Amos Williams, bassist of London-based prog-rock/metallers TesseracT, recently spoke to us about the band’s sound, their ambitions and dumping his wife for his music.
At the risk of asking a very annoying question, how would you describe your music to people who haven’t heard it before?
Myself and James (Montieth, guitar) were laughing about this the other day. We are whatever you accept us to be. It is always subjective. That’s the beauty of being human. From our point of view however we are progressive rock. But from your point of view, I would hazard a guess that you hear us as progressive metal? We have details however, subtleties, tiny dimensions if you like, that affect the sound and development of the song. We don’t consider ourselves virtuoso in any way, and tend to shy away from ‘showing off’, for lack of a better term. We try to always do what is right for the music. It has to move you both physically, mentally and emotionally. We want to make it real. The vibrations coming out of your speakers need to do more than just make you say ‘cool’ or ‘brutal riff’, but have to make you want to nod your head and really stir up things inside of you.
Who are your main influences?
Sonically, or do you mean, what do you like to listen to? As these are two different things. We want to sound as energetic, alive and as clear as possible. As if we were in your head, opening doors to imaginary worlds – sorry to sound so pretentious haha! So we have technical influences like Alan Parsons (who engineered ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ by Pink Floyd), a man who creates a dark stage upon which the sounds are like holographic spirits fleeting in and out of the stage lights. Also, artists like Imogen Heap and Bjork who focus on framing the vocals in a very emotive manner. Artistically, again we love Pink Floyd, and feel we’ve kind of taken up where they left off at the end of their album ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. Of course there is the musical influence of Meshuggah and Fredrick Thordendal, but not in the manner you might think. It’s more the approach to ‘song’ writing. The production on 30 second to Mars’ last album is stunning. haha – street cred goes out the window!
As for what we listen to. I know we all really dig Meshuggah, Mats Morgan, Textures, and Tool, the usual alternative basket, but we really like things like Jeff Buckley, Tracy Chapman, The Doors, Pink Floyd (again), Deftones, and I’m really into quite minimalist stuff like Bohren & der club of Gore, and Philip Glass.
You recently parted ways with charismatic vocalist Abisola Obasanya, why did he leave? How is Dan Tompkins fitting in?
Abi felt he couldn’t balance the life he wanted with the commitment needed for TesseracT. He was also going in a different direction artisticly. So, we came to the realisation that it just wasn’t right anymore. Yes, we miss him. Myself and James were in a band called 209 with him many many moons ago, when Nu-Metal was in. That’s in fact how we met Acle (Kahney, guitar), but thats another story…
As for Dan. We knew of Dan from gigging with his previous band First Signs of Frost. To use an old cliché, we were blown away by his ability and style on stage. So we approached him, and gave him one track to try some stuff over. Honestly, we knew from the short 20 second demo he sent to us that we had found our man instantly. There’s not much more to say other than, sometimes it’s just right. Love at first sight so to say! We love the new vibe we have, and also where this sound is hinting at going. The new album is great, but the future is so exciting for us musically.
Apparently your debut album is finished, why can’t we buy it yet? How difficult is it to be an underground band in the UK and stick to your musical principles?
There’s no apparently about it! It’s been finished for quite some time now. I think we finished it in February. We are basically thinking long term. We’ve had offers that some bands may have jumped on… We are lucky to have a few experienced heads in this band and to be working with a great management team that has our best interests at heart. We could’ve signed a deal that (without going into detail I’m afraid) would have tied us down for a LONG time, without any recompense or guarantee that we’d be made a priority. What would be the point in that? Everything we have done so far has been off our own back. We own everything, so why sell it for so little relatively? We promise the album will be out soon, but it will be on our terms and as a result the band should have a longer life, a far better chance of surviving the many pitfalls that can befall a band.
The underground is limited in the UK. There is not much territory to exploit and the audience is small compared to the US. Why does the US have so many great bands break through from the underground? I think perhaps they have a market five times bigger than ours and many many more regions to tour and make money from initially. So, a lot of bands jump at the short term gain, and stumble as a result. We’re trying to protect ourselves and the investment we have made both financially, emotionally and physically into this. I’d argue that anybody in their right mind would do the same, yes?
You’re about to play in Russia, what does that feel like? How are you getting your songs heard across the world?
Russia is going to be amazing! These are the things you have to do to get noticed. The UK is TINY, just one little bit of this big bad wonderful globe. So, in order to survive you have to travel. Go where people want you to go. The internet means that your music can be truly global. Digitally you can sell worldwide, and perform worldwide too. Incidentally we are planning a ‘live’ gig, a stream of a show to go out live, hopefully we’ll get an international audience big enough to make some waves. It’s strange, the ‘Djent‘ community is quite small in each territory. But put them all together and you have a country’s worth of passionate intelligent music minded people who LOVE music. That’s how we’ve got our music heard across the world. The community or scene we have sprouted from is international from the start.
Did you really have to choose between the band and a marriage? If so was this like an ultimatum on her part or did you just feel you had no time left for your personal life?
Now, why would I lie about something like that…yes it is true. Long story made short: I had an opportunity to save my marriage, I went to rehearsal instead, and never went back. What a way to end a 12 year relationship! My (current) girlfriend would like to add that I would choose her over rehearsal.
Last week’s interview was with: The Haunted’s Peter Dolving.