What made you work with Julius ‘Juice’ Butty on production again?
We used him for the recording of Kezia [and] we fell in love with the guy, so it was a very easy decision to go with him again for this record. Vocally, he’s a genius and I look up to him very much. I do a lot weirder stuff on this record that’s very in the vein of Mike Patton, and he’s very much a Patton fan himself. Whereas, the guys I was doing the pre-production with were like, ‘Don’t do that—that’s goofy.’ And that’s what made the record. He supported that, and that’s what he does for me: he gives me moral support and helps me do what I want to.
What were your sonic influences this time around?
We were listening to a lot of Aeon, Blotted Science, Spastic Ink—Mike Portnoy [drummer, Dream Theater] actually wrote a really a nice blog on it and pretty much nailed all of our influences. He said, “with a little bit of Dream Theater thrown in the mix to level things out,” and he’s absolutely right.
As far as lyrics go, is there a conceptual thread to the album as a whole?
It’s definitely not as stringent as the last one, but there [are] cohesive themes that run throughout. It’s basically a look at the past, present and future; archaic battles and predictions of future battles.
What does the title mean to the lyrical themes?
Arif, our bass player, wrote all the lyrics, and I think he just loves smoking weed and doing mushrooms, so to me, that’s what it means. That’s sort of where influence lies in our musical decisions. (laughs) [Arif speaks inaudibly in the background, Rody translates:] He said, aesthetically it represents these songs very well; it’s brutal, tough, cold-hearted rock & roll. (laughs).
But in the way Kezia has a streamlined theme influenced by Dostoyevsky books, how does that correlate with the influences on Fortress?
It is still very literature-based, with all the ideas of goddess worship and doing away with these hyper-masculine ideas in the style of Robert Graves, so there is this pseudo- intellectual idea going on, but I think we just got so many questions regarding the last one, like kids coming up having printed out the lyrics and asking us to dissect them, that it became very daunting speaking to the fans. And as much as we appreciated all the thought they put into it, it became very redundant to us, so we tried our best to not over-intellectualize anything, and [instead] make it about dragons because I love dragons. (laughs) Luke and I [wanted] a party song, something like Every Time I Die where we can drink, fuck and fight to it, and [Arif] wrote ‘The Dissentience,’ which is pretty much about smoking weed. In a very complex, cryptic way, [we] wrote a party song.
Does that mean there’s no underlying message like there was on the last?
There is an underlying message. We went back to the idea of the misogyny that exists within this industry. You see girls in bands and everyone automatically assumes that it’s something stupid and it’s a ridiculous glass ceiling that we’ve built, so it’s definitely a subject that we touch upon frequently, cuz it’s so relevant to us in our daily lives. Also goddesses are way more bad ass than gods.
As guys, how do you deal with it in your everyday lives?
There’s no way to avoid the innate misogyny that occurs with having a fucking penis hanging between your legs, but we try our best to bring down that hyper male image. You see all these metalcore bands that come out and rip their shirts off and produce this image of macho nonsense and it’s so dumb. They wax their chests and look really stupid, and we’re all about growing our chest hair out and not exposing it.
So what’s it like being back out on the road after taking a break to write your record?
It’s good; it’s a weird symbiotic relationship because you’re on the road and you want to be home, and when you’re home you want to be on the road and you just go stir crazy wherever you are. It’s gonna be a long, grueling couple of months. We expect to get booed off the stage every night. But I’m not worried about it cuz I get to get drunk and dance my brain away. Dancing is my life, and I’m living life with Derek. (laughs)