Exclusive Interview: Separate Entirely talk writing and recording “I’m Not Getting Better”!

Sometimes you run out of superlatives to describe just how important something is and in the case of “I’m Not Getting Better“, the debut EP from Separate Entirely, it could be one of those moments. When you’re in the darkest of places, sometimes it takes something from someone who has spilled blood in the same mud to raise your spirits and show you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and enduring almost inevitable Mental Health struggles as a result, James Brennock did the only thing he knew how to in trouble times. As he had done previously in both Hardcore band Hollow Reign and Alternative Metal outfit Exit Through The Gift Shop he picked up his guitar and began to write new music, in search of catharsis, an outlet for his pain and something to keep his idle hands away from the devils workshop. Combining screamed Emo vocals with often intricate clean guitars he wrote an EP…

How did your previous experiences writing and recording with Hollow Reign or Exit Through The Gift Shop help to smooth the path of the new record? “The writing process was easy as could write at my own pace, and I only had myself to argue or compromise with. It was completely different recording really as it was all the pressure on me”

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? “Usually it starts with a melody on the guitar or a lyric but It’s a different process for each song really. Sometimes I’ll just have a chord sequence of little melody going then will add lyrics or sometime the complete opposite. With out of my hands I wrote the guitar and lyrics together and it just pieced together. But then for lungs I had the chorus and chords written for ages and couldn’t fit any verses into to for ages. Then some how made an off time picking pattern to fit”

What was it like working with producer James Clayton on the record? “Incredible! Not only for his vast knowledge of production but also his time and patience when I was struggling. When I sent him the demos I said I wanted it to still sound raw and capture the emotions of the songs. Think it’s and understatement to say he absolutely nailed it, and captured everything I wanted from the songs beyond anything I could do, so very grateful”

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? “Ohh that’s a tough one. Probably A.A Williams as think her voice would suit the darkness of my writing, plus I can’t sing for shit”

For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “Here’s a detailed rundown Courtesy of James Clayton who produced everything!

Guitar – Schecter PT
Strings – Daddario 12-60

Out Of My Hands (Clean Chain) – Boss RV-6 / ML Sound Lab ML800 (Marshall) / Helix “Glitch” Delay / 1×10 Fender Cab Sim. This then gets hit with a slight eq/comp chain from Slate digital, and into FabFilters Pro-R.

Out Of My Hands (Rhythm Chain) – Neural DSP Cali Suite, using the zuul/grind pedals. This goes straight into a couple eq’s from slate, a Distressor clone, a low end boost and finally a Limiter. (most of the tone comes from 2nd rhythm/bass so the guitar on this is actually just samples straight from Odin 2)

Out Of My Hands (Rhythm Chain 2) – Neural DSP Nolly. Overdrive 2 into Amp/Cab 3. Slight Delay/Reverb. Same Eq/comp chain as the other rhythm tracks. Finally FabFilter Pro-R with a very slight ambient layer.

Out Of My Hands (Ambient Chain) –  Basically the exact same tone as the main clean tone. GodCab MD421 impulse instead of the Fender cab though. 

Out Of My Hands (Bass Chain) – Kraken Hybrid Bass library for the DI, Helix obsidian 7000 for the distortion. Ampeg 4×10 sim for the cab. All inside the helix. Very high gain. Waves LinMB compressor really makes this bass tone work.

Out Of My Hands (Drums) – Toontrack SD3 Progressive Foundry Samples. All the shells are from different Kits. Mix of Ozone 9, Slate VMR, and a couple waves plugins made this drum mix happen. VERY low end heavy. We both wanted a very over the top drum mix, similar to the end of “Happier than Ever” by Billie Eilish.

Lungs (Clean Chain) – ML Sound Lab ML5 / Helix “Glitch” Delay / 1×10 Fender Cab Sim, EQ/Comp inside Slate VMR. Fab Filter Pro-R, and Finally OEKSounds Soothe 2, which just gets rid of a few problem frequencies in the cab sim which come through more with this amp model.

Reminder/Grave (Live Chain) – Overdrive/Reverb Pedals straight into Blackstar Amp. Shure SM58 for vocals. Shure SM57 for Guitar. Stero mic pair for the room. (Some cheap overhead mics out of a drum mic set. God knows what brand. They sound terrible on drums, but pretty good on everything else)”

What difference would it make to you if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? We know you love a Schecter… “All the difference. That would be the dream wouldn’t it, I’d be happy with some strings to be honest”

I’m Not Getting Better” by Separate Entirely is out 27th October 2023

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