IMR: Greetings Hal Sinden! Before we start off the interview I was wondering if you could give a short introduction about the band’s inception for our readers and also the significance behind the band’s name TALANAS, how does it fit the band’s style ofmusic?
HAL: Greetings, and thank you for reading! TALANAS started in September 2008 immediately after the demise of INTERLOCK - the industrial metal band that Joe & I were in(signed to ANTICULTURE RECORDS). We struggled for ages to come up with a decent name as so many have been taken now by tiny, one-person bedroom bands on MySpace. Eventually, we found talanas completely by mistake whilst looking for names of beasts & mythical animals, it turns out it's a type of insect and have recently discovered that's it's also a solar phenomenon. The name itself has been quite useful since it’s unusual and hard to forget. We could’ve gone with one of the more ‘fashionable’ long emo names like ‘November My Cold Heart Betrothed’ or some othernonsense but TALANAS seems to grab some attention in a good way.
IMR: TALANAS was formed after splitting INTERLOCK, what was the main thought behind the inception of TALANAS. Also, how did you get in touch with Ewan Parry and Mark Duffy and what made you eventually decide that yes this should be the final line-upof the band?
JOE: When INTERLOCK split, it was literally the next week that Hal and I were back at the studio getting as much material out and demoed up so we could start the hunt for other members.
HAL: Whilst we were in INTERLOCK, we toured America, England & parts of Europe and had actually completely recorded a second album that will now never be heard, so there were quite a few people that wanted to hear more material from us. However, we didn't want to create simply a second INTERLOCK and instead we felt we needed to make music that was more organic/less machine-like than before - we'd sort of lost touch with what it meant to write properly as a band. Admittedly, it did take a while to get things going musically and I’d say that the present style of talanas didn’t really take form until Ewan & Duff had joined.
JOE: When it came to looking for the rest of the line up, we tried out mates and it took a while to find the right people for the mix. I have been working with Duff on and off for years. We used to play in bands together when I was studying at ACM. We used to play things from Hardcore to Punk, Metal to Samba. It really was a mixed bag! I knew that Duff was always up for doing more music so I asked him to come and try out. I knew Ewan from school; we've also been in bands together since first meeting way back when. We used to notoriously play the Ren & Stimpy theme tune on an acoustic guitar and an empty guitar case together, I like to think we've moved on from that now, but when Ewan came into place we felt very much as a unit and work started towards creating what we now know as the sound of TALANAS. We also had our original keyboard player Rick, who left due to commitments with his project ACRYLIC SPIKE PROJECT. He was shortly replaced by Josiah Lutton of THE FURIOUS HORDE who appeared on the REASON & ABSTRACT(E.P), but he also left due to commitments with his other projects. We're now very comfortable as a four piece and I think that we are very happy to carry on as we are.
HAL: I think it took about a year or so for us to solidify the objective of the band as a musical entity, we’re now fairly clear about who we are and what we’re about. TALANAS is first & foremost here for us to create the kind of music we’d like to hear and that isn’t currently available anywhere, as far as we know. We mix what we adore in Extreme Metal with some of the darker aspects of 80s & early 90s Alternative & mainstream music.
IMR: Coming onto the new album titled THE WASPKEEPER, you guys are almost done with the recording of the album and is set for release in April, is there anything that you’re particularly excited about? What can the fans expect from the penultimate show of the promotional tour?
EWAN: I’m just really excited to finally get these tracks out there and heard by people. Some of the songs on this album we started working on about a year and a half ago, so I think we’re all dying to see people’s reactions to them.
HAL: I’m excited about showing people what we can do and what we’re all about in more than just three songs. The EP was a great chance to get people interested in TALANAS whilst not having to sit through too much, but it’s difficult to convey the extent of your artistic vocabulary in just under twenty minutes.
The live field is something we’re still being extremely selective with. I spent the best part of nearly a decade gigging constantly throughout the UK and other areas, I’ve exhausted the need to play any old venue simply because it exists. My priority now is to assess the quality of the venue & the billing before confirming the booking since both of those factors,when not considered, can lead to an audience making very quick & negative decisions about a band before employing any objectivity about factors such as poor mixing desks, bad PA rigs, substandard stages etc. My aim is to present a live show that sounds good enough to complement what our listeners like most about the recorded material whilst having enough physical space to put on a good & entertaining show.
JOE: I'm excited to hear what people think to our sound, especially coming on from our previous release. I think it shows the listener how much darker and heavier we can be and lets them hear the fuller sonic spectrum that we are capable of. I can’t wait to perform the tracks live and to get a true reaction from an audience.
