By: Scott Alisoglu
Paul Masvidal had an epiphany that it was time to unleash CYNIC and blow minds all over again. For the last 15 years, "Focus" has served as the bench mark for the heavy end of progressive metal (some might say progressive "death" metal, but more on that later) and here we are again. The album is "Traced in Air" and on it CYNIC has pushed the enveloped even further with a heightened sense of melody and, of course, out-of-this-world musicianship and Masvidal's philosophical and spiritual lyrics. Listening to Masvidal discuss the finer details of the album is inspiring and makes one want to return to "Traced in Air" again and again to explore every new layer that reveals itself in various, mesmerizing forms. I've done literally hundreds of interviews over the years and this in-depth conversation with Paul is easily one of the most intriguing I've ever conducted. Read on.
Q: What pushed you to write another CYNIC album? Those ATHEIST reunion shows must have at least got you thinking.
Masvidal: There are two parts to this. One is we did the reunion and the reunion wasn't with the intention of making another album; it was really just to perform "Focus" again for people that hadn't had a chance to see us and what spurred the reunion was a series of synchronicities. It was really cosmic actually and over the course of a couple of weeks CYNIC appeared in my life, really concentrated in various formats. It started with a fan from Russia sending me an e-mail saying he had a dream that he saw CYNIC perform at a festival and we were playing for all these thousands of people and the reception was amazing. And then after that e-mail a bunch of other things happened and one of the last things that happened in that period was Kelly Shaefer [ATHEIST] calling me and saying, "Dude, you got to get out there, people are freaking out and there is a demand for CYNIC." I was like, "This is too crazy!" Those things are surprising me less and less these days just because it's been happening so often. So there we were and I remember it had just reached a critical mass and I just called Sean [Reinert] and said, "I think we're supposed to do this" [laughs]. I had been privy to all these CYNIC appearances and we weren't in CYNIC world at all. We had closed the door and had no intention of reopening it. So we got to work and kind of re-relearned and got the "Focus" stuff together and went out there and did these dates; a couple of Western Europe dates and then we did Eastern Europe. I had been writing a lot of music over the years and I had a tune that felt CYNIC-like. We would develop that song further and I thought we would bring it out and have something different to offer other than just the "Focus" songs. The response was overwhelming, it was just really positive to this song, "Evolutionary Sleeper", that we had as an experiment brought out there. But it was a loose experiment because I still wasn't really committed to the idea. We got back from the last Eastern Europe tour last year and I just sat down with Sean and had gotten some raw demos of some new ideas together, brought them over to my studio and we just fleshed out some things. At that point, over the course of a couple of weeks, I realized that we had something to say again. It was just one of those things. Sean and I started in CYNIC as kids literally in a boiler room jamming or in my mother's house, so it was this really interesting full-circle thing that was happening in terms of, "Wow, here we are again." There was a certain chemistry and magic when I started to write with CYNIC in mind, which was really like tuning into a frequency and letting it write itself. It just came and it came really in a pure way. It felt true and it felt honest. At that point we just kind of gave ourselves the green light to keep moving forward and the rest is history. Again, it was just one of those kind of testing-the-waters things to see where it was going. I just knew quickly. It was fresh and it felt like CYNIC and it was another chapter that I could have never anticipated unless I had experienced all these spiritual events [laughs]. It's really amazing how life does that stuff.
Q: Prior to the epiphany, all those years you never kicked it around about the possibility of reforming CYNIC? Not even once? You completely shut it out?
Masvidal: Oh, yeah. I'm thinking of some of the most stubborn aspects of who I can be. I was so committed, like even as a principle, and I was not returning to that place. I think part of it was that there was a wound. The wound was feeling like there was so much unresolved that happened with the end of CYNIC in '94-'95 when things fell apart for us that I didn't want to go back there. It was a painful place from our earlier years as artists and musicians in the business. We just moved on and I was just in a different head. I just thought that I'm not going back there; I'm in another place now and I've moved on. I definitely had people nudging. It's funny; Sean and I had really tried… I mean I put a padlock on that door. I just did not want to open it. But it kept haunting us [laughs]. We could not shut CYNIC up! It was definitely these windows that would happen over these years and years. I remember randomly walking down the street in Southern France and some kid came up to made and goes, "Are you Paul Masvidal from CYNIC?" And here I am with short hair and he recognized me. I was like, "Wow!" It was interesting. I had never had that kind of validation sense. We were basically just invisible in '93. I didn't realize the impact of this record ["Focus"] at all. It was not until we went out and did this stuff that we realized it actually affected people and there was a love for it. It was kind of a virtual thing. You know there was the occasional e-mail and things like that, but nothing tangible. Maybe there is just some deeper part of me that obviously knew and I just didn't open myself up to it until I got out there and played this music again and realized how ingrained in our biology it was [laughs]. There was some thread in there that was working its way back into our psyche and inevitably it surfaced.
