EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: TESSERACT’S AMOS WILLIAMS ON THE BAND’S RECENT VOCALIST SWAP
Yesterday the metalsphere with abuzz with the news that TesseracT had parted ways with vocalist Daniel Tompkins and had replaced him with Sky Eats Airplane / Of Legends vocalist Elliot Coleman. Instead of opting for the traditional route of announcing a band member swap with much media to-do, TesseracT just went and showed up for a gig in Milton Keynes, UK with Coleman holding the mic, didn’t say a word, and let the Internet do all the dirty work for them. Today TesseracT came out with an official announcement featuring quotes from various involved parties, but we’ve up and done you one better: an interview with bassist / main band-businessman Amos Williams.
Amos shared with us his thoughts on new vocalist Elliot Coleman, how it came to pass that Tompkins and the band parted ways, future U.S. tour plans, a new album and what the band members do when they’re not touring
Our chat after the jump. Later this week we’ll unveil Part 2 of the interview, in which we talk about… well, just wait.
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the new vocalist you guys have?
It’s really funny because everybody that we speak to is like “okay, there’s an elephant in the room. Let’s get it out of the way.”
Elliot Coleman is the new TesseracT vocalist. He’s been in a bunch of things before on the scene; most notably, he’s done stuff with a project called Of Man Not of Machine. It was him and Misha Mansoor from Periphery. They were just basically jamming and having fun because they’re good friends. He’s also worked with another project called Haunted Shores. He was also in a band called Sky Eats Airplane, which is kind of different music [than metal], but he was out there doing a bit of bass and doing vocals. That was good.
Recently he was in a band called Of Legends. It was fairly easy for us to pick up finding him because he’s on the scene and he’s good friends with friends of ours like the guys in Periphery. It was nice for us to be able to find somebody that we knew and not just some random person that we had no idea about what they’re doing. It’s really different because as with Dan, our previous singer, we’re kind of interested in him because he’s not particularly metal if you know what I mean. He’s got a fantastic scream, but he’s also got a fantastic singing voice. It is very reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. For us, that’s brilliant because that is where we’re coming from. We’re really looking forward, after we’re done with this album cycle, to start putting down the new songs that we’ve got and seeing how he sounds on those as well. It’s going to be great.
(New vocalist Elliot Coleman. Courtesy pasarfoto’s Flickr.)
What does this mean for the rest of his projects? Is he going to be leaving those? Some of those are just side projects anyway like Haunted Shores, but for bands like Of Legends and Sky Eats Airplane is he done with those?
Sky Eats Airplane I don’t think have done anything for a good 9/10 months. I’m pretty sure that they’re not touring anymore. There may be some recorded stuff, but I may be wrong. I’m pretty sure that it’s just going to be a studio thing now. As for Of Legends, I know they’ve got some tours coming up later this year, but they definitely clash with tours that we have. Whilst I don’t think he’s going to be working with them in the immediate future, he may in the [long-term] future. We’re kind of open to it though as long as everybody knows what’s happening well in advance. Everybody in the band is open to working with whatever solo projects they have and whatever side projects they have as well. For example, Jay (our drummer) has another band called Heights that are doing quite a lot. There should be time for him to continue working with them if he feels he wants to.
What went wrong with Daniel [Tompkins, former vocalist]?
Nothing went wrong. Dan’s choices and goals in life have changed, really. He wants to do different things. He wants to have a family. Being in a band like TesseracT was difficult for him. Things happen. We spend a lot of time abroad. The last six or seven months we’ve been in America, India and Australia for a total of four months. He just felt like he couldn’t do it anymore, so it’s really good of him to come to us ahead of time rather than halfway through a tour or when we were about to go on the road and say, “Look guys, I can’t do this anymore.” I think it’s because we’ve always been honest and open with each other to the point where you sometimes piss people off. It’s really important that he was so open with us. We just decided to go, “okay, instead of seeing if it might work, let’s decide now if it will work or not.” As a group we decided that it wasn’t going to work, so we both decided to go our separate ways.
Sounds like it was a pretty amicable split then with no ill will either way.
Yeah, we’re fine. You spend so much time together touring and in the studio that you end up being like family. It was really cool. It’s very sad because we are a very close bunch of people. We’re really going to miss him, not just onstage because he has a huge stage presence but also traveling as well. We’re really going to miss traveling with him because half the fun of being in a band is traveling together.
It’s tough when you’re doing that; we went to Australia recently and traveled for 27 hours solid, 25 of which was on a plane. It’s made all the more fun and bearable when you’ve got your brothers around you. We’ll miss him, but we’ve got a whole new chapter ahead of us. Who knows? Maybe we’ll work with him in the future. It’s one of those things. It’ll be cool to do that as well. I’m sure we’ll make that happen.
