Since Prog readers voted Synaesthesia as the band to watch in 2014, and following the release of their eponymous debut album, they have undergone quite a transformation. There has been a name change to Kyros, a departure from their record label, a decision to self-manage and a new guitarist to embrace into their sound. Seemingly, the band’s frontman and original leader Adam Warne has been a rather busy chap.
“Yes, it’s been interesting,” he laughs. “Basically, the band is a completely different set-up to how it used to be back then. When we were releasing the first album, it was essentially just me and two other guitarists who I was working with at the time. It was very much a studio project, but it was always my intention to go ahead and turn it into a band because I wanted to perform the music live. At the end of the recordings for the first album, I made it a mission to go ahead and put a band together, and to cut a long story short, the band is now here. I always felt that the name Synaesthesia was heavily tied to that studio project and the direction we were heading in with this album was exploring new ground. There are also quite a few other bands and projects online called Synaesthesia, which made it quite difficult for us, and that had started to get in the way. So, we thought that it felt right to change the name, make a fresh start and treat this as a new beginning.”
Enforced moniker changes aside, Kyros have also lost their original guitarist Ollie Hannifan, who left to complete a world tour as part of the Mamma Mia stage show. His replacement is Joey Frevola, who was one of the countless online auditionees all vying for a place in the band. However, Frevola’s ambitious submission ensured that he was instantly noticed by Warne.“
We opened up auditions online and received many applicants, with people sending in videos of themselves covering songs on the first album,” explains Warne. “One of those was Joey Frevola and he sent in a demo of him covering the whole of Time, Tension & Intervention, the 22-minute song on our first album. There wasn’t a single note missing and it was absolutely perfect, so we knew he really meant business. Unfortunately, he lived in America, but he was so determined to join up with us that he got himself over here.”
“Joey has brought a whole new energy to us,” adds drummer Robin Johnson. “He has a quirky writing style and gives us a new dimension. He’s more metal orientated and a result, there’s more metal in this album than the last one, but he’s also great at the subtle stuff. It has really expanded the band’s vocabulary.”
The band’s new album, Vox Humana, ably showcases that musical variety and dexterity. There are flashes of neo-prog and progressive metal, and Kyros have even involved Haken drummer Raymond Hearne, who arranged a brass section for some of the tracks. Superficially at least, such potentially conflicting influences could result in an unruly amalgam of combating sound, but the band have taken over five years to ensure that the final album embraces all those approaches so there’s a cohesive and endearing form. Unlike many bands who struggle for years to complete an album, the sheer wealth of material gathered during the writing phase ensured that Vox Humana would eventually extend over two discs.
“We were incredibly lucky with the writing,” says Johnson. “Everyone was throwing out these ideas and probably about 90 per cent of what was written by us made it onto the final album. Everything was of a good standard. We considered cutting things, but everything had a place and we’ve made it into a double album. Also, we’re all open-minded, willing to try things out and listen to other people’s ideas. I think if you have that kind of attitude, it’s a hugely positive thing. There are always disagreements in any creative process, but we never take things personally, which is very important. We respect each other as people and musicians and there are no egos.”
“Because of the vast array of influences for us all, ranging from electronic dance music, RnB, all the way through to progressive metal and everything in between, it’s a huge melting pot,” adds Warne. “So the result was a lot of material, but we treated that as a blessing. We worked together to make sure the pieces of music linked well together, that it was cohesive and that ultimately formed what is now the album. We decided to make it a double album, but that wasn’t out of necessity as it’s quite a short double album. But because of the concept, we felt it was appropriate to divide each half into separate discs. It was just a little bit over what you could put on a single CD and just enough to put on two discs.”
The concept to which Warne refers is a futuristic tale that Coheed And Cambria would be rightfully proud of. The lyrics recount the tale of a social outcast who decides to relocate to the wilderness in order to build a flawless robotic companion. At times, it’s a multilayered story and Warne attempts to provide a neat summary of the plot.
“Basically, this guy grows up quite obsessed with technology and he has never fitted into society and that’s where the first few songs on the first disc come from,” he says. “He’s someone who spent time alone in his room playing videogames and experimenting by building things. He eventually grows up still not being able to relate to society, so he leaves the city with a backpack with all his belongings, runs away from home and finds a shack in the middle of a field. He thinks he wants to build what he feels would be the perfect companion as he had never had anyone who he felt was a true friend.
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“The second disc is told from the perspective of the android and we learn how he’s given a soul and a mind, and how he’s exploring these new feelings. Eventually he grows to realise that he was made as this supposed perfect human and he begins to wonder what’s wrong with other humans and notices this city in the distance. This creation runs away to the city and realises he’s the same as everyone else. And to cut a long story short, he ends up switching himself off after a long period of turmoil.”
With such a dominant concept and a musical backdrop that’s equally powerful, Kyros could easily make a breakthrough with this album. It’s therefore somewhat surprising that the band have opted to leave the GEP label in order to self-release the album, and have also taken the bold decision to manage themselves. Yet speaking to Warne, even if he doesn’t ever express it, there’s clearly an inner confidence that the band are just as capable of looking after the business aspect as they are at creating lush music. You also suspect that they’re fully aware of the album’s strength and potential, and that they see traditional record labels as being endangered entities.
“There were a few creative differences with GEP, so unfortunately we had to leave them with the greatest regret,” he reveals. “It was an amicable split and there was no bad blood but there was a differing of creative approaches and we were constantly hitting a brick wall, so we decided it was simpler to part ways. We’ve set up our own label and for all the work that has gone into the new album, it has been a matter of taking care of the business side. But it has allowed us to make some controversial decisions with the music and we believe the end result is much better. It’s a lot of work managing ourselves, but we have a hell of a lot more freedom and we can do what we want in terms of how to allocate time and budget.
“Personally, I believe that this should be where the music industry goes and that there’s not necessarily a need for labels any more. The whole Marillion approach has been a huge influence on us and I’ve been studying their approach quite carefully. When we were about to go on tour with Spock’s Beard last year, we put together an EP of demos from the first album, as well as three demos from this album, which was promoted as a limited-edition fundraiser. That sold well and we made a lot of funds to put towards the album. We also opened up pre-orders and a single release, which has eased things.”
Even before the release of Vox Humana, the band have already started writing their next album, and there are detailed plans for a joint headlining North American and European tour. Watch this space…
Vox Humana is out now on KMG. For more information, visit www.kyrosmusic.com.