OZPROG recently dropped a line to one of the band’s two new guitarists, Michael Tokar [far right], to get the lowdown on their writing process, the feature film to accompany the record and plans for the future.
OZPROG: Panorama, in ten pieces. will be accompanied by the feature film that you’re currently editing for a late 2015 release. Tell us more about what we can expect from this, as the concept was also crucial in providing themes to explore in the music.
MICHAEL TOKAR: Have you ever been walking home at night in the suburbs, and you just get this sense that something feels strange? Maybe you can see the flicker of a TV screen; or silhouettes of a conversation. You’re all alone on the street, but inside these houses there are lives being lived. You start to imagine what’s really going on behind these closed doors and delicate gardens. And if you’re like us, your imagination tends to the bizarre.
So our story is set in such a neighbourhood, where creepy and banal scenarios play out simultaneously. The viewer gets to walk the streets in our shoes and peer behind the curtains.
OP: What do you think distinguishes this album from earlier DUMBSAINT material, musically speaking?
MT: With past material we’ve tried a few different things. Our first album was a solid post-rock/post-metal affair, with each song being pretty representative of the whole album, and in a way self-sufficient. There are some really great moments on the album and I love playing the songs on it.
Then we decided to try something a bit different with our Disappearance In A Minor Role EPs. We’ve always tended towards jammy, ambient pieces when in “writing mode”, and we wanted to try create specific moods with as minimal instrumentation as possible. What resulted as a whole was our most soundtrack-y work. I’m really happy with what we produced, but it has been less applicable in the live setting, which is a big part of who we are.
So with our latest efforts, we tried to marry the two approaches: we wanted to mix in the ambient with the technical groove, and write pieces that stood on their own alone, but have a lot more weight in the context of the whole album.
OP: You’re one of two new guitarists in the band – the other is Brendan Sloan, who jumped on board after the record was tracked. You alone handled all guitar parts with a great deal of confidence and deftness. What are some of the influences behind your work that might not be apparent to listeners, or don’t fit the standard post-rock/post-metal mold?
MT: Thank you. It’s hard to think about what influences don’t fit the post-rock/metal mould; as I see it, those genres are brimming with music that combines influences from many styles of music. But I guess for me, some of the more left-of-centre influences I had in mind with this record were: MASTODON and DEAFHEAVEN, particularly in the heavier, meatier riff moments; KING CRIMSON and THIS TOWN NEEDS GUNS for some of the math rock moments; THE BODY (which Nick [Andrews, drums] put me on to) for inspiration of bizarre ideas. I also remember listening to THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS soundtrack for the film Hanna a lot around the time; they did a great job on that with creating recurring motifs, and their soundtrack is such a huge part of what gives that film energy.
OP: What are the plans now the album is out? Any big ideas or you just going to see what happens?
MT: We’re still in the process of lining up our live shows for the album’s release. We’ve got two really great shows already locked in: Nicefest in Sydney on August 29, which will be so much fun to play; and Bigsound in Brisbane on September 10, that’s going to be our debut showing up there, and we’re hoping that people will come along and check out the weirder side of the Australian music scene.
After that, it’s up in the air. With the full-length film being released at the end of the year, we’re hoping to do something special around that time. We definitely believe the film warrants a full viewing in its own right.