In The Studio is brought to you by Mick J
This week In the Studio we have none other than Innasanatorium.
MJ: Could you tell our readers about the band, what makes you different from other artists? (Everyone to answer).
Kelvin: Innasanatorium has many differences in the way that we operate. First is the fact that all of us draw from a very wide and diverse pool of influences. We draw on everything from old school traditional heavy metal through to death metal, thrash, groove, black metal and even grunge to create a unique and cohesive blend of heavy metal music. We take the listener on a journey, and you never quite know what to expect around each corner. On many occasions, we will implement all of these influences into one song. We play riff based and message driven progressive thrash metal with old school and new school sensibilities. Our message surrounding mental health is the very essence of what we do, and Adam also gives us a really unique edge as he has an incredibly versatile vocal range and uses all of it in this band.
Rapid: When I think of Innasanatorium as a band and how it was spawned, I’m still amazed at just how quickly it came together, especially when you consider the fact that I had never played a seven-string guitar before nor had I ever played or jammed with any members of the band previously. Ryan and Adam had worked together before in other band projects, and we had seen each other play in our other bands, but that’s as far as it went. Fast-forward a few years and through some fortuitous encounters at shows and the fact that the local metal scene is quite small, we all ended up thrust together as if by fate rather than coincidence.
Once that happened, it only took a few jam sessions to realise that we can play together pretty well, and we all get along as mates. The resulting music was very energetic and engaging, so we decided to take it to the masses and record a quality album. The music itself is a heavy, driven, wall of groove infused with thrash, death and black metal. It’s progressive at times with shades of grunge, many intriguing melodies and insane vocal variety. The thing that sets Innasanatorium apart from other similar bands is the overriding passion to bring attention to the mental health issues facing society. Music saves lives, and this type of music is perfect for delivering that life-saving message to the metal audience and hopefully beyond.
Adam: We definitely stand out in the West Australian metal scene as a band that isn’t sticking to a tried and true genre of metal. All of us in the band have a love of all styles of metal and being a little older than a lot of the other current bands we were also in our formative years when glam rock, shred, grunge and even nu-metal ruled the roost. Having
never placed any stylistic boundaries on the band, when we write music all of these influences naturally bubble to the surface at various points, and so we’ve ended up with a bit of a melting pot in terms of the finished product. Being a tricky band to pigeonhole has had its drawbacks in terms of gaining a foothold as a new band, as promoters have a tendency to book bands that easily fit the theme of their show. We’ve definitely missed a few gig opportunities because we’re not heavy enough for the death metal shows and too heavy for the thrash/traditional metal shows, even though we have clear elements of both in our music.
The other differentiating factor from our local peers is that we have aimed to be a band that can compete on a global level right from day one. Now that we have a solid bunch of songs and a quality recording to promote we are building up our stage show to bring an additional theatrical element to the music. We have already adopted stage outfits/personas and incorporated alternative dancers who interact with the crowd to start building a complete package of entertainment for everyone who comes to our shows. This is something we will continue to build on and evolve.
Ryan: Definitely, our diversity is a stand-out, which is what we have striven for from the beginning. Also, the fact that we wrote, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered all of our songs has helped us achieve a unique sound too. We are a very experienced bunch of people, and we have a strong direction artistically, so we know what we want and how to achieve the end product.
Tim: We never boxed ourselves into something, sub-genre wise. The years of musical influence and the sharing of our own influences amongst the band members has ignited a kind of ‘adventurousness’, amidst the writing. In other words, we have allowed each member, almost unknowingly, to have their own parts to be front and central, in turn.
Obviously, we rehearse regularly, but we have regular band meetings with an agenda which enables a shared sense of direction. The jokes amongst bandmates and mateship in general, is therapeutic for mental health in life, which is central to our paradigm for lyrics and musical mood.
MJ:How did you become involved in this crazy world of music?
Ryan: I was shown how to play Nirvana when I was 14 by my older brother and basically went from there. He gave me an old classical guitar that was held together with duct tape, and I learnt my first songs on that. I slowly upgraded to better guitars, and it wasn’t until I was18 that I could afford an electric. I progressed my guitar skills by learning Metallica, Pantera, Slayer etc. Once I heard Trivium, I started learning their songs and my rhythm and lead playing really accelerated, and also my music tastes diversified quite a lot. Nevermore was also a big influence on me, and learning to play like Jeff Loomis is also a huge part of my style.
