Somaesthesia are the ideal easy-listening band for long-haul drives. If you’re in your monster truck bouncing along through post-apocalyptic wasteland feeling pissed off and insane.
Titled Path of Least Resistance, their latest EP sounds anything but. Through brutal drums, fuzz-distorted friction and guttural screaming, the music pounds forwards like a giant with broken bones.
Somaesthesia is a near unrelenting soundtrack to an apocalypse.
Face of Glass begins with beautiful mixing-paint-colours-flowing guitars. Then an ear slam of angry, grinding, repetitive noise which winds down to a snarling finish.
Title-track, The Path of Least Resistance is a more melodic contrast to the first two tracks.
Surge starts off more lively, suited for moshing. Repetitive riffs from the rhythm section are a ballast all the way through, abrasive and doomy. Stasis is more brutal tunage with some beautiful guitar and bass breakdowns. This is my favourite song on the EP. A fitting final song in a soundtrack for the End of the world.
Your EP, The Path of Least Resistance was released just last month. What was the focus of inspiration behind the songs?
Marc: It was really just writing music that we wanted to hear. We play in open C tuning with an added low G which really helped to shape our songs and general sound. Some of the songs I had named during their initial demo stages and they were all really based on the idea of perception, emotions, and illusory feelings of what we think we know. They didn't start to fully take shape with a solid theme until Stoo came on board. I am a fan of songs that don't always have an obvious meaning and I think Stoo helped to achieve that.
Nick: I am inspired by the whole process and by the seemingly endless riffs that Mike and Marc produce. Usually in order to play a new song, I need to learn something I can’t play, or improve my drumming in some way. Whilst that can be frustrating, it’s also very inspiring.
Mike: Musically, I just try to write what I want to listen to. Usually that means building riffs and structures around a general theme or chord progression, and going through a trial and error process within those guidelines until I'm happy with the result. Probably 95% of what comes out is terrible, so it's a matter of pouring the hours into refining my output until it's up to standard.
Stoo: For me, being the last member to join the band, I came in when the songs that would make up the ep were just being finished, so I was able to gauge all the songs as an ensemble and get the vibe of the band. That made my job putting the lyrics together much easier! There are several themes running through the ep, but I decided early on in this band that I would really like to focus on the human condition as the main aspect of the lyrics, with every release exploring a different theme. This EP is mainly based around adversity, with a couple of other sneaky themes, as well as a secret narrative. But that’s a secret.
Who are Somaesthesia? And What makes you angry?
Stoo: The great thing about this band is that it's an expression of our combined personalities, we all get something out of it, creatively speaking, the blend of styles and personalities sets the tone for our music. I've been gigging for 19 years, in various types of bands and never have I worked with a band that has as little conflict over creative output. We all get each other, and we all know what we want to do, like it's second nature. So I wouldn't say we are angry people, but personally speaking, a lot of things about this world make me angry. Politics, Religion, Pedestrians etc...
Marc: I like things to be pretty balanced. Imbalance has the ability to anger me. That being said, I'm a fairly laid back person.
Stuart B: A band of the merriest of men and it angers me when people confuse an Orca for a whale.
Mike: I'm not really a very angry guy to be honest. The trick is to choose a few things I care about, and not give a shit about anything else.
Nick: Honestly, I’m really not very angry! I’m a regular jack-off who’s lucky enough to get to express myself through pretentious metal with people I love.
Where does your name come from?
Stoo: The dictionary I assume, given the amount of spelling errors we've seen from venues hosting our shows! Great name though, think that was Marc who busted that one out. Really set the tone for the style of lyrics for me.
Marc: It was just a song title for a long time before we decided to adopt it as the band name. I had been reading a lot about perception and illusion back when I was naming some demos before looking for other musicians, I stumbled across somaesthesia (likely on Wikipedia) and I really liked the whole concept of it. As for deciding to name the band as such, we toyed with the idea of Soma because it was shorter and easier to say/spell, but we ultimately settled for the full length word after looking into various things that had the same name. It's now a running joke with the band at all of the various spelling attempts on gig posters and billboards etc.
Where do you come from? How has that influenced your music?
Stoo: We come from here, there and everywhere really. Marc's a Westie, Stu is a citizen of Leith and a patron, Mike is from down south, and Nick is from the motherland. I was born and bred in the Scottish Borders, I met Stu 16 years ago as we studied music together at college.
