Interview : James Monteith / TesseracT (October 2014)

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 04.17.16TesseracT is one of the greatest progressive metal bands around (probably our favorite of the genre) and if there’s one thing we should learn from them is that they are the living proof that passion and hard-work always pay off. Having recently reconnected with vocalist Daniel Tompkins – which was probably this year’s biggest news for many TesseracT fans – the band appears stronger than ever (anyone who saw them on the current tour would agree) and ready to take the world by storm with new material next year. We spoke to guitarist James Monteith a few days ago to get an insight of what’s going on with TesseracT at the moment.

  TesseracT has embarked at the end of September on a 40-day run alongside Animals As Leaders and Navene-K without any day off. Being away from their families and homes for such a period is probably something they are not so stoked about after some time. Luckily, the tour is going great for them; they are sharing it with people they appreciate and James also pointed out that they are fortunate enough to be traveling in a bus, which enables them to rest.
If TesseracT are now on a major co-headliner with a band as Animals As Leaders, it’s also because of the hard-work and dedication that allowed them as a band to overcome the difficulties and stay strong. In fact, those who followed TesseracT for the past few years must have noticed how eventful the story of this band is. Daniel Tompkins, who was already in TesseracT a few years ago is now reunited with the band, giving it a new impulse : “The enthusiasm came back and energy was stronger than ever. It’s like it’s five years ago again.”, says James.


“The time that we’ve been with Ashe [O’Hara, former vocalist] was amazing, it was brilliant, his work  was really good and he was happy with that. But towards the ene past tour, it became very apparent that he didn’t want to be in the band anymore, he was really unhappy with the whole situation and it also made everyone, a bit down, kinda awkward and difficult”


If things didn’t eventually work out with Ashe, let’s not forget that the amount of work he put in the growth of this band is consequent, especially when it comes to live performing, which is something TesseracT did a lot over the past year. ‘Altered State’ touring cycle was substantial and definitely brought a new level of success to the band.

“This year has been really successful for us, because we are able now to come out and do a co-headline tour with Animals As Leaders and people come and watch us. I think when you’re in a position to headline, that’s kind of a milestone and I think we managed to achieve that on this last album’s cycle.”


In the end, Monteith is one of those who believe that touring definitely helps the bands growing. In his own words; “I think the more we do the right tours, the more we get people to hear us, so the band grows as a result.”
All of this takes time, however. In TesseracT‘s case, the band has been around for about 8 years, whereas the project has originally seen the light 11 years ago. The band hasn’t changed much the way they handled things since then and TesseracT “has become its own thing”.

“When TesseracT started off, it was Acle [Acle Kahney, guitar] trying to make/create Meshuggah sounds in a similar way and then he started blending it with melodic stuff (…) I think now, those ideas are still very much in the route but it’s evolved musically into some more complex things, basically, towards where TesseracT does now.”

Obviously, they have found their very own path because there’s no such thing as listening to TesseracT now. It’s some kind of an unreal experiment that always leaves us wondering what is coming next? Where is this band going with these crazy frenzied melodies and immense singing.


  Therefore, as for the future, James highlights the fact that TesseracT are not precisely taking the band from a point A to a point B on purpose, it’s not about where they want to go; “it just goes where it has to.” When asked how does the new material sound, he answers that it is “more proggy”, with aggressive guitars and a lot of dynamics at the same time. It also consists in some heavy moments, contrasting with very atmospheric ones “and everything in between”. Still lost? Well so we are, but there’s one thing James can guarantee, it’s that it has moved on again, being something along the lines of earlier TesseracT albums at the same time.


  However, writing and recording music, in between huge tours, when you also have a personal life isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially knowing that days don’t lest forever. We’ve been wondering how TesseracT usually get organized to do so and the answer is simple :


First of all: Passion.

TesseracT‘s story has been very eventful throughout the time and when asked how did they manage to stick together, make it what it is now, despite all the issues and all what it takes to be committed in a band, James simply mentions their love for music.

“We really love it, we really love music and we’re passionate about it. We love just doing this. You just deal with the issues and try to make the best of every situation. The minute you stop enjoying doing something like this, you quit because it’s hard. As soon as you lose the passion, you should stop. We still have the passion and that’s what keeps us going the way we do.”


Secondly: The Internet.

“The band exists because of the internet, really (…) I think the Internet enables you to be time efficient because we all have lives and day jobs, we basically squeeze the band stuff in as we can. It’s massively helpful.” Not so surprising in the end, we’re in 2014!
“To this day, Acle is kind of the main songwriter, he lays down his own ideas, emails them around and then we all sort of contribute via emails with our own ideas and extra parts and vocal ideas…Without the Internet we wouldn’t have been here.” Thank god for the Internet it is then? That’s something we always (shamelessly) say.


  Now if you’re wondering what do the TesseracT gentlemen do besides the band, you might want to know that aside from being a killer guitar player, James Monteith is also a french cheese connoisseur. His favorite one? The Neufchâtel.
“Normandy cheese Neufchâtel is really good. It’s like a camembert-style cheese that’s very salty and very good in the middle and when it matures, it’s super strong. I like cheese!”

After this tour, Tesseract won’t be playing live until at least the end of next year. You should be happy to know that they’ll be focussing on the next album, that will be hopefully out in September (2015). And then?

“Probably back on the road again!”

In conclusion, busy year ahead for TesseracT, but luckily not quite away from home for some time.


I have a tendency to seek for new sounds and humbly contribute to its living. I'm a dreamer, I live for today and take the time to appreciate every single thing that life has to offer.

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