Exclusive: interview with The Arusha Accord, album and T-shirt giveaway


The Arusha Accord recently re-signed to Basick Records, and are gearing up to release the collector's edition of their debut album 'The Echo Verses', which also includes their debut EP 'Nightmares Of The Ocean', on April 18th. It is currently streaming in full on Basick Records's Bandcamp page. We sat down with vocalist Paul Green to talk about the album and the djent scene, amongst other things. Read the interview below!

We also have two signed copies of the collector's edition of the album to give away, along with two T-shirts. You can enter the giveaway here. It runs until April 25th. Get on it!

got-djent.com: The Arusha Accord, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Until a few weeks ago, it was quite silent about you guys. Your last tour was a while ago, in Spring 2010.

Paul: Yeah, that's the last time we toured, and after that the last show we played was in September. Since then we've been on our little break from playing shows to write our new album. Which is going alright.

got-djent.com: You also played the Czech «Brutal Assault» Festival last year, how was that?

Paul: Oh yeah, it was really good! For the festivalgoer side of things, I've heard that the camping isn't the greatest, but that's about the only bad point. I've never been to a festival where everybody seemed to be on the same wavelength as much and having such a good time. I didn't see any aggravation. Nobody was getting in scuffles or anything, it was just everyone having a laugh, getting drunk, and listening to metal. It was clearly the best show we've ever played, so...

got-djent.com: Your band name is after the Rwandan civil war peace agreement, is there any specific reason why you chose this context?

Paul: While we were looking for a name, we came up with the idea that we wanted to name the band after someone or something famous, like a famous criminal or a famous event. So that it isn’t just your standard metal name, with blood or skulls or death, as these are quite boring. A friend of ours gave us the idea, and we had a look into the background of this affair, and decided that we'd go for that. It's not my favourite name out of the ones that we had in the bag, but it's okay. A name's a name, it's all about music for us. Other metal bands have these massively cliche names, so I'm glad we didn't go down that route.

The Arusha Accord

got-djent.com: You're about to rerelease 'The Echo Verses' and 'Nightmare of the Ocean', as a refurbished release to the 2008, respectively 2009 editions, as a joint deluxe collectors edition. What exactly has been added to the record or the package?

Paul: You've got the extra content on there, and we spent a lot of time over the last several months on that, especially getting tabs together. The guys had written down parts of the songs originally, but they never tabbed them out properly. It was quite monumental for them to try to remember all the tracks, and write them down. We've got a music video on there as well, and phone tones, wallpapers etc.

got-djent.com: So they haven't been remixed, remastered or anything?

Paul: No they're not remastered, we were quite happy with the way they came out originally. I think for the next record we've learnt some lessons from those two, and we're gonna combine the styles we've got, and the new one will most likely be an amalgamation of everything we've released so far.

got-djent.com: What about the video clip, that was for one of the tracks from 'The Echo Verses'?

Paul: That will be the 'Dead To Me' video, a high definition version of it. It cost us a lot of money to get it recorded, so it’s great to see that released properly.

« So I'm the one looking at how we can influence our music outside of metal to push it forward a bit. »

got-djent.com: I saw the pictures of the signing session where you met in some garden, signing a lot of CDs. That looked like fun as well.

Paul: Yeah, it was good to see everybody, we haven't seen each other for quite a few months now, so it's good to catch up and just have a few beers, I spoke to Barley (head honcho of Basick Records) as well... it was good to see him, I don't see him very often.

got-djent.com: About Barley, in an earlier interview you said that the reason why you had left Basick was that you were looking for a worldwide distribution deal back then.

Paul: That’s right.

got-djent.com: So now, Basick have this worldwide distribution, and that convinced you to re-sign with them? Is it that simple?

Paul: Yeah, the problem was that we needed to get worldwide distribution, so we left Basick. We had a decent fanbase outside the UK, and we wanted to plug into that, and actually get it into stores worldwide because we were never going to play outside of the UK properly unless we did.

Back then, we had Earache, Listenable and a few others interested, but those fell through. We ended up going to Wolf At Your Door, because our management was part of that, but that was a bit frustrating. We had always been friends with Barley, so we talked about it a few times over Summer 2010 and decided it was the best for everybody. And now with their worldwide distribution deal, it's even better. Finally!

