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“We can do whatever we want. It just has to sound good to us” – Watkykjy interviews progressive metal band, Periphery

In Watkykjy Interviews deur griffinRek jou bek

One of South Africa’s biggest anticipated annual metal festivals, Krank`d Up is just around the corner – this coming Saturday at Sundowners in Alberton, in fact. Do yourself a massive favour and get your ticket right now for this amazing one-day metal show. Progressive metal band, Periphery is one of the international acts who will be taking the stage, all they way from Washington, D.C. We asked Watkykjy’s in-house metal doctor and all-round wiseguy, Chris Van Der Walt to have a few words with guitarist and founder, Misha Mansoor…

Have any of you guys ever been to South Africa or what do you expect from South Africa for this Krank’d Up fest?
So… this is kind of interesting. I didn’t live in South Africa vut I did live in Zimbabwe for a few years. I was in Harare and we drove down to Joburg a few times. So I’ve definitely been in Southern Africa before.

Awesome. Your feet have touched the soil so that’s pretty cool.
Yeah well actually my parents are also both from Mauritius so I’ve been in that part of the world many times.

The album, Periphery 3: Select Difficulty – it is an amazing album. Its been melting my brain ever since I’ve listened to it. The title, Select Difficulty – I mean that’s kinda hinting at like games and stuff like that. Where does the title come from?
Honestly, we were throwing around sub-titles and this one stuck and we liked it. We’re all gamers and we do this sub-title thing as like a tongue in cheek thing. We definitely wouldn’t want to have like a serious or an entirely serious sub-title because it then just kind of misses the point.

I mean if you check the video, Marigold as well, even the way that it is animated – it does have friendly or fun side of feel to it as well.
So that director who did that, Wes Richardson who directed the last three videos that we’ve done – he at this point kind of understands us so he’ll periodically just send us treatments for videos and I think… if you haven’t seen it, he did the Scarlet video and that one was sort of the one that galvanized this sense of what we’re after and I think in his mind when he was was proposing videos to us he had a bunch of really cool video ideas and they all sounded great and then he saved for The End of The Call and this one is a little bit left field and he said “just let me explain and hear me out and tell me it is crazy and we’ll just do one of the other ones” . But that was the idea for Scarlet – it was an epic battle between mustard and ketchup and it was gonna be filmed on Red cameras and a green screen. We were gonna make it look as epic as possible and it could be completely absurd and everyone in the band was like “Yup, that’s it!” and I think as of then he started to understand our sensibilities a little bit especially the kind of stuff that we like. So when he showed us the treatment for Marigold, again it was like this video-gamey thing. We were like “Alright, well this exactly the kind of stuff we like” and it is also very different from any music videos our peers are putting out so I think it was kind of a win-win in our book.

It is great that you guys have a fun side too. You can’t be serious all the time.
Well, you know, the thing is I think we take our music very seriously which is why with everything else we can have fun with it because the music is the one thing that is sort of sacred, but then everything around it is like “well, now we don’t have to be serious anymore”.

Tell me a little bit about the writing process.
Sure! Periphery is a band of producers and we’re always writing and we always have ideas but we’ve found a system that kind of works well for us to sort of give as as much of a head start at any point without over defining any part of the process before we actually start. I usually tend to oversee the pre-production session and the writing session. Jake will also come over here as well because we’re sort of the core writing team for the guitars. We’ll just get those riffs downs on programs and I’ll produce it as best as I can and have a few cohesive ideas. They’re not arrangements but they are ideas that work well together. Then we’ll get Matt and Spencer to come in and they’ll be there for the actual arrangement because something that we maybe thought would be the verse, Spenser would listen and go “No-no-no, this is the verse. This is the chorus”. He’ll be thinking of ideas of what each part is and that will affect how we arrange the song. Matt and I are pretty much on the same level of the kind of drums that we like so we’ll usually be on the same wavelength but you always have some changes that generally improve things. Everyone just kind of chips away at their parts and its a very valuable process. Although it starts with sort of one or two people it eventually becomes a process where everyone has input and anyone can have input on anything. We’ve been careful in not identifying problems, but identifying solutions. I think Periphery 3 was a very fun and easy album for the first time. Every other album has been very stressful at times. Because we’ve really figured out this dynamic. Instrumentally I think we got everything written and committed in about two weeks and it felt good.
band-photo-peripheryAre there any concepts maybe you as a guitarist tried to approach?
No, we have a very basic concept in Periphery which is “does it sound good?” That’s the only rule. We can do whatever we want. It just has to sound good to us. And by us, it means the band, haha! Label, management, everyone on our team – they hear the album when it is finished and mastered.

