A Conversation with Jake of Periphery

This interview was conducted in early 2017.

So I realised that on the last interview I shared here I said that at the time I was trying to capture a conversation. Now that I think about it I’m not entirely sure that that was the case. I do know that at some point I began to work on trying to capture a conversation.

Maybe it was on the last one during the editing process.

I think at the very least I had begun to try and capture artists as people and not anything more, so I was leaving more of how they would pronounce certain words, as well as pauses, ums and ahs. Sometimes if a sentence would end due to a sudden shift, or desire to rephrase it, I’d also leave that in.

Anyway, here’s an interview with one of Periphery’s members. The interview was for discussing their then-latest album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty.

Fixed a spelling mistake, but otherwise everything from “On the 2nd of February…” Onward is as it was.

Words in bold are mine.

Along with most of my review and interview work, this review is also on Culture Eater.
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Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

On the 2nd of February I had a nice chat with Jake from Periphery.

Whilst Periphery released Periphery III: Select Difficulty last year, I managed to fumble, thinking it was released this year and the two Juggernaut albums last year.

Anyway, here’s the interview.

Hello Jake!

Jake: Hey, how you doin’?

I’m not bad. Yourself?

Jake: Pretty good. I have water in my ears from the pool and it’s sunny out so this job sucks, you know? [Laughs].

Doesn’t exactly sound like it’s too pleasant, going for a swim and just relaxing out there.

Jake: I’m just kidding, but yeah.

Well, first all, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this plenty of times, but welcome to Australia… again.

Jake: Thank you. I’m excited to be here. I was looking forward to this for quite a long time. I love coming here.

Usually on holiday I imagine, but this time it’s a bit more business.

Jake: Yeah. I would love to go on vacation here. I’ve never done a holiday in Australia. I’m sure there’s tons to do, but I always just come here to play shows. We try to squeeze in fun stuff in between, so it’s a little bit of both.

Fair enough. Obviously here you’ve just released a new album which is Periphery III: Select Difficulty, coming around pretty quickly after two albums last year. Was this album kind of reactionary?

Jake: It was pretty interesting how it came together because we didn’t expect starting a new album so quickly after releasing a double album, but we kinda had a few demos that we were really digging on and we were talking as a band and we just kind of got the inspiration to start writing again.

It just kind of happened naturally. It wasn’t like a reaction to anything that’s happened. We just kind of started messing around in our various studios and then coming together and realising something like “Hey, let’s just do an album – we’re ready”. We are always under the philosophy of when you’re ready to record, just do it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just put something out. It wasn’t really a timing thing. It was an inspiration thing.

That’s a pretty good philosophy to have. Better than forcing something along and ending up with something you’re not happy with.

Jake: Yeah, strike while the iron’s hot.

Did you end up doing anything different on this album or was it kind of the same thing? I know that you just said that you kind of discovered you had enough music so you decided to play around with it and have a bit of fun, but was anything different this time around?

Jake: Um, I guess the process was more refined in terms how we write and record together. On previous albums we were still figuring out what works the best for us. Before we did Juggernaut we were toying with the idea of working with an outside producer. We did a test track and we were still trying to figure out what the best way to go about what we do is and once we did Juggernaut – which we did a lot of the writing at Misha’s house and then we did recording in two studios that were next door to each other; we did the guitars, bass and synths in one studio, and the drums and vocals in the other one – it was fun to do it that way but it wasn’t necessarily the best environment for us to work in.

When we did Periphery III we did all the writing and all the collaborative effort at Misha’s house and then Matt and Nollie recorded drums at a studio in the UK, and Spencer recorded vocals at his own studio. When we got all the pieces we all came back together at Misha’s house and assembled everything in the way that you hear on the recording. When we finally had the finished product we looked at the way that we did it and we realised that we distilled our process even further and made it much easier for us to write and record and collaborate on an album together.

It came together more fluidly than it has in the past. It was a six-way collaborative effort, so everybody had their piece of the pie and their input on the album. I think this is everybody’s favourite album that we’ve done so far. I feel like it’s kind of cliche ’cause every band says that their latest album is their favourite, but it’s my favourite not only ’cause I like the material. I liked how it came together. It was quite fun to work on this music with everyone. It wasn’t a stressful environment, where it has been in the past. It’s never negative, but getting all the pieces together and all the logistical stuff was always difficult and with Periphery III it wasn’t like that.

What you’re essentially saying there at the end is that, despite maybe spending a bit less time on this one than usual because you guys just kind of discovered that you had something and decided to work on it together, you had a lot less pressure to actually deliver.

Jake: Yeah, it was like that. That’s another aspect of it; it came together much quicker. We were able to get a product that we really loved out in a much faster time. That’s always a good thing.

It kinda gives me this sense of excitement for the next one, whenever that happens because I know that when we are ready to write another one we already have this great process and we know that it’s not going to be this huge bulk of work, or at least the bulk of work will mostly be with just writing the stuff, but recording it and getting all the logistics for all the various studio times and getting together as a band… we know what worked for Periphery III and it’ll probably be the same for the next one, but you know… who knows really? We might find a studio we really like and might want to experiment and try that out for fun.