IMR: What can you tell us about the concept of THE WASPKEEPER? How would you describe the sound of your upcoming album?
EWAN: I think the sound is of course still recognisable as us and continues on from the sound of the REASON & ABSTRACT(E.P), but there’s a lot more we’ve been able to fit in to a full length album, so there’s a much broader scope. There’s influences that are perhaps more apparent on this album that I don’t think anyone would have picked out from the EP. In particular, while there’s still plenty of metal riffage, there are a lot more clean passages, and some extended Progressive/Experimental parts that a short EP just doesn’t afford you the space to do.
HAL: It’s not explicitly a concept album as such, however there is a theme that runs throughout most of its lyrical angles; that of suffering grudges. I’ve come to regard my propensity for holding onto memories, both good & bad, as like keeping wasps - it’s utterly pointless, they don’t provide anything and can only ever hurt you, yet you become addicted to keeping something alive.
At this stage I find it’s difficult to describe the overall sound of the album accurately from this side of having just made it, I find I’m still standing too close to the piece to be fully objective about it. I know that the intention was to create Death Metal with more than just two dimensions to it and not to shy away from having introspective moments or strong melodies without having to sound like KILLSWITCH ENGAGE or IN FLAMES. I’d really like to be able to provide a occasional clean & harmonious passages to extreme metal and not to have to be lumped in with the same list of bands again(OPETH, for one) just because we’ve dared to turn off the distortion every now and again.
JOE: Well the sound is very dark, experimental and raw. There are a lot of places visited in the album, musically.
IMR: What did you focus on the new album? The modern sound, the ambience, a compound mixture of these things or something experimental? What or who are the main inspirations behind the band and lyrically?
HAL: I think all of the biggest influences on our sound have been bands that have in some way been innovators, creating something that really was distinct and that hadn’t come before. I haven’t necessarily been aware of consciously making sure we had a ‘modern’ sound, but then I’m also not really interested at all in vintage or Traditional Metal and neither are the other guys, so I suppose we’d never have had a retro approach to our sound.
Something I was very aware of wanting to do is introduce more of the quiet passages and clean sections. It wasn’t really a big priority for me to create a wall-to-wall body of tunes that were running at 200bpm and tearing everyone’s faces off. We just do that occasionally(!).Funnily enough, the one band we all very much agree on is FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM. I don’t think that means we’re a Goth band, and they had always tried to distance themselves from the goth tag, but they created such varied music from album to album that always such amazing depth. AKERCOCKE are also a big influence, as are acts like TEARS FOR FEARS and PORCUPINE TREE.
Lyrically, my main influences are David Sylvian, Andrew Eldritch & Brendan Perry. I find it’s really important to have lyrics that you can attach yourself to in some way rather than just filling spaces for vowels to accompany the right melodies. The lyrics on this album are very much reflective of the past few years in my life, in some cases relating to specific events which are probably safer kept as cryptic reference for now, however there are also political messages in songs such as ‘a fortune worth its disguise’ and ‘penetralium’.
EWAN: What I really aim to do is to write material that, however varied the influence and sound, still has a kind of cohesiveness to it. In other words, even though all the songs sound different, you still know you’re listening to the same band. All those things mentioned are in there; a modern sound, ambient sections, certainly experimentation, we try to make it all tie together nicely.
Musical inspirations for me are usually things that have a big dramatic impact. I do like music that’s very technical or clever, but it has to have some energy to it as well, not just cleverness for its own sake. In terms of metal, I’m a big fan of NEUROSIS, SIKTH, AKERCOCKE, MY DYING BRIDE and so on. There’s plenty of non-metal influences going on as well, I know we’re all massive fans of FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, I’m also keen on really experimental stuff like KAYO DOT or EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN.Films have also played a part in our writing, whether it’s a specific reference to a film soundtrack, or the feel of a particular film.
IMR: No doubt, there is whole lot varied influences in your music ranging from MESHUGGAH, IHASHN, SPAWN OF POSSESSION, OPETH and the likes but with a very different unique and modern sound, how do you react to the such comparisons made by fans?
HAL: People will always hear different things in different ways, it’s inevitable for anything that’s so subjective. Personally, I don’t really mind if whoever wants to make any comparison they so choose, the only time I ever react badly to it is when someone suggests that we absolutely and conclusively had set out to copy a certain band or artist. For example, there was a recent critique written about our REASON & ABSTRACT(E.P) where the journalist straight-up said that as a vocalist I was clearly trying to copy Mikael Åkerfeldt, which is total nonsense. Ewan quite likes OPETH, I don’t dislike them, but saying I sound anything like Mikael is very odd let alone trying to suggest that I’m actually setting out to copy him. It’s never even occurred to me to emulate him as a singer, and as far as clean vocals go I’m far more influenced directly by singers like Colin Vearncombe, Dave Gahan, David Bowie, David Sylvian and Scott Walker. I think instead the problem is that people hear a clean voice that’s not a styled like an emo band and that’s surrounded by Death Metal and immediately think “oh, that’s OPETH” which I hope will change.
