Saturday, November 3, 2012

Interview With Arkansas Black/Death Project, Traverser!





Arkansas, United States


Blackened Death Metal


Brad Williams - All Instruments, vocals, songwriting, production


1. Explain the project. What was your goal, and do you feel that it has been reached? Also explain the process in recording this demo.

I write constantly. Sometimes I'll make up a riff or a beat in my head at work, or driving, or grocery shopping and come straight home and pick up the guitar to figure it out. Actually now that I think of it, all of the songs I've been working on for Traverser began as something in my head when I wasn't near an instrument. So this project has been a way to get the music out of me and feel a sense of accomplishment with it.

The process for recording is kinda funny, and is certainly not a way that I would recommend anyone else to do it! All of the instruments and vocals are recorded with my Android phone using an iRig, which is and iOS adapter and I guess technically shouldn't work with anything I've got. I start by making a click track for the song, which is a simple pulse to keep the time for the songs, using the metronome on my electronic drum kit. It will only keep a beat in 4/4 time, so anything that isn't in that time signature anywhere in the song has to be played manually on the high hat of the kit. It can actually be a difficult process.

From there, I record each instrument separately using a very basic recording app on the phone. I usually start with the first guitar part and then build everything up from there. After I get a solid take of each individual part I 'mix' it down in the app, email it to myself, and then open it from there onto my computer and into Audacity, which is a free recording program. It is a very time consuming process in and of itself, and can be rather daunting to do alone. Hopefully one day soon I'll be able to get some actual recording equipment and make this whole process a lot simpler!

2. What instruments are you using, how long have you been playing them and what first influenced you to start making your own music?

I'm using a 7 string guitar to record all of the rhythm parts, which each song has 4 of with 2 on each side. Most of the solos and lead harmony lines are done using a 6 string guitar, and are often double tracked in several places. I'm using a cheap left handed 5 string bass that I've restrung Jimi Hendrix style for the low end parts, and an electronic drum set for all of the beat work.

I've been playing guitar for 14 years now, but have only been playing a 7 string for about a year and a half now. I've dabbled in bass for almost as long as the guitar, and while I'm pretty confident in my playing there, I'm much better at the guitar. The drums I have only been playing seriously for about 7 or 8 months now, and I think that definitely shows on the recordings. The performances there are armature at best, but I think I've done a good job showing how someone who has a lot of experience behind the kit could serve the song.

As far as what influenced me to make my own music, I don't really have a solid answer for that. I've been doing it practically my whole life. My grandparents still have old cassette tapes from when I was about 3 or 4 years old beating on the out-of-tune open strings of an acoustic guitar and improving lyrics about anything and everything my young mind found fascinating at the time. They're really kinda funny, actually.

3. This demo is very much a skeleton for what's still to come for the project. What do you hope to bring in your next release?

More songs and better production would be the first thing. Second would be to have an actual drummer playing the tunes, as well as a more adept bassist like my younger brother Blake tracking the low end.

4. What musicians/bands are you currently into now? Who do you think was channeled in the project?

I've always been very into the 'old school', and still am. I've been listening to a lot of Black Sabbath lately, the Born Again and Headless Cross albums specifically. I've fallen in love with MKII and MKII era Deep Purple, and Rainbow quite a bit. 76-82 era Judas Priest has gotten a lot of attention from me lately, as well as a pretty obscure band from 83 called Satan. They are a very early thrash/progressive metal prototype that only put out one album that I'm aware of, and I've listened to it quite a bit. Oddly enough, none of those band sound anything like Traverser!

5. Describe the lyrics and message of Traverser. What does the name mean? How did you come to it?

The word "traverse" has been a regular part of my vernacular for many years now. I picked it as a name because it sounded cool to me and described, in my mind at least, how the music made by my heros traveled a great distance across space and time to find it's way into the music I'm making now.

