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Monday, November 27

Animals As Leaders

Periphery

The Convergence Tour

6 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. show

All ages welcome

$25 in advance, $30 day of show

Animals As Leaders

Sometimes, a band's music registers just as seismically on an emotional wavelength as it does on a sonic spectrum. Animals As leaders-Tosin Abasi [guitar], Javier Reyes [guitar], and Matt Garstka [drums]-reimagine, reinterpret, and refresh instrumental prog, experimental metal, modern jazz, alternative, and even world music to a point where the reaction becomes primal on their fourth full-length album, The Madness of Many [Sumerian Records].


"What you're hearing is the madness of the band, what happens in our heads, and what it sounds like when you put it all together," exclaims Javier. "For us, that's the sound of the new album. It's simply the madness of these three individuals. We're trying to create something that only we can do."


That's why Animals As Leaders have risen to celebrated heroes of their respective instruments since first emerging in 2007. Most recently, 2014's The Joy of Motion bowed at #24 on the Billboard Top 200, moving 13,000 copies first-week. Along the way, the trio has earned acclaim from the likes of Consequence of Sound, Revolver, Ultimate Guitar, and Rolling Stone who extolled them, "as satisfying in their visceral kick as they are in dazzling displays of dexterity." Tosin would grace the cover of Guitar World twice, while Matt covered Modern Drummer. Consistently delivering a captivating show, they've toured alongside Deftones, Between The Buried And Me, Periphery, and many others in addition to Tosin joining Joe Satriani at the G4 Experience and Steve Vai and Nuno Bettencourt for the Generation Axe Tour. Matt remains a sought-after talent, performing on Late Night With Seth Meyers and at drum clinics and festivals worldwide, and Javier's solo project Mestis stands out as a fan favorite.


When it came time to begin working on new music in late 2015, the musicians possessed a clear vision for their next evolution.


"Instead of enlisting a producer, we ended up doing everything ourselves for the first time," says Javier. "We were really influencing each other, and it's the most collaborative effort so far."


The band opened up the writing process like never before since Matt joining in 2012. Ideas were flowing freely, and his contributions added another dimension to the group's signature style.


"We've known each other's processes for years, but we really melded here," adds Matt. "Their approaches have become mine and vice versa. It was great to be a part of the creation as the record really reflects all of our voices."


"He helped glue together a lot of the parts that Tosin and I wrote," Javier continues. "He brought that sense of arrangement to the table. It gave birth to something new."


Another first, Tosin and Javier actually wrote guitar to the drums of six-minute album opener "Arithmophobia." It's polyrhythmic percussive palette provided the perfect backdrop for distinct dexterous riffing and a hypnotic hummable lead.


"That was something I sent the guys, and I sat down and explained it," reveals Matt. "It turned into a very cool track."


"Eventually, it didn't seem so foreign," chuckles Javier. "It challenged us to create a new style while still persevering who we are."


Meanwhile, single "The Brain Dance" begins with delicate acoustic guitars before morphing into a head-spinning tapestry of fret fireworks.


"Most people would expect a heavy song," he goes on. "It moves like a dance, ballet, or something very theatrical. That's where the title came from. It's literally a journey in your head."


Ultimately, The Madness of Many will impact listeners like only Animals As Leaders can.
Javier leaves off, "I just want to blow people's minds and leave them speechless, so they want to share the record."

 

 

Periphery

The process of innovation doesn't sit still or sleep. Instead, it relies on constant motion. In 2015, Periphery landed two albums in the Top 20 of Billboard's Top 200 chart as Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega respectively bowed at #15 and #16 during the same week. Meanwhile, the intertwined conceptual epic garnered praise from Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Outburn, and more. Only months after the release, the Washington, D.C. progressive metal disruptors-Misha Mansoor [guitars, programming], Jake Bowen [guitar, programming, backing vocals], Matt Halpern [drums], Spencer Sotelo [lead vocals], Mark Holcomb [guitars], and Adam "Nolly" Getgood [studio bass, guitars, programming]-collectively decided to start creating what would become their 2016 full-length, Periphery III: Select Difficulty [Sumerian Records].


"We ended up with a bit of downtime, so we wrote," explains Misha. "We're always working on ideas, and you want to bring them to life when you can. We saw a window of opportunity where we had a little bit of space in the schedule, and we thought, ‘Let's get to work on new music.' Juggernaut was so long and comparatively stressful. It took six months. Initially, we decided to try and make an EP. Everybody was down with that. With this fresh start, we were all hooked. This was our first stress-free experience. The time crunch actually helped it become the most cohesive too. It all turned into Periphery III."
"We write what we feel," adds Jake. "It came together very naturally. Normally, we stick to the cycle of put out an album, tour for a year, and then record another album. This time, we felt an itch and just kept moving forward."


Forward progression defines Periphery's trajectory. Since the release of 2010's self-titled debut, the band has covered magazines such as Guitar World, Revolver, Modern Drummer, Bass Player, and more. Boasting a relentless touring ethic, they've packed venues on bills with everyone from Deftones and Dream Theater to Between The Buried and Me. In addition to performing at festivals such as Rock on the Range, Chicago Open Air, Download, and more, the musicians lead their own summer camp: the "Periphery Summer Jam."


Going into their latest offering, the boys would continue to embrace that evolutionary spirit. Expanding the sonic palette, Misha bought a Moog synthesizer and incorporated it into the framework of the album. He also drew from orchestral libraries to infuse a cinematic scope.


"I wanted to get the hang of synthesis and learn how to use it a little better," he remarks. "I didn't expect it to be on the record, but now it's on every song! The orchestration really adds something as well."


Periphery III kickstarts on the chugging smash of the first single "The Price Is Wrong." Driven by an artillery of neck-snapping guitars and a stunning groove, it immediately sets the record's tone.


"It's like handing somebody a grenade," smiles Jake. "It's so in-your-face and brutal for us. It was a great way to start."


"Every one of our albums has a nice long intro, and we were like, ‘Let's kick this off with a drum fill and a pissed-off riff,'" laughs Misha. "It's something we haven't done. It was fun."


On the other end of the spectrum, the seven minute-plus closer "Lune" marks a first for Periphery. The sweeping orchestral climax actually saw its genesis during a jam in Misha's apartment.


"It's a special one for a number of reasons," admits Misha. "We're attached to it. We literally never jam, so we did the next best thing at my place. I setup all of the amps and pedals. Matt was drumming on his legs, and we started playing one by one. It was such a cool experiment. It's a love song."


"Remain Indoors" unloads a striking sonic schizophrenia, while "Flatline" showcases a precision polyrhythmic pummeling evocative of the band's most beloved sonic hallmarks.
"It's a killer," Jake goes on. "We actually tracked the first three riffs backstage in Pittsburgh on tour. We never get to do that. It's broken up into two sections with this normal Periphery energy and this mysterious build-up at the end."
Once again, Misha and "Nolly" spearheaded production and engineering. Another change occurred following recording though, when "Nolly" announced he would remain a studio member based back home in the UK, but no longer tour in order to focus on his production work and family.


"He'll still be there and write with us," affirms Misha. "He's such an important part of the process. We don't want to change that dynamic. We have him where he's most important."
"He's a good friend and a brother, and he brings something to this music nobody else can," agrees Jake.


Charging full speed ahead, Periphery continue to make seismic impact with Periphery III: Select Difficulty.


"I hope everyone thinks this is fun and enjoyable to listen to," Misha leaves off. "We enjoyed making it, and I still love listening to it. We want to share that."


"I'm so happy with how it came out," concludes Jake. "This is Periphery being Periphery. This is all we know how to do."