TesseracT is a band that I’ll admit wasn’t really on my radar. I had heard the band before and I am a fan of prog music, just not exactly a diehard fan. So, when I gave their new album Altered State a spin, I had no idea what was about to hit me. From the first note after the atmospheric intro, I was completely drawn in and captivated. It was as if the music had seeped into my brain and worked it like a Rubik’s cube, seemingly molding and shaping my brain. The band unlocked something deep within my psyche that I never connected with before. Let me be clear, music is my drug. So, I’ve become immune to a lot things over time as I’ve built up a tolerance so to speak, but this is different. This music is spectacular. It’s technical. It’s haunting. It’s heavy. It’s badass.
Knowing that I could not do the album justice in a review, I still HAD to have people hear this. It’s amazing. So, I reached out to learn more about the album and the journey to this point. I found bassist Amos Williams, who chatted with me about the album. Below is our conversation. I truly hope you enjoy the band as much as I do.
Today I’m welcoming Amos Williams to the Unsung Melody family. Amos is the bassist from the band TesseracT. First off, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us.
No worries, thanks for taking an interest in TesseracT!
Just like the geometrical figure that you guys take your name from, your music is very mathematical. Some would say cerebral, with lots of offbeats, some difficult timing and some terrific melodies. I like to describe your sound as hauntingly heavy. Having said that, how do you feel the band has evolved on this record, other than vocally, obviously?
On the first album, we toured a lot in North America with some great bands; Between the Buried and Me, Animals As Leaders, Protest the Hero and Devin Townsend. These guys all seemed so happy on stage, really loving every note they played. Now, although we enjoy playing songs off our first album, we all felt it wasn’t quite us at that moment in time. We’d all kind of wanted to move towards a more melodic and in many respects, even a slightly more groovy sound. We feel that with Altered State, we’ve begun that process. So far, each track off the new album that we’ve played on stage has really felt great and seems to fit better. That’s not to say that we may change our direction again on the next record. That’s the beauty of being in TesseracT; We feel we have a freedom to try things and keep it all fresh from our point of view.
The album is divided into states, which represents the trials or transformations that the band has been through. Of the four states on the album (which are matter, mind, reality and energy), which is the most technical and toughest state from the band’s viewpoint?
I think “Of Matter” has been the most intense section. It feels like a massive journey, almost an entire album in itself. We really enjoy playing the whole movement as one piece on tour. I think “Of Energy”, and especially “Singularity”, is the most difficult piece. For us as a band, it covers a very new way of playing. It covers a wide range of dynamics that are hard to play with conviction. Some sections are incredibly intricate and precise, whereas others are very delicate yet loose, and others still are brutal but also have to be 110% accurately played, otherwise the whole groove falls to shit. It is quite an experimental piece that almost has a song within a song.
Singularity, which resides within the energy state, is the first to get a video. It’s an eight minute and 20 second song and the video is nearly ready. What can you tell us about it at this point? Do you have a release date?
We chose to trim “Singularity” down to about five minutes and focus on the middle section, which has a more traditional song structure. The video is in the final stages of production right now. The cut we have is just stunning, however. The quality of production is of cinematic level. I don’t think I’ve seen anything this high-end for a music video. It truly is a technical masterpiece. The team behind it includes the FX team that worked on “Prometheus”, Emmy-award winning director of photography Mark Wolf, and production house Horsie In the Hedge. We’ve given them free range to be the creative masters and interpret it how they see fit. I find that although you may never get exactly what you envisioned, it does mean that the people you work with can pour their passion and soul into the project, in the same way that we do so with our music.
Without hesitation, Nocturne is my favorite track on the album. Good lord the groove on that track is so heavy and full. I was immediately entranced from the first listen. Would you mind giving us a little insight into that track?
That is the very first example of song writing we heard from Ashe. We gave him that track as part of the audition, and man…we were just blown away. I think we all just giggled when we heard it. It was just so good, we didn’t know how to react. What you hear on the album is about 95% of what Ashe gave us for his audition. Mind blowing!
Ashe joins the band after what a lot of fans, I’m sure felt like was forever. Give us a little insight into how the process took place and how you ultimately landed on Ashe.
When Dan left the band to start a different band a few weeks after we released “One”, we decided to just keep the ball rolling and try to keep the momentum going that we had all worked so hard to build over the previous few years. Man, I cannot tell you how much hard work this band had put in, so we weren’t about to let the decision of one person ruin everything we and the team around us had built up. So, along came Elliot. I think we had started speaking with Elliot about two days after Dan chose to leave. He saved this band, in my eyes. Really kept us going and injected a much needed boost of positivity and good times. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Now, we actually found Ashe about three or four days after Elliot left, but we decided that we no longer had anything to lose and even though individually we all knew Ashe was the man for the job, for some reason we decided to play it safe and keep looking, just so we had options. With retrospect, I wish I had pushed harder to start working with Ashe sooner, and not have spent three months speaking with other people. I mean, Ashe is perfect! But, at least we know that Ashe has the patience, the attitude, and the stubbornness required to build a band.
The album is set to release on May 28th, but it’s been streaming in full on Century Media’s Youtube channel. It’s amassed over 100,000 plays already. Your European pre-sales sold-out already. The buzz is definitely there for you guys. Having been away for some time in your search for a vocalist, did you guys ever expect things would take off so quickly?
No. We’re all blown away by the response. Especially to the full album stream. Last time I looked, it was at 120k views in under a week. For a 50-minute video, that is nuts. It’s really a very positive sign. If only we got paid for each view, hey! Hopefully, we can capitalize upon the buzz and get some good touring in on this album cycle as a result.
The burning question for me is…how soon can we expect a US tour?
We will definitely return to the US this fall. We have a few options right now, we just need to see how the first few weeks of sales go to really nail down the best option for us.
The band self-produced the album and I’ve got to say…wow. The production is fantastic. How long was the studio process from start to finish?
About 25 years…haha. This album was somewhat restricted. We chose to try and do it in a way that might make most producers recoil in terror. I won’t go into details, but the method means you start mixing from the very first recording. So, whilst it means you can continue to write right up until the master session, it does mean that your mixing options become quite restricted very early on. However, the general response to the album production is very positive, so you have to come to the conclusion that if it sounds right, it is right!
I know there is a studio within the band. Do you guys work with other artists?
Yeah, Acle and myself work with other bands. Anyone interested can visit the 4D sounds website and get in touch with us via that page. Also, Jay runs a rehearsal studio called The Rhoom near Reading, so we’re about as self-contained as a band could be, except for the record label side of things.
Alright, I always end with a random question. It’s a bit of a tradition around here. After seeing the last Star Trek movie, I have high hopes, but I wanted to ask if you think J.J. Abrams can pull off making a Star Wars gritty enough to be great? Especially since Disney will be involved.
You know, I’m a little concerned about the announcements that have come out regarding the new Star Wars stuff. Six Star Wars movies in the next six years!!! So, that’s one of the new trilogy then a spin off, then another installment of the trilogy, then another spin off, etc. etc. I have no doubt that with such a high profile and trusted director involved, it’ll retain the edge that the first set of movies had, but you have to worry about that work load. Still, I’m not a part of the production team. I’m certain they are all experienced enough to know when too much is too much, and that they can handle the massive workload. Fingers crossed we don’t get a Jar Jar Binks spin off…
Amen to no Jar Jar. Amos, the site and myself wish you absolutely nothing but the best. I look forward to watching your journey unfold. I hope to catch a show at some point and I truly love the album. Please be safe in your travels.
Pre-order Altered State below: