This Friday, Periphery return to Australia for their first headline tour, following up their previous visit with The Dillinger Escape Plan. They’ll be joined on this journey by Tesseract and locals as they play Brisbane, Sydney (sold out) and Melbourne. Deborah Konopnicki recently caught up with guitarist and songwriter from the band Misha Mansoor to chat about the tour and what’s next for the band. Click below to expand this post and take a read.
Hey! How’re you doing?
I’m doing pretty good! I’m busy with some stuff at the moment but I can take a little break so this is perfect.
You guys must be pretty excited. You’ve got your first ever headlining tour of Australia happening at the end of the month and in my opinion it’s been a long time overdue! How are you feeling about getting back down here?
We’re excited! It’s pretty much a year after our first time here. So it’ll be good to get back. Our first tour there was pretty much like a vacation with The Dillinger Escape Plan so we all have some really good memories from Australia and I think that we’re all really excited to go back down there for that reason.
The Melbourne leg of the tour sold out in something like three hours, which is so insane! I must have just go in at that three hour mark so I’m pretty stoked about that. Did you guys have any idea that you were in such demand?
Absolutely not! We thought that we were coming back and it was going to be like “Hey guys! Remember us? We’re still around!” I didn’t think that anyone would show up. When I heard that I thought that there was some misinformation there. We didn’t think that it was real but it was a pleasant surprise. I still don’t know if I accept that. I’m going to have to wait and see the crowd until I’m like “Ok, that really happened!” but it is really cool to see that because we love playing down there. We had such a good time playing in Australia so it’s just icing on the cake for us.
I was at the Melbourne Dillinger show last year and it was really cool to see that despite the fact that it was their show that there were a few people out in force for you guys. Do you think that it was a nice introduction to your Australian fan base?
Yeah! I mean it was a surprising introduction. When you’re opening you’re not expecting to draw much of your own crowd, it’s more like you’re trying to play the crowds that don’t know you. The Dillinger Escape Plan’s crowd; I thought would be very open-minded but we had a lot of our own fans at those shows. It was very surprising to us. It was a really pleasant surprise.
Do you have one stand-out moment from that tour?
Man, it’s all just a happy blur, let me tell you! There were nice hotel rooms and the whole overall experience was like; If I was a rock star, this is what life would be like! We were sleeping in nice hotels and playing in nice venues and playing to big crowds. Every aspect of it was so effortless. There’s not one particular moment but as far as cites go I think that Melbourne was my favorite. I expected to like Sydney the best but I don’t know, Melbourne just spoke to me. Maybe it was because there were a lot of music stores and like crazy food all around. I just really liked Melbourne!
I just want to talk about your self-titled for a moment. It was one of my standout favorite releases from last year and it still has stints in my car on a regular basis! It seems like it was a bit of a slog to get it released. You had the skeletons for the songs well before they were released, had a few member changes and finally had it ready to go last year. As the main songwriter you would have had the most time with these songs so how are you feeling about that record a year on from releases and probably a few years since they were envisioned?
Well, that’s a good question because I’m the kind of person that’s every, very hard on themselves and I’m very self-critical so I usually hate most of the stuff that I do. When it was ready to come out I was mentally preparing myself like “Look, you’re going to hate this in a few months and you’re going to be ashamed of it but it’s ok!” but surprisingly it’s one of the few things that I’ve remained proud of. With that said the second that it came out I was over it. I was proud of it but I was ready to move it. It was a very cathartic experience because like you said it was many years in the making and there were bumps in the road and frustrations with getting it all together and then finally it was out. We took a deep breath and were like “NOW we can move on with our lives!”
When you said that once it was released that you got over it, would you say that’s what lead to you wanting to re-work “Jetpacks Was Yes!”?
No, not over in that way, over it in the sense that we didn’t want to listen to those songs ever again. Thankfully not playing them. Considering that I was producing them and mixing them I was listening to those songs a lot to listen and see if there was anything that I could catch at the last second before it was too late. So once it was out, it was like “I’m NEVER listening to this album again!” I actually took a nice little break from it before I head it again and I was like “You know what, I CAN be proud of this”. Of course when you’re listening to it everyday it sucks! You’re listening to every aspect of it and you’re overanalyzing it. The re-worked “Jetpacks…” stuff and the re-worked vocals, that was just because Spencer got better as a singer and being that we can record ourselves when we want, well if you can record yourselves then you might as well! Our US label Sumerian was telling us to tour around with a radio edit of “Jetpacks…” because it would work well. We were like “Ahh, radio edit? That sounds terrible!” We’re very fortunate in our contract with our labels in that we get total creative control. That’s not to say that they won’t suggest us things so we have this rule in the band; to try out things and if it sucks then we won’t do it. We tried a different arrangement; I added another chorus to it and they said “Yeah, you have to change the screaming to singing”. I felt like that was going to castrate our song! It sounded terrible right? But the part that Spencer wrote for that was such that when we heard the song we were like “Wow! This is actually way better then the original!” We all agreed that it sounded a lot better. That whole radio thing didn’t end up happening anyway but we were happy that we just stumbled upon another version of this song, so that’s the version that we play live. Then we were like “Well, we’ve just made a video for this song, we might as well include this version on a new album because everyone was asking us where they could find the new versions so that’s when we decided to put it on the EP. It was a happy accident! It goes to show that you should try things even if you think that it’s a terrible idea. It’s not to say that every idea will turn out to be a good one because there were a bunch of ideas that we tried and we were like “Nope, that was terrible!” but that was an example of an idea that we thought was going to be terrible but it’ turned out to be the new official version of the song!
