Intronaut have long been a blog favorite, and with the release of their newest album The Direction Of Last Things just about a month away, we’re all incredibly excited for them. Many of us have heard the album, and we are telling you right now that it will be one of the best albums on this year, and will rival Prehistoricisms in both musical and lyrical contents. Its sheer musicianship is unbelievable, and the band seem to have dialed in on what they excel at, and have gone above and beyond the expectations we all had for them. I got to chat with Sacha about the new record, as well as about his guitar company and what good music he’s been jamming lately, so check it out after the jump!
To begin, the first thing I noticed before even hearing any of the music was the absolutely gorgeous album artwork, which kinda reminded me of Prehistoricisms because of the spiraling birds and all that. Was there any particular reason you chose to utilize elements from artwork you’ve previously put out on album covers?
Yeah, I mean the guy had the idea to do it, and so we went with it. He sorta proposed the idea, showed us the art, and we weren’t gonna complain about it because it looked great.
The album itself feels like it all ties in very well together. Is there an overarching theme to the album, or is it more on-the-fly stuff that you guys just came up with while jamming?
No, I mean there isn’t really a concept to the album, either lyrically or musically. But none of the music is written while jamming. Even though it’s all worked out and comes to life while we jam, most of it is written as a skeleton of songs before everything. It’s just a collection of songs we decided to work on and flesh out.
Would you guys consider doing a concept record?
Actually Valley Of Smoke was one. It was about lesser-known stories and facts about our home city of Los Angeles. But to be honest, it’s not something I’m really interested in doing right now. I feel like it’s been done a lot but it’s just not interesting to me I guess. There’s bands out there that make concept records often and put more thought into them than we ever would, so why would we even bother trying if we aren’t going to be in it 100%, you know?
I feel you, and actually it’s funny you mention that, because you’re touring with Between The Buried And Me this fall, and they’ve basically made a living off making concept records.
That’s literally who I was just thinking about! They do such a job, and it’s such a huge part of their records, that I can’t see myself doing that. Particularly since they also work their lyrics into the concepts. Lyrics and all that to me has been very much a secondary concern to me, and I think that it’s much more interesting to me to speak with the music. The music that I love has always been less about saying what they want with words and more about saying what they want with music, and some of them don’t even have lyrics, or lyrics you understand. How I personally try to convey a feeling or try to get a message across is through the music, or with using vocals as an instrument regardless of what you’re saying. I have more fun playing with that than writing lyrics.
Well musically you guys always seem to paint a pretty good picture, especially considering your songs have long instrumental breaks and less lyrics than most bands.
Yeah, that’s true.
Speaking of the music, one of the things everyone was really amped on was Devin Townsend handling mixing duties for the record. How did that come about?
There were just a couple of people we were talking to about mixing the record, and he was definitely very high on our list. I mean, personally I’ve been a fan of his records going on 20 years now. He’s just a master of making fucking huge sounding records. We weren’t sure if he was doing mixing anymore, but we hit him up and he was super into it. Next thing we knew, he was mixing the record.
So it was basically a little dream come true for everyone?
It was just so easy to work with him, too. We had, like, one telephone conversation where we talked about what we wanted, and honestly I felt like he was nervous that we wouldn’t like the mix. He sent his first pass and was like ‘Yeah, I hate this, I don’t know, feel free to tear it apart if you want’, and it was like ‘Holy shit this is absolutely perfect.’ It was that quick and easy. It came out exactly like I pictured it sounding like. We wanted to have a bigger sounding record, a little bit slicker sound, and he just nailed it right out of the gate.
Particularly with the harsh vocals, which you guys started using again, I definitely agree. They shine more on this record than any other Intronaut release, and I think that largely has to do with the mix isolating and showcasing you and Dave [Timnick] perfectly.
Yeah, for sure.
To build a little on that, on the last record you guys really experimented by abandoning harsh vocals for the most part, but now you guys are back, and have some of your heaviest work on the new record. What made you guys decide to use them again?
Well it really just happened organically. There’s never a conversation about what the new record is gonna sound like before we begin working on it. It just takes shape, and like halfway through you find the direction. This time around it just fit with the music. There was more aggressive music coming out of us and it just felt right to scream over all the stuff.
Do you have any favorites from the record?
I really love all of the tracks, honestly. “Fast Worms” and “Digital Gerrymandering” especially are what I really love front to back. “The Unlikely Event Of A Water Landing”…that’s a Dave song, and honestly when he brought in his original rough demo I wasn’t too into it at first. But after we worked on it and tracked it, it became one of my favorite songs we’ve ever done. I’m not sick of the new record yet, which is great. Most of the time by the time the record is doing being mixed I’m over it. This is a good sign that I’m not over the stuff yet.
You guys definitely went back to a more guitar-oriented sound on this record as well. Now it feels like you and Dave can go hard and come up with some really great guitar stuff, especially in terms of the ambient stuff you guys are doing.
