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Interview

The Members Of Odyssey Discuss Instrumental Metal And More

Spokane based instrumental metal act Odyssey bucks the trends of music by ditching the idea of a vocalist and letting the instruments do all the talking. Odyssey, which is composed of brother team Jordan and Lukas Hilker along with guitarist Jerrick Crites, recently released the "Schematics" EP and is soon to begin pre-production for the new album "An Abstract Existence." The band members took some time out to explain why they choose to go on without a singer, how they approach song writing, and taking a break from live shows to work on the new full-length album.

xFiruath: Let’s start with the history of Odyssey and how the band came together.

Jordan: We’ve been around for a little over three years now. We actually met Jerrick, because Luke and I are brothers, we met Jerrick at a birthday party and just kind of jammed with him. We didn’t see him again for about six months. The jam felt so natural so we contacted him again and started practicing once a week for six months, then we started taking it a little more serious. We rented a house and would practice three times a week as a band and started playing gigs around Spokane a little bit. Each year it’s gotten a little bigger.

xFiruath: Your EP “Schematics” was released not too long ago, tell me about the sound of that and fill me in on the recording process.

Jordan: The EP is four songs that right now reflect where we are at as a band and it’s a wide range of music. It’s all instrumental, of course. It’s metal primarily but we also have a short song on there that’s very jazz like, kind of ‘70s. It features the guitar heavily, but then there’s an 11 ½ minute progressive metal epic song on there. We want different moods and textures. There’s some that are more straight forward metal, more in your face and heavy and aggressive and to the point. We actually recorded that in Spokane in Crabwalk Studios. It’s a very nice environment. The guy that we worked with is into progressive metal like us, so it seemed like the right fit for us.

xFiruath: As an all instrumental band without lyrics, do you still have overall themes to the music and how do you put those forward without a vocalist?

Jerrick: There’s not exactly a mood. We just write the songs by if it sounds good, we keep it. Then we move onto the next part and make sure everything goes together well. We put a lot of feeling into it when we play, so it’s kind of up to the listener to get stuff out of it, whatever he feels.

Jordan: It’s very open ended music. We probably interpret the songs different than a person listening to it in the audience. We’ve been told we sound like all kinds of different bands. “You guys are the new Rush” and “You’re the new Amon Amarth,” and it’s like, well, we like those bands, but to us we don’t sound like that. The overall mood is that we want it to be metal, but we experiment with adding different genres such as blues and jazz and we’re very open minded with our approach.

xFiruath: So I’m guessing there won’t be any plans to add a vocalist in the future?

Jordan: No, but we’ve been asked, but I think it would ruin what we’re doing. We’re really trying to use the instrumental approach as a way to stand out from all the other bands. It’s working for us, because we get remembered as an instrumental band, and not just another band with a screamer or something like that.

xFiruath: You guys are also working on a new album now called “An Abstract Existence.” Tell me about what’s going on with the album.

Jordan: Beginning in November we’re starting the pre-production on that. The plan is to record between November and throughout December and January. We’re taking some time off. Winter gets pretty crazy in the Pacific Northwest so it doesn’t make sense to book shows, at least not to us anyways. A lot of the material we’ve had for the better part of a year, and we’re going to write a couple more new ones and then record the next full-length, as well as an EP probably at the same time.

xFiruath: Before taking time off from shows in the winter do you guys have any other performances lined up?

Jordan: We have one on October 24th in Spokane at the Cretin Hop with a couple of bands from Los Angeles, Exhausted Prayer and Dreaming Dead.

xFiruath: Tell me a bit more about what got you guys personally into metal and what bands have influenced the way you play music.

Jordan: For me, the first time we really got into metal was kind of a slow process. We started off with the nu-metal and hard rock like Slipknot, but then that opened up our eyes to a lot of other stuff. The turning point for me was when I heard “Gateways To Annihilation” by Morbid Angel. It’s not like it was a classic metal album, but for me I hadn’t heard anything like that. My brother and I found that together and that was kind of a turning point for us.

Jerrick: I’d say Dream Theater. I actually don’t listen to much metal or heavier music. It’s more rock oriented or classical music. It helps with our style.

Jordan: Another album that was a huge influence for us was “Blackwater Park” by Opeth. It blends so many genres seamlessly, and more than blending genres, it has so many different moods. That’s what we try to create, different moods with our music and dynamics. That’s something that’s really important to us, because it makes our heavy moments heavy, our mellow moments mellow, and parts stand out better that way.

xFiruath: How’s your local metal scene in Spokane and how is Odyssey fitting in there?

Jordan: The scene in Spokane is interesting. Some shows you get amazing turn outs, great crowd support and energy, and others it’s almost non-existent. It’s hard to predict. It’s very hit or miss. I love Spokane and we’re trying to strengthen that scene and bring bands together, rather than competing with one another. Were we fit in that, it feels like we’re getting a lot of respect there. I get personally contacted pretty frequently from bands on tour advice and a venue to book at or other bands to play with or questions about recording. It seems like we’re kind of rising to the top there. It’s been hard work and it pays off. Our work ethic is very strong.

xFiruath: For somebody who had never heard Odyssey before, how would you classify your music in two or three words?

Jordan: We would probably just say “instrumental progressive metal.” It’s kind of a loose term, but that’s the best we can describe it. Either we would say that, or just “come see us live,” and that’s the only way to do it. We’ve been asked before to compare ourselves to a certain band, and we sound like 20 different bands all thrown in one pot.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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