As a mega fan it’s interesting to hear where it came from! I was a bit like you when I found out that it was going to be re-worked. It’s my favorite track off of the album so I was feeling pretty territorial! Like you said though, I actually prefer it to the original! Spencer has just reached this new echelon of vocals since the debut was released and I think that it’s just fantastic.
Well thank you very much! I actually re-worked the solo on there because it was just something that I thought I could play better. When you have the ability to re-do things like that – that’s not to say that you’re going to hear a re-worked version of the first album because we’ve got way better things to do then that – then you should. The “Incurs EP” was something that was set-up to be something that we could work on while we were on tour because we have been touring for the past year in support of our debut. We didn’t have any time to record anything so that EP came together as a supplemental EP for fans of the first album. It was something that we could do in one week off in-between tours and things like that.
I’m a massive fan of electronic music so I was stoked to hear some of the remixes on the EP. What gave you that initial idea to have a few different remixes of “Icarus Lives”?
That was actually the whole idea of the EP and what spawned the idea of the EP. We’re all such huge electronic music fans! That’s basically all that we listen to. We were like “Man, we should have some sick remix artist remix some of our songs”. Then we were like “Well, we should have a contest” so then we had a contest with our fans an put the winner on the EP! I did a crappy one for fun as well. The remix artist Zedd did a Skrillex remix that just blew me away. We got in touch with him and it turned out that he was a massive Periphery fan as well. It just had to happen. The EP was just meant to be the remixes but then we decided that we had all of these b-sides and we had the “Jetpacks…” re-work and we had some new stuff so we decided to package it all together so we could have this nice little package of stuff to hold kids over. We wanted to do the next two albums as a staggered released; we wanted to have a concept album and a normal album but that would take some time so that way it could hold our fans over. If we were going to put something out a year after our debut album, even if it wasn’t’ a full length of brand new material at least it would hold kids over and let them know that we are working.
Well I think it’s done exactly that! I was pretty excited to hear that you had two new albums on the horizon actually. I think that the one that’s due to come out next year is called “Juggernaut”. Are you able to talk a little bit about that one at the moment?
Yeah! I mean “Juggernaut” is a working title and that’s something that we’ve been working on for a while. I mean, some of the themes and ideas and songs that are going to be on that record, we’ve been working on for years! Even before the self-titled came out. We’ve been toying around with the idea of doing a concept album for quite a while now. We decided that it wasn’t going to be good for our first release so maybe we should hold it off for the second, but then we had all of these ideas floating around for a regular album. They were way more direct and really didn’t fit in with the idea of doing a concept album. Then we were like “Well man, we have enough material for both!” Even though we’re going to be putting out two albums, which is a lot of material I think that the focus will be on quality as far as those releases go. As far as the concept goes I can’t really tell you too much; partially because we haven’t decided exactly what the concept is! We have a bunch of ideas, one of which I’m hoping will be the concept. It’s very expansive and I don’t want to give it away. If we do chose that one it will probably not fit on one album so it will have to be a multi-album concept. It’s definitely a big undertaking! It’s going to be a massive challenge but that’s what we like about it. We don’t want to take the safe route. We want to do things that are fun and challenging to us.
I think that you guys have definitely got the loyal fan base that would appreciate something as extravagant as what I’m hoping is going to be the end result!
I hope so! The idea is that the regular album is going to be for the people that like the 3-5 minute songs and something a little bit more direct. With that said I think that there are quite a few people and especially those in our fan base that would appreciate something a little bit more like a concept album. All of our inner music nerds love something like that! Like the Dream Theatre albums, The Dear Hunter and things like that. They’re great examples of how much better something can be. It’s just something that we’d like to do and try our best to make something awesome.
Have you guys started writing the music for either of the releases yet or is it still in the development stages?
I mean we’ve started writing. We have A LOT of music. We’re going to have to cut it down and as we’re cutting it down, we’re still writing new music. So at this stage we’re deciding on what’s going to make the cut for the regular album. For the concept album; we’re working backwards. We’re going to see what we have that works for the concept album in terms of the music, themes and lyrics and then we might have to write to the story and fill in the gaps, fill in parts, change arrangements and the story. That I think will be very fun. We haven’t done anything like that before. It will put me out of my comfort zone and I think that’ll be very exciting for everyone. That’s why I sound a little bit unsure of how it will sound and everything! I think that we can pull it off and that it’s going to be very exciting. I think that it’s going to be a completely different vibe to the regular album.