The album is a really nice balance between heaviness and melody. It kind of gets away from the monotony, I guess?
We like all aspects. There is no one way to skin this cat. We like to have a lot of fun and we really don’t ever want to find ourselves in a position where we’re saying something like “Yeah, its cool but I think its too metal or its too rock or the fans won’t like this”. We don’t care about that at all. We are extremely grateful to the fans who support us and listen to us because we know we write our music extremely selfishly. It is always a pleasant surprise to have people like it because it was not written with anyone in mind. They only people we are aiming to please are ourselves as a band.

Because you guys are going to play these songs night after night and if you’re not enjoying what you’re playing its gonna really suck.
Honestly that’s the kind of thinking that will eventually make me go “You know, that’s not worth it. I don’t wanna be in a band anymore”. We have this as our vehicle of self expression. We have to be excited about these songs. It has to be stuff we believe in. None of us really care about being successful or commercially successful, I mean we play progressive metal for God’s sake! Its not money making music and we’re not trying to make money with it. We’re just trying to have some fun.

Misha, you do some MIDI triggering live. On this album, do you use that kind of stuff as well?
Triggering maybe a bit of a misnomer making people believe we’re doing things that we’re not. We have our laptops doing all of our patch switching. We use this thing called the Fractal Axe effects which is basically an amp effects simulator, so rather than having a huge guitar rig with a rack full of effects we’ve just got this tiny little black box which for example, we can very easily pack into a suitcase and travel to South Africa, haha! It is very convenient and one thing that we discovered we could do pretty early on, rather than switching with a foot switch or a controller, we could actually have the laptop send those signals to the Axe Effects instead. So we could just concentrate on playing. Our drummer plays to a click. We all in fact play to a click with in-ears and we all have the click track going and our own personal mix is going. So as long as we all stay on the click track (which is generally not a problem) all of our changes lock in. And we’re wireless – wire guitars, wireless in-ears so we can literally be standing anywhere on the stage and our patch changes will happen so it gives us a bit more freedom to worry about the show rather than being locked into some position.
misha-monsoor-peripheryNolly is not touring with you guys anymore. He’s still helping out with the tracks. What is his role? How is that dynamic? 
That’s a fair question. Nolly recently got married and with all the visa trouble its become extremely complicate for him to tour at all. This visa stuff has always been a nightmare with him but with him getting married it just became near impossible and we could also tell that he wasn’t enjoying touring as much. You know, he doesn’t complain so we talked to him about it and… touring is hard. It is not for everyone. He would do a good job, but we could see that he just wasn’t happy. He us such an essential member of the band in every other aspect  that we all were hoping that he wasn’t quitting. We got all our dynamics figured out and he is such a huge part of the production and the engineering and the mixing process that it is something that we just didn’t want to lose and it would really shake the band if he left and he is completely willing to be as dedicated in every aspect there. He just doesn’t want to tour anymore. He has a very unique bass tone which he developed for Periphery. Him and I have worked on it for years. He plays the bass unlike anyone else and it is not very traditional and we figured the best way to have our live sound not to be affected negatively is for him to prepare tracks and we’ll put him on the backing track. So he’ll be there in spirit and we experimented with it and it sounded great in the in-ears and the most important thing is that we sound correct. For the time being this is the way we’re gonna move forward to ensure that our live shows sound as good as it can be.

I see your Periphery Summer Camp is coming up. What is that all about?
We’ve been doing meet and greets and VIP things with the fans for years and we always try and make them more of a hangout session and a bit more personal. Just as much as our fans want to get to know us, we want to get to know them as well and we ended up finding that we have a lot in common. They’re actually really fun. Matt has done a few of these drum camp things and they were thinking “Periphery should come and do one” and we talked about it in the band and it just made a lot of sense. If I’m honest, I was a bit apprehensive that anyone would show up bit it probably sold double of what I was hoping for to the point now where I think we’re gonna have to like, cap it off soon because you almost don’t want to have too many people there because it is a personal experience, but its been a very big success sales wise. We have a whole bunch of stuff planned from anything from the musician nerd stuff, the recording stuff, the writing stuff to just hanging out and having a good time. So it should be equal parts educational and fun. We have a lot stuff planned for this camp spanning 4 or 5 days in up-state New York. It is a little bit geared to the musicians but even if you’re not a musician  we’re gonna make sure you have a good time. Its gonna be a good summer getaway and we all hang out and meet similar minded people. Hopefully it forges some new relationships there as well.

