Thrash Hits

March 19th, 2014

PROGTOLOGY with James Monteith of TesseracT: #11 – A new year comes after… last year

Progtology with James Monetieth Thrash Hits

It’s been nine months since the last installment of ProgTology. That’s partly due to James “Metal” Monteith touring the world with his excellent band, TesseracT, but also because we’re lazy. Either way, let’s talk about the significant goings on…

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James. You know if you’d put your band’s album anywhere in your Top 20 albums of the year, it would’ve got in the Thrash Hits Top 10?
Really? Oh Damn. well, I guess it’s the trade off for not looking like a self promoting bellend (I say while wearing a TesseracT Christmas jumper). In all honesty, I guess it would be up there as it marks a very significant milestone for the band, plus I love playing the songs and can’t wait to take some of the other album tracks we’ve yet to play out live in 2014, but it’s impossible for me to be objective so it wouldn’t be a fair to include it. And to be honest if you were good mates you would have all put Altered State as your number one. I’m pretty heartbroken to be honest. Bastards.

#11 is pretty good though, right?
Of course! There’ve been so many great records out this year, to even get a mention is awesome. After rushing out my list (and probably giving up a little too much space for Slayer reissues), I’d forgotten about a bunch of other great records. Have you heard the Exivious record? It’s bloody awesome. How did I forget that? But back to my other point, you could have rigged it to get us in the Top 10, couldn’t you. That would have been a nice thing to do. Just saying.

tesseract altered state album cover 2013 thrash hitsRead our bloody excellent review of Altered State, where we herald “the start of an intriguing evolution” and also contains such insightful gems as: “TesseracT are to djent what Deftones were to nu metal back in the ’90s.” It’s a fantastic album by a fantastic band that is as enjoyable to write about as they are to listen to.
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How do you feel about Robb Flynn and John Petrucci bigging you up?
Insane. Absolutely insane. Both of them were teenage guitar idols of mine and are responsible for writing and performing a hell of a lot of music that played a major role in who I am as a guitar player. I remember being 14 and hearing Burn My Eyes for the first time and it was like nothing I’d heard before. The guitar tone, the HUGE riffs, the aggression… I remember having my skull crushed by ‘Davidian’, and then the opening riff to ‘Old’ secured them as my favourite band at the time. Not bad for two songs! I got into Dream Theater a year or so later with the Images and Words album, and, similarly, I was blown away be the guitar tones, riffs and scared shitless by John Petrucci’s speed picking in ‘Pull Me Under’. I’d never heard anyone play so fast! It was also the first progressive metal record I properly discovered and loved. So yeah, to have those guys even know who we are blows my mind.

Oli Sykes from BMTH also tweeted about how he was enjoying our record not long after release. I’m not a huge fan of the band but i have a lot of respect for him as a person, and props from the front man of one of the biggest UK bands at the moment is pretty cool. Mike Portnoy’s also been a great supporter of the band, which is awesome as well.

 

What about Prog magazine? You did well there too, yes?
Yeah, that was one of the most unexpected end of year lists. Second only to Steven Wilson, who put out my fave album of the year! Nuts. We also made the Metal Hammer and Rock Sound Top 50 lists, which was a pretty good result too. Overall the amount of positivity has been incredible and we’re really grateful for the support we’re getting. I really hope that this helps introduce more people to Tesseract’s music.

You toured hard in 2013 didn’t you. What have you learnt?
Yeah we’ve been touring hard pretty much since the end of 2010, it’s been a lot of fun but also very hard work. I guess I’ve learned that touring is important, but family and home is even more so. Doing my best to find a work-life balance is something I’m working on right now. Sorry, that was boring. I guess my eyes have been fully opened to see what a tough game being in a touring band is. Finances are tight and there are a lot of uncertainties, but it’s very exciting and a lot of fun… it beats sitting in an office every day. I’ve also learned that riders are generally more generous overseas. If you want to be fed well, tour Europe and the USA!

You seem to have finally found a singer that has stuck around. Ashe also seems to fit TesseracT’s music the best so far…
He’s definitely one of the most talented people I’ve worked with. He has a great ear for a hook (because he listens to Anberlin five times a day) and seems to intuitively write melodies that fit over unconventional structures. He’s killer live too and as his confidence has grown, he’s developed into a great front man. Not taking anything away from previous vocalists as they’ve all been great, but Ashe is the right guy for where we are now and shows no sign of leaving, which is good! He does however love Evanescence, but you know, no one’s perfect.

What else happened in 2013?
We recorded the first part of our next Live in the Studio DVD! On One we recorded ‘Concealing Fate’ entirely live and we’re doing the same for the whole of Altered State. We’ve recorded ‘Of Matter’ so far in Sphere Studios, London, and the plan is to visit three other really cool studios for each part. I ate In-N-Out burger and drank a lot of craft beer in the US. The latter meant that lots of the last tour was a blur… but a good blur. I think.

What’s happening in 2014?
The next few months are set to be pretty hectic for TesseracT! We’ve just played Soundwave in Australia and the Trondheim Metal Festival in Norway, before heading out to the USA/Canada for our first ever headliner! We’re going out with our buddies Intronaut in support, and also the legendary (in geek cirles) Cloudkicker. These will be the first ever Cloudkicker live shows (Intronaut will be their backing band), and we’re very excited about that. Following the USA we return home with the plan to start thinking about album number three, and will be squeezing in a couple of summer fests, including Sonisphere. Then after that… who knows… maybe a UK / Euro tour… we’ll have to wait and see…

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We believe that final… sentence… was James’s effort at being cryptic about a UK tour that will probably happen in the autumn. It’s not rocket science, but there’s something to look forward to. We should get him to write this blog a bit more frequently, eh?


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