If you haven’t heard Kylesa’s fantastic sixth album, then mainman Phillip Cope is here to tell you why you should check it out as he chatted with Pop!Blerd about their latest disc and upcoming tour via phone recently:
Ultraviolet represents the longest gap between studio albums since Time Will Fuse… and Static Tensions, how long did the writing and recording of Ultraviolet actually take?
We wrote off an on for about two years and we spent about two months in the studio…or I did at least.
What sets Ultraviolet apart from other Kylesa records?
Hmmm, uh, that’s a good question. There are several things…it’s probably a little farther out there even than we’ve gone with the trippiness….there are a couple of mellower songs than we normally do but there’s some similarities, too. There’s definitely some heavy stuff still, I mean, there’s actually kind of some bits and pieces reminiscent of even way older albums. I think it’s one of our better mixes of heavy and mellow.
As a whole the record is much more aggressive, especially songs like “We’re Taking This” or “Exhale”. Was it intentional for the tone to be angrier this time around?
I don’t know if it was intentional but it was definitely what we were feeling so that’s what we went with.
Besides being really heavy, Ultraviolet is also one of the most diverse Kylesa records. How has your songwriting evolved over the years?
I think the main thing is just trusting our guts. You know, not second guessing things too much or worrying about it too much just playing what we feel. With Spiral Shadow it kind of helped because at the time we were nervous that maybe what we were doing was getting a little too far away from Static Tensions which had done pretty well for us so we were a little nervous but it still did well and people still responded so we felt on this album it’s just best to stick with our gut and not worry about things too much. Just trying to be honest about what we’re doing.
Laura is definitely more of a vocal presence on this record than on others, was this a conscious effort? Is it easier to just play guitar or do you prefer the combination?
Well, it wasn’t a conscious effort….we didn’t go into the album thinking “Yeah, she’s gonna do the larger share…” but as we were going on (This is the first album I’ve played as many instruments on as I have) I took on a big role playing multiple instruments so I was very busy besides producing the record. She got a little ahead of me in the writing process of vocals and as she was laying stuff down…y’know, I liked it. I thought it was really good. I didn’t feel like I should make her hold back or anything just so I could be on it more. It didn’t seem like that made sense to me. We had never discussed that it had to be 50/50. She was inspired and it was fitting the songs well and I was kind of grateful actually to be able to spend a little more time working on the other instruments and the producing. And live (laughs) I’m definitely gonna be happy not to have to do as many vocals on the songs because it’s fun to be able to rock out and not to be stuck to a mic.
Speaking of roles in the band, on this record (and like many Kylesa records) you wear many hats. Is there a role that you find to be your favorite?
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I really enjoy playing synths on this record and messing around with the different keyboards and that was fun and challenging. I really enjoyed playing theremin on this record. I mean, guitar’s my first love as far as what I do and I love playing guitar and coming up with riffs and some cool parts. And the producing I really enjoy, too. Really, (laughs) I enjoy it all! I’m just stoked to be able to make music, y’know? Whatever I can get my hands on and do I’m happy to do!
You have the impending headlining tour with Blood Ceremony, White Hills, and Lazer/Wulf scheduled to start soon. How do you choose the right bill when headlining or for that matter, the right bill for yourself when opening?
For headlining it was cool because we could pick bands that we liked and a lot of the bands that we liked were willing to go out with us. We weren’t really trying to think in a business sense as much as we were : What’s gonna be a good show? What would people who are already planning on coming to see us enjoy rockin’ out to the whole show that’s great from beginning to end? In reality I know a lot of people don’t know who Lazer/Wulf is, who’s opening the tour, because they don’t have a full-length out yet and they’re still relatively new to a lot of people. I know when I go to shows to see a band I like, I like to be surprised sometimes by a band I haven’t heard of and be blown away and I think people will be blown away by Lazer/Wulf. It’s really just trying to find bands that we think will be a good show from start to finish. It’s good for us to play with bands that are good because it pushes us to play better every night!
As far as opening slots, that just depends. Generally we won’t go out on a tour with a band we don’t like. That’s really the deciding factor but we’re pretty open about music and like a lot of bands so luckily for us it gives us a lot to choose from.
What do you hope fans take a way from a Kylesa record or live performance?
I just hope they enjoy it in some way. I’m not gonna be the one to say what kind of enjoyment somebody should get but hopefully there’s enough different things going on with our band that people can relate to something we’re doing in some sort of way and be stoked on it. That’s the main thing that I just hope is that there are people out there that dig what we do and enjoy it.
Besides yourself and Laura, Kylesa has been a revolving door of musicians at times. Do you think you’ve found the perfect line up yet?
It’s a hard to say that because if I said that it might be insulting to other people that have been in the band in the past. right now, Laura, Carl, and I working together has been perfect. It’s been three of us really working hard together for years now and it works well. I wouldn’t wanna change that up but it’s fun bringing in new people from time to time getting new ideas. I enjoy that.
What is your proudest moment since forming Kylesa?
Oh wow, I’ve had a lot of moments like that. It’s hard to pick one! I guess, for me, when Static Tensions first took off. That album felt like the first album we were getting closer to what we really wanted to do. That was a real proud moment, I think.
Kylesa play Cambridge, MA’s Middle East this Sunday June 16th with Blood Ceremony, White Hills, and Lazer/Wulf.