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A major figure in the djent scene, Periphery returns with "Periphery IV: Hail Stan", his most aggressive and progressive album. Meeting with Jake Bowen and Spencer Sotelo, guitarist and singer of the band, to discuss the release of this album.
DARIALYS - 22.03.2019
The message is clear: Periphery is constantly seeking to renew itself. For Jake Bowen and Spencer Sotelo, respectively guitarist and singer of the American band, the band chose to abandon their "djent" label to take a more progressive turn. The two musicians will return to the Four Seconds Ago project, the evolution of the band's sound, and the difficulty of earning a living in this style of music today.

We like to start our interviews on Music Waves with the following question: what is the question you have been asked too often?

Jake Bowen: I'll answer the questions as many times as I have to, but the question I've been asked the most is: "Why did you call your album Hail Stan?" (laughs). It's true that it's a stupid name for a serious album!

This new album shows a liberated band, doing what they want to do. Did the fact that you released it on your own label (3DOT Recordings, editor's note) and released an album with Four Seconds Ago (electronic music group with Jake Bowen and Misha Mansoor, the other Periphery guitarist) have an impact on your album? Are you freer than before?

Jake: Sumerian, our previous label, has always encouraged us to do what we wanted. They never stopped us. They suggested things to us, but we were free to take them into consideration or not. They were not very strict at that level. I don't think we're any freer than we were before. What's interesting about Four Seconds Ago is that when we finished this album, we started working on "Periphery IV: Hail Stan", and I felt like I had used all my creativity on the previous album.

But there's the electro side with Four Seconds Ago and there's Periphery. Did you need to release this album with Four Seconds Ago to be more creative with Periphery?

Jake: I think that's what happened in the end, but when we started, I didn't expect much from myself. I didn't think I'd come up with much of anything interesting for "Periohery IV". These are two different groups that occupy two different parts of my brain. Miraculously, we all participated in the writing of the album, and we were able to complete it within the deadline we had set for ourselves.

Do you think you could release a second album with Four Seconds Ago?

Jake: Yes, actually we talked about it with Misha on the phone before I came here. He asked me if I wanted to come back soon to play video games and write music. I told him I'd think about it. Maybe in the summer!

Was this project influenced by video games?

Jake: I think everything we do is inspired by video games! We're all gamers, and video games tend to have very good music. We have a great inspiration that comes from there.

This album is surprising on several levels. The first surprise is the cover. This time, it does not show the "P" with the three points as usual. It represents a pyramid with satanic symbols. Is it a symbol of Freemasonry, these three points in the pyramid?

Jake: I made the cover. I just drew what came to mind. I had trouble replacing the "P" in the logo. I thought that this cover showed the dark side of this album. The pyramid can also remind us of the Illuminatis, it is part of the same symbolism. We wanted occult imagery. We thought it would be appropriate.

You have experienced many formats and styles in your career. It seems that you have tried to include them all in this album. We have the first track,'Reptile', which lasts 16 minutes, but also short, more metalcore, and more aggressive songs like'CHVRCH BVRNER','Blood Eagle','Follow Your Ghost' and more accessible songs like'It's Only Smiles', the beginning of'Satellites', or'Crush' with its electro side at the end and its violins. Was it your ambition, to summarize all your influences, with this album?

Jake: Not intentionally. I think what happened was that we wrote the first song, and then when we were writing the second song, we thought that what was missing was a heavy side. So we did a second heavy song. Then we thought, "Okay, let's do a groovy song!" Then we said to ourselves, "Okay, we did a groovy song, let's do a melodic song". That's how we did it. In the end, it makes a diversified album.


Weren't you afraid that this variety would cause some fans to reject it?

Jake: When you're in a group, there's always that risk. We have very loyal fans. This is our group. We are lucky to have a good chemistry when we all write together. We move forward when we all work together, not when we all look for what people like.

You write the music you want to listen to, and you play it with your gut on stage. To defend your music on stage, you have to love what you do.

Jake: Yes! That's the most important thing. We have to make sure that we like the music first.

