Machine Music's Pillars of the 90s: An Interview With Acacia
[This is the 15th installment of the Pillars interview series. You can check out the rest here]
Album: Untune the Sky
Label: Goodfellow Records
Favorite Song: "Second Skin" and "Closing Circle"
The Bare Bones: Untune the Sky is the debut album of London, Ontario mathcore/metallic hardcore band Acacia, comprised of drummer Andy Burnett, guitarist Trevor Carter, guitarist Luke Husband, bassist Scott Watterton (who later toured with Mare), and Vocalist Justin Wolfe (who, with Husband, later formed the death metal band Thine Eyes Bleed).
The Beating Heart: Simply put, Untune the Sky is one of the lost, underrated, and obscure hardcore and mathcore germs of the 1990s. In the context of this interview series, featuring some of the giants of metal and hardcore of that decade, Acacia is a relative unknown. A few teenagers got together in the unlikely breeding ground of London, Ontario, messed around, and created a giant of an album, packed with the kind of raw, unhinged energy that was produced at the time by bands such as Coalesce, Converge, and others, followed by a dip into hardcore obscurity. I happened upon this weird, chaotic masterpiece during a random foray into YouTube long after Untune the Sky had fizzled into obscurity, and was immediately taken by everything in it. I think that it was always there, in the back of my mind, that one day I would try to do this phenomenal album justice. Hopefully this wonderful new conversation with Acacia guitarist Trevor Carter will at least partially achieve just that.
As always, check out our various interview projects and other cool shit. And if you'd like to keep abreast of the latest, most pressing developments follow us wherever we may roam (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and now also TIK TOK!), and listen to our shitty podcast (YouTube, Spotify, Apple), and to check out our amazing compilation albums– we just released anew one!. You can support our unholy work here (Patreon), if you feel like it. Early access to our bigger projects, weekly exclusive recommendations and playlists, and that wonderful feeling that you're encouraging a life-consuming habit. On to the my moving, heartfelt, honest conversation with Trevor about the miracle of Untune the Sky.
Do you remember a time when you were probably younger when you just were struck by a piece of music? Like it either scared you, it shocked you or changed what you thought music could be? And it could be a live experience. It could. Be an album. It could be whatever like an album cover, whatever it was that kind of derailed your mind. And obviously there are more than one of these in an adult person's life. But if you can have a memory of an early moment like that.
I've had so many of those throughout my entire life but. When we made Untune the Sky, we were quite young. And I feel like I was having those experiences every week. We were seeing live music shows every weekת taking in so much music. You've got such a thirst for new and heavier or more insane sounds. So, a couple of examples I can think of are…. Well, you mentioned Neurosis [in the pre-interview discussion] and I think that's a really great example. When Through Silver in Blood came out and we all heard that record, it changed our perception of music, forever. It was unlike anything we've familiar with because we were listening to a lot of hardcore and stuff that was around the time, like a little faster, like Converge or Coalesce, things like that. But Neurosis, sonically, visually, was unlike anything. Then we got to see them. Probably the loudest concert I've ever experienced in my life. It was at a small club here in Canada. In a city called London, where we're from. And then they came and played at this little bar. But it seemed like they didn't turn down or make any sacrifices with their sound, and everyone was just standing there, plugging their ears. People were leaving. And I remember we were just all standing there with our jaws on the floor like “How is this physically possible?” You're feeling it through your whole body. The visuals are flashing in front of you, and they just look like Viking beasts up on stage.It was something we had never experienced, and I don't know if I've had many experiences like that since.
Was it the live show that did it, or a combination of the album and then going seeing it live and being blown away by it?
I think it was a combination. Because we heard the music first, and that alone shifted our minds. You know, if you flip through the packaging of one of those records, you're not going to get a sense of who they are, or even like the live visuals or anything. But the music flows or moves at a different pace. You wait four minutes for it to move to the loud part, or to change. I think it rewires your brain to to have a different expectation for when events should happen in music. It's really really incredible. If I were to give you another example of a similar thing that is relevant. I don't know if you're familiar with Bloodlet, they were a Victory Records band at the time, and they were another one that kind of shifted our perception of how music can work. You know, it's not “verse-chorus, verse-chorus” it's finding unexpected transitions. And we started putting hours and hours and hours into figuring out “How do you move from one part to another”? The transition is as important as the other parts. So those were big moments for us, collectively.
