Monday 8 July 2013

Interview: The .Invalid

The Aesthetics Of Failure...

“One thing that I've noticed, I'm not going to spend too long on this, because as somebody rightly said it’s best not to address your critics, but the criticism I've had on the album seems to centre around the vocals. I'm actually incredibly proud of the vocals.”

It’s probably been many, many years since the industrial scene got so excited about a début album release.  But then, the build up for ‘The Aesthetics of Failure’, the début album from The .Invalid, have come on the back of some blinding gigs and voiced approval from other respected artists.

“I was getting all these texts saying ‘Facebook is blowing up about you’”, excites Séamus, the sole mastermind behind The .Invalid, “I was like, ‘What? Is the album even out yet?’ Has Jamie [Nova, head of DWA, the label to which The .Invalid are signed] jumped the gun?’”

Although, he hadn't jumped the gun – it was a mere confusion on time zones, the A in DWA stands for ‘Asia’ which is where the label is based!

“Yeah, I was like ‘No, it’s fucking Friday in Japan’.  I hadn't even realised and completed dropped the bomb.”

In saying that things had blown up a little bit, well, that’s a bit of an understatement as Séamus explains, things have far outweighed expectations already!

“I was obviously expecting a little bit of buzz that kind of always happens when albums drop but this was unreal, more and more people started piling in and then Jamie announces to me the other night that in one day it’s become like the fastest selling pre-order in DWA’s history and I'm like ‘How the fuck did that happen? I didn't even promote this!’
“It was very surreal, there was a tonne of artists some of whom I didn't have any affiliation with at all were just plugging the album online and I was like ‘What? Where is all this coming from?’ It’s surreal but yeah obviously I'm completely over the moon about the response, it’s been a bit difficult to get my head around though.”

One could only imagine that DWA must be very pleased with their acquisition, one wonders how they got so lucky.

“Basically before either of us were in bands that are anywhere near as prolific as they are now I was good friends with Ollie and Ross from Surgyn,” explains Séamus, “Surgyn were one of the first bands DWA signed that weren't a licence deal”
Previously, DWA started by signing established bands to distribute into the Asian market.
“ Ollie had I been chatting back and forth and I’d been giving him some tracks and stuff and he basically continually pestered Jamie to get me on the roster and eventually Jamie came to me one time and things just kind of panned out from there.”
“I was under the impression before that DWA wanted capable promoters, which when he came to me I was a bit like ‘What? I'm not good at this shit at all!’ but yeah, he decided to take me under his wing and it all kind of panned out.”
“So yeah obviously I'm eternally grateful to Ollie for putting me out there. I'm still bowled over for taking a chance on me and it all kind of came together.”

Of course, with the excitement of the release – there’s also a couple of well timed gigs coming up.

“Yeah I'm supporting Aesthetic Perfection on the first couple of dates of the upcoming UK tour. I'm playing with them in both Glasgow and Newcastle, although unfortunately I'm not doing Manchester or London. It’s a real shame I couldn't make the whole thing I really would have wanted to, I even booked holiday time off work just in case, but yeah it’s the way these things go.
“But, I'm really happy to be playing these first couple of shows. I suppose in many ways it’s nice to be not going straight into doing a full on tour, I don’t know if I’d be quite prepared for that at this stage, two shows is just like a nice amount, I can go party in Glasgow after one night and I’ll be very much partying in Newcastle the next night.”

One of the big steps which helped things roll, was a live show that The .Invalid played with Faderhead in November 2012 in Newcastle.  As well as making a lot of friends in a new crowd, Sami and Marco from Faderhead both took straight to Facebook to post about how brilliant the show was.

“Yeah people like Marco and Sami and Daniel from AP as well and like, I didn't ask them beforehand there was no kind of behind the scenes ‘Oh if I slip you $50 will you promote my album!’”
“That stuff doesn't go on in Industrial kids, we’re all too poor!”
“But yeah it was like, the next thing I know they were singing praises and that was kind of nice and you wouldn't get that in every scene either, I mean for all people go on about how the Industrial scene is incredibly bitchy and everybody’s kind of out for themselves, I don’t think that’s entirely true I think there’s some genuinely really passionate artists out there.”
“Those guys who promoted my stuff, they don’t owe me anything, they've got no vested interests. I think Marco said he’d like to see good music come to the forefront more and well you know I think that’s nice that he likes my music, it just yeah it happened all very organically and it was really kind of pleasing to see it disprove that notion that Industrial is full of bitchy backstabbing people.”

