Kylesa have been causing a storm since the early 2000’s with their gritty sound and double percussion. More than a decade later sees the release of their sixth full length studio album ‘Ultraviolet’ – a much darker opus compared to the rest of their back catalogue and a shift in dynamics and sound from their original sludge roots. Laura Pleasants, one half of the forefront of the band, talks to Angela Davey about the writing process and the changes within the line up as well as the music.
‘Ultraviolet’ has received some controversial feedback – how do you feel about the mixed responses?
I’m not sure I agree with you entirely. For the most part, we’ve been getting positive reviews with only a few exceptions. The only controversy is what the media makes up to try to get a rise out of people. Music and art is subjective and everyone has an opinion. One thing that’s interesting and unexpected is that we’ve had more positive feedback from Kylesa fans than ever before. So, in that respect, I am very pleased. Our fans matter to us more than the casual review.
Are you happy with how the record has turned out?
Yes; overall, absolutely.
There was huge anticipation for this album amongst fans, did you ever feel pressurised or like you wouldn’t be able to live up to people’s expectations?
I think most of the pressure comes from within us. We can’t get too concerned with outside “pressures” or the music would most likely suffer.
This is quite a dark record juxtaposed with your previous releases – what inspired the change?
Life, time and circumstance.
Your vocals take on a much more prominent role on this album. Was that a conscious decision?
Not really. Phillip was very busy directing the whole project and he was busy playing keys and other odd interments and he didn’t have a lot of vocals worked out and I did. We were splitting up the work load I think more than anything else! But as the vocals were coming together, Phillip didn’t feel like he needed to add too much to what I had already done so we just went with it.
When you’re writing lyrics how you decide upon who will sing which parts? Do you write your own parts or is it a shared process?
We’ve done both in the past. And, there’s no certain way we always do things. But generally, we write our own lyrics. We’re typically on the same page when it comes to subject matter so it’s pretty easy to work together.
How does having two drummers impact upon the writing and recording process? Do you ever feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew?
We are always very close to biting off more than we can chew but that’s what keeps us in the foreground and pushes us to grow. I think having two drummers affects the recording process much more than the writing process. When it comes to writing, we want to write a good song – the drums are important – but the melody and guitar generally come first.
Sludge is quickly becoming a very crowded genre, where do you feel you guys sit in the grand scheme of things?
It has indeed – we’ve certainly seen that. I think we are rooted in sludge but have progressed way beyond that sound or tag.
Are there any bands or artists that you’re particularly impressed or inspired by?
Haha. Past or present? There are many. Music is such a positive inspiration.
Considering that your new material is so different from the rest of your songs, how will you go about working it into live sets to get an even balance?
It’s all about vibe and flow.
Even in the 21st century people still make a big deal out females being at the forefront of metal bands. How do you deal with this? Is it something you’re still surprised by?
I think more than anything, it’s become a tired question. We’re on tour with three other bands right now and two of them have amazing women in them.
Where do you see the musical direction of Kylesa heading next?
To go where no man has gone before…
Please use this space for any final words…
I’d like to set a few facts straight in regards to the review for “Ultraviolet” that is currently up on the site. The following statement is incorrect: “The numerous line up changes have probably contributed to their continually evolving sound and this years casualty is former drummer and bassist Eric Herandez who is replaced by new comer Chase Rudeseal after a five year, two job stint with the group.”
Eric Hernandez has been with us off and on since 2008 and is currently with us on drums. When we split ways with Corey for the second and final time, Eric filled in on bass. He played some bass and drums on Ultraviolet. Laura, Phillip and Jay Matheson (Jam Room) also played bass. Chase Rudeseal joined us only recently for the US Ultraviolet tour. He was not on any of our recordings. That said, the core writers and visionaries are Laura and Phillip.
‘Ultraviolet‘ is out now on Season Of Mist and you can read Mark’s review HERE.
Interviewed by: Angela Davey