Marc: I think just the coming together of all of our individual tastes has been the main influence, outside of our main ones of course. As Stoo said, we are all from different areas, but I haven't ever really thought of that as being an influential factor given that we have converging musical tastes anyway.
Mike: I'm from Lancaster, which as a town isn't very inspirational, but the people I grew up with there are the ones that got me into metal originally, and it's where I played in my first bands (originally as a bassist). There's not much of a scene there though unfortunately, so moving to Edinburgh has been a huge change for the better in that respect.
Nick: I moved from Northern Ireland to Edinburgh in 2001. The group of people (including both Stuarts) I ended up knowing definitely helped shape my musical tastes. I think meeting Marc (I responded to a “drummer wanted” ad) had a profound impact on me in the sense that it gave me the belief and focus to actually create. Up to that point all I’d ever really done was jam with pals, without ever actually producing anything.
Your music is completely full on and must be physically exhausting to play. After a long set how do you wind down?
Stoo: Well, it's usually a beer or two after a show, but it usually takes me a few hours to calm down, so I could be sitting in my living room at 5am listening to Nik Kershaw and Meshuggah. It's a weird dynamic, as my body aches and begs for sleep, but my brain is like LISTEN TO KYUSS!
Nick: I hate to be clichéd, but it usually involves beer! Also, we make sure we catch the sets of any of the bands of after us.
Marc: What Nick said.
Mike: Usually we'll just grab a few beers and enjoy the other bands playing on the bill. We'll have a quick chat about how we think the gig went, whether the set worked and how many terrible mistakes we each made! After that it's carting our gear home, then organising our next practise.
What gear do you use?
Stoo: I've just invested in a Voicelive 2 pedal board, and I’m in absolute love with its reverbs and delays! Even the presets are rad, and it allows me to travel with my own sound. All I need is a clean channel from the mixing board and my sound will be the same gig after gig. Wouldn't recommend the autotune though, unless you are a massive fan of Cher.
Nick: Tama and Premier Drums, Tama Hardware and a mixture of cymbals, including Paiste, Meinl, Sabian and Zildjian and Istanbul. I’ve recently started using Code drum heads after years using Remo. In an ideal world I’d have a full set of Tama Starclassic Performers and some lovely Meinl Byzance, sadly all of my bank accounts have a minus at the start.
Marc: I use a PRS SE 277 Baritone semi-hollow with a P90 in the neck and a DiMarzio P90-style humbucker in the bridge.
EVH 55150 iii 50W head. Orange PPC212 2x12
Various pedals: Redwitch Violetta delay, TC Alter Ego v2 delay, TC Trinity T2 reverb, Maxon Overdrive, Morley volume pedal, Mooer tuner pedal. I run them all through an FX looper switcher, a Harley Benton one, I believe.
Stuart B: I use a 5 String Fender Jazz Bass and 2 pedals, which are a Big Muff and Compressor pedal, all going through an Ampeg SVT-2. Marc and Mike use such clarity for their awesome sound, I cover the less noticed low end of the band by making my bass tone incredibly incoherent but put together it sounds like a rushing Tsunami.
Mike: I use an ESP E-II TB-7, a massive heavy 7-string baritone tele-style guitar, into a Mesa/Boogie Mk V:25 running in MK IIC+ mode. Effects are a standard Dunlop Crybaby wah pedal and an Earthquaker Afterneath reverb. Simple but effective!
Best and worst gigs?
Nick: (But probably the whole band) The EP launch. Great on many levels:
La Belle Angele - The best venue we've played by far in terms of vibe and sound. Hearing my kit on a stage that big was one of the greatest moments of my musical life.
We felt absolutely humbled by the amazing turnout. I remember coming back from getting some food and seeing a queue at the door. A QUEUE!
Having two of our favourite bands, who despite being far more experienced and established, who were only too happy to come and get the crowd fired up for us. Of Spire and Throne, Blood Thread, you are absolute heroes! Everyone should check them out:
Stoo: Not had a bad show with these guys yet, but I’ve had some absolute howlers with other bands. My first gig, we played 3 songs in the local youth club, except we played one song twice. And that song was All The Small Things by Blink 182. I was 14 and can only apologise to the 12 or so people we made watch it. Best show is tough too, I've had a couple of good runs in a couple of bands, and I've played some big shows, But I would probably have to go Somaesthesia's EP launch. This first year for us has been just incredible, the best year of my musical career certainly, and we capped the year off with a show at La Belle Angelle where we absolutely crushed it to a near sell-out crowd. It was very satisfying as we have all worked so hard to get there.