Of course! Of course! As we said earlier, songs like'Blood Eagle','CHVRCH BVRNER' and'Sentient Glow' are certainly the heaviest and most typical metalcore songs you have ever written. This album seems to be darker than the previous ones. Does that reflect your state of mind?

Jake: I don't think so. I just think that the dark aspects have always been part of our music, although we've never really focused on that either. We didn't consciously make a darker album. It just came out of the blue. Maybe unconsciously, there's a reason.

As you are the main composer with Misha, maybe you have chosen to go in the opposite direction to Four Seconds Ago?

Jake: It could be that too!

I don't know if you know Opeth?

Jake: I love Opeth! This is one of my favorite bands!

They released "Damnation" and "Deliverance", almost at the same time, and it represents both sides of the band ("Damnation" was a very melancholic album with a 100% clean vocals, while "Deliverance" is one of the band's heaviest albums and marks the return to throat singing, editor's note). Maybe it's the same for you!

Jake: There is a dichotomy, yes. Maybe you're right. Unconsciously, it may be the same for us, it's quite possible. I know that Mark, the other guitarist, is very influenced by the very dark metal. Since he also composes, it gives you that side. I think it's a mixture of all our influences.

As we said, you took risks on this album, like when you open the album with a 16-minute song. Looking back, did you want to prove something to your fans?

Jake: Well, it's something we talked about. We thought we'd never done a very long song before, so why not try it? 


But as the first track on the album, it was brave!

Jake: Yes, we don't want to repeat ourselves too much, at all possible levels. In general, we save the longest songs for the end of the album. So we thought we'd put the long song at the beginning!

Do you think you could be the precursors of that vision? By breaking established rules?

Jake: I think the problem many groups face is that there are only a few combinations of things you can do as a group. If you don't try to mix it up a little bit, then you might repeat yourself. This is the very nature of music. You end up repeating yourself. We're trying to do everything we can to avoid that. That's why we put a 16-minute song at the beginning rather than at the end. We explore the darker side of our sound. The production is also very different from the other albums. It sounds much more metal.

This album is very varied with many changes of atmosphere. With tracks'Follow Your Ghost','Crush' and'Satellites', was your goal to make a progressive album?

Jake: Yes, that's what we are as a group. We want to experiment and touch as much as possible. Experimentation is the reason why we all make music together. We know that we can try things and that they will always be acceptable.

(Spencer Sotelo, the band's singer, joins the interview, editor's note).

It's a pleasure to meet you! As I was telling Jake, you just released my favorite album of the year! How do you both see the evolution of the djent, and what do you think of the ability of this style to connect with other musical genres, such as electro, a music that you have experienced on'CHVRCH BVRNER'? The sequence between this song and'Garden In The Bones' is excellent.

Spencer: When you think of the djent as a genre, you think of those very deep and strange notes. On this album, we wanted to incorporate many other styles. I guess people will continue to think of us as a group of djent, but we are becoming more progressive.

That's exactly what I was telling Jake. When I listen to these songs, they are the most varied songs you have ever made. There are many changes of atmosphere within the same song. So I asked him if the will was to make an album more progressive than usual so that it would no longer be catalogued as a djent band.

Spencer: I don't think we've evolved in that direction for that particular reason, but maybe unconsciously. We didn't say to ourselves: "We don't want to be categorized as a djent band anymore, so let's make a progressive album". 


There are French djent groups like Betraying The Martyrs and Kadinja who no longer want to be perceived as djent groups. It was in vogue 5 years ago, but today it seems to be less in vogue than before.

Spencer: It's also something very specific. If you want to make your entire career in the djent, you will get bored very quickly. But it's good to be influenced by it.

Indeed, it can get boring.

Jake: If you were trying to explain what lunch was to someone who would never have listened to it, you'd have to go back to the origin of the word.

We were talking about Opeth. It's a prog group! At the beginning, Music Waves was called Progressives Waves. We were talking about bands like Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Genesis... Now, Opeth, Periphery, these bands are far from their original sound.