In both examples, very passionate music, right? It's not music that tries to come off as cool or as distant, right? It's very kind of, you're all in.
That's very true, and I think that's why it resonated so much with us when we were teenagers. Because you're a very emotional being as a teenager. Sometimes now, as an adult listening back I almost find it overwhelming, just how earnest and emotional it is to listen to the music of that time.
Do you feel that way about your music as well? When you listen back to it?
Yeah, it's hard to listen back to it because it comes from a time when we were growing up and becoming adults.You're going through so much in your life at that time. But at the same time it was our life. We lived and breathed those riffs and that was every single day for us. And for that reason, it's really hard to listen back to. I don't know. Probably all artists have that where it's almost impossible to listen to, because you go immediately back to 1997, or whatever.
Which makes it a very effective experience, right? Just not one that you always want to have.
I think it's safe to say about both cases, but very much the case in the Neurosis example, and I think you brought it up. Neurosis is very line-straddling. And they and they talk about it themselves, right? That they would go to shows and you get the hardcore kids…. They were a hardcore band, right? from a very specific hardcore scene in the East Bay. And so, you have the hardcore kids who get Neurosis, but most of them don't. And then you get the metal kids who get Neurosis, but most of them don't. At least at the time. And so on one hand, they're a crossover band because they have this crossover appeal. But on the other hand, it's a very small audience, because not a lot of people appreciate the fact that they're doing something different. There is that magic in…. I guess it's not a coincidence that I like so many bands that are somewhat related to each other, like Botch or Coalesce, and you guys, and Craw. Because in a way, it's kind of so hardcore that it just ceases to be hardcore at some point.
So the question could be “So, what would your metal influences be?” But that feels like a bad question, or the wrong question because it's not like it's taking this and taking that and mixing it together, it's that you’re doing so much of something that becomes something else. And I kind of feel like that about Neurosis as well. And so I guess I'm asking whether or not that crossover, that emotional crossover, influenced what you guys were doing? And I don't know if you're still into music today as an active musician, so a related question would be if you still feel like that mode is something that still informs how you think about your music or art today? That not giving a damn about how things should be, and just stretching them? If that makes sense.
I think it does. I definitely understand the Neurosis example that you gave, because that was very much how we were. We never really felt like we belonged and the. The only thing that made sense to us was pursuing whatever idea or concept we had at any given time, whether anyone liked it or not. We would play punk shows and hardcore shows and metal shows. And it never really made sense. And I think that that's. still, how we consider our approach now. I'd say no one in the band is currently actively performing or creating music publicly, but I know that we're all devoted, music-obsessive people. It’s all we think about. And I still gravitate toward artists that fall outside of any definable scene or or or genre. My tastes have changed a lot since I was younger. I still listen to fringe music, but I listen to a lot of electronic music and experimental music. It's not even necessarily emotional music, it's just unapologetically weird.
"Unapologetically weird" is a good book title. I might have to use that. So, taking that into consideration the fact that, as a fan, and as a fan who feels your story is woefully undocumented, let's get back to this idea of you guys not feeling at home in any scene. Because there is a scene, right? There's a local hardcore scene and probably there's, to an extent, a local metal scene. I don't know, you could tell me. And do you feel like you're coming up in that scene when you guys are putting the band together? Did you feel like there was a very defined group of people and defined clubs and defined bands that you wanted to be a part of? Or was it more of a case of, you know, “Let's just fuck shit up. Let's just write songs and find our audience, whether we find our audience or not?”