Well, now we know that you haven’t yet settled on a concept but does “Juggernaut” stand for anything significant at this point in time?
Well it was just that when I first started writing songs for this concept, I knew that I wanted to write a concept album of some kind quite a while ago and that even if the lyrics weren’t thematic – even though I don’t write the lyrics! – but to make the music thematic. Originally I wanted it to flow like one song so I was like “I want this to flow like a juggernaut of a song!” That’s why. The reason that it’s a working title is because when we pick the concept it might not be an appropriate name. We’ll take that as it comes!
You’re demoing work plays the most significant structure in the Periphery songs. Are you able to pick up any differences with the music that you recorded for the self-titled and the music that you’re recording now? Is there anything significant that has changed or evolved?
It’s very hard as a writer to say that. As I say that there is a whole lot more of the band involved. I’m not writing everything so that’s good. One thing that we’re doing is that we’re taking a whole lot more time for pre-production and a whole lot more time for recording this time around so nothing will be rushed. This was so we can jam out the songs or the basic ideas for the songs at practice and get a sense of how they sound like as oppose to how they sound at the studio because that doesn’t always translate. Sometimes it can be disappointing; some times it can be surprising. Hopefully this way we’ll have a good sense of how these songs sound live and in the studio before we come into it. That’s going to be a bit of a change and that’s going to effect arrangements and whatnot. I think that I’m writing a little bit more consciously with vocals in mind now too. We have a vocalist who writes his own vocal lines as well which we’ve never had before. When he came in to the self titled, most of the lyrics and vocal lines and rhythms had already been written for him by me and the bassist, so that will change it a lot as well. As far as our general approach; our approach will stay the same, as it’s always been which is just whatever sounds good!
Well we know that you’ve been listening to a fair bit of electronic music at the moment but is there anything else that’s influenced this new music that’s being written at the moment?
Well, we have to thank our Australian tour for this discovery because Australia has introduced us to what has become one of our favorite bands ever. Every member of the band LOVES Karnivool. We would love to open for them someday in Australia! That would be the greatest thing ever! We don’t really listen to that much metal anymore. When you tour with metal bands all year you kind of want to listen to something else to change the pace. Another band that I’ve been obsessed with is The Dear Hunter. Not to be confused with Deer Hunter but THE Dear Hunter! They’re incredible. They’re like the most colorful musical band. It almost sounds like music to a musical. They just do the most epic things. They’ve just released a 9 EP interpretation of the colour spectrum. Each EP has something like four songs for all of the colours of the colour spectrum including black and white.
Just quickly on a personal note; you were doing some recording with the boys from Animals As Leaders that turned out to be quite amazing. Are you still heading down that producer route or are you just focusing on Periphery at the moment?
I had to unfortunately turn them down for the second album just because of the big undertaking that is both of the upcoming albums. I really wanted my head to be in the right space. At the same time I think that the new Animals As Leaders stuff will sound very, very different and it will sound amazing. When Tosin and I wrote the first album it was just the two of us writing the music together but now that they have Javier and Navene – the drummer and guitarist – there’s all of this other input to come in. Navene is producing as well and he’s a really good producer. I think that it will be amazing and it will be something that’s totally different. People that want more of the same probably won’t be as happy but I think that more of the same is never as good as something that’s different and truly great. I think that it will be awesome. Maybe in the future if our schedules line-up I might go back to the producer chair for one of their albums. I definitely would love to. It just comes down to schedules unfortunately! When you have two full-time touring bands sometimes it’s just luck.
Just one final question for you today before I take up too much of our time; what can your Australian fans expect to see from you guys on this visit to our shores this month?
Well the first little surprise that we think is really cool is that we’re going to be playing a new song that is going to probably end up on the regular album. It’s never been demoed and no-one has ever heard this song before so it’s going to be something brand new. That’s also going to be cool because as I said we’re still jamming these ideas out and we’re still working them out so it’s possible that it might be different by the time that it’s gets onto the album. It is complete though and it is a fun song right now as is so it might be the same thing too. So, people are going to be a preview of that as it’s being written! Last time that we were there we only had an opening slot so we could only play for 25 minutes, now we should be playing for about an hour! As long as we’re not boring the fans… (laughs) hopefully they should like that! We’re stoked to play. I really can’t wait for these shows!
Periphery releases instores now via Roadrunner Records, click [Here] to purchase online.
Alt Music Hub, Hysteria Mag and Soundwave Touring Present…
With Guests TESSERACT
29th – The Zoo, Brisbane [18+] [Buy Tickets] w/ Ironhide
30th – Annandale Hotel, Sydney [18+] SOLD OUT w/ As Silence Breaks
31st – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne [18+] [Buy Tickets] w/ Twelve Foot Ninja * Note upgraded venue, tickets for Northcote Social Club valid for The HiFi *
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
For more information, head [Here].