Veil Of Maya

author AP date 29/06/12

Earlier this year Veil of Maya released their fourth album "Eclipse" to generally good critical and audience reception; and about a month and a half ago the band visited Copenhagen to allow their Danish fans to judge the live quality of the new material. We of course seized the opportunity to sit down with the band's guitarist Marc Okubo to find about the album, tour and more - the results of which you can read in the transcript below. First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview with us. I'd like to start by asking how this tour has been going so far?
Marc: It's going really well. This is our third time in Europe, and it's by far the best experience we've had here so far. The shows have been really good, and everyone's been really cool, so it's awesome. Is everyone getting along on such a big tour?

Marc: Yeah. Actually four bands share this bus together - everybody but Vildhjarta - and we all get along really well. Has anything awful, strange, or funny happened as per yet?

Marc: Every day something happens - not necessarily awful though. Strange, funny things happen every day. Today it was the zombie crawl - it started right here where the venue is, so that was very interesting. Did you know about that beforehand?

Marc: No, we had no idea! We also went to Christiania on a tour, and that was really fun. What have been some of the highlights of the tour so far?

Marc: Today is actually pretty memorable. Paris was awesome, London was awesome. Every show has been surprisingly good considering that we've played a lot of these areas before, and this time the reception is much better. But it's your first time in Denmark, right?

Marc: We had a day off in Denmark last year, so we've walked around here before. But this will be our first show here. You have on this tour a selection of bands who all have some connection with the modern metal styles metalcore, djent, and deathcore. Do you associate Veil of Maya with any of those labels?
Marc: I personally don't, but it seems like we've already been lumped into that category just by default. I guess we're considered a djent band now, but before that was popular everyone called us deathcore, and before that everyone called us metalcore. But i still think we write the same music as when we started. When I write songs, I don't think about djent or deathcore, you know? It's just Veil of Maya. How would you personally describe your music?

Marc: Well, if it's someone that I just meet in the street who doesn't listen to metal, I would say we're a metal band. If it's someone that knows about metal, I would say that we're progressive and aggressive. Maybe death metal, Meshuggah-ish stuff. About two and a half months ago you released your fourth studio album, "Eclipse". Clocking in at just 28 minutes, it is your shortest album to date, and I'd like to know whether or not this was something intentional?
Marc: Well, truthfully the album was supposed to come out last year. We wrote it quickly, and we were very happy with the songs, the way they were. We could have put some ambient tracks in between the music to make the album longer, but we were excited with what we had, and we thought than, when we listened to the album from start to finish, it still felt like an album; it still felt like you got the experience of an album. But at the same time, because of that I also want to write more material when I get home from this tour, and I want to put out as much music as possible after as little time as possible, because I realize that people are going to be wanting to hear more because "Eclipse" was just 28 minutes. So you're planning to put out an EP or something?

Marc: Yeah. Well, that's what my goal is. I'd like to put something out this year, or very early next year. Whereas your previous two albums, "[id]" and "The Common Man's Collapse" were produced by Michael Keene of The Faceless, you opted to work with Periphery's Misha "Bulb" Mansoor for this one. What influenced your decision to work with Bulb?
Marc: Well, Misha and I had been talking about collaborating on something for a long time, so that was always kind of an idea. Then we figured that Michael Keene was writing the new Faceless album this time around, because it's been a while since their last album, and we wanted to make sure that he had time to do everything that he needed to do. And Misha had offered to record a song for us to see if we liked working with him or not, so we tried that, and we ended up liking working with him and decided to do our album with him. As far as I understand, he actually co-wrote the album with the rest of you. Was it your intention from the outset to involve him so deeply in the process?

Marc: Well, we did that song together first to see if we liked working with him. I didn't have a completely finished song at the time - I had all the parts - but he put it together because he wanted... He actually said that if we wanted to come there and put some parts together with him, that'd be awesome because that way he could be a part of it. We really liked working that way, so after that we planned to write the album so that I would just write as many parts as I could before we went into the studio - you know, like a riff bank or something. And then we just put the songs together as a team. He actually ended up writing tricks and transitional parts, and just generally helped with the writing a lot. It must have been an interesting experience to write the songs collaboratively?

Marc: I've written the majority of Veil of Maya's music by myself, so it was almost like having him in the band to bounce my ideas off of to get his feedback and get other ideas, and then mix it all together. I imagine a lot of the twin-harmonies and such that came out of it have to be cut out from your live set, or at least put through a loop or backing track?

Marc: We might do that. I've already been using a harmony pedal for our older stuff. But with some of the new songs, this is our first time using backing tracks with sampled keyboards and choirs. So on our new songs we play to a clicking track and with samples and stuff. Is it difficult to synchronize everything live, especially given the complex nature of your music?

Marc: Using the pedals is difficult, but playing to the click track is a lot easier on our drummer. And if it's easier for him, it's easier for all of us because we all play to him. Moving on. In your music you like to reference popular culture, to the extent that your previous album was actually titled according to the old PlayStation game "Xenogears". From the tracklist it is easy to spot the "Game of Thrones" reference in "Winter is Coming Soon". I take it you're all huge fans of the series like myself?
Marc: Oh yeah! And also on the last album we had a song about "Dexter" and things like that. For me, it's just like when I'm writing music, sometimes I think about it, like on the "[id]" album. But when I was writing them I just named all the songs after TV shows that I was watching as a joke - like "Unbreakable" was called "Breaking Bad", "Codex" was "Californication" and "Dark Passenger" was "Dexter". Then on this new album, I guess Brandon was very inspired by Game of Thrones and Spartacus and some other shows. Do you guys watch a lot of TV on the bus when your touring?

Marc: Not really on the tour bus. But yeah, sometimes. We have the shows that we all like, and it gives us something to do on the road. I've heard it said that "Eclipse" is actually also based around a concept - or rather, a story. Could you elaborate a bit on that?
Marc: Yeah. Actually I met a girl the first time we came to Europe, in Italy, and she was the only one at the show that spoke English, so I was talking to hear and asked her if she could take me to find some food or something. She was very cool, and I noticed she had a tattoo of a statue holding eyeballs, so I asked what that was all about. She said she was blind until she was 11 years old, and then she stared into a solar eclipse by accident and gained her eyesight back. At the time it really blew my mind, so I said I would write a song called "Eclipse". Then when we were choosing titles for everything, "Eclipse" was the only set title, so we chose that to be the album title. So what were some of the other influences that were behind this album?

Marc: A lot of our friends passed away last year, and that was one of the subjects that we talked about on the CD. Musically, I just wanted it to be over the top with everything and be very visual and colorful. Lyrically, every song is different. Some of them are about light-hearted things like "Game of Thrones", while some of them are about very personal things. We always try to make sure that the songs are open to interpretation so that we don't single anyone out. There's also a lot of things dealing with relationships and so on. Right. That was it from us. Do you have any closing words for our readers and Veil of Maya fans within our webzine's reach?
Marc: Thank you for checking us out! I'm going to be writing new music as soon as this tour is over, so hopefully you guys can get in touch with us again then!

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