Yeah, actually that’s a really interesting question, because – we did. A hundred percent. When we started playing together, we were kids and we were playing music that sounded like mainstream kind of heavy music. I’m thinking of Tool or Helmet. Those were kind of our first influences. Or even stuff like Nirvana. Then as we got into high school we discovered. This hardcore scene in Southern Ontario in Canada, and it was like a crazy-active scene at the time. We were going to shows several times a week, traveling out of town to go see shows constantly to see shows. And everyone knew everyone, all the way from Windsor to Ottawa. It was the same bands that you'd see every weekend, and we felt a part of this scene, even though musically I think it was always odd for people to hear us in the mix. Because you'd have bands playing pretty straightforward 90s hardcore but you'd also have, every now and then, a more traditional metal band or a skate-punk band. There were never any rules about who could play, it was a very open-minded scene. And somehow we managed to find an audience there, despite not really sounding like anything that was happening at the time.
Obviously Canada has had, historically, an amazing scene, whether regional or national. Both for for metal and for hardcore. But I'm wondering whether or not the fact that Canada is kind of more in a spectator position…. Because, the “major” stuff is happening in the States, bands like Earth Crisis and all that, and you guys are doing it too, but maybe not getting as much attention. And so I guess, I’m asking whether or not that open mindedness that you're talking about is also the product of being kind of on the periphery of that movement? In both metal and hardcore. Or maybe even London, Ontario as peripheral to bigger Canadian scenes. Is there a sense that you cared less about the rules because it’s not the epicenter of everything?
Yeah. That's a good point, and that's probably exactly it. We're a few hours drive away from where any of these big scenes were. And so just due to the size of population and distance, we just made a scene around the bands we had. You know ,we could drive to Syracuse, NY, just maybe two hours away and then you'd find a lot of bands there. Or you could go to Buffalo, and there was a big hardcore scene there. And every now and then those bands would come across the border and play in Canada. But for the most part we were just…. How did you put it? I like what you said about being a spectator to the American stuff. There just weren't as many bands breaking it big. I'm trying to think, who would have been the big bands in our area at the time? Again, I don't know how regional they are, so I don't know if you know of Chokehold.
Yeah, Chokehold I know.
So they were big for us, and really important to us. Their singer, Chris, really gave us our first shot. Bands like Left for Dead were kind of the biggest in that scene. And when you think of them globally, they're not even really that well known.
We talked about bands that don't care about the rules. So there's one kind of not caring about the rules, which is being so isolated that you just find whatever scraps of music you can find and try to imitate it on your guitar, and it just develops a very unique sound because you're not aware of what's out there. And that can develop a very unique flavor. In a different example – let's go to the epicenter of American bands that would have been your contemporaries, so again, like Botch, Coalesce, or even Dillinger, right? So these are bands that come up in a very specific scene, and all of them to an extent have a somewhat similar story: “We came up as a hardcore band, probably because hardcore was the easiest kind of music to play, and it was easiest to form a hardcore band, right?
And then you were part of a scene, but suddenly you find that you don't really want to do what everyone else is doing, and there's a reaction to that. Take Neurosis. They're in this really important East Bay scene. And when Neurosis starts shifting, there's a very harsh blowback against that. People don't get it. They're angry. And that's also the case with Botch. Botch are part of the Northwestern scene, and then they start doing Botch stuff, and no one likes it, and they tour everywhere to find the one guy that would listen to them, right? I'm exaggerating, but that's basically the idea. And so on the one hand you've been unburdened from being in the East Bay and turning into the monstrosity Neurosis turns into, because the pressure is not there and the blowback is not there. But I guess the question is, did you still feel the “whether or not this is a scene, it’s not really what I want to do, so I’m doing things differently and people are reacting to that”?
Definitely. On the one hand we were just happy that anyone would listen to us or watch our shows. But we would hear bands like Coalesce and think: “This makes sense to us. This is the direction of music.” But people around us in our scene weren't really all on board with stuff like that. So, we definitely would just sort of pursue what interests us and feel like: “We'll show up to this show, and if people walk away during our set, so be it. I'll just be on the floor, rolling around with my guitar…”
“…and if there'll be one person left watching our set, I don't care.”
You talked about adolescence as a time of a lot of shit happening, but where do you get the confidence to be OK with people not being OK with what you do? I mean, I would not be OK with that as a 16 year old or a 17 year old.