EWAN: It’s always really interesting to hear the comparisons people make, especially because most of the time everyone comes up with slightly different comparisons. To me this is a really good sign because it means you’re doing something that every listener has their own interpretation of, rather than simply sounding like a typical metal band, or a clone of a particularband.
The OPETH comparison in particular is an interesting one. It has been mentioned a lot, but in fact I don’t think they’re as strong an influence as people seem to make out. I personally am quite a big fan of them, but I actually haven’t drawn that much conscious influence from them when writing this material. I guess the comparison mainly comes from the mix of Metal andNon-Metal styles (especially Progressive), and the mix of death vocals and clean singing. It’s not something I have a problem with, but it’s not what I’d expected.
JOE: It’s always very flattering to be said to sound like our influences, especially the ones we hold with very high regard. It’s very humbling to hear that what we're doing is striking people in the right way.
IMR: Frankly speaking, I’m quite impressed with the production of the upcoming album. It sounds really fresh and gumptious. How was the overall experience in the making of this extreme record with Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ulver, Cathedral)?
HAL: I’m sure Gomez won’t mind me saying that he definitely put us through our paces with this record. He mixed & mastered the debut EP, but this time around he was also involved in the recording of it and we spent a lot of time going over every last detail. I’ve known him for years and he played drums when I sang in a band called CORPSING who were signed to AKERCOCKE’s label GOAT OF MENDES RECORDS. He’s an absolute taskmaster and is extremely specific about the sounds he wants in the core of the music(guitars, drums), I’m aware that we presented quite a challenge in having to record & mix such a huge drumkit like Joe’s alongside all the variance in the vocal stylings.
What Gomez has done with the album is very much what we wanted. We had faced continuous delays for nearly two years with the REASON & ABSTRACT(E.P) before settling with using him to mix & master it, what it meant was that we ended up with a release that sounded the best it could and not at all like a demo. My objective with using someone of Gomez’s calibre as a produceris to make sure that we lessen the opportunity for anyone to dismiss the release because of its sound and instead that any issue a journalist or listener can have is with the material itself. It’s a much more honest way of going about things and I can safely say that we sound as good now as I’d ever want to, there were no corners cut.
EWAN: We worked with Gomez on the EP and were really pleased with how it sounded, so we were definitely set on having him produce the album. It was great this time to be working with him from the very beginning, since one of the nightmare issues with the EP was switching between producers who all work differently. Some of the tracks on this album are very complexmix-wise so I was really impressed with how professionally Gomez handled it. I really like that the mixes have punch while still sounding nice and clear, it’s modern sounding without having too much of that kind of ‘gloss’ that takes the impact out of many contemporary mixes.
JOE: Well for me recording drums, he very much wanted to get a deeper tone from my kit. We spent a day re-skinning and tuning the kit and basically spending time with the drums and making sure that everything was at its finest for the recording. As soon as we had it all set up he handed it over to me and I just sat in the studio until it was done. It got the best out of me, just being by myself and not having people I didn’t really know looking at me whilst trying to nail some of the more challenging passages on the album. But all in all, I'm really pleased with the overall sound he's got from the kit. I suppose that’s why we keep using him!
IMR: One thing that striked me instantly was the musical patterns followed on THE WASPKEEPER which is pretty varied and complex at the same time, ranging from Brutal to Technical influences. What are each of the band member’s musical background, and how did the love for such diversified music come about?
HAL: I reckon the reason we have a fairly diverse sound is because none of us is prepared to limit what we consider for inclusion, we’re just not interested in representing some totally backwards, exclusive ‘club’ ethos to Metal as if you’re only allowed to listen to first prints of the first three MANOWAR albums on vinyl.
For me, I was technically a latecomer to Metal. I didn’t go through the usual route of METALLICA, MEGADETH & IRON MAIDEN and instead went straight from Goth into Extreme Metal. My parents were very adamant at making sure I appreciated as much varied music as possible, from Classical Music to Classic Rock, from Van Morrison to Vangelis. I find that I need to be challenged in some way by the music I listen to so I tend to gravitate towards slightly more odd or Avantgarde Music.
