By Salla Harjula
How to deliver anything actually meaningful into a chat of all of 15 minutes? TesseracT’s Amos Williams shows how. We jump straight into the deep end, as I call the man in China and ask him to describe the backstory for upcoming album Polaris.
”The theme is quite simple,” Amos says, before proceeding to give the most lyrical explanation in his measured, graceful manner. ”It’s basically about questioning truth.”
”The North Star is called Polaris. The thing is, although it’s been used as a reference point for people for hundreds of years, it moves. Because the sky is full of stars which are constantly moving. So that reference point will disappear. And in fact a few thousand years ago, there was a different star that was used in its place. And in a few thousand years’ time there will be another star that is used as the brightest star.”
”So that was quite a natural metaphor for it. Everything that we thought was true yesterday has kind of been proven to be false today. Or we’ve learned more details about that today, and changed our opinion. Equally, tomorrow we will find out new information that will change our opinion on that truth.”
”We figured it would be a nice, slightly poetic way to discuss a mundane but powerful truth. Which is that there is no such thing as truth. It moves, it changes.”
Musically, Amos feels Polaris is on a fairly similar path to their previous release Altered State.
”In terms of instrumentation we’ve reeled things back a little. So it’s not as dense as Altered State from an instrumentation point of view. But from a production point of view it’s a bit denser, there’s more going on, there’s a lot of sound designs.”
”We started working with our sound guy who mixes us at gigs. He’s a fantastic producer. So he’s basically become the sixth member of the band, behind the scenes, working and helping design the soundscapes. There’s a lot of detail you might not catch on straight away, but he adds another dimension to our sound.”
”And lyrically, there’s more poetry. The concept of storytelling is in the forefront. Instead of just putting some words together to make it sound cool, it’s very much a desire to tell a strong story. That’s basically Dan really wishing to come across in a more powerful manner. And also, every time he gets on stage, to believe in what he’s singing about.”
Yes, Daniel Tompkins is back behind the mike. This post within TesseracT has been extraordinarily wobbly during their not-so-very-long-at-all history. Why Dan? Why now?
”Because it was right.”
”It wasn’t difficult to talk to Dan again, once we knew it wasn’t gonna work with Ashe. Because we’ve remained strong friends with Dan. He was never just a band member, simply because we went on some quite long and arduous touring with Dan and that gives you a bond that’s very difficult to break.”
TesseracT is often designated as a pioneer of the djent scene. This is a stamp not everybody unambiguously loves – and so I’m interested to know how Amos himself feels about it.
”I think it’s wonderful. It’s a scene people identify with. And being embraced by a scene is an incredible thing and a wonderful springboard for a band to be launched into a wider demographic. The general public are not gonna hear you until you get pushed by the energy and the enthusiasm of a group of people. It was wonderful to be accepted by the progressive metal and rock crowd under the djent tag. Because it helped propel us into an international scene almost immediately.”
”I don’t have the problem that a lot of musicians seem to have with it. It’s fine, it’s cool, you can call us what you like. If you enjoy our music and are there for the right reasons, which I’d hope would be the case: I don’t imagine there’s many djent fans who go to a djent gig just because it’s a djent gig.”
Amos ends the interview by enthusing – in his calm and composed style, of course – about their imminent Australian gigs.
”It’ll be good fun. And that’s always a nice way to start a touring schedule: to do a fun territory. And Australia is. So much fun.”
Polaris comes out September 18 via Kscope.
TesseracT tours Australia this October with Caligula’s Horse.
Wednesday, 14 October – The Zoo, Brisbane – 18+ – with Plini
Thursday, 15 October – The Factory Theatre, Sydney – Lic AA – with Plini
Friday, 16 October – Max Watts, Melbourne – 18+ – with Plini
Saturday, 17 October – Fowlers, Adelaide – Lic AA – with Dyssidia
Sunday, 18 October – Amplifier Bar, Perth – 18+ – with Chaos Divine