Saturday 5 January 2013

Interview with TITAN

Today I am interviewing the excellent Canadian Post-Hardcore/Doom/Sludge Metallers - TITAN – who released their brilliant debut new album – BURN – earlier this year. And I rate this brilliant album very highly. It has won praise across the board. Even making some best of 2012 lists. Even mine which I published late Dec 2012.

If you haven’t checked out the primal fury of TITAN then you’re truly missing out on something special.

Well TITAN have kindly agreed to do an interview with me. So let’s get started.

Hi guys. How is it going today? Thanks for talking to us. Much appreciated

Chris: Thanks for having us! We’re all regular readers of your blog and I’m stoked to be a part of this interview.

For people not in the know, can you give people a brief history of how the band came about.

Chris: The drummer and I started jamming in December of 2005, working on the songs that would eventually become our demo/first EP, the Chrysanthemum Pledge. James (Vocals) and Aleks (our first bass player) joined in the summer of 2006 and solidified the original lined up. 

We recorded our first EP and 2 splits with that line up. Before recording COLOSSUS, Brandon joined on second guitar. This was the lineup for COLOSSUS and Scraps of a Feast (which was a pre-BURN teaser EP). In 2010 we parted ways with our bass player, and Mike joined. This is our current lineup and the lineup that recorded BURN.

How would yourselves describe your sound. I originally classed it as Post-Hardcore/Doom/Sludge Metal.

Chris: That’s a pretty good way to sum it up! Doom influenced Blackend/Sludgy Hardcore. It really is a mashup of all of our varying influences.

Which bands and artists had a direct influence on your music?

Chris: Neurosis, Buried Inside, Acme, Union of Uranus, Catharsis, Weakling. Lots of others, but that’s a pretty good cross section.

Your new album Burn was released earlier this year. It has received some great press so far. Have you been happy with the feedback so far?

James: Feedback has been great so far. This is our first full-length over a long period of being a band, and it’s great to see it come to life and be received well by anyone, no less getting such good feedback from a bunch of great sources.

Was it a challenging album to write and record for and were you happy with the final result?

James: I’d like to say it wasn’t, but it was definitely a challenge to write and record. The most arduous part is the time it took- we’ve been a band for six years and it’s our first full length – but the other challenges were set up by ourselves and I think we faced them pretty well. Our previous records had used a lot of samples and studio kind of stuff, for BURN, we stripped down the process, much more like our live show. It was sparsely mixed, relying on the tones and performances of our gear and our musicians to make the album as heavy as it is- no studio tricks. It was a really satisfying process.

What is the songwriting process like in the band? Is it down to one individual or does everyone contribute?

James: As I said, we generally take a while to do anything. Sometimes it’s unintentional – working jobs and most of us in several bands- but we also take our time in the songwriting. Every song on BURN went through several “drafts” – writing and rewriting each riff, sometimes scrapping entire songs save a single riff. “Sermon”, for example, has had three or four different incarnations before we felt it was ready to record.

The genesis of songs usually comes from Chris as the principle riff-wizard, and I generally guide the songwriting with the lyrics, which are usually written pretty far in advance. After that, the songs generally begin to arrange themselves quite organically, going over several rewrites as I mentioned.

Is their a live Rock/Metal scene for you guys to perform. Or do you have to travel around to perform on a regular basis?

Chris: There is a really strong local Toronto scene, where we play maybe 6 or 7 times a year. Occasionally we travel to Ottawa and Montreal for a weekend. We don’t really get to play all that much these days, everyone is always busy with work and/or school. In 2011 we did a 3 week cross-Canada tour and in 2012 we did a month long tour in western Europe. Tour is generally when we play most of our shows for the year.

Canada has some great Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal Bands around at the moment, Alaskan and Dopethrone for example. Is there a fan base for your type of music or is it kept mainly underground?

Chris: There is a growing fan base, that’s for sure. But much of it is still very underground. There is definitely a lot of talent in Toronto right now, covering a very broad spectrum. From the more Sabbathy styling of Blood Ceremony to the more experimental drone/doom style of a band like GATES.

You recently completed a European Tour earlier this year. How did that go?

