Deafheaven Explain Why They Switched to Clean Vocals
Deafheaven have once again courted some controversy with their latest music, switching from the aggressive screams of their past work to almost entirely clean-sung vocals on the two tracks they’ve released from their new album so far, “Great Mass of Color” and “The Gnashing.”
In a new chat with Pitchfork, vocalist George Clarke explained that he welcomed the challenge of writing vocals that fit the band’s new songs better, both musically and lyrically. When asked how he landed on the vocal approach on the new album, he responded:
“So much trying and failing. It was all an attempt to be as maximum as possible so people didn’t feel that they were lacking in a listening experience just because the vocals had changed so dramatically. My singing on earlier records was really haphazard. This felt a lot more calculated. I don’t view myself as a natural singer at all. It has taken a lot of work. It’s funny, even though I’m not using my voice in nearly as extreme a way as I usually do, I would often be exhausted at the end of the day. It was like learning a different instrument. It made the whole thing a lot more fun, to be honest with you.
“Maybe around [2015’s] New Bermuda, I felt like everyone was expanding on their instrument and getting better at what they were doing. And in certain ways I was as well, but there’s a part of me that’s always felt like the weak musical link. I wanted to bring more to the table—and also to service the lyrics differently. It’s interesting for the song that we put out [“Great Mass of Color”], so many people have been commenting to me about the lyrics, which is very kind. It’s something I didn’t get a lot of before even though I’ve taken the same amount of time on those lyrics. It’s just that the delivery is so much friendlier. There are all these little things that are personally satisfying about the switch, and that personal satisfaction was the reason we did it in the first place, you know?”
Speaking on writing choruses with memorable melodies this time around, he said:
“It was a lot harder, to be frank. We went through tons of different versions of each song, trying to build to apexes without relying on our old tricks or crescendoing into blast beats. On my end, it was a lot different writing melodically. With a more aggressive vocal style, the focus is much more on the rhythm and emotional intensity. For this record, I wanted to write choruses that were hopefully memorable and interesting. So it was a matter of changing my lyrics a bit: making things fit, using smaller words, watching out for different cadences. The ultimate goal with writing these songs was to replace the intensity that we used to bring with speed with more density: using different voices, different textures, heavier production, things like that.”
You can read the full interview over at Pitchfork.
[via Metal Injection]