Cover art for the collector's edition of 'The Echo Verses'

got-djent.com: That sounds promising indeed. About your upcoming album, I read in an older interview that it is due to be released in 2012. Is that still the plan?

Paul: I don't know about that. I don't know who said that, but that's a bit optimistic, haha. Yes, it could be 2012, but I really can’t tell you. Honestly, we've got a lot of material ready, and it’s gotten a bit more proggy. It's sounding quite Tool-y, sort of Karnivool-esque in parts, but it is still maintaining our technicality and our constant changes.

So yeah, it's too early to say when it's going to be out. I hope it is next year, because I'm bored waiting for stuff to lay vocals over. But it's sounding really good, and I think that based on what we've got so far it could easily come out next year, but it could just as easily take another year. It's one of those things with our writing process, you never know how long it takes because we want to make it perfect.

got-djent.com: So it's going to be more proggy, more Tool and more Karnivool as you put it...

Paul: You see, so far, the songwriters in the band have tended to write in different phases, so what influences them depends on what they're listening to and how they're feeling at the time. Luke writes a lot of Tool-esque stuff, he's really into the repetitions, cycles and circles, adding extra bits every time, changing the key slightly etc. I think James is writing quite a bit more Dillinger-y, sort of Meshuggah-y stuff at the moment, and then Tom is also writing quite a bit of Dillinger Escape Plan-style and Tool-y bits. I've been trying to introduce them to some quite strange stuff as well, such as Keith Jarrett, the pianist with the insane compositions. So I'm the one looking at how we can influence our music outside of metal to push it forward a bit.

«We have to write lyrics and then probably about 2/3rds will get thrown away because they don't fit the timing, so the lyrics are slaves to the tracks really.»

got-djent.com: Do you have any idea on lyrical content or anything?

Paul: I'm quite keen to make this a concept album. I'd like to write within a similar theme, although I can’t really say what I'm gonna write about yet. Before I've got a full song in front of me, it's really difficult to write. Whereas most bands would be able to write lyrics and then attach that to a song, we have to write lyrics and then probably about 2/3rds will get thrown away because they don't fit the timing, so the lyrics are slaves to the tracks really.

I guess Alex and me have to wait and see what we're given musically, and we try not to interfere too much with what the songwriters do because it causes friction. A lot of bands break up due to that. We're happy for them to do what they do, we trust them to get it right. And then we'll take it, and just work with it, see what comes out. And then hopefully, if all the songs work out well we'll get a concept going with it and try to keep that all the way through.

got-djent.com: You've worked with fantastic visual artist Tom Gilmore, right? Do you know whether that will go on?

Paul: Yeah, I hope so, he's one of my best friends. He was in my second ever band as well, he used to play drums with me. We've been great friends since uni, so I can't see it ending. In fact, we were just talking today about possibly doing a collaboration, doing some artwork together, so hopefully that's gonna work out.

got-djent.com: Coming back to the music a bit, the direction of the music. You've mentioned bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan and well, of course your music is very technical, that's quite obvious. But it's a kind of technicality that's more in the vein of Dillinger Escape Plan than that of bands from British djent harbours such as TesseracT and Monuments. Would you consider yourself a 'djent' band, or close to djent?

Paul: This is one of those questions that I've been asking myself. We seem to appear on quite a few djent sites, and I'm just trying to get into my head whether we are or not, because it's quite difficult. The term seems to be given quite a broad brush at the moment, and I don't know if all of the bands that are called djent, really are. I think maybe it's covered by a couple of our tracks, like in the beginning of 'The Resurgent'. It's got that distinctive djenty sound, but other than that I can't really say that we are. I'd say we're more a tech metal band than a djent band. But I'm happy to be part of what's going on with it, because it's a really nice scene. Everyone gets along, it's a good place to be.

got-djent.com: You guys have been around since 2005, the same year Periphery were founded, and Fellsilent had their first successes. So you've technically seen the djent genre growing up, what would you think has changed or how was it see the modern technical metal scene evolve that much?

Paul: It's been great, I mean, it's evolved loads. People probably wouldn't necessarily see it that way, but if you think about how, the way bands like, say, Meshuggah and Textures have developed... Most people wouldn't have started out creating djent tracks if it wasn't for them, but everyone seems to have stepped up their game and it became quite individual.

