What are your influences?

John (bass): Each member of our band embodies a wide variety of musical genres, including progressive metal/rock, jazz, classical and extreme metal to name a few. Some of the bands that we are greatly fond of are Periphery, Tesseract, Haken Meshuggah, and much more.

Sehmim (guitar): We try not to stay limited one genre and take influences from pretty much anything musical in order to make ourselves better as musicians. But when it comes to the process of writing we’re heavily influenced by bands like Intervals, Polyphia, Periphery, Chon, Meshuggah, BTBAM, Tesseract etc

Tyler (drums): I feel that Spectral is a great blend of a bunch of different prog bands that we listen to. What’s also interesting is that we are all guitarists. For me, guitar was my first instrument before I took on drums. I’d like to think that because of this, my drumming reflects my attention to the guitar parts as a result of knowing both instruments. My major influences stem from a long developing timeline from when I was a teenager to present day. I started listening to Megadeth and Lamb of God, which led to more and more heavier bands over the years. Just a small list of bands that currently influence me the most are Meshuggah, Textures, Tool, Alexisonfire, Gojira and Opeth.

What does progressive music mean to you?

John (bass): I strongly believe that progressive music is one of those genres wherein one’s musicality, creativity and imagination are tested out to the extreme. I think that there are many extensive elements to prog music, such as odd time signatures, versatile scales and guitar tones, and very radical compositions and experimentation to bring out something that may have never been done much before.

Tyler (drums): When it comes to defining progressive music, I draw my conclusions from both my personal experience as well as from what I have learned studying music at the University of Toronto. Traditionally, progressive music was concerned with technique and craft, complexity and virtuosity. Furthermore, progressive music is a derivative of 60’s experimentalism. Rock music was to be elevated as an art form with attempts to incorporate artistic representation, concepts and themes. In my opinion, prog music has generally always been complex and full of borrowed sounds and ideas of other genres like classical music. There is a somewhat obsessive exploration of irregularity within prog music. That is, most prog bands pursue interesting time signatures and harmony. What comes to my mind when someone says progressive rock is Rush. I think that a lot of modern progressive music comes in the form of metal.

What band(s) introduced you to prog?

John (bass): Some of the bands that introduced me to progressive music are Dream Theater, Periphery, Opeth, Intervals, Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, Tool, etc.

Tyler (drums): I would have to say Rush and Tool introduced me to the world of progressive music. From there I started listening to Periphery, Dream Theater and Tesseract.

Most favorite instrument in your possession?

John (bass): All of our band members are actually guitarists, so we all have our guitars that we cherish. But we would say that our drummer favors his drum kit the most, our guitarists their seven string guitars (out of over ten that they have) and our bassist, none other than his chinese flute, because why not.

Tyler (drums): This is difficult for me. Of course I love my drums but I also own a custom Agile 8 string guitar which is very special to me. You can check out HD pictures of it here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/127517185@N08/albums/72157650083451646

Most favorite song in your catalog? (If you have a link – please link)

John (bass): This is a very tough decision but I would have to go for our title track off our debut EP “Orbit”. Link > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhcSxAYqw8w

Tyler (drums): Hard decision to make, but I guess I’ll go with either “Capricorn” or “Aura”. Link > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhcSxAYqw8w

What is your favorite venue in the city to play at?

John (bass): Hard Luck has been the only venue we have played at so far and we look forward to playing more shows.

Tyler (drums): After playing a number of venues in Toronto with my previous band Homage, it’s between Hard Luck and Opera House. I hope one day I can perform at Sound Academy!

What is your most memorable concert experience? (your own concert or one you attended)

John (bass): This has to be our very first concert at Hard Luck Bar.

Tyler (drums): My first time seeing my favorite band, Meshuggah.

How do you see the future of your music career?

John (bass): We all in the band have our own dream career, but we also greatly value our band as a growing one. Each of us has our own musical endeavors outside the band, so with or without our band, we will still have music by our side. Considering our band being formed recently, we now try to incorporate our individual ideas into one. We cannot tell what the future holds, but we will certainly always be fond of playing and performing, whether for fun or professionally.

Tyler (drums): I try to take advantage of every opportunity I get to grow as a musician. I have been very fortunate to be able to study music at University as well as play with bands and on recordings. That being said, I can see myself touring, doing session work and teaching.

What kind of themes do you like to explore in your lyrics?

John: Our band is actually currently an instrumental band with no lyrics because we currently do not have a vocalist, yet. But if our band was given the chance to sing, some of the lyrical themes we would like to explore would be philosophy, nature, science, ethics, satire/comedy, and personal stories told in a poetic manner.

What do you do right before going on stage?

Tyler (drums): I am probably tapping on my legs or jumping around to keep warm and excited. I usually can’t wait to get behind the drums.

Did you ever suffer from stage fright?

John (bass): During my first performances, including talent shows, when I was not used to playing in front of big crowds, I slightly did suffer from stage fright, thinking the typical “What if I mess up?” or “What if my crush is watching me?”

Tyler (drums): Not really. I am usually just full of excitement. I’ve learned to just have fun with it. All of the practicing is done so the only thing left to do is to go up and have fun and give positive energy to the audience. Performing lots at University also helped me understand my stage nerves and through experience and coaching, learned to use the nervousness for good.

How often do you rehearse?

John (bass): We rehearse about three hours a week, although it varies when our schedules are conflicting.
Tyler (drums): Currently it’s around once or twice a week.

What do you think of the Toronto prog scene? What could we do to make it better?

John (bass): I believe that the Toronto prog scene has a lot of hidden gems and unseen talents that could be exposed more. We could act more interactively and engagingly whether in person (through gatherings and live shows/battle of the bands) or through social media (Through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and dank memes)!

Tyler (drums): Well, I think Intervals has drawn some great attention to the prog music coming out of Toronto as of late. There is no doubt a lot of great talent in this city. However, there must be support and opportunity besides the hard work that the bands already put in. I think the most successful thing besides social media for community building is live shows like 5/4 Fest. We need to get people excited to come out and see new talent and this means coordinated efforts to host and advertise live shows at local venues in Toronto. Playing shows brings not only bands together but also gives fans a chance to begin creating relationships with us the musicians.

If more people listened to prog, how would it change the world in 10 years?

John (bass): If more people listened to prog, our Facebook page would have a lot more likes.

Tyler (drums): I don’t believe that it would change the world. However, I strongly believe in progressive music and its ability to inspire people to push themselves creatively and love the music and musicians they listen to.

SPECTRAL was interview by Alia M., Organizer, Day 1