"All About The Album - 15 Questions" - a brand new section at the RockUnited site where any recording artist with an recently released CD is confronted with standard questions (15 of them, duh!). If you'd like to have your material up here, email: urban "at" rockunited.com (simply replace "at" with your standard @ )
TETRAFUSION: "Altered State"
TETRAFUSION, it's a fusion of terta? Well, "Altered State" has elements of both Progressive Rock and fusion, while there's mere hints of straight rock arrangements and the modern ditto of Muse. Now signed to Nightmare Records, the U.S. of A, Louisiana, based band has added vocals provided by keyboardist Gary Tubbs to their compositions (their self-released debut "Absolute Zero", all instrumental). Here to provide with more details about the album, bassist, Mr. MARK MICHELL...
How has the reaction to your latest CD been?
It's been great! I think it was a little tough for some of our fans to be introduced to vocals along with the different direction we took musically, but people into this type of music always adore change and artist progression, so they’ve all respected what we decided to do. Another thing with progressive albums is that you really don't see the true reaction until many months later after it soaks in with everyone, as opposed to a pop album where people can appreciate it on the first listen. So, we’ll see how it continues.
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
We started in August of 2009 and finished around March of 2010. This is really a super busy time in our lives as far as the four of us go, so we really couldn't commit to the whole "blocking a whole month out" for recording the album. It was pushed to weekends mostly, but it was sort of a good thing as we all could really take our time without being in a rush. It gave us a lot of time to really let things marinate, which in retrospect I think we all needed considering how different of an album this was from our previous one.
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?
Honestly, we really didn’t have any expectations. We really trusted our engineer and let him really make the decisions on the production for a lot of the album. Our first album was a little "thin" in places, mainly because we didn't use cabs in the studio or many overdubs, and it had a really digital, thin feel especially in the guitars. On this album we used a lot of layering, acoustic guitars, and made sure the orchestrations were really lending to the production, if you will.
What kind of input did the producer have during the process?
We had no producer for this album aside our engineer being an occasional 'outside ear' during the recording process. We had the entire album written prior to entering the studio, so he really only gave input on how things were recorded. He's very knowledgeable and suggested us try things a little differently, as we did to him, so it turned out to be a learning process for both of us.
And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
It's a huge step up from our last album and is right up there with most commercial releases for sure, and we're very pleased. The main problem on our first album was the drums... they were recorded in, like, three to four different sessions (as well as everything else), so the songs sound very inconsistent. We really wanted to avoid that this time, so we spent a ton of time on the drums and they turned out sounding probably the best out of anything. We also had purchased mostly all new gear, so the instrumentation quality was top-notch this go-round, and you can certainly tell. The only negative feedback we’ve really gotten is how the album lacks a tad bit of "punch" and volume. Our engineer rolled off of the compression a bit and gave the album a slightly more "organic" feel, which resulted in the music having a lot of dynamic range. Some metal albums these days, the soft parts are still super loud and sound a bit boxy, and we wanted the mellow parts to have some breathing room and depth. This album had a large mellow side to it, so it worked out well.
Did the producer (you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
Our engineer always records with one shoe on and one shoe off, and we feel it's a vital element to the recording process. Other than this, we were pretty traditional with everything to be honest.
How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound' in the studio, or perhaps you didn't
I don't think our live sound was really a factor into how we recorded. However, and I guess this isn’t really uncommon or anything, but instead of making shortcuts or using different amps in the studio from what we normally use, we made an effort to use the exact live settings and equipment choices when recording so that when we do tour for this album, we're really familiar with the feel and sound on stage and don't have to do too much preparation outside of exclusive tweaking venue to venue.
Please inform us about your favourite songs and lyrical highlights and why?
Our biggest goal for this album was to make each song totally different from the next, and I think we fully achieved that. That being said, each member's favorite song is different and any feedback from fans we've gotten is the same way. We really aimed to appeal to a lot of different listeners. Personally, my favorite song is "Monologue", especially lyrically. We'll be releasing our first, high-budget official music video to this song very soon and filming this gave me a whole new appreciation for it. The video has a great mix of elements, from band footage to a full cinematic plot told by the lyrics. Seeing the actor and actress interact with the story when we filmed this really brought it to life.
Any overall theme of mood that you're trying to capture while writing songs?
Not to keep going back to our first album so many times, but being that it was instrumental, we really focused on trying to set the mood with the music and make just as much of an impact as a song would have if it had lyrics. I feel we really captured that trait in our sound and much of that carried over to this album. Although the songs have vocals, I think instrumentally the songs would really underline the tone and mood of the song standalone.
Does your vision for coming up with music get affected at all by time?
No, we're never really in a rush or anything.
Did the record company interfere with anything on your "sound" and songs?
Not at all. We had the entire album written and recorded before we signed with them. I'd say we stand out a tad compared to some of the other bands on the roster who have a more power metal feel, and we're a little more "out there" and experimental, if you will. We still fit in nicely, I'd say, so future albums should be no different.
Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?
During the very first rhythm guitar sessions back in August of 2009, we had a few tubes literally explode while recording and they happened to do so while I had my face behind the amp tweaking settings (a few inches away). It was pretty unexpected. That's about it, really. We're boring, I know.
How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?
I hate using artist comparisons because everyone will jump down your throat these days, so I'll refrain from it. To be to the point, we're a heavier rock/metal band with a very progressive approach from a composition/songwriting aspect. We don't really "wanky wank" with guitar solos or have crazy ridiculous sections too much, though occasionally. We have a really, really diverse difference between each song on the album and we truly feel we can appeal to almost anyone on some part of the album.
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
Our influences are very, very widespread which results in us producing a really diverse blend of material. The one thing we really have in common is that we all grew up with a really solid jazz background. We played in the high school jazz band together for years, and before that we were involved in something of that nature as well. Brooks, JC and I listen to a lot of metal and our tastes have become heavier and heavier these days, but Gary is pretty far out there, listening to bands like Cake and a ton of other stuff you really wouldn't expect. I don't think he's ever listened to a metal album once tobe entirely honest besides what we try and show him. He's into chill, light rock and electronic as far as I know.
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
We really appreciate the interview here at RockUnited and hope everyone has learned a little about us here at Tetrafusion, definitely shoot us a listen. Biggest upcoming news we have is that we'll be releasing our music video pretty soon, so stop by any of our pages (Facebook, Twitter, whatever) and look out for the update. Thanks for
Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,