Q: So Sean and you are basically pulling together material for the sophomore album. At what point did label considerations come into play? How did you end up on Season of Mist?
Masvidal: I think it was as soon as I saw a body of work. I kind of started out with the demos of these songs and I generally write alone first, doing a guitar/vocals demo or whatever and I would give that to Sean and he would learn his arrangements and he'd work on his drum parts to kind of flesh that out. I think when we had a general sense of maybe half the record, then we'd make a "demo" and that's when we went in with Suecof and the three songs that we recorded in our home studios. That was when I kind of took the leap of faith, like "wow, here we go, let's take CYNIC back into the music business and see what happens." There had been offers in situations at times in the past, but when we put it out there I think there were like seven labels that made offers. What was curious is that I'd never been a fan of Season of Mist's roster. I just didn't feel like they were really speaking our language, but what I found was that the president of the label said that CYNIC was his favorite band. He was a huge CYNIC fan! He came here from France and met us in L.A. and sat us down and said "you would be top priority with my company. I love you guys and I believe in what you're doing; just let me have a shot at this." That energy and that language of just kind of personable stuff spoke volumes to me versus all these bigger business labels that were just kind of seeing dollar signs. He was coming from more of an art place. He's a hardcore fan. I think he's almost more fan that businessman, possibly to his detriment [laughs]. He signs so many bands [laughs] and has this roster from Hell and I'm like holy shit, someone needs some quality control over there. But it's just his enthusiasm and his fervor for music; that's his vibe. The energetic thing from him meant more to me. You always have to pick you battles. Every label is going to be an imperfect situation; every business situation is going to have its flaws and weird things that you're dealing with. Based on what I saw with them, it just felt like this is workable, there is something here. Of course, saying you're going to be the big fish in our small pond speaks volumes compared to being a little dude on a bigger company. So do you think we would have gotten a limited-edition box set, vinyl, and all these special packaging things had we been on one of the bigger labels? Unlikely. There were all these special handling things that spoke to us in terms of the art side of things. And, of course, the freedom and the kind of deal that we had where it was definitely smart and friendly and supportive of what we wanted to do. Ideally, we would have maybe gone with another company for the States because Season of Mist has next to no presence in the U.S., but the terms were that they were going to do this for the world. I think he wanted to raise his profile and build his presence in the States and figured CYNIC would help him do that. They've been getting independent stuff to kind of build the U.S. side. Thankfully, I think CYNIC in this day is becoming less and less dependent on record companies. There is enough of a cult foundation there with CYNIC where we just essentially needed some really good distribution to get the ball rolling and see how things transpired.
Q: So you inked the deal and my next thought is about the selection of Warren Riker. I guess I was a little surprised to see the choice, although I can't really say that's based on logical reasoning on my part. I just would have never thought about him engineering a CYNIC album.
Masvidal: What I learned about Warren having worked with him on the AEON SPOKE album was that he was one of these guys that you cannot put in a box. Sean Reinert and I actually produced the album and Warren engineered/mixed. We went through four stages of pre-production prior to entering Broken Wave Studios to track with Warren. He's such a very talented engineer/mixer. He's capable of anything. So it was one of those things where I realized that OK, we have a pretty clear vision of what we want this record to sound like and what we're going for, so I just needed someone that had the versatility and the kind of guy that can think outside of the box to help capture that. Warren is one of those guys. I was literally showing him Robert Venosa paintings in the studio and saying this is the vibe of the songs and he was like "I got it." I have all his art books, but the one I was showing Warren was called "Illuminatus". It has these wonderful quotes by Terence McKenna throughout the book, which opens up a whole other personal perspective to the album. Robert's an old friend whose work is on the album cover of "Traced In Air"; he also painted the "Focus" cover. His art is all over our album booklet. I gave Robert the material and a synopsis of each song and he returned with a specific painting for each one. Really amazing gift. The booklet is filled with his images. Since my early teens, Venosa's been my favorite artist. I used to collect postcards with his art from an esoteric bookstore near my childhood home. When CYNIC got signed and we needed an album cover, I reached out to his publisher and they put me in direct contact with him. It's been a friendship ever since. I feel like I've been trying to capture the sonic environment of a Venosa painting my entire career as a songwriter. He's been a mentor to me for most of my adult life. I'm grateful. He's a true teacher and a master artist. But anyway, most engineers are like technicians; they're like scientists and math dudes and definitely not coming from this more creative, artist base, and Warren just goes there. He just pulls the veils back. He's on a different level. So I was really excited actually and I knew that just based on the AEON SPOKE stuff and his interpretation. He's worked with MICHAEL JACKSON to DOWN. He's one of these guys that have been all over the map. We were actually his first progressive rock album, which was all the more reason for him to make a statement in that genre and again do something new. Great engineers are not about genre or style as much as their skills and sensibilities and they can kind of do anything if they're really good.
