You’re in for a brutal breakdown today and really, don’t bother trying, there’s nothing that can be done to avoid it. You have Architects of a Broken Design to thank for this, so don’t look to us… Total Collapse is the latest effort to come from the experimental metal band, an EP that pushes past their self-imposed creative boundaries and calls on a naturally heavy sound that strays from the overproduced standards of today. Due officially on March 6th, through Wreckin’ Joint Productions, Total Collapse is a mature, but heavy-sounding record that puts a rhythmic twist on what you’re used to hearing from Architects’ back catalogue. The EP was recorded literally from coast to coast, with vocal parts in Philadelphia and New York, and the instrumental components in Long Beach, California.
It’s been a long road from their formation in 2003, but Architects are sounder better and more motivated than ever. With roots in Philadelphia, the group became a bi-coastal project when lead singer William J. Sullivan moved to Long Beach in 2014. Even at such a distance, Sullivan and fellow founding member Jon Costello can somehow conjure up the chemistry necessary to create new, innovative metal that isn’t just a rehash of what they’ve already done.
The distance factor did negatively affect the writing and recording process which was then made even more difficult when Sullivan broke his leg during a remodelling project last April. This halted production on Total Collapse temporarily, until Sullivan recovered sufficiently to start bringing together the material needed for the finishing touches and, thanks to this perseverance, the next phase of Architects of a Broken Design has begun.
In an effort to get to know all that is Architects of a Broken Design further, we spoke with William J. Sullivan about Total Collapse, the thematic components to the record, and asked the pressing question; is this the last Architects album, ever?!
Before we touch on some of the thematic aspects of your new album, take us through the writing and recording for Total Collapse. How long did you spend writing these songs and then recording for them in the studio?
William J. Sullivan: “I started writing new material for Architects… about five years ago. Once I permanently relocated to California and my engineering career picked up, it became difficult for me to get ideas going every day. Before heading to the studio in L.A., I’d go out to my personal space in Long Beach and write a riff or two a day, come back, analyze, revise, scrap etc…
The most progress happened about two years ago when the team I engineered for headed overseas for a trip. My passport was declined and I was stopped at LAX, unable to go on the trip. They took off, I handled things in Long Beach via phone and e-mail, but the best part was that I was able to record a bulk of the instrumentals during that week. Once I had everything done, I flew back to Philadelphia, booked out a few spaces through friends and recorded Jon’s vocals.”
What are you most proud of with the songs that made the final cut for Total Collapse? What truly stands out to you as a songwriter about these tracks?
“The song ‘Temerity’ is my favorite track on there. There’s something about its simplicity and groove that hooked me. Don’t get me wrong, I love this entire album and am proud of it, but that song’s my shit!”
Moving on to the themes behind the release, I read a quote from you saying that in writing Total Collapse you started to realize that you probably wouldn’t be performing with this project again as a result of the physical distance between you and Jon and your other career-related endeavours. Does this mean that Total Collapse is the final goodbye from Architects of a Broken Design?!
“This isn’t our last project at all! Jon and I did talk about this though. From a collaborative side, it’s going to be difficult for us to really groove with the distance and our schedules. Having said that we are all about doing smaller projects like singles or three-song EPs. Total Collapse has two meanings to us… one is our band completely fell apart. The other is based on current events. As I said, I relocated to California, maybe it’s my age or the legislation here, but I feel like this place is falling apart. Humanity built this huge empire that just prices people out of their homes, forces them to use overpriced medication and sets income too low for most to survive. That was the whole idea behind the band name Architects of a Broken Design… at some point, empires fail.
As for the album title, all of the ‘sound design’ on the album was made from recordings of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico where my family is from. It’s sad to say but pictures from parts of the island don’t look much different from the cover of our album and that’s what started the idea of the title and theme. I was hoping that it would bring awareness to that situation but I think that’ll go over most people’s heads.”
With the internal changes within Architects of a Broken Design, what else is next for you? Do you have other projects or at least ideas in the works?
“Like I was saying, you’ll still hear from us. I’ve already started a few ideas for whatever the next thing is. Jon has a project with a friend of his that he’s been working on and I’ve been producing. We’re both staying pretty active. I can’t speak for his future plans, but aside from Architects, I’m personally moving further away from engineering and more into production, hopefully bringing more stuff into my personal studio rather than working out of someone else’s. There are a select few artists that I still enjoy engineering for, and I’m going to stick to that handful until the end. I’ll also be releasing at least one new album through Wreckin’ Joint this year.”
If this is the end for the band from a certain point of view, do you have any regrets or moments you look back at that you wish you could change?
“I don’t think this is the end, but I do wish we could’ve continued on as more of a traditional band. I had a blast the first few years when we had a full lineup. There’s nothing like feeling the energy of your bandmates on stage, and Jon screaming his face off is always fun to watch. I do hope at some point we will have an opportunity to play a few shows, or film a full band live thing.”