Sevenstring.org Interview: John Tyrell of Interlock
<div align="right"><img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/interlock/interlock_logo.gif" alt="Interlock" />
<b>Interview: John Tyrell of Interlock</b>
<font size="1"><i>By Metalfiend666</i></font>
"Fusing elements of rock, dance, industrial and metal, Interlock have created the new sound of alternative music. The London-based cyber metal sextet boasts a considerable fanbase of loyal audiences, both across the UK and overseas. Starting life in 1997, founding members John Tyrell (guitars / programming) and Syan (bass) were driven by the need to break the mould encasing the alternative scene and create genuinely new music, unrestricted by genres or preconceived boundaries. This ethos has continued throughout the group's history to become its raison d'etre - innovate / create / evolve. The amalgamation of influences and bridging of musical styles has intensified and grown over the years." - <span class="ivred">Interlock Official Website</span>
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/interlock/1.jpg" alt="Interlock" />
<span class="ivorange">Sevenstring.org</span>: Tell us a bit about yourself.
<span class="ivred">John Tyrell</span>: I play guitar for London (UK) based cyber metal band Interlock. I also program, produce, create a good proportion of the artwork, and co-manage the band, so yes, I guess I do a lot. We released our debut album "crisis//reinvention" in the UK and certain European countries in 2005 on Anticulture records, but the album is about to have worldwide distribution through Plastic Head. I've been playing since about '91, mainly technical death metal and stuff, but I decided to go down a more industrial, rhythmic and 'song based' route so Interlock was born. I wouldn't say I'm a shredder by any means but I try and play slightly differently to most other people by experimenting with other ways of getting sound out of the guitar; ebows and vibrators have both made an appearance on "crisis//reinvention". I guess I'm more of a rhythm guitarist as I've honed my abilities to try and become as tight and accurate and capable of playing strange timings, odd time signatures, whatever sounds good and challenging.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Interlock has very much been your baby from the start. What do you feel have been the key elements to the bands development so far?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Yeah, it has been really. I've been the main instigator of the direction the band has taken. My first ads for musicians went along the lines of "Need the following - bassist, drummer, male singer, female singer, programmer, violinist.... must be open minded". We dropped the violin thing as programming can deal with that side of things, but it's essentially been that formula from day one. Syan (bass) has been one of the only other constants in the band whilst we've found a group of people capable of doing what is written and broadminded enough to do anything we want to, without being worried about convention. The main point of Interlock is to be anything and everything the band members want it to be. Why can't we cross elements of drum and bass with tech-metal and come up with something new and different? No boundaries, but being tasteful and retaining good songs. That's what it's all about.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: You've recorded and produced all of Interlock's recordings yourself, and your day job is as a recording engineer. Do you have any tips on the recording & mixing process to share with us?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Well, recording is really something that you need to learn. As much as there are really cool tools and programs out there now to help you do almost anything, you still need to train your ears. And the way you do that is listen, muck about with sound, listen more.... and then a bit more.... and then maybe even a bit more. In fact, just keep listening. Don't stop. Pay attention to sound and what it does. You're ears are the most important tool you have, not Protools. Yeah, I pretty much earn money by selling my ears and my ability to know what a parametric EQ and a multiband compressor does.<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/interlock/2.jpg" alt="Interlock" />
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What programs & equipment do you use during the recording process?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: I've got a bunch of stuff I use. I use Sonar with a Creamware producer card (With whom I'm endorsed by) and a Korg Oasys. They work great together. When I program for Interlock I go totally old school and write on an Amiga 1200 with Octamed! it's crazy in this day and age, but I like the platform and it works well with my writing style.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:. What are your feelings on the "loudness wars" that are going on with cd's at the moment, loosing dynamics for the sake of greater volume on recordings?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Yeah, it's a tough one. I mastered the hell out of "crisis//reinvention" and it bugs me that I had to do that to compete with other stuff on the radio. Interlock really needs a lot of room to breath as it's such dense music, so I think next album I'll tone it down slightly and see what happens - who cares if Limp Bizkit seems a couple of dBs higher. If it damages the music, then that can only really be bad. All that said, mastering can really help mixes reach their potential.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Can you tell us about your current guitars and amps?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Aha! Gear! This is the juicy bit, haha....
