wtorek, 7 listopada 2017

Playing music is for me evenly important as breathing - Mateusz Augustyniak and Sławek Orwat have talked to the Transparent Human Creatures musicians

photo: Slawek Orwat

Mateusz: Couple weeks ago, you’ve released Runaway - your new single from upcoming EP. Can you tell how the production process looked like, and what we can find on this album?

Aman: We started out with the demo versions, which I came into part way complete. From there we had to get all our drums tracked to replace our programmed guide drums. After the drums we took our time with the rest of the recording, splitting it out between our respective homes whenever we had the time. We set our dates for mixing and made sure we tracked everything by then and now we only have the mastering process left. Shouts to Anthony Heapy and Tim Webster at Hunter and Archive studios respectively for the great job on engineering the drum sessions.

photo: Sławek Orwat
Ryan: We jam. We write. We jam some more. We gig the songs. We record a demo. We change it. We play more gigs. When the song finally crystalizes, we record it. The new EP is a result of all four of our creative input over the last year and reflects our different musical influences and playing styles. It is grounded by Jon's solid songwriting and Magics tasty riffs, expect song greats songs made by passionate musicians!

Maciek: Production is a long story. Writing-rehearsals-recording-writing again-rehearsals-recordings. When Ryan recorded drums, everything went smoother. I was running around our houses for other recordings of guitars, vocals etc. Then me and Aman were working on mixing, sound and set up. With demos and projects ready we went to Tim Webster. Now Aman is performing final mastering. EP will contain 5 studio tracks, and two bonus tracks.

Sławek: Maciek and Jonathan, could you please, in few sentences introduce your new bandmates that joined the band after Łukasz resigned? What did they bring to your already existing music and how they fit in the band?

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Aman: Hi, I’m Aman, I play bass… this brought me to THC originally by helping Maciek and Jon out with recording the home-produced demos for their previous band Error 24 as well as trialing vocals for the band. Following the split of error and the formation of THC I was still involved in their demo production but during production they approached me about joining the band as their gig engineer, then later decided to ask me to play bass.

Maciek: Ryan Thwaits vel Mr Smile is very positive, always smiling man. He has been introduced as our drummer in exchange of Lukasz Makowiecki, and he claimed that title well, even though target was set pretty high. Also, thanks to the fact, that Ryan is also great guitarist, he let us get loose sometimes, and he is not bothered with our mischiefs. Aman Nundram picked up bass guitar from Jonathan. His influence in our music is huge, especially he has been blessed with very interesting voice which he gladly shares with us. Both me and Anan are (if we can say that) producers of our music.

Mateusz: Transparent Human Creatures since their creation in 2014 undergo a lot of changes both personal and arrangement. How all those changes influenced your music?

photo: Dominik Witosz
Aman: I guess for me it’s quite hard to see masses of the change in our sound just yet, I’m still trying to figure out what I think our sound is in the first place. I definitely feel that we’ve progressed as a band and grown closer both musically and personally and I can’t wait to keep cracking on with it.

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Ryan: As soon as a band changes its members, and these new members are given creative freedom, the music inevitably changes. This has worked in a positive way for us as we all come from different musical backgrounds and have fairly different ideas for each song/arrangement. Once we find the compromise between what we all want in the music, the songs emerge with very little effort

Maciek: There were no really so much changes. As I am sure you remember, we started as a trio only, but from the very beginning we were looking for solution for singing and playing at the same time problem. Especially in live shows Jonathan had to simplify bass lines, so he could sing at the same time. This had very bad influence on our live performances. Now when rhythm section is solid, we really caught the wind. Jon can finally focus on singing and guitar, and thanks to that me and other members have more space to play with the notes. Second guitar in the band is blessing.

Sławek: Your ex drummer Łukasz during our last conversation here claimed that you are full of mysteries which might be your biggest mystery. I have a feeling that with the new members you are even more mysterious, as psychedelia that can be easily heard in your music is nothing close to mashing, that you have been destroying all pubs along with Łukasz. What happened with THC, so the spirit of Syd Barret replaced distorted guitars and noise you’ve been known from.

photo: Dominik Witosz
Aman: The distorted guitars and noise are still there. Just we spread them out with some other flavors in-between. I think as a group with the four of us we all feel pretty comfortable to experiment musically. I really love trying to push myself to be as creative and spontaneous as possible with regard to songwriting, I feel it helps keep the listener on their toes with the end product. But the grit is definitely still there.

photo: Sławek Orwat
Maciek: This is interesting question. From my view we are not really that far from what we have been doing with Lukasz. We already had sketches of all songs from upcoming EP at that time. I think the fact that we have a second vocalist, and guitar may make that impression. And most importantly if you develop as a producer, you are finding more tools to show audience what’s in your head. And for the mashing… it’s still there.