Q: You kept the album to 34 minutes and even if it was 50 minutes I'm sure the intent would be to keep the listener's attention, but with progressive metal and rock there is something to be said about being able to digest an entire album without heartburn. Did you even think about that?
Masvidal: It's funny because I've seen a few times people saying, "Oh, after all this time they couldn't have written more music?" What people don't realize is that we had plenty of music. It was completely a calculated decision to keep the album short. The reason being is like you said. I feel that an average CYNIC song has about four songs of your typical metal band in it [laughs] and layered and it's just packed. There is a lot of information in there. I'd rather make each song count and really have the density to it, rather than trying to spread it too thin and stretch the indulgence. I've become a big fan of really complicated music in terms of songs that tell this huge story and have this profound effect, but you look at the length of it and it's like "Holy shit, that was only three minutes!" It is kind of this concentrated, compressed kind of thing that happens with us. It's like time lapse or illusion or something. It's like an arrangement thing and it's kind of a CYNIC thing, like less is more. We are already so over the top with the arrangements being so layered that I thought let's just keep this very concise, very direct and let these songs tell the story. I don't want to put any more information than what is needed. It just seems to be the right amount of stuff there. Curiously, I'm discovering now it's so anti-prog, especially in the metal world where everyone has these really long songs and it's kind of the common thing. Not to say that those bands are, but we've never been the self-indulgent type. We are very much about keeping to the song and the arrangement and making it very juicy and very interesting, but also less is more. I worship Emily Dickinson and poets that can be very concise with their words. The same goes with music, just trying to pack it all in and say it all in the most effective, tightest way.
Q: And you've done that. From the '80s demos to "Focus" to "Traced in Air", the evolution of the CYNIC sound had been based on a continual refinement of the central melodies. That makes it even more, for lack of a better term, accessible.
Masvidal: That's probably the result of listening to THE BEATLES and absorbing a lot of commercial and pop music also. I have always been all over the map, from jazz to classical to some kinds of pop and I got into folk and minimalist stuff, even BRIAN ENO and the ambient sounds. It is definitely more melodic and way more developed and refined, and even in terms as a singer just more consonant. That's just the nature of writing songs for years and years, and getting a better grasp of the feel, which I just think I'm better at now. I feel like I know how to do it now and I know how to make it feel a certain way and shape it down and create a mood and all these things. So it's just a matter of what colors are appropriate for this environment versus the next one. It's a means of expression. If I wasn't writing songs I'd probably be painting or writing something. It all kind of evolves out of the same thing.
Q: No vocoder this time! That was such a trademark of "Focus".
Masvidal: There is a little bit of this android; I'm calling it half-alien/half-human versus this completely vocoder dredge thing, which was on "Focus". I'm realizing now years later that a lot of that was just me being afraid of my own voice and hiding behind something, but at the same time wanting it to be subhuman and have this futuristic quality to it. So I think we have a nice balance now, like a more modern version of it where I can actually sing and still have that quality to it and not feel so confined. It's a little bit more of a freer kind of thing, but not as crazy as it used to be [laughs].
Q: Your singing has grown leaps and bounds since "Focus", which ties right into the increased emphasis on melody.
Masvidal: You know I'm a big fan of songwriting. That's where it is all at for me these days. At the end of the day I realize that all we're left with are these songs and I just want to write great songs. I think we were there even in the "Focus" days; I just think we're doing a better version now of what we were trying to do then. Essentially, in the "Focus" days it was a lot of, for me, four guys trying to get heard. It's more mature now in the sense that it's supporting this greater idea and a little bit more restrained. There is a sense of awareness with all of those dynamics coming into play with songwriting. It feels really great. I'm really proud of the record.
