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Boston-based innovators Converge are back with their first album in five years.
Words: Rhys Buchanan.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2 vc_col-lg-8 vc_col-md-offset-2 vc_col-md-8″][vc_column_text]It feels like metalcore favourites Converge have been away from the recording process a bit too long. Although if you look properly into the void over the last five years, they’ve actually been very busy in the run-up to their emotionally taught ninth album ‘The Dusk Is In Us’. The Boston band are mightily hard to pin down, but we finally get in touch with vocalist and frontman Jacob Bannon down a crackly international phone-line.
You might expect a reason for the five-year wait, but Jacob is very blunt about this. “It came together just like any other record. We’ve been a band for almost thirty years now, and that’s a considerable amount of time so you just write songs organically when you can.” It was down to logistics as much as anything. “If motivation and schedules permit then we come together, and we craft an album,” he says. There’s no denying that this one took a considerable amount of time though. He proudly reels off the list of things they’ve done in the interim. “We’ve been releasing some disks like a 7 inch, a Blu-ray box set, a live album and photographic book. We’ve re-mastered a few bits and have done multiple US and European tours. All of our other bands and projects released music in that time as well.”
Despite approaching thirty years in the game, the new album is full of all life and anger they packed around their emergence in 1990. He says that going back into the studio very much felt the same as it always did. “We’re still in tune with what we are and how we do things. It’s certainly not a surprise. We self-record, we self-produce, self-do essentially everything but fully manufacture the releases.” Once again there’s an enormous pride coming through in his words, “It’s an all-encompassing aspect of our lives that we undertake. It’s not just a few weeks in the studio; it’s a good chunk of time. This material started at the beginning of the year and has only just come out. So it’s basically six months of our lives have gone into this record.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKqOp2YHfhI”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-1 vc_col-lg-10 vc_col-md-offset-1 vc_col-md-10″][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2 vc_col-lg-8 vc_col-md-offset-2 vc_col-md-8″][vc_column_text]‘The Dusk Is In Us’ is a hard-hitting and abrasive listen from the get-go. Jacob gets irked even thinking that the studio process played into the sound. “It’s just what we are as a band. We’re a heavy and aggressive with a variety of dynamics, and none of that changes. The songs are formulated and have their identity before we go to record.” He pauses before continuing, “The studio is just a process of documenting them. Everything is pretty much ready to go by the time we start drum-tracking. At that point, it’s just more or less constructing the vision that’s come up in the live room and on demos to ourselves.”
Although there’s undoubtedly a lot to be pissed off at in the world at the moment, the main fuel behind the album is one of inner-struggle rather than anything external. He says, “it’s not really a reaction to much. My process has been exactly the same since I was a kid. I’m forty now, and I started doing this when I was thirteen. I write songs that are personal and about my life in some way. Or it can be working through things because everybody has trials and tribulations that they’re going through in their lives.
Though Jacob loves the urgency of his genre, he finds inspiration in the world of metal slightly lacking. “As much as I love metal sonically, thematically it tends to be kind of dry for me. Sometimes hardcore in a generalised way can be about stereotypical testosterone and angst, and that’s not something that interests me either. I’m more about writing about my own life experience and how all these things affect me personally.” It’s clear there’s a lot of integrity in this mind as he continues, “I like writing about confrontation and a moral, ethical quarrel in my life but I’m writing about my process and getting through that through my own lens. It’s not purely topical. I just write personal, simple songs. I don’t think anyone’s lives are that simple. Some people connect with it some people don’t, but that’s always been the formula.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”44617″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2 vc_col-lg-8 vc_col-md-offset-2 vc_col-md-8″][vc_column_text]Converge are something of a monster in terms of their output, sound and cult following, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy to go along with the industry. “One of the key differences between ourselves and some other bands or other approaches is that we don’t play the game. There is no gain in what we do. Our goal isn’t to become the biggest band in the world; our goal isn’t for this to be a small part of our lives either. We’re not entertainers because they are concerned with a career and artists are concerned with a vision.” It’s quite humbling to hear that they’re so unconcerned with ego. “We would be doing it if we were playing in front of a large audience or a small audience. It’s not about accolades or anything like that.” He holds as if he’s processing this concept further. “You wake up every day, live your life, you have incredibly great days, and on the other end, you have days when everything gets turned on its head. More often than not when those days happen, it’s a lot of pressure and emotion attached to that. We use our art and music as a pressure release or a valve for that. We’re just happy that we have it. A lot of people never discover that in their lives.”
Their hands-on approach carries right through to developing the artwork as well. This is something quite powerful for ‘The Dusk Is In Us’. Jacob reveals how central he is to that process. “The visuals always play a large role in our band. The album to me was incredibly stark and incredibly emotional. I worked around sculpture trying to create a visual that worked with this narrative of the album, pulling out all of the colour and making it rather stark was one of the key things that we did to try and capture.” Now though, it’s just a case of the band being excited to share their next slice of genius with the world. “I’m addicted to forward movement. I like and enjoy making things and then moving onto the next thing. I look at all of those little steps that I am a part of in life, whether it’s in this band or other projects, they’re all chapters and steps in some sort of story, but I don’t know how it ends or begins. It just happens. I get excited at the prospect that all of this artistic effort will now be released and free, and people can choose to connect with it and listen to it if they want. That also allows me to be able to think about the next step that I want to do or immerse myself a lot more in that. That’s what I look forward to for sure.”