Friday, May 21, 2010
Interview with Misha "Bulb" Mansoor of Periphery!!
Periphery Official Myspace:
Phone interview conducted on May 12, 2010.
WULF: To start off with, I know you guys have probably heard this like, a million times, but your new album is amazing. It's completely nuts.
MISHA: Oh, dude, thank you so much! I'm so glad that you like it!
WULF: I don't know if it's too much for me to say "I've never heard anything like it before" but I feel it's really unique.
MISHA: Thank you, dude.
WULF: Anyway, I'd like to know how the reception is for this new album on your end.
MISHA: You know, it's good, but I don't know...I always feel like I'm looking out for and trying to find the bad reviews because I like to torture myself. I've invested a large part of myself into this album for the last five years and I've put so much into it. I don't know, I like seeing good reviews, but I prefer honest ones. There's definitely people who dislike it or who dislike aspects of it...as with any art form that's to be expected. Sometimes I find reviews (where) people dislike it and they say why, and it's like "alright, fair enough." But sometimes I see reviews and I'm just like, "dude, did you even listen to our album?"
And so, I'm kind of ready for it. But overall I'd say the response has actually been really good, or a lot better than I expected it to be, because I was kind of nervous.
WULF: The first time I actually ever heard about you guys before we got your CD was through MetalSucks and I guess that's kind of coincided with this album, because I've been reading about you guys there and we've got your CD, and so...anyway, I was looking at your Myspace and is it true that you guys have three guitarists in your band?
MISHA: We have three guitarists in the band, yes.
WULF: Yeah, because I saw that in the lineup and I wasn't sure if one guy was (just a touring guitarist). I was wondering (though), doesn't that ever get confusing in the studio or live? Your songs are pretty technical and crazy...
MISHA: Well, here's the way the works-- it just so happened that I wrote the grand majority of the songs on the album, I wrote all of them except for the last song, "Racecar", which I wrote with Jake (Bowen, guitar), and so when writing by myself or with Jake we just tend to write for the sake of writing good songs, and not so much thinking about how we're going to do it live, and since the beginning it's always posed a problem when we've played with two guitars for a brief period, we were always like "wow, we have to keep cutting parts out that are kind of essential", and we can't ever really get the full sound. We write with so many layers, and even with three guitarists there are a bunch of times when it's not enough and we're deleting this or integrating backing tracks because we tend to compose more when we're writing and not really thinking, like, limitations, or how we're going to do (it) live, it's like, "well, we'll figure that out later." And so that necessitated three guitars, because at least (with) three guitars we can get all the cool-looking and sounding riffs out and all the riffy-riffs out in front, and then leave the more ambient, backing track stuff for the backing tracks when we do integrate those. And now that we don't have backing tracks at least we're not compromised severely by having two guitars, so it's always been sort of a thing we have to do out of necessity from the beginning.
WULF: When you guys are playing live, I'm assuming that you've got one guy holding down the rhythm while the other two are doing harmonies and stuff, or--
MISHA: Well, we usually split it up. Having written my parts, I usually like to play a lot of the rhythm parts because they're more fun, and I play my leads. It's the same with Jake on the stuff that he's written. But when it's my stuff I like to split it up, like, everybody has lead parts, everybody has rhythm parts, everybody has clean and ambient parts. I want it to kind of seem like everybody is a lead and rhythm guitarist and split it up as evenly as possible. It's always changing, depending on the song. On one song, it may look like Jake or Alex is actually the lead guitarist of the band, and I kind of like that. And on other songs one of us will each have a lead part, for example.
WULF: So you're all doing lead guitar stuff and rhythm at some points too?
MISHA: Yeah, we're all doing everything.
WULF: That's cool man, I like that. I was surprised when I heard it too because from the way it was described to me I thought it would sound a little bit different. It's pretty aggressive stuff but also (with) both the harsh and clean singing it's also really passionate, and I think when you said "layers", that was a good word because there's a lot going on in the songs. Is there a favorite track in particular that you have for the album? I really like "The Walk", just because the guitar atmospherics are really cool, and the drums are crazy with the rhythms. Is there a particular track that you like, then?
MISHA: There is! I'm really, really proud of "Racecar", the album closer, for a few reasons. One, it's the one song that sort of encapsulates exactly our (sound). Maybe the only reason it can is because it's fifteen minutes long and can go through all the sort of moods that we go through, but also because it's the only song on the album that I wrote with someone else, and as much as I've been writing everything myself, that's not something that I plan on doing forever and I really do enjoy writing with other band members, and that's always something that we will do more of when we all have more free time.
