Earlier this year I had the extreme pleasure of reviewing Sophicide’s “Perdition of the Sublime“. Recently, I had the chance to get to know it’s creator and founder Adam Laszlo a little bit better. Despite his protests, I do believe this young man to be a prodigy both in musicianship and forward thinking. We got to discuss how he made such an amazing album, his influences, and about what he thinks of the world in general as “Perdition of the Sublime” tackles some pretty heavy topics.
What was the process for writing the album? Did you write the lyrics first then add music or did you compose first?
I always wrote the music first and then added lyrics, it’s just the way things felt right. The lyrics are important to me though, but I don’t think their quality suffers from this particular approach. However, I’m open to new approaches, so maybe I’ll try something different for the next album, who knows.
For a debut album, “Perdition of the Sublime” is quite impressive. Did you achieve what you wanted to?
Definitely, I mean to be honest I didn’t expect the reactions to be this good, so I’m pretty thrilled about the reviews and the great response so far and I really appreciate it.
Did you play all the instruments on the album?
Yes, except for the drums, which I wrote and sampled only.
The lyrics are a scathing commentary on the human condition. Why this subject matter?
When I decided to add lyrics to the music, I wanted to address topics that I actually care about. In my opinion the intellectual decay of society is something that concerns every one of us. The decisions we make will affect everyone and we should be aware of that. We are a global community and the happiness of everyone lies within the hands of each of us. And there’s a whole lot going wrong nowadays.
When I listened to the album, I could understand few of the lyrics due to the “growling” style of singing. Why chose this form of singing when you have such important themes?
Actually the reason I chose to growl on this album was that I thought it fits the music best. I do like clean singing too, but when it comes to more aggressive and harsher styles of music, I prefer growls most of the time. But I do agree that the comprehensibility usually suffers from this particular vocal style, so I’m really working on my enunciation. Besides that, people can always look up the lyrics in the booklet or online.
The compositions sound like progressive to acid jazz, to fusion to death / black metal. The combination works! Who are your favourite composers and why?
There are a bunch actually, including Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth. He is one of my all-time favorites and Michael Keene who is a genius especially when it comes to fusing death metal with other musical styles. Besides that, I love the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach and the masterpieces of John Williams. These are some of my favorites, there are a lot more great composers that I like obviously.
Are you a fan of John Cage and his compositional style?
I do respect him as an artist. He has a great way of making you think about the concept of music in general, which is remarkable. But I would say I enjoy his ideas rather than his music.
The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in your home studio. What kind of equipment do you use? Are you self-taught in engineering?
My equipment is pretty humble to be honest, All I use apart from my instruments and my microphone is a preamp and an audio interface. Everything else is done digitally with my computer. I’m self-taught in this so it took quite some time to get somewhat decent at this. I usually ended up being the “sound guy” in my bands, so eventually I started to get more and more serious with this job and I’m really enjoying it.
The overall tone of “Perdition of the Sublime” is lovingly mathematical. Where you good at maths in school?
It was my favorite subject actually, so yes, I was pretty decent at it. But by now I don’t remember much of it, really.
The music is very complex. Do you see it in your head; the colours, notes, waveforms, frequencies?
No, not really like that. Sometimes I envision how a riff looks like on the guitar fret board, but most of the time I hear a song in its integrity and how the individual tracks intertwine. To me this interaction is essential. If you take an awesome guitar riff for instance and combine it with drums that don’t fit the guitar track, the result is probably still going to be bad. However, if you put together a nice riff with a nicely fitting drumbeat, the combination can be great. So I’m trying to write as little as possible from the “guitarists perspective” rather than the unbiased general musicians perspective. Like I said, I’m trying *laugh*. I most likely can’t completely discard my influences that I have from the guitar being my main instrument.
Are you going to put a band together and tour on “Perdition of the Sublime”? How would you go about finding the caliber of musicians to bring your vision to life?
I am looking for musicians right now, so far my friend Sebastian Bracht has joined as additional guitar player. Finding musicians for this project is not exactly easy, but I’m sure I’ll find the right people, there are a lot of great musicians out there. As soon as our lineup is complete we’re going to rehearse and hit the stages, we’re really anxious for this.
What is the response to the album thus far? Is it what you were expecting?
The reactions have been great so far, even better than I’ve expected honestly. It feels great and I’m curious how this will go on.
What is your fan base like?