Sure. Let me ask you this: it seems that now more than ever there’s a lot of bands doing the instrumental thing, especially in this sort of genre you guys are in. Animals as Leaders does it. Scale the Summit does it. I’m sure that there are others. Why bother with a singer at all?
Because we love songs that communicate to everybody and not just to… to me it seems that instrumental music more often than not) appeals only to musicians. Obviously that is a very big statement and there are people that are going to be interested in it. We love music with vocals in it. It’s one of those things where our favorite artists have vocals involved and we kind of like to emulate that. That being said, we’ve got instrumental stuff. Even on the album there’s a short track that’s instrumental.
The old stuff that you guys used to post before anything [happened with Century Media].
We kind of felt that it was lacking something. I think at the time, and I think a lot of bands do this as well, they produce instrumental music because they’re having trouble finding a vocalist that works with them. That may not be true for bands like Animals as Leaders because they’ve got one of the most incredible instrumentalists in that band. We don’t see ourselves as being that amazing on our instruments. We think the things that we do special are the sounds that we create, and part of that sound is having the human voice as well.
Absolutely. Good answer. Outside of all this stuff, I know you guys have a US tour with Between the Buried and Me coming up.
Yeah, that’s with Between the Buried and Me and Animals as Leaders. That is going to be our biggest tour that we’ve ever done. It’s mostly House of Blues venues and Live Nation venues. It’s going to be pretty incredible. Each band has got a really long time as well. I think our set is about 40 minutes, Animals as Leaders is about an hour, and Between the Buried and Me is over an hour. It’s just going to be fun being on a tour that’s only three bands. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most tours these days do 4, 5, 6 bands. To me, I just get disappointed with that because I end up seeing half of what I wanted to see of the bands that I’m interested in seeing.
Yeah, of course. I’m thinking that you guys came to the US with Devin Townsend was it?
We played with Devin in October of last year, and then we did a tour with Protest the Hero and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster.
Yeah, for some reason we keep landing tours that are really suitable for us. You would think that Maylene might not work, but Maylene’s attitude works and it was exactly the right band to have between us and another . . . although we don’t really consider ourselves tech-y, but other people look at us and see tech. Then they look at Protest the Hero and see tech as well. So if you were to have three tech bands it might be too much. Having Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, who are all just about groove and attitude, was perfect. It just made the night awesome.
Yeah. This tour coming up is more of the same in the tech-y kind of variety.
It is, but you have the instrumental block of Animals as Leaders in the middle. Their skill is just going to make the night . . . all of us on tour are going to be like “how can we make ourselves better? How can we raise our game to get up there with Tosin and his boys and not look like a bunch of kids who have just started playing our instruments?”
[Laughs] I don’t think you have to worry about that. That’s cute. What else? New album in 2012 realistic?
Thinking on it and looking at our touring schedule for the next 12 months, the earliest that we’re ever going to bring an album out would be October 2012 (and that’s if we don’t sleep for a few months). It’s going to be tough because we just can’t walk straight into a studio and 6 days later come out with an album. We take loads of time to develop these tracks. It would be a shame to put out a second album that sucked. We’re going to make sure that we put as much time into the second album as we have done with the 1st album. That being said, we already have 20 demos. It should be a bit quicker than the 3 or 4 years it took to release the first one.
Yeah, definitely. I know there are a lot of people that would look forward to that. I’m sure more so than the first one which seemed to be a grassroots internet thing. With you guys doing all this touring, do you guys do other things when you’re home? Do you guys have day jobs?
No. We do have other things that are not really day jobs. Our drummer, Jay, runs a rehearsal studio. He’s basically free to work on music whenever he wants as long as he’s around to speak to the bank manager and stuff like that. James, the guitarist, is a PR guy. That means he can work whenever he wants as well. Acle and me, we just do music and production. Along with our manager in L.A., I do a lot of the band management. We’re just too busy with the band to be able to hold down anything else. The industry is not great at the moment, but hopefully we’ll continue to be successful because it would suck if in 12 months time we have to go back to an office. It would be terrible.
You guys have good gigs anyway with studio and rehearsal rooms and all that. It sounds like you guys are definitely doing things you want to be doing. You’re not mowing the lawn somewhere.
No, no, we’re not working at a supermarket, so that’s good. The thing is, man, I don’t think a lot of people appreciate [how hard it is doing what we do]. On average, I’ll work between 14 and 15 hours a day making this shit happen. It’s all of us having to do that to keep our head above water. Whilst it’s the most fun thing in the world, it’s also one of the toughest things we’ve ever done. We just hope, fingers crossed, that all our hard work pays off.