“The Cut? Wait, what is that?!”
The Cut is a student-ran magazine at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Among their ranks is resident metalhead and admin Dan Curhan, regular HBIH reader and commenter. While The Cut is a music rag of sorts, their focus isn’t really the same as ours; while Dan runs a monthly metal column, the overall scope is more broad and all-encompassing. Not too long ago, Dan hit up Heavy Blog favorites Corelia for an interview and thought it appropriate for us to cross-post. We were more than happy to oblige! Read Dan’s interview with guitarist Chris Dower, bassist Adrian Alperstein, and drummer Clayton Pratt below, where they discuss their excellent new EP Nostalgia and vocalist Ryan Devlin’s new position in The Human Abstract.
The Cut: You guys have just recorded and released your EP, and you did that all yourselves, right?
Chris Dower: Yeah, we pretty much did everything ourselves. The only we didn’t really do ourselves was the final mastering. The guy who mastered it, his name is Luke Martin, he’s from the UK. Um, cool guy. Never really talked to him, just over Facebook, but he offered to master the EP for free. So we called him up.
The Cut: Nice! So did you buy all your equipment? Or did you rent it? Or..?
CD: Well, Ryan [Borrell, the other guitar player] and I both own Axe-Fxs, so that makes recording the guitar pretty easy. Other than that, we just used Superior Drummer for the drums, and vocals…
Clayton Pratt: Yeah, vocals we pretty much did the same thing. Cheap stuff, we used a [PreSonus] FireBox, which is a lower model of a Firepod, which we used for the interface and the preamp for the mic. The mic we used was an SM-7b, and going into Cubase, and yeah, that’s it. That’s all we use.
The Cut: Nothing too fancy, but it came out really good.
CD: Yeah, we were surprised. We were kinda wary – we started recording the EP and we were like “uhh how’s this gonna turn out? we’re not really experienced with self recording.” It was painful, but it turned out really well, I think.
CP: Yeah, it took a lot of extra time making, like, that kind of stuff sound professional. We just took the extra time to make it sound professional.
The Cut: How long did it take you? Writing included?
CD: I think it was like, November last year we really started putting the songs together. A lot of material was already written but they were just kinda like scattered ideas that weren’t put together yet. We just really focused on writing probably from November to like, I guess through February and that’s when we started recording. As far as I can remember… You guys remember exactly when we started recording?
CP: We kinda did it splotchy too… We did demos starting in like November and that continued til like… we were thinking about it with Matt for a while, and we were going back and forth with him, and we finally decided we were going to do it ourselves, I guess like, in April.
CD: Really? I thought it was, yeah… I guess it was March. Up until July when we started wrapping things up, figuring out how we were going to get it distributed. We ended up going through a popular company called CD… makers?
CP: CD baby.
Adrian Alperstein: Disk Makers
CD: Hah, yeah, Disk Makers. Yeah, they’re like the top result when you Google “printing CD’s” so we just went with it cause it seemed like the best deal, and that was that.
The Cut: So did you guys fund all this yourselves? Or did you have help from people who were interested in you?
CD: Uh no, it was pretty much funded ourselves, every single thing. Except for the microphone, which we borrowed. Spencer, from Periphery let us borrow his mic.
CP: We could have bought it, but it was just an easy thing to borrow.
The Cut: And he played with you guys before, right?
CD: Yeah, we didn’t really get very far. Um, like I’d been jamming with him for a while, and we decided to actually start really working on building a band basically, and um, we recorded the beginning of one song and then…
CP: Glass Faces
CD: Yeah, we started writing and recording that, and then that’s when he got the offer from Periphery. So yeah, that kind of unfolded, and he offered to continue singing for us, but we decided we needed a full time singer so we started looking for one, and we found Ryan.
The Cut: What do you guys think of Ryan and his tour with THA?
CD: I think it’s awesome, and it kinda happened at a good time, right as our album was coming out, so we got a lot of exposure from that.
CP: Yeah, it really just gave us some time to work on the material, and make sure it’s good. And he’s coming back this weekend, so we’re pretty prepared for him to come and practice with the vocals now, and… it’s pretty smooth. It was a pretty good time for it to happen.
The Cut: Is this the first time any of you has been on tour?
CD: I’ve never toured before.
CD: Adrian, how bout you?
AA: No, not tours
The Cut: How did they find him?
CD: Well, their singer quit, so they were looking for a fill-in cause they were booked for tours already, which were the Frak the Gods tour and the European tour that they’re doing right now. And yeah, I guess Spencer recommended Ryan
CP: I think it was Misha [Mansoor, guitarist of Periphery] first, actually, I mean, yeah, Spencer and Misha both. I guess AJ went to Misha to see if he knew anybody, and Misha recommended Ryan. Misha talked to Spencer about talking to Ryan too.