The fan base is rather diverse I would say, as it is scattered internationally pretty much, despite the fact that it’s quite small yet. As this project started online right away without any live performances, a local fan base couldn’t even evolve, really. Anyway, I’d say our fans are awesome. We really appreciate each and every of their comments.
Your album is outside the music business pop mainstream; no chart topping singles, no bubblegum, no cheap marketing slap your face and logo on everything that will sell. Is there more or less pressure on you to move units and follow up?
There’s no pressure at all, really, at least not for me as from the musicians perspective. I don’t believe musicians can’t be put under such pressure without jeopardizing the quality of their music. This is pretty idealistic, but I think ideally this should concern the artist at all.
Being a one man band and doing everything yourself – how did you get a record contract without the benefit of touring and cultivating loyal fans that way?
As for the contract with Willowtip, I was contacted by the label, after releasing the first EP (“The Art Of Atrocity”). I was pretty surprised actually but somehow they stumbled upon my music and liked it.
I read that you started this project when you were 19. What is your upbringing / family background that you were/are so enlightened (via the lyrics) at such a young age?
First of all, I wouldn’t say I’m very enlightened or anything, but since I can remember I’ve been rather rational and sceptical. My parents must have brought me up that way even if not consciously. Especially my father has a very logical and reasonable way of thinking. I believe a healthy dose of scepticism is a good foundation to make you think about a lot of what’s going on in the world.
The depth and breadth of this album suggests you are a prodigy. What instruments to you play? How long have you played? Any formal schooling?
Again, I think that’s kind of an exaggeration, really. I’d rather say I’m a nerd who’s obsessed with music *laugh*. My main instrument is the guitar for which I took lessons for about 7 or 8 years in total. Besides that I can play bass and I have a basic understanding of drums. I don’t really play them though. And that’s about it, I don’t even play the piano, that’s not very prodigy-like, if you ask me *laugh*.
When do you think the moral decay of society began? What prompted it?
I don’t think there’s a particular point in time when the “moral decay” began or any concrete event that triggered it. I rather think humans in general have an intrinsic tendency of not thinking and questioning autonomously, but rather let a few others do this work. After all, that’s how societies work, even in a democracy there is only a small group of leaders, while most people obey and have just a little say at best.
In my opinion, the problem is that most people simply don’t care about what’s going on. What we need is awareness and empathy, I think. People need to realize that a lot in this world is going terribly wrong and we could change it to the better, if we only wanted to. Else I’m afraid we’re slowly digging our own grave.
The span of human history ebbs and flows between greatness and depravity: sometimes both at the same time, i.e. the mathematical and cosmological genius of the Mayans, the technology and medical advancements of the Chinese dynasties, the heights and lows of the Roman Empire, the Egyptians, the Moors to the imperialist expansion of the British to the current technology led by India and the early 20th century advances in all forms of physics. Do you feel that humans in 2012 are devolving to a brain dead passive mediocrity? i.e. Do you believe the populace is dumber now even with all the information and technology they have?
Actually no, I don’t think so. The point is that with all the technology we have, we could create abundance for everyone and let each of us profit from our advancements. But instead a very little group of people lives in huge superabundance while others starve to death. Let’s be honest here, most of the ills in the world are ultimately our fault.
We can’t expect our governments and industries to be ethical, it’s just not how things work apparently. So each time they act recklessly and atrociously (which happens all the time) we need a media that informs us about this, instead of a yellow press that tells us about Chris Brown beating up his girlfriend. And as soon as we know about it, we must act. We must change or topple the government. We must boycott and bring down corporations that stop at nothing and bring misery to the world for the sake of profit.
What do you fear is worse, a corrupt intrusive government, the proliferation of large corporations and their dominance, or the mass of sheeple that allow both to rise to power?
It’s hard to say which one is worse. I think the combination of them is the actual problem. I think there will always be corrupt and unethical people in the government or corporations, so probably the only way to intervene is if there are enough people who stand up against them. When people unite they have a huge power and can change a lot, they just have to be convinced of an idea whose time has come.
Do you think the population deserve what they get?
Well I think it depends on how you define “deserve”. Let me put it like this: I think society reaps what it sows (although it’s usually the future generations that suffer from the pasts mistakes). But it doesn’t satisfy me in the sense that society should be punishment for its ignorance. I think humans have a huge potential and if we really learn from our mistakes, things can only get better.