Formed by ex and current members of Frost*, Pain Of Salvation and Threshold, this cinematic new project are destined for good things.
Putting a band together should be undemanding. Simply call a few contacts with a comparable musical mindset, write, record and then release. But for Audioplastik, their debut album has been years in the making, with band name and personnel changes a constant hindrance. Originally a partnership between former Darwin’s Radio and Frost* singer Dec Burke and ex-Pain Of Salvation bassist Simon Andersson, the stuttering progress caused countless problems as Burke explains.“All I wanted was to put a new prog group together and work with musicians that I admired,” says Burke, laughing at the theoretical simplicity. “A drummer who for a long time I’d thought was great is Collin Leijenaar who played with Neal Morse’s band. So I contacted him, he was interested and said, ‘Great, let’s do it’. Kristoffer Gildenlöw also came in with Mark Westworth who used to play with me in Darwin’s Radio.
“At the time Simon and I were writing songs separately and when the new band came together we needed to start thinking about the music and the direction. So it was a case of, ‘Well, actually guys, Simon and I have got some songs that we’ve been writing’, and we put them forward. There was a lot of talking about which direction we should go in and I guess it’s the old adage of maybe too many cooks in the kitchen.”
For all those internal ruminations over their ultimate musical bearing, Burke and Andersson had developed a firm writing partnership, with the fresh combination of heavier riffs and poppier vocals speedily leading to a raft of songs being created in only a few weeks. Given that strong identity, it was apparent that this didn’t match the musical aspirations of the other members, who would eventually leave the project.
“It just happened so naturally,” says Andersson. “In the beginning, we didn’t know what to do and just tried to write something different. We noticed pretty quickly that we could write music very fast and in an easy way. Once we got the first song going, the rest just came out. We’ve found a great way of working together and Dec seems to prefer getting a complete song from me, for him to work on with the melodies and vocals. I’m really bad at melodies, so that makes us work very well together. It’s very strange and it has never worked that way for me before, especially when Dec is a person that I’ve been listening to and look up to. When I was listening to the Frost* stuff I was thinking it would be really cool to be in a band with the singer and all of a sudden here we are.”
“The frameworks of the songs that Simon emailed to me are heavier than I would write and a lot of bands would probably put a particular vocal style on that,” adds Burke. “I thought it would be great to keep the really heavy elements of the song but with a lighter vocal style. That makes it a bit different and more interesting than the more standard, growly vocal, which I can’t do anyway. We both have a love for cinematic music, people like Hans Zimmer, and we’re very influenced by the emotion in that music, so that has crept into the sound as well.”
Andy Edwards (Frost*) was recruited to record the drums, but once again musical differences ensured that his place in the band was only a temporary one. However, Richard West was invited to join on keyboards, and they decided to forge ahead as a trio. By that time, the band had gone though several names, notably Alpha Flood and Breaking Sky, but with each alteration to the line-up, Burke felt that a change to their moniker was the only way to ensure they had a firm identity and lost what he describes as unwanted “band baggage”. With the music in place, Burke was keen to ensure that the lyrics were equally forceful, even if he admits that he finds the process somewhat arduous. The result was a theme centered on the madness of the main character, a theme that runs through each of the songs on In The Head Of A Maniac.
“I do struggle with lyrics and wonder what I’m going to talk about,” admits Burke. “I guess it’s something that has fallen in my lap because I’m the singer. Simon would send me a track through and I would go for a walk, listen through the song a few times and it would suggest to me an idea. When I start writing lyrics, they come very quickly once I have that idea. I wanted there to be some sort of thread that ran through all the songs, even if each of the songs in themselves are a complete story. It wasn’t until we were scratching our heads as to what we could call the album that Simon’s fiancée came up with a title. I thought that we could hint that all of these different stories being told by a person in different stages of being a bit off his rocker.”
Despite the convoluted manner of the album’s creation, the band reveal that they’ve already written around half of a follow-up, and although they’re keen to involve West in the process they admit that they’re nervous of altering the formula.
“Richard is very important in the band,” says Andersson. “He’s not as involved in the writing so we could give him the songs and he gives us his input, good or bad. So far every point he has made has been right. So that’s also part of the formula. It could be good or bad to change that but as we have been through a lot over the last few years, we don’t want to mess with it too much. We’re also trying to find a way for us to turn this into a live band.”
In The Head Of A Maniac is out now on Bad Elephant. See www.audioplastik.com for more info.