Currently live I'm using a Framus Cobra full stack loaded with vintage 30s which is basically 'Dragon spec' (Framus' other amp). Framus load the Cobra's cabs with greenbacks which just break up too early for my liking. It doesn't sit well with our tuning at all, so we got them re-loaded, and now it's great. The Cobra is a higher gain head than the Dragon so it sits really well with V30s. I also have a Peavey 5150 Mk1, which is great for pretty much anything, so long as you know how to dial it.
My main guitar is an Ibanez S7420 loaded with a single EMG707, which I love... but it has a couple of faults. I'm just about to block my floating trem for example. I use it maybe once per gig, and it's not even a very noticeable thing I do with it! I've really grown to hate trems now as changing strings is half a day's work, especially with our odd tunings making the thing go out of whack. They're horrible to set up.
I also have an Ibanez RG 6 and a Jackson Randy Rhodes 6, but I don't use either much. I mainly use the RG as a backup live and my brother Dave has the Rhodes on permanent loan as the neck is slightly cracked (ouch). Luckily it's not a prestige model.
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/interlock/3.jpg" alt="Interlock" />
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: How do you feel the 7 string has shaped the sound of Interlock?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: It's shaped it considerably. Interlock used to play in C# standard, which is a great tuning and lends itself really well to fast or staccato playing. But since we dropped our tuning the lower pitch just makes you write in a different way. You start playing with more groove and swing, and you're still able to go for those higher register sections. If I didn't need seven strings I would be using a six, they're easier to find and easier on the pocket, but seven's just feel right to me now.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What made you first choose to play a 7 string?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: I had a lot of conversation's with Hal (Sinden, vocals) about changing our tuning from C# to, well, something else... I eventually bought the Ibanez and decided there and then to drop down to G# so that I could continue to play everything I'd written prior in our C# tuning.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: You play in a very low tuning (G# standard/drop G#?). Have you had any problems keeping the note clarity with heavy distortion?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: It's G# standard, as I'm fairly old school thrash in my playing style and like to feel the "power chord" shape. Drop tuning kind of bugs me, I hate playing guitars like it. Yeah, it's crazy low. It's great, hahaha. Note clarity is obviously an issue, but most guitarists muck up their sound by pulling loads of mids out of the amp and turning the gain up till they howl at 1 on the volume. Now that's crazy, let alone tuning to G#. Remember, guitars are a mid instrument, so why suck that mid out? And then put as much gain on your sound as possible? I guess we've all got to start somewhere. I just like to have a bit more clarity in the sound. Sure, we're making harder on ourselves by going into the realm of 'bass', but get the right amp and you'll sound great.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: You play to a backing track, was this a decision taken to save needing a dedicated keyboardist, or were there other reasons behind it? Has it caused you any live problems?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: The backing track is there because we have a lot of programming elements to our music. It's not really stuff you can easily re-create with a live keyboardist, and even within the last few years has it even become remotely possible to think about one person running that side of things. I used to say in interviews that if you wanted to play all the stuff we've got on backing live, you'd need: 2 extra drummers, a DJ, a samples guy, 3 keyboardists, a choir and a string section. Doing all that is now loads easier for one person to control, but it's still damn hard. It's so much easier to let the thing run. We now have the 'rack of doom' that we take with us on tour, that houses all the backing elements, like soundcards and laptops and wireless units and DI boxes and yes, it can be an issue, especially if your backing crashes.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Interlock are recording their second album for Anticulture at the moment, how tough are the late night recording sessions on you all as a band?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Well, we're mainly demoing material right now, so we're spending a lot of time recording bits outside the studio and then doing better performances when we get the chance in the studio. Late night recording sessions are very hard on the band for lots of reasons, not least of course is tiredness, hahaha. But you bite the bullet and get on with stuff. It's why we're doing all this. Well, maybe not the sleepless nights and being poor, haha.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What can we expect from the new album? I'm sure a lot of fans (myself included) are looking forward to hearing what Christina can do on it.
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Christina is great. She performed on our EP "Skinless Remixes" on both a re-done version of Skinless and another track called Blue. She has a more brutal edge than our old singer, Emmeline. She's also a stronger 'clean singer' overall, which means we're able to do much harder things with vocal melody and pitch. Christina has turned into the resident black and power metal fiend, even though we all tease her about her love for Bruce Dickinson, she's a completely invaluable part of the band now. Just like the rest of us, she now "is" Interlock and what that music means.
In terms of how the music is going to sound, we've got about 8 tracks roughly demoed in various stages of completion, but even at this point it's obviously sounding like a progression from "crisis//reinvention". We're delving into heavier territory for sure, trying to bring faster and more brutal elements to some of the music. But, we're also defining songs a lot with clearer programming, catchier melody, insane rhythms and time signatures... overall more clarity to the music. It's definitely still going to be dense, but ordinary people will be able to grasp it. I guess cross Meshuggah (time sigs and rhythms) with Aphex Twin and Pendulum (programming), NIN (songwriting), Korn and Fear Factory (groove and drum work), but like none of those! Hahaha, ok, so that's really not helpful at all, sorry.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Joe Butterworth has recently replace Matt Platts on drum duties, how's he coping with the pressure of learning the songs with an album to record?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: The pressure is indeed great. But I think Joe's doing a truly awesome job as he's only been in the band under 2 months. He's got almost all of the old stuff down and is already working on the newer tracks, which is more than we could have hoped for really. He's already turned us into the band we need to be. He's fit in perfectly and is already part of the band.... it's all a bit scary really.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Will we ever get to see your awesome cover or Bjork's "Army of Me" on an official release, or will it be popping up in your live sets at all?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: I'm not sure Army of me will EVER get a release, because of Bjorks publishers, but I hear it was leaked somewhere on the net anyway. So I'm sure it's out there somewhere....
We're mainly thinking about what else we can cover really. We've already got a couple of names under our hat we're going to have a shot at. It's definitely going to be interesting seeing how we re-intemperate the tracks. We may even keep one fairly unchanged, just for the love of playing it.... we'll see.
<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/interlock/4.jpg" alt="Interlock" />
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: This year brings your first tour dates in the USA, are you confident you can make an impact in America? Are these dates headline shows, or as support to a bigger band?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: We're heading to the States in April with an Industrial band called Still Life Decay. They're great guys and they're really helping us sort this all out. We certainly wouldn't be doing it without them. We're just doing a support as we didn't think the album really would have had enough exposure to warrant a full headline from us. It's all good though, we're mainly just really looking forwards to it all.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What bands or players do you feel have been your biggest influences?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Hahaha, I mentioned a bunch of people earlier as to the direction of the new album, and I'll be honest and say they're pretty big influenes for me. Guitar? Meshuggah, Dino Cazeras, Cynic, Stephen Carpenter, Korn, Tom Morello, Sikth. Bands? Sepultura, Metallica, NIN, Static-X. Tons of dance and electronic acts as well. Not all of it's great and some of it does a simple job, but it can be honest in doing it. People like that.... it's a never ending list really.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: You're currently endorsed by Framus amps. Are there any other endorsements you have at the moment?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Framus are great, we honestly wouldn't be using them if they didn't help our tone. They're lovely guys as well. We're also endorsed by Peavey, in fact I appeared in a recent ad for the 6505. And we've got a couple of other endorsements: MRP drums, Creamware soundcards and Cantor and Nissle (Hal's custom contact lenses).
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Do you think being on an independent label gives you more creative freedom?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Certainly it can give you more creative flexibility. Anticulture don't interfere with a note of what we put out, and we're very happy with that. It takes a lot of trust for a label to be able to do that, as at the end of the day everyone wants to make money and everyone has an opinion on how to do it.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Do you have a secret weapon to your sound?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Yeah, we mime. Hahaha.... No. not really. It's just knowing how to disparate elements and genres together in a way that makes sense. That and Hal's beautiful smile, hahaha.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Where do you see Interlock in 5 years time?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Without a doubt on David Letterman, haha. I doubt it in all honesty. I would hope we'd be doing our third headline world tour and starting to record our 4th album. That's going to be a good one you know... especially that song about Loch Ness. Hang on, haven't Judas Priest done that?
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What do you think have been Interlock's best and worse gigs, and why?
<span class="ivred">JT</span>: Worst gigs are where the soundman just doesn't care, where we travel for miles and miles and you can't even trust the guy putting the show on to give you some money for doing so. Best gigs are the one's where you feel a real connection with the crowd. When they get it and know that it's cool to have a good time and go crazy or even to stand there and nod in time, whatever. We're there to entertain, if we think we've done that, then that's a good show. They're occasionally the same shows though
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Thanks very much for taking the time to talk with us!
<div align="center"><img style="padding:5px;" align="middle" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/interlock/5.jpg" alt="Interlock" />
<a style="text-decoration:none" href="http://www.interlock.org.uk/" target="_TOP"><span class="ivorange">Interlock Official Website</span></a> - <a style="text-decoration:none" href="http://www.myspace.com/interlock" target="_BLANK"><span class="ivred">Interlock on MySpace</span></a></div>