Hanna Tsepesh: Hello STB, DJG, GSM, and NRS, how are you guys? Thanks so much for accepting this interview and welcome to THE GATES OF METAL! For those who do not know Aetherius, could you tell us a little how it all started?
STB: RMB and I have been playing together since we picked up instruments, and AETHERIUS was the end-product of numerous projects we had been involved in before. GSM and DJG were added in 2005 so we could make the “All That I Need to Survive” record, and begin performing the songs live. About a year ago, we decided to expand further into a seven-piece lineup, including a new vocalist, and full-time keyboardist, and a new bass player, allowing DJG to move to third guitar. The decision to expand and add a third guitar was to perform our newest material live, as closely as possible to the studio versions.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are the inspirations to create the lyrics for Aetherius? The band writes the lyrics first or first the band creates the riffs and the melody to comply with the lyrics?
STB: Nothing is ever set in stone, but usually the song comes first, then the title, and then the lyrics. The lyrics are in no way an afterthought though. We put a lot of time into mapping out conceptual ideas and how they link together. We’re not a strict concept band per say, like Coheed & Cambria or The Dear Hunter, but we are definitely a concept-driven band, and each album or song has its place in the bigger picture.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite bands? You guys have any bands that you admire the most?
STB: I’m more of an album type of person. Here’s of few that I’ve been listening to a lot lately.
The Mars Volta – The Bedlam in Goliath
Coldplay – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends / Prospekt’s March
Gojira – The Way of All Flesh
U2 – War
Obscura – Cosmogenesis
DJG: The groups that I listen to vary from month to month, so I never stay focused on one specific group. People in this era lock themselves into one style and blind themselves from anything else. As a musician I find myself constantly indulging in an array of selections from various types of death metal, mainstream rock, jazz and electronica. Usually it is anything that harbors a sense of good writing and individuality.
Recently I have been listening to The Way of All Flesh (Gojira), Viva la Vida (Coldplay), Evisceration Plague (Cannibal Corpse), Bright Size Life (Pat Metheny), Guitars (McCoy Tyner), obZen (Meshuggah), and The Fragile (Nine Inch Nails).
GSM: Strangely, I listen to a wide variety of music, ranging from M.I.A to Devourment and a multitude of others in between. Some bands/artists I cannot do without are Death, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Necrophagist, Prince, Rush, Nile, Devin Townsend/Strapping Young Lad, Toxic Narcotic, Gwar, Planet X, Cannibal Corpse, Soundgarden and Origin.
NRS: I have several favorite bands and it's hard to list them all, but here are a few from the top of my head: Frost*, The Bad Plus, Dream Theater, Earthsuit (RIP), Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Glass Hammer, Nine Inch Nails, Opeth, OSI, Plumb, Radiohead, Protest The Hero, Red, Spock's Beard, Ty Tribbett and GA, Porcupine Tree, Michael Gungor Band, Marcus Eaton, and Israel Houghton & Newbreed.
Hanna Tsepesh: When you guys start to play guitar? There is any reason to pick this instrument?
STB: I’ve been playing for nine or so years now, and believe it or not, I started on bass guitar. At the time, I was really into thrash metal bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, etc… My inspiration for eventually picking up a guitar instead was definitely a result of listening to such guitar-oriented music. Also, I think that my interest in songwriting necessitated that I take up a “lead” type instrument so I could have a greater effect on the overall sound.
DJG: I was introduced to the instrument through an old friend of mine back in 7th grade. This was that crucial time when teenagers start pigeonholing themselves and seeking a “style” or “look”. I realized that it had more expression than most instruments could ever have. Your limited to six strings and 24 frets but the harmonic series gives it a specific sound that no synthesizers can replicate.
Hanna Tsepesh: When you start to play drums? There is any reason to pick this instrument? What is your biggest influence?
