Chronolyth: Alex Nisiriou & Hamish McSorley Interview10th June 2016
Despite being half way through a massive Australian tour in support of their stunning new album, Atrophy, Alex Nisiriou and Hamish McSorley of Brisbane melodeath up-and-comers Chronolyth were kind enough to take the time to chat to me about their influences, plans for the coming year, and the response to the new album.
All About The Rock: First of all thanks for taking the time to chat to me today! You’re in the middle of a 17 date tour of Australia, how’s that going so far? Any great tour stories?
Alex: It’s unreal! Every show we’ve had a loyal following come out, some fresh faces and a lot of new ones too. It’s cool to see people still coming to the shows who first saw us years ago in our demo days before we even had a full album out yet. Even more-so when we get to play with bands that we first met on the Bitter Reflection tour during our first couple of months as a band!
AATR: You’ve just released your sophomore album, Atrophy. It was received excellently here at All About The Rock, but how has the response been in general?
Hamish: All in all, it’s been nothing short of spectacular. Not just the local response but at an international level as well. Coming from a bunch of young lads from Brisbane at the bottom of the world, to get reviews and responses coming from all corners of the globe is just amazing. We’ve had people hit us up from Europe, the States, Asia, all asking us to come over and play. It’s nuts. I think our new album resonated with quite a few people.
AATR: Now you sat on the album for almost a year before releasing it, I believe? Was there a reason for that?
Alex: There were some complications within the band, uncertainty in musical direction, financial struggles, trying to find a suitable bass player to replace the departure of Jimmy Barrett amongst everyday life getting in the way. It was important to us that we released the album when we could focus our full attention on it and allow the time to tour it on the road. I’m glad we waited, although we were quite nervous at the time. Hamish: It was number of things. After completing an album, you have to get all your birds in a row. That means getting everything sorted for artwork, merchandise, promotion, music videos, sorting out availabilities for the album tour cycle. It’s a lot to get done and it took us a couple months to finalise. It just means that when you finally announce the album and tour everything comes out stronger and is ready to go.
AATR: I loved Sovereign but Atrophy blows it out the water! What changed in the creative process, can you talk us through it?
Alex: Thanks man… That’s touching! This new album was a stronger collaboration as a band. Ben and I wrote 50/50 on the music side of things while Hamish got to focus on the lyrical side of things with the exception of a couple of lines. We had our friends involved in the recording process for things like gang vocals, demoing and what have you. It was really cool to be able to show a friend who understands our direction a new demo of ours and let them explore what THEY would like to hear as a fan, then we can go from there if we hit writer’s block. Hamish: I think we drew from a wider range of influences for this album. That and everyone had a different approach to song writing. When we dove into this album we didn’t have a clear idea of what we wanted to do. We didn’t want to just repeat ourselves, but after the bar we set with Sovereign there is always an added risk in changing your sound on your second album. It was a big challenge. The first few songs we wrote didn’t really work and sounded too safe. Eventually we just kept bouncing ideas around until we got something we were happy with. And we added influences from death metal, black metal, symphonic metal, a hint of hardcore and even dipped our toes into some djent. It was definitely a bit of a messier process than the last effort. The end result we got we were frankly a little sceptical on how it would be received. Our style has always been rooted in American and European Melodeath, but we wanted to change it up and not just be seen as “Australia’s DevilDriver“. We were happy with the result even if it took us a while to figure out the direction.
AATR: How do you find being an underground band in Australia? Do you see it as slightly more difficult to break out given the country’s isolation?
Hamish: To be honest, it’s hard. The thing is there are just so many bands out there today, great bands, both locally and internationally, and it’s easy for your band to get noticed in an inundated scene. The fact that Australia is on the other side of the world to where your market is makes touring internationally hard and expensive. And Australia is massive as well, so it makes it harder to tour your own country too. You could drive four hours in Europe and be in another country, whereas here you’re still stuck in the same damn state. So for a lot of bands here you’ve really got to push yourself to widen your audience and take risks and hopefully get noticed for it. It’s hard, but it makes it even better when your hard work pays off.
AATR: Tour wise, what’s next for you? Any plans to hop over into Asia, or even as far afield as America, the UK or Europe?