Mateusz: All members of THC are long time musicians with lots of experience and musical knowledge. What are your inspirations and how your musical journey brought you to this place you are now?

Aman: For me personally it’s been a weird one. I started off singing in a youth choir aged 8, staying with them and getting to travel around for competitions was invaluable time to my personal development as a musician. As a teenager a few pals of mine from the choir wanted to form a band, they asked me to play guitar and then I spent the next 5 years playing in a thrash metal band around the UK. Here I got my first taste of the studio, doing a couple of ep recordings gave me a chance to get a bit of a head start on the difference of performance and studio playing, whilst also starting to inspire me to follow my interest into music tech. Following my time in this band I studied music technology and began producing my own music both for various live projects and as a solo electronic artist. Jump forward a few years and I’ve been playing my trade as an engineer and an instrument tutor. This brought me to THC originally by helping Maciek and Jon out with recording the home-produced demos for their previous band Error 24 as well as trialing vocals for the band. Following the split of error and the formation of THC I was still involved in their demo production but during production they approached me about joining the band as their gig engineer, then later decided to ask me to play bass.

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Ryan: I have been writing and performing from a relatively young age. I enjoy all types of music and have been privileged to be involved in some awesome bands over the years (Silicon Sun/The Strangerhood/Mozzy Green) as well as finding the time to pursue my solo project and teaching. Music is life for me, and I draw inspiration from my life experience. Music is an outlet for my more painful or powerful feelings and it has saved me many a time from despair and hopelessness. It is a balm for the soul, a skill, and bloody good fun!

Maciek: I wouldn’t say that I have rich musical experience. I have however quite wealth of life experience.

Sławek: After your gig with Kabanos, I described that THC music genre is somewhere between American grunge or prog metal sound with inspirations like Tool or Pearl Jam and British psychedelic rock from 60s and 70s played mostly by early Pink Floyd, where Syd Barretts small black book and Rick Wrights silver spoon were symbols of that weird part of human nature. How could you today describe kind of music you are performing.

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Aman: To be honest I think you’ve got it about right there. It’s a sort of psychedelic grungy music that has a wide span of influences. We do have a unified taste, but I also know that we all have our own other preferences in music that differ wildly, so you can hear some of those sounds creep into places too.

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Maciek: This is a tough one for me. I cannot actually clarify what genre we can put our music in. I will let the audience to decide.

Mateusz: Maciek, besides being lead guitarist, you oversee arrangement of THC songs, mixing and producing them, and even doing your own pieces for BBC. Could you tell something more about this cooperation, and how the hell do you find time for all this.

Maciek: Actually, I don’t find time for all this. Also, I am not creating music for contracts, even though I would like to, however there is a lot of good music in this industry. On the good note, last year one of my production was added to their music database, so maybe it will be used someday. I have also produced a song “Ever so Cold” along with Jonathan and Shannon Grace and we have been invited to BBC radio thanks to this. I have also seen part of the documentary film with my piece called Again, however there is a long way from producing a film and publishing it so better not to count the chickens before they hatched.

A fragment of the London concert of the Archive group, which I was lucky to see a few years ago
Mateusz: Your EP was recorded in Hirondelle studio which belongs to popular and well-known band Archive. Songs were recorded under guidance of experienced producer Tim Webster. How did you meet him, and how working with such experienced sound engineer looks like? Was he opened for your ideas, or did he tried to force his vision?

Aman: Tim has been a friend of Ryan’s for years. They have been working together in bands and on recording projects in the past too. I’ve known Tim for a fair few years but nowhere near as well as Ryan, I mostly remember him as the bassist with the dreads and the massive smile. Nowadays it’s been great getting to work with him. As a producer and engineer myself I love getting the opportunity to see him work. He really is a master of his craft and gets some mad results even with the inconsistent quality of some of our home recorded tracks. Through mixing the demos myself I really can appreciate just how stellar a job he’s done on mixing the Ep to sound as amazing as it does. All’s left is for me is to finish it off with the master and pray I don’t ruin his hard work.

Ryan: It was a pleasure to work with Tim Webster in such a refined studio. He is a very old friend of mine and we have worked together many times so the whole process felt very comfortable. He is incredibly creative when he works but is never imposing with his ideas. He is great at interpreting what a musician has in his head, and to be quite frank the songs wouldn't be sounding this good without him. One love!

