A proposition which increasingly impresses and continually reshapes thoughts and emotions the more time shared with it, All You Want To is one of the year’s most intriguing, ingenious, and exciting progressive metal explorations. It comes from ESCAPETHECULT, a band created and driven by Kamlath bassist Peter G. Shallmin and filled with the further creative talent of Uneven Structure vocalist Matthieu Romarin, Primus/A Perfect Circle drummer Tim Alexander, and guitarist Mike Wead from King Diamond/Mercyful Fate. The project has been a passion brewing away within Peter for years and their first album a compelling and striking incitement for ears, and imagination. We had the pleasure to learn about the band and more with Peter who kindly shared his time to talk band, the search for specific elements, the debut album, and much more….
Hi Peter and thanks for taking time out to chat with us.
Tell us about the beginnings of the band and the initial spark and inspiration behind it.
Greetings from far Siberia, dear Pete! Pleasure to meet you!
Thank you for this great opportunity. Much appreciated. Always nice to have a talk between two Pete’s btw…haha!
Well, it was me, who was so crazy and passionate to begin ESCAPETHECULT. It’s me who’s the spark, inspiration, nerve, force…and even the plague. I’m almost everything.
The absolute “driving force” – my dream when I was very young – was to play with my favourite musicians: Tim Alexander of mighty PRIMUS I was quite fortunate to reach him sending the e-mail with the idea to cooperate. You can understand my highest level of excitement when I’ve received his words “This is cool!”.
Mike Wead is my guitar hero. I’m lucky enough to say he is my long-time partner, we have worked together in my main band Kamlath and I wanted to see him in ESCAPETHECULT.
Was there a sound already in mind as the project came to life and if so how did that evolve as the line-up of ESCAPETHECULT grew?
In fact, I didn’t think about the sound. The keys were: the idea and the music that I had.
Till the very end we didn’t care about the sound. I mean there were no questions how should, say, drums or riff guitars be sounding. As far as the construction of the actual ETC sound was under many factors I was very calm and confident in a result because the highest level of professionals I collaborate.
How about the visual side, was there a concept or direction in mind there too?
I had everything in my mind to embody I just was needed the right artist to make it real.
I get the impression that the project was a seed growing inside over time rather than a sudden spur of the moment idea.
Yes, you are right! Thank you for this question. Not a spur of course…A picky, detailed and really hard job.
Despite the fact that I’ve started to work with Tim and Mike practically immediately, I considered finding a further guitarist for the riff parts and a vocalist. And this was the hardest task ever that has been lasting for 4 years in total. A numerous shots with various guitarists and vocalists all over the world…(around 20 musicians in total or even more) haven’t brought the outcome I hunted to achieve. The final line up was formed just more than year and half ago.
No success to find the right rhythm guitarist has forced me to compose and to demo it by myself and ask Mike to forge and improve them with his brand fingerprint.
And the songs which grace your debut album All You Want To; ideas from before the band or freshly sculpted since its emergence?
Artists involved had a full freedom and all the time they needed to compose and record everything.
Could you imagine that for example one song had blast beats? Yes it was. Some of my basic ideas were so extreme, on the edge. My ideas are not holy, I’m very flexible. Everything on this album was balanced with a clever and mature approach of Tim’s unique touch; the songs were shaped, sculpted as you said, re-arranged by Mike in details (through many months). Matt’s personal contribution as a composer and vocalist is so huge.
Sometimes it sounds like a jam but there’s no jam at all. They have given a new breath, new soul and new life to our creation.
I hate the term super group but certainly ESCAPETHECULT has some already acclaimed talented and inventive musicians involved as you have already talked of. Can you elaborate further on how the link up with you all came about and was this collection of talent always in mind as the band came to reality?
For me ESCAPETHECULT is my musical family. If there’s no Tim Alexander there’s no ETC. It would be a completely different band.
I’ve composed all songs the way like I‘ve “seen” Tim behind the drums. I’ve imagined our jam together: where we stop and go where we put this accent, where’s the fill etc.
Mike is the artist I see in the band – his talent and technique is so unique. Matthieu is the star that I finally found after the years of painful research.
