Exclusive Interview: xygrbryrx talk writing and recording “Cunning Punts”!

When mastermind and multi instrumentalist Michael Jon White contacted us after our review of his sophomore record “Cunning Punts“, which we described as the violently birthed bastard child of Zebadiah Crowe and Anaal Nathrakh and offered us the opportunity to do an interview about all things xygrbryrx, we jumped at the opportunity. The only question was how high and if we were bringing anything back with us on the way down. Turns out we are, as after this Christmas Eve special edition interview we have a second one for New Years Eve which looks back on 2022 with the magician…

How did your previous experiences writing and recording help to smooth the path of the new record? “So before writing and recording Grindstone I hadn’t even touched a guitar in nearly ten years, never used a 7-string, and wasn’t familiar with using VSTs, DAWs, or plugins. But it just worked somehow. It really was fevered nights of writing and recording. I used Reaper as my DAW which tracked how many days since activation as well as time used. In the end Grindstone was finished in 60 days and just over 60 hours. I learned so much making, and even more after. I’m not entirely happy with Grindstone as it stands, from a production standpoint, but the lessons learned allowed Cunning Punts to really hit like a truck. I really happy with how it sounds and I’m still learning and utterly falling in love with tweaking and modifying and mixing and all that boring/fun stuff”

How does the writing process of a new track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? How does it evolve from there before you consider it the finished article? “I always write and record a song in one sitting. Usually four to six hours. I get the urge, always after the sun’s gone down (not a arty goth thing, just a night owl), set up my gear and go. I always have an overall image of the record in mind so when I write I have a rough idea of what it needs to sound like. Grindstone is a loose concept record (Mainly thematic, but the narrative is there) so I always knew what sound I’m after. Cunning Punts was just me being pissed off and trying to go as heavy and violent as possible. Riff ideas, drum beats, and rough lyrics will be swimming around in my head in advance but beyond that it’s a stream of consciousness type deal”

How did the guest solo from Joe Tal of Crown Compass, Illucinoma and formerly Textures on “A Fiscal of Dollars” come about? What was it like working with him? “I support him on Patreon. Being a HUGE fan of Textures I jumped at the chance to support him and hear what he was working on (turned out to be The Drought, Crown Compass’s stunning debut). We ended up chatting a bit on Patreon and I figured it’d be worth a shot to ask. He immediately said yes, and within a month I had the solo. It was a dream come true and the song would be nothing without his solo. It just makes the song, for me”

If you had the opportunity to work with a guest in the studio next time around, who would you like to work with and why? “I’d love to do guest vocals for someone that said, “just fucking go for it, do what you want.” That’d be fun. I’d love to work with Duncan Bently from Vulvodynia. He is easily the most interesting and exciting death metal vocalist to turn up for years. Such a unique and demonic voice. A Frederick Thornandal solo would be… the best thing ever, I guess”

For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “Ah, the fun stuff! I play a Solar A2.7LN guitar, a SE V7 mic and for my next stuff a Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK bass. My drums are Get Good Drums, I use the Invasion plugin. It sounds phenomenal. I use Neural DSP for my guitar and bass tones, as well as GGD cabs. My guitar chain has gone through a lot of phases and I’m kinda pedal crazy. The shimmer effect on reverb (Archetype: Gojira) is just gorgeous. I’m currently running a HM-2 through a Gojira amp and GDD Cali cabs for a nasty buzzsaw tone, coupled with my bass through Darkglass Ultra to give it some girth (all plugins). I also use a guitar slide over the pickups to make those screeches”

What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “I’m broke as fuck so from that standpoint it’d be amazing. I would love a signature guitar. I’m thinking of approaching Harley Benton if my listen numbers go up enough. I was blown away by how good their £110 bass sounded and I just love their ethic of budget guitars that are actually good. They just want to make quality affordable guitars and as a poor fella I respect the hell out of that”

Cunning Punts” by xygrbryrx is out now, you can find it everywhere you would expect it to be and some places you wouldn’t…


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