Musicscan: Do you think it's more important for heavy-bands to observe the traditions of a style, or to push the genre's boundaries? Is there a way to achieve a balance between progression and tradition? How do you feel about such a balance in the context of Intronaut?
Intronaut: I think that it's important for bands and musicians to follow their own creative impulses and not worry about following a tradition or not. There are tons of bands who base their music and image around a very tried-and-true, traditional style and still make relevant music. Then you have bands who aim to create new sounds pushing music forward, for better or worse. I think it's all natural and essential to the musical universe's evolution and I can't call any of it right or wrong.
As far as a balance between progression and tradition, I think the way to keep it tasteful is by setting a few ground rules about what style you'll be basing your music on. It's like giving yourself a set of rules that confine you into a somewhat uniformed sound and then force yourself to take those rules and let your ideas mutate into something fresh. Without those rules, you might end up with something that to me is too sprawled out and lacking in cohesion, which is one of the main elements Intronaut has tried to be conscious of.
Musicscan: Some of today s bands seem to miss passion and honesty. You have lots of both and that's why I enjoy Valley Of Smoke so much Š itÕs honest and profound and itÕs having huge contrasts and a good dramaturgy to keep things interesting. Is it just a question of the right attitude towards music and being a band?
Intronaut: I think it is about having integrity about the whole thing. Its like, be honest with yourself about what you can play, and with what your're inspired by, and then always follow through with that. Personally, being a music nerd, I like to think I can tell when a band is genuine or if it's riding a trend or anywhere in between the two, and I think lots of other music fans can too. At the end of the day, that's what gives a group that longevity.
Musicscan: Are there specific things that you're doing to push yourself further in different directions? Listening to different genres of music, reading more music theory, practicing...is there anything you're doing on a consistent basis?
Intronaut: There's no conscious regimen, at least personally. We're all involved in projects where we play styles of music completely different than what Intronaut does, so that at least keeps Intronaut fresh, and keeps your chops up. The way I've always stayed inspired is by constantly being immersed in music. I've been working music related jobs since I was 18 (I turn 30 in a couple months). Everything from record stores, to record labels, to musical instrument shops. On top of that, I've been an obsessive music listener since my pre-teen years. Up until 5 years ago, it was going to the record store every weekend and spending hundreds of dollars on jazz, rock and metal, funk, and old prog records just because I can never get enough. Even now, I'll download like four records a day. One thing I've found that helps me come up with fresh ideas is to try and learn someone else's song and then through that kind of noodle around on an alternate tuning. The main riff in the songs "Above" and "Below" was initially conceived through learning a riff by the band Fleet Foxes, and then switching the tuning. Of course the riff ended up sounding nothing like Fleet Foxes, but it provided me with a starting point to base that song around.
Musicscan: In my mind your current album Valley Of Smoke is a pretty courageous record. It«s intense and really shows what Intronaut wants to do, no matter what listeners say or expect. What would you retort to that?
Intronaut: Well, I should say that we were not really concerned with how people would react to it. This is just the kind of music that we would like to hear regardless of whether we were the ones playing it, and again that goes back to musical integrity and honesty. I think anyone who has ever considered themselves a fan of the band understands that's what we do, so we weren't too worked up over how much we'd alienate our fans or anything.
Musicscan: How has the songwriting approach evolved since you started the band and you became more mature as songwriters? Are there still limitations you are confronted with in any way?
Intronaut: I think we've just been refining the same approach since the beginning. It has certainly evolved, especially when you listen to our first EP. But again, this goes back to having a focused vision of what you're going for, and I think we've had that since the first record. I think we've always succeeded at making songs flow well, at least most of the time, but being the primary "part arranger" in the group I like to challenge myself with ways to be clever about intertwining themes and stuff, so that has developed over time. Plus, we are obviously a bit more harmony-conscious at this point, and on this last record we really were all about tall harmonies and the ways you can explore all that. Joe and Dave are great with that stuff and it really gets my creative juices flowing. I'm getting excited just talking about it!
What sort of evolution has the band gone through into Valley Of Smoke? What I feel about the new album is a more coherent and in "one-style" soundingÉ
Intronaut: Yeah, in some ways I agree with you. Actually, I'm pretty sure there was some kind of conscious effort to kind of streamline things a little for this one. The last record kind of came at a time when we were transitioning from the pre-Dave era to where we are now, so I think we were sort of on the fence as far as what we were trying to do. By the time we started writing again we took note of that.
Musicscan: How important are compromises in the context of Intronaut? Should they play a major role at all? To me it seems that you are not willing to take compromises into consideration at allÉ
Intronaut: As cliche as it is to say, I don't think any true artist is compromising. Unless of course, you're talking about what happens when four people try to write music together. Because that is pretty much all compromise.
Musicscan: A last question: What do you hope people to take away from Valley Of Smoke and what, in your opinion, are the most exciting aspects about your current album?
Intronaut: To be quite honest, I don't care what people take from it. All I know is that I'm proud to have made this record. At this point I can say that we'll most likely evolve even further on future releases, but that if you listen to this record enough you will notice things here and there, like hidden reprises, recurring themes, etc, and that's the exciting part of making music in my opinion.