Vestigal is the new release from four-piece sludge metal band from Sydney, Australia, Lo!. Hot on the heels of this release, I was chatting to their guitarist, Carl Whitbread, about the bands song-writing process, favourite things about recording, influences and heaps more! Keep reading to see what he had to say.
1. What’s your song-writing process? Do you all write together, or do you sit down individually to write and then put it all together?
“Ever since Lo! started we have written and recorded songs in a fairly disjointed way. I will almost always be the one to come up with ideas and, more often than not, complete songs. I’d record demos at home then send them through to the rest of the band to have a listen.
Adrian our drummer will then expand on and record demo drum parts to replace my programmed drums and the songs will start to take on a bit more of a human feel. The final stage is always getting in a room together as a full band and making any changes.”
2. What do you hope people take away from listening to the album?
“From the intro to the last note on the last song, we returned with album 3 wanting to record the most angriest and concise music within our control, and we hope that the listener feels the same way when they hear it. Our strength as a live band is reflected on how we recorded also, so you feel that energy on the record.”
3. What would you say are the main themes of Vestigal?
“Vestigial focuses on the monsters of our own making in this modern world. For all our advancements what have we gained but madness. We are isolated and fearful even when connected. The three characters of the Locust Christ, Judas Steer and God of Ruin arise throughout Vestigial. Lyrically there is a clear boiling anger at the legacy we are moulding and the state of this farcical era.”
4. Is there a part about the writing and recording process that you think is particularly difficult, or that you don’t enjoy?
“Like most creative endeavours you have ups and downs. When you’re stuck on ideas for a song or questioning the quality of something you’ve written, a lot of self doubt comes flooding in. But generally it’s short lived and once you have that lightbulb moment, it’s a great feeling.
We also control most aspects ourselves, from artwork, to management to recording – so it can be like having a second job sometimes – it keeps us all really busy and focused. Sometimes when you’re doing 100 things at once it can get very stressful, but that makes the end result even more special, knowing how much time and effort we put into it – we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
5. Who are your biggest influences musically?
“The initial main musical direction for Lo! was inspired by bands like Breach and Old Man Gloom. There was a nice rawness and experimentation to those bands that made them stand out, and we used that as a foundation for how we wanted to sound. We all enjoy different genres from death metal, sludge, doom and traditional hardcore (not to mention a whole range of non-metal tastes), so I think those influences manage to come through in our music.”
6. Do you think your sound has changed or matured from your first record to now?
Definitely. While the main ideas and foundations behind the band’s sound have always remained the same, I think we’ve become a much more defined and tighter unit. Our drummer used to live in Hong Kong which made it hard for us to jam and write as often as we’d like, but now he lives back in Australia, so things feel much more cohesive than previously. Bringing Sam on board back in 2014 made a big difference too. His voice has a much rawer character to it, which had a subconscious impact on the song writing. Even though our music still has a lot of experimentation and technical aspects to it, I think we’ve really been able to strip things back and let the songs take their natural course.
7. For those who haven’t heard your music before, how would you sell it to them to get them interested in listening?
Lo! have always strove to bring groove and scope to the sludge metal genre. Vestigial raises our aggressive and conceptual side far higher than previous albums. A collection of anthems to watch the world burn to.
8. Any bands, national and international, that you wish you could collaborate or tour with?
I think I speak for everyone when I say Converge would be our number one to tour with. We were lucky to tour with Cult of Luna back in 2013 which was also on our bucket list. There is also talk of us possibly collaborating with German band Implore next year, so stay tuned for that!