Thanks for talking to us. We’re looking forward to see you guys at Krank’d up in South Africa.
Thank you so much for the interview. Just real quick – I used to know all the Zimbabwean slang. How different is the Zimbabwean slang from South Africa? We used to call everyone “my china”

My china, my bra, howzit, lekker… So if you know some of those you’ll fit it
I used to know all that stuff.  I never learned Afrikaans, but I had a lot of friends who spoke Afrikaans…

Just stick to slang, its good enough, man. 
I like it! Lekker!

Deel met jou tjommies!

    griffin“We can do whatever we want. It just has to sound good to us” – Watkykjy interviews progressive metal band, Periphery
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      Blood Brothers 2016: Waar was julle?

      In Watkykjy Reviews deur RolbeesRek jou bek

      Wees nou eerlik, toe? Julle kon nie wag vir Watkykjy se blow-by-blow account van die Blood Brothers en Sister show in Spanner Valley so week of wat terug nie, nê? Ja, ons weet. Goeie goed vat lank, is gewoonlik vêr van die beskawing en zef. En meer zef as Carnival City gaan jy sukkel om te kry. Soos Kobus “benevolent Charles Manson met ‘n groot hart” de Kock Jnr getune het: “Brakpan. Waar al die mense se addresse met monster stickers begin”. Apparently kan Kobus vlot Brackpans praat. George “ek like broeknaai kwaai” vd Spuy verstaan nie ‘n woord nie. Maar hy maak uit van rock and roll. En obviously geld dit vir die res ook. Ja, ja, ja ons kom nog by die sister. Die line up het redelik dieselfde as verlede jaar gebly. Sir Albert “legend with a Monty Python leg stance” Frost, Rian “vinnige vingers in jou hoendervleis” Zietsman, Loedie ”wê wê ek speel bass met nuwe Cons” Van Reenen, Jason “I’ll UnHinge your ears, bro” Hinch, Hunter “I’m so excited to be here. No, really I am, so excited,to be here” Kennedy, Francois van Skouspel en Isaac “slaan dromme met ‘n stywe oog” Klawansky was weer op hulle pos.  Maar niks kon ons voorberei vir Zolani “shake that zexy booty” Mohale nie. Damn Bokkie! Watkykjy gee jou ‘n kollektiewe gesinkroniseerde onderlyf saluut. Sweeeeing! Sweeeing!

      Voor dit klink asof ons die enigste diva in die show eensydig voortrek op grond van haar geslag, consider this… wat? George? Oooo ja, hy is ook ‘n diva… my bad. Waar was ek nou weer? Consider this – Blood Brothers is ‘n team effort en net omdat ‘n cross-over artist ons kom wys het waar Dingaan die rock and roll wortels begrawe het beteken dit nie die res is chopped liver nie. Far from it. Alhoewel ons nie sekere broeders se lewers wou wees na daai aand nie. Of die crowd s’n for that matter nie. Jagermeister sponsor seker nie lewerpille ook nie? It’s all in the name of rock and roll, ek sê! En vir Herman. En vir almal wie se paaie al met kanker gekruis het. Fok fokken kanker!

      Daar was absoluut geen tekort aan professionaliteit nie. Ons joke net, Hunter, jy was solid bra. Nou net nie ‘n bondeltjie vreugde nie, maar solid. Ons was verbaas om uit te vind Francois kan ook nog rock – al hang hy deesdae te veel uit saam met die verkeerde crowd. Hy het net gesukkel met so een of twee van daai hoë rasperige note. Meng jou met die squares… Maar all in all was dit ‘n befokte performance van almal. Chroniese hoendervleis en nostalgiese towerkuns was volop. As jy dink Zolani se addition tot die line up was befok (omdat jy nie gewoond is daaraan dat ‘n cross over genre artist kan rock and roll nie) dan is ons antwoord: moet dit nie soortvan die norm wees in 2016 nie? Waar is al die rock and roll Zolanis? Waar is die woema? Die soul? Die funk? Daai sexy groove ‘kom ons gaan haal hom in Mississippi en bring dit terug Motherland toe’ vocals? Actually nee, daai gees kom oorspronklik van Afrika af. So just shake it like you wanna! Whoyoyoyoy! Daar kom die hoendervleis alweer. Ons dink net aan daai aand. Whoyoyoyoy! Dis asof ons ‘n orgasme setpil in het wat nooit wou dissolve nie en so elke nou en dan weer inskop as ons rondbeweeg. But there’s no two way threesomes about it – Zolani is ‘n ongelooflike unieke talent. Daar was ‘n genre broeknaai aan die gang op dieselfde vlak as Steven Tyler wat ‘n gat in die muur gebliksem het om by Run-DMC uit te kom in Aerosmith se ‘Walk this Way’ video. Rock and roll needs more of you, Zolani! And more like you!

