Transmundane is a progressive metal project of composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Blue who just released an EP titled “Vehement vol. 1.” Rocking Charts talked with Ben about the EP, prog metal, influences, and more.
Hey Ben. How are you doing?
Doing great, thanks for chatting with me.
You recently released an EP titled “Vehement vol. 1.” How do you feel about the release?
I feel very optimistic and very proud. Vol.1 is the first of a 2 part EP. Vol.2 is set for release later in 2016. These releases were a long time coming, and a massive emotional outlet for me. I couldn’t be happier with the end product, and I can’t wait for metal fans around the world to hear my music. I feel the music on these two EPs is fresh, massive, modern, and boundary pushing. It’s progressive in approach, yet digest-able, and really fucking heavy at times.
How much of a challenge was to work on “Vehement vol. 1”?
It had challenging moments, but overall, it was therapeutic. Writing for me is fun, and working on Vehement was no exception. The biggest challenge was deciding which songs to cut in order to create the most cohesive end product. Vol.1 and Vol.2 were written together as one album. I decided to release them as two separate EPs for marketing reasons. On the same note, another big challenge was finding the right balance between exploring all of the different ideas I had, yet creating a sound that belonged solely to Transmundane. I don’t want my music to be lumped into a specific sub-genre, but I also don’t want it to suffer from lack of direction. I feel I successfully walked this fine line on Vehement.
What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?
I think progressive metal, and metal in general, is some of the most exciting modern day music. The progressive metal scene is full of life right now, with some incredible musicians releasing unconfined masterful music. If I had one criticism, it would be that I feel there is a tendency for progressive metal artists to forget that they are making music for a listener just as much as themselves. What I mean by this, is that it can be easy for progressive artists to get caught up in the complexities of what they are writing, and to lose touch with connecting on an emotional level. Often times, songs over stay their welcome, or suffer from either too much repetition or too many new ideas being introduced when there is so much left to explore on ideas that were introduced earlier in a song. It can be difficult for progressive artists to remain tasteful. That being said, I think there is a wealth of musicians out there doing it right.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
My influences run deep and stretch beyond metal and often beyond music; life is full of inspiration and influence. That being said, metal is the main influence, and I love it in almost all of it’s forms. There are certain sub genres that i’m not big on, but man I just love heavy, aggressive music. Of course progressive metal, technical metal, death metal, black metal, doom, sludge, grind etc. It’s all amazing to me when done right. I listen to so many bands, it’s hard to narrow them down. To name a few bands that were influences on Vehement: Gorod, Meshuggah, Tool, Obscura, Gojira, Ahab, Anaal Nathrakh, Lord Mantis, Cobalt, Behemoth, Between the Buried and Me, Deftones, Cattle Decapitation, The Dillinger Escape Plan. The list goes on.
What are you listening to these days?
I’ve been really into Fleshgod Apocalypse lately. I’ve been listening to Lord Mantis a lot lately too; Their sound is so savage. Cobalt are rocking my world pretty hard right now with their latest release. I’m excited for the up coming Deftones and Fallujah releases. Fallujah are an exciting up and coming band in my books. Obscura’s latest is on heavy rotation still. I’m always listening to music, but these guys have been on my playlist a lot lately.
Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
I really don’t know how to answer this question. I have so many albums that I think of as big influences, and narrowing them down to 5 seems like an impossible task. What I can say is that Tool’s Lateralus changed the way I listen to music. Decapitated’s Nihility introduced me to the heavier, more brutal side to metal. Meshuggahs Nothing changed how I wrote music. But labeling them as my all time favorites would likely be inaccurate.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you used to record “Vehement vol. 1″?
My gear was rather limited. Having written and recorded the music all myself, being unsigned, and having a full time job with family and responsibilities, I didn’t have access to a full on studio. I live in an apartment, and I recorded everything at home. I used Pro Tools LE 8 with my Mbox as the software. Being in an apartment, I wasn’t able to record live drums. Moreover, I likely would have had a hard time recording the drums written on Vehement, as they are rather technical and complex. So I used a drum programmer, ToonTracks Drum kit from Hell. The guitars were recorded DI using my Jackson Soloist. I love this guitar: EMG pickups, Floyd Rose, play through neck etc. The tone coming out of the EMG’s is amazing. All of the songs were written on standard B 7 string tuning. I played DI into my MBOX from my guitar simulator; nothing special, I used the Behringer Virtualizer for the guitars. The bass was also recorded direct into the MBOX using my Ibanez 4 string SDGR into my MXR bass DI box. I used my APEX Condenser Mic going straight into the MBOX for vocals. Once all the sounds were recorded, I honestly used stock Pro Tools plug ins for mixing and production. So I wasn’t working with million dollar equipment and sound rooms. With today’s, technology, I really don’t think it’s as necessary as it once was. There are tons of sound guys out there that will scoff at this, but I don’t really care. I think the EP sounds bad ass. I wanted the sound to be modern and comparable to the modern metal scene from a loudness perspective, but I didn’t want it to sound over produced. I wanted the songs to sound like a band, not like music that was recorded in a studio and tweaked to no end. I feel I accomplished this with my production. I sent my finished tracks to a mastering house for final mastering, so that much was out of my hands. Initially, the songs were sent back to me a little heavier then I wanted on the brick-wall scale. But the guy revised for me and I was happy with the final product.
Besides the release of the EP, are there any other plans for the future?
My plans are to push Transmundane as far as it can go. I want Transmundanes music to get out to the metal community, and I want to continue to release music to a growing fan base. Eventually, i’d like Transmundane to be recreated live. As a single musician who wrote and recorded Transmundanes music, i’m limited to a studio act right now. I’d like to find a label that can support me on a tour, and to find touring musicians who can recreate my music. Until I get to that point, i’d just like to get the music out to as many people as possible.
Any words for the potential new fans?
I would just like to thank anyone and everyone who supports my music from the bottom of my heart. I could never express what it means to me. This music is the reason for my existence. Anyone who is moved enough by my music to be a fan, is making me happier then they know. So my only words are, sincerely, thank you. One thing I have to note: please support Transmundane by buying the music and not streaming/pirating. As a studio act, the best way you can support Transmundanes is to buy the music directly from the artist. For anyone who enjoys Vehement, keep an ear to the ground. This is just the beginning.
For more info about Transmundane check this location.