording of the album with fleshed out demos, or was it a case of bringing in some basic ideas that built in the studio as time went on?
SL: The latter is pretty much exactly how we did this album. It was recorded in three sessions over the better part of a year, which was new for us and really gave us the ability to work hindsight into the writing process. After the first session we did a little bit of demoing at home, recording some extra layers of atmospherics and leads to get an idea of how they would work and what we wanted to do when we went back into the studio, but it started from the basic tracks that are on the finished product. Having the ability to listen obsessively to those tracks and pay attention to what our minds wanted to hear from them was enormously gratifying for us. At the end of the process we really felt like we were able to give this album the attention it needed to reach its full potential.
Trephine largely centred around a concept of the inevitability of ‘the end’ with apocalyptic tones, The Golden Veil also has a concept and motif, can you elaborate on that a little further?
SL: Yeah, absolutely. The title comes from a play on The Golden Ratio or The Golden Spiral, and the idea that those types of patterns can ultimately obscure our perception of reality. One day before a writing session, Scott and I started talking and it turned out we had both independently been on the same thought pattern of late. At its core, it was a deep frustration with humankind’s attempt to fit nature and life into the frames of their preconceived notions as opposed to appreciating the beauty of what’s around us and developing because of it. The overall message of this album is to abandon those things that ultimately taint your vision of the world around you and try to see everything with a completely clear lens.
For the gear-heads can you elaborate on some of the instruments and equipment that you used on The Golden Veil? In particular, was there some sort of pedal or synthesiser that was used to generate some of the ambient/drone sounds? What is that? I want one!
SL: Hahaha, you should pick it up, man! Scott is responsible for most of the synth stuff on the album, and I think he crafted the tones and sounds in Animoog. For my part, I play a Japanese Fender Jaguar bass through a small pedal board (Volume, Micro Pog, El Oso bass distortion, Memory Boy Deluxe, Boss RE-20) into a Sunn 300T and out through an Aguilar DB810. Some of the delay swells on the record (featured just after the middle vocal section in Breathe and in the heavier sections of The Absurdist) were generated by turning the feedback on the Memory Boy all the way up and manipulating the delay speed to change the pitch and timbre, then putting that through the RE-20 to give it an extra spacey feel.
For a 3-piece the density of the sound is impressive, do you envisage any difficulties re-creating the sound and atmosphere on stage?
SL: We definitely can’t do everything in a live setting that we do on the recordings, but we do what we can. Even though we don’t really do demos, we go into the studio with a solid foundation for most of the songs (We Are Coiled was actually entirely improvised in-studio except for the synth), and we try to make those as full as possible from the outset. In a way, I guess we go into the studio with a “live version,” flesh it out to create the album version, and then use that finished as a reference point for revisions to the live material. I’m actually also working on a gear situation that would allow us to play an even closer-to-the-album-version of these songs live. It’s a little harebrained and may turn out to be impractical, but I’m geekily excited about it.
Are you aware that there is a ‘Council of the Golden Veil’ that goes about rectifying the resistance of creation by diminishing the spiritual factors detrimental to the power of creating. I think its some sort of commune farm! Is there any chance that MAKE could play a gig at the farm on an upcoming tour?
SL: Hahahaha, I had no idea about them! Shit, I’d play, but I don’t think they’d like us, unless they’re into hacking up crosses, setting them on fire, and getting high on the smoke and the euphoria of Godlessness. Ironically, to my mind it kind of sounds like their mission statement is directly antithetical to the concept for this record. I’ve always felt that religion has been one of the most flagrant culprits of stigmatising the world, and often in the most meaningless and detestable ways, but I suppose I’ve also always admired people who can open themselves up to viewpoints that disagree with their own…
Thanks very much guys. SS
SL: Thank you, It’s been a pleasure!
To read ‘The Golden Veil’ reviewed by The Sonic Sensory follow the LEAD