Rock Sound sits down with Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon for an in-depth discussion of new album ‘Axe To Fall’.
Rock Sound recently sat down with Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon to discuss the band’s new album ’Axe To Fall’ (out October 19, Epitaph Records). Read what he had to say in this exclusive new interview…
Can you start by giving us the lowdown on this record – what’s fed into it and what’s made it the way it is? “We tried to create songs that were exciting and moving to us. One of the ways that we have challenged ourselves on this record was involving other artists that we’ve been friends with or admired in some way for quite a long time. It a collaborative idea, something we’ve been kicking around for a number of years but the time to execute it has never been there. This album presented a really great opportunity for us to attempt to do that. It made us really focus. You have to be really deliberate in your song writing and your ideas, you’re communicating with outside people which is something that we’re not used to. It made for an extremely focused album.”
What are your current favourite tracks on the new record and why? “I’m kind of boring like that, I’m not a ‘favourite’ kind of guy. The way I look at the album and the way I look at all albums is as one large effort. That’s what we wrote, one large effort. For us, it’s about creating a really successful body of music that all works together very well. I feel that we have done that with this record. For us, it is actually more of a straight forward, unrelenting album until you get to the last few tracks.”
How do you feel ‘Axe To Fall’ fits into your existing body of work? How do you think the band has grown / evolved since ‘No Heroes’? “We’re not a band that is about change. All we want to do is create songs that we really enjoy. I know I sound like a bit of a broken record, saying that over and over but it’s not like we go through these life-changing moments or measure ourselves in popularity. We’re very introverted; we don’t really pay much attention with what’s going on with other artists that are involved in the community that we play to. We do our thing and if people enjoy it, that’s great. I think we come from an older school of thought that is a little more artistically rooted than it is entertainment rooted.”
Do you ever feel under pressure to achieve or come up with the goods given the level of devotion records like ’Jane Doe’ seem to have? “Not particularly. They’re just honest records and if you’re writing honest music the only person you’re trying to impress or move is yourself, you’re trying to emotionally get something out of a song that brings you to a positive place when you’re writing it. We don’t really think about what outsiders opinions of the band are going to be because it would cease being real at that point. You would start writing for those people, trying to win them over and that’s something that we don’t really care about.”
Though the band hasn’t exactly been a ‘closed shop’ over the years, this latest album features a host of collaborators. Obviously some of these (e.g. Brodsky) are long-time pals, but how did others come about? Are there any interesting tales / stories surrounding them? “Most people were friends or had some existing relationship in some way and as songs started coming together, you’d want to hear people be part of it. We had a lot of sharing ideas back and forth with these people and it all worked out in a really positive way for all of us. Sometimes, it opens up a whole new door in a song because you’ve never heard it that way.”
Is it difficult letting others into Converge’s world? “It is difficult and challenging to collaborate but it worked out.”
2010 is going to mark 20 years of Converge. How have things changed and what does this mean to you? How do you keep things fresh and creative at this point in your career? Do you have any plans to celebrate this occasion? “We’ll be on tour and that’s probably the most fitting place. We won’t be celebrating anything. Well, we’ll be celebrating the fact that a new album has been released to people and they can enjoy it and appreciate it and hopefully get something out of it. Nothing more than that.”
Any final comments / words of wisdom? “We’re just really appreciative of the fact that people dig what we do and understand and support it, that within itself is a really fantastic thing to us. We’re still just four guys that create music that we never thought people would enjoy. We’d be doing it if the audience was 5 people or 500,000 people. We’re also very thankful for the UK audience.”
What with Wrestlemania happening tonight and Download Festival grappling with a wrestling theme this year, it seemed like a perfect time we had nothing better to do than to ponder which bands could hold their own in the ring.