MESHUGGAH Drummer: 'This Album Is Almost Like A Sample Platter Of Everything That We've Done'

Adrien Begrand of PopMatters recently conducted an interview with MESHUGGAH drummer Tomas Haake. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

On the band's sixth full-length album, "obZen":

"This album is almost like a sample platter of everything that we've done through the years, and in that it's less focused if you will, but that's a good thing, I think. Focus can easily turn into something too linear as well, like the Nothing album in retrospect, it's kind of mid-tempo all the way through, but I think that album is more focused because of that."

"This is the first time that we really spent the time that we felt that we needed for the album, especially production-wise and doing mixes and all that. We spent months on mixing, and we did a shitload of different mixes before we felt that we nailed it, and I'm really happy with the final product. To me it's everything, it's powerful but it doesn't just turn into this big wall of mud, you can still kind of make out what everyone is doing, and I think to achieve that is not too easy with the music that we play, especially with the more downtuned stuff, with the eight string guitars it's sometimes really hard to get everything across.

"We have been kind of anal when it comes to the guitar stuff, everything's been recorded I don't know how many times, just to get everything synched and really nailed with the drums. That's also a dangerous thing, I thinkyou can get somewhat of an edge when it's not overly tight all over the place, the drums can go down or up in tempo and it can be a bit sloppy, and sometimes that actually brings more life to the music. But I think for this one, we really did spend a lot of time making everything really tight, and the production together with that just works really well. It doesn't sound too dead or too cleaned up, in my opinion. There's a certain amount of sludge in the guitar sound and in the bass."

"What I think is cool with this album is that it is really advanced in a lot of ways, but a lot of the tracks don't come out sounding like that, and that's a really cool aspect. The tracks are really tricky to play, and some of them, for reasons like the very tempo they're infor example the title track 'obZen' is at 170 BPM, and for me that's a super-awkward tempo for me to play. I have somewhat of a gap from 160 to 180, and then it's cool again, but that tempo is really hard when it comes to doing double-bass drum patterns. So some stuff is difficult for those reasons but most of the tracks are actually kind of advanced as far as the rhythmical structures and the guitar riffs and everything."

On MESHUGGAH's previous album, "Catch Thirty-Three":

"For what that album was, even though each of our albums is to some extent an experiment, 'Catch Thirty-Three' was just so much more of that," he says. "We also noticed pretty early on that for what we wanted with a more guitar-driven album, the programmed drums really worked well. So we just went ahead and did it. I guess to some extent also it's so much of a taboo, especially in metal and especially in progressive music, and it kind of feels good to do it just to see the expression on people's faces when you tell them it's programmed. Because it is very much a taboo, and even though we know a lot of bands that do use programmed drums on albums, they would never admit to doing soThere seems to be a shortage of thinking as far as that it doesn't really matter what tools you use to get somewhere, it's all about the final product, in my opinion. I don't care whether a band programs everything or uses another vocalist on the albums. At the end of the day, if they're a live band they're going to have to go out there and play it live, and to me it doesn't matter how you get there. If it's a good product, who gives a shit?"

Read the entire interview at PopMatters.

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