I think it just comes from that we were all really well versed in playing with one another in the band, we'd only ever played together, we learned everything about playing music together. And we knew how to do it very well. So I think we felt very confident that we had something that was good, and that our show that we planned would be good, it would be emotional, it would be intense and heavy. And it might not connect with everyone but, but there might be one person who would come up to us afterwards and say: “That's the best thing I've ever seen.” And that gives you the balls to get up on stage next time you do it, because you're like: “OK, maybe somebody here will never look at music again in the same way.” And keep in mind I'm a teenager at the time, so I'm also probably full of confidence that was unearned and just believing in myself, never doubting myself, which I think you learn to do more [laughs] you learn to doubt yourself.
That’s a very valuable trait when you're trying to do things, right? To not care what people think. That tends to wear off as we get older, sadly.
So, the fact that you guys played together from a very young age explains why Untune the Sky sounds to me like it doesn't sound like someone's first album. I mean, you could argue the finer points of the production and whether or not it sounds like a first album and, it probably does, but you guys as a band don't sound like it's your first go around. In a very chaotic way, you sound very tight and very together. And so, since there isn’t enough information about Untune the Sky in the world, could you just share a couple of words about how that album came to be? When did you kind of think that you had enough for an album, and how was that whole situation came to be?
Sure. I said we've been playing together for a long time. It's a bit blurry now, but I was probably in Grade 7 when we first started playing music. And by the time that record came out I was probably in grade, let's say 11. It's a long period of time, we've been playing together for four or five years by the time we recorded that. And before that there were tons of demos and songs we've written and recorded that just no one's ever heard. Full albums were the stuff that never was recorded in the studio, but was our performing repertoire. And there's like live recording, maybe, none of it's good enough to share. But there's a long continuum of songs that led up to what became Untune the Sky. So, I think by that time we not only were incredibly tight playing with each other, but we developed a sound, where I think a lot of bands haven't really figured out their sound yet on their first album. We definitely knew who we were, and we knew what we wanted to do with that record. I mentioned Chris from Chokehold giving us our start. So, when I say that what I mean is that he put together a compilation CD called The Difference Between Us, of hardcore bands from the area. And he'd seen us at a show, and he asked us to add a song to that compilation. That song was actually an earlier recording of one of the songs that's on Untune the Sky. He loved it, people loved it, the response was really good, and he said: “Please put out an album on my record label,” which was Goodfellow Records. And at this point it was like the first time anyone had really taken us seriously enough to say: “Here's some studio time, put together a record and we'll put it out.”
So, we just decided that these were the best ideas we had right now, probably about half of the material we had at the time and. There's inspiration coming from all over the place at the time, but we knew how we wanted to sequence the songs and we kind of perfected them. Meanwhile, we're all in high school and going through all that teenage stuff at the same time, but I'd say we were, you know, playing together, working on that material several times a week. Me and the drummer [Andy Burnett] were playing obviously at the time what feels like every day together, just to get things perfect. I was recording like every night, just cassette tapes of riff after riff after riff and bringing them to the group and saying: “Can we do something like this?” Eventually it came together.
And you're right, the production….. We went to some studio in Buffalo, NY, actually, to record it. I wish it sounded better. I think maybe it should be remastered or something, but at the time it was, it was definitely the exact statement we wanted to make musically, and we're all proud of how i ended up.
So, expectations happen when someone that you respect says: “You need to make an album,” and you make an album for a label that you respect, right? What did you guys expect to happen with that album? Did you just want it to be a vehicle that more people could listen to you guys or? How did it feel when it came out?
It was a dream come true. It felt amazing. I could finally hand something to someone and say: “This is what I'm doing with all of my time. The most important thing.”
It's true, it's real!
Yeah. It was physical proof. I don't know if we necessarily had a strategy or any expected outcome from it, other than to play more shows and get this CD into more people's hands. Gradually, over time, I think we hoped that we'd be playing further away, more shows, more tours, and then it would be a stepping stone to making an even bigger, better album. We definitely did write and record bigger crazier ideas, but the follow through to that next step never really materialized. I'm not really sure I remember why.
