I recently reached out to the band, Spectral Tower, after hearing their self released album on Bandcamp. Let me just say that I was blown away by the originality of the band and the entrancing effect of the music. It's both brutal and beautiful with the combination of traditional black metal elements and atmospheric instrumentation. Although we're only three months into this year, I expect this album to make it's way into 2014's "Best of" list in December. Without further ado, here's our conversation with Spectral Tower.
HMT: I'm floored by your latest release. Please tell me about your background in music and how the band came together?
Dane of Spectral Tower: "Jeff & I have been good friends since we met as we entered high school. During high school Jeff started playing drums in punk and hardcore bands. When I graduated high school I purchased my first guitar, intent on learning to play exclusively death metal. I taught myself some basics and from there i started recording music with a hacked version of adobe audition well before i had the skills to produce anything of quality, but at that point my passion for creating and especially recording music began.
Eventually Jeff and I attended the same University, where we both started to branch out from our origins in music. Jeff and I jammed for about a year, until we eventually formed a 3-piece instrumental prog-metal band called Fertile Mountain. We played a handful of shows and recorded two albums, but during that time we seemed to get away from playing any particular genre and moved towards melding our many musical influences into something somewhat cohesive. We really just started playing whatever felt right at the time, and that has been something that we’ve carried with us ever since. We eventually disbanded when we graduated and went our separate ways, but Jeff and I never stopped jamming.
Finally in early 2013 I upgraded my music software setup and gave Jeff a copy just as he had moved across the country to Brooklyn, NY. From there Jeff started making beats for a few songs I had at the time and we started recording and crafting the songs for this project via email. We have not lived in the same city for about 3 years, but we've done some of our best work in this manner. We have played a number of different sounding genres and styles of music over the years, but never really had a single discussion about what we wanted to be. We are both very much on the same page and comfortable just going where the jams take us."
HMT: You have a very original sound, what are your biggest influences?
Dane of Spectral Tower: "On the heavier front Jeff is majorly influenced by Death, but he also for sure has a major jazz, and often latin influence that comes through in his percussion. I'm speaking for him on a very high level as he has many influences across many genres, but i think so are some major themes that shine through. As for myself, I have been influenced by a number of different styles and genres over the years. I have come to see that what i play is influenced to a certain percentage by an amalgamation of all my past favorites combined, with a heavy filter of what i am listening to during that time period. Definitely too much to cover the wide variety of historical influences but during the writing process i had a few albums in heavy rotation: Colosseum - Chapter 2: Numquam, Nile - Anhillation of the wicked, Alcest - Ecailles de lune being a few of them.
Jeff and I have also been very interested in discussing the story and visuals that accompany music, which is probably why we’ve recorded almost every jam session over the years. The story develops after the music is created as we write lyrics, but it’s definitely an influential emotional element during the entire process."
HMT: I think what sets you apart from most bands coming out right now is your confidence in blurring the lines of what many listeners of aggressive music expect to hear. How much experimentation takes place when you're creating music?
Dane of Spectral Tower: "Our sound is a product of all the music we have collectively listened to. Being friends for about a decade has enabled us to treat each other's experimentations like they were our own - respectfully and critically. Nearly all of the album was recorded separately, giving each other the space to try new things and see how the other person reacted. The writing process is pretty unique in that essentially I would record riffs and let Jeff jam drums to them, or Jeff would compose a beat framework that i would jam over. This makes the process super enjoyable for both of us because we never really know where any particular song is going to end up. Usually all of them ended up places that they never would have if we had sat down and composed a full song front to back. Eventually in fall 2013, Jeff moved back to California and from there we made the final push, recording Artifacts and about 90% of the vocals together. But even then we stuck to the same style of turn based experimentation."
Dane of Spectral Tower: "I am good friends with Morgan Condict, the artist for this album, and have always been a fan of his unique style. When I approached him with some rough jams and the concept he was excited to take a stab at it. We gave him full freedom to do as he wished outside of a few basic guidelines, in that it needed to contain a few elements from the overall story. The artwork is one version of the protagonist from the album, the all-seeing wizard, leaving behind both the physical and the natural worlds and beginning his journey.. Working with Morgan was great. His initial sketches were intensely detailed, then for the final version her threw us an audible and used water color paints on a water resistant paper, which created a unique depth through pooling and drying of ink. Overall we are really happy with his creation, happy he took an experimental process to create the final product, and look forward to working with him on future endeavors"
HMT: Will you be playing this live? Tour plans?
HMT: I found you guys through Bandcamp, how important is it to you guys to have an outet like that site to reach audiences far and wide?
Spectral Tower is Dane Adair & Jeff Lurie