Besides being the home of Trailblazers, Portland is also a place where some of my favorite modern progressive rock & metal bands come from. Increate is a new name on the progressive metal scene. This instrumental quartet is about to launch their full-length debut album titled Void, which comes after the release of the single “Interstellar Displacement” back in May 2016. The full band spoke for Rocking Charts.
Hey folks. How are you doing?
Dustin: Hi there! We’re doing very well, thank you.
You are about to launch your debut album “Void.” How do you feel about the release?
Dustin: We’re very excited about Void, it will be our debut release and I feel it’s a very good representation of our music thus far. A lot of work went into writing, playing, and producing the album and I hope that translates into the sound.
Zev: I love this record. Of course we probably could have kept nitpicking and rerecording indefinitely but I’m happy with where we called it. It captures all of the intricacies of the music without losing the real performance aspect beneath too much production. It still sounds like 4 guys playing instruments.
How much of a challenge was it to work on the album?
Dustin: Not all of it was challenging, but we certainly had delays and challenges while creating Void. The biggest challenge was Sean’s Axe Fx Ultra dying during the latter half of the recording process, but luckily he was able to get his hands on a Kemper and get things back on track. It was a huge learning process to go through all the steps of booking recording time in a studio, having our guitars and bass recorded in Sweden (via the Internet), working with the guest soloists, getting distribution, art and album layout, concept, etc.
It’s amazing how much work goes into creating an album aside from the actual playing/songwriting portion of it (which is already an ample amount of work). We were lucky to have renowned metal producer Jocke Skog helping from his maximum security recording compound in Sweden.
Sean: There was definitely a lot of technical challenges throughout the process, often solved easily but not always. It was a bit of a learning curve figuring out how to do a lot of it by ourselves and then sending files back and forth to Sweden but we always got it figured out.
What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Portland are you friends with?
Dustin: There isn’t a huge prog metal scene in Portland, but we’re lucky to know a few other bands doing similar things. I think the Increate stuff is fairly unique. Other heavy, progressive metal bands in town include Vow of Volition, Sisyphean Conscience, The Room Colored Charlatan, and Divitius. Apologies if I’m forgetting anyone. Always nice to share the stage with like-minded people.
Zev: Portland has an amazingly rich metal scene. There’s a huge amount of good stoner / doom metal bands which currently have the largest followings and the biggest shows. There’s also a growing death and tech-metal scene too. We hope the fact that we’re instrumental can help us play with all our favorite bands amongst all the subgenres.
What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?
Dustin: The current scene is very dynamic as bands explore new territory for their music in addition to reaching scary new heights of musicianship. Bands at the top of their game in this genre are a sight to behold. Plus with the tools available to musicians these days, it’s easier for smaller bands to have a polished sounding production and you don’t have to have a massive budget to sound good.
One thing I haven’t been thrilled about is the proliferation of technology in terms of autotune/quantization, loudness wars, and general inhuman robotry. For Void we were going for a more organic, human sound with minimal editing and production that wasn’t compressed beyond all hell. It sounds heavy and I like that you can tell there are actual humans playing the instruments instead of programming/quantizing every individual note. Some bands overdo it until it sounds like a computer played their parts. This is fine for electronic music, but in a genre that prides itself on musicianship it comes off as phony. The progressive records I enjoy the most were played by humans.
Zev: I agree with Dustin that the scene can get way too production oriented. Technology can be great if you have the ideas to back it up.
Sean: Maybe it’s just me, but I find a lot of the scene to sound a bit “cookie cutter” and not always very original. That being said, the bands at or near the top that have helped pioneer the direction of progressive metal are truly incredible musicians and feed my soul with their music.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
Dustin: My number one influence on the guitar will always be Shawn Lane. I also take a lot of influence from underground shred virtuoso guys, especially from the late 80’s – early 90’s period. Guitarists such as Derek Taylor, TJ Helmerich, Scott and Brett Stine, Rob Johnson, Scott Mishoe, James Murphy and others.
