Progressive metalcore band Textures, having recently released their fifth album, are currently touring the UK with Amorphis. I caught up with Bart Hennephof, Stef Broks and Joe Tal backstage before their show in Glasgow and asked them about the tour, their new album, and upcoming album among other subjects.
Martin: Hi, it’s Martin from Moshville Times and I’m here with the guys from Textures. Can you introduce yourselves and what you do in the band?
Bart: I’m Bart and I play guitar.
Stef: …and this is Steph, drummer.
Martin: You’re currently on tour supporting Amorphis. How’s it been going so far and how have you been received by the Amorphis audience?
Bart: It’s been going really well. The first few days were a bit hectic. Not the biggest venues but it was really cool, especially Dublin was pretty cool, and yesterday London was really awesome. Now we’re really getting into the rhythm of working together with Amorphis like during changeover, it goes smoothly now. Also we see a lot of Textures fans comes to these shows just for us. It’s pretty cool to see.
Martin: The new album Phenotype is the first Textures album that Joe Tal has appeared on. How did you find working with him and working on the new material?
Bart: Yeah, Joe is very talented. He’s a real good guitar player. Of course we had to get used to each other musically. He had to get used to the rhythms we use. After we got used to each other we started writing together and Joe brought some ideas to the table as well and they were pretty cool. Some of them were even too crazy or weird. Some of them were really weird and we thought this is pretty freaky stuff we’ll just use this and see how we can play it. It was really cool, it was really like fresh ideas he brought and he’s a really good lead player so we incorporated those more on this album.
Martin: Are there any solos, or songs, on the album that you’re particularly proud of?
Bart: Well I liked the last two songs, which were the piano songs: “Zman” and “Timeless”. It’s like two pieces that form one big song. I think that one turned out really well. It’s the first time also we do such a thing where we start with the piano intro for almost three minutes, and then start the whole song which contains the same melody within a band form. It was really special to do, yeah I like’d it very much.
Martin: Where did the album title Phenotype come from? Do you guys have an interest in science at all?
Stef: It was Uri that came up with this. Well actually his brother studies biology and when Uri showed him the plan that we had to do a double album but then released as separate albums but more as a themed thing, a concept album. He showed him the material we worked with like we had one long track with root material worked out and then a couple of songs that actually came from that one long song. We worked those parts out into regular metal songs, in a Textures way of course. Then Uri’s brother came up with the idea like “hey that’s how it works sometimes in biology as well where you have the genotype and the phenotype, and the genotype is the root material of an organism and the phenotype is the same organism which goes through from it’s surround…so a more kind of worked out idea of the organism.
Martin: does your lyrics deal with these concepts at all or is it really just because of the way you were writing the music at the time…
Stef: well the theme I just told you about is more of a musical concept actually rather than a lyrical theme.
Martin: I was wondering if your next album, which is Genotype, would be related lyrically to this one but if it’s just a musical concept then…
Stef: yeah a lot of musical ideas will also be covered on Genotype.
Bart: ….like the same vocal melody you can hear it back on the guitar melody or the other way around, a guitar melody you can hear it back on the vocal melody on Genotype.
Martin: Have you guys started writing that album yet?
Bart: yeah it’s like 70 to 80 percent finished right now. We’re working on it whenever we can. We’ve a lot of shows of course right now, but between shows we like to brainstorm about it, look for new ideas. We’re aiming for the end of this year to record it.
Martin: So you actually write when you’re on the road?
Bart: Not so much, no, we’re not really good at that but sometimes we have maybe a month or two months between shows and we have sometime there to practice and work on new material.
Martin: Can you tell me a bit about the gear you use on stage such as guitars, amps, effects etc…? [Joe Tal enters the room]
Stef: there’s Joe by the way….
Bart: we use Kemper amps nowadays especially for live. We’ve never used them before but they’re really practical. You can copy a real amp and profile that exact sound as you have within the studio for example and then play with it live. It has a real natural feel especially in a practical way it’s so nice to have less equipment to carry. We profile/copy the exact same amp as we use on the album, the exact same settings.
Martin: I noticed in some pictures of you that you were using a guitar with fanned frets.
Bart: that was Joe I think.
Martin: I wondered about that as you don’t see them that often…
Joe: well the play-ability I have to tell you it’s pretty much the same I mean it took me basically ten seconds to get used to it. I mean maybe visually it can be confusing but the feel of the guitar is the same so I mean I forgot I had fanned frets basically.
Martin: I thought they looked quite odd so I thought there might be a transitional period…
Joe: No nothing.
Martin: Joe I watched some of your YouTube videos…
Joe: what did you watch…
Martin: You did some for a project called Metal Masters. Can you tell us a bit about that, what it is, and how you became involved with it?
Joe: if I’m right Metal Masters is a project of a student in the Metal Factory. The Metal Factory is basically a school of metal based in Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands.
Stef: we teach there.
Joe: yeah Bart and Stef. Basically they contacted several metal musicians, from bands, if they cared to upload something. I have to say that they asked for 4-5 minutes lesson and I got carried away and just made a 20 minute lecture. It’s a student project that’s what it is.
Martin: Another question for Joe. Many guitarists are known for utilising particular techniques. For example Joe Satriani is known for his legato, Vai for playing in the Lydian mode, Eddy Van Halen for tapping etc… Do you have any techniques you favour that you feel define your style?
Joe: Yeah….I tend to use…well not a lot, but I use it in Metal and solos, chicken picking, or, how do they call it…hybrid picking.
Martin: With your fingers…
Joe: yeah that’s right. I don’t want to say I’ve mastered it because I’m definitely far from it….
Stef: yes he has…
Joe: I just incorporate it more and more in my playing and also you know just playing riffs. You’re just playing all the way on the bottom and you can very easily reach some high notes with two fingers. They are already there basically you just need to activate them.
Martin: What guitarists, or musicians in general, would you say were your main influences?
Joe: well let me give you a list. In general. The general list. The main Textures influences are, and have always been, well lets start with Meshugga, then Tool, and then Carnival, and then early Sepultura, and then At the Gates, and then the Haunted, and then there’s…
Stef: Devin Townsend
Joe: and Devin Townsend of course. Lots of film music, ambiance. What else…
Stef: Jazz fusion.
Joe: Jazz fusion. Jazz Fusion in general.
Martin: Any particular artists?
Joe: I don’t want to say Holdsworth. Scott Henderson Tribal Tech.
Martin: Do you have any advice for young musicians starting out in a band and want to make it?
Joe: it’s basically a bunch of cliché’s but it is what it is. Just go for it…really go for it. That’s really hard, you know going all the way. Be open to criticism and stay objective. That’s it.
Martin: Final question. What’s next on the horizon for Textures after this current tour with Amorphis?
Joe: summer festivals and just loose shows here and there. A few club shows. Finishing Genotype of course. The summer festival’s we’re playing are ‘Brutal Assault’, ‘Be Prog! My Friend’ in Barcelona with Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, and Steven Wilson…
Stef: Tech Fest…
Joe: we’re doing a few support shows for Fear Factory in Scandinavia and then just a bunch of indoor festivals and a few club shows…
Stef: and also Mammothfest ion Brighton in the summer.
Joe: that’s pretty much it.
Martin: It sounds busy.
Joe: it’s busy but just random shows.
Martin: Thanks very much for the interview and looking forward to seeing you guys tonight.
Joe: No problem thanks for coming.