I mean, not everyone gets to be a career musician from playing very strange music, obviously, I would say the odds for that are very, very small, but. But still you saw bands or watched live bands of that wider scene who got quite big. I think The Dillinger Escape Plan is a great example, right? Obviously they weren’t doing exactly what you guys were doing, but it's kind of in that family tree. Or even Converge, to an extent, and they become huge bands, right? Most bands didn’t, but there was that sense that this sound had the potential, at least, to move beyond that one album. And so, was there any kind of disappointment in that? Or it was just like: “Life is life. We put out our album, we gave it our shot”?
Definitely disappointment. And confusion, and lots of mixed emotions. Because we were together for years after that. I think we were just too young when we made it. Some of those other bands, Dillinger, Converge, Coalesce, they were a few years older. But, when we did Untune the Sky I was maybe 17, something like that. I wasn't very mature, wasn't really like a fully grown adult. And I think our tastes even shifted so much in the years following that. We wrote and recorded a lot of awesome music, but I don't know if we ever really knew what the next step was for the next record. By 2001 we were still playing and recording and performing, but I feel like the sound shifted in kind of a more commercial direction. I think that was where the dissolution came, where we weren’t eye-to-eye on the sound anymore. But when we look back now, when we talk now, I'm just like: “If only we'd recorded and released that second album and continued in that direction, I think it would have been a much different story. We may have been in the same conversation as some of these bands we were talking about.
I think you're unfortunately right. Maybe not unfortunately, maybe everything happens for a reason, but I do think that the early 2000s were such an ugly time for music. MTV 2, that whole era of flattening extreme music to this very kind of specific package, which is really why that was my time to check out. But what I missed in doing that is that there was still an underground going, and that a lot of the bands that persisted through those years, against all conceivable odds, they reaped the benefits about a decade later. And so it's kind of weird, right?
They probably had to slog through a lot many years of not being important or relevant, right?
Nine hundred percent. They probably did. And, obviously, some never made it. We talk about Botch and Coalesce, but they both broke up around the same time. So it's not like everything came up roses for everyone.
One thing I wanted to ask about the music side, other than the fact that we talk about the sound and how it found an audience later on and all that, but I'm interested in what you said about you playing with Andy every day, because it kind of shows, in a weird way. I have a fetish for drumming, and this conversation weirdly goes back to Neurosis, for a second. Because Neurosis in terms of drumming and heavy music was kind of like a paradigm shift, at least the way I see it. Because Neurosis was one of those bands, and I guess you could couple them with bands like Slint or Fugazi, that had a drummer that felt like he was playing an instrument and not keeping time. And that opened up a lot of possibilities for how songs can sound and how music can feel. Because if drummers, the musicians who kind of set the expectations of what the root of the song is doing, allow themselves to be unhinged from just the beat of the song, then something really magical happens, which I think a lot of those bands tapped into. And interestingly, I kind of felt like that was going on in Untune the Sky as well. A lot of abstract drumming, a lot of experiential drumming. So, on the one hand, to me I’m wondering how it is that high school kids latched on to what is relatively a simple notion, but it's a very difficult one to execute, because there’s a very thin line between a creative drummer and chaos. Danny Carey is another great example of that, as you mentioned Tool. But, more specifically, do any of those ideas resonate with anything you guys were doing at the time?
It absolutely does. When I listen back to Andy’s playing on that, I can't really think of other records that quite sound like that approach to drums. Still, to this day, I’ll just be washing the dishes or something and thinking of a beat in my head, and it'll be one of those beats, or a drum fill from that record. Because there's some things that he did that that don't make proper sense, but they make sense. It sounds good, it sounds right, but no other drummer would think to construct what they were doing in that way. I think part of it is that, despite being young, we were mainly listening to music on the fringes, the kind of the bands we've talked about. But I also think…. So, sometimes people will say that in order to break the rules you first have to know all the rules, and then throw them out. But we didn't know what we were doing. We had no experience playing proper music, or any conventional training. We were just going for a sound and trying to figure out how to do it with kind of an untrained perspective. I mean, I had some guitar training or whatever, but I was trying to not use any of it. I kind of grew up with classical guitar, but my objective, with everything I did, was to not do anything conventional. Whereas on the drum side, Andy was literally just writing his own rules as he went along.
That's so important.
