From his apartment in Edinburgh, complete with view of the stunning mountain top castle the city boasts, Pedram Valiani, the brainchild of Scottish mathcore metal band Frontierer is looking forward to his bands first trip to Australia next month promoting their album Oxidized.
‘I don’t know what to expect so I’m going to get immersed in all of it. Meet some of our fans, some I’ve spoken to for years online and never met. Meeting some familiar friends who I have met, who’ve seen us in Europe before. Honestly the element of surprise for me is everything. I’m genuinely stoked to get there and take it all in.’
Element of surprise is a great way to describe a band that started as a one man project, with no label or distribution support, to ending up with their first two albums appearing in Rolling Stone’s Top 20 Metal Albums Of The Year. Their journey is path forged of their own making.
‘It’s kinda funny as we have been a ‘band’ since 2012 but only been since 2016 we were a fully functioning band cause before that it was just me and vocalist Chad Kapper exchanging song ideas online.
It has taken me by surprise. Elements of it have been pre-planned in what I want and don’t want, what we want and don’t together as a full unit.
Every time someone new posts a new article about us or new interview happens, a distribution offer, a label interest, it always just gives us a little buzz. That’s really cool, someone posting about us on twitter or Chad going out and recording the Doom stuff with Mick Gordon, another Aussie, all the stuff like that has been unreal. It’s great.’
Rolling Stone, yes THE Rolling Stone named both the bands first two albums Orange Mathematics and Unloved in their top 20 metal albums of 2016 and 2018. All without a label pushing them, just hard graft and word of mouth.
‘That was insane. That was really a honour and privilege to have had that. Blown away as you’d expect. It’s nuts, It’s all organic. What surprises me is that all of this has been organic growth and word of mouth. People coming to shows who have found us on band camp. Writers who have found us through other recommendations from other writers and stuff. It’s created a buzz organically and it’s been amazing.’
One of those organic pieces is the exceptional documentary on the band from Banger TV which follows the bands early days all the way through a European tour, complete with challenges and success. Surely a few things have changed since then?
‘Yeah a few things have changed. When Brad from Banger TV did that at the time, we were self booking when that was shot. Now we have a booking agent for Europe, Martin Avocado who does all of our booking now, he does a great job and that allows us to free up our time creatively to do other things. Greg McManus representing us in Australia, we have representation in America now with a new agent who we are hoping will get us over there at some point in the future. In the booking side of things it’s changed quite a lot.
In the distribution side of things, when it comes to get albums and merch out, even with ‘Oxidized’, that has been me packing the orders and sending them all out. But I’ve really reached my capacity as a one man band guy to do it all. I can’t handle the scale it’s moving at now. We are looking at some options in the future, not necessarily a label per se but some distro options that can allow our fans the best customer service experience and the best gear to just be happy and stuff. There’s stuff in the works for that.
Then there’s the writing that comes with that. I’ve not had much time for that and I’ve not written anything new for eight months which is the longest I’ve ever not but it’s allowed me to create ideas in my head which I’ll be able to splurge out onto the screen once I get round to writing and recording over the next few months.’
The bands music has been described as mathcore and on the surface it doesn’t seem there is space for vocals, yet the band achieve this, which leads to asking how does that work during creation.
‘When I first started off I was just doing demos, ideas and stuff. It was ideas that were very production driven, I was trying to get better at mixing tracks and I had an idea that I would get everything to a standard that we could focus on the music.
When Chad came into the mix, he was in the same space as I was in where to take things. Chad came in, listened to me and where I had the arrangement in the instrumental tracks and then he put his vocals over the top of that. That gave me a whole new perspective of what I was writing because I could hear what vocals would sound like behind it. It gave me a big dopamine rush.
I don’t consider the vocals a lot when writing but I probably will as I’ve been doing some more melodic vocals myself on the last album. I do get ideas and when the song is being written instrumentally I want Chad to do a pattern that matches the bass drum here with whatever lyrics he has written. I tell Chad that, I give him feedback but that’s his creative input so I really let him have free rein to do what he likes. His contribution is really solid in the songs.’
It leaves you wondering how these complex musical patterns translate live and this is where we come back to the element of surprise.
‘We adapt it, we don’t play exactly to the record. Sometimes the drum or guitar parts change, we make it live ready or however we want. We don’t feel there is some type of rule there . Playing live I’ll maybe take pedals that can emulate what I’ve recorded with my effects without duplicating that sound. It will sound close to the record without being identical. It just adds an extra pad to the sound that suits a live occasion.
It’s not fully scripted, we don’t play to a click, it’s loose but we’re hard on ourselves and like to play tightly. And making sure the fans receive a cut throat performance but we don’t get super anal over technology. The live shows are hi energy, we move around a lot, a lot of failing limbs are flying about. We like to have fun with it’.
Interview By Iain McCallum
Catch Frontierer on the following Australian tour dates. Tickets HERE...