The lyrics are all over the place really, and while I know what they're supposed to be about, are very much open to interpretation. While not intentional, all of the songs are stories in a way and I suppose the central theme of the majority of it is about the importance of understanding yourself and knowing exactly who you are. I'm a firm believer of knowing what makes a person who they are, why they feel and believe how they do, and knowing what is important in their life to make them feel happy and complete, whatever it may be.

6. What are your thoughts on the coming election?

Honestly, I'm not very hopeful one way or the other this time around, and I feel I'm not the only one.

7. What do you do when you're not making music?

I work a 50+ hour a week job, so I do A LOT of that. My wife and I have a few TV shows we like to watch together and I love spending time with my daughter. She is an aspiring drummer and singer so we spend quite a bit of time playing music together. I also enjoy learning new techniques and playing styles on the guitar and spend quite a bit of time learning things there that are outside of my 'comfort zone' and would more than likely never be used in one of my metal songs.

8. Are there any literary works or films that might have inspired the lyrics? If so, what might they be?

A new song that I'm working on is called "Born...Again", and I got the idea for the title and the concept for the lyrics from toying around with all the different ways you could say the title of the Black Sabbath record. The "character" in the lyrics for my song is partially based on the film "Combat Shock", but I've put my own special twist on it. The song "Lone to Remain" is basically me expanding and putting a more horrific spin on the concept of the "dark passenger" from the TV series Dexter. The titular song is loosely based on several concepts from H.P. Lovecraft's writings, about living within dreams and also learning who you are through them.

9. How far are you willing to go with this project?

There really will never be an end to this. Unless I'm physically disfigured one day I'm always going to be playing and writing music. I think it's great to receive recognition from others about it, but I really make the music that I want to hear for myself. I would love to travel the world and play huge festivals to millions of people and spread the joy of this wonderful music called Metal everywhere, but being realistic I find great satisfaction in listening back to what I've put so much energy into creating. The banner may change, but this is what I sound like when I express myself musically and I'm going to keep doing this until I can't any longer.

10. Imagine that you can look ahead ten, maybe even twenty years into the future. How would you describe the world?

I'm not a half full or half empty kind of person. I'm much more "there is some water in the glass" when it comes to these things. If everything goes fine the world has potential to be an amazing place for everyone. However, if not...well let's just say I wrote the lyrics to "Hoof and Claw" as a very serious warning.

Thanks for your answers, and I hope to hear more great things from you soon. There's a lot of untapped potential here, I'm curious to hear what's next!


Traverser - Demo (2012) - One man band local project Traverser is certainly a worthy effort, albeit with a scratchy production value. But since this is a demo, I'm not going to put on my burr-filled britches and put on my happy pants instead. These four songs certainly map and traverse the realms of Ihsahn and Morbid Angel in their legendary eras, which is promising. The music has a good amount of structure and the vocals really do remind me heavily of Ihsahn's style. The man actually sounds a great deal like Ihsahn, except a little deeper. He also layers his vocals at some points, for extra effectiveness. What you might think is programmed or midi, is actually real bass riffs, and the man is actually behind an electronic kit, where he hammered out all of the drum work for this demo. Of course, a real guitar is featured on this work and it's done well, complete with some interesting solo portions. There's definitely black to this death, as the opener "Lone To Remain 4:05" and project header, "Traverser 4:51" showcase. Of course, one of my favorite tracks here is the differentiation that is made with "Hoof And Claw 4:28" which features a slightly slower tone and more influence from Morbid Angel. Though the project still needs a lot of work and I hope that a future EP or debut LP will feature higher production, this is definitely good work for a man who's doing it all by himself.

I'd definitely recommend listening to this one at least one time. It's certainly got some potential and a sense of nostalgia that should appeal to a hefty portion of the metal community, (particularly the older guys that still remember this shit, back when core was what you called the center of an apple) even though I'm sure that people across the board should find something to like in it.

(4 Tracks 17:00)


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