The Cut: Have you been getting any interest from important people, like labels or other bands that want to tour with you or things like that?
AA: We’ve had a few bands talk to us, but nothing that went too far, mostly because of our situation, where we’ve been at. We’ve had a few labels talk to us, mainly Inside Out, Century Media, and then now I guess Metal Blade and stuff like that, but nothing’s come to fruition yet regarding any of that stuff.
CP: Obviously Periphery have an interest in touring with us, we’ve been talking to Spencer about that, and basically that’s it, as far as…
AA: Yeah, we were just assembling the pieces for a while and finally things have come together, and we’re just now about to do all the things that we’ve been building towards. So if you’d have caught us in about two months… it probably would have been different.
The Cut: What do you think a dream tour would be? What bands do you want to tour with? Where do you want to go?
CP: I think we can all agree on some.
AA: Yeah, I know one of my favorite bands, Between the Buried and Me, and another of my favorite bands, Dream Theater. They toured together once before, and I was so pissed I missed it.
The Cut: I caught that tour! With Opeth and 3
CD: Yeah I missed that too, I was pissed also
CP: 3 was so good on that tour
The Cut: Yeah, they were so heavy.
AA: It was back when I lived in Pennsylvania and the nearest venue was like three and a half hours away, and I don’t think I had a car at the time.
CD: I’d say Dream Theater and Opeth. Those are my two favorite metal bands, pretty much, so playing with them would be a dream.
CP: Yeah, I gotta go with you on that one. Dream Theater and Opeth are my two favorites.
AA: Yeah, I’ll go with those two also, but I’m keeping BTBAM in mine, I don’t care.
The Cut: I don’t hear much Opeth influence in your music.
CD: Yeah, I thought about that recently too. There’s a lot of bands that people on YouTube comment on saying “oh, it sounds like this, it sounds like that” but I’ve never seen one Opeth.
CP: I think I’ve seen one. Maybe two. No, one.
AA: I think a lot of the stuff that we decided not to release with Nostalgia, that we’re kind of working towards for the next one, plus some newer stuff that we’re writing, it shines through a little more than some of the stuff we did end up releasing.
CP: I think it also reflects the way we write our music too. Most of the stuff we’ve written has been digital, like kinda just sending back and forth. Chris will write guitar riffs, big ideas, and we’ll expand on them and stuff, and that kind of reflects in our music. If we were writing music in a more jam type setting more often, I think our Opeth influence would shine through a bit more cause I see them as more of a jam type band.
CD: Yeah, we’re definitely heading a little bit more in that direction.
The Cut: Cool. Yeah, your style of music with an Opeth-y vibe would be really interesting. Certainly something I’ve never heard before.
CP: It’s gonna be sick.
The Cut: Kind of along those lines, you were talking about the next thing. What are your plans for what you’re doing next?
AA: Everything! No, haha. We’re working on a full length album that we;re writing right now. The writing process is coming along absolutely great. We’re all more motivated than we;ve ever been before, so everything in that regard is going fantastic. Along with that, just as many shows and tours and as much of whatever we can do as possible.
The Cut: Have you guys played live yet?
CD: No. That’s the goal.
CP: We probably would have by now if Ryan hadn’t done the Human Abstract thing.
AA: It’s not like we don’t want to, and we’ve all played live before in other bands, but…
CP: We just didn’t want to until we had a group of songs that we were completely happy with. And the album didn’t release until after Ryan left, so we have to wait for him, and rehearse a little with him, and then it will be time to start with that.
CD: We’ve really been meticulous with preparing everything, finding the right members, finding our sound, figuring out what we want to do, basically.
AA: It took us a while to get a second guitar player and a singer.
CD: Basically as soon as we had a core lineup we decided it was time to start working on the EP. so that took up a chunk of our time, and now that that’s out of the way, I think we’re good to go.
CP: Actually, know what? I kinda retract that. It didn’t take us a while to find the people and do what we did, we just started to gain popularity faster than a lot of bands might, or something, that are just starting out. We’ve only been together like a year and a half or something.
CD: Yeah, as a full band, a year and a half.
The Cut: You said you used Superior Drummer for the drums. Did you write everything out beforehand and then… I know when I write stuff, I mess around, come up with stuff I like and arrange it all in GuitarPro. Do you guys do something similar?
CD: Yeah, GuitarPro is our friend.
AA: It’s really helpful because I don’t live close. They live probably 45 minutes away from me, and it makes it really easy: if you have an idea, you just put it in there and send it over the internet to the other band members and they can tweak whatever and mess with stuff.
The Cut: And you’ve released a few GuitarPro tabs on your website…
CD: Yeah, and we plan on releasing all of the ones we have so far, it’s just that we’ve been so involved with practicing and writing new music that we haven’t updated all the GuitarPros with all the parts that were written in the studio or tweaked in the studio.
