When MAKE released The Golden Veil in 2015, it received its fair share of critical acclaim, it was really heavy with space and atmosphere, while dynamic textures took the reigns over thunderous riffage. It seemed that MAKE would follow in the footsteps of bands such as Rosetta or Russian Circles, then perhaps take five years to carefully create the post rock album of the decade. So it was a little surprising to hear that MAKE took to the studios immediately and that output (Pilgrimage of Loathing) would be ready for July 15th 2016 and be a contender for the angriest release of the year.
Some of the best music is released in times of political, social and economic unrest; and it is the year for that! The Sonic Sensory just had to get to the bottom of all this, and the results speak for themselves.
Sonic Sensory: Last time we spoke, one of the descriptors you used to define The Golden Veil was patient space and texture, the new one does have a variety of textures, but overall its much more in your face, angrier and pissed off, a sign of the times I presume??
Spencer Lee: Yeah, definitely. Dark days.
Scott Endres: Thing is…things were dark enough when we were writing this record and things are so much darker now. How? What the fuck is even happening anymore?! There’s no way I could have anticipated things would get this dark. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know, but 2016 feels like one of the most universally depressing and bleak years I’ve faced in my short life.
SS: What’s it like witnessing the Trump situation unfold in America?, for the minority that actually care about the political state of your country, it must be really scary
SL: Man, it’s really surreal. Appalling and completely mind-blowing. I wake up every morning wondering what kind of atrocity I’m going to hear about that day. But the worst part is knowing that so many people actually support that piece of shit.
SE: I don’t think it’s a minority who care. I think you read about the most sensationalist shit, because our media are fucking irresponsible, and that portrays…falsely…a majority. That said, that there are enough horrible scumbags out there to allow this to happen in the first place means this country has not progressed as much as it loves to think it has. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that there is NO denying this any longer and maybe a fire is lit under some asses. It certainly feels that way.
SS: What’s your take on the current gun laws in America? coming from Australia, we had a massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania 20 years ago. After that our gun laws were changed, much stricter, now you can not hold a gun without a license for purpose (mainly only farmers). Realistically would that work over there?
SL: I’m strongly in favor of far stricter gun control in this country. Conservatives here are absolutely obsessed with this idea that our constitution guarantees every citizen a right to own whatever weapon they please. That idea itself is iffy, and manipulated by conservative judges in the supreme court, but they maintain a white-knuckle grip on it. Two years ago I’d say there could probably be some kind of effective means of escalating gun control here. Now, having seen the level and fervor of support for Donald Trump, I could honestly see an attempt to pass an outright weapons ban resulting in a lot of gun nut violence.
SE: Speaking of Australia, I think that Jim Jeffries bit says it all, no? Look…I’m a little biased here because the idea of hunting and subsequently killing an animal and calling it a “sport” is macabre, but fine. I’m not worried about those people. At the same time, if your life is so fucking ridiculous you need to shoot cans with automatic rifles, then…man…I’d rather you just didn’t…and fuck, I don’t know…go read a book or something. I’ll lead a book group if y’all throw your guns away, I swear. All I know is that this primitive interpretation of the constitution is getting way too many people killed in 2016. Time to fuck off.
SS: The Golden Veil was recorded over three sessions in the space of a year, given it was only a year since the that release, I take it things moved a little more quickly this time around?
SL: Yeah, most definitely. These songs came together really quickly for us. Luke’s drumming style was a part of that, our collective chemistry was too, and we just had a sprint of ideas we really liked. We knew what we wanted it to be about when we started, so we had the emotional content to work with, and writing in a way that spoke to that anger felt as intuitive as it did refreshing. That also made the recording process a lot faster. With each album we took as much time as we needed- on TGV that meant really pacing ourselves and delving as deep into the atmospherics as possible, but with Pilgrimage of Loathing being so direct and aggressive we didn’t want to overproduce it.
