After a torturous four and a half year wait, the boys in Textures have once again graced the masses with their sonically rich and cacophonic brand of progressive metal. Phenotype, which will be released February 5 via Nuclear Blast Records, is part one of a two album concept, with ‘Genotype’ to be released sometime in 2017. Our very own Dan Wieten had a chance to chat with co-founder and guitarist Bart Hennephof about the long gap between albums, adjusting to new members, and fan expectations, amongst other things. Check it out below.
So it’s been quite awhile since the release of Dualism. I was wondering if you had the material ready and touring just got in the way, or was the whole process just long?
Well, after Dualism we toured for the album of course, and that took one year. Jochem (Jacobs) our former guitar player quit the band after Dualism. That was I believe the biggest setback. We took the extra time we needed to find a new guitar player, and after a year we found Joe Tal, which of course now is going really great, but of course that takes time to get used to each other. Musically as well, you have to get used to writing these kinds of riffs and melodies and getting into the Textures vibe and writing together. Also we had to get used to writing together in a democratic band, which can be hard because almost all six guys help with writing, and we really are democratic. We just vote if a riff is good enough or not. Everyone has his own view on the music, and everyone’s view is as much respected as the other one. That’s something Joe had to get used to also.
So it took a bit of extra time, but we also thought we should take the extra time because we just want it to be good. Everything we do we want to make it the best quality possible, always. So if it takes one or two years more than we thought, why not? If the view is there and everyone wants to make this album and just to go for it, it doesn’t matter how long it takes. As long as our minds are set, like “Okay, we’re gonna make this album big and as huge as possible.” That was the point.
It’s definitely very evident that you guys took your time with it, and I’m really glad you did because it seems like in this day and age there’s a lot of pressure to just produce and produce and produce and be in everybody’s face 24/7. I think bands should not really go away per se, but I think you should make your fans want you. Know what I mean?
Yeah of course. We have a lot of comments, reactions, and messages like “Hey dudes, what’s going on man? It’s taking too long we want your album NOW!” But it’s positive that they are thinking of us and not gonna like, never buy our albums again because it took too long. That doesn’t make sense. So, in a way it’s good to have some kind of tension about when the album will come out.
Yeah I mean look at Necrophagist. People are STILL waiting, so I think it’s safe to say if your music is good, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.
Yeah for sure.
So you mentioned Jochem leaving. Did you find it challenging to keep true to the Textures sound after this?
Well, I thought it would be different, but it wasn’t. As I said, we all write together and put in our own view on how a song can be structured and which big ideas can be placed together within one song. For example, sometimes we have older ideas and we try to combine them with newer ideas and see if we can build a bridge between them to make a song out of it. That’s what makes the songs so diverse. And now we have parts from Joe, and he has written new puzzle pieces and building blocks we can build with. Some had to be edited to be a bit more Textures-worthy, and some we could just use instantly and put them inside the song and put parts in front of it or behind it. It was all quite usable, but that makes the style we have as well, because the diversity has to be there, and we always want to keep that. It was always like that with Jochem as well. Some parts were completely his, and some parts were my riffs and his combined. It’s always a mixture of several ideas from other guys in the band.
Staying on that track a little bit, what would you say your genre is? Your style is really varied and it’s classified as progressive, but what exactly is it or does that really matter to you?
Yeah, I still see it as progressive metal. Progressive modern metal or something. [laughs] Not really more specified because we have ambient parts as well on the synthesizers, and also death metal stuff going on. You can’t really put it in one corner I guess.
So Phenotype is part one of a two album concept, the second part being called “Genotype”. When will that be released?
Well we’re not sure of the release date yet, but 70-80% of it is already done writing wise. So we’re almost finished writing that one and sometime this year we will go record it and sometime in 2017 it will be released for sure.
Can you shed some light on the lyrical content, what Phenotype is about conceptually, and how it works with Genotype?