Q: This is certainly not a progressive death metal album, aside from the periodic use of growling backing vocals, which work exceedingly well in this context. It is a progressive metal album. I always found it interesting that CYNIC gets lumped into that early death metal scene and clearly there was some death involved, but it wasn't ATHEIST or PESTILENCE either and I think some folks might even be a little surprised at how non-death "Traced in Air" is.
Masvidal: First, let me just tell you thank you so much for saying that right now. That, to me, says that you understand what we're doing. We've been trying to pull the death out of the metal [laughs] from day one. I think that we got lumped in because of having played with DEATH on the "Human" record with Sean and I. The guys in CYNIC, you know Jason [Gobel] did MONSTROSITY and Tony [Choy] was doing ATHEIST and PESTILENCE. We were in the extreme death metal scene, so, of course, CYNIC must be one of those bands. Whenever you throw in those kind of growls, you just get pigeonholed and tagged. I don't say this in an unkind way, but we just always felt that we were doing something different. Death metal to me has a certain lyrical content, it has a certain approach rhythmically and riff-wise that's not really CYNIC. So I really appreciate you saying that because it makes me realize that you understand what we're doing and how narrowing and difficult it can be for a band when they start calling it this and immediately people brush you off. Whenever you put death metal in something it just puts you in this box and we've always felt that people shouldn't confine us to that. That's not what we're doing. We're doing something that's broader and has a whole other thing. Any kind of person who is in a death metal band would say that; they'd go "CYNIC isn't death metal" or even progressive death metal for that matter. Really, the growls for us have evolved into using it like an instrument. I kind of see it as this source of dynamics where you get really visceral and raw.
Q: By the way, what is the significance of the album title? Does it tie into the lyrical themes?
Masvidal: The title is starting to make more sense to me over time. I originally pulled it from the lyrics in the song "The Space for This", the first verse. At first what it felt like was, "this feels like CYNIC." This feels like if I had to give a visual description it has this kind of otherworldly, untouchable, intangible quality, and essentially that's what music is. You can't physically touch it; it's a vibration, a sound that emanates. There was this kind of elusive and at the same time kind of profound quality to that and the poetry of it made a lot of sense. It was like "Oh yeah, that totally works, that's CYNIC." Then over time I started to realize that the record essentially was traced in air for me as a songwriter. I felt like I didn't really write it. I felt like one of these things that I just had to kind of show up and lift my guitar over my shoulder and it kind of wrote itself. It was almost like where is this coming from? I don't know how to explain it, but it just felt like it's not mine; I'm just trying to capture something that I'm hearing and here am I doing my best to document this thing that's traced in air. It's just part of these elements, part of essentially who we are. It was just this vehicle for trying to communicate something. It was all these things interconnecting that got woven together in this weird collage or tapestry that became the album. The more I talk about it the more I feel like it's the right title. It has all these different implications on a very mundane level and then on a more spiritual level.
Q: Let's look at these songs. The first track, "Nunc Fluens" is a trippy piece with these tribal drums, crazy sounds, and spacey atmosphere. It really kind of introduces the next chapter of CYNIC.
Masvidal: I'm glad you used the word "introduce" because when originally that piece came together I remember thinking that this is the "we're back" song [laughs]. Like here we are and it's got this introduction kind of quality to it. I knew at that point that this was the beginning of the record. This is the birth, the creation tune; this is the story starting again. What's really cool is that in the studio I intentionally took pieces of every song on the record and wove it into this big mess that is the intro of all those layers. So it kind of has the whole album in it. And then it had all these other things that came together, but it was definitely along the lines of here is the beginning of the story for a song that is essentially an abstract piece of music because it obviously doesn't have a traditional arrangement. It's more of this build-up to this spread-open "here we are" thing and then goodbye; it's this classic CYNIC riff and then on to the next thing. It has all this color and intensity. Every time I hear it — but I've essentially stopped listening to the record because I'm about to stop performing it and touring and I'm in a different headspace with it — I hear new things and it's so layered and so drenched with color. I love that. It's almost the messy aspect of being born or something coming into form. And there is all this stuff, this gook [laughs] that comes into play and creates this entity. Maybe it's the birth of the being on the cover who is having this series of events happen that becomes the story of the record.
