Exclusive Interview: Abstractian talk writing and recording!
Last weekend we brought you the first of two exclusive interviews with Abstractian (pronounced Ab-stract-ee-an) about their debut album “Box Of Frogs (Poison)” so now it’s time for the second. This time out it all about the writing and recording with the need for isolation meaning file sharing over the internet…
How does the writing process of a new Abstractian track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? “Usually starts instrumentally with guitar, 2 or 3 riffs get written and laid down with some programmed drums and some bass. We then let it percolate around the band for a little while and see what comes out, talk about ideas, tonal feel for the track, then some initial lyrics are written and recorded, chopped about and rerecorded until we have a demo mix. Then Andy will record an intro or set of pads, some killer synth riffs that get mixed in and then Rupert will take it and disappear into his caveman drum cave and create some killer beats… but then it will probably get chopped about a bit more and the guitars will get rerecorded and probably the vocals too to match the drums… come to think of it that’s pretty much how every track went through its process so maybe we are more organised than we realised! Its worth saying that the recording and production of an abstractian track is a big part of the writing process”
How do your writing sessions take shape? “Given this was written and recorded in lock downs (multiple thereof) its fair to say that they take shape quite individually for this release, too individually for our liking… we plan to get in a room and genuinely write together soon…. Please please….”
We love the eclectic and eccentric nature of the album, there is a real sense of creative freedom to it. Have you ever been at a point when writing when you’ve thought you need to pare something back and you’ve gone too far? “Oh of course, all the time! Rumour is a 5 minute track right? Well at one point it was 15 minutes long… and staying that way… then we begrudgingly took it to 11 minutes… then 8 mins and finally we realised we were just being indulgent morons revelling in our self-importance and made it a 5 minute cut. We must have rerecorded many parts 10 times in truth… we are guilty of over analysing sometimes and should just draw a line but yeah we are constantly asking whether we’ve gone too far… one exception is ‘my other side’ that’s ridiculous and we love it that way”
In the vocal department, Ria uses multiple voices to get her message across with a mix of growls, cleans and even spoken word. How do you go about getting the balance right and picking which style for which set of lyrics? “We are really lucky that Ria has such versatility, switching from belt to growl mid sentence gives such a palette to work with but overall It’s a tonal thing… for Love wont solve you we actually discussed Celine Dion tracks as a reference, for Reality analysis we were discussing the Macclesfield underground rapper scene! For tracks like Driver we were loving some old school metal like ride the lightning. It totally depends on the message in the track… epic acid rain, sure its growling, helping an addict, it will have the feels, killer bunnies… well…”
For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “We are pretty hardcore gear nerds, I’d love to say we keep it simple and its all in the player but…we don’t. Vocals are pretty straight forward condenser / sm58 into izotope plugins. Guitars are mainly a Maybury guitars custom baritone (tuned C standard) and a Jackson Monarkh pro into a rather large pedal board (shout out to hellosailorfx, JSAfx, Underfluked and Tatefx here for all the support with some lovely custom pedals) into Stereo Peavey amps. Bass we use Sansamp gear direct in. Synths are Nord Stage and a mix of random plugins and Drums are vintage 80s Pearl with a sprinkle of Zildjian, Sabian and Meinl Cymbals. All recorded through a mix of M-Audio and Scarlett into Reaper with production mainly using Izotope and Waves plugins. We are totally self produced right now as you’d expect starting out but are really happy with the sound we got from the album… but it took a while…not going to lie…”
What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “Given the early stages of the band we are at and the limited following we’ve built so far we can’t honestly say its something we’ve really thought too much about. Joe has a few buddies that make gear that he uses and supports for guitar nerd stuff but other than that… Of course getting endorsement does really legitimise and support you growing as an artist so if the chance came it would be fantastic to work with brands if we ever made it that far. But for now we are just focused on creating music that hopefully makes people raise an eyebrow, pause for thought, and then…well…lose it.”