An Interview With The Binary Code Guitarist Jesse Zuretti
Band Photo: The Binary Code (?)
NJ's The Binary Code plays tech death with influences from all over the spectrum, from progressive to even a little jazz. They recently partnered with metal blog Metalsucks to digitally release their debut album, "Suspension of Disbelief." The band seems to be riding a wave of momentum, with a big US tour coming up this January with Revocation and Hypno5e. In an e-mail interview, guitarist Jesse Zuretti discussed the new album, how he approaches playing guitar, if the future of the music industry is in digital downloads, and much more.
Heavytothebone2: What are the origins of The Binary Code?
Jesse Zuretti: The idea of the Binary Code formed in early 2004 when I was 17 years old. I had only lived in New Jersey for a little over a year and a half. I met a majority of my friends through work at a music store. One kid I met wanted to start a band along the same lines. We formed officially in April of 2004. A drummer I worked with offered to write and record a song with us. By mid-May, we secured a vocalist, and started writing a song. Two weeks later, we booked an hourly session at local studio called Stained Glass Studios (Number Twelve Looks Like You, Coheed & Cambria, Sawtooth Grin, My Chemical Romance). We recorded the song in two hours, posted it on MySpace (back in 2004, this was a big deal!), and managed to create a little buzz at the time. We had our first show booked within a few weeks of posting the song. From that point on, we’ve had a few (laughs) member changes. I met Umar (drums) in 2007. That is when I would say the Binary Code people are familiar with today formed.
Heavytothebone2: How would you describe the band’s sound?
Jesse: The quick answer would be: metal leaning towards groove, implementing several influences, such as death metal, jazz, and progressive rock/metal, but not limited to.
Personally, I consider us to be progressive. A genre of music isn’t defined by bands; it’s defined by an idea and concept. Typically, readers will see “progressive” and immediately form the idea that we’ll sound like King Crimson or Camel, but we do not. To loosen up the term “progressive” a little bit more, I'd say we would define it as a limitless genre of music. We don’t limit our writing styles and influences. The idea of progressive music in the first place was so the artists writing the music could create songs without a formula and boundary in mind. This resulted in longer songs, movements, and concepts.
Heavytothebone2: How did the recording process go for “Suspension of Disbelief?”
Jesse: It was very interesting. Any recording we've done from 2007 until now has been recorded with a friend of ours looking to expand outside of the hip-hop realm. He has all of the gear in the world to record any style of music, but it’s very experimental. It was a very comfortable recording process, being we are good friends with the engineer. I stepped up to the plate to engineer a good amount of the tracks as well. But, we all know that experimenting has its up and downs (laughs).
Heavytothebone2: Explain the lyrical themes behind “Suspension of Disbelief.”
Jesse: A majority of our songs are pretty misanthropic, either directly or metaphorically. Human beings have really messed things up for this planet, in more ways than one. Complacency & materialism are a big focus for our lyrics. There’s also a lack of faith in humanity inside each of us. We feel people are beating a dead horse. There’s also a hint of nihilism in the lyrics that Umar writes.
Heavytothebone2: What makes a great song, in your opinion?
Jesse: I see a song as a story. The history of the song goes back to the days of ancient story-telling. I think a song should have a story behind its lyrics and its instruments in the music. Some of the greatest jazz drummers during the jazz boom were trying to tell a story through their drum set. If you could pull that off, you were doing it right. I apply that same philosophy to heavy music. It’s easy to judge a song based on how it sounds when you hear it, but it’s easier to judge a song when you listen to it thoroughly. Hearing and listening are two totally different things to me. Writing a great song should involve writing lyrics and music that represents something important to its creator. Creating music for the sake of creating music is fine, but it’ll have a longer lasting impression on someone if there's soul behind it. You don’t have to be the world’s most technical musician to write a good metal song. But alas, the “new” way of judging a good song is by how technical and extreme it is. As if the 80s metal scene didn't already milk that dry. There is no right or wrong way to write a song, either way.
Heavytothebone2: As a guitarist, what emotions and reactions do you try to get across in your riffs and melodies?
Jesse: Honestly, the emotions and reactions I’m trying to get across should be felt through the song as a whole. I’ve learned to try and be as selfless as possible when I’m writing my parts. A majority of our songs are written by two people at once. I can’t exactly speak for Umar, but I know that on my end, I’m just trying to enjoy the groove. When I play the songs live, I kind of tune people out. My concern from the get-go is to get lost in what I’m doing so I get a real sense of where the song is taking me. I advise anyone listening to us or watching us play to do the same thing.
Heavytothebone2: What song on “Suspension of Disbelief” are you most proud of, guitar-wise?
