Sunday, 12 February 2017

INTERVIEW WITH COLLAPSIAN: "At The Left Hand Of The Sun & Beyond"

By: Nikos Mixas

Collapsian are a 4-piece band from the Phoenix/Tempe, AZ area that plays a well infused style of metal which draws influences from sludge, black-metal, doom, psychedelic and progressive rock. Collapsian members have been involved in other projects such as Sihr, Mosara, Prosthetics and Drone Throne.

They released their acclaimed "At The Left Hand Of The Sun" in July 2014, which was written, recorded, and mixed by the band themselves, with mastering duties handled by none other than the man, Brad Boatright (Sleep, All Pigs Must Die, Nails, High on Fire).  The album is and was an album that stood out as real highlight upon its release, so when we had the opportunity to hook up with the band at the end of 2016, we sent our man Nikos Mixas to get the lowdown on the band, their views on genre stereotypes and what the future holds for band. Check it out. 

Sludgelord: Since you guys aren’t a household name outside of Phoenix, can you tell us about Collapsian and give a brief history of the band?
Anton:   Well, we've been jamming together probably for about 10 years, with the bass player, Chad, drummer, and I, and then we recently picked up Tom.
Tom: Originally the band was called Sear, and it was much more sludge, traditional sort of stoner rock pace, stoner metal based sort of stuff, but then some lineup changes happened and I joined after a Maryland Deathfest, I think we were talking, I was like, "Oh, hey, I'll try out for you guys!" And it just sort of worked, it clicked, released the record with the old vocalist on it, and just have been jamming those ever since and writing new material since then.
Sludgelord: So you were at Maryland Deathfest?
Tom: Yeah, in 2013, I think the last day of that, Chad had said something like, "Oh, hey! We're just having some vocalist issues." And I had done vocals here and there before, "Well, I'll fuckin' try out." Let's give it a shot. And that was it.
Sludgelord: Yeah. Did you guys know each other before that Maryland Deathfest, and went as friends?
Tom: Yeah, so I actually went to high school with his wife, and then met him, he played with Sear, my stepbrother Justin was in that band too.
Chad: Yeah, you came to band practice a couple times, and so we had this weird connection, my wife went to school with him, I was in a band with his step-brother, so we just basically ... when it came time to find somebody who was new, we tried to find like-minded people, we tried it out with a couple different vocalists prior to that and none of them were necessarily bad ... But Tom had sort of a good background as far as music goes, kind of similar to what we were doing, he had his own background because he's actually done ... we've done vocal stuff for a long time. Maybe not in the extreme venue, necessarily.
Tom: I used to sing in choir.

Chad: Yeah. So he's got the pipes, son. It just kind of worked out. We have all the same interests and then we went looking for a vocalist, he stepped up and we basically settled.

Anton:   Well we didn't settle, our other vocalist moved to Brazil, and then we actually hadn't even played any shows with him after we released our record, so Tom was with us before we released the record in 2014, and he's just been playing shows ever since. Kind of getting used to playing shows as a four-piece, and we've written ... we have another full-length worth of material.  So he'll be doing his debut on that.  Should be out hopefully in the next year.

