Latest release: Juggernaut: Alpha/Juggernaut: Omega (Century Media)

Periphery cracked the Australian Top 25 this year with both halves of their recent opus Juggernaut and very soon they will be touring with the most revered Devin Townsend. On a break between tours, we contacted band founder Misha Mansoor for a discussion about musical direction and Aussie bands.

Great to talk to you Misha. How are things in Periphery’s world right now?
We’re taking some downtime at the moment. We’ve had a pretty rigourous touring schedule until now and the last bit of the year’s going to be really intense, so we’re having a little bit of a break, which is kinda nice and a little bit new. We don’t usually get a break around this time, but we are welcoming it!

You’ve always had a pretty close affinity with Australia. You’ve been here a few times now and it seems like you really enjoy being here.
Definitely. Australia has been with us since day one. There’s some markets that you have to earn, and there’s absolutely a lot of markets out there for us. AUstralia’s not one of them! We’ve always had a blast. When we get there we’re usually pretty jet-lagged and to be able to forget about that and have a good time when you’re twelve hours off your time zone is pretty amazing.

What do you think it is about us that we can connect with Periphery so well?
I think it’s because Australians are very accepting of music and I think that they’re very open to more progressive forms to music – maybe less common denominator forms of stuff, and when I say that I mean Karnivool is one of your biggest bands. That’s amazing. A band like that would not be one of the biggest bands in America! It would go over a lot of  people’s heads. I think it’s amazing that a band like that is as successful as they are in Australia. Australia being receptive to that style of music does a lot of good for us.

If you go back a couple of decades, music that sophisticated wasn’t that popular here, so things have really come along in terms of that type of thing here.
I’d say if they aren’t a main factor, they are at least some sort of catalyst because if you look at their albums, they’ve gotten more experimental each time. Whereas most bands that achieve a certain level of fame will tend to simplify or get into more accessible song writing because that’s what most people want to hear. But they’ve gone full-on experimental. Their last album was out there! It’s amazing that something that I truly loved was also one of the best-selling Australian albums! That really blows me away. So, as a very long answer to your question, I think that’s part of the reason why we seem to do pretty well in Australia.

Speaking of being experimental, where do you see Periphery heading in the future?
I don’t know. We always do whatever we want to do, and whatever that is at that point it time. Until we’re working on new Periphery, I don’t actually know what new Periphery will sound like. But we’ll find out! We’ll all find out together.

When you started doing this band it was basically just you. As you built the band around you, you must have been exposed to a lot of new ideas. How much has that broadened your perspective?
It has a lot! There’s also my musical tastes changing. We’re just the kind of people who want to be moving forward. Being stuck in the one area is boring. For example, we had our sound on the first album, so that when the second Periphery album came around, we were in the mood for something video game-y, progressive, fast, colourful. That was purely a reaction. After spending so much time in the vibe of the first album, and as a reaction to Periphery II when it came time to do Juggernaut we wanted something slow and brooding and cinematic. And now that we’ve done that, I know that personally I want to go fast and heavy. I’ll have to see where the rest of the guys are. but I don’t know what mood I’ll be in in a year or so from now. Maybe I’ll be in a different place. But wherever it is, that’s what Periphery will be.
It will be a reaction to and a culmination of everything that we’ve done.

You must feel incredibly lucky that audiences can still connect with you regardless of which direction you take.
I feel extremely lucky! I always expect every album and every release we do to destroy us, because each one doesn’t really have much to do with the last one. It’s a very selfish approach: just do whatever we want and then release it! We’re aware of it. We’re very fortunate that people seem to be into what we’re doing – at all!

Most of your fans pretty much expect you to just be yourselves.
Some of them do, some of them don’t! Periphery is the best 3 out of 5 band you’ve ever heard. And what I mean by that is, everything we do is incredibly mediocre. We do our first album and it gets 3 out of 5… very mediocre album, whatever. Then we do Periphery II, and suddenly our first album is a masterpiece and the new one sucks! And then we do Juggernaut and Periphery II is a masterpiece and Juggernaut sucks. But to be fair, to be 100% fair, by virtue of them being different from what people expect, it just takes a few spins and then again there may be some people who are genuinely turned off. But that doesn’t really matter to us. We’re just grateful for the people who are into it, and overall it seems like we gain more fans than we lose, so we’re doing ok.

What other Australian bands are you a fan of?
We toured with Dead Letter Circus and Twelve Foot Ninja. Those bands are both amazing. APart from that, we also toured with Thy Art is Murder. You guys have a lot of talent over there. In the case of Dead Letter Circus and Twelve Foot Ninja – especially Ninja – those were bands that Americans were less familiar with. It was a good opportunity, the right mindset, to be exposed to those bands. They both got great crowd response because the people who were out there were very receptive. It’s a mutually benficial thing in so many ways.

A lot of those bands, like you, built up from the ground themselves without a great push from someone too.
I remember the first time we played with Twelve Foot, they were just opening up for us and TesseracT in Australia. They were the local opening act. And something that literally never happened before, especially in the States, is when you get a bunch of your fans messaging you saying, ‘Twelve Foot Ninja’s amazing, make sure you watch them.’ We watched their whole show that night and they really were amazing! It’s rare to find bands that are doing something amazing that will blow you away, so when you find those bands, you want to work with them. You want to work with those people. They influence you and keep you on your toes.

Catch Periphery with Devin Townsend in Australia:
22/10: Max Watts, Brisbane QLD
24/10: UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney NSW (Lic. A/A)
25/10: 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC- SOLD OUT
26/10: 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC