It seems like just yesterday that progressive metal it-band Periphery was in Australia – and it pretty much was, if you count ‘March’ as yesterday. Whereas last time around they travelled the country as part of the huge Soundwave festival juggernaut, they’re coming back this time for their own tour in support of their new recording project Clear, with like-minded proggy djenty iconoclasts Animals As Leaders. And guitarist Mark Holcomb is pretty damn psyched about it.
“I’ve said it many times publicly before and I’m not playing favourites just because I’m talking to Australian press, but it’s probably my favourite place to tour just because we get treated so well out there by our record label, by our fans, by everybody really,” Holcomb says. “Plus it’s just a breeze to tour because there’s something about the way we’re treated by our fans at the shows. They’re always intense shows but they’re not so crazy that people are beating each other up. They’re just really adoring fans. It’s my favourite place to tour in the world – I just wish it didn’t take 25 damn hours to fly out there! Oh dude, it makes you wanna die.”
Last year was a particularly hectic one for the band in terms of touring, with about seven months spent away from home. But during all the chaos of 2013 the band worked Clear: not quite an EP, not quite an album, it’s a seven-track recording which features a song written by each member of the band, plus an overture which introduces a theme running through each song.
“It’s a very experimental concept that’s not our next full-length – it’s not our next album – but we slaved away on it for months before this tour started. We put a lot of work into it and you’ll see. Long story short, we work out a lot of music at home … [and] we try from the road. We have a recording rig set up in our tour bus and we try to do some writing and recording. But I dunno, the way I work as a musician, I like to be able to concentrate on music – and it’s very hard for me to do that when I’m surrounded by 11 dudes on a bus, when they’re spilling whisky all over the floor and playing video games…”
Clear is a perfect representation of what Periphery have evolved into. Initially a platform for founder Misha Mansoor’s home-recorded ideas, the band now features three guitarists, a bass player, a drummer and a vocalist who all write and who all have strong musical personalities. Y’know, a real band. “Right, totally,” Holcomb says. “And I mean, the elements of having actual people dictating different elements of the music and business decisions and stuff, it’s really done a complete 180 from how it started, y’know, bedroom music – and not like sexytime bedroom music, but bedroom metal. But it’s become its own beast now. You have six people and all of us write our own music and all of us contribute now creatively, be it on the engineering side – ‘Nolly’ [bassist Adam Getgood] is an amazing producer and engineer and a fantastic guitar player as well as, of course, a fantastic bassist. And we all write our music. It’s just such a blessing to have that, but at the same time you also have to know how to get along and how not to get your feelings stepped on with so many other cooks in the kitchen, if you know what I mean.”