Thanks man. It was a conscious effort, a little bit. I had a lot of material stockpiled and as I was organizing it and demoing song ideas for everyone I just decided at one point that I like the stuff we wrote with our bodies rather than our brains. I put all the mellow shit back and got kinda caveman with it right out of the gate and elaborated on it from there. That’s probably why it sounds more guitar-driven this time around.
I feel like the 10th anniversary tour you guys did also aided that, considering your earlier stuff was less melodic and ambient and was all just super heavy and sludgy stuff.
Yeah, I mean, honestly I feel like maybe it was because on our last record we toured that album more than any other album ever. All those songs are more mellow, and I feel like I just wanted to play something more exciting, for me more intense. I was writing with that in mind. After a while, playing mellow songs gets monotonous and not exciting. Especially considering we toured with really heavy bands, it made me wanna do something more that this time around.
Speaking of touring, after this tour with Between The Buried And Me, do you have any plans for 2016?
There are thing planned, nothing I can’t announce yet. There’s a cool headlining tour that I think everyone’s gonna be pumped on as far as the lineup goes. We’re also gonna hit Europe and stuff, too.
That sounds like it’s gonna be awesome! As far as some of the bands, are they mostly younger bands or ones that are more seasoned? I mean you guys are touring with Native Construct soon, and so many new bands have really adopted and embraced progressive metal. What do you think about all these young bands?
Well Native Construct is really impressive stuff. I don’t mean this negatively, it’s not really my thing, but what I heard is pretty incredible. I think they’re cool because it’s not some kind of easily categorized trend or something. It’s just straight up technical progressive music. It’s not necessarily the prog I’ve always been drawn to, but I appreciate that there’s bands like that that really focus on the musicianship like that. There’s a ton of new bands out there that are way more technically proficient than I am, and they’re like half my age. I say good for them, because they’re the next gen of prog bands that are upping the ante that the generation before them did.
Is there anything new that’s come out this year you’ve really enjoyed?
As far as prog stuff, honestly I peaked as far as my pure dedication to finding new bands like ten years ago. After a certain amount of bands I discovered, you kinda need something else to draw inspiration from as well. As far as prog goes, I still jam the stuff I used to really be into, like Opeth and Yes and King Crimson. There are new bands that I think are cool, but as far as younger metal bands, I don’t know if there’s anything that comes to mind. It’s not a dig to any of these bands, but I am just not an active listener of new bands like I used to be. Like with Native Construct. I had my fill of that before, but that’s not to say they aren’t a great and talented band. I just discovered the new Opeth after giving up on them for a while, and it’s been out for a while now.
Yeah, I feel you, I still have a bunch of records from this year that I haven’t even listened to yet because I haven’t found the time, but I’m getting there.
So what am I missing? What stuff should I listen to that I haven’t yet?
Oh, man. Dreadnought is a really good band that I think you’d be into. They’re sludgy doom metal. The new Caspian is great, the new Dumbsaint is phenomenal. Australian post-metal is great, and it has an accompanying film that goes with the album. I also revisited some older stuff like Burst and Krallice.
I also checked out the new Bell Witch recently that was some cool shit.
Oh yeah, they rule! Now, I want to talk about something slightly related to the new album, because it’s very well known now that you are a guitar luthier and have your own company Dunable Guitars. It’s really cool, and I dig how you’ve gotten your feet wet and started to make a name for yourself with some quality instruments. Where do you want the company to go in the next few years? Do you want to keep it simple or expand?
I mean, I don’t even have time where I want it to go, because it’s just going where it’s going. It’s grown so much since I formally launched like two years ago. It’s a little more than I can actually handle on my own, so I have been looking into what the next step is, especially since I’ll be gone playing music a lot. I have been looking into what I should do as far as bringing in some more help given the workload. We’ll see what happens. You don’t want to count your chickens before they hatch, and I do enjoy keeping it at a smaller scale, so that if it dries up at some point there’s less to lose, but I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m not a businessman, and I’m learning as I go.
I think it speaks to the impact you’ve had recently that it has been more than you can handle, which shows how it really truly is growing on its own with grassroots following.
Yeah, for sure!
Now we all just need money to buy your guitars!
Well, they’re not that expensive. To be honest, once a guitar gets to, say, $2,000 or more, there’s very little difference.
Tell that to the company making that signature Devin Townsend guitars with those lighted inlays.
Oh yeah, and, like, the fog machine in it too? [laughs]
Exactly! You have to look awesome playing his guitar!
Well that’s justified though. It’s a Devin guitar. He’s amazing.
That he is. Anyways, I think we’ve just about finished up here! Thanks so much for doing this once again, Sacha.
Be sure to catch Intronaut this fall with Between The Buried And Me, Enslaved, and Native Construct, and pick up The Direction Of Last Things November 13th via Century Media Records!