Animals As Leaders

Interview: Animals As Leaders – Tosin Abasi

How do you build the songs for what finally makes the album? Do you come up with a story that allows you to imagine a soundtrack to it or does something you play just inspire you?

No stories, it usually comes after we have a guitar riff or two that we track and then we start to compose the rest of the song from there. We don’t really jam stuff out, we just listen to what we have and then we set a direction from there. I can only speak for myself when it comes to the music inspiration, for all I know these guys have a visual element which helps to move them. I think they are ignoring everything that is going on here right now [Javier and Navene are sitting across from us watching TV and using their laptops] but yeah, there may be mild imagery and concepts that we have but really it is all about the music. We don’t have any platforms for how the song should be; we just let the song grow into its own sort of thing.

You said their input into the creative aspect helped so how does it shape the sound for this album; will it be heavier or will you shift focus to showcase more of something than before?

I think it is a lot of things. I think the rhythmic elements are more beefy and it has metal elements that are a lot more metal than the first album, or as metal. The melodic content is in the same direction and I’d say the textural elements like the electronic stuff are a bit fresher too. It is the same sound but we’ve taken each element that builds the sound and taken it a step forward.

Do you think handling the mixing and production on your own was the best way to get the most out of your sound and you could take it in that step?

Oh yes, the more control we had the better.

Who was it that handled each part, Javier did the mixing and Navene did the production?

Yeah that’s right.

Did you consider working with a third party or bringing in Misha [Mansoor] again to handle it?

We did, in fact we were going to be working with him but his schedule is just so crazy. In retrospect I think it is a good thing that we did it all as a band. The entire first album was done without them so it was nice to establish the band in this way and handle everything from the song writing to the end result internally.

There are a few instrumental bands now bringing in vocal areas to some songs, more so to build the atmosphere in some areas and keeping the lyrical content to almost nothing but is this something you have ever considered during the song writing process?

I don’t think Animals As Leaders will ever have a vocalist but there will be other projects that we do individually that will allow us to experiment with that. I think one of the good things about Animals As Leaders is that we are an instrumental band and I don’t think there are enough instrumental bands for people to listen to. We’ll be that band for everyone [laughs]. I understand why some bands will bring in a vocalist for one song here and there but we won’t be going in that direction, we will keep that for our side-projects.

Are there any specific instrumental bands that you would suggest people to follow? Here in the UK we have Chimp Spanner for example.

Oh yeah and he has been doing it a lot longer than us with some great material. There are people writing instrumental music and performing it on stage but most of them are normal bands with an instrumental piece here and there. There are people doing it for their own reasons rather than trying to benefit the instrumental scene or genre, however you want to categorise that. I haven’t heard of many within metal but outside of metal there are plenty more. We derive a lot of our influences from outside of metal.

Do you play the guitar?

No, I’m just fixated watching your fingers the now warming up on the guitar. It feels like you’re serenading me [laughs].

[Laughs] I’ll teach you something, just watch this.

Show off.

[Laughs].

You know that moment were you see guys talking to a girl but instead of looking at them in the face they stare at their breasts? This is one of those moments; I’m starting to forget what you look like as I’ve just been watching you play that guitar.

[Laughs].

When the album is released you will of course want to get it out there in the public eye through as many services as possible, but one that has recently been cut off for you is Spotify. Prosthetic Records followed Metal Blade and Century Media by removing themselves from the service due to the very low money return from it. Do you have any thoughts regarding their decision to pull out due to the profit gain from it but the fact you may miss out through exposure that the service offers?

It is a hard thing to really speak about because Spotify only released in the United States recently so I don’t know what we’ve been missing. Basically file sharing has helped our band to reach people who wouldn’t be able to access hard copies of our album, so that in turn has quickly accelerated our ability to play in new places and populate our shows and at the end of the day we just want people to hear our music. On that level, if it prevents people from hearing us then I’d say it’s a bad thing but I’m sure the label has their own reason for doing what they are doing. They need to make money and they can only make money by selling our CDs.

So you’re all for file sharing as a benefit to bands now?

It’s a total benefit. I don’t know of a single musician who isn’t guilty of downloading an album as ironic as it is but essentially media is free these days. The industry has been irrevocably changed and at this point we have to evolve to incorporate the fact you can’t exclusively monetise music and that they will have to branch into our ways of making money as a record label. There are so many songwriters and musicians today who can record on their own computers, upload their songs and then share it with thousands of people without the aid of a recording budget or PR or any of this stuff, so the technology and media movement today has always struck me as positive.

The only problem is that you will get a flood of even more terrible bands that could hide the good ones.

No matter what, there will always be shit bands [laughs].

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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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