Like all Perth acts, Saviour had a particularly rough trot throughout COVID lockdowns and extensive border closures, but letting that deter them just wasn’t an option. We grabbed frontman Bryant Best and guitarist Curtis Tunks to talk about the group’s comeback, their new album Shine & Fade (our review here), the change of dynamics and roles within the band, signing to Greyscale Records and a whole lot more…
Thanks for chatting today, guys! Curtis, congratulations on being the newest addition to Saviour. Bryant, what made you think that Saviour needed a sixth member and where did you find Curtis?
Bryant: We were hunting for the Curtis type for a little while. I felt we needed someone who could give us a fresh look at the writing process. I’ve known Curtis for a couple of years now. He used to play in bands with Chris, (Saviour’s bassist/clean vocalist). Curtis and I were initially talking about doing a side project together, naturally, I found that he is exactly what Saviour has been missing. His guitar work is phenomenal, so it didn’t take long before I invited him to join Saviour.
Sounds like it was meant to be! Curtis, from what we have heard so far, your technicality on a guitar is outstanding. It seems as if you have added a completely new dimension to Saviour’s sound. Was it important for you to leave your impact on the band when you were in the studio?
Curtis: Definitely! It was hard because I didn’t want to make it too technical and change the sound completely but adding my vibes to the songs while staying true to the band’s roots was very important to me. It took me a while to find that balance but I think we managed to hit the nail on the head so to speak.
Bryant, we know that COVID got in the way of everything but A Lunar Rose was an amazing album. At what point did you stop trying to tour and decide to focus on releasing a brand new album without any shows between?
Bryant: The whole process for the release of A Lunar Rose was a struggle from start to finish, so having troubles touring that album was quite ironic. I was very bummed out about it for a while but then I figured, let’s just enjoy the process and keep the wheels turning. Maybe the A Lunar Rose tour isn’t going to happen so let’s just move on to the next thing. We were actually going for an EP with this, hence the awkward eight tracks but we ended up putting together what we had which gave us a fresh outlook as we emerged from COVID lockdowns.
I don’t know what the state of the band would look like if we didn’t put together ‘Shine & Fade’. We would probably still be trying to score tours for an album we did a couple of years ago which probably isn’t realistic.
About those eight songs. In my personal opinion, that seems like an unusual number for an album. Is this something that happened intentionally? If so why?
Bryant: We were trying to bring it down to five or six tracks to create an EP but towards the eleventh hour of writing the record, we found that all eight tracks were worthy of being on the record. The album has a thirty-five minute run time, and I’m at peace with that. I think people’s attention spans are poor these days and they probably wouldn’t listen to an extra five or ten minutes of music anyways, so I feel as if we have hit the sweet spot with 35 minutes. We could have included an intro song and an interlude and made it a ten track record but the eight tracks are pretty strong so I was happy to leave it at that.
Curtis: Rather than putting two or three extra not so great tracks on the album. Close to the end of the recording process, there was a couple of songs that weren’t quite good enough. They were nearly there but they needed tweaking. So it would have been an EP but we tweaked them enough so they made the cut.
Much like Make Them Suffer and other Perth bands who were kept away from the world by the iron curtain of Mike McGowan, did any of the emotions felt with the closures play a part in the emotions on this new album?
Curtis: I joined before A Lunar Rose came out and we had so many tours and other things lined up. Then to not step foot on a stage for two years, especially after having to withdraw from Knight and Day Festival, it’s something we just became accustomed to, unfortunately.
Bryant: I definitely felt as if I was the most isolated person in the world during the lockdowns. I moved to Melbourne just before COVID came into action. I was and still am the only interstate member of Saviour, it felt like everything just caved in on me. A lot of my writing for these tracks definitely projects my loneliness throughout these times and what it meant to me.
To be fair, I feel as if these experiences almost helped me write the record when I didn’t have much to do besides sit down and unpack what was really going on. It all bled through which is what really made it the piece of art that it is.
How did the border closures affect the logistics of the recording process?
Bryant: As I was heading over to Perth, we were trying to put together a few shows and the album. As I was trying to get over there Melbourne started getting heaps of new COVID cases every day. I was initially supposed to leave a few days later but I thought ‘McGowan is going to close these borders, I have to leave tomorrow’. I managed to sort it out with my job and left the very next day, which happened to be the very last flight from Melbourne to Perth before the border shut.
I then had to spend two weeks in isolation, which is where I did the bulk of the album’s writing. Normally, two weeks locked up in a house would be horrendous but this album kept me busy. The whole process seemed to work in my favour in that sense, I just had nothing to do except drink beers and put together this album.
If it wasn’t for that two week mandatory isolation, this album would most likely not be coming out so soon.
Adding the new dynamic of bassist Chris’s clean vocals adds a whole new dimension to Saviour’s sound. Was giving him that role something that has been talked about for a while or did it come up organically within the writing process?
Bryant: Chris has been in the band since around 2017 I’m pretty sure and I sort of wanted to start injecting his vocals on the last record. A Lunar Rose but that record was more of a transition album where we wanted to re-establish ourselves as a heavy act. In a perfect world, I would have gotten him singing on A Lunar Rose but we felt like the transition period probably needed A Lunar Rose to sound how it does before we could get to where we are with Shine & Fade.
Having him sing on this new release may seem a bit out of the blue for many people but we have actually been thinking about doing this for four or five years. In other people’s books, 2022 is the year we started doing this but in our minds, we have been doing this for years.
You guys were signed with UNFD for years before becoming independent artists, now with the release of Shine & Fade you have joined the Greyscale Records team. What attracted you to Greyscale?
Bryant: We have been working with Ash Hull (Greyscale Records/Destroy All Lines) for a long time, he’s been our booking agent for years. To me, it’s all about working with people you know and trust. I was super hesitant about signing to any label, even if there were some cool deals coming through because I have been f*cked around on the business side of music before. Our relationship with Ash Hull made everything feel very safe, he’s a good guy and we have a lot of mutual respect for one another.
That label is doing great things, they seem to be going places and they cut good deals with their artists, while treating their bands like family. It has been very nice to be a part of that for six or so months now.
If there was anything you could tell fans before they go and listen to the record for the first time, what would that be?
Curtis: That’s a tough one! I’m a little scared of how everyone will take the album with the new dynamics, such as Chris’s vocals. People might want to hear more Shontay than Chris or vice versa but I feel as if we have found the perfect balance between the two, it really works.
Once this album is released will we finally be able to catch Saviour on stages across Australia?
Bryant: It’s now just over two and a half years since we played a show, which is crazy to think about but we definitely have a few things in the pipeline. I am probably going to go back to Perth in a month or two and have a jam with the band to try and figure out how to do live shows again. We have become a bit nervous about it, we have been out of the game for so long that it almost feels as if we are starting fresh.
Hopefully we can shake those nerves off after the first show or two and get back to doing the damned thing because we have all really missed it.
Thanks for the chat guys and congratulations again on the new album. You’ll catch me front and centre when you play in my hometown!
Interview by Adam Rice
Shine & Fade is out April 29th via Greyscale Records.
Saviour – Shine & Fade tracklisting:
2. Reshape Me
3. Racing Home
4. Modern Curse
5. Tidal Wave
6. Black Rosary
8. Wishing Well
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