As Black Fast put it, they play “blistering, bludgeoning, no-holds-barred metal.” Well, we couldn’t agree more as the 9 tracks on their Erik Rutan-produced eOne Music debut, Terms of Surrender, is a wicked mix somewhere in the vicinity of progressive, blackened thrash metal. The St. Louis, Missouri quartet are dropping the aforementioned album on August 7, 2015 and as such, we nabbed some time via email with frontman Aaron Akin to get to know the group a bit better.
For those not familiar with your band can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Akin: We met in ’07 or ’08, became friends, started jamming together and played our first real gig in 2010. It’s been us four since day one. Ryan is a better guitar player than me and writes a bunch of the riffs, but he plays bass in the band, I only started singing because I didn’t want to find a lead singer, Ross had a toothache one night so he pulled it out on his own, and Trevor has perfect penmanship.
Your new disc, Terms of Surrender, has just been released. Now that it is complete how do you feel about it, and what has been the response so far?
Akin: I stayed away from it for a few weeks after we approved the mixes and masters. The recording process can be long, tedious, a lot of fun, and ultimately very rewarding, but when it’s all you hear day in and day out while you’re working, it’s good to get some distance for perspective. In our case, we had months of pre-production sessions and rehearsals on these songs beforehand, but still you’re never 100% prepared for entering the studio.
I was excited, I was confident in the songs, and wanted to make a statement. Now, after having some time to chew on it and digest, I am extremely proud of the way this record turned out. Obviously we have a deep personal and and emotional connection to this music that we create. We write these tunes to satiate our creative thirsts, first and foremost. But the reactions we’ve been hearing from fans are very positive, people are fired up about it. This stuff means something to other people too, not just us. If we already have a fire to keep going, that adds fuel to it!
What is your writing process like?
Akin: The songs are written in the practice room at our house. We always have an overabundance of riffs, so we assign the riffs names like “Witch’s Tit” or “Frankenstein’s Balls” and categorize them and they go up on the big board. We fuck around with the riffs until we have something that feels like it wants to go somewhere. Then we usually let the song take us where it wants to go, and we’ll write parts to fill in the gaps. Once we have a skeleton of the songs to jam, we’ll take our time with it for weeks, sometimes months rehearsing it, tinkering, rearranging. It always boils down to refining the arrangement, and there’s always 4 or 5 of these songs at a time fighting to be finished. There are no rules in our room. Everything about the songwriting process is fair game. We try anything and everything until we have something that excites us. Then we get a rough recording and I write the lyrics.
When you write, do you do so with the live setting in mind or do you write a song just for the song’s sake?
Akin: We write for the sake of the song. You have to have a great song first, and next you have to have the capacity to translate the important parts of what makes it a good song in the first place intro a live setting.
Along those same lines, do you take advantage of technology and email riffs and parts back and forth, or do you get together in a room in a more traditional sense and write together?
Akin: Yeah we’ll send messages of little 30 second riffs to each other, mainly as reminders to teach them to each other. But everything that happens for us really happens in the practice room.
Check out the song “To Propagate the Void” here.
What are some of the newer metal bands that you are listening to or enjoy?
Akin: There are some awesome bands form St. Louis that we love to play with and are always killer live. The Lion’s Daughter, The Gorge, Fister, Everything Went Black, Hell Night. All of these bands fucking rule!
Do you have any touring plans in support of the new recording?
Akin: Yes! Come see us in September with Revocation, Cannabis Corpse, and Archspire!
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Akin: I’d have to say recording with Erik Rutan. I haven’t met someone who works as hard and as enthusiastically day in and day out as him. He’s just dedicated to his craft, and demands excellence. He doesn’t settle for anything less. He pushed us and believed in us every step of the way. He saw what we were capable of and brought it out on this record. And through all of the hard work, we had a great time and we’re glad to call him our friend. Basically the whole experience of meeting him and working with him everyday for those few weeks in January has been the most memorable so far. I’m very thankful for that.