Maciek: We came to Tim with prepared tracks ready for mixing. From perspective I see this was a very good decision. I was behind his back for days absorbing all the knowledge like a sponge. Tim is absolutely professional producer and genius musician, and Hirondelle have magical atmosphere. I hope you will hear this in the tracks.

photo: Marek Jamroz
Sławek: Jon, after your gig with Kabanos I told you: "You're born to be a singer. Be more brave cause you're amazing frontman!". How are you seeing your vocal now, what has changed, and how new band members contribute to your role as a lead singer.

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Jon: I find being a lead singer… very challenging for numerous reasons but also something I can't seem to walk away from. I clearly remember this word of advice like a label on the road and view it with a kind of fatalistic acceptance. I'm also working on trying not to take things so seriously and enjoy them! Having a brand-new rhythm section with an inexhaustible supply of musical ideas is helpful! The distinctive tone of an Aman harmony is something I could never create with pedals!

Mateusz: Looking at your achievements I can tell that THC is band of perfectionists. Who in the band have most critical approach and how this influences composition process and final song?

Aman: This is a tough one. We are all really critical but it pretty different ways. For instance, I’m pretty vocal when it comes to complaints. I tend to just say what’s in my head. But I know we are only being critical because we all care about the end result. Regardless of us showing how we care totally differently from one another we end up getting pretty much where we intend to. Plus, collectively we have this habit of not leaving arrangements alone. So, where we intend to take it one day is probably not the same as next time.

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Ryan: I just love to drum, point me at the drumkit and watch me go. I am always open to constructive criticism from respected source, but to be honest, I just drum from the heart - that's what you get from me. I am a perfectionist too yes, but I don't let this get in the way of the music.

Maciek: I am not perfectionist, but nature blessed me with pretty good hearing skills and, so I think I may be most critical, especially when it comes to my parts. It is great though that we are never arguing in the band and we are always listening to each other while creating the songs.

Sławek: Jonathan, 4 years ago you told me: “If we will constantly integrate our creativity, putting enough work into it whenever possible, I believe we will be able to reach out to the audience who will appreciate this”. Don’t you think that if I may use skating language you have left the track long time ago and are now riding on the whole rink area making musical pirouettes and figures seeing which even Jayne Torvil and Christopher Dean got envious.

photo: Monika S. Jakubowska
Jon: Now days we are having to integrate a whole lot more creativity what with an extended line up! Often we are using abridged versions of some progressive ideas or having to cut or rework things to accommodate a new concept. It's easy to be excited when we hear a revitalised interpretation of an idea which went by the wayside, we've certainly added a few dimensions! Just need to make sure we can pirouette before we can erm.. salchow?

Maciek: We have very good skates (laughs)

Mateusz: There are some rumors that THC will be performing live in Amsterdam next year. Can you tell us a bit more about this project?

Aman: Well we like to do some street performance around the Dutch city. We’ve been going for the past two years but next year we are toying with the idea of taking along some sort of amplified setup instead of our usual acoustic gear for it. Along with having a couple of potential venues lined up to put us on during our trip this one could be special.

Ryan: It's in the pipeline, we love Holland, watch this space!

Maciek: It's too far yet..

Sławek: Maciek, during our last interview in 2014 you said that playing in a band is something more than just playing music. Could you tell if after 3 years and noticeable changes in members and mood of THC music, playing in the band is even more now, or did music itself devoured you so all other aspects of life seem not important.

photo: Sławek Orwat
Maciek: Playing music is for me evenly important as breathing. Playing in the band with good multi instrumentalists is very challenging, because I need to improve all the time. Lukasz Makowiecki have shown me the doors to the world of music production, and this was the biggest discovery of my life. I hope I will develop more in that direction. Although really early we have plans of building our own studio. As for other parts of life… I am trying to find balance between my desires and real life. I have family, I have friends and lots of cool stuff to do, but day have only 24 hours.

Mateusz: What are your plans for future? Are you planning to focus more on live performances or should we soon expect full LP album?

Aman: I think gigs are in order for a fair chunk of next year. During that time, we are going to be putting together a second Ep. After that maybe we’ll talk album…

Ryan: We will be booking some decent gig's in the new year to follow up our EP release. We have already started recording the next batch of songs. Who knows whether it will come in the form of another EP, a full Album, or even a live album, but we have a lot of new material to.

photo: Marek Jamroz
Maciek: We started to look for decent management, slowly planning gigs. As for our publishing plans we want to record another EP and another acoustic piece. We are also thinking seriously about recording live album, it might happen even before the end of 2018. You won’t be bored!

Mateusz Augustyniak
and Sławek Orwat
have talked to the Transparent Human Creatures musicians:
Jonathan Eynon - guitars,vocals
Ryan Thwaits - drums,vocals
Maciek Gazda - guitars,triangle
Aman Nundram - bass, vocals

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