MJ: Who were your musical inspirations, and what was the inspiration behind the album?
Adam: I’ve been a Faith No More fan from a fairly young age, so I guess the fact that I tend to use a lot of different vocal styles in our songs has definitely been influenced by Mike Patton. The other obvious one is Layne Staley (R.I.P.) from Alice In Chains, he was an absolutely phenomenal singer. The melodies and harmonies that he and Jerry Cantrell made together are like nothing else before or since. That level of harmonisation is something I definitely aspire to with my own singing, and I’m currently working with Kelvin on how to harmonise, so we can bring that element of our sound into the live shows. I think Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth is probably my biggest influence in terms of the seamless transition between clean and heavy singing and the dynamic this brings to the music. The juxtaposition between light and darkness is definitely an important part of Innasanatorium’s sound.
In terms of inspiration behind the themes and lyrics of the album, Kelvin’s battle with mental health and his passion for raising awareness of mental health problems and helping others who are struggling is the main focus. Kelvin and I sat down together, and he went through his experience with mental health decline, what it was like at the bottom and how he managed to come out the other side intact. I then went away with his notes and turned it into a trilogy of songs (‘The Decline’, ‘The Despair’ and ‘The Desire’) which form the centrepiece of the album. The remaining songs are inspired by the things I see all around us on a daily basis in terms of the complete mess that is modern society, which in all honesty is probably the cause of a lot of mental health problems which brings us back in a neat circle to the core
ideology of the band.
MJ: What are your interests outside of music?
Ryan: Playing video games. I’m going to restaurants with my wife a lot these days too, and trying lots of different foods is something I also like doing. I also love to travel and see different parts of the world. Fishing used to be a big thing for me, along with four-wheel driving in the bush (known as bush bashing in Australia). But it’s too expensive to be doing it all the time, so I ended up having to sell my four-wheel drive.
Adam: My biggest interest outside music is definitely my family, with 2 young kids it certainly keeps me on my toes. I’m pretty lucky my fiancé is also passionate about raising the best kids we can and lets me indulge my introverted interests. Video games are a big hobby of mine, unfortunately they seem to be getting bigger, and I don’t have the time I had as a kid, so needless to say there’s quite a stack of unfinished games. Reading has always been a passion of mine, horror was my favourite genre when I was younger, but I’ve developed quite a love of science fiction in more recent years. I highly recommend Alastair Reynolds to anyone with any interest in sci-fi, the ‘Revelation Space’ series of books is absolutely mind-blowing. I also still indulge my childhood hobby of building Lego sets from time to time, I recently got the Nintendo Entertainment System set, which definitely utilised some advanced techniques and tickled my nerdy sensibilities.
Rapid: While music is a bigger part of my life right now than it was when I first joined a band, I still have other endeavours I wanted; no… needed; to pursue. It helps keep me moving forward in a balanced way. I’ve always been a competitive fitness kind of guy, opting for individual pursuits rather than regular team sports. I started training in beach triathlon in my teens before moving on to martial arts. Bruce Lee was a big influence and his training principles, philosophical insights and approach to life appealed to me. In essence, he taught me how to teach myself. I’ve taken this way of thinking into music as well, as it just seemed like the natural thing to do. I competed for a few years on the Tae Kwon Do circuit and was quite successful competing at the highest level. I achieved what I intended and then moved on, while still keeping up my training. I was working with a few bands throughout this time, so naturally, I had to make more time for music. Needing to burn more energy, I took up speed skating, haha! That definitely did the trick. Winding down is sometimes hard, but I found staying at home with the family more often really helps recharge the batteries. I also don’t mind a bit of gardening and D.I.Y. as well, what guy doesn’t?
Tim: I’ve always been accused of having too many interests/hobbies, haha! I guess because of my childhood, moving around with Dad’s job meant I was always making new friends and trying new things. We lived in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands for a few years in the 1980s. I got into surfing there as a kid and continued that passion right into my adult life, as well as skateboarding. Other interests of mine have been military history, more specifically Second World War aviation. My dad built and flew radio-controlled fuel-powered aircraft, and naturally I gravitated to that hobby too. I grew up with Holden cars and have owned quite a few old models over the years. I still have one, It’s a 1968 classic. When I get some time, I’ll start restoring it, but in the meantime I enjoy going to car shows to look and talk to people about their projects.