TesseracT are very individual with what they do now, they weren't so much when they had their original singer. I think they're a lot better today than they used to be. And well, Monuments, who used to be part of Fellsilent as well, I think they're incredible. Really, really good band and they've got a bright future. Everyone seems to change the style slightly but still enough to set themselves apart, it's great.

«If you have someone on board who can give you perfect sound every time, you’re on to a winner.»

got-djent.com: One of the first bands going in a technical direction were Botch, and I found them mentioned, linked with The Arusha Accord somewhere. They were founded in 1993, that's a pretty long time ago.

Paul: It is, yeah, I didn't realise that. That's a long time, indeed.

got-djent.com: Would you consider them an influence as well?

Paul: Possibly. Not so much for vocals, I don't really cite them as an influence, but possibly the guys do. Our main influences definitely are Tool, SikTh, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah – those four mainly. Vocal-wise... Anything I like really, haha... Karnivool and bands like that. We have massive differences in who we like. Our drummer is a classical drummer in an orchestra, for example. Everyone's got different influences.

got-djent.com: Did you see Karnivool on their tour last December?

Paul: My girlfriend and me were gonna go to that, but it was so snowy over here. When it snows in the UK, like more than an inch, life becomes an instant nightmare. We don't know how to deal with it. So I couldn't make it. I saw them at Sonisphere though, and it was amazing. One of the best shows I've ever seen, they're an incredible band.

got-djent.com: Yeah, especially the vocal performance right?

Paul: Kenny's amazing yeah, he's something else.

got-djent.com: And the way he delivers the thing live, just like on CD. It’s just incredible.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. From what I’ve heard, they've got a really good soundman as well. I'm friends with the guys in Skindred, and they toured with Karnivool the first time they came over here. They said the sound guy they've got is second to none. So it does make a big difference: if you have someone on board who can give you perfect sound every time, you’re on to a winner. But unfortunately we don’t have a soundman and we’ve had some terrible sound engineers. But Karnivool - they’ve got everything absolutely spot on.

Cover art for the original 2009 release of 'The Echo Verses'

got-djent.com: About “djent” or the technical metal sound, what do you think: is it going to hit big or has it already reached its peak?

Paul: No, it’s definitely going to get a lot bigger. For me it seems like a secret society at the moment in a weird way. It seems that there is quite a small amount of people within metal that are part of the djent scene, not just bands but the fans as well. And I can only see it growing bigger, the more tours are planned with djent bands headlining and opening, the bigger it’s gonna get. The League of Extraordinary Djentlemen tour was a huge success. And if we can carry on booking tours like that it can only get bigger around the world. Yeah, it’s gonna grow. Definitely.

got-djent.com: Ok, we’ve talked about The Dillinger Escape Plan and Karnivool, of course they are very different. Karnivool's music is quite easily accessible for a broad audience. For The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Arusha Accord that's probably not the case. Haven’t you found it hard to get people to listen to your music?

«It’s hard to get accepted straight away, people definitely need to listen to you more than once. It’s hard to get through to some people.»

Paul: It’s hard for people to really get into it, yeah. I think Dillinger have gone down a good route. They’ve written some songs that are more accessible, such as «Black Bubblegum». They have lightened the load a bit. We also did one of these tracks, «Dead To Me». There was some skepticism about it initially but today we’re very happy about it. And yeah, it’s hard to get accepted straight away, people definitely need to listen to it more than once.

got-djent.com: What about the reactions when playing the music live?

Paul: We've had a few special gigs, yeah. It’s difficult. We've got this intention of going to a show and making sure you leave a good impression, regardless of whether people are really getting into it. Even if they don’t quite understand what they’ve seen. But well – we had this one gig when we played on my birthday two years ago. We had all just given up work to go full time with the band – and we played in Leeds with a bunch of deathcore bands and deathcore fans. We weren’t on the poster for some reason so they didn’t have clue. So a number of kids decided to walk out half way through, and Alex decided to tell them they were a bunch of pricks – luckily they took it well, haha. But that’s the worst case scenario of course. Usually it’s ok.

got-djent.com: You’ve mentioned the tabs that you’ve released on the collector’s edition and you said it was big and a nightmare to get those done. You’d think that music which is as technical as yours must be written out in tabs already.

