It is not as if hardcore is lacking bands with new voracious ideas and sonic explorations but there are times when one has that extra essence or imagination which sets the passions a flutter. One such encounter came forward this past month from German band Choking On Illusions in the shape of their second and compelling album Rest/less. It is a beast of a melodic hardcore incitement as fiercely confrontational as it is inescapably compelling, a seriously exciting encounter. Offered the chance to dig deeper into album and band, we grabbed it with both hands plying vocalist Mario Strasser with questions, exploring the origins and heart of the band, the creation of Rest/less, and a final bombshell.
Hi Guys, many thanks for sparing time to talk with us.
You’re welcome; thanks a lot for giving us the opportunity to say some words!
Can you firstly give us some background to the band and its beginnings?
Well, originally this band started as five kids from a church’s youth group who wanted to play heavy music. Over the years one member after another changed and now I (Mario/Vocals) am the only founding member remaining. With the change of members the band experienced a change of both musical and lyrical style and yeah, REST/LESS pretty much sums up who and what we are now.
Did you have any particular aim and intent with the band and its music from those opening days?
We’ve always been very focused on lyrical content because we never wanted our music to be “just” music. From what I learned about heavy music there has always been more to music. There has always been a message behind it. Be it a positive or negative one, all the artists I admired had something to say and that is something I wanted to keep going with the music we created.
As evidenced by your new album Rest/less, you are shaping hardcore with a fresh and fiercely imaginative mix of flavours and ideas. Did you always intend explore the hardcore core of your sound with this level of adventure or has it evolved organically over time?
I guess you could say that our music evolved over the past few years just the way we evolved as musicians and just human beings. When you grow up you learn to think outside the box and see what is beyond the boundaries you set yourself. That pretty much sums up how we wanted to write our latest album.
It is fair to say, without any disrespect to past members, Choking on Illusions found its creative stride and potency around 2011 when the current line-up came together. What was different and provided the spark for the band to go to the next level?
Thank you, that is pretty much what I and everyone in the band thinks. I guess you could say that some of the guys from the first incarnation of the band were just not that much “into it”. Being in a local band can be pretty hard and it takes a lot of time, energy and money to keep going and so the other guys kinda got lost along the way.
The following year saw the release of acclaimed debut album Guide me home. Now as we mentioned you have unleashed the outstanding Rest/less, how do you see the evolution between the two releases?
The period between the two records was a time where we spent a lot days on the road. We played about 100 shows in 2 years, which is a lot for 5 guys that still try to balance their personal life with being on the road a lot. I think that is something you can really hear on the record.
Did you approach the new album with any specific idea or direction which differed majorly from its predecessor?
When we recorded Guide me home we pretty much only recorded all the songs we had written as a band. For this record, we had an amount of about 30 songs written, out of which we selected the 11 songs you can hear on the album.
You recorded it at Mysterium Studio; this is an environment which you find easy to create within, or are studios generally the same if you exclude the personnel?
Mysterium Studio used to be an amazing place. It has now been closed down because of our producer Arkadi moving to America, but we always had a great time there. Arkadi is one of the most talented guys I have ever met and there has always been a great chemistry between him and us. The atmosphere always resulted in maximized creativity and it he has definitely to be credited for challenging us to broaden our influences.
Tell us about the recording of Rest/less.
We started recording the album I think in May 2013, with the first version of it being written, yet untitled; [it was] chaotic and simply just no really good to be honest. We started tracking drums, but about two weeks into it we all decided that this just wouldn’t do it for us. We wanted to put out a better record with better songs, so we went straight back to writing songs. After all, only 4 Songs remained from the first attempt of writing an album. 3 months later in August 2013 we entered the studio again, this time with the songs that made it to the album. I think it took a total of only 10 days to record it, but we had to deal with a lot of delay und unprofessionalism from people outside the band (for example “guest vocalists” being unable to record or to even respond to messages which resulted in them ultimately being cut out apart from Robbert from Wasted Bullet who did an amazing job) so it took until about June 2014 until the whole record was finished.
Do you try to enter the studio with songs basically complete ultimately or are you a band which evolves songs once inside its walls?
We usually write all the songs before and it’s just some minor changes, additional leads or instruments that develop during the recording process.
How does the songwriting process generally work within the band?
The songs are (and have always been) written by me. I write the songs, program them and show them to the rest of the band. Then we get together and work on the songs. Make them better, rewrite them sometimes and try to put them into the best form possible.
We found that Rest/less, though a striking beast from the off, actually grew in its depth and imagination over numerous listens. It took time to explore all the fascinating enterprise beneath its imposing roar. We liked that immensely about the album; was this something you expected might be the case with some listeners?
Thank you; that is definitely something we wanted to achieve. I always like it when an album can still grow after the first time listening. I wished for our music to be something like that, so it’s great to hear that this is the case for at least some listeners. We included a lot of depth in both music, with additional guitars and additional instruments, as well as the lyrics that require a certain will to explore from the listener.
The album is released through Bastardized Recordings, your first with the great label. How did the link up happen?
We were playing a show with our friends in The Green River Burial where Marco from Bastardized Recordings was also attending. From the guys in TGRB Marco knew that we were in the process of recording our new album and after seeing us live he came up to us and expressed his interest. As soon as our record was done he listened to it and he instantly wanted to release our record through his label.
Did knowing they would release it put an extra spring in the step making the album or was the union after recording?
We were done recording before we started talking to Bastardized, so that didn’t affect the writing or recording process.
What is next for Choking on Illusions?
Unfortunately, we will only be doing our last tour and then we’ll go on indefinite hiatus. We were already joking about releasing the songs we never recorded during the time this band was in existence right after we break up, but I don’t really think that that is going to happen.
Once again thank you for talking with us. Any last thoughts you would like to leave us with?
Thanks so much for giving us a chance to talk, we feel extremely blessed to have people care about what we pour our hearts into. Thank you!
Read the Rest/less review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/choking-on-illusions-restless/
The RingMaster Review 06/04/2015
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