With no shortage of ideas or riffs, The Vox Arcanum come ripping out of L.A. with their debut album, Of Time and Fate. Being a relatively new band has it’s challenges but these guys overcame the odds and put out a really well thought out record. It’s rare to find a band willing to come out of the gate with a full LP, so what drives them?
N: What are you currently listening to?
VA: “Collectively, it’s been a lot of stuff not only on our local scene but on local scenes across the country. The progressive and post-hardcore scenes are definitely big for us. Rogues Among Us with their new release, The Buried Heart with their upcoming EP, and Vox Vocis with their LP2 developments are great examples of some of the stuff we have been keeping an eye on. I (Tony) personally have been jamming Eidola, Stolas’ new album, I the Mighty, and a lot of Thank You Scientist. Frank and Brandon listen to a lot of progressive metal and thrash, like Gojira, Testament, Thin Lizzy and others.”
N: There’s a very grunge-y, 90’s feel to some of this material. How do your influences lead to that sound?
VA: “We all grew up as 90’s babies getting the tail end of the grunge movement, so there is no doubt that probably played into the developments of our respective tones. My (Tony) influences stem from listening to and learning a lot of early Coheed (SSTB and even Shabutie), HIM, and CKY songs. Remember those guys? Sound Garden, Tool, and Thrice are also a few artists we have been known to resemble slightly, so you aren’t the only one to cite our 90’s feel and vibes.”
N: What other influences do you bring to your music that may not be so obvious?
VA: “Well our keyboardist Julio, has many of his musical roots in Cumbia, and Spanish Rock. He also helped write a lot of lyrics and back up melodies like those present in our track “In Due Time”. He also developed the first interlude now known as “The Denial of Fate” which utilizes what many would consider an EDM or electronica kind of beat, something that he loves to incorporate into his own music as well. Classical and neo-classical music is also large influence on Frank and I (Tony), some parts of the album definitely represent that. Not to mention our bassists own roots in Ska, he tends to be very creative with his bass lines and develop very unique melodies to contrast the guitar parts, as opposed to just following them. Check out his entire bass line throughout all of “Cross Over”, it’s immaculate.”
N: I get a very “theatrical” picture in my head when I hear your music. Would you say theater has any effect on your sound or approach to writing?
VA: “(Tony) I can definitely say that it is. I have a terrible knack for my personal music writing… I can’t finish a song until I attribute a story to it. I’ll usually develop a riff or piece of music and it tends to hold an image in my mind, often a setting or tone that may describe whats happening in a story. And as I develop the riff, so does the scene. In the same way that theatrical scores or movie soundtracks would develop the music tonality alongside the actions of the scene, I develop instrumentation and song structure to punctuate a the story in my head. Every rhythm, every tempo, every tonal/key change in the guitars and synths, all relating to events in the concept being told. With this release we really wanted to blur the lines between a soundtrack and what most people consider a “conventional” album. The inclusion of instrumental tracks helps push that along.”
N: How did you manage to steer clear of the over-produced sound that seems to be filling the scene lately?
VA: “Well, we worked with a small local producer who just so happened to also be a good friend of ours. The Back Room Studios in Whittier, CA is just that. It’s a back room in a larger house in the suburbs. Aside from the live violins and a couple of overdubs, Rudy A. Salas made it his every goal to represent us as close as possible to what people would get from us in a live experience. And that is exactly what we wanted, so we greatly appreciated that from him. We never want to be that band that can’t recreate the music on an album for the live experience (save for implementing live backing tracks).”
N: How long was the process of creating this album?
VA: “The recording process began June 2016, though the album went through a lot phases over many months. When we finally sat down and decided to record and release official music, we had intended to only develop an EP, but we had so much material we thought about potentially developing 2 EP’s to be released 6 months apart. Somewhere into a month of production we decided to just it into a full length album. Certain songs weren’t even written until well into the production of the album. “Undone” was a last second add as we felt an album of this nature needed a proper introduction, and “Cross Over” was being written AS we recorded it. And then at one point we got the idea of hiring a live violinist to punctuate specific moments in the album, so that stalled things out a bit more. All in all from the start of recording to release – about 1 year.”
N: Some of these tracks are 7 and 9 minutes long, were those recorded in one take?
VA: “All the tracks were done in a single take except for one, “O’Ryan’s Death Wish”. That song was done in two parts between the first blues section, and the half step key change that brought us back up from C to C#. ODW is a… very long song, and a weird one at that, Haha. But for the most part it wasn’t that difficult to get down on the rhythm section. If we had the money and means of production, we would have definitely considered making this album with full band live recording. Funny enough, the song that Brandon (Drums) had the most difficulty with was “Cross Over”, if you can believe that.”
N: I notice some string arrangements, do you have someone in your band who specifically plays those?
VA: “Our keyboardist Julio has several custom presets with ensembles of cellos/violins that he uses on multiple songs for the album, but when we decided to make this release an official album we decided to go all out with the production and hired a live violinist to appropriately punctuate the emotions in every song ALONGSIDE all of Julio’s existing parts. We spoke to Ben Karas of Thank You Scientist somewhere around September of last year, and showed him what essentially the scratch track version of the full album. He really dug the dramatic/theatrical overtones in the music and was happy to jump on board for us. We collaborated heavily on his parts over the next month or so and he even wrote a couple of wicked solos to accompany his parts, which was very cool (Check out the song “Avon” to hear one of his solos).”
N: This album sounds like it should be a soundtrack. Is there a story or concept behind Of Time and Fate?
VA: “Absolutely. We take the idea of a concept album and spin it a little differently for a different narrative. Our concept follows the non linear progression of character that only be described as a true chaotic neutral. That character being “The Vox Arcanum” – an ageless, immortal being that has seen the universe begin and end countless times. After eons of existence, TVA seeks meaning for his own eternity, and the only thing that he can do is meddle in the affairs of mortals, revealing their every possible future and allowing them to choose their own fate, though every choice has it’s own unique consequences. Think of a Doctor Who/G-man/Twilight Zone host/Dr. Manhattan type character. The album and music are narratives of lives he has intervened in, and the songs are the progressions of different characters stories that have been visited by The Vox Arcanum himself. All of which ties in to our slogan, “Has he altered your fate?””
N: Do you have any shows coming up?
VA: “Right now we are back in rehearsals after about a 6 month hiatus from shows. We are long overdue for new music as well so we have already begun a lot of writing and rehearsing to incorporate a new track or two into our next live show, so we are very excited to get back out there. we have a couple of shows booked for August including a pending Album Release show, which we very well MAY perform the album in it’s entirety. Maybe. I know of a few people that really want to hear “Cross Over”, since it’s never been performed live… yet.”
Listen to The Vox Arcanum’s debut album below: