Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Intervals carried the duty to open for Protest The Hero, alongside The Safety Fire and TesseracT in Paris, a few weeks ago. The band presented a strong performance, both striking and transcending, resulting of the combination of twirling melodies and hard-hitting riffs, all topped with a captivating voice. At this point, it was hard to believe that the band was showing off a brand new and renewed version of itself. After debuting as an instrumental outfit, Intervals have only recently revealed the addition of vocals to their music and proudly perform this way since this tour has begun. Vocals were perfect fit with the music that is still very technical and complex. The stage was well besieged and a lot of people showed up early. Intervals were also communicative, kind and thankful to their audience, which created an intimate atmosphere that molded the soundscapes provided by the music. Overall, the Canadians have proudly accomplished their mission of captivating and awakening the audience, certainly gaining new fans in the process. It was seemingly with a lot of joy that the band left the stage, leaving the crowd all smiles, which isn’t an easy task in Paris at all! Jokes aside, this was a successful first french performance for Intervals!
Moments earlier, we caught up with guitarist and founding member Aaron Marshall to discuss the band’s background and goals among other things and he had a lot of interesting things to share with us. Maybe this seems like a long read, but it definitely worths it, we promise!
You’re currently on tour with Protest The Hero and a selection of other great bands, how is it going so far?
It’s been great. We’ve been a week and a half in now and it’s been fantastic! Really great tour, you know, Protest The Hero are friends of ours from home, I grew up listening to their band which is kinda neat and TesseracT and The Safety Fire, also friends of ours and I think everyone feels the same on this tour, so it’s great!
This Also leads me to the next question which is : You had the opportunity to tour with diverse bands over the years. What did you learn from those experiences?
Well it’s interesting for us because until now, if anyone’s been paying attention, the band hasn’t had a vocalist and we’ve been doing some varied kinds of tours, like we did cross-Canada with a band called Structures – they’re from our hometown-, Northlane, they’re from Australia, Texas In July and in the summer we did a run with Misery Signals as well. Our music definitely fits with the heavier kind of stuff but before we had a vocalist I think we were tendencing the alien on the bill. But it’s been amazing and I guess what we’ve been learning from tours with those bands that are slightly out of our vein is that… these days people are just more and more responsive to music in general, not necessarily just genres, you know?
Now if we talk about your history as a band : you started a couple of years ago as an instrumental project and you have now just added a vocalist to the line up which obviously induces major changes. Can you tell us more about this experiment and this whole evolution?
The band actually started out as an aim for me to create music under it. I was playing music in a band with some high school friends, it didn’t end working up the way I wanted it to, personally, I was disappointed.
But from there, there was just kind of a way for me to release a little bit of music and after putting up the first track I met Anup, our drummer and things kind of snowballed from there, we started working on some new music together, we played our first show in Toronto with Periphery, The Human Abstract…So great first show.
And then things started to pick up online, we put out our first official release, started working on the next one, began touring and from there I guess we took steps backwards a little bit. The band was never ruled out not having a singer. We were just like not finding the one so we thought let’s just continue the move forward. I think we’re just the kind of guys that want to play music. Regardless, it doesn’t really matter so we just wrote another release, which was more guitar oriented which is my specialty. And it sort of clicked and we were able to tour like that and sold our release, our latest release worked for us.
So about a year ago we decided to entertain the idea of perhaps adding a vocalist. Mike actually joined the band playing bass for us on tour for a while, so he was filling in the bass, which is awesome, we already had our chemistry together. Then we decided that it works! We were really comfortable with that so we just kept moving forward. We’ve been working on the record for the last 6 months, now it’s done, it’s ready to go and we’re really happy with how everything’s turned out and here we are, we’re in Paris!
Your songs on your upcoming album ‘A Voice Within’ are still very complex and long and we can still feel the instrumental strength. Have you worked on those songs knowing that vocals would be added or not? Can we discuss the whole process behind it?
I guess a lot of the song ideas started out probably about a year ago before Mike came in the band. There were ideas that I was using for the band anyway. But our approach has really changed. We’re still the same band with the same identity, so I was able to use ideas that I thought would work for this instrumental band and also within the current state of things as well. I didn’t have to change the way I was doing things or whatever and now it was kind of a promise I made to myself. The guys, the rest of us decided that it was more important for us to be the same band rather.
So yes, a lot of the stuff were ideas we had already written for some time ago. But when we started working on the record there were still of course some things we were writing from scratch as well but nothing has really changed. Apart from making space for vocals, but at the same time we haven’t been doing too much of that in order to maintain the band’s identity, we’re still a guitar driven band.
From the bit of things people have heard -I think it’s slightly out of the context- people don’t know yet what we’re doing.
There’s an idea of a new challenge behind it…
Yes it’s fresh, it feels fresh. It pushed me, I feel really excited about the record. It’s my proudest musical accomplishment today.
Where do you want to go with this new chapter? Is there anything specific you are targeting?
Perhaps the same cliché thing that I guess every musician says, which is making a living out of music, to be completely blunt. But there are like also musical goals. I think the overall goal has been to transcend…We’re not big on genres we just like music and if you caught us in the van or traveling, we’d be probably not listening to metal. Which again is probably cliché for a lot of people in the metal genre himself, everybody says that. But it is true, we’re just surrounded by that all the time, it’s nice to change things up and to be inspired by other geners of music. Tons of pop music, lots of indie, of course I still love instrumental guitar virtuoso, like really nerdy music. Just to tire up with the point of our goals, we just want to play with everyone.
