While the tesseract represents a cube inside of cube, the thing that wanders around all the minds of all the prog fans across the world is; what makes Tesseract such a mesmerising and adroit quintet? Well, there are lots of reasons why. To dig deeper, we got in contact with the man behind the bass Amos Williams and had an enthralling chat with him about the band’s upcoming fourth full-length record “Sonder”, and get a good diagnosis of Tesseract’s method of performance, the evolution of sound, and of course, the process and inception of “Sonder”.
“It’s quite a surprise” Williams says “Because it’s a little bit of a development in terms of production and being a little more experimental with things. The response to that so far has been really, quite positive across the board. We didn’t exactly do anything completely new, but we did kind of let the rains go a little on a few things and we’re happy to toss a little bit of oil on the water if you know what I mean, and see what happens.”
Tesseract returned to producer Aidan O’Brien to help incarnate the product that is “Sonder”. Considering that he’s had a special history in working with the band, Williams sees him as another member of Tesseract – a fifth Beatle, if you will. With that being said, Aidan O’Brien’s contribution to “Sonder” has been another rewarding and astonishing experience for the boys.
“He’s a very integral member of the team, and he’s very enthusiastic, energetic and has a lot of ideas that aren’t immediately apparent to the rest of the band. It’s very interesting to work with Aidan. He’s always got an idea for a sound that might work or enhance a section of music. It’s really cool to be able to work with a friend like that. We’re looking forward to always keep him as part of the team, because he’s always been here and there from “Altered State” onwards. It’s fantastic to have him back on this particular album, especially because there was such an idea and strong feeling about getting sound design and synthesis involved in adding that extra dimension to the music. He really is quite something when it comes to looking at audio and sound from a different perspective. Not from an instrumental point of view, but from a pure audio POV and almost looking at things like “I’ve got an idea for a type of sound, how can I create that?” and this is something that adds to more strength to us, so to say.”
When it comes to change, one of the most notable recurrences is Tesseract’s change in vocalists. While Dan Tompkins is now back in the band for good, Williams believes that there are things have helped increase the stability in Tesseract as a band. One of the other reasons just so happens to be the mental security in having a good team.
“We’re very much more comfortable with the way things are and very much more secure about the line-up. Obviously, with “Polaris”, we changed singers and worked with Dan (Tompkins), again. It was a little bit up in the air as to how the band was going to be received. In terms of a business point of view, it was quite difficult, because it was uncertain as to what was going on. But we’re a bit more comfortable now, we know where we’re headed and we’ve got a solid team behind us. It just means that we can maybe sit back a little, relax, and focus on the music instead of worrying about doing tours in the scene. We’re now straight away, looking forward to doing the next album.”
With “Sonder” being one of the most diverse products of Tesseract’s history and discography, Williams states that when you’re creating something, it’s essential to take advantage of the music as much as possible. Basically, his method of creating is to allow as much of your knowledge in your skills as you can, while working with new or untouched routines to keep the flow and personality of your material fresh and enthusiastic.
“The contrast and the dynamics, not just from a volume point of view, but also from a density and emotional point of view, is all about making sure you’re using as much of the spectrum as possible. For example, let’s say using a quiet section to highlight the next heavy section or vice versa just to really show and really try to emphasize those points. You could have a cinematic section that would then make the next funky section sound that much more rhythmic and staccato as a result by mixing things up a bit, by adding a strong contrast. It really makes music that’s interesting to create, worth the listen.”
“Sonder” will be released on a standard CD as well as a 2CD packaging where the fans can experience the album in a 5.1 and 360 hearing format. For all the audiophiles out there, it’s a wet dream come true. Williams feels that this would be a good exploit for “Sonder”, so the listener can diagnose and get to know more about the production of the recordings in a more ethereal and surrealistic vibe. At the same time, Williams believes that sound technology in this day and age has gotten to the point of becoming more accessible for audio nerds and musicians. Whether it be performing music to create that enticing nature onstage or just listening to it as a fan, it’s getting better and better as the years go by.
“I think when the music has quite a lot of layers and depth, it’s good that the technology is available for people to now experience those layers without needing to buy a bunch of equipment. Like, you don’t need a 5.1 Surround System and spend thousands of dollars on. Now, you can just do this sort of thing with your earbuds and your phone. It’s kind of a way of democratizing music and the technological advances that have happened. It’s something that we, as producers, have always been interested in. You’ve always wanted to capsulize the extra special element of what it’s like for you as a musician. When you experience something in the room, you want to be able to convey that to the audience, as well. Things like binaural mixing and audio can emulate that in a way. It’s great that we were really able to get in contact with the company KLANG Technologies, who created this unit that’s primarily used for musicians onstage for them to feel like they’re actually onstage, when they have their monitors on. It can get quite claustrophobic and quite shut off when you’re using these things, because they’re literally earplugs just through speakers, so the ambient room sound disappears. It works as a really cool technology for taking the surround idea into everybody’s home, because most people have access to earphones and plug them into their iPhones, Android devices and whatever. It’s fantastic that now anyone can experience that.”
