Aaron Smith Of 7 Horns 7 Eyes And The "Throes Of Absolution"
7 Horns 7 Eyes' debut album has been creating quite a buzz already. The progressive death outfit is not unknown; it has already been around for five years. Throughout that time, the group got a deal with a big label, lost and gained members, released one E.P., and gained enough of a fanbase to make "Throes..." an anticipated release. I was able to talk to guitarist Aaron Smith about the lead up to this release, working with Nevermore's Jeff Loomis, and an upcoming tour.
Buick McKane: How are you doing today?
Aaron Smith: I’m doing good.
Buick: Great, and you’re debut album “Throes of Absolution” just released. It’s been getting a lot of attention and even some chart positions. What are people saying about it?
Aaron: Well, I’ve been trying to stay on top of reviews as much as I can just because they’re interesting. Like, it doesn’t really make or break my mood or anything on any given day. But, I don’t know, it seems that people really like the combination of brutality and melody and general atmosphere on some of the songs. I think JJ [Polachek]’s vocals, people really like. I have seen some people say they wish the vocals were a bit more varied; instead of just death metal, they want some more high vocals in there maybe. But it seems that people are really picking up on a lot of little different aspects of it they think are kind of cool.
Buick: And they call the music progressive death metal, like Gojira. Do you think that you’re playing in this genre?
Aaron: Well, I guess. I don’t know how many bands out there I could describe as progressive death metal. I never really thought of, when I write, making a new genre at all; I just try to draw from all my influences and just try to turn it into something that I’ve never heard before. I don’t write some riffs for some song, “Oh yeah, that sounds exactly like band X.” I like to take my influences, put them in a blender, and come up with something interesting and new. So I guess if that puts us in a new genre, then that’s cool. But it’s not really the ultimate goal.
Buick: There’s an appearance by Jeff Loomis of Nevermore on the album. How were you able to work with him?
Aaron: He’s actually been a friend of mine for a few years now. I met him through a mutual friend who worked in a venue in downtown Seattle, and a few years back, Jeff was upgrading his little home recording studio where he demos new songs. He needed some help getting all [the stuff] plugged in and some technical stuff that Jeff…he didn’t really know what to do so my friend called me up and said, “Hey, I know you know a lot about recording and stuff so would you like to come over and help me and Jeff set up a studio?” And I said, “Yeah, totally.” It’s amazing that my friend called and asked me that, so that’s how I met Jeff; just through a mutual friend and through helping him out. We hit it off right away and became good friends. So as far as him being on the album, it was really easy asking. It wasn’t like going through some formal process with the label or whatever. It was just that he was a friend of mine and he was happy to do it.
Buick: That’s cool. And you were streaming the album about a week before it came out, and were making trailers for it before that. Do you think that letting people hear the music before the album officially comes out gets them more interested in it?
Aaron: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. I’m really happy that the whole stream was up there for people to hear and stuff because, especially for a band like us having not put out any solo stuff before, I think it’s even more important for as many people as possible to hear as much of our music as possible so they can decide if they really like our music and want to pay attention to us or not. I’m really happy it was put out there and I’m sure we’ll get a lot of new fans through it. I think even in the last three weeks that we added about 1,000 new people to our Facebook. Having those tunes circulating online has helped us out quite a bit, I imagine.
Buick: You’ve been together for years, and you released one EP and this one album. Do you have material saved up for another album?
Aaron: Yeah. A lot of stuff on this record was written probably almost three years ago. A quick bit of background on the last three years is we were kind of thinking amongst ourselves before even talking to any labels and thinking, “Hey, we have a lot of good material and we’re ready to go. Let’s record it and get a good album recorded on our own.” Since I felt confident in my ability to track and mix it to a professional quality, that’s the course of action we took. So while we were still recording it, it got tracked down by Tooth and Nail Records, basically it’s a small independent label from the Seattle area. We were talking with them and through that whole process, I said, “Hey, I’m friends with Jeff and he’s on Century Media. Maybe I should just get try and get an audience with Century Media.” Not expecting anything to come of it, but CM really loved the band, so we started negotiating with them. Then after we signed, our singer decided to leave; he was going to get married and the whole idea of spending five or six years making records the whole time just…he decided against it. So that put a hold on things. Really, the record has been done now for two years, when we finished laying down drums and guitars. Back to the original question about if we had any music sitting around, yeah, definitely. I have not spent the last two years not writing anything. There’s probably about a half hour of tunes that I have, at least. And there’s some other little random riffs that I haven’t fully formulated into new songs.
Buick: Do you think the next one is going to come out sooner than the last?
Aaron: There will be no reason for such a long wait next time around. I can’t say this year. But I would love to put out something new even next year. One other thing that we talked about though that would be sort of cool is the whole business model of a band making the whole album and spending two years or even longer than that, three years, touring on it and then fans having to wait so long for new music. With the internet now, people love going online everyday and finding new music and it’s just weird making fans wait three years to hear something new. So one thing we might try is recording a whole album’s worth of material all at once, but then writing it in such a way that it can be broken into three releases, sort of like a concept album with correlating pieces of artwork. Then stagger the release of it; every three months, we’ll part out a part of the story. We haven’t totally figured out how that would go, but I think that would be a cool way to keep fan interested.
Buick: Right, like a series of albums like Devin Townsend did.
Aaron: Yeah, like that. I don’t think that I could write as much music as he does, as good as it is, in such a short order. That’s one thing that always impresses me about him is he can write whole albums that are awesome, and I don’t know how he does it so fast. But he does.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Aaron: Yeah, we’re going out in less than a month with our label mates called Stealing Axion, they’re actually on Inside Out but it’s the same as Century Media. We’re going out with them for three weeks through California, and the western United States as far east as Arizona and New Mexico. It’s called the Dual Destruction Tour, sponsored by Guitar World which is pretty cool. And then we have another tour coming up after that which I don’t think I can give out the details yet, but that’s a full U.S. tour. That will be through July through early August, basically. No world-wide touring on the books yet, but if you live in the United States, there’s a chance that we’ll be near you pretty soon.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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