CP: I think as far as the superior drummer question goes, i think the core reason why we use it is because it’s the best option that we have available to us. If one of our parents or someone had access to a studio 24/7, we could write and tweak 24 hours a day, which is what we do all the time – we constantly change our ideas and stuff – It’d be really hard to get away with that without having access to a digital interface. If we recorded drums, they’d be really expensive first of all, and we did everything ourselves, and we didn’t have the money to do that the first time… Our ideal setup would be to record live drums, and get everything goin as live and jammy as possible.
The Cut: When you recorded it, did you use a live kit with triggers, or did you an electronic kit?
CP: No, I programmed everything by hand in the whole thing. When I do it, it’s all imagined through a real drum set, like, all the dynamics and everything. So really it;’s going to sound almost identical to how it would in real life on real drums.
CD: When I was trying to start a band in high school, we paid to get a song recorded. and i was so excited, like ‘yeah we’re spending money on a studio, it’s gonna turn out good’ and it just turned out utterly terrible. You really have to know what you’re doing, have to know how to work with your music.
CP: You gotta have passion too, you can’t just go to some guy.
CD: Yeah, a lot of the studio guys are just working it like a 9-5 job, not putting much passion into the bands.
The Cut: you guys mentioned the deathcore scene in san diego. How do you guys feel about djent?
CD: I don’t really have much of an opinion on it. We get tagged as djent a lot, but I accept it cause its a trending niche right now so we get some exposure.
CP: It’s relevant.
CD: I don’t really have much bad to say about it, but I really don’t have anything… I don’t want to say positive, but…
AA: Here’s what I’ll say. I’ll say that I don’t like to get stuck too much in one sort of genre. When we write we write whatever sounds good and feels good and i don’t care whether it just branches off towards something totally different. a lot of good bands are labeled as djent and a lot of people label us as djent, even though i don’;t feel we fit in with the majority of the djent bands out there in most ways. In a few ways I can see it, but most ways we don’t. and the scene as a whole, it’s pretty cool, but i think there’s still a lot of oversaturation. But i think that’s any genre with media the way it is, and the internet and stuff. And there’s a lot of bands that try too hard to stay within the djent thing. I don’t really like a lot of those bands too much, but the ones that are very much so djent that just happen to be there, doing a lot of cool stuff are still extremely interesting and i still like them a lot.
CP: I think it’s kinda weird how the djent thing has been connected to the whole home studio recording thing. I don’t really know how that started, probably with Misha and Periphery, and he’s kinda like a forerunner in the home studio recording thing with a cheap setup. Most djent bands do the home studio thing too.
The Cut: With most djent bands it’s not about the tone, just the “djent djent” sound which you can achieve with modeling and sampling. You can program the guitars and make a djent song.
CP: Yeah, I think that’s why it’s oversaturated.
The Cut: Yeah that’s why there’s so much controversy surrounding the genre because people feel like it’s too easy to get into it.
CP: Yeah, it’s so rhythmically based. At least, as far as the djent tone, I mean. It doesn’t say anything about melody, it’s all about the rhythm. Anyone can pick up a guitar and start screwing around with simple rhythms, and I think that’s a big part of it too.
The Cut: So you’ve been compared to a bunch of bands like BTBAM, SikTh, Protest The Hero… all of those are incredibly mathy. They play with all kinds of complex, odd time signatures, not even predictable time signatures. You guys take a little bit more of a conservative approach toward the mathy side of things, but your music still sort of fits in with theirs a little bit, especially in terms of the complexity and style. Do you have a comment on this?
AA: I’m actually glad you brought that up. I feel one thing our music has that I really like is that we incorporate a lot of weird time signatures and a lot of cool stuff in it, but we try to always make it flow properly. So someone who’s not just really into crazy heavy music can listen to it and be like “oh that’s a pretty cool song” or something, and be melodic in a way that it all just flows together. And a lot of people don’t realize how many weird time signatures are in there until they look at the GuitarPros or something like that. That’s something we try to do that not every band tries to do. Or they didn’t start off like that, and eventually gravitated toward being more melodic and making things flow better.
CP: The melody drives the time signatures more than the time signatures drive the melody.
CD: When I write my guitar stuff, I usually don’t even really think of it in terms of time signatures. It’s a good point, it’s driven my the melody. And sometimes, the melody ends up having a few off meters here and there, and I think it makes things tie together and flow well too.
AA: We’re definitely not scared to have them in there.
The Cut: It definitely feels like you guys aren’t doing it for the novelty like some bands seem to do.
Be sure to keep up with Corelia on Facebook. If you haven’t already, give Nostalgia a listen on Bandcamp. This is a band you don’t want to miss out on!