21.10.2014

INTERVIEW with Israeli proggers DISTORTED HARMONY (English)

When it comes to prog music in 2014, Distorted Harmony are getting my vote.
Their second full-lenght effort "Chain Reaction" is a modern and original oeuvre that shows the Isreal based band's skill and talent. Their style is rich in variety, melodic and playful as well as challenging and catchy at the same time.

Curious as I've always been, I had some questions for the band in mind. Main songwriter, keyboarder and producer Yoav Efron and drummer Yogev Gabay were kind enough to answer my questions about the songwriting process and the lyrics of "Chain Reaction", future plans of Distorted Harmony as well as some more personal topics.

How do you feel three months after the release of „Chain Reaction“?

Yoav: In one word - Hungry (in a good way). The fan’s reaction and worldwide support has been beyond what we could have imagined and we’re so grateful and excited that I believe I can speak for all of us and say we want to keep making people happy, make an even greater impact and reach more people with our music.

Yogev: I feel great. For me, once the recordings are over, and the album is out, the real test is if I’m willingly able to just listen to it while I’m walking around or cleaning the dishes. If I can listen to the album as a whole, without thinking about individual instruments or without braking the song up in structure terms, then it passed my listening test. And gladly enough, “Chain Reaction" did :)


How has the writing process for “Chain Reaction” been going? How much time did you need until you were satisfied with the amount and the quality of songs you had written? Has every member of the band been involved into the writing process?

Yoav: I believe the writing process took about 3-4 months. We start with the structure, I compose the music, the riffs, grooves, melodic lines, basically the entire song without the lyrics and send the sketch to the band. We go back and forth, I get their notes and ideas by mail or with me at the studio and make new revisions, until we feel the sketches/songs are ready. By the time we enter the studio, most of the music is done - and then we start tweaking and arranging it together. By that time I already started working on the lyrics and melodies and when we felt the arrangements are done, that’s when I could really sit and complete the lyrics and songs. It’s a team effort, each member has his own input and ideas mixed together with the other’s and we work so great together, I fucking love these guys.

Yogev: The writing process is more or less the same. Yoav (keyboards & production) basically writes the stuff at his house and sends us sketches or rough ideas that he has. We listen to those files, and comment on each one. I personally would actually go and work with Yoav on the material and add or drop any ideas I have. After we have sketches we can stand behind, we go in to the studio and play them all. Usually, in this part, the songs change a lot due to the live feel we get in the studio. Certain parts will feel very good and energetic, while some would feel weak or unnecessary. Plus, when the band as a whole is in the same room, everyone of us says what he thinks regarding whatever part of the song and we take care of it.


“Chain Reaction” sounds very different from the debut “Utopia”, has the transition to a more modern style been deliberate or a natural progress during the songwriting?

Yoav: I guess the biggest difference between the two is the fact that Utopia was mainly written between 2006-2008, and Chain Reaction in 2013. I’ve changed, we all have. We all listen to different music than we used to, we all discovered new directions and ideas so to me, Chain Reaction represents the music I love and listen to today, well, aspects of it. It wasn’t something we discussed and clearly not deliberate, we don’t work that way, it’s simply “what came out” - luckily for me, they liked it a lot!

Yogev: This album is the first time we, as a group, are working together from the beginning. I think, we as people, have matured and got more focused on our music. So yes, this album I’m more mature, coherent and it's simply a better album in my opinion.


Is there any lyrical concept or a main topic that every song of “Chain Reaction” is telling about?

Yoav: Although I just watched Devin Townsend’s “Retinal Circus” and it was absolutely brilliant, I’m not a big fan of concept albums. I don’t need a 50+ min story, I watch TV for that, and for me, it always felt like it’s too constraining to sit behind one concept. Having said that, given the fact the entire songs were written (lyrics) in something like 2 months, there’s a lot of common ground between them; all except one speaks about us, the human race - and what pisses me off about us - and what I so desperately wish would change.


