American modern progressive metal innovators The Contortionist return to Australia as part of their Clairvoyant Tour, joined by special guests UK djent-metal pioneers SikTh – who will be making their first ever Australian appearances! On the steady climb to their latest album Clairvoyant (2017), The Contortionist lay claim to a genre within a genre all their own. On Clairvoyant, the band’s distinctive fingerprints remain, even as their atmospheric flourishes broaden to encompass ever-richer textures and mine the beauty of simplicity. For the entirety of their career, The Contortionist has proven capable of being equally at home on tour with Deftones, Periphery or TesseracT, thanks to their dynamic combination of metal’s blunt precision with the adventurous spirit of prog-rock heroes like Rush and King Crimson. Guitarist Cam Maynard speaks to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the tour.
It’s exciting counting it down for Adelaide fans now with the show literally days away now?
I’m excited, I always like going to Australia because it reminds me of the States in the best way.
Having Sikth along for the ride makes for an awesome double bill?
Hell yes, we’re all very excited. Robbie and I especially, we were Sikth fans back in high school and I remember they definitely influenced our guitar playing as far as the tone and structure of some of their riffs and some of their melodies definitely inspired us ten years ago when we were writing our first record.
Does the relationship with those guys go back a fair way?
We haven’t met the band, haven’t played with the band yet but when we were in London last year with Periphery, Michael, one of their singers came out and we met him. He’s the only one from the band who we have met. I’m excited to get down there and make some new friends.
It must be a surreal moment touring with a band that has been such a big influence on yours?
Yeah, most definitely!
Was the second album blues ever discussed within the band before you set on the path to make the album Clairvoyant?
We’re kind of unique, we’ve realised the value of our operation as far as when we get together to write a record there’s not one main composer and I have learnt over the years of working and playing together that everyone has a strong point. So when we compose now I know that Jordan our bass player, when I write a bass line I know how he would play it already and know that would be the right fit for the song and stuff like that.
There is that uncertainty of it all always, we’re never going to be anxious or worried about the product, we’ve already showcased the fact that fans expect that out of us to not try and 2.0 something. They expect us to create something kind of left field with every release. That is the strong point for us just to know that over the past few records we have had the opportunity to alienate fans or not fit the right mould. I think we have already show that we are past that point and we’re still above water. Any time we get together it’s more about what we can do to throw the ball left field because ultimately we all know at this point that whatever we write we’re going to enjoy it. We don’t feel that we have to contrive anything especially how we started out a little bit modern and heavy sounding, our sound was catered more towards that movement of death metal and hardcore. I think we’re already past that point and I feel good about it.
Do you think that will change when you think about the next album and how that will sound?
I’m not sure, I do know that with Language we put out that was a new breath of fresh air and take on the band naturally due to our new band members and playing together for the first time. I think when we get together to write the next record, we’re always writing music, and there’s a bunch of stuff off the last record that didn’t make it that we’re still hashing out. It is interesting because we were talking on the phone about an EP possibly where we can put another release out soon. With Language we stepped things down and when Clairvoyant came out we did things different as far as trying not to be so bright and sunshine and be a little more realistically dark with our moodiness. I think with what we have been composing after Clairvoyant we have shown and I wouldn’t be surprised if we came back with a lot more heavy stuff, a little bit more refined way of being a death metal band in nature.
What do you think influences that or does that come with experience?
A lot of it has to do with the fact that I would sit there and say make references to Brian Eno and ambient works of things of that nature that inspired me as far as putting a finger on something. Really, we’re learning more about ourselves in the process, I’ve just turned twenty eight and if you think about where you were when you were eighteen and fast forward to where you were when you were twenty eight it makes sense that there is this natural growing up. I feel like we leave no stone unturned, that’s what I’ve noticed, if we haven’t tried something that’s our objective to try it.
Would you work with Jamie King again to produce your album?
We haven’t made any plans that are absolute but I think what we love about Jamie is being in the tracking atmosphere, getting things tracked and getting them on to the paper. With our next release I think we will want to go and outsource mixing and give things a different sound. Obviously we still have the thing we want to sound like but I think having a different engineer in the mix will make it more refreshing.
What’s in store for Australian fans with the show?
We’re trying to hit Clairvoyant pretty hard so we’ll play quite a bit of our favourite songs from that record. We’ll also hit some older material from Exoplanet, hit stuff off Language. We’ve never done a tour with something specialised, we’ve always made sure we incorporate our history, that’s merely because of being anxious in making sure our fans still love what we created ten years ago. For international touring, we don’t get to go to Australia two times a years, it’s more of a rarity, we want to make it count and cover as much as we can.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Contortionist with Sikth on the following dates…