Interview with Abriosis
Formed no more than two years ago, local death/prog metal act Abriosis began their story with only two members in the band: guitarist Taylor Lipton and singer Chris Mathis. They later released a self-titled EP and recruited drummer Robin Iwasiw and bassist Daniel Maidana. On a sunny Vancouver afternoon, I met up with the guys of Abriosis on Taylor's porch to ask them a few questions about the band. Here is how it went down:
darkstar: Do you guys want to introduce yourselves to the readers out there?
Daniel: I'm Daniel, bass player.
Taylor: I'm Taylor, guitar.
Robin: Robin, drums.
Chris: I'm Chris and I sing.
darkstar: Tell us a little about the band, such as how you met and came together to play music.
Taylor: Me and Chris were in an older band together and I had some demos and we decided we wanted to work on that. Chris came up with the name Abriosis, which isn't even really a word. We took the word "abiosis" and put an "r" in it because it's more brutal. We put brutal in "abiosis." Basically, it took us a while to find a bass player. We had a couple before Dan. Drums were the biggest task. We were actually going to play with a drum machine for a while. We ended up in the same jam spot as Robin and he overheard us.
Robin: With your drum machine.
Taylor: With our drum machine. We used to jam with a drum machine at break-neck levels. Ever since we got Robin, it's been great. We've been writing our own material and everything. So it's 2008 when we got the whole lineup. It hasn't been that long.
darkstar: Was the EP recorded with or without the drummer?
Taylor: Without. It's actually a drum machine on the EP.
Robin: For the record, I didn't play on it. People always come up to me and they're like, "Dude, that's so tight. How do you get it so tight." I'm like, "I don't know. I guess I practice... No, it's a machine. That's right."
Taylor: Yeah, we didn't have a drummer when we recorded the EP. We didn't even have a bass player, I don't think. Did we?
Taylor: I think had some stuff recorded before you were in the band, actually. We're going to put real drums when we start recording in November. Real drums in November. That's what we're looking forward to. So we're going to start full-length recording in November, the same studio -- Omega Studios in Richmond, with Jason Martin.
darkstar: Well, I was going to ask you how you got your name, but I guess it doesn't mean anything.
Taylor: No, it doesn't really. We put "r" in it to make it more brutal.
Robin: There was a band in Red Deer that almost changed our name for us because it sounded so good. They thought we were called "Abr-eye-oh-sis." They thanked us in front of the bar. They're like, "We'd like to thank 'Abr-eye-oh-sis' and Kataplexis, who we were playing with, for coming out tonight." And everybody's looking around, like, was there another opening band? Oh, that's us! So that was the weekend joke. We're also known as "Abr-eye-oh-sis."
Daniel: We get that a lot actually. We've been called so many different things. Abeeosis, Abryosis. My friends make up a lot of names for our band too.
darkstar: What inspired you to play the instrument you're playing now?
Dan: When I was 13, my brother got a drum kit. I wasn't at all musically-inclined so my dad just bought me a bass guitar because he figured it was an easy instrument and I stuck with it. I just liked it. When I joined this band, I was about 18. I'm 20 now.
Robin: He's a young one.
Taylor: Godsmack and Nickelback were probably the two biggest influences of my life. Other than that, I wanted to play guitar for a while.
Robin: Like Chad Kroeger.
Taylor: No man. I don't like getting too particular. I played piano when I was a kid and I always wanted a guitar but my parents said I'd give up piano. When I got my hands on one, my life kind of when down the drain and here I am. It's Robin's turn.
Robin: I don't know. I thought Animal was really cool when I was really young and I wanted to play.
Robin: Yeah, from the Muppets. Yeah, Animal from the Muppets! There are a couple of famous Muppet shows where Animal had a drum battle with Buddy Rich. They had Buddy Rich on the Muppet show. I was so young, I didn't know who Buddy Rich was. Anybody could have been up there. I didn't know how to play drums or anything but I always thought it was cool. I played hockey since I was 4 years old. My parents didn't tell me I couldn't play but they didn't want me to pick up the drums and then quit after a week. So I waited until I hurt myself playing hockey and then my dad sold my hockey equipment and bought me a drum kit in high school, I guess. I've been playing ever since.
