UK based instrumental metal outfit TELEPATHY are on the brink of releasing their brand new album Tempest. As instrumental metal has soared in popularity in recent years, so have TELEPATHY; thanks to a dazzling and expansive soundscape. We caught up with guitarist Rich Powley to lift the lid on the upcoming album, including the recording process, themes, concepts and musical style, alongside how the band have developed and what makes them stand out from the crowd.
How would you say TELEPATHY’s sound has developed from the previous album 12 Areas?
Rich: Sonically and thematically Tempest is a far heavier album than 12 Areas, and to facilitate this our sound has become more spacious, weighty and refined over time. It is definitely a less chaotic record than 12 Areas, although saying that, we have become more experimental over the last two years.
Are there any specific bands or styles you drew inspiration from for this album?
Rich: We all listen to a wide variety of music that filters its way into our collective style, but for this record we were focused on our sound and distilling that to its emotional core. That said here are a handful of records that were on heavy rotation throughout the last year: MAMIFFER– Mare Decendrii, DALEK – Ashes to Eden, NEUROSIS – Eye of Every Storm, DAFT PUNK – Tron Legacy ST.
What is the writing process for TELEPATHY like? Were the songs written before or during the recording process?
Rich: For Tempest all the songs were meticulously written and structured before we entered the studio. Usually things start with someone bringing in an initial riff or idea which is then fleshed out and worked on by the whole group. We then collectively decide where we see this idea or riff going and begin writing the song from this point. Sometimes this will be a quick process, and the song will almost write itself, while on other occasions it will take a much longer time for us to be able to see where the initial idea wants to go and songs will be re-written or chopped about multiple times.
There are much less vocals on this album than on your previous album, and even then they always seem to be more blended into the mix then a main component of the sound. Can you give some insight into your band’s attitude towards vocals?
Rich: When the band started we said to ourselves that we would only use vocals if they were necessary and, most importantly, added something important to the music. All of our material is 100% instrumental as we felt that vocals would detract from the music. With Tempest and the track Echo of Souls in particular, we felt the middle section needed that something extra to drive home the feeling of desperation and despair. Being a predominantly instrumental band we prefer to see vocals as an additional texture or another more human element to the music.
The song titles evoke a sense of longing for greener pastures or halcyon days, and of time irretrievably slipping by. Can you go into some of the themes, ideas or feelings that inspired your writing on this album?
Rich: Tempest is a concept album and tells the story of a person who has awoken after an apocalyptic storm. Musically and in the titles of the record we are aiming to touch on many of the residual feelings associated with loss or grief. This story can obviously be interpreted very literally by one individual or perhaps metaphorically by another.
What significance does the title Tempest have?
Rich: The title refers to the environmental or emotional storm at the centre of the concept.
One thing this album does very well is balance the heaviness of sludge with post and progressive atmospherics and complexity. Can you tell us a bit about the challenges of maintaining such a balance?
Rich: I suppose the key is knowing when to ease off the throttle and let the listener get some respite from the overbearing heaviness. The balance is an instinctual thing for us when writing and we try and get our heads out of the music and just let feeling take over when it comes to the music and structures. Its most important that our records come straight for the heart so it’s great to hear this balance is working for you!
What effect were you aiming for with the production of this album?
Rich: 12 Areas was a densely layered record, and we wanted to step away from this approach and create something more true to the sound of the band; emotional, raw and powerful whilst still retaining the clarity and ambient textures that we crave in our records. One thing in particular is that we wanted to use less guitar tracks on the album. On 12 Areas we were using up to 8 or 9 tracks of guitar on some parts, and with Jaime we were able to create a huge and powerful tonal quality with just 2 tracks. We only used overdubs and textural parts when necessary. Coupled with the fact that we tracked the drums live, with all of us in a room vibing off of each other, i think this has lead to Tempest being a more ‘band oriented’ and emotional recording.
What caused you to choose Jaime Gomez Arellano and Orgone Studios to produce the album?
Rich: Ted has known Gomez for a number of years, and the quality of his work speaks for itself whether it’s his production work with Oranssi Pazuzu or PARADISE LOST, his mixing with ALTAR OF PLAGUES or mastering for OPETH everything is top quality. He is particularly great at getting bands to sound like themselves, in the best possible way. You won’t be getting a one-size fits all production with him.
Can you go into some detail about the instruments and amps used in the recording process?
Rich: We used our own guitars, ESP EC1000’s and a frankenstein superstrat that Gomez owns. For amps we used a blend of a boosted JCM 800, Peavey 5150 and an Orange Tiny Terror through an Orange 4x12s for heavy guitars and a silverface Fender Twin Reverb for clean passages. At some points a Vox AC30 was used too i believe. Drums were kit comprised of a Ludwig John Bonham kit with giant toms and a vintage Yamaha kick drum. The bass amp was a vintage Ampeg SVT, none better.
Instrumental metal has been gaining considerable attention and credibility in recent years due to the rise of bands like ANIMALS AS LEADERS. How would you say this has impacted the up and coming bands within the scene?
Rich: I think with bands like MOGWAI, ANIMALS AS LEADERS and RUSSIAN CIRCLES becoming more and more popular it’s opened up the market and changed the average music fan’s opinion towards instrumental rock music, which is a great thing. The emergence of more niche festivals has also helped strengthen the scene and brought people together in a fantastic way.
You guys have a very unique sound. How would you say your level of sonic individuality has affected your rise in the metal scene (such as finding an audience/ bands to tour with etc.)?
Rich: In the early days it was more of an issue as people didn’t know where to place us in terms of shows and publicity, but the longer we’ve been around and the more we’ve stuck to our guns, people seem to be appreciating what we do and what we’re bringing to the table more and more. Luckily for us, the more heart and passion we put into this band, the more people connect to it, and for that we’ll always be grateful. As far as us having a unique style, we’ve always looked up to those bands that have been unapologetically unique and against the grain, so thank you!
To close we will offer you the floor, do you have anything to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?
Rich: Thanks for all the support and we hope to see you on the road in 2017!
Tempest is set for release on March 31st via Golden Antenna Records.
For more information on TELEPATHY like their official page on Facebook.