James: This was our third time in Europe and it’s always a trip. The community there is very, very different than in North America. It’s difficult even to explain one ‘scene’ to the other. They operate on completely different foundations. The European scene is politically and community-motivated, super enthusiastic and idealistic. Sometimes a bit sensitive but that exists in Canada too. In North America, crowds go in and out of enthusiasm and jadedness and it’s always just bars, bars, bars. Sometimes you get some cool loft spaces but they’re a pretty rare treat. Europe has the greatest venues ever. We’ve played some wacky spaces.

Have you toured with any famous bands or have any great tour stories to tell?

James: I don’t really know if we have toured with any famous bands? We’ve played and toured with a lot of our local heroes who have since broken up – Buried Inside, Cursed, Mare.. but I don’t really know what “famous” is in our community.

Burn was released on Vinyl thru Hypaethral records. How did that come about?

Chris: Hypaethral Records is a label run by Brandon and myself. We started the label for the release of BURN and we hope to continue releasing records in the future. We have a couple of awesome releases lined up for 2013 that I think you’ll really like. BURN was co-released with the label React with Protest from Germany.

Do you all have full time jobs or is the band itself your full time job?

Chris: We all have full time jobs, ranging from software developer to warehouse manager to bartender. It’s the main reason that we really only do 1 tour each year. Usually about 2 - 3 weeks long.

Are your family and friends supportive of your music?

Chris: Our friends are the most supportive. When we play in Toronto, probably 85% of the crowd, or more, is a mix of all of our friends. Brandon and James have sisters that are usually in attendance as well. Other than that there isn’t much that I would call family support.

What are your views of blogs promoting your music compared to mainstream publications? Has you music reached any mainstream magazines or websites?

Chris: I love blogs. It’s the main way that I find out about new music these days. I think it’s a great way for us to get our music out there, to the people that are looking for it. I prefer when blogs link to our bandcamp page, since everything is available for free/pay what you want download, rather than uploading it to other download services. As far as mainstream publications go, a few years ago COLOSSUS was reviewed by Terrorizer and we ended up being part of one of their “unsigned” bands compilations. That’s about as mainstream and we’ve gone. At least to the best of my knowledge.

Who are your fave bands to listen to at the moment? Or do you like listening to the classic bands of Hard Rock/Doom/Stoner and Sludge Metal in general?

Chris: at the moment, the new Neurosis and Old Man Gloom albums are in heavy rotation. I’m almost always listening to Asunder as well. The “Souls at Zero” to “Sovereign” era of Neurosis albums are regulars in my record player. Especially “Times of Grace”. I really love that first Baroness record, First, as well. I love the classics like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Sleep.

Does it surprise you when people buy your merchandise? – (I did folks. I bought Burn on lovely limited edition Vinyl).

James: I don’t know if it surprises me… as far as “merchandise” goes I would hope we offer a pretty good “product”! but one thing that surprises me is how many people pay for digital downloads. We offer a “pay what you want” system on bandcamp, and people donate all the time! Sometimes one or two dollars, but sometimes a full price of a record! Which is great, because it comes from pure generosity. They could have just taken it for free, but instead they put some of their money towards us. It’s nice.

What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band?

James: The most rewarding aspects are touring, meeting people, playing shows and performing and writing songs, which is about the best combination of therapy and ecstacy and self-expression that I’ve ever known. Personally, I’m very involved in all aspects of the creative process – lyrics, songwriting, artwork – and it’s very satisfying for me to be in a total creative process like that.

The worst part is the debt.

Do you have any exciting plans coming up in the next 12 months or so?

Chris: Our main plan for the next 12 months is to work on a follow up EP to BURN. It will likely contain a couple of new tracks as well as some other interesting stuff. We’ve been talking about having some people do remixes of the song Telepaths from BURN. Just let someone take the original tracks and go nuts with it, essentially transforming it into a new song. We’re working on getting some interesting collaborators together to help with that.

And finally do you have anything to say to your fans?

Chris: All of our releases are available for free/pay what you want download on our bandcamp site

except BURN, which you can get from the Hypaethral Records bandcamp page

and keep up with what’s happening on facebook and twitter

Well there you go folks. If you haven't checked the amazing primal fury of TITAN then your really missing out. Use the links above and check them out now. You won't be sorry.

Thanks to TITAN for doing this interview. Really appreciate it. All the best from ourselves at Sludgelord.