Marc: There was a show that we weren't using our own amps and had no time to sound check as there were 9 bands or so in total. I struggled with feedback throughout which is never a good thing, particularly when it's not an amp that you're used to.
Mike: Personally I had a bit of a howler at our gig with Kurokuma and Dvne, but we still had a fairly solid reception so no harm done I guess!
Nick: There's not been any absolute stinkers, but for pure nerves our worst was definitely our first in Dundee. We were so nervous we ended up playing crazy fast and shaving about ten minutes off of the set!
Do you have many upcoming gig dates?
Nick: We are absolutely delighted to be supporting the incomparable Cryptopsy in Edinburgh's Bannermans on August 21st. That gig represents a big moment for us, it's gonna be absolutely mental!
We’ve got our first Glasgow show lined up on the 26th of this month in Ivory Blacks, with Edinburgh titans, Lucifers Corpus and Gendo Ikari (and a couple more TBC).
We’ve got several other gigs in the works that we can’t announce just yet, including supporting some Irish metallers and our first festival line-up.
Beyond that, we have plenty of irons in the fire with gigs in Glasgow and the North of England currently in the works. Our goal for this year is to try and get on the road as much as we can throughout the UK and Europe.
What do you have in store for this year? Should we be worried?
Stoo: A rather nifty and wonderful thing about this band is the fact that Mike and Marc are the two most prolific writers I’ve ever collaborated with. We have enough material for at least four albums already written, with two already pretty much mapped out. Both titles have names and theme's in place already, the next one is very, VERY dark, and the following one is majestically epic!
Favourite things about your local music scene?
Stoo: For the better part of 20 years, the Edinburgh scene has been fairly tepid, a fair few great bands here and there, but very lacking in community, in a scene. Over the last 3 or 4 years it has come a long way. There is a thriving alternative music movement happening in the Auld Reek, and we have found ourselves on bills with outstanding Post Rock/Metal Bands Like 3 Days From Retirement, Dystopian Future Movies, and Our Smallest Adventures (Would love a show with We Came From The North personally!). Then there are Heavier bands like Blood Thread, Razor Sharp Death Blizzard, Of Spire and Throne, Dvne, Iron Altar and Headless Kross. So, bands right across the spectrum and each show has had really great turn outs - we've been very lucky booking wise. It seems strange that during a time in which venue after venue is being shut down, the music scene in Edinburgh seems to be on the up.
Nick: For me, absolutely no question, it's the people. We've had the great fortune to play with a whole host of bands from hardcore, to death metal, to stoner rock and everything in between. The common thread is that they have all been thoroughly decent folk. It's given me a new found respect and passion for our local scene. People are working hard to make great music, usually for little to no monetary reward. They do it because they love it. It's completely inspiring to see the quality of bands that are playing night after night in local venues.
Marc: My favourite thing has been the discovery of some really great bands right on my doorstep, along with meeting some genuinely great and like-minded people.
Mike: Edinburgh is a fairly small scene so everyone knows each other and looks after each other. A genuine community. Being surrounded by people who work so hard to keep it alive is a massive inspiration.
Something I’m going to ask musicians in every interview from now on: WD-40 or Gaffer Tape?
Marc: I've got to go for Gaffer Tape, less messy. Also, I have a tendency to accidentally ask for UB-40 by mistake when asking for WD-40 which yields quite different results!
Stuart B: WD-40. Keeps the wheel turning smoothly and squeak-less.
Stoo: I'm a big proponent of both, but Gaffer tape can be used for so much, like pretending you have Alastair Darling's Eyebrows, or Burt Reynolds Moustache. Respect to WD-40 though.
Mike: Gaffer tape, I'm well lubricated enough already
Nick: As a drummer, Gaffer all day long!
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about to NHC music?
Nothing to ask, but a heartfelt thanks for talking to us!
Somaesthesia can be found online at these places:
Check them out and catch them live!
Ivory Blacks (Glasgow) – 26th May
Bannermans (Edinburgh) - 21st August
More gigs TBA