Yeah, it was an idea of Uri’s, our synth player. It comes from genetics. “Genotype” comes from the genetic code of a plant, or animal, or human being, where the genetic code is embedded. One has a genotype, or the solid basics of your core. You get it from your parents. It’s just there, and not changeable. Phenotype is like the outcome of the Genotype. In every genetic core, when you grow, you change because of your environment. If you live in a warm country your body adapts to the warmth and the heat. If you live in a cold country your appearance will be different because your body changes; it adapts to your surroundings, and that’s the phenotype. The result of the core genetics formed and shaped by time. We thought, okay we have a lot of different musical ideas over here. Some are older and some are newer. At first we thought maybe we could put out a double album, like two discs at the same time in one jewel case. But that would really be a lot of material, and a lot of double albums that I see, it seems dangerous for the impact of the songs. The impact of the first seven songs, you remember those songs the most. When you come to song number thirteen you don’t know what’s happened in the first few songs anymore and that’s a shame. If you have really good songs you want them in spotlight, you know? So we thought, let’s just filter the stuff we have. For this album Phenotype that comes out in February, we have filtered out really song-based songs to make it more compact. There are nine tracks, with a very clear beginning and ending, and each song has its own face and its own theme. For Genotype, it will be a different setup, but with the melodies of Phenotype, you will hear them back on Genotype. For example, you will hear a vocal melody from Phenotype as a guitar melody on Genotype with something else in the background, that type of stuff. Also, Genotype will be one big song. It will feel like one big song, of course with different passages, like a ten minute passage will build up and come down again and then will go into the next passage that tells another story. So, it’s a different setup but the overall thing will feel like one big album because the melodies and some riffs and harmonies will come back in a different way because they’re created and shaped in different times.
So did you guys have the concept for this first and then write the music to it or vice versa?
Well we always just start writing. We don’t start with a concept. But during the writing we already saw that we had a lot of material so we wanted to do something special with it, for sure. We always had this sort of dream, or at least Stef and I, to put an album out which is special like a double album, or one album and a second album that’s a cool shaped disc or anything, ya know? Something special. Triple album even. So during this writing we had a lot of material, but to just put it out as is was not really what we wanted, and then Uri came up with this concept about genetics about your source material being shaped through time, and that’s what we’ve always had actually. Lots of source material musically. Like if you open up an idea that you had ten years ago and you try to edit it right now and record it again, it will still be the same idea but because you’re in a different time now, it will sound different. So that’s how it’s linked with genetics. It’s just the genetics of our music, if you will. [laughs]
Definitely. Regarding Dualism, I guess my perception was that you guys kind of stripped everything down. There was some post rock influence, and I noticed with Phenotype it seems almost like a return to form. There’s a Silhouettes type vibe, a lot more immediacy, and it’s a lot heavier. Was there a conscious effort to go back to that?
Yeah, you could say that. Polars was like a big explosion of everything that we could do, going really hectic from death metal stuff to fusion to ambient parts. It was really experimental. Drawing Circles was more about mixing fusion stuff with more mid-tempo grooving. Silhouettes was more based on darker stuff; heavy grooves with some thrash also. Dualism was more song based, really balanced songs with not too much weird freaky stuff going on. But with Dualism I thought it was cool but it’s not really the young, wild dogs that you hear on Polars, and I wanted to get that back a bit because we’re still like that. It’s just cool to go back to that but still manage to keep that adult songwriting sound for ourselves as musicians, but still go kind of crazy as well, because that’s just what we like, and also what our fans like I guess. We are very diverse, and I think we should keep that.
I noticed Phenotype will be released on vinyl. There’s been a huge resurgence for the format, and I think it’s a smart move. Some bands are completely bypassing CD’s these days and going straight for digital releases. Where do you see the future for desired musical formats? Do you think CD’s will eventually become obsolete? Where does Textures fit into all this? Will you guys always put out CD’s?
I think there’s a certain shift going on for sure, but I don’t think physical discs will disappear. It will be much less than before, but still, people like to have something they can touch. Even the younger generation now still buys albums, or at least something to remind them of the album, whether that may be a t-shirt or merchandise from the band. I personally don’t buy a lot of CD’s, but I still like to have the good stuff in my hands, or at least to see the piece of art because it’s just a cool product that you can touch and see, you know? So I don’t think it’ll disappear, but bands have to be a bit more creative to make it interesting to buy the CD, or the artwork has to be extra cool to see in real life, or the jewel case has to be special, or a special digipak version, or a special case. It makes it more attractive to buy it.
Agreed. Well, I only have one more question for you, and it’s a question every Heavy Blog interviewee gets. How do you like your eggs?
[laughs] Scrambled. Scramble the fuck out of it. Just mess them up really bad and then throw it on a sandwich.
Phenotype will be out February 5th via Nuclear Blast Records. Pre-orders are available at this location.