Kylesa interview (06/2013)
|With:||Laura Pleasants, Phillip Cope|
|Conducted by:||Susan (in person)|
Kylesa is currently on an amazing US/Canada tour with Blood Ceremony, White Hills, and Lazer/Wulf. They hit San Francisco last week and I had a chance to meet with band founders Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants to discuss the incredible new album, Ultraviolet, their processes as musicians, and what kinds of books are the best reads on tour. Interviews like this, where you can get to know the musician AND the person, are so rewarding. The night was made that much better by the kick ass show that followed. All 4 bands were absolutely incredible. The tour continues through the end of June so check the schedule and do not miss this if you can!
Susan: Can you guys talk about your musical evolution over the last few albums?
Laura: I think it's… it's hard to look at it from our perspective. It's easier to look at that from an outside perspective. But, I think we just do what we do and things kind of change naturally and, you know… that's a terrible answer. I don't know (laughs)
Phillip: I'd say it's not something we really put a lot of thought into. We don't sit around thinking, "how can we evolve," or, "how is it coming along"; we just write from the guts. Just kind of go for it. We do, when we write the albums, we do try to keep our fans in mind. We don't want to do something that's too far out there or that would alienate people that have been supporting us for so long. But, at the same time, we kind of have to do what feels natural so, that's how it goes.
Susan: What was the recording process like for Ultraviolet?
Laura; It was my favorite recording process we've ever done. It was more of us just being relaxed, having time to do things, being prepared. Everyone was just on the same page, there were less people involved. It was just really worked. I know he (to Phillip) was stressed out. He was wearing many, many, many, many hats.
Phillip: It was long and stressful, a bit, for me but very rewarding. You know, as much as I may have gotten stressed out here and there, I was happy. I was stoked about how it was going. On the recording end of things it was really nice for me to be able to work with people individually and not just have everybody waiting around or bothering me when I was trying to work (laughs). It was nice; everyone got to come when they were needed. So you didn't have people, in the past, the whole band sitting around for weeks or whatever. People get cabin fever and it can be real stressful that way so it was nice to have everybody coming in fresh. So, it was a good experience.
Susan: Nice. Can you guys talk about Savannah [their hometown] and why so many amazing bands come out of there? And how it's been changing over the last few years?
Laura: I think there's something in the water.
Susan: I think you're right.
Phillip: It's a small city and I think that there's so many creative people that come through such a small little area. I mean there's lots of different viewpoints and different styles of people all hanging out and I think it's… you get a lot of support. From a bigger city, you might not be getting the kind of support you get from certain types of people maybe. I don't know. It's kind of a cool small little artsy town and everybody seems to help everybody out. I'm not living there right now but over the years living there you know what everybody's up to, all the different types of things going on so, it's a cool spot.
Susan: What brought about the decision to use two drummers?
Phillip: Trying to be heavier. Simple as that. (laughs)
Laura: I remember we had this discussion like, years ago, when the band started. Because I was always jamming with a drummer at the time and he had his band mates from his previous band and we were just like… I think I was sitting in your back patio or something and you were like "you know it would be just really heavy to combine forces and have two drummers.
Phillip: Yeah, it was just like at the time we kept adding amps and people, I can remember early on in Kylesa days, we tried it at first and it didn't work out. So, we're kind of going along and we just had all these amps and like bass amps and people going "you can't hear the drums" and it's like, well, if we had two drums…
You know it wasn't some great plan but over time you realize that we could try to do something with this, such a simple idea. Let's work on this and try to make it something pretty cool. At this point, it feels weird when we don't have both drummers.
Laura: Yeah, I feel the presence is missing.
The cover of new album Ultraviolet
Susan: What kind of music do you guys find inspiration from outside of metal, or just enjoy listening to?
Both: So many kinds.
Laura: It's no secret that we're both huge music fans. Of all kinds of music. You can see that with the bands we take out. We always take out bands of different genres but kind of with the same vibe, maybe, or similar vibe. I mean, I can garner inspiration from any kind of music as long as it's real. Yeah, as long as it's real.
