It feels like it’s about just the right time to “Pop a Soda” (or a beer) and get into the new single from The Dead Centuries. Now two years removed from the release of their debut album Race Against Time, the band is back this time with a new single, an intense, fast moving snippet of modern alternative rock perfect for anyone who needs a bit of a pick me up. Entirely recorded and produced by the band themselves along with Jacob Umansky of Intervals on bass, their intention is to inject you with some life and positive vibes as the summer approaches us. Despite the upbeat tone of the song, the band members have ensured not to compromise any of their musical integrity, with “Pop a Soda” featuring a large quantity of the technicality which was unmistakable on Race Against Time.
Commenting on the composition and musical features of “Pop A Soda,” the band stated, “(The song) marks the band’s first track written with guitarist Jacob McSheffrey as part of The Dead Centuries. Jacob joined the band prior to the release of the debut full-length album Race Against Time and contributed a guitar solo to the track ‘Souvenir.’ Self-recorded and produced, ‘Pop A Soda’ features upbeat, catchy melodies, intricate arrangement, powerful riffs, and exciting guitar solos. This track highlights the evolution in the band’s sound and the direction of their future music.”
Sounding both futuristic and at times nostalgic, The Dead Centuries specialize in creating technically precise instrumental progressive metal, chock full of melody. With such a high level of songwriting and technical skill, the trio create instrumental music for the true metal connoisseur who loves the sound of a band who really knows what they’re doing. There are many musicians who are individually talented, but there are far less who actually know how to let that talent show through while playing with others. The Dead Centuries firmly fall into the latter category, three men who know how to bring their individual skills and visions together and have it benefit their songs. When you listen to the band, it’s as if they all have developed the same musical mind with “Pop A Soda” being perhaps the best example yet of The Dead Centuries reaching their musical peak, both as instrumentalists and as a singular unit capable of reaching any musical height they set their sights on.
To accompany the premiere of the song, we spoke with The Dead Centuries for a few minutes about the ins and outs of “Pop A Soda,” and what it’s been like to write and record with McSheffrey being new to the band.
The one thing that probably sticks out the most from your new single “Pop A Soda” is that start and stop guitar riff that appears throughout the song. How did you create that effect with the riff?
Jacob McSheffrey: “The start/stop riff was really a first attempt to write something that gave myself and Adam the chance to both play a riff/lead oriented intro and verse in a way that sounded like it’s almost the same guitar. I’d say the effect is a combination of very low-gain guitar tone and the split-coil pickup configuration that gives it that twangy sound which helps the notes to come through.”
Overall, the song is very guitar heavy with the guitar being so prominent that it almost takes the place of a vocalist. How did “Pop A Soda” come about? Do you just riff away on the guitar until you start to piece together something you like?
McSheffrey: “This is one of the few tracks that came and flowed really naturally. It started out as a riff I was jamming around during my guitar noodling so I decided to record it. From there, the rest of it came really quick and easy (which is rarely the case)! The process ended up amounting to putting down a bar or two, listening back and feeling out what needed to come next. Over time, the riffs and leads were revised and improved. I find listening to a more-or-less complete demo of an idea really helps to develop the track to its potential.”
With how often I’m sure you play guitar and jam together, I would imagine songs come about fairly quickly and organically. Was that the case with “Pop A Soda?”
McSheffrey: “The main skeleton of the song was written pretty much entirely during dedicated writing sessions with the DAW (so I guess it depends on how one defines organic). In the case of this song, the core idea was written quicker than many projects (from my perspective at least) but it ended up taking a while to get it to where we wanted it. Many of the riffs in this particular song were written outside of the rehearsal space, but much of the refinement was a product of group sessions on the computer.”
What have been some of the challenges of now writing and recording with a new member? Has it been a bit of an adjustment to the way you do things?
Tremblett: “Writing and recording with a new member has been a lot easier for me than it was before, I’m really motivated to bring my best to the band when it comes to writing and playing. I’ve found that I get a lot of inspiration from the stuff he writes, and it’s been a lot of fun to bounce ideas back and forth, kind of fueling the creative fire with one another. Jacob’s great at producing as well, so that makes it easy to give him an idea and then have it come to life as music.”
Let me ask you about new guitarist Jacob McSheffrey and his contributions to the song. What’s a memory that you took away from this recording session of how Jacob contributed positively to this track?
Adam Tremblett: “Pop A Soda’ is Jacob’s brainchild, and it’s really exciting to me that we’re releasing a song that really highlights not only his playing, but also his style and songwriting ability. Jacob originally brought us this song a while back, and since then we’ve been performing it live and refining it, ultimately turning it into what you’re hearing now. On top of that the track was produced and recorded by Jacob, and I can say I personally had a blast learning the parts tracking guitars with Jacob. It was great to take our time with it, try new things, and get this song to where it is now.”
Bryant McNamara: “Jacob really did drive this all the way home. He has forced me to adopt new ways of learning, and really embrace GGD and other technology that have improved our sound. His influence comes through not only in the clean, fresh sound, but also through the intricate attention to detail and finesse of the instrumentation on the track. I specifically remember us all sitting in his studio, labouring over each individual drum hit for hours, and Jacob having the patience and persistence to work through every detail without a single complaint, which overall has made us all better musicians and made the track a great representation of us as a group.”