Allegaeon are currently gearing up to release their 4th album, Proponent For Sentience, via Metal Blade Records in September. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to send some questions over to founding member and guitarist, Greg Burgess. I quizzed him on the new album, what it’s been like working with new vocalist Riley and what it was like working with Dave Otero again.
Thanks to Andy at Metal Blade Records for organising and Greg for his time :)
You’re currently gearing up to release your new album, Proponent For Sentience. What’s the response been like to the tracks you’ve released so far?
It’s been I’d say like 97% positive. You’re never going to be able to please everyone, but the negativity seems to be very small numbers so thats good.
It’s also your first release with new vocalist, Riley Mcshane. What’s it been like working with him?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot actually. I’ve known Riley for going on 7 years now, and he’s been in the band for well over a year at this point, so he doesn’t really feel like the new guy to us. Riley is one of my; if not my favourite modern metal vocalists. The work he did with Son Of Aurelius’ Under A Western Sun is to this day one of my favourite records of all time. I remember hearing that record and going: “man THIS is what I’ve always wanted to create.”
So when our vocal position opened up he was my first choice, and it’s been incredibly rewarding experience. The amount we have in common in our music interests and the way we communicate musically has made the creative process so easy and effortless. The amount of effort Riley puts in is one of the things I admire most about him, apart from just being an incredible musician.
You also worked with Dave Otero on this record again. What made you decide to work with him again?
Well I think that Elements Of The Infinite was such an important record for the band. We saw our fan base more than double during its cycle, and it would be hard to believe that the creative team we had in place for that record wasn’t working. I went into that record excited because it was my time to prove that Allegaeon wasn’t done, and that my creative input was as valid as our previous guitar players. With Brandon, Mike, Joe Ferris, and Dave Otero all playing such an important role, it was an easy choice to keep what worked from that record to this one.
Our 2008 EP, and 2010’s Fragments of Form And Function were done with Dave, but we were a little more head strong back then. We didn’t like having Dave’s input as a producer, and really just wanted an engineer there to track. After Formshifter I was left to do the majority of the writing and I really needed outside input. So we went in really seeking out his opinion. This time around, you could just go in and just ask him, “Hey man what do you think of this, should we change it?” He always has great ideas to improve the music.
I’ve also gotten in the habit of writing with Dave in mind. For example he said that it’s important for us to have some more mid tempo songs and not just have all these rippers through the album. That conversation was had when we slowed down “Dyson Sphere” off of Elements. I took that to heart and thats why “Proponent For Sentience II: The Algorithm” is a slower song. He’s a great friend to boot and I foresee our partnership as a long one.
In comparison with the last album, I noticed that it features a lot more ‘flamenco style’ guitar playing. What made you decide to include more of it?
My background being a classical guitar player, has been incredibly valuable to Allegaeon up until this point. I studied way more than just classical at the Conservatory I went to, so I just wanted to spread my wings a bit. We came back from the Arsis/Exmortus tour where I felt we got our asses handed to us every night. I just sat and played classical for a month straight, and experimented with other things. I was showed the band “Flametal” by flamenco guitarist Ben Woods and I was like blown away. Thats not a stretch for us, so I went with it, and the dudes liked it.
Getting onto gear, I note that you use 7-string Jacksons. Is that correct?
Mostly 8 strings, but yes I prefer 7’s. Jackson has been my go to guitar company since I was a young kid with posters of Megadeth on my wall. When they hit us up to try some of their extended range models it was an easy yes.
Who normally writes the music in the band? Is it a collaborative effort or does one person write everything?
Mike and I write the music as a 50/50 split, and lyrics are mostly handled by Riley. Unless I have a burning need to contribute, but even then he finishes my work for me.
Do you have any touring plans once the new album is released?
Yeah we’re gonna head out with the Max and Igor Cavalera for that anniversary of their Roots album. We have Ozzfest meets Knotfest right in the middle of that tour, then we finish up in Canada with them. We also have a pretty awesome tour scheduled for Nov/Dec that I can’t announce yet.
And finally, what advice would you give to a new band that’s just starting out in the scene?
Be true to who you are and have fun. Thats the most important thing. Success doesn’t always equate to fun or happiness, but if you have fun, than that’s all that matters.