Alex: We were only just talking about the possibility of heading over to the U.S last weekend while on the road. A lot of work to be done in that area, but it’s definitely something we’re interested in doing. Hamish: All these places are definitely within our sights and certainly within the near future. For me, Europe and America has always been the dream, and I don’t give up on my dreams. We will get there as soon as we can.
AATR: And what’s next for you, music wise? Are you riding the Atrophy wave for the moment, or have you already got plans for something new?
Alex: Right now we’re still taking in and focusing on Atrophy. Once we settle in from this tour we will have a clearer vision as to where we want to go with it next. We don’t intend on making the same record as either of our previous releases, so it will be interesting. Hamish: We are still riding this Atrophy wave, but we are already writing new music as we speak. I suppose when you sit on an album for a year and then tour for it you’re a bit sick of the songs at that point. But we always looking to what’s next. We will never lose the heaviness of our music, but we are always looking to reinvent ourselves and try new things.
AATR: In Brisbane, Chronolyth has supported a variety of excellent, top tier bands – it was through the At The Gates show I actually discovered you. Have there been any gigs you’ve played where there’s a “Holy fuck, I’m supporting…” moment?
Alex: For me it would have been DevilDriver, but these days I feel like we’re a bit more mature and level-headed now. It’s grown into more of a respect for these bands we are lucky enough to perform with. It’s important to know your place and give them their space, but I still get excited nevertheless! Hamish: Soundwave festival was definitely a game changer. We got to perform on the biggest stage to date, play to a massive crowd, and rub shoulders with metal legends we would have creamed our pants to as teenage boys. At the Gates were a massive influence to our sound and having the opportunity to support them was just pure awesome. We got to support Aversions Crown and Molotov Solution in early 2015, and Colin’s vocals for Aversions Crown were just so good we actually managed to get him to feature on Atrophy. Next month we are supporting Aussie Melodeath legends Be’lakor so we are stoked for that. But as such, we are holding out for a big international support. But if that “oh my god” moment comes I will try to contain myself.
AATR: I saw on the bands Facebook page that the release show for Atrophy was almost sold out – how was the show?
Hamish: You know when you get to crowd surf twice, have massive circle pits and a killer wall of death to end the night, you know it was a damn good show. I think we just built up all this energy and excitement after holding onto the new album for a year and then we just exploded at the show. It went off! Needless to say it was one of the best shows I think I’ve ever played and I can’t wait to play my home city again.
AATR: With the band as a whole and with you both personally, who and what are some of your biggest influences, both musically and lyrically?
Alex: The band has drawn influence from a combination of sounds and genres. Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying, Behemoth, Gojira, A Day To Remember, DevilDriver are all cited as influences from the band amongst others. I also personally enjoy rap, pop and other genres depending on my mood, so one day I might be digging a groove from Bring Me The Horizon and then like an idea behind something I may hear in a death metal song. An open mind helps explore new territory as far as I’m concerned. Hamish: One listen to Atrophy and it’s pretty clear that the band has a massive range of influences. The bands of the New Wave of American Metal (DevilDriver, Chimaira, Lamb of God) had a massive influence on our sound, as well the solid metalcore genre (Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying). European bands such as At the Gates, Behemoth and Scar Symmetry we also draw influence from. I look up to all the great metal vocalists like James Hetfield, Corey Taylor and Devin Townsend. AATR: Are there any themes or concepts you’re really interested in that you’d perhaps like to explore in future releases? Hamish: I love albums that tell stories or have a consistent theme throughout. I know it’s something I want to aim for on the next album and hopefully have the music to match it. All our albums follow a common theme and I want to continue that trend on the next release. I’m also partial to adding a bit more of a symphonic sound to the music to give it that epic feel.
AATR: Are there any bands in the underground you are loving at the moment, either in Australia or elsewhere?
Alex: Sure! Orpheus Omega, A Breach of Silence, The Bennies are all on high rotation for myself and a few of the other guys playlists lately. They’re some of the few really killer acts doing big things lately!
AATR: Thanks for taking the time to chat guys! Enjoy the rest of the tour!