There was a proper picture what should be played, how and where but no restrictions to create something new. There was a full autonomy to Tim, Mike and Matthieu to turn it to another direction. I didn’t care about the whole album sound but I was insane to discover the vocalist with exact timbre, style and the voice charisma.
Now I think the stars (in the sky I mean) did the job right! I had to go through this long way to accomplish exactly what I wanted.
With the likes of Primus, A Perfect Circle, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Uneven Structure, and Kamlat the ‘vehicles’ by which we know you all, was there any expectations on the outside towards the ESCAPETHECULT and your debut album All You Want To that you came across?
I see ESCAPETHECULT has broken many expectations, I see it on FB when we’ve got a decent amount of “unlike” straight after the first worldwide spin of I’m Absolute. Even in some reviews I felt this big disappointment (why so big?).
I guess some listeners were hoping to hear an aggressive mixture of heavy death metal riffing with more dynamic and fast drumming with harsh recitatives ala “Tommy The Cat” and epic clean vox over mega-delayed ambience with touch of growls here and there…I bet.
Alongside with this kind of reaction we keep receiving mostly praise. We’ve got an immediate support of PROG UK / METAL HAMMER UK – all our official steps were translated through their channels – first promo video, single video, full album stream and the 3 pages feature interview by Dom Lawson in # 49 Prog Magazine printed with such serious analyse and amazing words from him.
We are sincere thankful for those who have devoted much more time (than usually do) to try to get ETC’s message twice (3, 4 times and more), who has postponed for a “next time” to come back and to listen again and again.
Now we are associated with different styles and genres from progressive metal to pop-rock. It’s such a wonderful feeling to learn what our music gives the listener, what thoughts arises and associations brings. Not simple comparison to Tool only :)
You have to listen to our instrumentals – it has so many layers, hidden parts to discover, some unexpected revelations. You’ll find bossa nova in the main bass part of Feel The Flight, tango with “slows and quicks” in Tired Of The Past, psychedelia in This Time Will Come, jazzy odd signatures in I’m Absolute.
There are such varied backgrounds and flavoursome styles behind you all, I am imagining writing and bringing songs to life is a fun but maybe also an intensive kind of moment with numerous ideas coming to the fore. How did the songwriting work in regard to the album and in its recording?
The entire album has been done in my home studio. It has taken no more than 2 weeks in total to compose, record, and arrange all ideas.
I’m lefty, maybe it explains a bit, why our music is so weird…Rhythm section is my passion, I have demoed all drum parts; luckily Tim has kept my drum ideas and enriched it. Tim’s drums are the same as they were delivered by him in the first recording. He has recorded it in his home studio on the same custom TAMA/Zildjian drum he uses with PRIMUS. Don’t need to say that his playing is top notch and tight like a clock so it stays untouched with the rest of the old (at the first demo stage) and the new arrangements.
Unfortunately through those years it was a misfortune to find the right rhythm guitarist and this fact has impelled to record riffs by myself and pass it to Mike then. Mike Wead has re-arranged and recorded riff guitars, leads/solos with a kind assistance of Simon Johansson (guitarist of WOLF, MEMORY GARDEN, ABSTRACT ALGEBRA etc.) at Solna Sound Recording Sweden.
Our rising star – Matthieu also recorded his vocals in own studio. The final production of All You Want To has been completed by Mike.
To sum up…the outcome of all members involved was very fast. The research of the artists has taken 4 years.
The band members are settled in various areas of the world. Did you all come together in one location for the album’s recording or was it done across studios and time etc.?
It was done across studios and time. The web has been a key aspect for the creation of ESCAPETHECULT. The web has made the world small enough for all of us to be able to work together.
There were thousands of mails, notes, guides, mega packages of audio files, sequences, even multi-seconds. It was a smooth and productive experience because everyone knew his role.
In few words it looked like:
- Hey, here’s the sequence 00:45 – 01:15 I put here an additional harmony and few overdubs to support the main part. What you think?
- I love it!
- Don’t you think we need to up the bass volume + 0,00005 dB…
- Hmm… it might work…
- No… roll back + 0,00005 is TOO much …make it + 0,00004 dB
- Yeah, man…I love it!
Kiddin’ of course although you can imagine how meticulous I am. Nevertheless every single note, accent, instrument and the whole performance is natural.
Give us some insight on how the album came together and the energy and determination it has taken to get it all together and out there without any label support.
