UK outfit Continents recently released their Victory Records debut album ‘Idle Hands‘ on the back of a busy year of touring the UK. To find out a little more about the album we caught up with Tom Weaver from the band who gives us further insight via our On The Record questions. Expand this post to check out his answers and their new video clip. The album is available locally now through Riot! on CD [Here] or Digitally [Here].
Tell us about the release title.
Well the title track gave its name to the album, rather than the other way around, we’d already written and named all the song, then we put them all down with the lyrics and combed through for a title that we thought would fit the album. ‘Idle Hands’ doesn’t have a general significance in terms of the album as a whole, but in terms of the title track it’s condensed from “The devil makes work for Idle Hands”. The lyrics of the song contemplate the existence of God, and the conviction of your own beliefs. It’s basically saying if there’s any room for doubt in your beliefs, then you’ll start to question yourself, and it’ll find its way in. As far as working titles go, there weren’t any for the album itself but there were a few for the songs. One that didn’t get used which I really liked is “28:6:42:12”, which on one hand is a reference to Donnie Darko (one of my favourite films), but on the other hand it’s a reference to Freemasonry and the 8th day of Christianity. But like I said, that wasn’t used haha.
Tell us about the artwork.
The artwork was designed by a friend of ours Richey Beckett, it’s completely hand drawn – look at the detail on it, it’s absolutely incredible. We honestly couldn’t love it any more than we do. We definitely had the idea when approaching the artwork that we didn’t want something that looked like a stereotypical metalcore album, and I think we achieved that. The concept for the art was all Richey’s though, we went to him with some of the lyrical themes and the title of the album and said that he had complete creative reign over it, and he just took it and ran. I know there is some symbolism in it, the heron represents strength and pride, the girl’s hair represents her beliefs and the hands through it represent her doubts and fears. That’s about as far as I know though. It’s just really gnarly to look at haha.
What format/s will it be released on and how will it be packaged?
It’s coming out in standard jewel case physical format, it’s also coming out on vinyl which is available in two colours, and it’ll be available for digital download from various online stores.
Who will it be released through, and when?
It was released via Victory Records a couple of weeks back, and it should be available through all good music stores.
Tell us about the studio and why you chose to record there?
A few bands that we’re friends with had previously recorded with Stu (Brutality Will Prevail, This Distance, Desolated) and had nothing but good things to say about him, especially when it came to his work ethic – he was always described as being a pusher, wanting to get the best out of the band he was working with, as well as him producing some more notorious bands (Bring Me The Horizon, Annotations of an Autopsy, etc). So we dropped him an email to enquire about tracking the album for us, and we hit it off pretty much straight away. He was really excited about the project and really wanted to get the best out of it which is what we were hoping for.
Tell us about the producer / engineer and why you chose to record with them?
Slightly different from above, we knew we wanted the album to sound huge so we all went away and found our favourite albums that we thought had the style of production we were looking for. From there we Wikipedia’d the personnel of those albums to draw up a short list of producers. In the end we decided to go with Pete Rutcho (The Ghost Inside, Bury Your Dead, Hand of Mercy) to produce the album. As with Stu, from the first time we spoke by email we hit it off, he’s such a cool, down to earth guy, and he was really excited to get the best out of the album and make it sound huge.
Did you go into the writing process with a clear direction in mind?
Not really, I mean we knew that we wanted the album to be heavy, aggressive, and fast paced for the most part which I think we achieved. In terms of piecing it together though we didn’t think of how we wanted it to flow when we were writing it, we just wrote a load of songs that we liked and then worried about piecing them together afterwards.
Were you listening to anything in particular during the writing / recording process that influenced the songs at all?
I wouldn’t say that there was a particular band or artist that rubbed off on the record directly. We listen to a huge variety of music between us so I would imagine aspects of that creeped in along the way. I think the only album I was listening to in the studio was “Pianos Become The Teeth – The Lack Long After”, which has had no influence on the band at all, no matter how much I love them haha.
Were there any albums you were referencing to aim for a certain type of sound production wise?
Pete’s discography was definitely part of the reason we decided to approach him to work with us on the album. I mean the first thing I think when I hear The Ghost Inside’s last two records is “huge production”. We were intent on having the album sound as natural as possible which was another thing Pete stressed to us when we were discussing ideas for the sound of the album. All the guitars on the record are live, recorded through a head and cab, not into Pod Farm. The drums are as natural as possible, and we tried to stay pretty neutral on vocal effects too but there is some digitalisation there. There are just a lot of album from the last 2 or so years, especially in the metalcore genre, that sound really thin and synthetic because everything is completely digital. That’s something we were insistent on avoiding.
How long did you spend in the studio recording?
I think we were tracking for about 3 weeks? Then it was all sent over to Pete and he had it for about another 3 weeks before we were happy with the mix and everything was sent back to Victory.
Tell us a little about the recording process the band used?
Same as a lot of bands these days… we did all our own pre-production at home, got all the guitar guide tracks done and all the tempos and clicks sorted before we got to the studio. Then when we were at the studio, like I said, everything was as natural as possible. Wetried our best to ensure everything was recorded as tightly as possible so there was minimal editing to be done. Darryl recorded 99% of the guitars, purely in the interest of making sure everything was consistent, all riffs were played exactly the same and to avoid differences in strumming technique that could have shown up on the recording.
Was this any different to previous processes you have used?
The last time we recorded all the guitars were recorded straight into the desk and then reamped after we were done, I think that was the major difference. We also spread the vocals out a lot more on this recording, purely because we’d never recorded this many tracks before, so to save Phil’s voice and mine we recorded vocals intermittently over the 3 weeks.
Any guests involved? if so, who.. and what did they do?
We have 2 guest vocalists on the album. The first is our friend Paul Williams from the band Desolated, he was on the original recording of our track Pegasus, Pegasus so we definitely wanted him back on the re-record. We also have our cameraman Ben on two songs on the album doing some guest vocals – he’s been a vocalist a lot longer than Continents has been going, and his range is awesome, so it made sense to utilise his talents as he was in the studio with us anyway filming the studio diaries.
Any particular equipment outside your usual live gear used in the process?
The only thing I can think of is the SansAmp we used to record the bass on Idle Hands. Other than that it was all our own gear in the regular set ups.
Any memorable studio moments?
Well the studio diaries captured the majority of them haha. You can find them on YouTube by searching “Continents Making Of Idle Hands”, it’s a little 4 part series documenting the recording and stupid shit we got us to.
Any additional tracks recorded that didn’t make the cut but may see the light of day sometime?
Not this time round, but we have already started writing the second album so I would imagine there’s going to be some excess material from there. If we get the opportunity to, we may record a one off single between albums just to keep new material in circulation, we’ll see.
What track/s are you most looking forward to playing live?
All of them! My favourites off the album are “Inhale” and “Regrets”. I’m not sure why, but they’re the kind of songs I’d move to if I was in the crowd.
How would you compare the final product to previous releases?
I’d say it’s at least 7% better, pushing 8% from a generous reviewer. I’m kidding ha, it’s easily the best material we’ve ever put out. I know every band says that, but I mean it. We were actually 2 weeks over our deadline delivering the album to Victory because we wanted to make sure we were 100% happy with everything before they got it.
Anything else you want to say or about the release?
Only that I hope everyone reading this loves listening to the album as much as we loved writing, recording and playing it live. We honestly appreciate anyone who gives our music a chance, whether you end up liking it or not, at least you took time out of your day to give yourself the possibility of liking it; we think that’s awesome!
CONTINENTS – Idle Hands
Instores now on Victory Records / Riot!
Grab it on CD [Here] or Digitally [Here].