Animals As Leaders

Interview: Animals As Leaders – Tosin Abasi

Having just wrapped up their first ever tour of the UK and Europe with close friends Between The Buried And Me, Animals As Leaders are now looking ahead to the future with the release of their brand new studio album ‘Weightless’.

What began as a solo project with help from Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor, Animals As Leaders have quickly rose to the top as one of the most exciting progressive metal bands today. Preparing for the release of their second album ‘Weightless’, and the first to feature guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Navene Koperwies, I had the chance to quickly talk with Tosin before their soundcheck at the King Tuts in Glasgow. Read on as we talk about their new album, his jazz side-project T.R.A.M. (which features Javier), why he believes illegal downloading is a huge positive and how he serenaded me.

Weightless Album Preview

EspyRock: How has this tour been going for you as this is your first UK and European tour with Animals As Leaders?

Tosin Abasi: So far it has been great. Pretty much every show has been packed and we’ve had a large crowd there to see us so I can’t complain. There are differences and similarities to what we are used to playing back home. The differences are more so cultural but then progressive metal is such a universal genre that we can bridge that gap between the fans and us. When we walk on stage there is no difference as to how we play here and how the crowd react to our music so at times it never feels like we have left home.

You have built up an incredible bond with Between The Buried And Me over the years as they took you out on your first US tour and now over here, this must make travelling to unknown lands a little bit easier.

Oh yeah, definitely. They have been really good to us and we’re all great friends. Maybe we will just tour together forever and then that will save a lot of hassle with bookings [laughs].

I’ll eliminate this question right now as we talk about touring. Following this tour in the UK and Europe, you are back in the US again with Tesseract. So what I want to ask are your thoughts on the new djent genre that people also link you to.

I take no responsibility for the naming or in general anything to do with this genre [laughs]. I don’t claim to have anything to do with this genre but people do claim that Animals As Leaders are a djent band, I say we’re a progressive metal band. People like to categorise things, especially music, in their own special way and while I don’t think djent was ever meant to become a genre, it helped people to categorise a certain progressive sound that was new in today’s era of music. We and Between The Buried And Me share a very similar fan base so touring with them is just a smart thing for us both to do in regards to the business side of things but it is a great addition to have Tesseract on that tour.

Do you enjoy that sound that Tesseract and similar bands are producing?

Yeah it’s pretty cool. For me Meshuggah are one of my biggest metal influences and djent is directly derivative of Meshuggah but I don’t listen to any djent bands, in fact lately I don’t listen to any metal.

The release of the new album [‘Weightless’] is approaching and with your debut being released well under the radar, are you nervous in any way because there are now expectations for an Animals As Leaders album?

It was very nerve-wracking at first. We didn’t do this album with Misha Mansoor (Periphery guitarist) and you already probably know that the first album was he and I together, so that is one of the more glaring differences during this second album. It didn’t take long before the nerves went away and we started to have fun though and we got into our rhythm.

Do you feel the end result is better with this album because it is real individuals playing and not just a computer programmed to give you a desired sound?

For sure and it turned out pretty sick. You can get a computer to give you a great sound, not saying these guys can’t play [laughs], but our debut record showed that you can do good things with technology but this album benefitted from the creativity brought to the table. I think people seem to have this idea that most to all of Animals As Leaders is me and that is far from the truth. I don’t know how many times I changed what I was doing because Javier [Reyes] and Navene [Koperweis] brought an idea to the table that was moving us in a better direction. It really helped to expand our sound and the fact we are always on the same page in regards to what we want from the songs then we couldn’t go wrong; there were no arguments or disagreements. The songs are far more balanced and a big step forward from what you know as Animals As Leaders.

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Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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