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Interview with Jacob Bannon of Converge: Unfelled, Unchanged

Interview with Jacob Bannon of Converge: Unfelled, Unchanged

—by , October 22, 2009

The guitar work on ‘Effigy,’ when I listen to it, I almost think it’s a folk song at a certain point.

It definitely has an interesting vibe and that’s comes from having three guitarists ripping on that song together. You have Kurt being Kurt, you have [Cave In guitarist Stephen] Brodsky being Brodsky and you have Adam [McGrath, also of Cave In] being Adam and you have this crescendo of guitar wildness going on. That’s their vibe. That’s their collective personality. It shines there in a really positive way for us. We all really dig that song.

That was one of the first songs that was written for a potential Converge/Cave In collaborative record that basically this record is the end result of that idea of that collaboration. The original skeleton of that song came about musically a couple years ago with those guys and they just really kind of pushed it on the final recording.

You do have a lot of friends on this album. Was that by accident?

No, we wanted to do a collaboration record for a long time, but we didn’t want to do something that it just felt like someone kind of gets rolled onto a stage and the spotlight shines on them, and they just blast and do their thing and then get off stage. That wasn’t what we wanted to do. We wanted people involved more on the musical end of things, during the writing and sort of overall creation and recording vibe.

We didn’t want to have a predetermined thing where we say, ‘You do this here and that’s it.’ We were open to collaborate. True collaboration: Hearing the Genghis Tron guys add their element and ask for our feedback on a song, and keep going back and forth; Steve Von Till taking lyrics I wrote, adding some of his to it, creating a really interesting vocal melody that I actually didn’t even hear when I writing it in my head; so it was nice to hear other people’s takes on what we’re doing and what we were hearing, and it kept things fresh and exciting for us.

I would say the Steve Von Till song reminds me of his solo work.

Yeah, it’s got this really interesting vibe, it’s got this sort of Tom Waits worship vibe to it that I think his solo stuff has, with Kurt’s guitar and piano, but you still have the loud abrasive aspects of the song that are very Converge-ish for lack of better terminology. It’s all there. It doesn’t feel like a great departure, it just feels like an expansion, which if there was a creative goal larger than writing songs that we dig, that was pretty much it.

Where are you going with lyrically on this record?

Honestly, I’m a bit of a broken record in the sense that I just write about things going on in my life or that have gone on in my life since the last album. People, experiences, whatever. I use art and music to vent about things in a healthy way so I’m not a person that walks around with a lot of negative energy. That’s what music and art has always been for me, to just kind of throw it out there. Number one as an outlet, but also so people can listen to it and hopefully find a little bit of kinship in song and listen to in a positive way and hopefully it benefits them just like—at least for me—all good music does.

I think what you’re speaking from is a very specific part of the hardcore movement, but do you feel it’s still like that?

For me, oh yeah definitely. For other bands I can’t speak for, but for me, completely. We’re still identical to the band that we were when we were 16 and 17-year-old kids except that we’re more musically proficient and we’ve been around longer. But we still write from the same place, we still hold the same ethical values, we still play the same sort of shows and we put the same amount of energy into everything.

Axe To Fall is out now. Converge perform at Hammerstein Ballroom on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 and Philadelphia’s Electric Factory Nov. 1 supporting Mastodon, Dethklok and High On Fire. convergecult.com.

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