Fair enough. Well, considering that your music is considered by a lot of people as being challenging, would you hope that after this you don’t get completely comfortable and that there’s certain situations that you’re discovering and thus furthering and deepening your sound?

Jake: Yeah. You know, I think that’s an unspoken goal with every record. The first album that we did was very technical and the music (from it) is still to this day extremely challenging to play. Then we started to focus more on making more of a place for vocals on the second record and trying to get our structures to accommodate the vocal instrument.

Then on Juggernaut we really wanted to up our production game just because Nolly and Misha are engineers as well as producers for the band, so they were always working on new techniques in parallel with working on the band stuff, so when we were recording that album, that was kind of like “we’ve been focusing on song structure and making the appropriate room in the mix for the vocals. Now we can focus on the actual production and the sound on the record as well as refining our arrangement and mixing process”.

Then with Periphery III, we were able to take all of that other information that we wanted on previous albums and it all kind of coalesced into that album, so that’s kind of how it worked.

Now, how important do you think things like dynamic range and loudness are to your music?

Jake: That’s an interesting question. Based on the fact that you’re asking me that question, you understand that music has been progressively getting louder throughout recording history and it has to do with compression, musical styles and the technology involved in making music like this. I think it’s really important.

It might sound strange coming from me being in the band that I’m in because the music is very loud. It’s not as dynamic. There are dynamic parts, frequency-wise, but a lot of it is in extremes so when there’s a soft, quiet part, it’s soft, quiet part and when there’s a loud part, it’s pumping as hard as it can. I think it’s just the nature of the style of music that we play.

If we were doing funk or jazz, of course I’d want it to be a lot quieter. I think you find the appropriate mixing style for the style of music, so with Periphery you can expect it to be loud and in your face and very up front. I enjoy that for what it is and of course I listen to music that’s not like that. It’s kind of like picking the right flavour.

The reason why I ask is that… obviously with certain genres of music, having it a lot louder is more appropriate, i.e. something that is a lot more in your face as opposed to jazz as you don’t want your jazz to be clipping to all hell and back, but even if you want your loud parts to really pop, do you think that maybe if they were still quieter you could actually make them hit harder?

Jake: Yeah… that’s definitely an approach. We have limiters on our master buses and I guess that’s how we keep it from clipping, but it might be nice to experiment with that in the future. I think we’re kind of figuring out what our true sound is. If you listen to the first album up until now, it’s taken quite a leap in sound. I think we’re still experimenting.

I think it comes down to the material too. If we’re writing metal, I think it’s to be expected that it’s going to be super loud. If we do go down different paths and do different styles of music – which is a possibility with our band – it would be nice to express that now before people hear us do a wildly different album and be like “whoa, Periphery changed their sound”.

We like all kinds of music and we like all kinds of production styles. There is a chance that we might do a quieter, more organic sound. We’ve toyed with the doing something more not to a click, or experimenting with things like that and that might be just an experiment just to see if we an do it, or if it sounds good, or even if it’s just enjoyable for us, so there is a chance for that, for sure.

It’s very interesting that you say that. As you said, it certainly is more appropriate for certain styles of music. You look at artists like Godflesh. When you listen to Streetcleaner back in the day, it’s a lot quieter compared to the recent album they released, A World Lit only by Fire, but then you look at other artists like Porcupine Tree and Swans who seem to be getting quieter as they get older, which is strange, but ultimately you really have to just find what works for what you’re doing and make sure it works and you don’t go overly excessive unless you’re trying to make something so ridiculous that it collapses on itself.

Jake: That raises a good point. You only have so much time in the studio and you’re going for a sound. If we were afforded the luxury of having an infinite amount of time or just a very large amount of time, you’d find us experimenting a little bit more. Maybe in the future we might have that ability. Then something like that might come out of that. Then again, with the album recording process, a lot of it is about managing your time and logistics and making the best product you can with a reasonable amount of time and a reasonable amount of material, so it’s not just the fact that we aren’t ready or don’t want to; it’s also that we have to be practical about this ’cause it is partly a business and as most people understand with businesses, timing is a factor and the amount of time you spend on something is a factor, so that’s part of it too.

Well, I’ll leave it there. Thank you very much for your time Jake. I hope the tour goes well for you and I hope you can come to Australia for a little while just to have a nice travel holiday.

Jake: That would be nice. I would totally love to do that.

No worries. Well, I’ll see you later.

Jake: Alright, take it easy man.

Periphery are currently touring Australia. Periphery III: Select Difficulty was definitely released last year.

About Stupidity Hole

I'm some guy that does stuff. Hoping to one day fill the internet with enough insane ramblings to impress a cannibal rat ship. I do more than I probably should. I have a page called MS Paint Masterpieces that you may be interested in checking out. I also co-run Culture Eater, an online zine for covering the arts among other things. We're on Patreon!
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