There are things he does on that record that no one else would do. I mean, as in: “How did you think of that?” But it's just that magic of naivete. Another interesting thing…. You know, Neurosis is a good example, and you talked about some post rock bands, Slint and Fugazi. And one thing that was really important to the sound of Untune the Sky was knowing when the drummer doesn't play anything. There are moments where there's no drumming. Sometimes they're brief, but I think that those are super important. We had a really good sense of the dynamics of when things should be very quiet. I think that's because we were listening to stuff like Neurosis, where we were trying to really be still and then loud, to make the loud sound even louder. And I think Andy had a good sense for that on that record, for sure. I don't know if that answers your question.
It does, very much so. I don't know, it's just kind of one of those magic tricks that I'm fascinated by. It just turns out that this, whatever it is that I'm doing, is my attempt to document what I think is music that is worthy of documenting, and kind of figuring it out. So it’s also kind of reverse engineering. Once patterns begin to appear, then you're like: “Oh, OK, I guess I like all those bands, and also because of a reason that has something to do with this or that.” And there are a lot of varieties of certain themes. One of them is transitions: Sharp, frequent transitions. Music for people with ADHD, right?
When I interviewed Ben Weinman from Dillinger I asked him if he knew why he wrote music the way he did. Actually, I asked him about a band we both liked, and he mentioned the fact that he liked them because they changed a lot, and he said: “I can't write a riff and then be satisfied with that, I'm bored after five seconds. I need something else to happen to make me feel ‘it’ again,” hence all the transitions and variety. And one other theme is odd drumming, or drummers that don't see themselves as the metronome of the song. All these kinds of qualities kind of coalesce, if I may use an overused pun here, to make something that I guess I find appealing. So, this is all hindsight, it seems to me that figuring out what you want to do, and as young as you guys were, might also have some drawbacks, because: Now, what are you going to do? In a way you've reached a point that you're very happy with, but you don't have that much information about how you did it. Which makes it, I guess, in a way difficult to replicate or evolve, because it's kind of like a miracle: “How did we do that?”
I really felt a lot of what you just said, it really hit hard for me. I definitely struggle with attention and I probably have ADHD, I don't know, and so it makes a lot of sense why music like that would have made so much sense to me, especially as a kid. But also, we didn't know anything about, say, time signatures. You listen to a band like Tool, since you mentioned Danny Carey earlier, and you get the sense that he knows exactly what he's doing, he's figured out the time signatures and how they all mathematically relate to each other, and that's how his drumming is so perfect. But we didn't know time signatures. We just felt it. We would have papers in front of us where we wrote “Part A,” “Part B,” and “Part C“ or “when you play this one you count to five, and when you play this part you count to three.” We had a ridiculously unsophisticated understanding of how complex music actually works. Really just a miracle of amateur…. Being amateurs, technically, but so tight from playing together that we could make these things work. I really do think of it as a perfect…. Maybe “miracle” is the wrong word, but something like that.
Lightning in a bottle.
Yeah. We couldn’t recreate that, because it's impossible to figure out how we did it. We could never redo that. For me, artistically and in my life, there have been moments over the last 20 years where I feel like: “What if I'll never have a creative idea as good as I did when I was 17? What if I hit the peak then?” That's really upsetting and hard to wrestle with, and hopefully that is not and has not been true, but, part of the struggle even back then was: “How did we do that?”. We're really struggling to make a song that captures what we were able to do two years ago.” It's interesting.
I think the artists who have that kind of artistic longevity ,which is very, very rare – Fugazi, Neurosis, Ulver – manage to persist in being…. Interestingly enough, my first ever interview was with Ian Mackaye from Fugazi. One of my questions to him was: “How is it that all your albums sound like Fugazi albums but none of the albums sound like each other?” And he said that the most important thing for them was to be free. So, Fugazi weren't 17, but I think that same kind of energy you described, they somehow managed to persist with that notion, of not trying to think about what they're doing, and not being too precious about what they already did, and just do something. And trust that, between them, if they stay open, something good will happen, whether or not it will be similar to Fugazi’s version of Untune the Sky. And so it seems to be very, very difficult to sustain that kind of idea, and even Fugazi eventually broke up. And with Neurosis, I think, part of that longevity had to do with treating the band as a side gig to their lives. Which, in a way, is also a kind of freedom, in that there’s never financial pressure on the art side. Anyway, this is just a side comment, just to say that I think it's really very hard.