There are quite a few modern guys that inspire me such as Gianluca Ferro, Julian Cifuentes, Akihiko Onji, Rune Berre, Fredrik Thordendal, Stephan Forte, Joe Chawki, Charlie Carpentier, Leon Macey, Scott Carstairs, Tosin Abasi, and many more. I also love fusion and jazz guitar; Allan Holdsworth is a huge influence for sure.
Zev: I’m a fan of Justin Chancellor’s style of metal bass playing, where it’s not super busy but the rhythms frame the melodies really well while leaving space for dynamics changes, or increased heaviness. An incredibly non-metal guy who’s also great at that is Phil Lesh. Other then that, I love Charles Mingus, Paul Chambers, Les Claypool, Jaco Pastorius.
Sean: Tosin Abasi is my biggest influence for me as a guitarist, along with the other geniuses in Meshuggah and Between the Buried and Me.
What are you listening to these days?
Dustin: Really got into the new Meshuggah album Violent Sleep of Reason. Those guys will always be the heaviest band in the universe. Also enjoying the new Animals as Leaders, The Helix Nebula, Wide Eyes, Ohm, Plini, Obscura, Irreversible Mechanism, and many other prog metal bands. My usual listening revolves around guitar virtuoso albums (like my influences), progressive metal, fusion records, electronic, jazz and world music. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what to listen to next.
Zev: New Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders as well. Iggy Pop Post-pop Depression was a classic record that came out last year. Also, David Bowie Blackstar is fucking amazing. Anyone who is into the outer reaches of music should check it out.
Johannes: Animals As Leaders, Meshuggah, Gojira, Billy Cobham, Ghost, The Zenith Passage, Obscura, the best podcast in the universe: No Agenda.
Sean: I’ve been cycling through Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried and Me, Meshuggah, Plini and Circle of Contempt mostly the last couple of months
Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
Dustin: This is a tough one! This really depends on my mood as I’ve got top records in many different genres. Here are a few favorites in no particular order:
– Hellborg/Lane/Sipe – Temporal Analogues of Paradise
– Meshuggah – Catch 33
– On The Virg – Serious Young Insects
– Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects – Sol Niger Within
– Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Ecophony Rinne
Zev: Yeah too many choices but these days:
Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Tool – ænema
Nirvana – Bleach
David Bowie – Blackstar
Tom Waits – Orphans
Johannes: Meshuggah – Nothing, Between The Buried & Me – Colors, Refused – The Shape of Punk To Come, Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects – Sol Niger Within, Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine.
Sean: Animals as Leaders – The Madness of Many, Animals as Leaders – Weightless, Between the Buried and Me – Colors, Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect, Meshuggah – Catch 33.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Void”?
Dustin: Void guitar parts were recorded with our custom Kiesel Vader 8 string guitars, Lundgren guitar pickups, and Chicken Picks guitar picks. The rhythm guitar and bass were recorded with an Axe Fx Ultra, then a Kemper profiling amp (after the Axe FX died) and re-amped by our producer in Sweden. The guitar leads were recorded with Toontrack Metal Gods.
Zev: All the bass parts were recorded on a Warwick Corvette. Shout out to Warwick, I could use a fifth string.
Johannes: I used my own drum set to record the record. I used a 14×8” Pearl Vinnie Paul custom maple snare with maple hoops. The toms are from a Premier XPK kit which was the first drum set I got, when I was 10 years old. I play Axis A-21 longboard pedals with speed cobra beaters. My cymbals are from pretty much every major brand.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
Dustin: We’ll be playing a show to celebrate the release of Void at the Ash St Saloon in Portland, Oregon with our brothers in Vow of Volition on February 11th. We recently acquired an adventure van and are planning a tour of the west coast later this year. We’re also hard at work writing for our next album.
Any words for the potential new fans?
Dustin: Thank you for supporting progressive music! We’re underground artists working hard to give something back and to have people appreciate what we’re doing and enjoy our music is beyond stellar. We’re proud to have created something that is not the cookie cutter norm and we applaud you for exploring this new extra-terrestrial, progressive territory with us. We hope you enjoy your journey through the Void!