      Die kombinasie van soul groove ondersteun deur ‘n tight rock band was verfrissend gewees. Dit het Rolbees ‘n traan of tien laat pik ook. Ons kon nie ontslae raak van die hoendervleis nie. Wat was die geskiedkundige uiteinde van die Aerosmith/Run-DMC broeknaai? Wel, dit het die rap en rock vermenging wat al vir ‘n rukkie daai tyd aan die gang was net laat explode – en ongelukkig ook bands soos Limp Bizkit veroorsaak. Kan ons asseblief in ‘n ander rigting as dit gaan? Asseblief? Die Rage Against The Machine tipe energie would be preffered. As julle nog bietjie vasbyt vertel ons julle wat die spul met een van Rage se songs aangevang het. En Led Zeppelin. Julle gaan dit nie glo nie.

      Ok, so al die goed waaroor Ds Rolbees verlede jaar gepreek het na die 2015 show was hierdie jaar gefix. Team Blood Brothers for the win! Ready for more. Behalwe een ding: Waar was julle almal!? Die fans. Daar was ‘n decent crowd maar nie genoeg om die energieke colabs wat hulle vir ons opgedis het tot legendary Wembley level te vat nie. Waar was julle? Het julle die datums opgemix en gedink dis Woodstock daai aand of wat? Dit was ‘n ‘bring terug die Ontugwet sodat ons dit van voor af kan verontagsaam en vernietig’ aand. Middelvingers in die lug! Eish, sorrie Woodstock. Too soon?

      Big H het al weer award winning fotos gaan staan en neem. Julle weet hy doen dit aspris om almal wat nie live gigs bywoon nie jaloers te maak, nê? Big up vir Big H! Hier volg ‘n paar in detail beskrywings van wat julle gemis het, julle misoeste! Julle beter die live streaming video gaan kyk en donate vir die Vrede foundation! Dis immers net die rede vir die hele show gewees. Fok fokken kanker!

      Soos verlede jaar was daar ‘n paar hoekstene wat nou kenmerkend Blood Brothers se offering geword het en dan weer ‘n totale nuwe aanslag wat hierdie jaar ook bygevoeg is. Die Black Cat Bones se tipe genre songs met Kobus of Francois op vocals was weereens ‘n crowd pleaser. Black Sabbath se Paranoid, Black Cat Bones se No-man’s Land, Long Drive en the Dimness sal nooit disappoint nie. Maar twee songs staan uit. Met ‘Some Say You Can See It’ het Kobus die stage in ‘n hele existential seremonie verander. What a rock and roll entertainer is hierdie bra nie. En ‘n character. Kobus Morrison Jnr. So nou en dan het daar ‘n surprise guest op stage verskyn. Meneer Andre Kriel. Just for kicks. Lekker om hom te sien jam saam met Sir Frost. Die cover van Motorhead se Ace of Spades was my favourite. Dit het almal so opgecharge die event kon die hele Brakpan Industrial area se generators laat hardloop met die energie.

      Daar was weereens ‘n paar old favourite Taxi Violence/Goodnight Wembly genre songs. Die Van der Spuy hoeksteen. Untie Yourself, Unholy, Devil and Pistol en The Time Machine. As jy mooi luister kan jy die tunes hoor weergalm in ‘n stampvol FNB Stadium. Dis catchy rock arena materiaal dié. Met 60 000 mense wat saam skree: “Whoooaah the time machine…..” Waar was julle? Waar was julle? George is soos ons, heavy Gen X en sy cover van Pixies se ‘Where is my mind’ (met Zolani wat daai hoë note gooi) was beautifully done. Radiohead se Creep was op dieselfde level en het memories van hoërskool terug gebring!

      Die FokofHuisgenoot/Francois van Skouspel genre was ook weer ‘n belangrike hoeksteen. Ok, ons soek nou weer vir kak – dit was die good stuff ook. Hemel op die Platteland, Ek Skyn Heilig, Antibiotika en Tot die Son Uitkom! Down of fokof! Down of fokof! All hail die gees van Fokofpolisiekar en Francois van Coke met Kobus wat ook ondersteun het op vocals. Die Millenial fans het bosbefok geraak en ken al die kwaad woorde maar elke keer as van die old school songs gecover word dan staan hulle so verdwaald en rondwieg. Weet julle nie wie Stevie Wonder of Pixies is nie, pienkvoete? Google is julle tjommie. En toe vind Francois van Skouspel vir Karen Zulu. Nie maklik om so well-established en volksbekende duet te gaan staan en “crash” nie. Karen Zoid is die queen mother van SA rock musiek whether you like it or not. Maar ‘n great performance van beide Francois van Skouspel en Karen Zulu! Ontug was in die lug! Sing die Ou Ou Lied van Afrika!