GSM: I started to play drums at a considerably young age around the time I was in the 5th grade. It was my parent’s task to expose me to as many extra-curricular activities as they could to broaden my horizons, and I figured that drums would be the most interesting instrument to play, if I was to be forced into playing one. Year after year, I grew more and more infatuated with the instrument and was involved with both school and local non-sense bands, but it hasn’t been until recently I have been allowed to flourish artistically and sonically with AETHERIUS. It would be a daunting effort to pin-point just one all-time biggest influence, but per-capita, I believe that Derek Roddy has influenced me the most, thus far. That man has it all: groove, speed, accuracy, and he’s no stranger to the all the upsetting toils that trouble a humble working musician.
Hanna Tsepesh: When you start to play keyboards? There is any reason to pick this instrument? What is your biggest influence?
NRS: I started playing piano when I was around 15 or 16 years old and as to why, I really can't say. What I can say was that I was forced by my parents to take piano lessons and I really hated going to them. I think I was just impatient and wanted to play Bach or Chopin right away instead of the easy little kid music my teacher introduced me to. But regardless of all that, I continued to take lessons and even started playing keyboards at my church, which ended up becoming the place where I refined a lot of my skills. The church was also a guaranteed gig every week. Every week, you play at twice. I listened to a lot of music before, but ever since I started playing regularly, I got into more technical music and wanted to play that. By the time I was 18, I was playing in 3 bands, all of which were of different genres.
I wanted to be a part of everything because I like what every style of music had to offer. Pop songs, for example, have catchy, groovy melodies, harmonies, and hooks that snags people's attention right away. Neo Soul/R&B had very free melodies that would go all over the place and chops were always invited. Rock and Metal music had an energy that no other style could compare to. I couldn't find any faults in any of the genres that I was a part of. Because of this instant love of music I decided to go to Berklee College of Music which is the place where I met DJG, and ultimately where I met AETHERIUS. As far as my influences are concerned, I have plenty. During my maturing of keyboarding (which is still going on) I've had the privilege to listen to many keyboardists, most of which have inspired me in some way. Now, my influences don't only come from the physical playing of the instrument, but the sound usage and design has come to inspire me in great ways as well. One of my most recent influences, who happens to be under both keyboarding influence and sound design influence, is Jem Godfrey from the band Frost*. He reminds me of myself in so many ways. Two other people who fit in both of these categories are Jordan Rudess and Kevin Moore. Kevin Moore's OSI projects are simply incredible and Jordan Rudess needs no explanation.
Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento share similar styles and have impacted my playing quite a bit. Aaron Lindsay and Buddy Strong are one of the reasons I started getting serious about keyboarding in the first place. Jaime Arroyo is a good friend of mine from my hometown who's also a keyboardist, and he'll tell you that I've influenced him. As much as that may be true, he's also influenced me a ton. The way he wants to learn everything and have it under his belt is part of the reason I became the same way.
There are certainly many others, but those are the people who have influenced me the most and ultimately led to the shaping and molding of the player I am today.
Hanna Tsepesh: I have a little curiosity about your names. Why choose your names by initials and what they mean?
STB: I think we can all agree that a person’s name is very significant. It’s everything you are, in a single word/sound. You can view a person’s name as a representation of many things though, one being outside influence. Did you choose your own name? No. It was chosen for you by somebody else. The word/sound that others refer to you as was chosen for you without your consent. AETHERIUS represents an ideal of self-sufficiency, autonomy, and transcendence from daily life that we constantly strive for, musically and non-musically. Therefore, one is almost the antithesis of the other… They do not belong together. It’s actually another facet of the concept behind “All That I Need to Survive”. We were trying to strip away all the extraneous things from our lives, leaving only the bare necessities needed to survive. Maybe someday we will decide to use our actual names again, but I can’t tell you when or if that day will ever come.
Hanna Tsepesh: Aetherius have a new album call “All That I Need to Survive”. You guys aren’t afraid to take some risks, right? In my opinion you guys make an album very interesting and not the “politically easy to hear”, I only have to send my congrats for the entire band! But, for people who don’t listen yet can you talk about “All That I Need to Survive” and what the band wanted to accomplish?
