Washington D.C. native progressive metal six-piece Periphery are stepping into 2015 with a new album, off of Sumerian Records, under their belts. The dual release from the band, Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, are two full-length concept records, only on shelves since Jan. 27. With several singles circulating on YouTube, fan reception has been at an all-time high for the group’s boundary-testing sound. Sticking to Periphery form, the guys opted to once again self-produce, but they did take a more collaborative approach to writing this go-around. The group is already in the middle of a North American tour supporting their latest effort alongside Nothing More, Wovenwar, and Thank You Scientist.
Forging their own musical path has always been the Periphery way. The ensemble’s innovative musical structures, vocals, and the choice to produce on their own only further reinforce their individuality. Taking a moment to indulge my curiosity, bassist Adam “Nolly” Getgood took a moment to chat with me about the current mindset of the band. The following is what he had to say:
Periphery are amidst a nationwide tour in support of Juggernaut right now. I believe you guys are currently in Louisiana. How is this tour going for you as well as the bands that you brought along with you?
It’s been really good. Last year we didn’t do all that much touring because we were writing and recording Juggernaut for pretty much all of the year. It’s so good to be able to get back out onto the road, especially now that we’re playing all of the new material.
As you mentioned, we’ve got some absolutely awesome bands out on tour with us right now. We’ve got Nothing More, who have some of the craziest live presence I’ve ever seen and some really cool kind of stage get-ups that they have. And of course we have Thank You Scientist opening up which, of course, is a really diverse blend of completely different styles; they are really amazing to watch every night. It’s been a very inspiring week—we’ve only been on the road for about a week. It’s going great.
With Juggernaut being Alpha and Omega, a double release, how do you decide to make a setlist for each performance when you have these two new records along with all of the old stuff?
That is always a tough question. There is only so much we can play in a night—the kind of sort of thing for now is to be playing the songs that everybody has heard. We haven’t had them come out just yet, but there are five songs from the record that we’ve been playing before the album that people have kind of latched onto a bit. We’re playing those songs live, moving forwards. Nothing’s stopping us from playing all of the songs from the two albums. There’s no reason not to play any of the songs on the record, so I’m really looking forward to getting sucked into those when we have the chance.
Do you have a different setlist for each performance?
We do not. That’s something just because of the state of our stage show, we have a lot of technology; there is a laptop controlling everything. While that grants us a whole other amazing freedom that we couldn’t have without it, it does also mean that we can’t have more than maximum two or three setlists. It can be a little bit difficult to change on the fly, but I think the setlist that we do have seems to be working very well. It definitely doesn’t seem to hinder us at all.
Why did you as a band decide to put off this music into the world at one time?
It’s a story, it’s a concept album, as I’m sure you know. It really wouldn’t have made too much sense to split it up, arbitrarily, as far as we were concerned. The name of the album being Juggernaut, I think people expected something long and in depth like that. That was never even really a conversation that we had, but it is a little unconventional to put out two records at the same time.
The reason why it’s split into two records at all is because there is such a fundamental shift in the story line, and the music reflects that. I think no one would have felt particularly comfortable with putting out half of the music, because as I say, the music kind of mirrors what is going on with the story or the concept. It wouldn’t have necessarily felt right just putting out half of that; we wouldn’t have felt it was particularly representative of the Periphery sound.
What do you think are the fundamental musical and lyrical differences between the records?
Well, I don’t want to get into the lyrical content of it because we’re kind of keen that people can get in and listen on it. The main thing for me is, it’s all quite dark, thematically. The first half has more upbeat songs and perhaps, a few shorter songs as well; it’s got the more technical side of things. Part two, we kind of got into a little more progressive exploration where it’s definitely a lot darker. We have songs that go 13 or 11 minutes, I forget exactly how long—it’s a long old song. It’s really more about the dark cinematic kind of sound that the album has at that point.
How was the writing and production of this album a new experience? Why did you choose to self-produce?
I think we’ve touched on that a little bit already. This album was an extremely collaborative process. It was kind of a first for the band to be honest. The first record was mainly written by Misha [Mansoor, guitarist], a founding member of the band. There was a tiny bit of collaboration on “Racecar” with Jake [Bowen, guitarist] on the first record. Periphery II had a little bit more collaboration, but still it’s mainly the vision of Misha coming through on that.