Kelvin: I’m very big on mental health and wellness, as I have had a lifelong struggle with my own personal mental health decline. So mental health recovery and mentorship are a big part of my everyday life. I have now come to a point in my life where I am winning my fight and want to give guidance and support to others in similar situations. I have put a lot of hard work into becoming a qualified counsellor and kicking off my business ‘Wings of Change’ counselling. I am also an event planner specialising in punk and metal crossover charity events, a music promoter and radio D.J. Myself and Ryan do a podcast called ‘Neighbour of the Beast’ that focuses mainly on West Australian punk, alternative and heavy metal music. My life revolves mostly around three things: music, mental health/wellness, and surprisingly golf! I love playing golf, but that’s a big part of my wellness I suppose haha.
MJ: Tell me about the new album?
Ryan: This is a bit of a concoction in that some of the songs were initially written for different projects that never came to fruition. But once the songs started coming together, and we were starting to write more as a band, the songs really started to shine. We have all learnt a lot about each other, including each person’s strengths and weaknesses, which also helps in getting things done with minimal stress or bickering. All in all I think this is a taste of what can be achieved and also a taste of what is to come.
Adam: I feel like this album is a distillation of everything that all of us as a band love about metal compressed into a single package. I’m still amazed that we have subconsciously taken things from most different styles of metal, spliced them all together and somehow still have an album that flows organically without sounding like it’s been cut and pasted. It’s a very dynamic album, the majority of the songs are like musical journeys with their ups and downs and range of emotions, so I guess the album title ended up being pretty fitting. We’ve been getting pretty positive feedback so far with every listener seeming to have a different favourite track, I’d like to think there’s a little bit of something for everyone in there.
Kelvin: ‘Odyssey of the Mind’ is a semi-conceptual album based on the mental health and anxiety struggles that we all face in a world that is breaking down on itself at an alarming rate. The backbone for this album is the three part semi-biographical title track that shows the band soundtracking the decline and the despair of mental health breakdown before regaining one’s sanity, zest for life and desire to regain mental freedom. It’s an emotive and atmospheric album that is equal parts melodic and blistering with huge slabs of neck wrecking heaviness. ‘Odyssey of the Mind’ truly takes the listener on an equally engaging and challenging musical journey through the vast soundscapes of insanity and suburban decay. There are razor sharp riffs and shredding guitar solos aplenty, soaring schizophrenic vocals that jump from melodic and emotive to harsh and brutal. In a nutshell, this album is a celebration of heavy metal music and although people are always trying to pigeonhole us, that’s exactly what this album is. We are a very proud heavy metal band from Australia and this album is a celebration of heavy metal music in all of its magical forms. Ryan has done A
magnificent job with the overall production as well, The Album sounds absolutely huge.
Rapid: I’m quietly confident that this album will be well received, as it has all the qualities of a successful album. The songwriting and musicianship is evident in the delivery of high energy, quality riffage with catchy grooves and vocal melodies that draw you in. Then there is the message addressing the mental health issues of the modern era. It’s delivered with passion and positivity (albeit aggressively) with the aim of raising awareness and subsequently creating change for the greater good of all those affected by mental health issues in all its forms. I think this will resonate with the listener. Overall it’s a great sounding album: punchy, aggressive, moody and vocally insane at times, all while sounding refreshingly heavy throughout. I think this album will be one of those albums that you play over and over yet still find something new each time. I’m very happy with this album, I think it’s awesome and just a taste of what’s still to come.
Tim: I’m really pleased with the final product. It sounds amazing on headphones and in a good car stereo. This is all thanks to the expertise of our lead guitarist who has recorded, produced and mastered the whole thing himself, all whilst writing material and playing in the band. For a long time I’ve always wanted to be involved in a heavy metal project that gives a broad scope of material within the heavy metal genre, a heavy metal album for the ages! I think that this album has something for metal fans young, old and in between. It will stand the test of time and will still be a great listen years from now.
MJ:What is the difference between the album and your previous releases?
Adam: As far as Innasanatorium goes, our only previous releases were a few singles which have been rerecorded for the album. There hasn’t really been any change to the songs, but the quality of everyone’s performances and the quality of the recording have definitely been kicked up a notch or two. Ryan has done a stellar job with this recording, he has been steadily honing his craft since our first recordings to the point where he is now making professional recordings that can compete with anything else on the world stage.