Chris: I just started singing for fun when I was pretty young. I don't know. I just kept doing it and that's about it. I just picked up the mic, just playing around in a friend's basement in high school. That's basically where it all began. The beast was born, so to say.
darkstar: How do you sing like that without losing your voice?
Chris: I guess from my diaphragm haha.
Taylor: Like Sully.
Chris: Yeah, like Sully from Godsmack and stuff. Good, solid music.
darkstar: Do you guys all contribute to the song-writing process?
Taylor: When we first started out, it was basically me and a drum machine. Chris would write the drums. Ever since January '08 we're a full unit, there's a lot more collaboration going on, not just me jacking off.
Chris: Songs sound a lot better with an actual real human drummer, instead of me just programming blast beat after blast beat over guitar riffs.
Robin: Chris has had some really good ideas for parts when we're writing. But sometimes they're almost humanly impossible. They sound really cool, but it's kinda like Agoraphoric Nosebleed. It's like, "Oh, check out this part. This would be cool if you play something like this."
Chris: Yeah, I had some ridiculous drum ideas where, after I listen to it, I am like, that's not humanly impossible.
Robin: That would be cool but...I can't do that. We might have to change it up a bit. A lot of it still comes, for the most part, from Taylor. The song is driven by the guitar so a lot of it starts with the guitars. I still say Taylor's the main songwriter because that's where everything starts is with the guitar. I don't come in with a drum beat and be like, "Hey, look at my drum beat!" Taylor doesn't work that way. At least, so far, it starts with the guitars.
darkstar: Same with the lyrics too? You have the guitar and then write the lyrics?
Chris: I write all the lyrics.
Robin: You have ideas for stuff before there's a song and you write them after.
Chris: I'm just trying to get patterns first when I'm writing songs. Then I have a bunch of stuff written already usually and see what I can fit to my patterns.
darkstar: What are your lyrics generally about?
Chris: They range from personal experiences, social issues and then the almighty gory onslaught.
darkstar: What are your plans for the new album?
Taylor: In November, we're going into the studio again. We have six new songs right now. Hopefully, we'll have seven or eight on the full-length.
Robin: We're shooting for nine. We're shooting high here.
Taylor: We're totally excited because it is going to the first real actual Abriosis recording. Like, the demo, it wasn't the full band, of course. We're kind of coming into our own right now in our sound. I can't wait until we lay it all on the recording. I think people will like it. This will be good. I'm running out of words.
darkstar: Before you wrote all those songs and you only released a 5-song EP, how much material did you have for your live shows?
Chris: We didn't.
darkstar: You didn't play live songs at all?
Taylor: We recorded the EP in hopes of finding new band members. We only had shitty demos and wasn't getting much of a response from our ads. We wanted to have a good-quality demo so people knew we were pretty serious and willing to put time and money into the product.
Robin: Like Taylor was saying a little while ago, I was jamming across...actually, I think it was right next to you guys in the jam space we're still at. I had one room right next to them. I was down there 5, 6 times a week and I'd hear them down there 3 times a week, practicing. All I would hear was drum machine, guitars and then vocals. At first, I thought, "Wow, they got a tight, fast drummer." But then there would be times when the guitar would stop and the singer would stop and there would be this click going, "DING DING DING DING DING" with drums. And I was, like, I think that's a drum machine. Yeah, ok. So I kind of put two and two together. But then, I'm, like, I don't hear bass. So, I'm like, "Wow, those guys are down here an awful lot for a drum machine, a singer and a guitar player." I thought the tunes sounded cool, but I was little apprehensive at first because I didn't know what they were all about. Yeah, I could tell right away they definitely were committed. Not a lot of people would go down and pay money to go to a jam space with a drum machine and two guys. That's quite a commitment.
darkstar: What was that weird little bit in the middle of "Bottom Feeder"?
Chris: "Blinded by the Light." It's a Manfred Man song. We threw it in there for fun. When me and Taylor first started the band, we wanted to use a lot of noise and do a lot of experimental-type stuff. We didn't end up doing all on the recording, but we kept that sample in the middle of "Bottom Feeder" just because it's out of nowhere.
Robin: It's funny.
darkstar: Are you currently unsigned?
darkstar: Are you looking?