STB: On “All That I Need to Survive” we pretty much set out to write a group of songs that sounded huge. Peter Rutcho, who co-produced the album with us, is known for his drum-heavy mixes, so I think a lot of the power lies in the drum tracks. A big objective was to be a bit less complex as well. I think a lot of the unrecorded music we had written prior to this album was much more intricate. We just wanted to develop our songwriting abilities a bit more, instead of relying on technique or something. In terms of genre, I’d say that it’s a mixture of progressive rock and metal, but we wanted to supplement it with honest and genuine lyrical content, rather than fictional subject matter.
Hanna Tsepesh: Everything went well at recording studio? It was an easy process for the band?
STB: It was definitely a slow process. The songs included on the album were written between 2004 and 2005, but the album wasn’t released until July of 2007, so you can get an idea of how long it took to finish. A big part of that was because we didn’t have a proper vocalist or keyboardist at the time, so we had to perform these roles ourselves, to the best of our abilities. In the end, I think those tracks came out as good as our limitations allowed, but it was definitely one of the hardest parts of the recording process. We had all sorts of other problems as well, like equipment issues, having to record the drum tracks twice, having to wait 4 to 5 months to have it mixed, etc… Easy? Definitely not. I don’t think any of us have fond memories from that time!
Hanna Tsepesh: How has the response been to the album by the media and fans?
STB: The album response thus far has been great! Obviously, we did not intend to launch to super-stardom with our debut album. We just wanted to begin establishing the AETHERIUS name and building a fan base around the world. If you look at it from that perspective, it’s definitely been a success!
Hanna Tsepesh: If one of our readers wants to buy your album safely, what they can do?
STB: CD copies of “All That I Need to Survive” are available at the following locations:
Nightmare Records Online Store
The Laser's Edge
The End Records
You can also purchase mp3 copies at these locations:
Hanna Tsepesh: What is your favorite music in this album and why?
STB: It’s really hard to pick a favorite when you’ve put so much work into a group of songs, but if I had to choose, I would say “The New Way of Thinking”. It’s very concise, and I think it’s pretty catchy as well. RMB and I wrote this one together, and it is the oldest song to be included on the album. We were actually playing this song with another group of people, before the “All That I Need to Survive” lineup even formed! This one seems to be a fan favorite as well, along with “6”, so it’s been a standard song in our live set for a while.
DJG: My favorite song on the album is “Rainbands”. I think it is the culmination of the entire album into one song. Every musical aspect of the album can he heard within that one track, and it is the most mature song to come from it as well.
GSM: My favorite song on “All That I Need to Survive” is most certainly “The New Way of Thinking”. I've always appreciated how it has that in-your-face quality to it. Lyrically, it mentions that we are slaves to a vast array of technologies, and it hits home because I've always been somewhat of a hermit to electronic nuances. It’s a bit shorter than some songs on the record, but rocks hard regardless and is, I feel, a very potent part of the album.
NRS: My favorite song on the album would have to be “6”. That's actually the first song I heard when I checked the band out and honestly, I was hooked instantly.
Hanna Tsepesh: The band is thinking about a European tour? Do you guys have plans to include Portugal in your tour or something?
DJG: Our goal is to play in any country that welcomes us. We have a lot to say and we want as many people as possible to listen. Portugal along, with the rest of the Europe, is definitely on our list to play. The advantage we have is that we are young. Nothing in our personal lives is tying us down like a family, or steady job. We try to remind ourselves of how those variables can make touring a difficult subject.
Hanna Tsepesh: Do you want to send any message for the people who are going to read this interview?
STB: If you haven’t heard “All That I Need to Survive” yet, go pick up a copy or listen to the album in full on our Myspace page! (www.myspace.com/aetherius) We’re currently working on our next album, so stay tuned for that as well!
Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks so much for your answers and time. THE GATES OF METAL wishes the entire band a great success with “All That I Need to Survive”! We hope to see Aetherius very soon in here…
STB: Thanks a lot Hanna, we hope to be in Portugal as soon as possible!
Hanna Tsepesh: We hope that too! thank you!
By: Hanna Tsepesh
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