After a read through the lyrics of “Chain Reaction”, I feel that some of them are pretty obvious, but others on the contrary seem nearly encrypted. The most confusing song for me is “Methylene Blue”. Can you please explain what the song mainly is about?

Yoav: I like to give a temporary title to a song before I start writing it and Methylene Blue was originally named Eugenics. While I was doing a research on Eugenics, I watched a documentary about Nazi experiments on prisoners, one experiment was an injection of methylene blue in order to change the colour of their eyes - to blue. That’s where the name came from - and that’s the chemical compound you see on the cover. The song is divided into 3 (and a half) sections. The first is like an imaginary dream, where genes and nameless beings are circling around the concept of Eugenics. The second speaks of those who made the choice of participating in horrible acts, none in particular, and it’s more of a question I ask myself - what would I have done? The second half of this part is “Praise the sun”. Now, although I “borrowed” the phrase from an awesome video game (Dark Souls), its meaning is purely an emotional response to the beauty and cleansing of the sun, the beautiful, deadly star that keeps all living things on this planet alive. It was also my reaction to the depressing first two parts. The last part is the cry for change, to make things better, to never repeat the mistakes and horrible acts we as humans have made, or we’ll be left with nothing but the rain.


In your opinion, what means the term “progressive music” and more precisely “progressive metal”?

Yogev: I think that the term progressive metal has been associated with Dream Theater for
so long, that their sound and style became the flag of this genre. They are a great band and great inspiration obviously, but I feel we lost some of the things prog metal stands for. In my opinion, progressive metal is the freedom of playing and melting every musical influence, concept or nuance you have, taken from any genre, to one big mix of sounds, of course all metal oriented. And the hard part is to make all these transitions as smooth as possible.


What are the biggest influences for your music and what are your personal musical preferences?

Yoav: I think we’re all driven by what we cherish and grew up on and what we currently listen to. For a long time, I studied and played Jazz and it will always have its impact on my approach and writing, but today I mostly listen to heavy music, rock and metal. On my part, Chain Reaction was influenced by the likes of Tool, Devin Townsend, Radiohead, Meshuggah and Muse - but there were of course many small gestures and sub-conscious influences - it might be a song I listened to that day, or even a score from a TV show I recently watched. There are really too many influences to mention and that’s the beauty of music.

Yogev: Our music is influenced by Meshuggah, Tool, Porcupine Tree and of course other great progressive metal bands, as well as a lot of jazz, electronic music and fusion. Each of us carries his own “influence bag” so it all blends together. About my personal influences, I listen to a lot of modern jazz and breakbeat/jungle music. I also listen to RnB and hip hop and of course, metal and djent.


What are the most important things you want to express with your music?

Yoav: I believe (well.. I know) music is the greatest tool, as cliché as it may be, the most precious tool humanity had, has and will forever have. It’s a universal language of art and mathematics. I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but I try and express my beliefs, thoughts and ideas through our music. But to answer your question - we don’t want to express anything but our love of and for music.


Would you ever consider signing a contract with a record label or do you want to stay independent in the future?

Yoav: If the right offer/deal should come, we would certainly commit to a label. We’re here for the long run, we work very hard to reach out, expand and grow and would love a major companion who’d help us do that.


Is there any touring planned, maybe in Europe?

Yogev: Yes! We are planned to fly to Netherlands in November. We have 3 shows there. Also, we
are working very hard on booking a European tour this upcoming summer.


Is there anything you want to tell your fans and supporters?

Yogev: First of all, we would like to thank all our fans. Thank you for supporting us in what ever way. We highly appreciate it! It feels really good to hear that people around the world can relate to our music and appreciate our hard work. And last but not least, stay in school.

Yoav: What Yogev said and more!

Discography


UTOPIA
2012

Listen: Spotify | Bandcamp | Soundcloud
Buy: ITunes | Amazon | Distorted Harmony Shop | Bandcamp







CHAIN REACTION
2014

Listen: Spotify | Bandcamp | Soundcloud
Buy: ITunes | AmazonDistorted Harmony Shop | Bandcamp

Read: Living Music Blog Review (click here for German version)