Q: Then you have "The Space for This" and "Evolutionary Sleeper" that are two one of the strongest songs with memorable choruses, and very colorful drumming on the former track in particular. They immediately capture this strengthened sense of melody.
Masvidal: I think everyone hears what they hear, depending on where they're at. "The Space for This" definitely has a broad range and is kind of a roller coaster ride in the way that "King of Those who Know" is, but it's a different kind of thing. But I hear what you're saying. "Evolutionary Sleeper" is almost like a return to the source. It's got this very open-heart feeling to it. It has this direct intense honesty to it. "The Space for This" felt like the definitive CYNIC tune in terms of "here we are" and it has a lot of progressive qualities and all these different sections that kind of take you on a ride. It's part of that setup. The words influence the space. We're saying that we claim this space and we go into "The Space for This", which is setting up that surrender into where we are and who he we are now. And then "Evolutionary Sleeper" gets deeper into that train of thought.
Q: "Integral Birth" is an example of the growls parallel with the clean vocals working exceedingly well.
Masvidal: Yeah, especially when the chorus kicks in. It has an arresting quality and then putting a growl in there just takes it over the top, like it just grabs you by the throat. And then having the melodic context of the melody and the growl emphasized by sections of that. It was one of those tunes when I had it I always imagined where the growls were, which was just a matter of implicating it. That's probably, pieces of it, the oldest tune on the record in terms of a reformulation of an older idea. It never felt like it found itself properly and it was not until this CYNIC context that I thought it was the version that the world was supposed to hear. It's nice to be able to do that where you have this implied melody with the growls, and growls don't have notes or if they do it's like three notes [laughs].
Q: I love the first two solo breaks on this one. They really grabbed me me, even in their brevity. They just flow so well and aren't overdone; they just work well within the context of the song.
Masvidal: I just realized this the other day and I don't know why it hit me. The solos are surrounding or kind of framing this super broken down bridge, the stripped down guitar/vocals part of the song. Before the bridge and after the bridge are the solos and it was interesting how it framed this vulnerable moment. You hear the almost post second chorus solo and then here is this completely raw, stripped down moment and then "boom!" we're back into explosion again, which is that turn-on-a-dime CYNIC thing that we do, these really intense, dynamic shifts. It's cool because that's not happening anywhere else on the record.
Q: "The Unknown Guest" then has these peculiar growl-chants.
Masvidal: Right, the "Om Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha Om." That song is all about vedic astrology. I have a good friend who is a vedic astrologer and he did my chart right before I went to make this record and really before I even knew I was about to do it he said to me, "you're on the verge of a lot of really wonderful creative bountiful things right now. You have Saturn that has just left your chart" and Saturn is kind of like this dark energy that swallows you. This is about working with Saturn energy, which is the unknown guest; it is the return of Saturn in your chart. No one is ever going to understand this unless I explain it [laughs]. Basically, that mantra is about the active generosity and giving and introducing a bounty, almost like introducing gratitude into one's life. You know that these are essentially the dark times and you're going to do everything you can to balance it out. For example, before I go on tour — and I'm about to in a few weeks with OPETH — I'll intentionally do way more yoga than I'm used to doing, I'm meditating a lot more, and I'm just trying to take care of myself. I'm eating better. It's hard on the road, man. Every night is a new gig and you're traveling your ass off and it's really brutal. So I'm thinking I've got to get myself together on all levels and really prepare for this psychologically. So in a sense that song is all about working with those energies in terms of preparing and counteracting something really dark or negative in our lives. But it's doing it in a way that is bringing a certain perspective to it. At the end of the day it's all thoughts, so even if it's as a placebo effect and it works, then cool. It's doing whatever it takes to outsmart ourselves so we don't buy into this self-destructive thing that we humans often do. It's the only song, other than "Adam's Murmur", maybe, that pokes at some of the "Focus"-era type lyrics, which is very deep in philosophies.
Q: "Adam's Murmur" has notable muscularity in the rhythms. That is what hit me initially.