Daniel: Hopefully, after we release our full album, somebody will be interested and pick us up there. That would be awesome. I think that's what we're headed towards.
darkstar: What's next after the Canadian tour?
Taylor: Europe. We're going to be huge in Japan.
Robin: We'll be gone about a month. We're going in mid-July until August across Canada. When we come back, we'll be starting to prepare for recording in November of 2009. And then in the Olympics season, after Christmas (hooray), we plan on going to the States and keep touring.
Taylor: That's all we can do.
Robin: Play for the kids. That's how you build a name for yourself, it's playing every little nook and cranny. Taylor's from a smaller place that didn't get a lot of shows. I guess, you got shows as a kid, didn't you?
Robin: But, I'm from Medicine Hat, Alberta. We got Teri Clark after she got big. We got Big Sugar because Gordie Johnson, the singer/guitar player, was from Medicine Hat. 54-40 came through once and it was a real bomb because nobody went. Alannah Myles came through. I don't know how she lost a bunch of weight. It's probably from exercising, I heard. Excessive exercise. I didn't have a chance for shows. I know what it's like to be in high school or junior high. You're into a lot of bands and music but you have no outlet to go see live music. It's kinda neat when a band comes through. A lot of kids appreciate that.
darkstar: Is that why you guys are going to Swift Current too?
Robin: Trying to go to Swift Current. We're trying to play everywhere we can. It depends on where we can find somebody to book a show. At this point, we're willing to play anywhere. If only 5 kids show up, it doesn't matter. If two of those kids liked you, they'll tell their friends. And the next time you come through, there'll be a couple more. Slowly build, that's what you have to do.
darkstar: What do you hope Abriosis will achieve?
Chris: Money and cars.
darkstar: What about girls?
Taylor: Girls? No, we're into men.
Daniel: That was Taylor.
Robin: It's pretty much a common goal to be able to build the band up to a level where we can support ourselves with just the band.
Taylor: Metal, especially.
Robin: Like, pay rent and feed ourselves. Just kind of have a comfortable living, not excess. Just be able to tour and play music. That's basically the goal of the band.
Taylor: Maybe someday we'll open up for Godsmack or something.
Robin: One can only hope.
Taylor: I think right now we're starting to look ahead. It's just going to get busier for us or that's what we hope. We just want to be swamped with things to do with this band. Chris has always got 1,000 T-shirts he wants to print and 3,000 countries we got to see. He's basically the manager right now until we come across any other people that can really help out. He's been great for running the show. He got the MySpace hookup. He got the MySpace design, all the T-shirts. Actually, Robin's girlfriend, Allison, is a local artist and she did our Wolf shirt design. She'll be doing future stuff for us too. So it's really good to have a household name to do our artwork.
darkstar: Does Michael Jackson really an influence to?
Robin: Hell yeah! Taylor and I both agree that we thought he was like God.
Taylor: He was amazing when you were a kid.
Robin: He was. He was invincible. I don't care what's happened and whatever now. He was a superhero to me.
Chris: I would have slept in his bed.
Robin: I'd still eat French fries and watch movies with him. He's still an influence to me. He did have a ranch. I still consider him an influence. His music is awesome. It's timeless. And his music videos are sweet too. Definitely. And Merlin?
Taylor: We might be losing people.
darkstar: I noticed that big Michael Jackson poster in your living room. Is that yours?
Taylor: It's more of a shrine. That's mine. I got it at Value Village for a good steal. 8 bucks.
Chris: Solid investment.
darkstar: Do you all have day jobs?
Taylor: Yeah, unfortunately. Me and Chris work for a delivery company, moving furniture all day. Chad Kroeger used to be a mover so I feel things are stirring right now. No, no, Chad Kroeger used to be a mover here in BC. He worked for a moving company. He doesn't release the name though. They're already big.
Robin: They're not that big though. I'm a welder for my day job. Boo. Lots of fun.
Daniel: I work in a wood shop, but I'm only there until July and then we're on the road so it's up in the air.
Taylor: He's getting fired after that.
Daniel: Pretty much.
Anything else you want to add?
Chris: Stay wolf.
Robin: And "Be prepared for Swine '09." That's the name of our tour and hey, hey, hey, eat mashed potatoes everyday.
For more information and tour dates, visit www.myspace.com/abriosis.
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