EWAN: I’ve personally had quite a vast range of influences since I started playing music. I guess I first picked up the guitar mainly because of bands like PANTERA, and some of the more mainstream Metal or Rock bands. I’ve had phases of being into all kinds of music, at time including stuff that wasn’t really guitar-centric at all. The main thing for me was that where I grew up, there weren’t many other people who were necessarily into the same things I liked, which I think actually gave me more freedom to just listen to anything at all without caring what people thought. I’d hear about bands from loads of different people, which meant being exposed to a lot of radically different styles of music.
JOE: Well the one thing we always strive to do within our music is to make something that we haven’t heard before. My musical background comes from playing in garage bands with Ewan back in our youth to playing in marching bands with a local Boys Brigade. I've attended schooling from the ACM in Guildford and now I teach under the watchful eye of my drum tutor, Glenn Clarke. I draw influence to my playing from genres such as Progreesive, Experimental, Industrial, World, Doom, some Hardcore and all the various forms of Metal(obviously). I do find myself taking influence from the drumming luminaries such as Bozzio, Portnoy and TOOL's Danny Carey. Their big kit playing has really shaped the way I now look at kit playing. I feel they have opened my eyes to the world of bigger sound sources and not limiting the sounds you can use to convey your art.
DUFF: We have certainly all come to this with different influences, however we so have tonnes of middle ground. I personally have come from a fair amount of more mainstream Metal with lots of Jazz, Classical and Black Metal thrown in.
IMR: After going through your Press Release, I found there are many special guests featuring on the debut album. What is the reason behind so many famous faces on the debut full-length, is it some kind of marketing for the album?
HAL: No, not really. I’ve actually known all three of the guest vocalists for a while as friends, in each case we made the decision to include them on the basis of believing they’d really bring something to the track they feature on.
With Jason Mendonca, he was originally set to perform as a guest vocalist on the second, unreleased INTERLOCK album. I’ve known him since I first started gigging on the UK Underground Death Metal scene in the nineties which was when AKERCOCKE were starting to become very popular. We had actually sent him some tracks really early on in the development of the TALANAS album, but we soon realised that his vocals would work really well on ‘penetralium’. I’ve always been a big fan of his very definitive style of extreme vocals and he was an absolute pleasure to work with in the studio; he came in and completely nailed the really long screams that I had written for the parts as well as the super-low stuff.
James Tait (‘JD Quintus’ from THE MEADS OF ASPHODEL) is a longstanding friend of mine from ages ago. He & I first started working together in bands when we were about sixteen years old and we definitely grew together as singers & musicians, both of us learnt techniques at similar times. We’ve a long history of appearing as guests on eachother’s projects and this is simply another exchange in that respect. ‘a fortune worth its disguise’ is very much the two of us working together in the way we’re used to.
Some people may not immediately know of Adam Ever, but I’m confident that that will be changing pretty soon since From Great Height are really gaining a lot of profile at the moment. From when I first heard his band a few years ago, on the recommendation of some close friends, I noticed that he & I share a lot of similarities in our approach to clean vocals; there’s a lot of influence from classic 80s music. On ‘messaline’, I think the way that he appears works really nicely, especially his backing vocals in the middle clean section and the harmony duet with me in the outro.
IMR: You guys have a track called AORTA, heard a lot about it and a ton times. Can you tell us what the track is all about?
HAL: It’s funny, it really does seem like quite a favourite with a lot of people so far. The lyrics are about my feelings towards religion’s position on death. I was raised as a casual Christian, in particular in the denomination of the Church of England. When I was about thirteen years old, I found out that a good while ago some pretty bad stuff happened to my family and that a Catholic priest had commented on it in relation to damnation & purgatory, it resulted in me turning completely 180 degrees on my faith. I found myself wanting to oppose Christianity in any way that I could and I discovered Satanism. A few years later, when I’d stopped being such a moody, puberty-ridden teenager, I discovered that in actively practising Satanism I was still essentially operating in the same circles and belief system but simply from a mirrored view, and that instead I found I had no need for it or any other prescribed construct of spirituality.
Rather than opposing religion entirely though, I think that in certain circumstances it can be valuable to those dealing with loss or facing their own death. With that said, I’m just not happy with someone being provided with something that’s supposed to help but that’s so inextricably linked to fear & guilt. It’s too early in my life for me to know or say how I’ll deal with my own inevitable demise, but I thought about some recent deaths that were close to me and how I feel about many organised religion’s perspectives on them, and ‘aorta’ appeared. It’s essentially the rallying cry for those who know they’ll die a Godless death, free of debt to something that can’t even be proven.
IMR: If you could put together one off your dream show with 4 bands, past or present, with whom would TALANAS love to share the stage with and why?