To take a step back, without calling up Marco, Sami, Daniel or any of the numerous stars that have raved about this album.  Well.  The truth is, it’s a good album.  OK, there are a lot of good albums.  But perhaps what makes this stand out, is it’s an album with it’s own identity.  It’s not a Suicide Commando, Depeche Mode or Combichrist clone.

“ I think I'm probably far too close to the canvas to give an unbiased opinion on this,” steps back Séamus, “I certainly didn't set out to make something that was entirely unique a lot of this just started from me you know fucking around on my laptop with music software as you do.”

“One thing that I've noticed, I'm not going to spend too long on this, because as somebody rightly said it’s best not to address your critics, but the criticism I've had on the album seems to centre around the vocals. I'm actually incredibly proud of the vocals.”
“A lot of people might not like the sort of whole scream or nu metal, whatever you want to call it type of thing but, it’s music that I personally listen to a lot of besides any industrial and what not.”
“I mean I think I honestly don’t know any sort of ‘True Industrial Fans’ everybody has like lots of other things they listen to and it just seems a complete shame to keep your influences and what you like so segregated.”
“I mean I'm sure not everybody will agree but I thought the vocals worked in the context, I was pretty proud of them.”
“ I didn't really set out to do anything particularly different I was just trying out some music software that emulates old Megadrive sounds and I was like ‘Fuck that makes a really cool bassline’ and things just went from there.”

The vocals do seem to be a common form of criticism from some, although mostly suggesting he should use autotune or other effects.  Personally, I would agree the vocals fit…

“I did release an EP a few years ago and I didn't know how to sing properly at all, there’s like Melodyne and Autotune slathered all over the clean parts, like literally every time I did scream parts on those I ripped my throat to shreds.”
“I realised I needed some vocal tuition and I'm a huge fan of Periphery.  I noticed on their Facebook page that their singer Spencer was doing vocal lessons for the extremely princely sum of £20 while they were on tour just so they could eat and stuff.”
“That sounds like a good deal to me so I squirrelled away £20 to give to Spencer before the gig started so he could give me some tuition.”
“It has a lot more to do with a good singing technique and I hate to say it but metal bands are so much better than industrial bands at this, you very rarely hear any sort of distortion effect on the voice.”
“To be honest I couldn't sing any other way or my throat would be ruined by now. For example, if you've heard Max Cavelera these days, when he speaks, his voice is just incredibly quiet, weak and husky because he’s screamed too long with no tuition, it’s like, ‘Dude, you’re like one of the kings of metal’ and man that’s pretty sobering.“
“I consciously didn't want to go down the route of using effects on my voice it’s been so far over done, and to an extent it’s a shame in ways because you could see a lot of bands trying to break out of doing it.”
“When Grendel did the Chemicals and Circuitry EP, I remember Jos getting absolutely tons and tons of flak for the fact he was screaming clean and he was signing on that EP. To me that was an absolute breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, Timeline Zero was a great release as well but I just can’t help feeling that maybe there’s a bit of pressure on the bands to go back to that old vocal style and I think that was a real shame, I would have liked to have heard a broader range of vocals.”

So, album, dates – anything else planned for this year.

“The album’s only been out a few days, so I've not had much time to plan but, I know people have been asking if we’re going to have t-shirts, CDs and/or flame-throwers on our upcoming dates.”
“I can pretty much guarantee we’re not going to have a flame-thrower  that’s a bit beyond my remit but to be honest the gigs are coming around so quickly, so I think next stage is getting merch out there.”
“I've also got a couple of tracks in various stages of completion, they could become good enough to include on another release, certainly there’s a track I've been playing live that didn't make it to the album because it was a bit too late so whether I’ll include it on an upcoming release, I don’t know.”
“Beyond that, it would certainly be really nice to play a festival, as you might have known I did Resistanz with Cease2xist last time playing keyboards for them and that was quite overwhelming, just sort of like wandering out onto a stage doing your own line check and stuff and you’re standing in front of a sea of about 500-700 expectant faces and it was ‘well this hasn't happened before’, it was a lot of fun though, I really hope I can do some kind of festival again but time will tell, we’ll see.”

Is there anything else to add?

“Basically just thank you to everybody who purchased the album or is thinking about coming out to the gigs if you’re considering it please do I’d love to see you down there and yeah just a big thank you to everyone who has supported me so far.”

Even since doing this interview, the buzz for The .Invalid has continued to grow.  Sales of 'Aesthetics of Failure' have steam-rolled on and exciting is really building.   It's certainly a contender for "Album of the Year" already.  You want exciting new music, check out The .Invalid.

The .Invalid's full-length début, 'The Aesthetics Of Failure' is available now from DWA. For more information on the band, please visit their official website.

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