Interview with Jason Wisdom of Becoming The Archetype

When did you guys first get started working on your new album ‘Celestial Completion’?

We started working on the record a long time ago. I can’t exactly say when, but I know it was more than a year ago. We decided to go old school when we wrote this record and just jam on riffs. It took a long time to do it that way, but it’s rewarding in the end when you can come up with something that’s just fun to play. It wasn’t as cold and calculating as if you did it on the computer.

Back in 2004, when we wrote our first record, we thought you were supposed to practice songs and riffs until you liked them and then you’d go record them. So we went back to our roots a little bit this time. It’s also a little more honest — you get an honest sound.

So you had everything prepared before going into the studio?

Yeah, when we showed up in the studio we actually played the record live for the producer. It was the first time we met him and we just played him everything. We knew how the record was going to go from the beginning to the end.

Nice. Why did you choose to go with Matt Goldman as producer this time around?

On our last record, we worked with Devin Townsend and we had a phenomenal experience. When we recorded with him he was kind of taking a break from doing his own music, but now he’s really focused on recording his own stuff again. It wasn’t possible to go back with him, so we started thinking about who we could work with. We really like the stuff we hear Matt Goldman do. He kind of thinks outside of the box. He’s not a traditional metal producer and this is not a traditional metal album. We wanted to go with someone who could help us bring out the musicality, not to mention that his studio is down the road from us here in Atlanta, which was very convenient.

Who came up with the idea to add sitar to the album? You won’t usually find sitar on a metal record.

[chuckles] Yeah. We have a friend who teaches Indian music. He told us that he could come in and play sitar, tambura and tabla. We just wanted to go outside of the box. Matt Goldman was into all of that too. He’s produced everything from The Chariot to contemporary Christian music like Third Day, but only listens to music from the ’60s and ’70s. And The Beatles were of course really into all the Eastern mysticism music with Ravi Shankar.

Another cool instrument found on ‘Celestial Completion’ is trombone. You had Dennis Culp of Five Iron Frenzy play trombone on “Cardiac Rebellion,” right?

Yeah, we think it’s great. It was a dream come true for us. Five Iron Frenzy is my favorite band of all time. I love every song they ever made. When we had the opportunity to get him on a track, we needed to go all out with it. There’s trombone actually on other places on the record, but it’s mixed in very quiet just to add a layer. It’s definitely a different track and it’s going to strike a lot of people as weirder than they ever heard from us.

Sweet. I was just looking at the cover art and realized that it says online that the art was done by Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter. The art looks great.

Ryan Clark is the art director at Tooth & Nail Records and a good friend of ours. We talk to him about everything that we do with our art. He put together the package for us, but he didn’t create the cover art. The cover art was painted by an artist named Dan Seagrave, who is very famous for painting heavy metal covers. He actually painted our first album’s cover, ‘Terminate Damnation.’ Bringing him back again was like bringing us back to our pure, raw form. It’s a beautiful painting that’s neither metal nor non-metal and it’s symbolic in its own way. We didn’t need it to be gross, twisted or dark-looking like a lot of metal artwork is.

Not to sound too geeky, but it reminds me of X-Men for some reason.

Yeah, it’s sort of like Phoenix.

Exactly!

Listen, you don’t have to worry about sounding geeky, man. When you called me, I was sitting here with my two TVs watching season 3 of Battlestar Galactica on one and playing Ogre Battle for Super Nintendo on the other.

[laughs] Well done.

You’re not going to out-nerd me today.

Are you guys planning on supporting the new album on the road?

Yeah, we’ll be beginning our tour on Monday, March 28. We’re going to do a week-long CD release jaunt up the East Coast and then in April we’re going to be running around and hitting some festivals for a couple of weeks. The dates are getting closer and we’re excited about it.

Do you know what songs you’ll be bringing on tour?

We’ve been playing “Internal Illumination,” which is the third track on the new record, live for a while now. So we’re going to keep playing that one and then we’ll be playing “The Magnetic Sky,” “Path of the Beam,” and at least one more.

I really like that last song title you mentioned, “Path of the Beam.”

It’s another nerdy reference. “Path of the Beam,” the title, is a reference to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. If you haven’t checked the series out, you should.

Nice. I’ve definitely heard quite a bit about it.

Anyway, we might even be able to pull something crazy and get a trombone player up on stage with us so we can play “Cardiac Rebellion.”

Some of the new tracks are heavily layered. Is it going to be a challenge to play them live?

Not as much as you would think because, like I said before, when we wrote the record we wrote it in a live setting and we performed it all from the get-go. Obviously, it’s a little embellished with sitars and things like that, but all of the basic elements are there. We can also pull off a lot of things with the keyboard — Seth [Hecox] plays guitar and keyboard.

Awesome. Thanks very much for the chat, Jason.

Thank you.

Pick up Becoming The Archetype’s new record, Celestial Completion.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their official website.