Ian Girle was pretty impressed with “The Sea Shaper”, the latest music venture by Belgian post metal outfit Terraformer. Reason enough for him to have a nice chat with these gents about nautical themes, the creative process within the band and their collective dislike to play on an elevated stage…
Congratulations on a great debut album. “The Sea Shaper” is a real musical journey, with so many ideas packed into each song. How has reaction been to the album so far?
Thanks! We’ve received lots of nice words about our album. We weren’t expecting such positive feedback and it’s awesome.
For people unfamiliar with Terraformer, how would you describe your music?
We play a kind of varied heavy instrumental music. People sometimes tag us as post-metal, math rock or post-rock. We occupy a place where all of those genres cross over.
How do you approach the song writing process?
Most of the time it starts with an idea (a melody, rhythm or guitar riff), which we jam around; sometimes we even fight about it (which can be a wise move: if we didn’t we might spend too much time locked in our practice space, drinking beer and playing table football!). More seriously, we try as much as possible to focus on efficiency and making things fluent; we try to avoid separation in our songs.
For this album, did you arrive with every song ready to record, or did you write in the studio?
Almost everything was done before we started recording; we tried to be prepared with our pre-production and so on. Despite this, we did have some surprises during the recording process that lead us to change parts of some songs, ultimately making them better.
There is a clear nautical theme to the album. Why did you decide on that particular subject?
The first couple of songs we wrote were named using sea-related words, so we decided to go further with this idea. We wanted a key idea for this album, to create a unity. The sea theme was perfect for us: it can be poetic, violent or massive, like the feelings we wanted to share with our songs.
Much of the album is instrumental, presumably due to the complex nature of the compositions. Can you foresee a time when you might add more vocals to your songs?
No, we don’t think we’ll add more vocals to our songs. We use vocals to increase the intensity of some songs, but ultimately we want to remain an instrumental band. You’ll probably notice that the vocals on “The Sea Shaper” are used like instruments and as such form part of the wall of sound. If we decide at some point that we want to add more vocals, we’ll probably create a side project to do that.
You have been known to play live on the floor, literally in the audience, rather than up on stage. Why did you do that?
That is where we feel most comfortable, and doing it means we can play everywhere. We don’t have to worry about P.A. or monitors; we just set up our gear and play. The other reason is that we like to be near to the audience, it creates an atmosphere around the band. So when we are allowed to play in the audience, we do!!!
How are plans for the tour in July going?
Great! Everything is almost confirmed. We’re really looking forward to it. We’ll do one show in Luxembourg, four in Germany and four in the Czech Republic. We will hit the road with our friends Ilydaen.
The album artwork is pretty striking. Is there a story to it and how does it relate to the music?
We asked our friend Fabrice (who had already done the E.P artwork) to do it. We gave him the song titles and the idea that surrounds the record and he came up with the artwork. We were expecting giant creatures like cephalopods or the Kraken, something that reflects the wild side of our music. But he listened to the songs and said that they made him think of an old witch (cute isn’t it!), rather than the ideas that we had. He’s a talented guy so he did what the music evoked in his mind.
Apart from a tour later this year, what other plans do you have for the future of Terraformer?
Next year we’d like to explore the UK or north of Europe; we’ll have to see what opportunities arise! We plan to record a new song in August, after which would like to compose new material for a future release, hopefully in 2013 – so we have plenty of exciting work to do.