Interview: James Monteith of TesseracT

UK, progressive metal masters TesseracT will return to Australia this September! It will be nearly three years exactly since the band’s last visit and in that time their fan base has increased immensely as this tour sees them playing their biggest rooms yet. TesseracT’s fourth studio album, Sonder, was released on April 20 via Kscope and it showcases perfectly why they remain pioneering leaders of the ever-evolving metal scene. Sitting outside the bounds of any genre specificity, TesseracT are an unstoppable force of off-kilter riffs, soaring melodies, bending grooves and disorientating atmospherics. Sonder is a fine work that represents TesseracT and their vast universe of sounds admirably. Equal parts meditative and powerful, it offers glimpses of fresh new ideas from the progressive powerhouse and solidifies established ones. But before you prepare for a night of sonic wizardry as TesseracT and local heroes Circles take you on an aural journey like no other, we got to chat with guitarist, James Monteith, as we discussed the new album, touring Australia, and much more.

Congratulations firstly on your highly anticipated fourth studio album, it's a fluid and cohesive piece of work, how do you feel about this album as a whole?

Yeah, thanks, we're feeling pretty good about this album, just like the others it's an evolution from the past records that we've made. In this case I think it's quite a bit more atmospheric and proggy, but it's also quite heavier in places. We're feeling quite positive and the feedback has been very good thus far.

It's also the bands shortest offering to date, but that doesn't take anything away from the quality of the music and stellar production, what made you want to release something a bit shorter this time?

It's just how it ended up really, we had quite a number of track that we had written for the album but we just thought we'd go with the ones that we truly loved and then you've got what we've put out. When we put it all together, it just came to a natural end and it just made sense, and we also thought it would be best to save any new ideas for other records that we write in the future. We're quite proud of this piece of work and I think it comes together and works quite well with how we've structured it.

It's been nearly 3 years exactly since your last visit to Australia, are you looking forward to playing some bigger venues and bigger crowds on this headline tour?

Yeah very much so, we're definitely looking forward to it. The shows are always great out there and the people are always really welcoming and friendly. We're really looking forward to playing with Circles as well, I believe they've got a new record coming out soon and I'm a massive fan of them, so that'll be fun. It should be good.

Did you guys specifically ask to have Circles join you on this tour?

I guess for years I've been banging on about Circles to the powers that be, so I guess they finally listened and maybe we've had some sort of influence on them being on this tour. But quite often it's whatever the booking agent thinks will work well on the tour, but luckily the stars have kind of aligned and they'll be joining us for a few shows and it's going to be great.

From memory has there been a special moment or experience that you can remember whilst you've been in Australia?

Oh, well that's quite a tricky one, I think that the whole Soundwave Festival experience was amazing for us. It was incredible to go to a huge festival in a different city, every day, for a whole week. It's not every year that we get to do that, so yeah that was very cool. We've got some friends in family in Australia so it's always a pleasure to see them whenever we're there, we obviously don't get to see them much because it's so far away for us. There is one funny story that I do recall, after we came off stage during Soundwave, I think it was Brisbane, and we took the wrong turn once we walked off the stage. We ended up out on the street somehow and we were holding beers, we then got pulled over by the cops for drinking in public, and we got in quite a bit of trouble. It was entirely an accident, but thankfully they let us off after we did some explaining you know (laughs) so that was interesting.

Would you like to do another Aussie festival type of deal now that Download Festival is in Australia, that could possibly happen.

Oh yeah totally, we would love to do that one day. I guess we'll have to wait and see if they'll have us. We're doing Download in Spain and the UK this year, so you never know, maybe they'll have us next year or the year after, but yes we would love that and we definitely wouldn't turn that down.

You've got an extremely busy year ahead with a bunch of shows coming up, what are you excited about most for the remainder of 2018?

All of it really, I think it's going to be quite exciting playing these new songs live, we've been playing the same songs now for nearly three years now, so it'll be quite nice to do something a bit different and freshen up the set. Fingers crossed people like the new material and hopefully it all goes down well.

I'm interested in what you have to say in terms of genre classifications in metal, because you guys really make a point of not being labelled as part of a particular sub genre.

Yeah, I think some genres are funny, they're basically like fashion trends that go out of date after a while. I think it's advisable for any band not to proactively associate yourself with a certain scene because peoples tastes change and lots of people get involved in certain scenes, whether it's for social reasons or political reasons or whatever. I just think it's good to separate from that, but having said that, I don't completely deject the DJENT tag that we sometimes get labelled with, it's a community of bands that came out at roughly the same time about 10 years ago, and we're all still very much in touch with those bands so if it wasn't for that label then we might not have had the career that has escalated us to where we are now. So, I don't hate the word DJENT, but I wouldn't pigeonhole us as just that either, there's more to our music than that at the end of the day. I don't even know what it means anymore, it essentially comes from that Meshuggah style of playing and I'd like to think that we've evolved past that, it's still there, but it's not all that we do, the same can be said for those other bands as well.

Sonder is out now on iTunes and Spotify - Visit their official website

Written by Steve Jenkins

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