With their new album out this very week, and a Stateside tour kicking off this week supporting Protest the Hero, heroes of the djent scene TesseracT are undoubtedly very busy, but guitarist James Monteith was kind enough to take the time to sit down and respond to my wild ramblings.
He reflects on the measure of the band’s recent success, the new album, and meeting fans at his least rock-star moment…
Hi James, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First up: I hope it isn’t too presumptuous to say it’s been a pretty incredible year for you guys. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any band ‘catapulted’ (and I say this off-handedly because I don’t doubt that a huge amount of hard work has gone into your success so far) in the way you have. So how’s the ride been for you?!
Haha – intense, exhausting and exciting I guess…although I don’t think we’ve had a chance to take our feet of the accelerator and really reflect. Up until recently we were totally D.I.Y. with a plan to achieve as much as we could on our own steam before bringing in any other people or companies. Once we hit our inevitable ceiling, Century Media came in and did a great job of building on our ground work and suddenly we’re here! As I say it’s been non-stop work and has felt quite gradual, but I can see how we maybe perceived as an overnight success! However I don’t feel we’re at all a ‘successful band’ yet, but one who has enjoyed some small successes. We’ve been given a great opportunity, so this is hopefully just the beginning.
So not ‘stardom’ exactly, but your popularity has come about quickly. I assume you’ve not yet sunk to the life of casual drugs, cheap bitchez and general depravity we’d expect from an entrenched rockstar? How does Tesseract’s djentle djiant (sorry) fill his down time? Any interesting hobbies?
Haha…well to go back to my previous answer, I don’t think we are or I am anywhere close to stardom, so life is not so different to a year ago! However I was once recognized as I left the office I used to work at – which would normally be flattering – however I was all suited up in my bicycle gear, geeky helmet, and jeans tucked into my socks (cyclists will understand) and basically looked a bit silly. Plus I think I had a visible bogie on show – the kind that you can feel but don’t want to blatantly pick mid-conversation. Being a self-conscious type I couldn’t help feeling like I’d let the rock ‘n’ roll side down.
As for what I do: we’re still hands on with the business and promo side of the band, so that takes up a lot of time, plus I also co-run a music PR company as my day job (shameless plug: check out the new Born Of Osiris album The Discovery out on the 22nd [do so – it’s pretty sweet! Ed.]) as well as working for Basick Records. With all this activity I don’t have too much time left, but what I do have I like to spend hanging out with my wife and two boys.
I’m quite into red wine and cheese actually (much to the amusement of my band mates) and food in general. When we’re on tour I love eating locally. I had some amazing street food in India!
And drugs? You have to dedicate time to these, and time is a luxury I don’t have these days. When I was 21 it was a different story!
How has the presumably massively increased workload affected the other areas of your life?
The toughest part is not being able to spend as much time as I want with my family. As I write this I’m on a plane to the US and won’t see them for 2 months. At least we have Skype these days! I also don’t get to play nearly enough non-TesseracT guitar, which I plan to rectify as soon as I get the chance.
Deeply probing personal questions aside, something that’s been bugging me for a while, and we need an official word: is it Tesseract or TesseracT?!
Well both are the same word, but the latter looks better. If you want our name to look better on your page, use that one.
Obviously the big deal at the moment is the impending release of One. We’ve already heard Concealing Fate, but how would you describe the remaining tracks? Any particular mood or themes?
Each song is its own and covers varying topics, mostly by Dan drawing references from past experiences. That guy’s seen some crazy shit, but it’s probably best I leave him to talk about that.
Sound wise, “Lament” sets the general tone of the record, “Nascent” goes a little more sinister and dark, “Sunrise” (after concealing fate) is a heavy but a less intellectually intense breather, “April” is deep and euphoric and “Eden” is the epic!
The “Concealing Fate” DVD is performed entirely live and we’re really proud of the result. Partly because we played it with out any major fuck ups, but mainly because it captures a ‘realness’ that we feel most modern metal recordings lack.
Are you doing anything special to celebrate the launch? Any wild parties, huge Wembley gigs, or perhaps an introspective drum circle?
Touring the US with Protest The Hero! No wild parties planned though, however I’m sure there will be many impromptu celebrations. Jay will probably get his mangina out.
So perhaps you’re not up to filling Wembley yet, but you’re pretty well established in the UK now. What are your plans, if any, for world domination? Where has been your favourite ‘foreign’ place to play and why?
Plan is to keep playing where ever anyone will have us, and get album two finished. There has been talk of doing another LXD, although nothing confirmed, as well as talk of going to even more new places far far way. I’m sure we’ll know more in the next few months…
I’ve loved all the places we’ve played – from the sun of Sicily to the curry India, from the vodka of Russia to the lard of America, it’s all been great – and where ever you go, all music fans are just as cool and welcoming. So I’m afraid I can’t name one favourite place!
Bearing in mind your recent US tour with Devin Townsend, if Tesseract were a fourth dimensional, intergalactic empire (seriously, bear with me here) – not so far removed from, say, a certain omniversal omniscient warlord’s – who would be the proverbial Ziltoid…and who would be the making the coffees?
Mos, and a worker at Costa Coffee.
So as you said, you’re back in America for Protest the Hero’s Scurrilous tour. How did that come about? What are you looking forward to most about it?
We got offered the slot so jumped at the chance. We’re all into Protest the Hero and as it coincides with our album release it was a no brainer. Mostly I’m looking forward to playing a load of shows, meeting great people, and eating In N Out Burger.
A question to please the tech nerds: what equipment do you like to use, and why? How is the Tesseract sound created?
Amp-wise, Acle and I are using Peavey 6505+s, from which you can get great rhythm tones. They’re super tight for intricate riffing, but also have massive balls when needed.
The TesseracT ‘sound’ I guess comes from the clean guitars, for which I use a Line 6 Pod and Acle uses an Axe FX Ultra. We rerun these direct to the PA, which is how we create that glassy non-guitary like sound as we bypass the amp. Acle developed this sound while working on the early TesseracT demos in his bedroom (with no amp) before we were a band.
We featured Jamie’s other band Heights a few weeks ago. Have you got any side projects of your own?
Sadly not at the moment, mainly due to the TesseracT/work/family balance being a tricky juggle as it is, but I would love to do something when time allows.
I occasionally fantasize about doing a simple hardcore band with chunky riffs and lots of shouting in the vein of Madball, Terror, Stampin Ground etc. I’m also into electronic music and would love to one day work on a metal cross over project. Djent n bass? Lol. Maybe not.
Well, that about wraps it up. Thank you very much for your time, and the best of luck for the year ahead!
Thanks very much dude!
One is out this very moment and you should definitely buy the crap out of it – it’s totally bitching. Catch them on the Scurrilous tour if you can, or back in the UK later this year!