As he continues, Williams’ familiarity with 21st century audio technology has stemmed from books and his own personal experience by listening back to classics that have inspired him over the years. This includes the aura that’s presented in the band’s audible persona, rather than just an entire album.
“There’s something that I personally think that’s missing in a lot of modern production, which was described quite well in a book called “Mixing With Your Mind”. The way that the engineer that wrote this book describes more classic records, regardless of when they were created, they basically create this dark stage that the players that you listen to pop in and pop out of that stage like holograms. But, regardless, the stage is always there and that gives you a sense of environment that you can either be invited into or be pushed away from. I think a lot of modern production is fantastic, but as a result of fighting for airspace or having to compete on the radio, unfortunately, a lot of those dynamics of environment disappeared. Evolution and progress happens, and you have to keep changing and evolving, but I quite like the idea of finding technology that can drop you into that space again. Bands like Pink Floyd have this darkness about them where the music you hear is aligned to cast shadows within that box, so it’s really exciting. I hope that one day, we can do the same thing.”
While Tesseract have always remained intact with each other for the recording process, the writing process has been conveyed separately, with all the members living in different parts of their home country. Whether it’s following the lead of one member’s idea, or contributing to the project in their own way, Tesseract’s teamwork still remains strong as ever, to this day. In fact, it’s also become beneficial for them, as Williams and co. have found their long distance synergy to be helpful in terms of not having to work over someone else in a loud environment, which could become distracting. That being said, Williams is aware it’s a very contrasting method of working as a band, but it’s the most interesting and useful at the same time.
“We’re a very separate band, which is odd to most people, simply because we live all over the place. It’s only been recently, that we all lived in the same country, because I was away in Asia for four years. So, we had to develop a way of working in isolation that we then stitch together. It’s quite funny because we don’t rehearse together all that much, and we should do, but we can’t because we’re separated. So, before we would go on tour, we would then get a couple of days of rehearsal and go out. In many instances, it would’ve been the first time we had seen each other in four months. So, by design and necessity, we’ve ended up creating an online storage facility that we can easily share between each other during those periods of time when we’re not seeing each other. It’s a strange way to work, and it’s not one that most people would imagine is how a band should work, but we’ve managed to make it work. I think it’s quite useful, because it enables people like Acle (Kahney) and myself to really focus in on something without the noise of other people working all the time. It works in many respects. It’s much more exciting to work and be together in the studio, but it’s just not possible, most of the time.”
As an entity that has been labelled as ‘djent’, ‘prog’, ‘rock’ and even ‘jazz’ by some, Tesseract have become one of the most notable faces of 21st century progressive music, along with Periphery, Animals As Leaders, and such. With the progressive rock and metal scene evolving as time has flown by, Williams has been observing it like an eagle. He states that progressive bands have gained a lot of notoriety and that it fills him with indulgence. At the same time, Williams has been heartbroken by the departure of many worldwide acts that gave off a very sturdy and everlasting impression to music. However, he has hope for them to return again soon, with other groups reforming and releasing new material together. It looks as though Williams’ faith in progressive music will not be dying out any time soon.
“I think it’s developing quite a bit of momentum. I’m quite happy to see more mainstream acts that are of progressive nature or are doing more than the stable sort of metalcore. It’s exciting to see some of our friends and peers that have been working with for years to be getting some attention for them to be able to take what they do to a more public or popular forum. I think you’re looking at a good couple of years of quite exciting music that’s gonna come out of this scene. It’s a shame that it couldn’t have happened earlier, because there are some bands that have called it a day recently, that I think are fantastic like Textures and The Dillinger Escape Plan. They could’ve done a bit of longevity, because I’m sure they would’ve had a lot more interesting music still under their belt. Then there’s bands like A Perfect Circle that are coming back and are releasing something really cool, and that can only mean that there’ll be more that will shine upon the community and see some more fantastic music coming out.”
You can get Tesseract’s new album “Sonder” here!
Tesseract have also announced an Australian Tour, check out the tour dates below!
TESSERACT – with Special Guests Circles
Tuesday, September 11: Capitol, Perth
Thursday, September 13: The Gov, Adelaide
Friday, September 14: Melbourne 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, September 15: The Metro, Sydney
Sunday, September 16: The Triffid, Brisbane
Get tickets here!
Feature Photo by Steve Brown – stevebrowncreative.com