Interview With The Human Abstract

When it comes to cutting edge progressive metal(core) the guys from The Human Abstract are at the forefront of it. Their Digital Veil album is a true technical tour-de-force. Returning guitarist A.J Minette was kind enough to answer some questions about the creative and recording sessions for Digital Veil, his classical influences and his appreciation for Matt Bellamy and his chummies in Muse..

First of all congratulations on releasing such a strong album as Digital Veil. How’s the feedback coming along and are you happy the way the record turned out?

The feedback has been great so far.  We are all very proud of how the record turned out. We spent a lot of time preparing pre-production demos before we got into the actual studio.  That helped things to run smoothly, and took any guesswork out of the process.

The new record is also quite different compared to the Midheaven material. It’s really technical, but catchy in a weird sense as well. How important is it for you guys to try new things with each successive record?

I didn’t want to make an album that sounded like Midheaven. I wanted to make a record that incorporated a lot of the new techniques I was learning in school studying classical music. I still wanted it to be a metal band, but I wanted the classical element as well.

It also marks your return and the debut of Travis Richter. What did Travis and you bring to the table in terms of ideas and contributions?

I wrote a lot of the material on the album and I tried to oversee the entire process from writing to recording.  Travis and I worked together a lot on lyrics, and vocal melodies and tone production. Travis has brought a lot of character and personality to the live performance as well.

How did the recording and writing process go for Digital Veil compared to previous experiences?

Recording Digital Veil was the best experience we have had recording. Nocturne (debut album.ed) was very stressful, and it came down to the wire when we  recorded the vocals. All the pre-pro preparation we did for Digital Veil helped to make it a smooth and exciting experience. Will Putney did a great job engineering and producing the album.

How did you manage to get such a crisp sound on Digital Veil?

Rehearsing the parts and using some good recording techniques. Some of the secret techniques were Will Putney’s idea. I think a big part of that is also how the music is written.  Making sure that there is enough registral space between guitar parts and voices helps with the clarity.

What I really like is the fact that the band manages to find a good balance between technicality on one side and great song writing on the other side. Songs like Complex Terms, Faust and Antebellum are great examples of that. What’s your take on that?

Technicality and good song writing has existed for hundreds of years.  Only in the past century has there been this division between technicality and “great song writing”.  Look at the music of Bach. The technique was just part of the music. It wasn’t just for show, it served the music well.

Horizon To Zenith has this weird Muse vibe about it, especially the vocal line in the chorus could have created by Matt Bellemy and Co. Who’s the Muse fan within The Human Abstract?

I like Muse, but I wasn’t purposely drawing from them when I wrote that song and vocal melody. I was actually trying to write something of a folk melody. I wanted to write something that was a set of variations.

What releases are you particularly looking forward to this year?

Our friends in Born of Osiris and Protest the Hero just released new albums this month!  I’m so proud of all of them. I’m also looking forward to what Lamb of God and Between The Buried And Me do next.

As a final question I would like to know what’s next on The Human Abstract agenda and are there any chances for you guys to come over to Europe at some point?

I would love to make it out to Europe.  I’m the only one in the band who has not toured overseas yet. Although we don’t have anything scheduled yet, I’m sure it will happen.

Written by Raymond Westland

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