I caught up with 7 Horns 7 Eyes‘ “new” vocalist JJ Polachek to discuss all things 7H7E now that their debut full length, titled Throes Of Absolution, has been released. Check out the interview below.
Let’s start back where we left off in the last interview with Aaron. You guys had released your EP a few years prior & were working on what would become Throes of Absolution. The band had just recorded & released the first single from the album & then Kyle left the band. Can you fill in the story of why he left?
It’s pretty simple, really. Kyle wanted to get married, so he made the decision to put that as a priority and left the band. He’s still on great terms with us and everything’s cool. NO BIGGIE.
How did you make the connection with the band? Did you approach the band or did they find you to be the new vocalist?
Brandon knew me from the Becoming The Archetype forums (back when they were a thing), and had known of my work with Monotheist. We were just small talking over last.fm and he brought up that Kyle left and they were looking for a new vocalist, and suggested I try out. I had known of the band since the days of the self-titled EP and the gnarly demos they posted a little later. I thought they were sweet and I decided to try out and give it a shot. Yadda yadda yadda now I’m in Seattle chilling on the eve of our first headlining tour date.
What brought about the decision to re-record the vocals? Did you have any hesitation (or find any difficulty) doing vocals with someone else’s lyrics?
It just made sense to put my vocals on it considering I was the actual vocalist of the band at that point, and I’m the guy kids will see live, so they might as well know what to expect. The only criteria in terms of redoing the actual lyrics was whether or not I thought I could improve the entire flow of the song to my liking. The songs I rewrote were The Hill Difficulty, Phumis, and A Finite Grasp of Infinite Disillusion. The rest I thought were perfect as is in terms of vocal placement. Kyle’s lyrics and mine are very different, but I definitely respect the talent he had for vocal placement and dynamics.
One thing that impresses me with 7H7E is the quality of recordings that the band does on its own. How was the recording process for you? Did you live near the band & recorded vocals at their studio or did you have to travel?
I moved to Seattle for a while and we did all the recordings there. It went pretty fast, actually. We finished it all in about a week, in terms of rerecording the vocals. I’m 100% happy with the results and I know the next releases will be even better because Aaron and I work so well together in the studio.
By December of 2010 you finished re-recording & released “Vindicator”. Was it after the album was completed that you connected with Century Media (US)/ Basick (UK)?
Yeah, we ended up making the connection with Basick once our guys at CM suggested it would be a smart decision. They were right, because Basick has been awesome to us and hyped us in a way we’re all VERY thankful for. They’re great people and we’re lucky to have them on our side.
When you signed to CM the album was supposed to release in the Fall of 2011. Why did it get pushed back to April of this year?
Mostly we just weren’t being picked up for any big tours, and because of that we wouldn’t be able to promote the album the way CM needed. So it had to wait until we could actually get some kind of tour together ourselves. That’s literally all it was. The industry is weird like that. You can’t do X without Y, but you only get opportunities for Y via people loving X.
How does it feel to finally have the album released, after being finished for a few years?
Incredibly glad that the wait is over, and people actually care about it. It’s mostly just relief that now we can FINALLY move on to bigger things than just waiting for our debut to come out. We’re already doing work on the next release and my headspace is already wrapped up in that. It will be way more epic than Throes, trust me.
What has the overall response been to the new album? Have you been getting much feedback from overseas as well?
Mostly positive, which is a pleasant surprise to me. The most baffling thing, in my eyes, is how everyone seems to be referring to us as a death metal band, when the only thing death metal about us is my vocals. There’s no blasting or really dark tremolo riffs, or any chromatic palm muted riffing, or slams or any other elements of death metal, so I don’t really understand that. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s just kinda weird. Maybe it’s because I grew up as a death metal elitist (don’t worry though my Internet Metal Nerd days are behind me) and I’m kinda close to the subject of what is and isn’t death metal, but even beyond that I just don’t hear it. Anyway that stuff doesn’t really matter, I’m just stoked people like these songs. We put a lot into them and to see it pay off in the form of people getting something from them is the highest kind of reward. More people really seem to “get” what we’re aiming for than I expected, and it’s very encouraging. In terms of feedback from overseas, we’ve gotten a really cool response. Metal Hammer seemed to love Throes, which is like, awesome. Basick is supporting us in such a great way, and we really couldn’t ask for them to do much better than they are.
It was announced that Jeff Loomis made a guest appearance “Throes”. Which tracks did he contribute to? How did you guys get hooked up with him?
He’s on Regeneration, the last song on Throes. Aaron and he are tight bros, so he naturally was up to do a solo on the album. Pretty rad, Brad.
You have a different sound from much of the metal that has been released lately. How would you describe 7H7E’s sound to someone who was not familiar?
Epic heavy metal? I dunno. I can tell you a literal math formula of what bands we sound like fused together, but for the life of my I don’t know what genre we are. I’d say progressive metal, but calling yourself progressive is INCREDIBLY pretentious, especially in the current state of metal where kids think anything with clean guitar or shredding is progressive. As far as that formula, peep the strategy:
Meshuggah+Katatonia+Opeth+Nevermore+Strapping Young Lad+Swallow The Sun=7 Horns 7 Eyes?
Obviously, every band member has their own likes & dislikes, but what bands do you feel have had impact & influence on 7H7E?
Aw crap I just answered that before I read this question. Alright I’ll just talk about who influences me: Dan Weyandt from Zao. Boom. Roasted.
I realize you just released your debut full length with the current line-up but over the past few years have you guys been working on new material? What can we expect in the future?
We have about an EP’s worth of new material. Much less polyrhythmic and more based off of strong chord progressions and epic crescendos. It basically takes our sound to the next dramatic level. Also blastbeats for the first time! Yay! Anyway we have some cool tours coming up. This one that starts tomorrow with Stealing Axion, and then a realllly sick lineup in July. Gonna be full of shred and heavy, and space metal and stuff. Also it’s the first time a very cool brah from the UK makes it over to shred his sickness for America. I’m sure lots of kids in glasses with almost-shoulder-length hair in Animals As Leaders shirts will be stoked for this tour.
7H7E has never really toured much but will you guys be on the road quite a bit promoting the new album? Who would you like to tour with over the next year?
Well everyone else in the band is reasonable and answers this with bands like Meshuggah, Daylight Dies, Opeth and whatever. But I’m just gonna be honest and say I wanna tour with Devourment, Defeated Sanity, and Zao more than anything in the world.
Is there anything that you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Check out Vin Diesel’s Facebook page. Seriously just do it, you will thank me.