Progressive metal quartet from Salem in Oregon, Dusks Embrace will return later this Fall with their new, fourth studio album ReAwakening. Guitarist and founder of the band, Josh Brewer, spoke for Rocking Charts about the band’s beginnings, the upcoming album, but he also revealed what are his all time favorite records.
What made you go for the name Dusks Embrace? Tell me about the band’s beginnings.
The original vocalist Marv and I came up with the name. If I remember correctly we both just each made a huge list of possible names. One came from his list and one came from mine. Basically it was that we needed a name and that ended up being what we hated the least. Although anymore I have to admit to not being too fond of the band name. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and is misheard a lot haha.
How do you usually describe your music?
When I started I would have described it as Melodic Death Metal. I have been doing this band for almost 8 years now and things have changed a lot. I think Progressive is the title that fits the best anymore. We may have a few metal tinged moments here and there but overall I don’t think metal fits. We are more likely to play a pop rock tune in odd time signatures than metal so I think Progressive fits just fine.
What is your writing process like?
I typically write the standards for the record. Usually I have an overarching concept that I feel ties all of the songs together in some way. Most of the time my process is to come up with disparate parts or to have a beginning and an end in mind and then work towards connecting them. I used to be very guitar based but anymore keys and vocals tend to dictate the way I write almost more than the guitar does. Although one thing I really strive for is to not use any guitar chords that I have used before. It is of course, inevitable but I do really love searching for a new chord or way of arranging notes. Finding a chord with texture I haven’t heard usually gets things going. That approach was the catalyst for “Face Forward” at least on this record.
Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
Musically there is a ton of different inspirations. Bands like AFI, In Flames and Opeth really shaped my musical beginnings. Today though I draw a lot of inspiration from a much wider array of influences. Tons of music from the 70’s, especially progressive and Motown music from that era. I also draw a lot of inspiration from modern science. I spend a lot of time studying modern science, watching documentaries and just getting wrapped up in that. I really feel that especially has influenced this record.
What can you tell me about the upcoming album titled “ReAwakening”? What does the title refer to?
The title refers to my bringing the idea of the band back in my mind. I had multiple line ups fail on me and had given up for a few years. I was still releasing music but with no plan for the band being a real live entity. It also refers to finding new influences. We have steadily progressed and evolved but this record was a particularly large jump. This record I was really focused on the sonic character of the record as much as the music. I also really felt it was me finding passion for writing a record again. It is a record of me letting go of any assumptions of how a record should sound. I feel this will be an important record in my, and this bands, career and I wanted a title I felt reflected that.
What makes “ReAwakening” different?
The focus on vocals and keys is a pretty big departure for this record. It is the first that I am not doing lead vocals. It was never a position that I really wanted or felt comfortable in but one I did out of necessity. The early records were guitar player records. I like to think this record is a coming of age record. I hope that it is showing my evolution as moving away from being a guitar player and become more of a musician and song writer. I think this record really shows all of us as players looking at the music holistically and not just from the perspective of our own instruments which is what I feel really made it come together.
What should music lovers expect from the album?
Everything. This album goes all the way from electro-industrial to jazz to metal and everything in between. I have never been one to leave music that I have loved. That has made my style of writing turn into a very eclectic blend that I like to believe moves through movements seamlessly. This is an album that is very tied together and meant to be listened to front to back and preferably with a good set of headphones. There are a lot of little hidden gems to find and I think it is one worth repeat listens.
What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
This time around I think the emotional context of the record is hope. Over the past 100 years we have had a huge shift in our understanding of the Universe and in the way we interact with it. I personally don’t feel that things like Bronze Age war gods, pseudoscience or even the process of belief have a place in our future. Those are things that are very hard for a lot of people to deal with and create quite a struggle in us as a species. This record is about a species coming of age and dealing with wanting to go back to its childhood. But I am firm advocate in accepting discoveries even if they defy our wants and desires. We have to go where the evidence leads and that can be a daunting task. This record is about how to deal with some of those issues. I would like to get people to think and have an appreciation for the cosmos in the same way my heroes like Carl Sagan, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens and many others helped me to have.
Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?
I much prefer life in the studio. I love playing live and don’t ever feel as alive as I do on stage. But I truly love creating new things and the entire process of recording. There is so much more to it and it is infinitely more expressive and interesting. I am hoping to get us out on tour here in the very near future but there will be more studio work for sure.
Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.
This is always the absolute hardest question. I know that “The Jester Race” by In Flames would be coming along. That is probably my all-time favorite guitar album. The tones and just overall atmosphere of that record have always haunted me. Also with screaming being so new then there is this real primal rage to it that I just can’t get enough of.
I would probably also take “It’s Time” by Michael Buble. I can throw that record on and sing a long for hours on end. I really love the way they rearranged those tunes for him and his singing perfectly carries it along with some really masterful production.
The last one would probably be “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull. Metal has always had this childish predilection for evil and portrays it in a very cartoonish way. I was never able to get into a lot of it for that reason. This record though has a very minstrel-esque singer/songwriter and features extensive flute playing and is one of the most deliciously evil things I have ever heard. It really puts me in the mindset of the dark and perverted nature of humanity. Just the uneasy feeling it gives me is enough for it to be one of my all-time favorites.
Photos by Stephan Partipilo