I know a lot of people would say that but it sounds a little bit ridiculous but I really don’t think that there’s a point in –perhaps- fans needing a table or to attach this is ‘progressive metal, this is technical, this is deathcore. That’s fine, it’s totally okay, organization is key but at the same time, again when people will hear the record they’ll be asking what we’re trying to do.
We’re still a technical band and guitar driven band. But I think it has a chance to stand up against a lot of radio rock or more like…I don’t like to use the term “mainstream” in fear of the stigma that comes with it but there’s a reason pop music comes with the word “pop”. It is good, it’s catchy, it has infectious melodies. People just love feel-good music and I know there’s a stigma about it like ‘oh no Katy Perry’ or Lady Gaga, etc. That’s fine. It’s totally fine to go against the grave. But we just like the music and it’s just because it is good and a lot would say that we’re trying to be a pop band but I feel like we have that sensibility, we’re still a technical band but honestly think it can stand up to a lot of mainstream music. In the sense of average listener or someone that just hears of us at a bar or perhaps on the radio. We’re not screaming, it’s not that aggressive, I mean it is for moments, for sure, but I just want to write music everyone likes.
But that’s what’s interesting with your music!
Hopefully that’s what we’re trying to do, with bands like perhaps Circa Survive, I’d love this to happen.
It could work.
Absolutely, that is the goal, that’s what I was talking about earlier.
I assume your influences are multiple, can you tell us more about it?
This is a difficult one, I think a lot of people are inspired by different things. Visual or a movie or a book…I am, to an extent, but also I just tend to play until something thugs on my ear. I’m always sitting with a guitar at home and music is just normally kind of coming out of me, I think? Some of it goes away and other pieces of melodies stay with me. Then I’m like ‘I’m so compelled to put that in a piece and it sounds so good and it affected me’. That’s generally how I decide…When I feel very passionate about it, then I move forward with that. And it feels really strange to know that this kind of inspiration comes from my own head, but really in the end of the day, I would just let my hands do what they do with the instruments and then I just move forward with what I’m compelled to make our music.
But books, movies and other music also inspire me. Different genres. Music is the inspiration of music and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What are some themes you enjoy exploring though your songwriting?
Before it what just sort of whatever compelled me I would to get emotion or whatever sort of vibe from the piece. And I would do my best to stay true with all those elements that I personally feel or that are relatable.
There’s that and then lyrically, it’s a whole new dimension for us so it’s hard to judge, but the concept is basically sort of a monitor for self realization. Everybody realizes a part of a very large crowd. There’s a ton of us here, but the Voice Within is the evidence for realizing that you are the individual in the crowd and you have things that make us thick and others that make you different from everyone else. And the catalyst spot is to realize that things can be changed. You have to see for yourself and move forward from there. You can’t just be beat down by the fact that you’re one in a million. That is it essentially. It’s a very uplifting also very interpretative topic.
We like that. I think having something that means one thing is great. And at the same time I just love interpretation.
Allowing people to relate in some way to your lyrics?
That’s right! Just like ‘why do you think he wrote that?’ And then I’m like do they think what I was thinking? Before I realize that –wow- this is SO different than where my head was when I wrote it, so it’s very interesting. That’s the part that I love more than anything about this whole thing. Everybody feels something different from it and everybody experiences something different from the music and I think this is more important than telling people what you think. I’d rather know what they think.
What is one song out of this album you would say captivates Intervals’ current essence?
The last track which is the titletrack A voice Within, it was written like kind of a combination of all the elements on the record. To an extent, all the songs have a different vibe, some have some sort of similarities, but we really tried to express ourselves as much as possible and achieve some musical goals, which were to blend genres a little bit, in the sense of if wa want to have a samba or whatever, what’s stopping us from doing that? And we did do that. And other moments as well, some more straight up metal moments, some really sappy moments. I do feel like the last song sort of incumbencies that and would be a decent representation.
A lot of people are looking forward to your new release but is there any music you are yourself looking forward to?
There probably is, but I just can’t think about anything right now! (laughs)
There’s definitely bands that I’m anticipating releases from but I don’t know if it’s gonna come out in 2014 or never. New release from a band calld Snarky Puppy, it’s an instrumental band from all over America. They’re like a 9 to 13 piece instrumental neo-modern-funk and I adore them so much! It’s just feel-good instrumental tunes, I love that stuff.
The obvious would be a new SikTh record, because they are one of my biggest influences for tech metal anyway and anyway into tech metal is waiting for a new SikTh album.
A new Northlane record as well, I love these guys so much, they’re one of my favorite bands to tour with. Amazing people, I can’t say enough good things about them. I think their new record is gonna be something really special even though it’s probably not gonna be released anytime soon. So there’s that and I would love a new Pendulum record, I don’t know what Rob Swire is doing but I think he’s an amazing songwriter. Believe it or not this was also a major inspiration for me. So that’s it I think.
What’s coming next for Intervals?
We have a North American tour coming with some familiar faces. It’s extensive and covers a lot of America and Canada and then, the album, of course, there’s that! (laughs). It’s available for pre-order so if anyone doesn’t know, it’s ready to go, you can find it on our Facebook page and stuff like that. Oh and also if there’s any discrupensies with shipping or territories and stuff like that keep your eyes out. It’s actually a self-release so there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle that we’re still working on. And of course, we’re here in Europe for quite a long time so it’s hard to do all those things from here BUT we’re trying our best.
So, new record on March 4th, tour, tour, tour and sky is the limit!
Busy year ahead!
It is definitely going to be a busy year, with a lot of good things coming!
Also, If anyone takes the time to listen to us, read this out, I appreciate it immensely. Thank you!
Many thanks to James M., Aaron and of course Intervals.
Photos : Mario Ivanovic / Morgane Legars