Especially when that's the main limitation. But it was a lot of fun to write that song, and it came out just right, I think, and I'm really proud of that, so that's probably my favorite one at the moment. One thing that's interesting that I've noticed, when you were asking earlier about how (the album) has been received and all that, is one thing that makes me happy, and as subjective as music is and everything, I've definitely noticed that everybody's favorite song is a different song, which makes me really happy, personally. Because I really don't like it when one song gets more attention than the next, and I don't know, maybe it's because they're all like my babies and I want them all to be loved equally, or something. But it's like, ("Icarus Lives!") got a lot of attention, that's our single and there's a video for that, but I don't necessarily think it's our best song. I think it's very catchy and very good at grabbing people right off the bat, but it's interesting to see how, when people sit down with the album, they'll pick two or three of their favorites off the album, and it's always different, to the point where every song is someone's favorite song, which makes me very happy.
WULF: Yeah, it's not like there's just this one song and then people feel like the rest are filler.
MISHA: Like, "why did you put that on the album?! Nobody likes it!"
But (for our album), it's not just that somebody likes it but it's somebody's favorite song, which (would have) made a big difference if we had not put it on the album. That's something that makes me really happy, and I was interested in seeing what your song would be, and "The Walk" is kind of off-the-wall for me, especially because it's one of the older songs on the album, that song is so boring to me now.
It's five years old, it's naturally (that way). But I'm really happy that you like it, I really am.
WULF: Because I'm always kind of curious as to how things go on in the studio, since the last track is so long, would you say, then, that it was the most difficult track you guys had (during) recording or was there (another) track in particular that was hard to nail?
MISHA: That was definitely one of the hardest songs to write vocals for. I think "Buttersnips"...that was a very hard song to get the vocals right on, but I mean, they were all very hard. "Ow My Feelings" took a lot of work with the vocals. It was mainly the vocals because the songs themselves had already been written and tracking them went pretty fast, that didn't take too long. Writing "Racecar" was actually extremely easy and that's maybe why I like it so much, because it was the first time I wrote a full song with Jake, and we didn't know the song was going to be 15 minutes long. We were just writing riffs together. It was just ideas and ideas and ideas and ideas, and we had like three sessions three days in a row and (during) the first session we did about 6 minutes of the song, and (during) the second session I did 4 or 5 minutes by myself, and (during) the third session we wrote the last bit of the song. We just kept on having ways to bring back themes and make it cohesive, but (also) make it longer. We never (meant) to write a song that long, it's kind of crazy to have a song that long but it just sort of ended up being that way.
WULF: Yeah, sometimes some songs just (get written that way).
MISHA: That's why some songs on our album are 3 minutes long, and one is 15 because when we feel the song is done, and we're out of riffs, and we're like "yeah, we said what needs to be said," everything that can be said musically and lyrically, then we're like "alright, it's done."
WULF: That's awesome, man. Just out of curiosity, who wrote the lyrics to the album? Was it you, or was it Spencer, or--
MISHA: No, it was kind of everybody. Some were written by our second singer, Casey (Sabol), some were written by Chris (Barretto), our third singer, and some were written by Spencer. Some were written by our bassist, Tom (Murphy), who actually wrote a lot of the vocal parts. The only thing I didn't do was the vocals. Those were produced and engineered by Spencer's friend, Matt. There's a real sort of amalgamation of all these ideas and efforts that hopefully came out somewhat cohesively...I think it did.
WULF: Yeah, it's great, man. So you guys are about to go to Australia, and did you say that it was tonight that you were leaving or tomorrow?
MISHA: No, we're leaving tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon.
WULF: Wow, that's crazy, man! I'm assuming that you guys have not been to Australia before, like, to play.
MISHA: No, we've never really left the country other than Canada, as far as (together as) a band. I've been to Australia in the past but (have) never gone there to tour or anything like that.
WULF: Well, I just want to say congratulations on that. Also, I've heard that Australia, especially for the metal scene or the extreme music scene, can be kind of crazy. Speaking of touring in the United States, what city would you say has been the craziest, as far as craziest Periphery fans?