SE: For sure, though to be clear we planned on ‘The Golden Veil’ taking that long. This new album just kind of happened in rapid succession. We originally thought we were going to release an EP and then accidentally ended up with enough material for an LP weeks before we hit the studio. If I’m remembering right, ‘Birthed…’ was played through from start to finish for the first time in the studio.
SS: Vocally you guys have added some different dynamics too, some black metal type things going on at times, I especially love the Jacob Bannon raw delivery on Dirt. Its important to keep the listener engaged and on edge, and you guys do that really well.
SL: Thank you! That means a lot as a Converge fan. I wanted to go with vocal styles on this record that reflected the urgency we feel about the subject matter. At a certain point recording vocals I honestly thought I’d given myself a hernia. It felt like a sign that I was doing justice to how I feel about all this shit.
SE: It’s always a favorite studio moment of mine, since we don’t practice with a PA and I’m never really quite sure what Spencer is doing until I’m in the control room and he’s in the booth. And honestly, for that matter, I’m never 100% sure how I’m going to approach my parts until I’m actually recording either.
SS: I presume you guys aren’t in this for the money, there’s not a lot of that going around at the moment. So what drives you? What motivates you? Is it purely for the art, touring, seeing the countryside? Friendships? Please elaborate…
SL: Art, friendships, and using art to try to make sense of ourselves and our world.
SE: Ha! You presume correctly. As to what drives me…I simply can’t imagine not doing this. To not be doing this would be to not be 100% me and that wouldn’t be a life worth living.
SS: Who does your artwork? The work on Pilgrimage of Loathing is really striking stuff.
SE: I do all of the layout and arranging as well as all of the graphic work. Some of the most recent covers have come from public domain scavenger hunts in the form of obscure European artists like Fritz Silberbaur, whose image I cropped and modified for our current cover. I have a friend and co-worker who often leads me down these rabbit holes as part of doing his actual job!
SS: A left field question, what’s the best documentary you have seen recently?
SL: Just recently watched a Smithsonian Channel documentary series called Apocalypse: The Second World War. Totally loved it.
SE: ‘Call Me Lucky’ about the life of Barry Crimmins, directed by Bobcat Goldthwaithe. Not a comfortable watch but a helluva powerful one.
SS: I’d recommend Malcolm Gladwells new podcast, “Revisionist History”, episode 1 just streamed. He is a genius!!
SL: Will definitely check it out! Thanks for the rec!
SE: Right on. The only time I ever even feel the podcast mood is while I’m at work and then usually I’d rather listen to music. WTF is almost the only podcast I listen to regularly.
SS: And the technical aspects of this recording, did you work with any producers, mixers, sound guys? Or is it a true DIY approach?
SL: Yeah, Kris Hilbert who runs the Legitimate Business studio is a really fantastic producer and engineer for us. We’ve been buds for a long time, so it’s a super comfortable relationship, and he has a great ear and mind for exactly what we’re going for.
SE: Kris has an almost perfect, intuitive understanding of who and what MAKE is and what we want. When we’re at Legit Biz Kris is without a doubt the fourth member of the band, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. He has been instrumental in the shaping of these last two records which is important because I prefer to not have an album 100% written when we enter the studio. I love allowing for growth, birth, death and any other happy accidents while in the moment. The closer you stay to that moment of birth while recording? Well, there’s something special about that.
SS: You’re doing a run of shows with Dragged into Sunlight in July, man those guys bring it!! When you tour with a band that are considered peers, does a bit of a competitive streak come out in you? Do you feel like you want to be the best thing the audience see that night?
SL: Oh, not at all. I’m just stoked to be playing music with friends, and honored to have been asked. Playing shows in general is cathartic for me, so I bring everything I can to it.
SE: Nah. I’ll settle for “not embarrassing ourselves” most times.
SS: Any other touring plans for 2016?
SL: None on the books, but we’ll be making the (30-minute) journey out to play Hopscotch Music Festival again in September!
SE: Nah. The cold, hard reality here is that I only have so much paid time off a year and I love my job, and Luke’s got a family and full time job to boot. It’s just not possible to really do more than we currently do.
Listen to the albums second single ‘Birthed into a Grave’ here.