Phillip: For me I can find something in just about any genre. Because I don't like everything.
Laura: Yeah, me neither, me neither.
Phillip: I'm picky. I kind of go through and find out what I really think stands out for me, what I like, it could be anything. It could be almost any style of music.
Susan: What do you guys like to read?
Laura: (pause) I am so ADD I can't read that much. But I really like science fiction I guess, when I can read. Yeah, I generally choose science fiction.
Phillip: I go through different moods. Sometimes I like to read real, you know, intense, deep kind of stuff. Sometimes, it really just depends on how busy or stressed out I am. If I'm really stressed, really busy, then I like light reading. Just something like Stephen King, you know.
Laura: It's hard to read anything really dense on the road. Light reading on the road is the best. Because it's hard to get into a book on the road. You're so busy and often times it's bumpy.
Phillip: Right now I'm reading John Dies In The End. But it depends; I do like reading some intense stuff.
Susan: What about, do you have any favorite movies?
Phillip: Oh yeah (laughs). Got a couple hours? One of my favorite movies of the last handful of years I guess, I really like Enter The Void. That movie kind of blew my mind and I've watched it probably more than anything else. Um, I'm a big horror movie fan, I love horror movies.
Susan: (I had trouble hearing him) Did you say "horror" movies or "foreign" movies?
Phillip: (laughs) Well, both! I like foreign movies, too.
Susan: Foreign horror movies!
Phillip: Actually, they're generally the best! Yeah, I think we're all pretty big movie fans. I know David Cronenberg has been a favorite of Laura and I. John Carpenter is another mutual favorite. I mean we could literally go on and on.
Susan: Alright. Laura, any favorites?
(Phillip pulls new bassist Chase Rudeseal into the conversation)
Phillip: Chase, you have one?
Chase: I have what?
Phillip: Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt. I was going to put him on the spot. What's one of your favorite movies?
Chase: One of my favorite movies? Life Aquatic, honestly, comes to my mind first. I love anything Bill Murray. He's my favorite actor and Life Aquatic is probably my favorite movie by Bill Murray.
Laura: I think The Shining is probably one of my favorite movies.
Chase: That's a good movie, too.
Laura: I mean, cliché or whatever.
Phillip: No, that movie's amazing.
Laura: It's just so scary; it's such a perfect horror movie.
Susan: Phillip, where are you living now? You said you're not in Savannah any more?
Phillip: I live in Columbia, South Carolina. But, I just spent the last month touring around Savannah.
Laura: The road is the home! Or, it has been, off and on, for…
Laura: Yeah, pretty much all of my, yeah, a long time.
Susan: What's coming up after this tour?
Phillip: More touring. Yeah, we haven't quite figured out what we're exactly doing but it'll be more touring.
Susan: Sometimes it's nice to take a little break after a tour. You're not doing any of the summer festivals this year?
Phillip: If we do it won't be a lot of them. We'll hit them up next year. We just did two years' worth of summer festivals.
Laura: I'm going to go to the beach. I've got a family vacation as soon as we get back.
Susan: Nice! Do you guys have any side projects going or play other instruments you dabble in?
Phillip: Not really any side projects at this point. I mean, we all play different instruments; I do some producing when I have time off, for other bands. Laura does a lot of photo work.
Laura: Yeah, we're thinking about doing something, me and him, but it hasn't come together enough for us to really make that announcement.
Phillip: We always have lots of ideas.
Susan: You said you'd done a lot of festivals over the last few years; any fun stories?
Laura: My memory is a blur. I mean, that's why I have to take so many photos. That's like my diary. We've had a lot of good fun at festivals. They generally are a good time.
Phillip: Yeah, they're a lot of fun.
Susan: What's your favorite song to play live?
Laura: "Don't Look Back" is one of my favorites. I just really like playing that one.
Phillip: I like playing it, too, just because people get real stoked when we play it. I like playing "Said And Done" a lot live.
Laura: I do, too.
Phillip: That's fun just to jam on. I like playing "Unspoken" now a lot, that's fun.