Sludgelord: Okay.  And every band loves this question. What genre would you consider Collapsian?
Tom: I'd say most people say we're Sludge, but this next record that's coming out, I feel like we've taken a lot of time, and maybe more effort and thought to actually put together some stuff that's not quite as predictable which I think we were doing. So I'd say just metal, you know?
Anton: There are parts of the new stuff that get on a "High on Fire" sort of vibe to them. Or a new "Darkthrone", the sort of earlier era "Darkthrone" sort of stuff.  Then there's other just really heavy shit that sounds a lot different than that, and it also sounds different than the stuff that's on "At the Left Hand of The Sun", too, it's a lot heavier, a lot more atmospheric, at times, too.  Somewhat within a Doom realm, but then it gets just fuckin' straight up metal, the sludge is still there, I think, like in the way that the guitars sound, the tone itself, but there's always a piece of the band that's always moving, there's never this stagnant sort of doom element to it too, right? The way that a doom record that can have a sort of plodding kind of tempo to it.  There's always one piece I think, that is in constant motion that really sets it apart from anything else like that.
Chad: I think a lot of people ... It's really live ... and I think sometimes they don't really get what it is that we're doing.  Not necessarily in a bad way, I just think it's ... it's not all over the place, but I think that, like Anton said, people think of it as a doom band, or a sludge band, and then, we have sort of ... I know the drumming is definitely not traditional for a doom, and the bass playing and stuff, it's very strange. Some of the stuff we play, so ... I would almost say there's like a progressive vibe to it, not like a typical Dream Theater progressive vibe but just like a weird, nonstandard way of interpreting sludge and doom metal, things like that.
Sludgelord:  Okay, speaking of "At the Left Hand of the Sun," you released that in 2014. I loved the album, still listen to it, and can touch on that album for just a bit, and also, did you shop the album to any labels, and were there any bites?
Tom: We didn't really shop around to labels, so we had previously released a record of the previous band Sear, basically, we recorded that in-house, mixed it in-house, and kind of just gave it away for free, and sent it to a bunch of blogs and stuff like that. We made, I think, a hundred CD's or so?  Actually handmade CD's and stuff that we gave out at shows.  So we kind of took the same approach on this record, we sent it off to a lot of people to review it, and things like that, we didn't really send it out to any labels necessarily, and we did get a fair amount of response from the online community, like the sludge-board accounts we were talking about earlier.
Anton: Pretty positive, too.
Tom: Yeah, very positive! The only negative thing that I even heard which isn't even necessarily negative, was somebody thought that it was too long, and they had reviewed five songs, and they were like, "The other songs are equally as crazy, but I don't have time to go through and detail all of them." Because they were basically saying, not all the songs were standard, because there's some fast songs, and some slow songs.  So people I think really dug it, the people we sent it out to ... I think with this next record the approach is probably to shop around to labels, and just kind of see what happens.  I'd like to get a world wide release, because even in the time they released that other record, which is '09-2014, the landscape has really, really changed, and there's so many people putting out records. It's really hard to set yourself apart. I think, as a band, we sort of underestimated how much material was out there and what it actually takes to have your voice heard, in a way. So we'll probably take a more methodical approach to the next record.
Anton:   Yeah, the songwriting styles are quite different, as well. With "The Left Hand of the Sun", we had a bunch of riffs stockpiled, so we were just puzzle piecing them all together, some of these riffs have been around for like, ten years, some of them, you know. Me and Chad actually grew up together, so we've been jamming together since we were kids, you know, so ... It's just a bunch of orphaned riffs we just puzzle pieced together. As opposed to what's coming up next, I feel like we really took the most time out of any of those.