Jesse: The title track “Suspension of Disbelief” has the most intricate playing at certain moments. It's important that what I'm playing isn't so hard that I won’t enjoy what I'm doing because I'm focusing on executing the notes. “Suspension” opens up with a guitar riff that can really mess with your head when you play it. It's not necessarily the physical aspect of it, but more the mental aspect. It’s the only song we have that touches on metric modulation more than once in a song. I also really enjoy playing the ending segment of the song.
Heavytothebone2: Is there any song you wish you had more time to work on?
Jesse: I would say “Human Condition.” That was the only song where we said, “We need to write another song.” The other songs came naturally. “Human” was a bit forced in certain spots. It's also an amalgamation of riffs, which goes against our writing style. We like to work with one riff, and continue on as naturally as possible, instead of writing a bunch of riffs, and putting it together.
Heavytothebone2: What is your favorite song off the new album and why?
Jesse: I think “The Story” is going to be my long-running favorite song. It’s the only song where I wrote everything but the drums. On the original demo for it, I actually recorded all of the parts, save for the drums. It was my first song I had done all of the vocals to. On the new version, I only do the singing parts. The day we wrote “The Story,” we really felt we had evolved. I remember that day very well.
Heavytothebone2: How did the band form a partnership with Metalsucks for the release of “Suspension of Disbelief?”
Jesse: We booked a show with Curran Reynolds (Wetnurse) through Precious Metal at the Lit Lounge in Manhattan. The shows there are always on Monday nights. This generally results in a very small turn out, no matter what you do. Once in a while, one of the other bands will bring out all of their friends, which really favors the other bands. We played there a good 10+ shows. One night, Curran had invited out his friend to check us out. He didn't let us know this until afterward, thankfully. We had always put on the best show we could, regardless of whether or not it was 5 people in the room. This particular night Curran’s friend was there, the show turnout was small, as per usual. We did our thing one way or the other. At the end of the night, Curran’s friend came up to me and introduced himself to me. I wasn’t familiar with MetalSucks at the time. But that made no difference, because we are always constantly marketing ourselves. MetalSucks turned out to be a pretty huge website that gets a lot of traffic. From that point on, the MS guys kept coming out, and checking in on us. I sent the guys at MS the rough edits of the new album, and they felt they should invest their confidence into us. We owe the MetalSucks crew and Curran Reynolds a great deal.
Heavytothebone2: What was the reason of having a digital release out before a physical one?
Jesse: It’s very realistic for a band working their way up. We are still very much so at the bottom of the barrel. MetalSucks are not a label. Labels have their own monetary way of distributing music for their artists. MetalSucks are doing what they can with what they can do. They can advertise it, and if they like it, they can talk about it. It makes it much easier for the listener to download the music, too. If you live in Australia, you can pre-order, and the day it comes out, have the music. Big plus for an unsigned band unable to invest money into distribution!
Heavytothebone2: Should the music industry head into this direction or is there still some merit with physical releases?
Jesse: I like physical releases with some music. For the most part, it’s just material. The music is what I’m after. Personally, I’d say digital releases and vinyl are the way to go. Vinyl has its own characteristic. Digitally, you can save a lot of money as a label, and you wont have to drive your artists into the ground.
Heavytothebone2: Are there any labels interested in the band?
Jesse: Yes, but we’re not in a position to talk publicly about it.
Heavytothebone2: Do you have any high expectations for “Suspensions of Disbelief?”
Jesse: I don't really have any expectations at all. I hope for people to give it a chance. We’re trying in our own way to bring something new to the table. As a music geek, I find myself constantly searching for bands trying to change it up, even if it's just a little. All we can ask is that we’re given a shot.
Heavytothebone2: What does the band plan to do touring-wise?
Jesse: We’re touring January 6th to February 6th of 2010 with Revocation (Relapse Records) and France’s Hypno5e, all throughout a majority of the United States. We're hitting just about every state, so it’s worth it to check the dates on our page if you’re interested in seeing us.
Heavytothebone2: Do you prefer the studio or playing live?
Jesse: I’d say I’m 50/50. I think we’re better in person in a live situation rather recorded live or in the studio. But I also enjoy being able to hear our music back.
Heavytothebone2: Where do you see yourself and the band five years from now?
Jesse: If we’re still a band, I’d expect us to sound very different. A majority of the music recorded on the album was written in 2007-2008. We’ve since then written a handful of new material and it's very different, yet familiar. As I said, the progressive element to our band removes limitations from the picture. If we had boundaries, I’d say you'd see me playing as a session musician and doing artwork, instead of playing in my own band.
Heavytothebone2: If you could tour with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?
Jesse: Sikth. That band has such a huge influence on me. That was one of two heavy bands that turned me on to writing heavy songs. They broke up nearly 5 years ago, but if you guys can make that happen, you’d make a dream come true!
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