Exclusive Interview: Varius talk writing and recording “Concordance”!
The second of two exclusive interviews with Joel Tassillo, the bassist of Canadian Melodic Death Metal act Varius sees us chat about what went in behind the scenes to make their recently released sophomore EP “Concordance” happen…
What did you learn from the recording of your debut EP “The Great Tribulation” that helped when it came to recording “Concordance“? “I think we as individual band members learned a lot about approaching our instruments in the recording studio. It felt like we came a lot more prepared this time, and the extra attention to detail shows. I think the songs have more space and are more concise and focused than some of the earlier songs, so I feel like we learned more about arrangement compared to the last album. I also feel like we have more of an idea of what will work for us in a live setting, and the Concordance tracks all feel great to play together”
The process of writing “Concordance” saw you take a different route with each member of the band bringing their own song to the table to be worked on with each person playing the role of producer for their own track; how did that work for you? “It worked out great for us, in this case. We are all very proud of how this experiment turned out. Each of us got to bring our own ideas to the table while allowing the other members of the band to play a supporting role in bringing them to life. I personally felt that it took a lot of the pressure off of writing since it was as if I only needed one strong idea of my own to focus on, before getting to support the other three tracks. Because the songs cover so much ground across our personal tastes, Concordance feels diverse and refreshing to me”
How far along the development cycle was each song when it switched from being a single person’s idea to something that the collective could get their teeth into? “I would say that each songwriter had a full structural skeleton of their song before the collaborative process began. The songs were mostly mapped out by each member, with the other members mostly just filling in any gaps, which were a little bit different for each song. For example, I had written almost every instrumental part of the song Golden Crown, except I needed a couple of sections of lead guitar playing and lyrics to be added by my bandmates. It was a different story for the song Lament of Dissonance, which had almost all of its parts written as a piano piece by our drummer, Vladimir. Then the collaborative process began by changing the piano arrangement to electric guitar and bass parts and then taking a collaborative approach with the lyrics based on Vlad’s original idea. For the song Gut Shoveler, our vocalist wrote all of the guitar riffs and lyrics. Concordance of the Legionfall was another song completely mapped out by our guitarist Patrick”
Did you find it brought the band closer together because everyone was involved rather than having say a writing partnership and the others not contributing as much? Do you see yourselves taking that writing path again in the future? “Sure, it was fun and fulfilling for everyone involved. We all got to exercise our creativity and take both leadership and supportive roles in producing the songs. I could see us taking a similar approach in the future since all four of us write material on our own time. We really could go anywhere from here, though!”
For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “I can only speak best for the bass gear we use, but I’ll do my best: I recorded Concordance with an Ibanez ATK bass and a Sansamp VT DI pedal. A simple approach which I use live as well, or I’ll play through my Ampeg SVT 5-Pro for the same kind of sound, mostly clean with a bit of grit. My basses are strung with D’Addario NYXL strings. Our guitarist Patrick recorded with a Sterling John Petrucci model guitar and used a combination of digital modeling and re-amped guitars through his Mesa Boogie amp. He’s also using the Line 6 Helix now, and I think he uses Ernie Ball strings. Our drummer Vlad recorded Concordance with a combination of his Mapex drum kit and a really cool, somewhat older bass drum that I wish I knew more about! He likes his Zildjian cymbals as well”
What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “That would be amazing, I would be happy to represent any of the products that I personally use. I’m proud of the equipment that I have and confident in the manufacturers that I get it from, hopefully, one day some of those manufacturers start to believe Varius is worth working with!”