Paul: Well yeah, it wasn’t back then. We basically sit in the room and just jam ideas and gradually build songs from there, so a lot of the stuff starts with the guitarists, mainly Luke, and they start writing bit by bit and write that down in their books. Then they work on it with the drummer. Luke is the main guy in the band in terms of the initial music writing.

And that’s the way we’ve always worked, but now because we’re using Guitar Pro, it gives you a good feel for the track from the start, so we think we’re gonna write the next album quicker. In the past we had everything handwritten and it was harder to remember.

Some timing sheets the band use to keep track of their songs

got-djent.com: You used to have This Arusha Accord “tech shrine” online, with PDFs with all the time signatures of the songs, to enable people to learn them if they want to, but that doesn’t seem to be online anymore. Does that mean that Guitar Pro is the technique you use now and all these colorful PDFs with number codes are a thing of the past?

Paul: No, we’re still gonna use that approach, mainly for Mark, the drummer. Of course he can read sheet music but when he plays music he just wants to see a couple of sheets and numbers, so he can see the timing. I think we’re definitely still going to use that. The tech shrine has now moved to our website. At the moment all albums are on there and I think we’ve got the explanations about timings up as well. We are definitely going to maintain that site now and keep it going. The best thing is when your fans know what you’re doing.

Paul's Pro-Tip on how not to destroy your voice:
« Stick off the dairy! Stick to water and beer. »

got-djent.com: You as a vocalist, do you give vocal lessons as well?

Paul: I’m staying away from that side of things a little, especially because I’m concentrating on doing artworks right now. The other guys give music lessons though. There were a couple of guys approaching me with some questions, especially regarding screaming technique, and I gave them some advice. But I wouldn’t charge anybody for advice. I mostly tell them to not destroy their voices and how to not do that. But it’s a nice thing for sure. I mean, you don’t make much money in a band – in fact, we haven’t made a penny since we started, it was all reinvested into the band. And you have a lot of time at shows where you sit around and do nothing, especially as a singer.

got-djent.com: What’s your pro tip on how to save your voice then?

Paul: Well, there’s several ways you do it. You’ve got to know the muscles in your throat – that’s the key to it. The three key muscles going up that you need to form into a cone or pyramid. Other than that, well… Stick off the dairy! Stick to water and beer. I don’t like to drink milk before a gig – the voice gets a bit phlegmy. So if you get an ache in your throat, you’ve been working your muscles. If you get a scratchy feel – you’ve damaged yourself. And don’t take any tablets like “Vocal Zones” that are meant to numb your throat a bit and make it a little less sore. Very bad idea. Because if you’re doing any damage, you wanna know.

got-djent.com: After the release what are the plans? I’m sure there must be some kind of touring involved?

Paul: Yeah we’re gonna come back to play some shows at some point in the future. We don’t quite know when yet. We were offered to play on a number of tours next year. Our guitarist Tom is going to travel from May until the end of the year – so until he’s back we can’t play shows. But that’s fine, because we want to focus on writing our new album. But what I can say…. for Summer 2012 it’s definitely about playing some show also at festivals and well… for the Winter we’ve been put on a pretty decent tour with a djent band… But I can’t say much more than that.

got-djent.com: Any idea where this particular djent band is from then?

Paul: Ummm, I don’t think I even know, haha. Could be Sweden… You know, it’s so far away, so it’s really now worth saying more yet, but I like to think that it’s going to take place. It’s hard not to play shows when you’re in a band. But we work with The Agency Group now and our agent Becky (also working with Architects, Suicide Silence) is top. So. A lot of great things ahead.

Interview: Patrick

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or maybe they're just being humble and it's really Meshuggah they're talking about hahaha

Love this interview, and absolutely love Arusha <3

I'd enter, but I've already ordered the album + grey tee with Tom Gilmour's awesome artwork.

oops. guess i've been damaging my throat. good thing i'm not a vocalist. if this djent band happened to be Vildhjarta, and the tour happened to make it to the states, i'd be pretty thrilled.

Great interview Smile

whoah.. great job D: