Part two of our series of interviews with Talanas, by Mat Davies, is Ewan Parry, who plays guitars, synths and samples.
Firstly, congratulations on the debut album- it’s a triumph. How do you feel about it?
Great, it was a lot of work but it feels like a big milestone for us to put out our first full-length. It’s a little bit nerve-racking waiting for everyone to be able to hear it and react, but I’m confident that people are going to like it.
What were the easiest and hardest aspects of bringing “The Waspkeeper” to fruition?
I suppose one of the easiest parts was that we had a real sense of momentum after the release of the EP, not only in the sense that we had loads of ideas raring to go, but the enthusiasm surrounding our debut release really drove us on. People were asking us, ‘when is the album coming?’ so there was a real incentive for us to say ‘ok, let’s give them some more!’
The hardest part I guess was time related. We all have jobs so the writing and recording would often fit into either our all-nighter rehearsal slots or evenings. There were quite a few near-sleepless nights spent putting everything together because there was no other time to get things done. Going to work on three hours sleep is not fun, believe me.
There are a lot of personal themes running through “The Waskeeper”- has the record been a cathartic experience?
My contribution is a musical statement rather than a lyrical one, and in that sense, yes, it’s pretty cathartic to finally put out something that is the best representation so far of what I want the music I create to be.
You can hear a number of influences in the record- perhaps most surprising for readers of TINAS would be the Japan/David Sylvian/Depeche Mode undertones. Tell us about that…
Well we are all children of the 80s and so I guess fairly inevitably the sound of that decade is an influence on us, whether it’s the soundtracks of films from back then, or bands that were prominent in that era. Some of the synths especially have a very deliberate ‘80’s’ vibe to them, bands like Fields of the Nephilim or Sisters of Mercy were very much on our minds there.
There’s a discipline and focus around all the tracks on the record- How easy are you to work with?
I’m pretty easy to work with, I hope! I like having other people around who will contribute ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of myself, but if I do feel strongly about how something should be then I will make my case. I sometime like to go and think or work on an idea alone as I find certain ideas develop better when they have time for you to ponder them, but ultimately what goes into the music is a group decision and that’s how songs get shaped into the more, as you say, ‘disciplined’ thing that ends up as the final product.
How are the plans for the tour coming along? What can we expect in terms of your show?
What we really want is to create a live show that’s energetic and engaging for the audience, not just us standing still on stage playing our instruments. I know I’d rather see a band that really gets into things and makes an effort to get the crowd as involved as possible, so that’s what we aim for in a live set.
What other current artists/bands are inspiring you at the moment?
I’ve actually been revisiting my music collection and I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff I don’t often listen to or haven’t heard in a while. It’s reminded me, for example, how under-rated Prong were, and how audaciously experimental Maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot are. I’ve also just been listening to Shining’s Blackjazz and some of their work with Enslaved, who are another big influence for me.
How do you all relax when you’re not working or gigging?
I like films, and there’s nothing like seeing one in a nice cinema, though I’ve got piles of DVDs waiting to be watched. I’m reading a lot of novels at the moment too. I’d like to be as into video games as I used to be but I don’t have the time.
We’re getting a round in. What’s your poison?
Guinness, pretty much every time, though I’m quite partial to a good Single Malt.
You’re stuck on a desert island- what are the key records you’d like to have with you?
Neurosis – Given to the Rising. One of my favourite albums, and since I’m stuck on an island I’ll probably want something you can really absorb yourself in like this. Some people prefer Times of Grace but I find this much more refined.
Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me. I think I really prefer Ys, but I’d finally have time to give this triple album the time required to absorb it.
Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power. Probably the first metal album I really got into and one of the main reasons I picked up a guitar, I think I could listen to this pretty much any time and it would pick me up.
If you weren’t in Talanas, what would you all be doing?
Well my other main vocation is sound design for films and animation, which I still actually do, but I suppose I’d spend more time on that. I’d always find a way to make music on the side though.
Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, have become increasingly important for bands to get their music heard and distributed. Describe Talanas in 140 characters or less….
Forward thinking extreme music, with a unique range of musical influences.
What’s next for Talanas?
Of course we want to get out there and get gigging. As for future releases, we haven’t made any concrete plans but I know I’ve definitely got some ideas on what I want to do musically that we haven’t yet done.
Time for the final question. What is your ultimate Spinal Tap moment?
We have quite a few moments of utter silliness when we’re in the studio, it’s hard to pick one in particular, but you can get an idea of some of it from our video blogs. Duff eating raw meat was an odd moment.