Periphery – The Juggernaut Rolls on with Select Difficulty

By Callum Doig

First, Periphery came with their debut in 2010, then with their sophomore, they decided to make things personal. And now with their third self-titled and sixth full-length record overall due in July, it was time the Washington DC-based sextet gave their fans the option to select their difficulty, with Periphery III: Select Difficulty. Speaking to the flesh-covered drum machine Matt Halpern about the process of their upcoming LP, he says it became a very natural and exciting process all the way through from start to finish.

“It was really organic and it just sort of happened naturally,” he said. “We didn’t go into this planning to write an album. We had some downtime in between touring with Juggernaut and when we would get back out in 2016. We decided in that time period, that we would just have some fun and write some songs and one thing led to another. We ended up realising that we had quite a few songs that we all really liked and it just kind of make sense to make another record.

“I think we were so burned out from the process of having this big storyline and theme with Juggernaut that felt so good. There was nothing we had to hold it to and there were no boundaries, and I think it was just a very lip-reading experience to go from writing something that was so inherent to a story versus something was completely for fun. That was really what this album was for us.”

Halpern continues: “We just picked the songs we liked the best out of all the demos that we had written at the time, and we just decided to put it on the record. It’s kind of a mixtape and it’s kind of all over the place in terms of style and feel. But, what we want people to know about this record is that it’s the most real representation to who Periphery is right now at this point in time. Forget what we did in the past and what we’ll do in the future, Periphery III: Select Difficulty is the most up-to-date representation of who we are as a band and what we’re all about. So, we hope people respond to it really well.”

With Periphery being nothing short of extremely comfortable with the results that came through for Periphery III: Select Difficulty, Matt finds that the band enjoy the whole procedure of writing music more than anything. And states that even after the making of Periphery III: Select Difficulty, they still have tons of ideas floating around.

“I think the most fun thing that we can do as a band is to write music. We obviously love going on tour and doing shows, but if you had to make the people in my band decide as to whether we’d rather sit down and make music and create stuff or go on tour, we’d probably pick creating music every time. It’s what we’re most passionate about, you know? If you give us any downtime from the road, we’ll write music. What’s so funny about this is even after finishing this record, there’s so many little demo ideas floating around out there and little things we’ve had a chance to mess around with in small pockets of time. It just seems like we never stop writing, which is really cool.”

Throughout each session of creating new tracks through their signature prog metal sound, Periphery don’t put up any barriers when they’re in need of making something fresh and stimulating, as it only holds them back from showing their true potential. As far as the actual course of song-writing is concerned, Matt explains that because of the strong chemistry between all of the band members. The themes and approaches they cook up is usually the result of jamming and letting it all flow smoothly, instead of deciding what should appear in each track.

“We certainly don’t line ourselves up to any other bands or even acknowledge what we’re like to anybody,” says Matt. “There’s a lot of chemistry with the six of us, and I think that those songs are representative of the chemistry we have together. So, if there is a theme throughout those kind of tunes, I think it comes from how we are as a band working together. But, I really don’t think it was all done intentionally. It wasn’t really done with any purpose in mind other than – ‘Hey, here’s this idea, let’s develop it. We love the way this is going and let’s make it go even bigger and go even further’.

“I think of this album as really natural. I don’t think that there’s anything contrived about it and I think it’s all very organic and there’s just no rules to it. There’s no certain formula that we abide by for anyone else to write certain songs. The music that we write is based on filling a hole. We write music that we want to hear that we can’t find anywhere else, necessarily. So, the music is just based on what we like and what we’re attracted to. We don’t really have any rules in place that constrict us from being what we want.”

Periphery III: Select Difficulty will be released on 22 July 2016 via Sumerian Records.

Written by Callum Doig

Growing up around tracks at the young age of eight from Rage Against the Machine to Queens of the Stone Age and At the Drive-In, I found my love for heavy music develop quicker and quicker, as I got into countless bands in genres from Alternative, Prog, Stoner and Math Metal over the years. Being part of the music journalism industry since 2013, I’ve had the honour to review the legendary Soundwave Festival twice, Unify, and the last ever Big Day Out, as well as interview big names such as Zakk Wylde, Matthias Jabs, Richard Patrick, Greg Puciato, Mikael Akerfeldt, A Nameless Ghoul and many, many more. With metal and rock music playing a massive part of my life since I was young, and eventually became inspired to pick up multiple instruments, I couldn’t have picked a better genre to influence me into getting involved in the scene, regardless of what the position would be. Heavy music has done more for me than anyone or anything else, and I intend to stick around for more and more as the years go by.

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Photos: Karnivool + Fait, Melbourne, 30 June 2016