Sludgelord: All right. "At the Left Hand of the Sun", there are a few samples sprinkled throughout that album. Can you go more in detail about those samples, why they're there, why there are so many?
Chad:    Well I think the idea was to make a soundscape, a piece from start to finish. There's no breaks, necessarily. Just kind of one solid piece, or at least, it works as like ... I guess the whole thing is a piece of music. Versus, song, song, song, song, song.  I've always been a fan of soundscapes, just really weird stuff.  And the goal, I think, with a lot of that stuff, from our perspective, or from my perspective, because I did the majority of the mixing and stuff from that, well I did all the mixing on that, but ... was just to make the listeners go, "What the fuck is that?  It was sort of weird." So we did a lot of weird shit, like, we sampled Terrence Mckenna, we sampled Neil DeGrasse Tyson, we sampled Marshall Applewhite, the guy from Heaven's Gate Cult, and then I took all four of my cats and squeezed them, and bit their ears, and then made them all cry and scream, and then fucked up the samples and made them sound all weird.
So that's kind of a strange one, I've had some people e-mail us wondering what the sound were, so that was kind of fun. But it was basically just to put some weird stuff together, you know. I'd have one sound, and then I'd have really weird samples, I took all these samples that were public domain from NASA, of all these really strange noises that they pulled out, that their telescopes had picked up, in the late 70's and early 80's, they're kind of bleeps and bloops and stuff. And I took those, and kind of fucked with the rate at which they played, and some of the tones, and stuff.  And I would just kind of stack stuff, and layer it, and did a bunch of weird panning, and did a bunch of weird stuff. The goal is to have a bunch of weird shit, nothing over the top and super, super crazy, so that you couldn't tell what was going on, but just enough for it to sound really strange, and kind of fucked up.
Because I thought that was sort of the vibe of the record, back to what we were talking about earlier, I don't really think it's easy to put a finger on what a lot of the music is, and I do think that a lot of people are sort of thrown off when they're like, "What type of music do you play?" Right? Kind of sludge, kind of metal, kind of this weird progressive vibe, kind of ambient in a strange way, so that was sort of what I wanted to reflect, as the album was old, so we'd come up with weird samples and stuff, and it was a blast doing that. I'd say it took a long time to come up with what I wanted, find stuff that worked, find stuff that didn't work, but piecing them together was a lot of fun.  And I think it turned out really well.
Anton: Yeah, I feel like a lot of the spots were kind of out of necessity as well, because that was a transitional thing, where we're looking for a vocalist, and stuff, so ... We had actually recorded all the vocal tracks before the guy actually left to Brazil, so we were kind of piecing together stuff to make it work with what he had recorded. We didn't have the option to go back and do overdubs and shit with him, so ... Yeah, I feel like a combination of that, and just a little bit of necessity in some parts too.
Tom: And then, they help contribute to a live setting, too.  Fifty percent of the time the samples worked, or not, we'd use a Kaoss Pad and try and pipe those through the house, or something like that, or a PA. I just screwed up today and didn't have a 1/4 inch adapter for it, but, I think that that sort of mentality of trying to create something weird and something that is almost continuous sound, almost like a symphony, right?  It's just movement after movement after movement, there's this logical progression, a change in direction, but it's still moving forward in some way. I think that stayed pretty consistent.  I totally tried to grab on to that, because I love the record, too, I listen to it all the time. But I'll create samples with Adobe Audition or something like that, mix samples together to create that kind of uneasy vibe, put weird ambiance behind it, without trying to make people shit their pants while they're watching. The samples that are on that record, a lot of them do translate pretty well to a live setting.
Sludgelord: All right.  So in the bio, you state that you guys have songs written ... I talked to you about it, Anton.  And the next step is actually booking studio time.  Did you guys book studio time?  Are you going to do it again on your own?
Chad: Actually probably not.  We're most likely going to pick a guy local here, there's a guy named Jalipaz Nelson.  I have recorded a project with him, the guy that lives in Brazil came back from Brazil, we recorded a weird album of kind of like rock and roll/punk rock type stuff, really really cool stuff, as a project called Timekiller, and he's kind of sitting on it right now.  He shopped that around to a couple of different labels ... He's got a relationship with a band in Brazil ... A label in Brazil, and he put out the last record I did with them was a split with a band called "Death Kids" from Brazil?
But anyways, we recorded that with Jalipaz, and most likely we'll probably have him record this next one.  I would love to record a new record, I just ... That album took so long to write, record, and I just don't have time to sit down and ... I get fairly meticulous with it, and I don't want to shortcut anything, so most likely we'll have him do the bulk of the recording I would imagine.
Anton: Yeah, it would be good to get back into a formal studio, for a minute or two
Chad: Where you're kind of forced under the gun?  Based on 16 hours of studio time, or whatever it is.  We recorded the bulk of everything in different settings, but the guitars and a lot of the overdubs and some of the bass parts, we were able to sort of spread that out.  Which is cool because we got to do a lot of weird stuff with amps, and try different combinations of guitar and amps without really getting into a time crunch.  So the next one will probably be a more straightforward studio setting.

