With the release of Controller, the third album from Misery Signals, the band further solidifies themselves as longtime players in the metalcore scene.
Punknews interviewer Sarah El-Hamzawi had a chance to talk with the band's bassist, Kyle Johnson.
You guys are on the Thrash and Burn tour right now, how is it going?
Itâ??s actually really good. I wasnâ??t sure how hard the days were going to be with real long shows and playing everyday, but turns out itâ??s a lot of fun. There are a lot of good people to hang with, and weâ??re all friends.
Misery Signals toured with a lot of diverse bands. Do you have a preference of touring with either metal acts or hardcore acts?
Itâ??s hard to say, because touring with every band is different. Even if you tour with two different bands that are hardcore bands, itâ??s going to be a different experience and a different crowd. Itâ??s hard to pick a favourite, but we like to play with bands that will bring a mix of people who know our music, and a mix of people who donâ??t. That way we have people rocking out bringing high energy, but we can still demonstrate what we are about to people who have not seen us. Thatâ??s the ideal crowd.
For some reason you guys always get such a good response during your Canadian tours. Do you find you get the same reception when touring in the states?
Our shows are bigger there, and people seem to get a little more excited by it. I canâ??t really explain why. Maybe itâ??s because we toured Canada really consistently when other people werenâ??t playing there a lot because of our Canadian members. We have such a good time there, and it is always high energy.
You teamed up again with Devin Townsend for the recordings. Although Devin produced of Malice and Magnum Heart, Ben Schigel did your last record, Mirrors. What are some of the differences between working with each of them, and why did you go back to Devin?
There are a ton of differences. Those are the only two legitimate producers we have ever worked with, but we love working with Devin. We went back to him because he works so hard and puts the time into it, and there are good results. We are all super thrilled with the production of this record. He achieved what we were going for, and we knew he was a capable guy so we went back to him. Heâ??s also just such a rad dude to be around. He has taught us a lot about being in a band.
Controller definitely has the same polished, clean production value as Of Malice, and it seemed like you guys went back to your older sound a bit more on this record. Was that intentional?
I think the new record is somewhere between our two last ones. When we recorded Malice it was a really polished, really produced album and we wanted to follow it up with something a little more raw and organic like Mirrors. We wanted to get in between those two directions. I think being a good producer is getting an album to sound polished and clear, but without it sounding kind of manufactured. A lot of metal records donâ??t even sound like there are real instruments on it, just programmed. We wanted our guitars to sound like real guitars. Itâ??s a constant balance.
Misery Signals has always been known for lyrics that are quite personal. The new record definitely has this, but it seems like there is a greater sense of social and political awareness. What kinds of things inspired your lyrics for Controller?
Like you said, itâ??s based on our experiences, but we are all part of something social and something bigger too. We are products of our environment, and a lot of things that make me uneasy are things you can write about. You got to write about the things that you really feel deep down; otherwise itâ??s going to be contrived. We draw inspiration from the things we feel fucked up about in our lives.
You guys have still maintained the melodic breaks you are known for on your new album. How do you respond to the people who think this doesnâ??t belong in metal?
I think that weâ??ve gotten a pretty good response from people. A lot of people think that if you thrown in that "pussy shit" it doesnâ??t seem like it belongs, but I think we manage to do it in a way that most people find acceptable. I hear people say more often that not that they usually think itâ??s weird, but when we do it we get away with it. I think thatâ??s a good compliment for us because it is a hard thing to do, and it has been our goal from the start.
When you were writing and recording Controller, were you thinking about what fans would want to hear?
Obviously we appreciate our fans and where weâ??ve gotten as a band, but we try not to play to them, but play for them. Hopefully that makes sense? We just got to follow our vision as musicians, and write for ourselves. Fan bases change depending on what is cool and what isnâ??t, and we try no to get caught up in any of that.
Itâ??s quite apparent that punk, metal, and hardcore are becoming more and more image conscious. Why do you think there is a growing interest in image and style within the music industry?
I wish I knew because it bums me out. Especially being a dude that came from hardcore in the '90s, which was something that I was conscious of avoiding. I canâ??t really explain why, but I think it has to do with the fact that itâ??s getting bigger, more commodified, and more mainstream. Hardcore bands get sold and played at the mall, and people are trying to make money off it. Clothing companies want to sponsor bands, and kids will think that company is cool. Itâ??s good in a way because bands get money but itâ??s a double edged sword.
Whatâ??s the one band that influenced you most growing up?
For hardcore bands, I would say Turmoil.
When reading about you guys, a lot of people describe you as being on the cusp of getting really big. Is mainstream success important to you?
Itâ??s weird because we thought that would be impossible. Itâ??s never been a goal, and I didnâ??t know people have said that but itâ??s cool. I donâ??t know if I believe that, because I donâ??t know if it is a reality. We are a difficult band to appreciate; just because there is a lot going on, and we are music dorks who try and do weird stuff that we think is interesting but that doesnâ??t necessarily go with the mainstream. Itâ??s never been a goal, but itâ??s nothing that we are against. I donâ??t think it means weâ??ve sold out if a massive amount of people decide they like us because weâ??re still doing what we have been doing from the beginning. It goes back to the whole image thing, and a lot of people pride themselves on obscurity and listening to things that other people havenâ??t heard of.
Ideally, where do you see Misery Signals in five years. Is there anywhere you have been wanting to tour?
I made all these goals when we started touring, and we keep meeting them before I get a chance to make new ones. At first we just wanted to be in a band and not have jobs, and we got to that point. After that, our goals were to go overseas and get fans in a bunch of different places and weâ??re doing that now. Weâ??re trying to come up with more goals as we go, and I think that itâ??s going to come down to more stylistic and artistic goals. I havenâ??t come up with those yet, but we are starting to put together ideas for where we are going to go as a band and that is what weâ??re going to focus on.
Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time, and have a great tour.
No problem. Thanks a lot for the chat.