How could we not want to more about a band with a name like Asian Death Crustacean?
George: Dan (guitar) and I (bass) grew up in London, while James (drums) and Rob (guitar) are from small towns in Derbyshire and Cheshire.
How did you meet?
Dan: George and I have known each other since school and had been collaborating musically for years before ending up at the same university. I met James there by chance onstage at an improv event and formed an improvisational jazz fusion project. When that project, as well as the blackened death metal band James was playing in with Rob, came to an end, the groups ended up being fused together. I also invited George to join, who turned out to provide a great bridge between some of the band’s more disparate influences.
How long have you been playing as a band?
James: The band came together about six years ago and the project has developed from playing shows in people’s flats and around the midlands, to doing a small UK tour, to playing London experimental music all dayers (particular thanks to Chaos Theory and Portals!) We’ve also spent a lot of time working on recording our debut album, and recently traveled to Sweden to finish the record with Jens Bogren (Opeth, Between The Buried And Me) and David Castillo (Bloodbath, Leprous).
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
James: The name’s just something conjured out of my imagination. There’s no particular literal meaning.
What are your influences?
George: The wide range of influences and musical backgrounds in the band has contributed a huge amount to making the project what it is, and it sometimes feels like this is a band that should never have existed but somehow works. James and Rob have their roots in black and death metal, while I grew up jumping between 80s hardcore punk half the time and 60s soul the other, and Dan brings in influences from jazz fusion and electronic music. We’ve always felt a lot of musical freedom in the project and an ability to take things in any direction we like.
Rob: It’s also really interesting how we’ve grown and shifted together – a few years ago, we’d never have expected that George’s most listened song of 2019 would be Dopesmoker, James would have got so into Yussef Dayes, or Dan would become someone who spends all his time locked in a studio playing with modular synths.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Rob: The unique thing about our sound is the fusion of the band’s diverse musical backgrounds into a single coherent vision, giving an interweaving flow between slowly and deliberately evolving changes of mood and intensity.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
James: The music is purely instrumental, but through the course of the writing process this record has ended up, for us, representing themes of metamorphosis and self-transformation, given the pieces have a series of cyclical patterns of progression and return, but also bring together opposing aspects of, for example, euphoria and aggression. The sun motif in the artwork captures a related dualism of creation and destruction, as well as tying into some Jungian themes around the journey of coming to terms with the tension of the many selves within your own psyche. We named the album after the world’s oldest and deepest lake to evoke a sense of exploration into an immense and unknown space.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Dan: Once this pandemic has calmed down we’re hyped to get back into playing regular live shows! In the past we’ve experimented with projections and we’d love to make the live show an immersive visual experience. We’re also working on integrating all the ambient/electronic elements from the album into the live set.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
George: One of the more memorable shows we’ve been a part of was hosted in a friend’s top floor flat and ended up with a bunch of people turning up wearing home-made masks of my face (it was Halloween – how flattering), someone putting their foot through the roof, the floor almost caving in from the crowd jumping around, and the police shutting everything down.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
George (Bass): I currently play a Yamaha BB735A. The dirty sound I shoot for is something I call the “Tractor of Doom” – I want something that makes me think of the grind of heavy machinery or engines or something like that, where you can hear the “grrrr” of the low-end distortion coming through the drums. The best thing I’ve found so far to do this live is an Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff fuzz pedal. The DI blend control on it is super crucial to keeping melodic parts audible in a live mix.
James (drums): I used mostly a set of Meinl Byzance series cymbals for recording Baikal, which have a great, versatile tone which worked perfectly for the record. In addition, we decided to go with a huge Zidjian china cymbal, which had a massive body to its sound, as well as a great wash for using in the quieter sections. For the snare, I used a Ludwig Black Beauty, which did a great job supporting both more subtle drags and ghost notes, as well as the harder playing and blast beats on the album, without a need to resort to triggers.
Dan (Synths): For the ambient sections on the record, I used a range of different sound design techniques in Ableton Live. I’m particularly interested in Max for Live devices, and many of the synthesisers on the record were created from sampling sounds in my bedroom, then creating textures from these using granular synthesis.
Dan again (Guitar): My clean parts on the album were mainly tracked with a Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe. I was interested in having a fairly full and classic sounding tone, and we created this using a 1970’s Laney head, Marshall Cab and a variety of different time-related effects. One of the most interesting was a Binson Echorec 2, which can be heard on early Pink Floyd records. For the more atmospheric parts we used a Strymon Big Sky combined with stereo amping to create deep sounding textures. My dirty parts were mainly recorded the same way as Rob’s.
Rob (Guitar): My parts were tracked using a Schecter Hellraiser with Bare Knuckle Aftermath pickups for both the clean and overdriven sections. Dirty tones were recorded using a blend of Marshall and Diezel amp heads, which gave us the dark and aggressive timbres we wanted while keeping plenty of clarity and definition. Cleans were done using a Fender Twin Reverb, using the on board spring reverb in tandem with other time delay effects – one of the more standout elements being a Watkins Copicat, an analogue tape delay unit from the 70s.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Rob: Our debut album, Baikal! It’s finally releasing this summer, with one single already out and another one coming beforehand.
What are your plans for 2020?
Rob: Beyond releasing and promoting the album, we’re trying to use the lockdown time to experiment with songwriting and get ready to hit the live scene hard on the other side of the pandemic.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Dan: For the band supporting us we’d go with James’ other project, demcats. As for a headliner to support, we’d be torn between Sunn or Yussef Dayes.