      Aaah, een van ons favourite hoekstene was Sir Albert Frost wat hierdie jaar kon spog met songs van sy nuwe meer (briljante) rock orientated album. Tonight en Modern Romance het soos ‘n handskoen gepas. Nie die OJ Simpson tipe nie. Meer soos daai cavity search handskoene. Perfect fit. Eina! Die twee Jack White inspired covers (Seven Nation Army en Cut like a Buffalo) was ook te danke aan Sir Frost. Loedie het daai songs met oorgawe getokkel. Fok, hy was die hele aand op stage. Respek! Veral Seven Nation Army toe beide Jason en Isaac saam op die verhoog was op drums. Poging tot dromstelmoord. Poging tot aanranding met die doel om ‘n bass kitaar ernstig te beseer. Sir Frost is ‘n moerse fan van Jack White maar ek dink hy is ‘n groter fan van Jimi Hendrix want sy version van Voodoo Chile was so hecticly intens en hipnoties, ek wou my pulse check om te kyk of ek nie dalk in die hemel is nie. Jimi het opgestaan uit die dood tydens daai song en langs hom airguitar gestaan en speel. Het julle hom nie gesien nie? Hy het ‘n Blood Brothers t-shirt aangehad. Waar was julle?

      So wat was splinternuut? Zexy Zolani met cute brilletjies en ‘n pink ballerinarokkie. Later so swart rock and roll outfit. Dit het haar so paar songs gevat om op te warm maar toe sy I’d like To Meet You voorstel aan ‘n crowd wat waarskynlik nie almal Freshly Ground op repeat sit nie, het sy ontpop in ‘n kruis tussen Joan Jett en Aretha Franklin. Almal het daai bekende chorus gechant soos Beatles fans in die fifties! Teen die tyd dat sy ‘Shake it’ gedoen kon ek die genre broeknaai duidelik sien. Sir Frost het ingetune op haar unieke energie en die funky licks wat uit sy kitaar ontsnap het was iets totally fresh. Kobus en George het amper nie soos ritmelose white boys gedans nie. Julle was amper per ongeluk James Brown possessed bras! Oeeeeeweeee en daai cover van Stevie Wonder se Signed Sealed Delivered. Is daar pille vir chroniese hoendervleis? Whoyoyo! Waar was julle?

      Ok, so wat was die favourite hoogtepunte van die show? Holy Plant, Jones, Bonham and Page. In die naam van alles wat heilig en rock and roll het hulle cover van Led Zeppelin se ‘Since I’ve been loving you’  ons Nirvana laat beleef. Nie Kurt se pynvolle een nie, alhoewel hulle Smells like Teen Spirit ook gecover het later. Nevermind was presies 25 jaar oud daai Vrydag. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Maar gaan download nou dadelik daai live show en check hoe Albert, Rian, Jason, Loedi en Zolani Led Zeppelin channel. Rolbees luister al daai band van hy ‘n laaitie is en hy sweer hoog en laag dat dit onmootlik is om daai song te cover. Volgens hom is dit een van die kardinale reëls van rock and roll dat jy nie Led Zeppelin cover tensy jy 100% seker is jy kan hulle channel nie. Wat opsigself tegnies onmoontlik is, meen hy. Niemand verstaan nou nog mooi wat gebeur het daai aand nie maar hulle het dit afgepull. Zolani het amazingly ingetap in die blues spirit van die song. Ons verwag nou al die beste van die violin bow strapping Sir Frost maar Jason Hinch en Rian Zietsman moet ook krediet kry hier. John Bonham was ook op stage vir ‘n ruk. Hy het ‘n bottel Jagermeister in die hand gehad en met so selfvoldane smirk gekyk hoe hulle daai song tight justice doen.

      Die powerful theme song wat spesifiek vir die 2016 show geskryf is ‘Ek Sweer Op My Lewe’ het gesorg dat die chroniese hoendervleis nie onderbreek word nie. Wonderlike donker, hartseer (but real) ensemble song daai. En hierdie keer word die boodskap in drie tale oorgedra. Laastens het die cover van Rage Against The Machine se Killing in the Name Of die crowd tot gevaarlike onlusvlakke aangehits. Dit het Rolbees so laat uitfok hy was op ‘n stadium helemaal sonder asem en bang hy gaan net daar omkap voor die stage. What a way to go, really! Waar was julle?

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        RolbeesBlood Brothers 2016: Waar was julle?