In conversation: Periphery

It's rainy. It's muddy. It's one of my first ever interviews (luckily Jake's "a pretty easy dude"). It's an opportunity to interview the legendary Djent gods Periphery. So as the heavens rumble outside and metal music cascades down the paddock from the various Download Festival stages I sit down with guitarist Jake Bowen to talk about their musical journey and what led them to their new album.

So how does it feel to be playing Download Festival?
Amazing. We've played it once before on one of the smaller stages and now we get to come back to play the second stage, so it's cool to see our progression. We got to come back and play in front of a bigger crowd. That feels good but it's also good to be here with all these incredible bands like Iron Maiden. There are a lot of pretty iconic bands here.

When you were saying about the stages you were on previously, was that in tents or was that on outside stages?
It was a tent but I think it was one of the Third Stages but it was weird because Black Sabbath were playing at the same time and in between songs you could hear 'Iron Man' being played.

NOFX played here last night and they told their crowd that they would rather be listening to Black Sabbath than playing their set and stopped to listen as the Sabbath played. Regarding stage size, it feels like when you're playing a tent in the rain, you get bigger crowds because of the weather...
We were talking about that actually. We played Sonisphere like five years ago and it was raining out and I think we played like after Gojira and like everyone had left and then it rained so everybody came back in.

Yeah, it's pretty amusing that bands can gain fans at festivals just because of the weather! Now having never been on stage I'm curious to understand how playing a festival set on a huge stage with a twenty foot gap between band and stage is different to playing a smaller theatre show with little to no gap between band and stage?
It just feels weird. It's different. You sometimes don't get that connection that you would normally get in a club or on a theatre run. So you have to adjust really quickly. You learn how to adjust by just going up there and doing it a few times. For example we got to play NovaRock so once we got here we kinda knew what to expect. Once you get over that initial shock of "I can't get any closer to anyone" then its like you figure it out.

Do you get to see many bands when you're playing festivals?
It's kind of like the same old situation, we arrive, just in time to load in, then after press we have to leave so we won't get to see any bands really.

You guys produce your own music; is that you being precious about your sound?
We're not closed off with going with an outside producer. We actually tried it once, but it just didn't work out and it really is because everyone in the band is a producer in their own right. Everyone knows how to compose and write and contribute. If you try to bring someone into that environment, it starts to distill down what the band is about. They really have to understand what the band is about. It truly is hard to find someone who understands what we should sound like. So we just took it on ourselves to do it ourselves.

So Periphery III - Select Difficulty is the new album, what was the reasoning behind the name? Are you computer game fans?
Yeah we're just dorks, and we like the numbered system as it differentiates from the more wacky stuff we do on the EPs. Yeah its just a dorky thing I guess.

Your sound then, I've written it down here as 'headfuck music', it wakes you up, it gets your attention straightaway, so I was interested to know your influences as a band or your as an individual.

I get influenced to write music by just going outside on a bike ride and being in nature or watching a movie, not necessarily other bands. It's just living and our life experiences.

Finally a couple of quick questions: your best festival experience, as either a ticketed punter or with the band?
It's gotta be Download! The last show we did here was the largest crowd we had played here. People were here and had no issue with getting filthy dirty to our music and I couldn't be more proud of that.

And on the flip side of that, your worst festival experience?
It's not the worst but its a really weird one. Me and Mark, the other guitarist, we like to be drinking buddies, and he brought a bottle of Makers Mark onto stage once and after every song we would take a shot. We played nine songs so by the end of each song I was pretty drunk so I got pretty sloppy and he had to help me out through the show!

Periphery III - Select Difficulty is out now and can be purchased from all good stockists and streamed wherever.

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