Free will and sincere approach, Nothing more… If you don’t like the idea or music you won’t join…right?
We do it without any label support. Yes, I wanted it in the very beginning but few hints showed that the labels hadn’t interest in this kind of creative alliance despite the names. To be honest, the music we represent is not for the masses.
Thanks a lot to our partner – HOLD TIGHT PR! James you are doing a really hard job and I guess it was one of the hardest task to let people heard us and to find a balance between existing media tastes, expectations and disappointments and integrate ESCAPETHECULT into it. It’s quite hard nowadays to open the eyes.
Moreover I must admit it’s a very expensive project. Don’t do that if you haven’t the crazy truth in your forces and balls…J
Is there a particular theme or veining musically and lyrically across All You Want To?
Our hearts and souls in every single note!
What have been the main inspirations to the album’s heart and lyrical paintings?
The full title we quote as “ALL YOU WANT TO ESCAPE THE CULT”. We convey our own and simple philosophy on every day’s symbols, signs that have many meanings.
Mostly it’s about the time through many skins, origins, components that are around us: social life, politics and religions. About something that quite often fears us with a touch of sarcasm and self-irony. The primary message is quite simple: Be free. Your freedom is a gift to live and build your own day, life and “world”.
How about the visual side of the project, who drives that and how does it relate to your music.
It was a parallel period that has been took the years too. I’m extremely picky because I know what I want. I was needed a very detailed conceptual art.
The creator of our visual concept is Igor Omodei, a truly talented French artist and he is in UNEVEN STRUCTURE too.
I’ve gave him my ideas, “the story” behind each song and he has created all arts, illustrations to every song and full layout to our debut. Inside of the digipack release you can find a monologue written by Igor. He also did ESCAPETHECULT’s promo video and a debut single video for I’m Absolute.
I’d say more our visualization for this album is not finished yet. Our crew is much wider than you could think and the final list of artists is really big.
ESCAPETHECULT will bring some wonders till the end of this year!
Is there a live side to the band yet with you so far apart?
We are very close with Mike because we haven’t stopped to work and we are on the finish line with the second Kamlath album that should see the light in the end of this year. With Matthieu too – I’m glad he rises higher with Uneven Structure and I’m quite happy for his success.
We were very anxious about Tim’s heart’s surgery lately but now everything’s fine, he is a titan and right now he is back to rehearsals with Primus for the coming tour in November.
Everything’s just fine between us.
It is right to say that the aim is for ESCAPETHECULT to be a unique multi-sensory experience?
At least we’ve tried and now we have our own experience, personal and in the creation of All You Want To. If the listener thinks the same – we are happy! In any case we continue our creative investigations
We found All You Want To made a potent initial impact but flourished more the further down the line we went, its charm and elements a lingering lure drawing us back into its arms where to be fair we discovered more and more of its depths with every listen. As you brought the album to life did you feel or sense how it might work predominantly with listeners?
Damn, it’s a gem!
(ah ..yes I’ve forgot all those who has disliked …you know what they usually say J)
We called it a progressive album to give a sense of its sounds to readers, but it embraces much more than that. How would you describe it?
This is the MUSIC and ART first. The second – it’s not a “piece of cake”, a “hard nut” indeed. It’s very intelligent concept for a forward thinking person. No clichés…A book within deep musical and art landscapes. You HAVE to take a time to understand it… Not just one take. All You Want To opens up more with every new spin. Mature, honest, diverse and unique.
What comes next for ESCAPETHECULT?
The second album of course… a new visualization in a more bizarre way.
We have faced some reviewers making a mistake in the title of the album put the word “Need” instead “Want”, so I think we have to call our next work “All You NEED To”…
(The RingMaster Review holds hands up in guilt)
People want to see us on the stage in 2015 we consider some opportunities to make this project live.
Till the end of this year there will be a limited edition release in a very special package of all instrumental versions of the songs plus some cool surprises.
Thanks again Peter for sharing your time to talk with us. Any last words you would like to share?
My pleasure to answer to your interesting questions!
All the best to our listeners, to RingMaster!
Listen to the MUSIC! We bring it to you!
Read the All You Want To review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/escape-the-cult-all-you-need-to/
The RingMaster Review 31/10/2014
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