Five-piece Stealing Axion made their first steps into the musical world when they formed in 2009 and crafted a self-released debut EP by the start of 2010. It gained them praise in all corners of the internet; from nit-picking ‘djenty’ forums to technical guitar-loving sites. They must have been doing something right, because by the end of 2011, the progressive metallers were signing to Century Media/InsideOut. Now, after acquiring the production and mastering skills of TesseracT’s Acle Kahney, the Pacific, North West act have a debut full-length on the way and a UK tour to boot. SoundShock caught up with guitarist and vocalist Dan Forbrich to find out more on the budding band.
Going back to the very beginning, how did Stealing Axion form? What were your mentalities/goals at the start and how do they differ from now? (if they differ at all).
We formed in 2009 when all of us were finishing up school and whatnot. Our goals were to take all the elements that we love in music and combine them in our own unique way to make music that we loved to listen to. I feel our goals are the same now, but we have learned new things along the way that we can’t wait to implement in our music in the future.
You got the call from Acle Kahney (Tesseract) about producing, mixing and mastering the album. What did he say? And how significant has his impact been on the recording process?
Acle got in touch with us as we were finishing up the recording process of Moments. We were very excited to work with him as we love his music and his mixing/mastering work. His impact on the quality of the mix was great, as he totally reworked it from the raw audio that we had tracked.
We must congratulate you on signing to InsideOut/Century of course. How does it feel to be on the same label that’s hosted the likes of Devin Townsend, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Paradise Lost, Napalm Death and In Flames?
Thank you! It’s pretty incredible being among the ranks of many of our all-time favourite bands, including the ones you mentioned. It gives us a lot of motivation to push ourselves and become a part of this scene that we grew up loving.
Djent; it’s a word more than anything, but it’s become a significant one for describing a new age of technical progressive and math-influenced acts. Do you relate to the term at all?
Sure, we definitely can’t deny the community surrounding djent. Like you said, it’s become a way to kind of lump bands with certain sonic qualities together. One thing I’ve noticed lately is a lot of debating on Youtube and whatnot about whether bands are considered djent or not, which is pretty cool in a way since that implies that there is a lot of diversity in the community.
Are there any bands you’re particularly impressed with at the moment?
I’ve been listening to the new albums by Periphery, Meshuggah, The Safety Fire, The Flower Kings, and Arjen Lucassen to name a few. Also, one of our home-town favourites The Mothership is totally awesome and we’ve been digging their album/live performances lately.
Do you assess yourselves as part of a wider musical movement or is this something that hasn’t crossed your mind?
When we finished recording ‘Moments’ we were curious as to where we’d be ’placed’ genre-wise since we touched on a lot of different styles on the album. I’m not sure where we’ve really ended up, to be honest! I do like seeing the different ways people have been categorising us though, it’s pretty cool.
You’ve stated that you like to keep room for interpretation when it comes to lyrics and I think that’s important in part of the listener’s subjective experience and feeling towards the artistic product that is an album. Where does the inspiration come from? And how do you tap into this and make your concepts appeal to a wider audience?
Totally agree with you on that one. What we wanted to do was, while having a centralized concept for the album, we also wanted to allow each song to stand on its own individually as its own small separate story. The interpretation comes into play when you assemble these stories into a bigger picture. The inspiration for this idea stemmed from concept albums in general (like the works of Pink Floyd) but we wanted to add our own twist.
With ‘Moments’, there’s a vast array of ideas on offer. Thematically, there’s a great sadness to ‘It’s Too Late Now’, where did the inspiration for this song come from?
When we were coming up with lyrics to this song, we wanted to contrast them with the music. Lyrically, it’s about the realization that things are sometimes out of your control, and acting on what time you have left rather than hoping things will just get better on their own. Musically the song kind of builds feelings of hope, but returns to the reality and sadness of the topic.
Musically, Stealing Axion works with some quirky time signatures and unique compositional structures. How do Stealing Axion lay the foundations for a song and develop it? Does this vary or do you have a consistent method?
It varies a lot from song to song. Sometimes we start with drums, guitar riffs, a bass line. It all depends on what just gets stuck in our head at a particular time. Phil, Josh, and I all write for the band and we all write very differently which in an environment we like to work in.
In regards to the album’s release, Moments will be distributed with a bundle of things including a Stealing Axion t-shirt. Do you think packages like this are the way forward for the industry to combat illegal downloading and falling profits? Also, what do we get as part of the package?
There are two different pre-order packages, one is just the cd and one comes with a T-Shirt (designed by Phil based on the album cover) in a bundle. I think bundle packages are definitely an incentive to purchase the music; you can’t download a shirt after all.
Now for a bit of fun! If you had your own festival, which bands would you get to headline it? You can have four or five!
Oh boy… Probably a dream line-up would be Strapping Young Lad, Porcupine Tree, Meshuggah, Yes and King Crimson! It would be an interesting show for sure.
So, the tour with Jeff Loomis, Monuments and Vildhjarta begins on 17th October and hits the UK on the 21st in Brighton. Looking forward to the tour? What will be the Stealing Axion essentials on the bus for the tour?
We are really excited to tour with all our friends in these bands. We are big fans and it’ll be a lot of fun for sure. We plan on travelling VERY light, but we have to have our baby wipes… gold bond… bottled water and sleeping pills. We can get through just about any situation with those things.
‘Moments’ is out 27th August on InsideOut/Century.
Interview by Calum Robson.