Latest release: The Icarus Lives EP (Roadrunner/Sony)
Periphery’s Melbourne show on their upcoming Australian tour sold so well the promoters had to move it to a bigger venue. Not a bad achievement for a band whose debut album only came out just over twelve months ago. Already considered one of the leading acts of the so-called “djent” scene, Periphery is one of the fastest-rising new acts of the last few years. Loud caught up with lead guitarist Jake Bowen for a brief chat ahead of their appearance at Sonisphere and subsequent tour here in August.
Q: You guys must consider yourselves quite lucky really. You’ve come a long way in a relatively short time.
A: Yeah, the band’s seen a lot of growth. The album came out last year and we’ve toured pretty much since then. Going back it will be pretty cool to see how much we’ve grown in Australia. We are very fortunate and it’s cool to see that what we’re doing is growing.
Q: And how was that first tour down here for you last year?
A: It was great. We actually got a much different touring experience that what we were used to. We got chauffered everywhere and we flew everywhere and we got to actually stay in hotels instead of in the back of a dingy van. It was pretty nice.
Q: So it was the full rock star experience for you?
A: Yeah, it was the band’s first experience of that and I think we were all very happy, that’s for sure.
Q: For some Periphery probably just seemed to really come out of nowhere. There were a few singers before you managed to get an album out, but what was the history of the band like up until then?
A: We went through a couple of line-up changes before we finally got to the one where we’re at now. There’s been a lot of growth. A lot of bands seem to have been around forever before they get any momentum, whereas as soon as we started touring we saw momentum. That was pretty much through some pretty savage online marketing.
Q: And what sort of changes have you noticed over the last twelve months?
A: Well I think for us, our live show is just starting to really figure itself out. We’ve had time to establish ourselves with a really high impact show. I think working on that, since we started touring, has really begun to show rewards. So we’ve just become a tighter band. As people we’re more business savvy and in how to run our business… there’s just been a steady, gradual improvement.
Q: Periphery are seen to be at the apex of an entire movement at the moment. Does that put pressure on you to be a certain way or sound a certain way?
A: No we’ve never really analysed that. When we record it’s just like whatever we come up with. It’s funny that people are using a specific term to describe us and it’s cool that we get to be part of this elite group of band that belong to this category, but it’s kinda whatever we do in the studio. Nothing’s ever that deliberate.
Q: And are you working on something new at the moment?
A: Yeah, we’re working on two new somethings. One’s gonna be a concept album and the other’s gonna be just a regular album. Track after track rather than one big concept like this other thing. So it’s gonna be good to have those out.
Q: When you get together does everyone jam out ideas or is it still one main contributor?
A: Our guitarist Mish is the main song writer. He also produces everything, and the rest of us all contribute musically as well to varying degrees. I’d say that I write with Mish the most, and then he obviously writes all the lyrics and melodies and stuff.
Q: How long do you spend in the studio working on new tracks?
A: Surprisingly not that long. It usually takes about six hours to get a song structured and then we layer over it. It really doesn’t take that long. Songs will usually take on various incarnations and versions before the final one comes out, but usually within a night or two we know if a song is going to be song.
Q: You must have heard by now that the first show in Melbourne sold out almost right away. You must be very pleased that you were able to do that?
A: Oh yeah that had me really stoked. I woke up and got that in an email and I was like, “Oh that’s really awesome”. It’s really cool to throw out three shows and just have them sell out.
Q: That must really validate what you do. Some bands would probably need two or three tours to get to the level that you’ve achieved here in Australia already, to be able to virtually sell out a tour as soon as it’s announced.
A: Yeah that’s awesome. I hear similar statements like that and it further solidifies the fact that we’re doing something pretty cool… we’re making the right moves. That makes me really happy.
Q: Without naming anyone, do you go out there now and see a whole bunch of bands who want to sound like Periphery?
A: Yeah, I do see that. I think people can see what the really good stuff is and what’s the stuff that’s borrowing a little too much. It’s really unfair to say about any band that they’re borrowing too much from the one influence, because every band I’ve ever been into have borrowed heavily from somebody else’s sound. And that’s kind of what metal and rock, hard rock, has always been like. Who can do it better, and there’s all these different styles and genres and everything, but I think people can tell. I think it’s flattering that these bands are trying to have a similar sound.
Q: Ben from All Shall Perish told me the other day that they keep ahead by just playing from the heart. You’ve already said that you just play what you play, so do you think that makes things easier for you, rather than trying to sound a certain way to stay ahead of whatever pack there is?A: Exactly. That’s just the way it makes sense to me. I know how to play the style of music that we write and I understand a lot about it and it’s easy and that’s the way I want to go. That’s the path of least resistance.
Q: Even though Mish does most of the writing, you’ve obviously had some influence on the new material as well. Have you noticed much of a difference between the first album and the style of the new material?
A: Oh yeah, I’m doing a lot more lead playing, and my lead playing is kind of unconventional for this style of music. More jazz-fusion, so there’s going to be a lot more of that kind of style throughout this record — both the records. I’m doing the same thing that I did on the last record… I did all the interludes so I’m writing for that as well. I’ve learned a lot of new tricks and there’s gonna be a lot of new flavours on this next record.
Q: And what are you listening to at the moment, either new or regular playlists?
A: I always say this, and there are two things that I normally go to. One of them is Telefon Tel Aviv record, or any He is Legend record. Those are my two favourite groups right now, and that’s pretty much all I listen to. I’m pretty boring.
Q:It’ll be great to see you here again soon, but what are you doing between now and then?
A: Well, we’re home for another couple of weeks, and then we go to […] Sonisphere UK. Then we’re off for another few weeks and then come down to Australia!