MJ:Where was the album recorded, who produced it, and how long did the process take?
Ryan: The album was recorded at Savage Studios, which is my home studio. I produced the album as well, which makes things a lot easier and cheaper. It’s hard to say exactly how long the whole process took, as it wasn’t like we went to a studio and recorded everything there in one go. We did it in our own time over the course of approximately 9 months. Not having a drummer makes the whole process easier, but the downside is trying to make the drums sound natural.
MJ: What is the highlight of the album for you, and why?
Tim: The highlight of the album for me is the bass drop at the start of the chorus riff in ‘#scottyfrommarketing’, as it goes into that crushing guitar riff. Playing live, I absolutely love playing my 6-string bass beast to that. Wrecks my neck every time!
MJ: How are the live shows going, and what are you hoping to gain?
Kelvin: The live shows have been fantastic and very well received, even more so now that we have added a real theatrical element. We have been playing a lot of shows in our native Western Australia, honing our craft and asserting our presence on the live circuit. We have crazy onstage personas and outfits mixing elements of insanity and mystique, along with a troupe of alternative devil dancers (Nina, Megan and Jarrad) that add extra shades of darkness and crowd inclusion to our live show. We also use a fog machine and lots of smoke, adding to the atmosphere. Myself and Adam spend a lot of time in the crowd alongside the dancers, making it an immersive live experience. As far as I know, we are the only band in Australia incorporating heavy metal music and alternative dance. We use programmed drums, so we add a lot of different layers and visuals, taking the attention away from the fact that we don’t have a drummer. We are going to continue to expand our visual element and themes of societal breakdown and insanity. There are no rules and the sky’s the limit. We have a very eclectic and interesting sound, and we want to create a visual and sonic live experience to emulate that. It doesn’t matter how big the venue is, Innasanatorium will play everything from small bars to large arenas. We have big dreams surrounding this band, and ‘performance art’ is a huge part of that. The ultimate goal is to take our show around the world and once restrictions and border blocks allow us to do so, that’s exactly what we are hoping to do.
MJ: With the current situation the world is in, how does the Corona Virus affect the band as a whole?
Kelvin: In all honesty, we are from Western Australia and I think that we have been very lucky surrounding Covid-19. There was only one initial ten-week lockdown early in 2020 and since then our state has had a hard border stance (Fortress WA) in place, so it hasn’t really affected us at all. We played in excess of ten shows in 2020, and that was actually the year that shaped us as a band. I reckon all of the darkness surrounding the global pandemic has certainly influenced some of the darkness in the themes that Innasanatorium explores, but it’s only affected us in a positive way. I have even incorporated a Covid death mask into my on stage persona haha! As a band, our collective heart goes out to the rest of the world during these very uncertain times, but being a Western Australian band in this global ‘shit-storm’ has absolutely been a blessing and worked in our favour. The metal scene here is booming and has had a huge resurgence. The biggest negative effect that coronavirus has had on the band is of course not being able to tour interstate or internationally. Other states in Australia are still getting hit hard with Covid lockdowns, and the international borders are still a long way off opening up. All of the lads have families and jobs outside of music, and we are not prepared to take any risks surrounding the health and wellness of the band members and our loved ones. So we will continue to play shows here in WA, while promoting ‘Odyssey of The Mind’ on a global scale and when the time is right, our band will be hitting stages everywhere.
MJ: What’s in store for the future? (no short answers)
Rapid: At this stage, we have just finished our first release, so we are getting back into songwriting again. This album and also our working situation took up a lot of our time, plus there are still ongoing Covid restrictions. We are currently planning our next album and are also keen to tour nationally and internationally depending once again, on restrictions. We really want to keep the momentum going and hone our live set along with our songwriting. In saying that, we are still looking for a professional drummer to complete our line-up which, in turn, will improve our songwriting and stage presence. Our ultimate goal is to play on stages around the world with the obvious end goal, for any serious metal band, to grace the stage at ‘Wacken Open air Festival’.
MJ: What formats is the release out on?
Ryan: At the moment we have it out on CD, and it is also up for streaming on Spotify and iTunes. We are looking to bring it out on vinyl and cassette too if the demand is there, but it will be a little while before that can happen I think.