Laura: Yeah, that's become a fun one.
Phillip: But, they're all fun. We pick songs that we like playing.
Laura: (laughs) Yeah. It's not like "Aww, god I HATE playing that song…"
Phillip: Yeah, we don't do any songs just because we feel we have to. If we don't enjoy doing it, we don't play it.
Susan: Do you have any favorite albums of times past, or most sentimental albums from this band?
Laura: This, Ultraviolet, is probably the most sentimental for me.
Phillip: I don't know. We put 100% into every album so it's kind of hard to pick one. Static Tensions, for me, stands out a little bit just because of that time period. It was the first record that we did where people really caught onto us. And that was a really fun time for the band, like, after that album dropped is when we really first started getting to do some big festivals. So, that kind of time period stands out for me.
Phillip: But to say one album, that's just too hard.
Susan: So, several years ago you released an EP that was called No Ending 110 Degree Heat Index. Was there a period of time when it was just blazing hot where you lived?
Laura: Oh yeah! Savannah is hot as hell.
Susan: I lived in Knoxville for a few years and it gets intense in the summer but it's way further north. 110, I've never experience that.
Phillip: 110 is brutally hot.
Laura: It's oppressive. Miserable.
Susan: That's what inspired those songs?
Phillip: It was about, when I was writing the lyrics for that, it was definitely like, I was having some relationship problems, and it was just so brutal hot outside. It just seemed like a good metaphor, you know, for what was going on. Just oppressive heat. It's kind of hard to deal with [relationship problems] when your brain is boiling.
Susan: Can you talk about some of your other lyrical influences?
Phillip: There's a lot of them.
Susan: Any events or literary sources that stood out?
Phillip: Well, literary, I can think back on To Walk Middle Course. I was reading Narcissus and Goldmund on a bus trip, and it kind of made me think about good and evil and to really understand, you know, going through some darkness…
Laura: Yeah, during that time period I read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. That had a huge impact on me. And then I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy when we did Static Tensions. Just his poetic way of writing had a big impact on me, and it was so dark.
Laura: Yeah, I read that book in two days. It was so… it was a page burner, man! He's such a good writer.
Susan: Do you usually write the lyrics and then the music or vice versa?
Laura: Music first, generally.
Phillip: Sometimes, not for me.
Laura: It depends. I know that like this record, I knew the kind of chord progression I wanted to do for a song but it was SO that I could do a certain vocal style, you know? But, I don't think either one of us has a certain way that we always write.
Phillip: All different kind of ways, actually.
Susan: Has Ultraviolet been in progress since the last album? Did you start right away or are these new ideas?
Laura: I didn't, personally. I had to take a break from the band for a while. And when I say take a break, like, I played the guitar a little bit and came up with a few melodies but I wasn't really in the headspace, I wasn't really in a position where I could write.
Phillip: Yeah, I kind of started close after but it was off and on. And I wasn't in like the perfect writing space. It actually worked out in my favor a little bit because I started messing with keyboards before I knew I was going to have to play keyboards on the album. It was easier, I was actually living in LA for a while and I didn't really have a place where I could jam guitars, just had a keyboard and some headphones. So, I just started writing with that for the first time. So, that was kind of a fun way, a new way for me to learn to write songs.
Susan: It's nice to have a little refresh between albums. How long does it take for you guys to write an album? Once you get going does it just pour out of your heads?
Phillip: (laughs) As long as it takes!
Laura: For me, I do best if I dive in and kind of hyper focus. My friends don't see me for a really long time, no one hears from me, I just go away, disappear, and play. That's the best way that I can produce good material.
Phillip: And that's usually what we do. On most albums we'll take 2 or 3 months and that's all we do.
Laura: Just live it, breathe it.
Susan: Well, that's all my questions. Thanks guys! Is there anything else you want to add?
Laura: Uh, BUY OUR RECORD! (everyone laughs)
Posted on 02.06.2013 by
Susan appreciates quality metal regardless of sub-genre. Metal Storm Staff since 2006.
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