MUSIC INTERVIEW: Terraform
Photo Credit: Carl Battams | Music & Portrait Photography
There were a few changes to the line-up at Tech-Fest this year, some of which were even in the midst of the event. One such change was that Birmingham tech-metallers Terraform stepped in to play a set on the final day. As they were already there to spectate the event before actually playing, we caught up with them to gather some thoughts over their latest release Adrift.
For the unassuming listener, how would you describe your music?
It’s a weird one because we have so many weird influences. We pull through Tesseract, Monuments and Volumes, but myself and the singer have got funk and pop influences as well. I’d say it’s a whimsical concoction of progressive metal with pop influenced vocals.
How do you incorporate the funk influences to your sound?
I use a lot of slap bass. There is a lot of slap bass! And the new stuff is pretty much all clean vocals as well.
Did you have screaming on the old material?
We used to yeah but wanted to focus the clean vocals because that’s where our vocalist’s strengths are.
If the clean vocals are the strength, does melody take a priority when writing?
We wrote and recorded the EP before Mitch joined. So it was already ready for him. We do tend to structure the songs in a way that will help Mitch use the majority of his range, like sections where he’d want to use a low end and more of a high end in the choruses. Because we’ve done one EP with him, we kinda know where his strengths are and stuff. We knew he had capabilities to fit on what we had already wrote, but now we know his specifics we can accommodate that to our sound.
You recently stated that your new EP Adrift tells a story. Are concept albums of interest to the band?
To a degree yeah. We all like science fiction, but it’s taking the concept of what’s happening and giving a really interesting scenario on what could happen to the future of the human race and stuff. It’s almost like terraforming, based on the name really. It’s a weird kinda parallel to ourselves to, I mean we’ve changed over the years, one member dropped out, two new ones, it’s completely changed the sound of us as well. Put it easier to do over a 5 track EP.
How difficult do you find keeping your own identity through your sound?
We all sort of listen to the same kind of music so we know where certain aspects come from, so we play on that. But some of us will have different ideas that compliment other sections, though it doesn’t seem much of a mis-collaboration to our old stuff. The riffs we write sound similar, and what is pretty weird is that sometimes it is poly metric, we play the same thing over different time signatures.
How much character does the production bring to your music?
It doesn’t sound too digital or anything. It sounds a lot more refined. We produced it with Meyrick from Exist Immortal, he knows our sound really well so it was good to sit down with him and he can pinpoint things that we might miss. So it was good to bounce that back and forth, it was like he was an un-written sixth member of the band almost! Or seventh at that point, we had 3 guitarists. We feel like it worked better live with just 2, but we did feel at some points it was kinda like writing a third part for the sake of it. In a harmonic perspective, we were adding more harmonies to accommodate, but we found that less is more, basically.
Are you more influenced by the melodic side of progressive metal then?
I’d say we are, definitely. I mean Mitch, our vocalist, he was trained in musical theatre. But he loves things like old pop but also Protest the Hero. Protest the Hero and Dream Theater and then got into Tesseract, Periphery, Animals as Leaders and such, pretty much taking all of them from there really.
If you could write a soundtrack for a video game or movie, what would it be?
Star Wars! I’d probably say Interstellar, I’m quite into film scoring actually and I’ve had a go at writing my own stuff too. The theme on the new Doom is good too, it’s so aggressive and in your face too. Gears of War, I’d write for Halo too.
Slightly more silly question, what’s your go-to tech-eoke song?
Quantum Flux! I’d probably say a Muse track, they’re actually my favourite band above anything else. Something off Absolution. I get absolutely ripped by these guys for it…
From just finishing Adrift, do you have any ideas for the next release?
We’ve already started writing. We can sort of adapt our own style now knowing that we’re gonna have to incorporate more bigger choruses and melodies that you’d normally hear with aggressive vocals but can still maintain with clean vocals. Like a wall of sound, musically. I think working with the EP, having more subtle tones helped as well, because if we had a really harsh sound it would be more in suit to aggressive vocals. It gives us a new outlook on ourselves.
Cheers for your time guys, hope you enjoy the rest of the festival!
Interview by Andrew Macdonald