Despite a number of fantastic releases in a genre that is becoming dangerously oversaturated, stoner/sludge band Intronaut haven’t exactly made a household name for themselves. Until recently that is. After sharing the stage with prog metal royalty such as Mastodon and Cynic (to name a few) and releasing their new critically acclaimed album into the world, Intronaut is becoming a band that you can’t ignore. I had the opportunity to talk to Vocalist/Guitarist Sacha Dunable about the music industry, embarassing road stories and all things Valley of Smoke.
The new record seems to have a lot of dynamics. What were some of the goals you set out to fulfill when making this album?
Well dynamics are something that have always been important to us. I think we wanted to be a bit more musical on this one. Not that the last one wasn’t, but obviously there are some things that make it all a bit more “harmonious” or whatever. It’s funny too, that originally I had an idea to write a record full of shorter songs, so when I started working on my own ideas it was for really to the point, concise songs, yet everything still ended up being over 5 minutes for the most part.
You’ve recently stated that each song on Valley of Smoke centres on facts or historical events that have taken place in your hometown of L.A. It’s an interesting concept. Who initially came up with this idea?
I had actually come up with the idea with our old guitar player, Leon, years ago. I think I took point on researching the subject matter, and (second guitarist) Dave wrote most of the lyrics.
In the past it seems like you’ve taken your album titles from the previous album’s lyrics. An example would be the line “automations and our prehistoricisms” in the song Sores Will Weep (off of the EP Null). Was this a conscious effort and if so why did you seemingly end the tradition with this album?
I’m glad someone finally picked up on that! It wasn’t a conscious effort to make it a tradition, but there actually is a reference to a Prehistoricisms song somewhere on Valley Of Smoke. Go back and find it!
I know that you had the opportunity to work with Tool’s Justin Chancellor on this record. What was it like and how did the collaboration come about?
It was awesome. Obviously a bit surreal at times. Dave is good friends with him and they work on music together fairly often, so he volunteered to be on the record and we went from there. He and Dave came up with the main riff on the song Valley Of Smoke and we built the song around that.
You’ve had the opportunity to tour with some legendary bands this year including Cynic and Helmet. Are there any more bands you’d love to tour with but haven’t? Any plans to tour with Tool in the near future?
There are tons of bands I’d still love to tour with that we haven’t, but I will say that we’ve already been lucky enough to tour with a whole lot of amazing bands, so for now I’m content with that. Anything else that comes will just be a bonus.
Speaking of shows, what is the most memorable show Intronaut has played so far?
Probably our show in New Delhi, India. We headlined a festival there and played for thousands of people. That was very surreal. That or any of the shows we did supporting Mastodon or Isis.
Any hilarious or unbelievable tour stories you can make us privy to?
Honestly I wouldn’t even know where to start. On this past tour, I broke a rib early on and had to just deal with it, and a couple weeks later I fainted and landed on my face, turning half my body into one big scab. You just have to keep going and forget about both the good and bad in order to stay sane.
You have previously discussed ways in which the music industry has changed in the past decade on your “Blogronaut” column for the website Metalsucks.net. As a band which seems to play music that is not compromised by trends or pressures from the industry, where do you think the future of heavy music is going?
I think that it’s pretty fucked at the moment, but that it is finally in a transitional phase where the people in the business side are realizing that they need to adapt. I think they’ll figure out a way to make the consumers support the music (financially) again, though we’re probably still a few years away from that.
Based on your experiences and observations, where do you think, from a business standpoint, the music industry will be 5 years from now?
I’d be willing to bet that physical copies of albums will be mere novelties. I honestly like the idea of having a subscription based music service where you pay $10/month and have access to every song ever, whenever you want to stream it. From what I’ve heard, this is being worked on. And with the direction technology is heading, it makes perfect sense. Everyone is starting to be able to live life through a handheld device, so to be able to stream music from that, which isn’t far off from how it is right now, seems perfectly logical to me.
In terms of album art, is seems like the progressive/stoner/sludge genre has been churning out some of the best lately and I think the fans have really started paying attention. Did you feel any pressure when selecting an artist for Valley of Smoke?
We certainly wanted to step it up a bit for this one, and we knew David D’Andrea would do an amazing job. He does amazing work. I seriously can’t praise him enough.
I would imagine that you get to sign off on the end designs, but how much input do you have as a band when it comes to the artwork?
We told him the basic theme of the record, and suggested some imagery and what we liked about certain pieces he’d done before, and he came up with a rough sketch that we approved and he went from there. There is something to be said about letting the artist do his thing as much as possible. I’m a firm believer in not having “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
Do you have any sage advice for all the upstart bands out there? Anything that you wish you would have been told when you were getting into the business?
Be yourself, stay focused, don’t burn any bridges, and don’t do too many drugs and eventually good things will happen. I don’t think anyone can give any better advice than that. There is no one right way to do anything.
What does the immediate future have in store for Intronaut?
Next year we’ll be touring a bunch. Apparently Europe at some point!
Lastly, imagine a fight between a fully grown female grizzly bear and a fully grown male Silverback Gorilla taking place on neutral territory. Who wins?
As unethical as it would be, I’d actually like to see this put together. I bet it would be a great fight!
written by Renee Trotier