Interview with Wheel – A New Prog Metal Force

Interview mit: James Lascelles – Gitarrist bei Wheel.

Es tut sich etwas im Norden: Nachdem viele Länder bereits beweisen konnten, dass Progressive Metal auch in der heutigen und modernen Zeit funktioniert, gibt es mit Wheel nun endlich ein Paradebeispiel aus Finnland. Mit ihrer ersten EP „The Path“ legten sie drei Stücke vor, die sich hören lassen können. Poly-Rhythmik, druckvolle Produktion und viele Anleihen bei bekannten Gruppe. Zeit für ein paar Fragen.

„The Path“ is your first release – I guess this must be a relief after all this hard work?
It definitely is; we are really happy with the recordings, especially as we tracked everything in only two days. We are looking forward to see how people react to our music.

Your music sounds wide, deep and modern. But there are only 3 tracks on „The Path“. Why did you choose this format instead of a regular album?
These tracks laid the framework for the stylistic direction we collectively wanted to go in and after significant reinvention, the songs have evolved into what we are releasing on 21.4. Releasing the three songs together on an EP felt like the right way to do it.

You have been playing live together since 2015. Is it difficult to transport the energy from the stage to the studio?
Not at all; it is a different kind of battle than a gig though. We are extremely organised with recording and make sure that we know exactly what we want to play before we set foot in the studio. All of the writing / structuring etc happens in the practice room beforehand, allowing us to focus fully on getting the best possible takes in the time we have during the tracking phase.
There is something immensely satisfying about completing a recording and hearing the composition as a whole; I think this is a major drive for all of us and it definitely helps to keep us motivated and energised in the studio.

Finland is not best known for its prog-scene. How did the sound of Wheel evolve?
All of us are long term fans of a range of different prog music and bands. I discovered Tool when I was 16 and a studio engineer gave me a director’s commentary of the Aenima album; it really opened my eyes to how creatively structure, poly-rhythms and dynamics can be used to the most dramatic effect in song writing – I have been hooked ever since.
There is a real sense of freedom when writing progressive music as many of the limitations that other styles can face are removed from the conversation. We can produce much longer and bigger songs than bands playing other styles of music, rather than having to keep things around the 3-4 minute length. Additionally, we are not trying to write music to dance to, so using abstract time signatures and other interesting writing elements is much more acceptable.
More than anything, we want to write the best and most interesting music we possibly can and continue refining the process indefinitely.

To be frank – songs like „Farewell“ sound very much like A Perfect Circle. Were bands like them a big inspiration?
They absolutely were. This first EP was written at a time where pretty much all I listened to was Tool, A Perfect Circle and Karnivool and I am sure listeners will pick up on these influences when they listen to the EP. These are still three of my favourite groups of all time and have definitely had a major impact on the music we produce.

Would you say the Finnish countryside had also influence into your work or are you more focused on live in urban areas?
Finland is a beautiful country with some amazing people in it; I have lived here for 7 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else. However, all four of us live in the Greater Helsinki area so truthfully, I don’t think the Finnish countryside has had any impact on our music so far!

Prog is becoming a new force with groups like Volta, Periphery or Leprous. Is it a new dawn and era, and will it last?
This is a great question. The prog scene has had a second-wind in the recent past and it is a truly vibrant scene to be part of; there are some great new bands out there doing some awesome stuff with the style we love; reassuringly, there is still a market for prog!
Speaking more broadly though, so much has changed within the music industry over the past fifteen years that it is very hard to see any of this change, (with new prog bands) as being permanent. Small-medium sized venues seem to be shutting down increasingly year after year which is removing a channel for new bands to enter the scene, record labels (in Finland at least) have the bulk of their resources tied up in reality television such as Idols, preventing them from having the capital to invest in more ‚artsy‘ music and in most countries, physical music sales are disappearing or have disappeared. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible for new bands and that there aren’t paths for them to follow if they want to make music professionally but it feels increasingly like there is no road map for young people to use if they want to do so.
On the positive side, there has been a flood of new channels and methods to distribute music over the past ten years and communicating directly with a band’s fan base has never been so easy. If bands can use these tools to their full potential, there are still ways to get people to hear new music and for a band’s fan base to grow.

Which partners in crime would be the best for a blasting prog tour through Europe?
There are a huge list of bands we would like to play with; off the top of my head, we would love to tour with Tool, A Perfect Circle, Karnivool, Meshuggah and Steven Wilson.

Is the wheel always turning?
The wheel never stops turning and we wheely hate bad puns.

Dieser Text erschien zuerst bei Artnoir in deutscher Übersetzung.
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