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Spencer Sotelo – PERIPHERY ‘No That’s Not A Typo’

Not Hail Satan, Hail Stan! Periphery are back with another full-length album accompanied by a humorously themed title (never take yourself too seriously). It’s heavier, it’s darker, and it’s more unique than any album released by the multi-talented djent-meisters. I recently spoke to lead singer Spencer Sotelo about how this record came to be crafted so meticulously.

Hey, congratulations for getting the album done! What is the anticipation like waiting to get it out?

Dude, I think I can speak for everybody in the band when I say this. We’ve never been so happy with anything we’ve ever done, and we just want everyone to hear it. It’s like fucking torture waiting for it to be out. 

How do you think the album ties in as a whole?

The theme of it is a lot darker and quirkier than anything we’ve ever done before. It’s a bit more extreme in all aspects.

The first song ‘Reptile,’ it’s pretty long. Is Periphery thinking of extending the average song length for future music?

No, I don’t think so. We’ve written a couple of long songs before in the past like ‘Racecar’ and ‘Omega.’ We’re never like let’s see how long we can make this or see how many parts we can throw into it. It’s like a linear progression. That was actually the first track we wrote for this record. I think after touring for a couple years and not writing, everybody had a lot of ideas and they kind of all poured into this first sit down.

After that, we get hit with the first single you guys released ‘Blood Eagle.’ What sort of statement do you think ‘Blood Eagle’ says as the first single?

It’s pretty much just an audio bludgeoning and was the goal. The song ended up being a lot different than how we first started writing it. After there were certain key riffs written, I think everybody was like wow yeah, this needs to go in the direction of a complete ear bludgeoning. The riffs that originally came later in the song ended up being some of the main ones.

What was the direction of ‘Blood Eagle’ before you started changing it?

It was a bit thrashier. The song opened with a thrash beat and a techy, almost death metal sounding riff. It was a little bit more technical sounding.

It’s funny you say death metal, because at the end of ‘Follow Your Ghost,’ I thought it briefly resembled what Cradle of Filth would do with Danny Filth’s groan whisper and the arpeggiated strings in the background. Was this intentional?

Not really. I can’t speak for anybody else, but for me parts like that come from influences like Mike Patton (Faith No More). I’ve listened to him a lot growing up and he’s still obviously one of my favourite singers. He does a lot of that deep spoken word stuff. 

Let’s take a step after that and go to ‘CVRCH BVRNER’. The un-cleans in this one are definitely a highlight and you recorded, basically this whole album’s vocals, besides ‘Reptile,’ by yourself. How did that affect the performance of your vocals?

I was able to take a step back and really take time on things. When I finished tracking a song, it wasn’t like okay that’s done, I have to live with it the way it is. I could listen to it and then maybe a week later I’d decide there’s certain things I could do better. Or I could even go back and change something completely. I’ve never really had that luxury before. I think it shows and I’m really happy with the way everything turned out.

Do you ever think after any of these songs “shit man this is going to be really hard to do live?”

Yeah, sometimes I do, but that was kind of the thing especially with this record. I was like okay I’m not going to think about how I’m going to do stuff live until after its written. I’m just going to write the sickest, coolest parts that I think fit the songs and not be limited because it’s going to be hard to do live. I’m going to be figuring it out later this year when we’re putting a lot of these songs into our live sets. I have a feeling some of them aren’t going to be too easy.

Take a few steps forward in the album and we get to ‘It’s Only Smiles.’ I’m going to talk about this a bit more lyrically because it sounded like it was around the feature of death. Was this inspired by any particular event?

Yeah, my older sister passed away a couple of years back and I wrote this song for her.

Sorry for your loss.

It’s okay. That’s how I deal with a lot of things. You can have something that bothers you and you can think about it all the time, but for me when I write a song about something, it’s like the release of it, and then I don’t have to think about it as much. It’s out there. I’ve vented it. It’s in a song and I can move forward.

Well let’s not dwell on that. If we move forward to ‘Crush,’ that’s a big one that slapped me in the face because it’s predominantly an electronic track. Why hasn’t Periphery tried to do a non-guitar focused electronic style song in the past?

That song was never really written for Periphery. I think Misha (Mansoor – guitar) just wrote it for fun. It was like a minute or a minute and a half long idea that he sent around to us. When everyone heard it, they were just like man, it doesn’t really sound like Periphery but at the same time it has a dark overall theme that is going through this record, so we thought it would fit. We did try to make it more organic, but it didn’t feel the same. The driving synth-based pulse feel that it has; I feel like it was just supposed to be that way.

Are you interested to see what fans think of that style music?

Yeah, I have a feeling a lot of our fans that like the techy kind of stuff are not going to like it, but I feel there are a lot of people who are just into good songs will end up liking it. Even though it is synth-based and electronic and whatever, it is still pretty out there. Especially by the end of the song it gets kind of whacky…

By this point in the album the theme of you guys trying new things I think is pretty obvious. What happened for the band to go for such diversity in this album?

I think it was just a culmination of us having so much time. I think the longest we’ve ever spent on a record before this one was maybe 4 months or so. Taking an entire year to write and record this album afforded us the option of toying around with tons of different song ideas. That’s where a lot of the variety and quirkiness came from.

Have you been able to do this because this album is now being released independently?

If it wouldn’t have, we probably could have done it as well, but we would have had people breathing down our necks and having to tell people no and it just made it a lot easier not having anyone to answer to. If we want to take a year off touring and do this and not set any release date before its done being recorded, we can do that.

Do you guys think you’ll stick to being an independently released band?

It’s hard to say. I think things are going well so far, but we’ll see how it goes after this record has been out for 6 months or a year. We’ll see what the workload is like and see how it’s doing and see how it’s received. I think it’s too early to say. But I’d say for right now everything is going really well.

“Suck my balls”

– Periphery, Track 9: ‘Satellites‘, Hail Stan 2019

Last up on the album, we get to ‘Satellites’. Aside from this being an incredible song where I think your clean vocals peaked, is that Cartman (South Park) at the end of it?

(Ha-ha) that’s Jake (Bowen – guitar). That’s a really funny thing; it was just a joke. Once we handed the record in we were expecting our management and everybody to hear that and be like okay guys good record but funny joke at the end, take it out. But nobody caught it! I think since it’s so long after the last song ends most people probably turned off before getting to that part, so it made it through to the final cut. It wasn’t even supposed to happen, but it just did.

Was there any backlash to the slightly meme-worthy title of Hail Stan?

Yeah (ha-ha), our manager Wayne probably wanted to rip all of his hair out when we told him. I don’t think somebody would be a good manager if they didn’t advise against calling a record Hail Stan. It’s such a stupid, stupid album title, but we wanted it, so he let us have it.

Okay, before we wrap things up, are you guys coming to Australia? We’re always waiting and we’re always hungry for it.

Dude I hope so. We’ve only managed to get over there once every couple of years and I think right now we’re going on our third year of not being there. Hopefully by the end of this year, maybe early next year we can get over there!

Interview by Kurt Boldy@boldykurt

Hail Stan is out on April 5th! Pre-order HERE

Periphery Hail Stan Album Art

 Periphery – Periphery IV: HAIL STAN tracklisting

1. Reptile
2. Blood Eagle
3. CHVRCH BVRNER
4. Garden In The Bones
5. It’s Only Smiles
6. Follow Your Ghost
7. Crush
8. Sentient Glow
9. Satellites

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