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A Dirty Dozen with JEFF PERRY of ILLYRIAN – July 2019

 

According to a recent press release: “Canada’s ILLYRIAN is a three-piece metal band from Calgary, Alberta. On July 26 the band will release The Entity, Unknown. This is the band’s second release blending elements of death and thrash metal with technical and melodic composition. The band comments on the album, “This record represents a lot for us, and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. We pushed ourselves, went through some tough times with a line-up change, and ultimately produced it down a member. We’ve had to withdraw and regroup a bit to get here, but we’re eager and excited to unleash what we’ve been cooking up, and we hope our listeners are equally eager to enjoy it!” We get bassist Jeff to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

While The Entity, Unknown is far from a concept album, all the tracks are linked thematically from a lyrical perspective. Every song refers to a monster in some form or another – some of those are pretty obvious, like the title track and “Amanar Rising” which are about straight up creatures, but the remaining songs can all be interpreted to be about monsters as well, just in less direct terms. “Levottomuus” is probably the least direct interpretation of it, being the Finnish word for “anxiety” (at least, as far as we understand it in our native English tongue), but if you or anyone you know has suffered with anxiety before, you know how much of a monster it can be to deal with.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I got into music at a real young age, initially through conservatory piano when I was 9 or 10.  I discovered punk music a few years later and decided to pick up a guitar instead, teaching myself through the then-burgeoning YouTube and internet at large. Punk really resonated with me as an angry adolescent (I think most of us can relate to that), and given my relatively non-competitive mentality on most things I was drawn more to the arts than I was to sports. I don’t think there was a specific moment so much as it was just something I was drawn to early one and have kept up with since.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

It’s very difficult to pick a single source of inspiration, that’s like asking me what my favorite flavor of pie is! The answer is just “yes.” If I really have to pick one, AFI’s Answer That and Stay Fashionable was a super formative record for me when I was young, and paved the way to broadening my horizons into punk music and, inadvertently, into metal down the road.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

I’ll do my best to answer this on behalf of all of us and who we take inspiration from at the band level. In no particular order: Revocation, The Black Dahlia Murder, Battlecross, Mastodon, and Michael Jackson. Bet you didn’t see that last one coming.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

John motherfucking Goblikon. That guy gets it.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We push ourselves to write challenging and technically demanding music while still keeping it catchy and melodic. We’re also big fans of the multi-vocalist approach. Our roots in are in thrash metal, but we’ve moved in a death metal-y direction with our latest work, and make an effort to throw some more unconventional textures in there like world percussion and traditional folk instruments like the Irish Bouzouki. We’ve been compared to Trivium a handful of times which we aren’t overly sure we agree with. Nothing against them by any means, we just feel like our respective deals are very different!

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Self-expression, and the ability to “speak” in a universal language.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

When we aren’t at our home base making music, you can generally find us at your local pub, chatting over a few pints, cracking jokes at each other’s expense and generally just enjoying life. Scott’s usually getting worked up about something (and it’s always hilarious), Darren’s usually charming up a storm and networking like it’s his day job (is it his day job?), and I’m usually either drinking or napping in some dark corner like the reincarnated house cat that I am.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

This might be a bit of a surprising one – Lynn Gunn of the band PVRIS. PVRIS is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, and me and a friend of mine (both pushing 30) caught them live last year when they came through, and it was us and just a sea of 16 year old girls haha. Clearly we are not the target demographic. Anyways, Gunn is a phenomenal performer and all around talented human – she’s got a killer voice, she plays guitar, she plays piano, she plays drums, she’s fucking hilarious on stage and the whole experience just really stuck with me.  It felt like you understood her and what she was about watching her and the rest of the band do their thing. Great band, great show.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Is house cat an acceptable answer?

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Nah, our victories are a summary of our collective failures and the lessons we’ve learned from them. Maybe in some alternate timeline we made all the right moves and we’re Bill & Ted level rock gods, guiding our people to be excellent to each other, but all of us share the philosophy of “always forward” and the past is there for reflection and education, not for dwelling and wondering.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Wouldn’t have to travel that far back at all – Blind Guardian’s A Night at the Opera (sorry Queen). With all time travel paradoxes, if I touched anything I would likely fundamentally alter the course of human history and doom us as a species, but I have often felt that album is quite over-produced in my opinion, and despite my undying love for the record and the band I’ve often wondered how and why in the studio process it became as grandiose as it is. There are SO many textures and elements on the record outside of just the band and their instruments, and while it certainly makes for a super unique and standout record (which was almost certainly the intent), I have to wonder what the music sounds like when it’s just the lads playing the music without a backing track of 17 different instruments accompanying them. What does it mean to me? Blind Guardian was the first metal band I listened to where I went “whoa, okay – you can do a lot with this kind of music, it doesn’t have to just be doom and gloom and death all the time.” Those guys are true pioneers, and while they might not be for everyone, I think they are a genuinely unique and refreshing take on a genre that can feel like it needs to fit neatly inside a certain kind of box or else it can be rejected as “not metal.”

ILLYRIAN LINKS:

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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