That’s an interesting point, because, like I said, we were in high school when we did that record, and there was no financial pressure. We weren't hoping to get famous or make any money on it. But we were also, at that point in life, where all of us were still living with their parents and moving into the part of life where you suddenly do need to get a job and start making money. Maybe that was part of what started to interfere with the band, because we couldn't devote all of our life's energy to it anymore. Some of us were going to university…. That’s interesting.
Do you think you guys will ever be a functioning band again?
I'd like to think we will, yeah. There's a little bit of geographic distance right now, for anything to be long term. Our bass player lives like a six-seven hour drive away, and he doesn't come back here very much. But the rest of us are still here. And we've got a group chat that’s pretty active. So, I can see it happening. One of the guys only got a phone last year, so it was really cool to reconnect. I could see it happening. Not for glory or for money, just like we were saying. We've all got lives that are about entirely different things now, you know? Some of us have kids or full-time jobs or own businesses, so it would just be for the love of music, and I think that's the best reason to.
And now you know you have an outlet! Your very own whatever-the-fuck-it-is that I do, that will be more than happy to spread that word. Like you said, it only matters if at least one person can say you changed their life, so here you have one guy.
It blows my mind, honestly, just the fact that someone on the other side of the world heard that record.
I loved it instantaneously. At some point, when you like an album as much as I love that album, for as long as I have loved it, and no one seems to get it, then you start to suspect maybe it's not as good as I think it is. Maybe everyone is smart and I’m dumb. And then every time I actually listen to it, I think: “No, I'm smart. It is good.”
I just don't think enough people ever heard it.
Guy, I agree. I agree completely, but hopefully hopefully this will change that. Slightly. OK, last question. And we might have already answered it, but maybe not: Is there something about Untune the Sky that you're specifically proud of? A song, a choice, a transition, a lyric, a production choice, a moment, the whole thing, the original cover, the new cover, whatever. One thing that you find that held up and that you're still happy you did.
Yeah, there are a few things. I never was 100% on a couple aspects: the packaging, and the overall recording or mixing. But the songs themselves still…. Enough time has passed where I can hear them now and actually be blown away by them, whereas at the time, back then, it just was what it was. But I hear them now and I still think: “More people should hear this.” There are moments in the record that I just think are incredibly thrilling. I don't think there's been a song quite like the first track, “Splitting the Soil.” I don't think there's anything quite like that. Even the second track, there are things that happen in that, the drumming, it's really weird. Though it's in the same sphere as a lot of these bands we talked about, making technical metallic hardcore, no one ever thought to do those things, and they still catch me off guard any time I hear them. And the last one is the entire final track, which has a very bizarre sense of timing from one part to the other, and then there's a long stretch of sort of droning, quiet guitars with an ambient sound happening. It always gives me chills when I hear it, because I think that to some people that there's something they would say it sounds like. Maybe Neurosis or something, but that whole title track to me just…. If I could say: “This was the tractor to listen to” it would be it. Even the way the drums start at the beginning of the track. This is kind of what I'm saying earlier, it doesn't make any sense, no one would ever do that logically, I don't really understand why it works so well. The other day, I was talking about this and someone. said it sounded like a barrel rolling down the stairs.
I was just about to. say someone falling down the stairs.
Yeah. There aren’t not too many other things out there that sound wrong in a good way, right? So, those are the things I think about just like: “How did how did any of that happen?” And it makes me smile now. I'm gonna have to go listen to the whole thing now, because I haven't actually listened to it in years. In one way, I know it front-to-back in my mind. It just lives there. It's going to be 25 years, I think since it came out, soon.
What was the exact release date?
I think spring, March of ‘98.I can't remember exactly, so it's either this year or next year that's the 25th anniversary, and I'm hoping we do something. I don't know who has the original masters. I don't know if we could get it remastered or even remixed. I don't know, but I'd Love to do something.