Masvidal: Yeah, they are kind of deep. It's interesting because that song has for me this verse, which is almost futuristic and interplanetary, those broken down verses. But then it goes into this almost classical kind of thing that happens in the beginning of the song, and then in the center and the end. It's unexpectedly heavy, just the way, like you're saying, the rhythms hit you at odd times and it's unexpected; it's almost jarring in a sense. It keeps you suspended in a way. That whole songs feels like that to me, one big suspension that is floating along and does it ever land? You're almost starting to land until that little part in the bridge where it strips down right before it goes back into that pre-chorus thing. It's an interesting tune. A lot of people won't get it at first, but it will make sense later. I remember that a lot of more business-minded people couldn't care less about "Adam's Murmur", like "Oh, that's the weird song." I even remember one big label guy saying that "'Integral' is amazing and 'Evolutionary Sleeper' is great, but 'Adam's Murmur', I don't know about that one." [laughs] It is a different tune that doesn't have this obvious, in-your-face hook; it's got this other layer to it. But a lot of friends and other people that get it really get it.
Q: That's what makes this album so intriguing. The album has got what I like to call individual track identity.
Masvidal: Yeah, and then at the same time the idea is that they make sense together, but they're totally different. Who wants to keep writing the same song over and over? And that happens a lot with artists and the next record sounds too close to the one before it. So it's really a trick to do that. I find that the key to it as a musician is to listen to new music and new information and keep absorbing it. Sometimes I'll go through a phase of just classical music and really crazy fusion and bebop and hardcore jazz and all of a sudden I'm hearing all these other colors. Like, "Whoa! OK, you can resolve things like that." The trick is having your voice still be in there, although it's kind of a new color.
Q: On "King of Those Who Know", the beginning of the track features this beautiful bit before launching. Who is the female voice?
Masvidal: Yeah, that's my friend Amy Correia, who is singing on that and she's in some other parts of the record, but not as obviously. That's the only solo moment. It's definitely the crazy, over the top in a way… It's probably more like a roller coaster ride than "The Space for This". It has a lot of sections and parts, but it has this feeling to it. To me, it's so much fun, I think about playing that song [laughs] and it's really cool to play that one live. It's got this thing about it that translates really well. It's got its own language and vibe to it that definitely starts somewhere and then ends somewhere else. What's really deceptive about that tune is that there is a language there melodically that just keeps being recycled. You don't really notice it unless you really pay attention. It'll make sense on a subconscious level, but over time it's "Oh, they're bringing that theme back, but doing it this way now." It sounds extremely technical and crazy, but it works as a song. I can sit there and play that song on an acoustic guitar and it'll make sense.
Q: Then the closing track, "Nunc Stans", kind of brings it back to the beginning and ends it at the same time.
Masvidal: That riff that opens up is the same riff at the end of "Nunc Fluens". It's just in a different key; it's in a minor 3rd up. What's happening is that there is this play on minor 3rds throughout the whole album; it's almost like our favorite interval. It's like the farewell death song, like goodbye, my journey is over and here I am reflecting on my experience as a human and this is what it amounts to. This is the end of the story. There was that motif that came into play that does the bookend thing with the beginning of the record and the end. It's like this futuristic hybrid sound; it's not really classifiable in terms of metal or rock. It's in its own trippy space and I really like that about the tune.
Q: Finally, I was thinking that you've influenced many, which is why it's so cool that you're going out with OPETH in Europe. When does the tour start?
Masvidal: The first gig is November 17th, but I'm flying out on the 8th with Sean and then we're going to the UK and rehearsing for about a week, and then the tour starts. We're so excited.
Q: The great part is that you've had this big impact on so many progressive bands and to be paired with OPETH is almost poetic.
Masvidal: We talked to Mikael [Åkerfeldt] because through a mutual friend he told me to, and Mikael immediately was like "Dude, I had 'Focus' the day it came out and let's just make this happen." I said we've got a record coming out right when your tour starts and he was right on it. It seemed perfect. I just thought it was a wonderful thing how this is flowing. I'm grateful. Every since we put the intention out there that we're doing CYNIC again things have just unfolded and it's been very supported. A lot of old friends that weren't able to be involved with us back in the day are coming out the woodwork saying "I want to be involved, I want to help out" and that means so much to us. It's a different time and the fact that OPETH can have a legitimate career these days says a lot about how much progressive music and the scene has grown. It's huge! There are all these sub-genres and not just extreme metal. We had CYNIC touring with CANNIBAL CORPSE in '94. It's a whole other thing. It's a much bigger scene. It's really encouraging that all these obscure art forms, which is essentially what we do, have a platform now to be heard and a tangible audience and a sense of support. It's really groovy. When we went out and did these first shows I was shocked to see this whole other wave of metalheads and then the next generation that were there and totally getting it. It's a different time, man.
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