MISHA: Honestly, Canada's been really good to us. That's why I'm kind of excited about Australia because I've heard that their fans are kind of crazy like that because they feel like they don't get American bands that often, and Australian fans are even more so desperate (than Canadian fans) for those bands. But I'm expecting the crowds to be kind of crazy there too. But yeah, Toronto and Montreal have been pretty cool. In Oshawa, Ontario, we played this, tiny, tiny venue, but kids were going crazy there! And L.A. is always great to us. California in general is really good to us. I don't know, usually we do better in major markets. I'm trying to think...my memory is so bad. I do remember the Canadian shows being particularly intense, and the fans are intense there. They're really into the bands, I like it. And all of my friends who have toured in Australia talk about how great fans in Australia are. I really can't wait to go down there and meet them.
WULF: Yeah, I'm sure you guys are really pumped. You guys are going with Dillinger Escape Plan, have you talked to them yet? I don't know if they've been down to Australia yet, but if they have, have have they said anything about it?
MISHA: I'm sure they've been to Australia before. Dillinger has been one of my favorite bands in the world forever, so on a personal level that's kind of one of my bucket list items, right there, that I can check off. It's kind of a dream come true, I can't really believe that it's happening, it's like too much. I've just sort of resigned myself to not thinking about it. But yeah, it's going to be crazy. I'm just so honored to be able (to go on tour with them), it's going to be fun to see them every night. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster is also on this tour. I haven't really checked them out but I heard their music at some point and I really dug it, and I knew I really dug it because I didn't know who it was and I was like, "whoa! Who is this?" And (my bandmates) were like, "that's the band we're going to be touring with!" And I'm like, "Oh, that's great!"
WULF: Yeah, it's really rockin' stuff. But yeah, we've been fans of Dillinger for a while and so I'm pretty jealous. I'm not even in a band but it's still pretty cool.
But OK, my last question is a question I always like to ask bands-- who would you say, as far as tours that you've done, is the craziest band that you've ever toured with?
MISHA: Craziest? Like in what sense?
WULF: Craziest, like, maybe not necessarily onstage, but like behind the scenes. Like, wild dudes or just really wacky or whatever.
MISHA: Um...you know what? I think I might have to disappoint you with that because all the bands that we've toured with have been pretty chill, man. I think for the most part, maybe it's the kind of music we play or the kind of tours that we go on, but we've just had the best luck, we end up loving all the bands that we go on tour with.
WULF: No crazy black metal bands or anything?
MISHA: No! They're all chill, really easy-going dudes, so it's like...they might party, but even when they party it's kind of in a chill way and they have a good time and don't go "rock-'n'-roll crazy". And plus, I don't know, maybe it's because we're a little bit older, we're all like (in our mid-20's), but for me personally, partying and going crazy kind of lost its charm a few years ago. So now I just kind of like to take it easy and have a good time, or just like, sleep and relax.
So I'm sorry to disappoint, but maybe it's just my bad memory.
WULF: Well you keep on talking about your bad memory and I was thinking maybe it was due to other things or something!
MISHA: No, it's my bad memory...or maybe we had such a crazy with some band that I forgot it all, drank it away.
But honestly, most of the bands that we tour with, a fair bit of them smoke a lot of weed, and if you smoke weed you're kind of chill, you're not really going nuts. So maybe we need to tour with some bands that do a lot of coke or something, then we can get some crazy stories.
No, but we've just been really lucky in that sense because we like bands that are chill, like us, so we've always had the best time on tour with all the bands, we got along great with everyone, and maybe that doesn't make for crazy stories but (we've made) good friendships and had good times.
WULF: Yeah, I didn't necessarily need to hear any crazy stories or anything, so that's a totally valid answer too, because it's just a little more relaxed and the stereotype on the road is that it can be crazy or whatever, so this is cool too. It's a little different.
MISHA: Well I'm sure it can (get a little crazy), but I mean, you gotta remember, we're a bunch of dorky musicians who play progressive metal, we're not rock 'n' roll, man.
We're not sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. I mean, even if we wanted to be, it just wouldn't be there. You could just come to our show and ask us about our gear and we love it. That's kind of our scene, that's kind of what it's always been and kind of what I'm expecting it to be, but if shit goes on I'm down to see it! But I'm happy with whatever I can get.
WULF: Well, that's cool too, man. Anyway, that's all the questions I've got for you, so I just want to end by saying thanks for taking the time to talk to me--
MISHA: Thank you for interviewing us, man! We really appreciate it.