With an exciting new album hitting stores in just over a week, an incredible tour kicking off in August, and a music video that is as visually enjoyable as it is sonically devestating in the best of ways, the Colorado based death metal quintet Allegaeon has been hard at work putting big plans in motion for this coming year. We were fortunate enough to chat with Greg Burgess and Mike Stancel in between things to touch on all these topics and more in this exclusive interview.
MPR: Tell me a bit about the writing process for "Elements of the Infinite"
Greg: We went through a member change, we used to split the record in half with our old guitar player, so it was kind of cool, but it was a great challenge. I used to record half the album, and then he would come in and do some, then I would come finish it. (For this album) Mike filled in for the tour with Job For A Cowboy and it was like a no brainer to get him in and he finished the album.
MPR: Mike, how did you find yourself joining up with the band?
Mike: I knew Greg a little bit through my other band, and when it came time for a tour they asked me.
Greg: We asked everyone we knew and they said “No way, I can’t play that”; Mike was the only one with confidence and the only one who decided to give it a shot.
MPR: Where did you draw inspiration from both musically and non-musically?
Greg: Oh man, it’s always kind of different; we listen to lots of music. For me, my favorite bands are bands like Megadeth and Dream Theater, and 70’s Prog. It’s kind of weird Strapping Young Lad was a huge influence, and then bands like Revocation.
Mike: And then we wrote a song that sounded like Allegeaon!
Greg: And it sounded just like Allegeaon!
MPR: What the approach to creating the new album like in contrast with your first two albums? Were there any similarities between them?
Greg: First albums are always some of the best because you have so much time to write it out before you get to the studio to record it. Our second album “Formshifter” wasn’t as well received as (debut album) “Fragments of Form and Function” was, but it seemed like a great step for us because the trust as a band was between us. With this record, the trust has carried us forward so we didn’t need to know what the album was going to sound like, we just went with what felt right. This is the first record where we sat down with Corey (Archuleta, bass guitar) and figured out every note he was going to play and it was like “What if we gave him a solo and crafted his sound as a bass player to stand out?”
MPR: What gear was used on the album?
Mike: We used 8 strings for all the rhythm guitars and I used a six string ESP to do the leads because it was easier to use. For amps we used a mix of a 6505 and a 5150 III
Greg: All our leads were actually generated with Line 6 POD Farm software. A lot bands are using a stuff like Kemper and Axe-Fx, but if it’s in the studio, I would prefer a real amp.
MPR: Are there are any particular songs you are excited for fans to hear?
Greg: The whole thing really! “Gravimetric Time Dilation” for sure, but we probably won’t ever play it live because of the odd tuning.
MPR: What do you mean by “odd tuning”?
Greg: It’s not exactly odd, but it’s a drop tuning, the guitars are tuned to Drop A. It’s the only song tuned to Drop A in our catalog so it’s not very convenient to tune between songs. I also have a Floyd Rose Tremolo bridge on my guitar so it’s not easy to switch tunings once it gets set to one.
MPR: The video for “1.618” has some hilarious jabs subgenres, was this based on personal experiences because of Allegaeon’s unique sound or just a comment on how things have been in the music world lately?
Greg: It came down to a couple of things. One, our complete lack of success with music videos, we did like 4 or 5 videos and none of them did anything. Our video for "Biomech" took years to break the 100,000 view mark, which is not very good in internet terms. The video for “1.618” was poking fun of ourselves as much as it was the world of subgenres. The crab core bit was just funny, those guys look kind of dumb anyway, but it’s about that whole “core” scene we get lumped into quite a bit and it just doesn’t work out for us or them.
MPR: How so?
Greg: I think a majority of American audiences don’t have a concept of melodic death metal, they think we’re a core band, and because we don’t have those core elements and they immediately think we’re a shit band. When we toured with Job For A Cowboy, we were one of the only non core bands. There was a core band before us and several after us, and like Job For A Cowboy, they started core but became more death metal. We hit the stage and nobody was ready for us. We saw kids sitting down during our set, texting, it was just super disrespectful.
MPR: It’s like you got lumped into the scene that was essentially created by the bands you feel you have most in common with.
MPR: The combination of sounds on Elements of the Infinite most certainly defy the stereotypes of genres. How would you describe Allegaeon’s sound in your own words?
Mike: Melodic…see it’s hard without genres, I was gonna say maybe melodic death metal
Greg: We have aspects from a lot of things, we love black metal, we love tech death, there’s thrash all over the place. It’s kind of hard to say without genres.
MPR: , What do you expect to see on your upcoming tour with Chimaira, The Plot In You, Upon This Dawning, and Silence the Messenger?
Greg: We’ve toured with Silence the Messenger and we got along great. I agree we were different bands, but it worked. Honestly, I think it will be a complete polarization of the audience, there is most likely going to be some hate in all directions. I think we’ll appeal to Chimaira’s fans but it’s gonna be very polarized. We had a show cancelled due to a full blown fan riot because of problems between the fans, so I think some tours really need to be thought out a bit better.
MPR: Do you have any memorable tour stories you would like to share?
Greg: My favorite show will always be the first show we played in the Bay Area, San Francisco. We were headlining a metal fest and every single band was amazing. The crowd was ungodly. We closed with “Accelerated Evolution” (off “Fragments of Form and Function”), and fans stormed the stage and were moshing on stage.
MPR: Is there any particular band you are hoping to tour with in the near future?
Greg: We just got asked to play with one of my favorite bands, we’re super excited, but we can’t announce it yet. We don’t get to go home, we get to go straight across the country after the Chimaira tour to start the next one. We will probably announce it soon. But The Black Dahlia Murder would be a great tour.
Mike: Revocation for sure.
MPR: What kind of goals do you have set for yourselves for the next few years?
Greg: Getting overseas. This is our third record and we haven’t done a lot of touring and we’re really setting our sights over there. We want to make ourselves global rather than regional.
MPR Fan questions:
"What got you into playing heavy music?"
Mike: For me it was searching for heavier stuff. It was awesome, I was learning how to play guitar; I think it was like the better I got at guitar the heavier the music got.
Greg: I was born at the end of the 70s so for me it was getting to watch the early metal culture growing up. It really intrigued me. It wasn’t like a life changing decision, it just sort of happened.
"How long have you guys been playing guitar? Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?"
Greg: There is no way I can be self-taught, I’ve taken lessons all my life. I’ve been playing guitar since 1991, which I don’t dare think how long ago that was because of how old that will make me feel!
Mike: I’ve been playing for six or seven years, I took initial lessons and did those for a couple years and then I got away from that, then I came back and took jazz lessons for a few years.
Greg: But all these bands nowadays are using jazz chords, that’s all The Faceless uses.
"I am from a quiet area of upstate New York where there is not much of a music scene. How was the scene in Colorado growing up?"
Greg: I’m actually from Washington DC and the music scene was horrible. When I came into the scene, if you weren’t Nirvana, you were shit, so I had to get out of there fast. The scene here in Colorado is excellent. I totally understand living in an area that isn’t catering to what you want to play.