Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Clearing The Static

| April 1, 2009


You have to feel for The Haunted. The band had a kick-ass North American tour set to kick off this month before, well, shit happened . . . big time.

That kick-ass package became significantly less so March 2nd when both Kylesa and Intronaut announced their intentions to join Mastodon‘s spring tour (April 30th at Metro) instead. To add insult to the Swedes’ injuries, Nachtmystium canceled two weeks later when frontman Blake Judd broke a leg. (Haunted still plays Pearl Room, with Merauder and The Agonist, April 13th.)

I caught up with Kylesa guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants the day after the Savannah five-piece officially ditched Haunted for Mastodon, and she wouldn’t talk tour swaps but had plenty to say about the group’s (completed by guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope, drummers Carl McGinely and Eric Hernandez, and live bassist Corey Barhorst) fangoddamntastic new record, Static Tensions, released March 17th by Prosthetic.

M: So Static Tensions leaked?
LP: Oh yeah. Yeah. That’s pretty inevitable, you know? We of course downloaded [the leaked songs] and were just kind of bummed because they just sounded so shitty, especially compared to what I’ve been kinda married to for a few months now, listening to it and playing the songs. We’re really happy with the way it came out, as far as production on it, so we want our fans to be able to get that sense as well and appreciate it.

M: I’ve always been curious how records leak. Is it media people?
LP: Yeah.

IE: Always? It’s always our fault? I got a copy, and I didn’t leak it!
LP: I believe you, man [laughs]. I was told that it’s generally, and I don’t know this for a fact, I was told by someone they sent a bunch of watermarked copies to a bunch of magazine people, but then towards the release date they send out more and more copies, and it’s just inevitable that it’s going to leak, especially with, as I was told, college radio. But you know, it’s inevitable. Records leak. You can check ’em out, [though]. I always like to get a hard copy of things if I really dig it because I can tell the difference in a shitty, compressed MP3.

M: The reviews have been very positive. Many people are calling it the best Kylesa record yet. Do you agree?
LP: I do agree in that I think it’s our best record. I can honestly say that.

M: The album feels catchier than prior Kylesa material. Especially tunes like “Running Red” and “Nature’s Predators.” Is that a fair assessment?
LP: Yeah, I think so. On some of our past records, a lot of times people’s favorite songs were the catchier ones. We just kind of knew what worked on the past records and what didn’t work. Also, we wanted to write more rockin’ kind of songs, that you can kind of just bang your head to. We either wanted to have a very memorable riff, or a line, and memorable vocals. To me, having a memorable riff in a song or a melody is just as important as having a catchy chorus. We did wanna kind of expand. I think we started that with Time Will Fuse Its Worth but really expanded it with this record.

M: Some heavy bands try so hard to eschew the term “catchy,” Kylesa seems to have embraced it.
LP: It’s not such a bad word. I listen to some of my – I love a ton of punk rock – and some of that is the catchiest shit ever. All that punk stuff has a huge influence on Kylesa. We don’t sound like a punk band, per se, but those influences definitely show up in our music. We’ve been listening to Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss a lot, and that record is super catchy. That’s my favorite Slayer record, because of its catchiness. And it’s still brutal and heavy. You can be both [laughs].

M: It seems like there is less vocal interplay between you and Phillip and more “your” songs and “his” songs on this record.
LP: Yeah, that wasn’t necessarily on purpose, though, man. That’s kind of just the way the chips fell on this one. We always work out the music first, and then the vocals, and he and I have always written all the vocals and done all the lyrics, and . . . I don’t know. For whatever reason he focused on his vocal parts, and I focused on mine. The only songs I wish I would have done vocals on but didn’t because we ran out of time was “Almost Lost.”

M: In hindsight, do you like the way the vocals turned out doing it differently?
LP: Yeah, I do. That’s not to say that’s how it’s going to be from now on, that’s just how it worked out on this record, but I think the vocals on this record are our strongest. I think Phillip and I worked really hard on improving upon ourselves. We did talk about how we didn’t want to just scream all over the songs – we wanted to put more emphasis on patterns and the actual tone of our vocals and when we should not sing at all and let the music sit by itself and let the drums do the singing or let the guitars do the work. In the past when I was listening to our songs, I was like “Man, there’s just singing all over the place.” And I don’t think there necessarily needed to be. We have enough going on with our music that it doesn’t, we didn’t need it as much.

CONCISE: Though I understand all his points, IE Editor Steve Forstneger and I disagree about Mastodon’s new album. Here’s my official Crack The Skye review in one word: Mindblowing.

REDUX: Think hard (really hard), and you’ll recall a time when In Flames wasn’t mind-numbingly boring. There was also a time when screensavers and Winamp skins were considered CD bonus features. Nuclear Blast remembers both, so it re-released The Jester Race, Whoracle, Colony, and Clayman last month as part of the Reloaded series. This is the second batch of albums in NB’s reissue campaign, reserved for “classic albums.” Calling Colony and/or Clayman (where In Flames started going down the toilet) classic is a stretch, but Jester Race gets the Black-Ash Inheritance EP, which was released the same year as Whoracle, tagged on. Though arguably the band’s best record, Whoracle is only Halfloaded here – just a live version of “Clad In Shadows” and some enhanced stuff. In Flames Windows themes, anyone?

Next to be Reloaded, by the way, are Therion‘s Theli and Hammerfall‘s Renegade, though no release dates yet.

BUY STUFF: Satan wants us to support independent record stores. Know how I know? He persuaded Slayer to record a new track specifically for Record Store Day April 18th. The band was apparently going to do a track about unicorns but already had the title “Psychopathy Red” sitting around, so it decided to go the Russian-serial-killer (Andrei Chikatilo) route instead. The 7-inch (blood-red vinyl, of course) is limited to 5,000 copies, packaged in a special Russian crime-scene evidence envelope, and available only at participating indie stores. There’s a big ol’ list of Chicagoland locations on Oh, and the flip side of the 7-inch, according to, is a “weird ass backward tracking song.” Mastodon and Heaven & Hell also have exclusive releases planned for April 18th.


By the way, have you seen the artwork for H&H’s new album? Oh. My. God. Evil. As. Shit. Based on the three new songs the group recorded for the 2007 Dio Years compilation, I’ll be shocked if The Devil You Know (April 28th) isn’t absolutely awesome.

– Trevor Fisher

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Category: Caught In A Mosh, Columns, Monthly

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