by Ryan Meehan
Wayfarer is a four piece band hailing from the Rocky Mountains of Denver, Colorado. Through a storm of riffing and unrelenting atmosphere, the band creates a sound that feels at once archaic and elemental, and ultimately human. Wayfarer came together in 2012, after recording an instrumental demo the previous year. With the lineup complete, the band then cut its teeth playing out in the burgeoning Denver underground, and began work on their debut album “Children of the Iron Age”; a lengthy epic of blackened atmospherics interwoven with entrancing acoustic passages and driving, powerful post-metal soundscapes. The album was recorded in early 2014 at Flatline Audio in Westminster, Colorado with Shane Howard (Martriden) and mixed and mastered by Dave Otero (Cobalt, Primitive Man, Cattle Decapitation). The debut album was followed by subsequent touring of the Western United States with Denver cohorts Dreadnought over the summer. The band was signed to Prosthetic Records in August of 2014, and will be embarking on a West Coast tour in early Winter in support of the release of “Children Of The Iron Age” on Gatefold 2xLP and Digipak CD on November 24, 2014. Guitarist Shane McCarthy is our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How was your summer? What percentage of that time period would you say was centered around finishing up this record?
SM: The summer treated us well. The record was finished by that point, our focus was on our West Coast tour with our compatriots in Dreadnought. That tour was a success, and actually lead to our dealings with Prosthetic on releasing Iron Age.
RM: The word “Atmospheric” seems to come up a lot when people refer to your music…Do you ever worry that label will scare away some traditional metal fans, as it may suggest that the music is not as “busy” as a lot of the metal that we heard while we were growing up?
SM: Genre tags and descriptive terms like this are useful to a point; to give someone who has never heard something a point of reference, but we’ve always felt trying to nail down all the aspects of a particular sound in a couple of words is pointless in the end. We appreciate music that can build an atmosphere and provide that escape to listeners, but if anyone takes the time to listen to it, I think it’s fairly clear that the music is still driving, and still heavy. Its one aspect among many, so I understand why that’s a good point of reference. You’re never going to please everyone, nor do we care to, especially if their mindset won’t allow them to hear something because someone threw a label on it. But I think those who check it out for themselves will find that there is a decent amount of things going on, and hopefully they’ll be into it.
RM: Who were some of the bands you listened to while your musical tastes were developing that existed outside of traditional influences such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin? Were there any artists you were really into that the average metal fan wouldn’t really be familiar with?
SM: Everyone in the band has a wide array of influence, metal and otherwise. Myself, I grew up on Pantera and Slayer like a lot of people, but really started to flesh things out as a teenager when I discovered bands like Primordial and Neurosis. The last few years I’ve delved more into stuff like Deathspell Omega, Altar of Plagues, Cobalt and a lot of grind honestly, the riff-y stuff like Nasum and some newer bands like Cloud Rat. Outside of the metal world some of my favorite bands are Wovenhand (and 16 Horsepower), U.S. Christmas, as well as a decent amount of post rock and trip-hop type things. As a former record store employee, I’ve been exposed to a lot of cool stuff. Also the scene here in Denver, with bands like Velnias, Dreadnought, Primitive Man and so many others has always had a profound influence on me. Ethan of Primitive Man and a few other people like Aaron Saye from 7thCircle have built and maintained an incredible independent forum for music in this city and that is the scene that Wayfarer grew up in. All of those shows that have happened here will always stick with me. It’s a true grassroots thing. Total punk rock.
RM: What is the story behind the title of your new record “Children of the Iron Age”?
SM: It’s sort of a blanket term for our young generation. We, as all generations before us, are born into a world that is set a certain way by all of the events and decisions of the people who have inhabited it previously, and kind of left to figure out our place in it. It’s a sort of negative connotation because of all the downturn of greed, war and destruction that largely defines the modern world; but there’s a positive note to it in that we do at least have the gift of hindsight, and as such a lot of the record is sort of a call to realize the state of the world and human affairs and choose a different path.
At a literal level, it comes from the Myth of the Four Ages, which exists in multiple texts and ideologies but my own interpretation was from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It’s romanticized, as most myths are but the point is there. There are the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron Age – the first of with illustrates a time of simple and harmonious existence between all matter on earth. As each age advances, there are new developments of “progress” in technology and what have you. But as all of these supposed advancements are made, life becomes more complicated as the human greed begins to set in, and by the Iron Age; that of weapons and machines, that harmony has all but disappeared. So this is the world that we are born into, the cards we are dealt, and it is up to us to decide what to do from here. Again, this is a blatant romanticism, as most forms of art often are, but it is a thought we like to raise.
RM: Which song on the album are you most looking forward to playing live and why? What was it about the way that song came together in the studio that made it a favorite of yours?
SM: The record as whole is meant to be played live; we have always been a band that values that even over the recording process. I’m often partial to Toward Mountains in a live setting because it’s a bruiser, and heavy is fun to play. There is a chaotic break toward the end of that track that always presents a great energy. The song balances our melodic/emotional sensibilities and pure driving power fairly well, in my opinion.
RM: What are your three favorite guitar effects to use; and how does each help Wayfarer achieve the sound that you’ve worked so hard to create? Do you prefer to use floor effects or rackmount sound modifiers?
SM: Honestly, I run pretty dry. All of my tones come from my Mesa Dual Rectifier, which suit me just fine, and my custom built Atlas cabinet. We are looking to expand our backline with Atlas gear, since I build for them; and the tones and aesthetics match our music perfectly. But as far as effects, aside from some reverb or occasional delay, I don’t really use them. I’m a fan of simple good tone. If it ain’t broke…
RM: Do you think that it’s more difficult to place vocals to music when they are more of a background instrument in bands such as yours; as opposed to the way other groups traditionally use them as a lead?
SM: Well it’s a little tough to say comparatively; since this is the only way I’ve ever written music really. But with us, the riffs and the sound come first and the vocal patterns tend to fill themselves in where we feel necessary. We have three of us that share vocal duties to provide different textures for different feels in a song, and that generally works fairly intuitively for us once a song is written. Even at an instrumental level, the songs are usually written with a concept in mind; they’re usually “about something” already, so the lyrics happen pretty naturally based on things we feel strongly about in one way or another.
RM: The record was mastered by Dave Otero, who has done some killer work over the years….What did you learn about the sonic landscape of your own music while in the process of mastering this record?
SM: Otero is the man. I am a big fan of his work, most notably with bands like Cobalt, Nightbringer, and Primitive Man. Dave has a talent that is unfortunately sparse among producers where he can hone directly into what a band should sound like at an individual level, instead of kind of pushing their music into a previously existing sound. In mixing the record with him we were really able to flesh out the atmosphere of the songs and fine tune all of the nuances between the various states of instrumentation. It brought the record into a cohesive sound.
RM: What’s up next for you and the rest of the band in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
SM: We are focusing on touring for the time being. We have a short West Coast run in December, and aim to get out east for a longer run in the Spring. Then hopefully Europe. We want to get the music to anyone who will hear it.
We have some new material that is beginning to formulate, and it’s a little different in a very exciting way. It will be some time before this surfaces, though. For now it’s time to see the world a bit and hope some people are into the music.
Artist Profile at Prosthetic Records: http://prostheticrecords.com/?p=7425
Wayfarer on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wayfarercolorado
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