*All answers by Laura Pleasants
You’ve just released your new album, Spiral Shadow. How do you feel about it?
I feel quite good about it. Overall, the reaction has been quite positive.
How did you deal with 3 vocalists and 2 drummers during the composition process ? Did you have a complete vision for this album when you went into the studio?
Actually, only two of us sing now (myself and Phillip). The vision was completed before entering the studio, yes. However, Phillip and I mainly write with Carl because we find it’s easiest this way. We think about the double drums and how they should go, but the song structures are written first.
According to me your new material sounds like one of your most melodic album. I’ve heard a lot of new elements in this record. Where did you get your new sources of inspiration ?
Our sources of inspiration come from many places and sounds – and always have. I think with this particular record, we felt comfortable letting in some not so obvious influences. I wanted more breathing room on this record and I’m heavily into pysch rock. I was also listening to a lot of early 90s alternative rock. But I was listening to all sorts of various stuff from early Judas Priest to Rodriegez to Soundgarden to Donovan. We’re just big fans of music in general.
I think that "Tired Climb" is one of the best introduction I’ve ever heard because of it’s so stimulating to listen to the rest of the album. It’s like an addictive listening experience. Did you write this song especially for introduction ? Could you give me more details about this song?
Thank you! The core of the song was written and then we added the intro for the purpose of opening the album. It was meant to be the album opener. We thought that it touched on all of the elements on the new record – almost like it combined everything new we did into one song. We felt it was a good introduction to invite everyone in for a listen.
You’ve also experienced a lot of new more psychedelic things such on the eponym song "Spiral Shadow". Were you looking for a more pregnent sense of melody in your new material ?
Absolutely. I personally wanted to add more of my pychedelic influences into my playing and I really wanted to have the record breathe with more melody
and dynamics. I wanted the title track in particular to have more of a “classic rock” song structure and I was going after a very particular tone and style. I wanted it to be very warm and epic with some ethereal vocals. A lot of my thoughts and ideas and emotions all lie within my subconscious and I think that can be very visual and psychedelic…
Phillip and I decided on a general theme of distance prior to writing our lyrics. But they all revolve around the human experience. Some are very literal and linear while other songs are more abstract or coming from the subconscious stream of thought. “Don’t Look Back” is about moving forward and not letting past experiences bring you down. It’s got a more optimistic view than most of our other material.
I think that your artwork is also related to this psychedelic influences. Could you give me more details about it?
We’ve very involved in the art process and visual representation of our band. We are fans of the psychedelic movement and the artwork that goes along with that genre. We like trippy, weird things. We just like art in general. With this album, we worked very closely with Santos (who did the cover). The symbol of a tree often represents life and time and that reflects a lot of our lyrics. I also wanted to take a photo of this particular tree in Savannah for the CD booklet and then have the band photographed by the same tree and around the same area so that the album visuals would all be tied together.
Thanks to this patchwork of influences and new music styles within your songs, do you think you’ve reached the perfection? In which direction may Kylesa evolves for the next years ?
I do not think we have reached perfection (perhaps I’ll never think that?). I look at Kylesa as an ongoing art project – one that moves, breathes and grows with time and experience. We’re going to take a lot more time off to write the next record – hopefully we will reach perfection then! As far as a direction is concerned, we generally just develop the songs naturally. I don’t have a solid idea as to what our next record will sound like.
What’s the reward in being in a band for you? What makes you proud in your "career"?
I think the real reward is that, after 10 years of hard work, we are finally getting some recognition. Perhaps more importantly, playing live to folks who care and can share our energy and feelings. To be able to do that from creating something from your brain and heart is an amazing accomplishment. Our fans are a huge reward.
Kylesa have been hitting the road pretty damned hard in the last few years. You’ve played with High on Fire, The Ocean, Mastodon or Baroness. What were the most exciting moments on the road? What’s your favorite tour’s anecdote?
There are many exciting moments thankfully! And at the same time, tours tend to blur together because it’s a lot of the same thing over and over. The euro tour with Baroness was memorable because we were with friends and had fun together and we hadn’t hit Europe very hard yet (it was before we wrote Static Tensions). The Mastodon US tour was massive and overall pretty great (except the long, very long drives!). It was epic to watch them perform ‘Crack the Sky’ every night. Plus a good friend of ours was playing keyboards for them on that tour. Derek used to play in the band Cream Abdul Babar whom we did a split LP/CD with back in 2003. We’ve toured with High on Fire twice and really enjoy them as a band and as people. I also like touring with bands outside our genre like Clutch, for instance. We toured with them in Europe and I instantly became a fan and friends with those guys. I am thankful to tour with so many bands that I actually like to listen to AND hang out with. It can be like summer camp sometimes (good weather helps a lot)- where you meet new and interesting people and then after 4 weeks, it’s all over and you go away with new friendships and missing your new friends! It was certainly like that when we toured with Converge last summer because we shared a bus together. We had a great times with them and played some KILLER festivals. I think that maybe the European
festivals are my biggest tour highlights. Of course, it’s not ALL dandy or fun and games. It’s hard physically and mentally to do what we do. It’s the very opposite of a normal life. The best thing to have on tour is a good attitude and plenty of rest. Unfortunately, proper nutrition and rest can be hard to come by so attitude is EVERYTHING!
How has playing the new songs been? What’s your favorite song you like to play on stage?
We’ve only played a few new songs live thus far so I’m looking forward to playing more of them. My personal favorites to play are: Unknown Awareness,
Scapegoat, Running Red, Perception, and Hollow Severer. I’m just getting the feel for the new songs live – they generally take some time to really “sink
in” and feel totally comfortable. I’m sure that some of the new songs will become my favorite ones to play live.
You cite Kyuss as one of you major influence. What do you think about their reformation without Josh Homme as "Kyuss Lives". Do you expect to tour with them?
Yes, Kyuss is an influence – not sure how “major” – but Josh’s guitar playing is just huge. He is so smooth. Reforming without him seems very strange to me as he’s my favorite part about that band. He’s the one I want to see and hear! But, it could be cool. I would go to the show.
Any last words to our readers?
Thanks and hope to see you soon! Check out Kylesa.com for updates, links, etc!