Sludgelord: What are your favorite albums of this year so far (2016)?
Tom: The new Wormrot record is so good!  "Voices", that's been in my CD player for a long time.  The new Neurosis is incredible too.  All of its kind of like Neurosis, right? That one's incredible, I just listened to the new Boulder record, that one's ridiculously good, the new Agoraphobic Nosebleed is great, It's heavy as fuck. And her lyrics are incredible. But I'd say that new Wormrot record is ridiculous. The way that they're able to meld hardcore, punk, metal ... They have a black death metal riff in certain songs, but the way that Wormrot writes it and contextualizes it within the chaos that they are, it's not a black metal riff, it's a grindcore riff, it's incredible.  Great record.
Anton:   Yeah, I've been having problems just really nerding out on any new stuff, I'm just kind of waiting for a new Type O Negative album to come out.
Sludgelord: Might be a while…
Anton:   Yeah. Take it away!
Chad:    The new Opeth record, I thought was really fuckin' good.  I liked the last Crouch record they put out, that was this year.  What else came out this year?
Tom:       What else has been really good is the local scene lately, I think that I've started shifting more towards listening to local music a lot more, and trying to get on what more of our peers are putting out. Woundvac just put out an awesome 7-inch, like a little plexi disc, and they kill it.  They're one of the better bands in the state.  Gay Kiss, too, Gay Kiss is probably the best punk band to come around in a long time.  I interviewed the Melvins not long ago, too, when they played with Napalm Death, and they were like, "Oh yeah, there's a band from Arizona that we're listening to called Gay Kiss." And it's like, yeah, that's one of the better ones.     
Cole, who's here at the show, he shared with me some new Lago stuff that's coming out, and it's just fuckin' monstrous. These guys are great. That's one of the top Death Metal bands in the state, along with Gatecreeper, their new album, "Deprivation" is stellar, and they’ve always been able to put that hardcore spin on the whole speedcore stuff, in Arizona metal's view. Twingiant, also, I love listening to Twingiant records.  That's probably actually my favorite live band to see from the state, I think that the energy that's always put out there is really great, the guitar tone's incredible, and I really envy the way that Jarrod's able to keep that consistent tone to his vocals throughout a live set.  I wish Cavedweller was still around, because they killed it. But yeah, just listening to local stuff. It's incredible.

Sludgelord: You know, it's funny, because that was my next question. What do you guys think of the local scene, not in only Phoenix but in Arizona?
Tom:       I mean, I've been going to local shows here, for well over a decade now, and I remember a point where it seemed like, like when Metal Devastation was around, and stuff like that, it seemed like metalcore was the thing, and there are still those bands that are trying to keep alive certain aspects of a more popular sort of ... I guess what I'm saying, shit is always going to be king, right?  You're always going to hear the Five Finger Death Punch rip-offs, but I think that whereas they used to be Job for a Cowboy was the popular band in Arizona, and the only "good" band coming from this state.
Animus Complex is great.  The way that Matt, the vocalist for Animus Complex, utilizes different effects, live effects, not just on the record, but live effects and pedals to create, almost the way that Cynic does that overdubbing of vocals, he's incredible.  He's a way better singer, too, he's really got some pipes on him.  Lago and Gatecreeper have just killed death detal from two different perspectives, too. It's weird that you get to have Swedish Death Metal and Floridian Death Metal in the same exact state, and it's in fuckin' Arizona.  That's great.  I do really like Twingiant.  I never miss a live show.  Six Million Dead just played, and that's just technical death metal to the extreme.  They're great.  Sovereign is a good one, too, they don't really play a lot.  Max is a great guy, and he's a riff lord for sure.
Chad:    Take Over and Destroy.
Tom:       TOAD!  It's impossible to overlook TOAD, too.
Sludgelord: All right, where can an average Joe go and pick up your music, find out what you guys are about? Go ahead, this is where you pimp your band. So do it.
Tom:,. Or Facebook, we've got a Facebook. Instagram, the Collapsian, if you type in a hashtag for #Crapsian, C-R-A-P-S-A-N, you'll find a lot of our stuff too, we're not on the twitters yet
Chad:    We are. We're not active, we just don't post, but we have a twitter handle, it's @collapsian., we've got forwards over to the Bandcamp page, but yeah, really, the Facebooks and Bandcamp, those are probably the two places to go. Our music is available to download via Bandcamp, along with some merch. And then the tour dates are ... not necessarily tour dates, but the show dates are-
Sludgelord: All right, that's it!  We are done. Thank you guys.
Tom: Cool. Thank you. Appreciate it.

The End

Band info: Facebook || Bandcamp