Roaring with sounds and words: talking Choking On Illusions with Mario Strasser

Mario Strasser

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.

10402430_10152928515889656_5317035852149746870_nAs 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.Choking on Illusions Cover

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.

Choking on Illusions Pic2Did 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/

https://www.facebook.com/ChokingonIllusions

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 06/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

 

 

Choking On Illusions – Rest/less

Choking on Illusions Pic2

Hailing out of South-West Germany, Choking On Illusions is a band which looks like they are about to be on the receiving end of an enthusiastic roar of attention. The reason being their new album Rest/less; a beast of a melodic hardcore incitement which is as fiercely confrontational and emotionally voracious as it is inventively compelling. On first listen, it is not one which instantly leaps from the crowd though it certainly is a more riveting and fascinating encounter than most, but over time it reveals an imagination and craft which leaves ears and attention gripped. You would still not say that the second full-length from the Saarbrücken quintet is going to turn the hardcore scene on its head, but it definitely gives it an exciting proposal to chew over.

Formed in 2008, Choking On Illusions has frequently awoken keen and increasing interest in their presence; a self-titled EP in the following year starting the growth which was backed and nurtured further by a two track demo in 2010 and the band’s keenly supported live presence. It has been from the current line-up’s coming together a year later though that the band and their sound really hit its stride, as established by their well-received debut album Guide me home in the summer of 2012. Alongside all these moments the band has similarly drawn great praise and following through shows with the likes of Stick to your Guns, Comeback Kid, Terror, Evergreen Terrace, Hundredth, Counterparts, and La Dispute amongst a great many, as well as tours with The Green River Burial, Wasted Bullet, Chronograph, and Seasons in Wreckage. It all only reinforced and enriched their emergence in the hardcore scene. Now the band is lining up to burst into the broadest spotlights with their Bastardized Recordings released Rest/less, and given the time and focus it needs and deserves, it would be hard to expect anything but further potent success.

The opening Intro is a decent enough emotional scene setter, guitars melodically eloquent within a heavily brooding atmosphere whilst leading ears and imagination into the jaws of the following album title track. The second track bursts into life with ravenous rhythms and fiery riffs, each intensifying as the vocals of Mario Strasser begin their agreeable roar and the guitars of Jannik Aulenbacher and Maciej Spiczak align in a tempting mix of caustic riffery and sonic enterprise. It is when singer and melodies really erupt in an infectious and lively embrace that the song truly comes alive, their brief expulsion of revelry infecting the subsequent antagonistic side of the song which too develops an intriguing mix of catchiness and emotional provocation. It is a great start to the release, and like the album, it takes time to explore all its twists and depths, though its appeal and appetite sparking potency is swift.

Choking on Illusions Cover   The following Sleepwalker explodes in a creative and impassioned tirade you expect to hear in a hardcore based offering, continuing to feed with satisfaction those thoughts but twisting them into fresh endeavour through the persistently thoughtful and skilled ideation of the guitars. As in its predecessor though, there is a particular moment where the good song ignites into something greater, and here it is the lull in the sonic tempest where the bass of Christian Pontes takes over with a richly carnivorous bass tone matched in intimidation by the muscular swings of drummer Dustin Ueckert. It is a mere moment in the passage of the track but again seems to instil a new attitude and impact into the following adventure and passion of the proposition.

Both Left Unsaid and 13 rage and bellow with explosive and intriguing creativity, the first punctuated by the thickest rhythmic jabs yet on the album but tempered by a tantalising flame of impressive vocal harmonies and guitar crafted melodic acidity. The song continues to be unpredictable and enthralling, a slip into an acoustic landscape bewitching in company with calm and captivating clean vocals. Its heart felt and raw emotion though is soon back filling the senses, and again it is fair to say this also seems to return with a new air and vitality in its angst and sound. It is of course all sparked by the band’s dramatic adventure in songwriting and sound, with these moments seeded in a strong array of flavours outside of hardcore. They are essences not always apparent at the start of songs but emerging impressively throughout and something the band will hopefully utilise even more ahead as this is when Choking On Illusions impressively breaks free of any formulaic hardcore restraints and expectations. The song’s successor is the same, spinning a recognisable initial weave of sound and aggression built on open invention before sculpting a predatory net of rhythms and sonic imagination. It is the most straight forward song on the album in many ways but when relaxing into a smouldering embrace of warm melodies and intimate vocals to again cast a new light on its body and heart.

The disorientating dazzle of guitar and rhythms at its start sets Borderlines off in fine style and initially it is a shame it is not a constant incitement throughout the excellent track, the band preferring to unleash it in bursts amongst the muscular antagonism of the song. The truth is the band get it right, its intermittent diversity makes for thrilling eruptions of bedlam in the ferocious roar of the song and the subsequent melodic poetry charming from its heart. The song is superb, whilst the album simply gets stronger and more exciting with every offering.

The peaceful radiance of Interlude allows a breath next, its brief instrumental a classic hug of keys but as the intro, embraced by a more and increasingly turbulent ambience. Its beauty makes way for the fiery energy and intensity of Broken Song, a blaze of an encounter with deep anxiousness to its air and hostile emotion fuelling its fury. It is another which simply grows in weight and persuasion as it reveals more invention and unpredictable ideation once established in the ears; post and melodic hardcore colouring its ire as forcibly as a punk viciousness.

A new peak is set with the hellacious charge and presence of Death Waltz next, the track a thunderous predator of the senses unafraid to draw on noise rock and metallic essences to ignite its creative battlefield. Complete with soaring harmonies and sonic intricacies, the song is a raucous anthem and impassioned croon simultaneously, and quite sensational in its distorted and scuzz lit brilliance giving next up L.O.V.E. a hard task to emulate. It gives a mighty effort though with a bass sound from Pontes which is raw and carnal in touch, whilst a blistering furnace of sonic rapacity and vocal incitement treats the senses. It also has that fresh onslaught of punk hostility to it which seeps into the album’s latter tracks to enjoyable success.

Closing track Baptism – Funeral enters on a rhythmic enticement from Ueckert which alone secures hungry attention, and continues to drive and ignite the solemn and melancholic heart of the increasingly ferocious encounter. It is a mighty end to an outstanding release, one sure to put Choking On Illusions on the widest hardcore map and suggesting potential of greater things yet to come, though more of the same to be fair would not be too disappointing either.

Rest/less is available from March 27th via Bastardized Recordings @ http://shop.bastardizedrecordings.de/product_info.php?products_id=2411

https://www.facebook.com/ChokingonIllusions

RingMaster 26/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/