For the first time, we really sat down as a group for a period of many months and everyone had input on every aspect. Whether it was the drumming or the lyrics, song structures or the riffs themselves, everyone had a large part to play in pretty much every song that appears on the two albums. For us, that makes it a lot more gratifying. When you’re looking back, for us at least, we can hear each others’ contributions and really appreciate what everyone brings to the sound of the band. That’s been really cool and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
As far as self-producing, we did try coming up to doing a third record, to work with a couple of producers, just doing test tracks with them. While it always brought something very cool to the table and we were always very excited about it, in the end, we decided that actually just in order to preserve the Periphery sound itself, I’d rather say, we’d get some cool stuff back, but it didn’t necessarily sound or feel to us like the end result that we were after as it would if we had complete control over the process from beginning to end. My expertise in the band as kind of in the producer role, I was keen to head that up. Everyone in the band has an opinion on how it should sound, however difficult it is to be self-critical all of the time and take on the producer role. It worked out the best for us.
Were you listening to any music aside from your own while recording?
I always like to try and listen to all sorts of different music. We always enjoy hearing music from our peers like the band The Contortionist, who had put out a record around the time that we were recording. I remember Jake and I listening to that quite a bit driving to and from the studio. Also, the band He Is Legend put out a record around the same time—we listened to a lot of that. I was also listening to bands like The 1975, which was not metal at all but in terms of production, it’s some of the best sounding music I’ve heard in a long time. Just trying to surround myself with good sounding music during the whole recording process. It does kind of take a bit out of you when you’re working on your own music all day and you don’t necessarily want to listen to that type of music. I’m emerging from that mode now and have been getting into all of the music that people have been putting out currently.
What are the band’s plans after this initial tour cycle?
In the near future, when we’re done with this, we’re going to be going out on the road with Devin Townsend and Shining in Europe, which is going to be an awesome tour. Devin Townsend, of course, needs no introduction; it’s going to be an absolute honor to share the stage with him. Shining is actually one of my favorite bands I’ve listened to recently; such a unique band with incredibly dark and crazy jazz mixed with Nine Inch Nails mixed with Dillinger Escape Plan kind of thing going on (laughs). It’s just kind of the thing you need to see to believe. It’s going to be wicked to be on the road with them.
We have all sorts of plans in the works for the rest of the year, but I don’t know how much of it is confirmed or how much is public, so I don’t want to give away something that we don’t have yet. I think we’re aiming for some international touring towards the end of the year. I don’t think we’re going to get very much time at home this year; I think we’re going to be on the road pretty much all of this year.
You guys have been receiving a bit more mainstream attention. What do you think it is that you are doing that is catching the eye of people who wouldn’t normally be into your style of music?
I think it’s quite an interesting question—I wish it was something that we knew the actual answer for (laughs). I think Periphery has always gotten by on writing music that Periphery wants to write. We’re just incredibly lucky that people have latched onto what we are doing. I think there is a certain lightheartedness even amongst the really heavy stuff that perhaps is less intimidating than some metal out there. We always try to pack as much melodic interest into our songs as we can.
Really, it will be cool to see how people react to Juggernaut. On the one hand, there is some stuff that is kind of poppy-er sounding, especially a couple of the choruses in Alpha are really quite poppy. It’s not because we are going for that sound, but it’s because that is what we felt was appropriate and wanted to hear then. Of course, there are some songs that are just extremely uncommercial, songs that are long and extremely heavy and are really lacking in sugary, melodic content. It’s very interesting, so far. It’s been very cool if it can serve as some kind of gateway for the larger community of metal people. It’s pretty amazing to think of the things that we can do.
What are the long-term goals of the band?
That’s a tough one. I think everyone in the band is amazed that we were able to make it as far as we have and every day is a blessing at this point. As far as we’re concerned, I think it would be amazing just to get to the next record and be able to do it all over again. We’re just so thankful for our fans supporting us, purchasing our record and coming to see us live. That enables us to keep doing what we love, so it’s really just going to depend on what happens with this album. That’s the main thing, but personally, I’d like to see a bit more of the world if I can, do a bit more international touring. I’d be extremely happy.
Periphery will perform with Nothing More and Wovenwar at Irving Plaza in New York City on Feb. 12 and District N9NE in Philadelphia on Feb. 14. Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega are available now through Sumerian Records. For more information, go to periphery.net.