HAL: 4 bands? I’d have the ‘Going to California’ lineup of TEARS OF FEARS as headliners, since it was when I feel they were hitting their hardest and tightest. They were a stunning stadium act on that tour and the songs sounded so much more visceral whilst being completely on-the-mark. I also feel that we could tailor our live set to mean that we wouldn’t alienate more of a Pop/Alternative crowd.
As main support, I’d have FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, but probably the ‘Visionary Heads’ live lineup. They were always an absolutely stellar live band with their original lineup, but I’d say that they were at the top of their game at that point in 1990.
Next down the bill would be MY DYING BRIDE and to be honest I couldn’t really decide if I’d prefer the ‘For Darkest Eyes’ lineup or the present live lineup that features David Gray from AKERCOCKE on drums, they’re both amazing. They so rarely tour the UK these days and it’s always a pleasure to see them on any stage, plus Aaron gives such an amazing performance as a frontman, it’s a treat to experience.
Next is AKERCOCKE, and really from any era. They’ve consistently put on completely solid, incendiary performances from their whole career to date and are one of the few bands I willingly lose it to in the pit when watching. Given this dream lineup though, it’d be fascinating to see them play mostly the more weird, Progressive stuff that they’ve done. I’m confident that anyone turning up to see them would also really appreciate our set as well.
Finally, as the opening band, would be TALANAS. The big change I’d make though is that it’d be a stadium tour and each act’s set would be at least 45 minutes long so the audience would get the full experience of each group throughout.
IMR: TALANAS played at the main stage of Fusion at the Elgiva Theatre. How was it for you and the band and does it compare to other festivals you have played?
HAL: Fusion was amazing. I’d actually played it once before with INTERLOCK a good few years before and it’s always extremely well organised. It’s held in a full scale, fully working, modern theatre so it gave talanas a chance to express ourselves on the size of stage that’s absolutely ideal for everything we want to present. The lightshow was also amazing and we had our Tour Manager Alan Luckett doing sound for us which we pretty much always insist on.
The other really valuable thing about playing Fusion is that it’s a very young crowd, they’re completely unjaded and willingly to show their enjoyment on a very immediate level. Compared with other festivals, it’s certainly pretty mixed across the board and depends on where you’re playing. As a whole, I’d say I probably prefer playing festivals than single gigs but the absolute highlight of any I’ve played was definitely Hellfest in Clisson, France. That was absolutely mental and is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played to. It’s my permanent point of reference for why I’m in this business.
JOE: It was an amazing show and such a relief to play on a stage where we actually physically fit and can use all the elements we bring to our live show. As far as all the stages I've played on, it was definitely one of the biggest and such a lovely venue too!
IMR: What are the touring plans behind THE WASPKEEPER and do they include the India by any chance or any Asian countries?
HAL: We’ll certainly tour, we won’t be writing off the idea of doing that in any way, but as I’ve said it’s more of a case of wanting to be selective about it. The plans are to get on the road possibly around October of this year, but it will be the UK and most likely a co-headline tour with a relevant British act of a similar genre, we have a few ‘irons in the fire’ so to speak.
We’d LOVE to do some Indian & Asian shows. Bands like TESSERACT have show the UK that India is very much ‘on the map’ for metal and we’d go mad for the chance to be invited to come out there. Springfest & Great Indian Rock are events that look amazing. Just tell us where you want us to be!
JOE: Well I know that we are looking to get out to as many places as we can but it’s all down to whether or not we can get out there. With interlock we managed to get round the United States and Europe but getting further afield is always a desire we'd like to fulfil.
IMR: Alright Hal, time to wrap up the interview. Thank you again for doing this interview. Do you have any final thoughts or comments for our readers?
HAL: Thanks again for taking the time to check us out and provide such insightful questions. The Indian Metal scene is really starting to make an impact over here and with bands such as MESHUGGAH & TESSERACT coming back with such glowing reports of how Indian gigs have gone, it’s meaning that it’s becoming a very desirable place to aim towards playing. I’m also extremely pleased to see the diversity of Metal acts coming from India, I really hope that we get some more exports appearing both ways.
Pravin Prajapati, also the co-founder at IMR is an avid Underground Music follower. Basically, he likes listening to al the good/creative music around that can please/blast his ear drums such as Metal, Rock, Carnatic, Classical, Alternactive, Jazz, Soul, Avant-Garde, Country, Folk, New-Age and Trance.
In his free time, he loves listening music, photography, playing football and lil-bit of bird-watching. He is a psychic thinker when it comes to innovative thinking and also a crazy arguer when it comes to debate. Besides these, he is also the Founder at LUBUS(Web-Development,Graphic Designing & SoftwareDevelopment) freelancing group.
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