Spencer: Heavy metal has evolved a lot. Today, when we talk about heavy metal, we have metal bands that are extreme compared to the bands that started this genre. Before, heavy metal was Black Sabbath. Now they're super heavy bands.

Misha said the band didn't make any money from record sales on tour. How do you earn your living?

Spencer: I think what he meant was that you don't make as much money as people think you do.

Okay, so you live off your music?

Spencer: Yes, but if you don't just want to pay your bills, and you want to start a family, buy a house, you have to do something else.

When you say that, you seem frustrated by this situation. Does he think you deserve better?

Spencer: What would be frustrating would be if we played music just to make money, but that was never the case. We are all very happy to be here. I didn't expect us to have half the success we have today. So all we have in addition is a bonus.

Maybe Misha is more ambitious than you?

Spencer: Yes, maybe! Maybe I'm more satisfied with myself. But I think it's the same for Misha. He never wanted to make music to make money. That's why he has his own company. He works next door because he wants music to be something pure.

Jake: I think Misha said that more as a practical advice for people starting a group. He wanted to tell them not to make music because he thought they would make money.

Spencer: If you come into the music industry wondering how you're going to make money playing your music, you've already lost.

I understand and I believe you, but I see that you created your own label, that you created a summer camp last year, which shows that you are looking to control everything. You have a lot of middlemen who all take money, and what you do allows you to reconnect with your fans, to be close to your fans.

Jake: There are tons of things we can do! There are some we haven't thought about yet.

We can do a lot of things like that but not many bands do it!

Jake: I think the five of us have something special. These opportunities have arisen because we are very critical. It's not that you can't make money, but you have to work really hard to make money. That is the important thing to remember.

What are your expectations for this album?

Spencer: I want us to play concerts in places we never thought we'd play. I want us to play these new songs and see people go crazy listening to the heaviest sections. We've never played such heavy music before, so I can't wait to see what it will sound like live. I want us to play in big venues with big audiences.

Jake: When people enjoy music, you are in symbiosis with them. I totally agree with Spencer, I can't wait for these new songs to be played.

Jake, we started this interview by asking you what the question was that you were asked too often. On the contrary, what would you have liked to answer?

Spencer: I don't know, it's hard! I don't know, I couldn't tell you. You did a good job asking these questions!

Did John Petrucci listen to this new album (John Petrucci, Dream Theater's guitarist, is Jake Bowen's uncle, editor's note).

Jake: I didn't send it to him! I forget every time! This is the most important album release on 3DOT (the label the musicians created, editor's note), and I'm very tense about it. I don't want to send it to anyone! I want people to see that we are a serious label. I'm going to send him the album, of course, it's just that I haven't done it yet.

No, you have to sell it to him! (Laughs).

Jake: Yes, I'll sell it to him! (Laughs). He encouraged me all my life, but that's no reason!

And did you listen to "Distance Over Time" (Dream Theater's latest album)?

Jake: I only listened to the first single, I don't have the album yet.

Is it true you're his nephew or is that a myth?

Jake: He's my uncle, yes. At first, I didn't tell anyone about it when I started in Periphery, but with word of mouth, this kind of thing is transmitted. For people, it's interesting to talk about it, whereas for me, it's just my uncle. People are interested to know that we have a relationship that unites us.

Is that the kind of question you're tired of answering?

Jake: I don't find it boring, no. I always answer it as if it were the first time I was asked the question, because it is the first time you have asked me this question. I don't want to look like a bad guy by asking you to stop asking me that question! (Laughs).

Thank you very much! It was a great pleasure to meet you!

Both: Thank you, that was really cool!

Thanks to Newf for his contribution....

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A major figure in the djent scene, Periphery returns with "Periphery IV: Hail Stan", his most aggressive and progressive album. Meeting with Jake Bowen and Spencer Sotelo, guitarist and singer of the band, to discuss the release of this album.

Read the article
Read all articles regarding PERIPHERY
Iv: Hail Stan (2019)
"Hail Stan" is not only Periphery's best album to date but also the most exciting production in a long time.

Read the review
Read all reviews regarding PERIPHERY

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