THE MECHANIST (back, from l-r): James Cheal (vocals), Alex Wem (bass) (front, from l-r): Les Harrison (drums), Sam Butterfield (guitar), Jonny White (guitar/vocals)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
By combining fast technical metal riffs and brutal metalcore breakdowns, along with a positive and collaborative songwriting approach, Leeds five-piece The Mechanist are rapidly making a name for themselves on the British metal scene.
Having recently brought out a double A-side single, ‘Timekeeper/Between The Lines’, as well as playing a headline show in their home city, the band spoke to me about them, the quintet’s journey so far, as well as their initial plans for 2019.
How did the band form?
The band was formed by James Cheal and former guitarist Sam Parry, who set about recruiting via friends and the internet whilst writing the first EP. The line-up changed around for a while, until we settled on the current members. Sam Butterfield joined last year after Parry decided to depart from the band.
How did the name The Mechanist come about?
James came up with the name The Mechanist after researching the philosophy of mechanism, the idea that everything is composed of a multitude of individual interconnecting inanimate parts which present the illusion of soul, self, etc.
What are the band’s main musical influences?
We are influenced massively by the new music emerging from bands like The Contortionist, SikTh, and Architects!
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Sam and Jonny usually begin writing riffs together or alone, then bring these ideas to Les and Alex to work on arranging the structure, and to help piece the song together. Vocals usually come last, with James writing his parts. This process is completely collaborative, and promises to show our best work.
What inspires the band lyrically?
Our first EP, ‘Minds & Machines’, which we released last year, was lyrically inspired from The Mechanist philosophy, and dealt with themes of free will and self as illusory and the multitude of difficult questions and answers raised by the subject.
‘Timekeeper’ and ‘Between the Lines’, our more recent singles, focus more on getting older, and the effect that the passage of time has on your relationships with others and yourself.
Speaking of your debut EP, how was the reaction to that?
The reaction was huge! We poured our hearts into the promotion and release of that EP, and we feel that it payed off!
We spent a lot of time creating content for social media such as all our music videos, playthroughs, lyric videos, and extra content (Dog Meme), which all help build a fan base and get our content viewed. It showed us that some careful planning can pay off, and is totally worth our time and effort.
How was the recording process for ‘Timekeeper’?
The recording process was a huge amount of fun! We spent four days at Fox Hound Studios in Cheshire, with producer Mike Bennett tracking live drums, guitar, bass, and vocals.
It was made easy by our preparation prior to the recording, however, during the process, our bass player, Alex, started getting very sick, and it was only the day after recording when he went to hospital that we found out that he had popped his lung, and he ended up spending the next two months in hospital for a total of six surgeries.
Now if that’s not a great story, then we don’t know what is!
And for those who have yet to listen to it, what can they expect?
If you haven’t heard ‘Timekeeper’ yet, then we would really recommend it, as we feel it’s the best representation of what you can expect from us in the future! We are currently working on a new EP, and feel that ‘Timekeeper’ bridges the gap between our first EP and the material that is still in the works!
You’ve supported the likes of Arkdown, Harmed, and Borders. How is the experience, for you all, of playing live?
We love supporting these guys, as they always put on a killer show! It helps us to up our game when we are surrounded by such talent, and it really inspires us to improve our live shows and keep up our own process.
What are the band’s plans for the near future?
We have a few more great gigs lined up this year, we’ve just played a headliner show at the Key Club in Leeds, but we are planning on spending the rest of 2018 writing and finishing off our newest material for a spring release early next year, where we plan to hit the ground running with new material, merchandise, and content!
And finally, what is your long-term aim?
Our long-term aim is to continue playing and performing the music we love, and to keep true to ourselves in the process. Everyone goes through changes in their lives, and we want to enjoy the journey and just keep at the top of our game!
‘TIMEKEEPER/BETWEEN THE LINES’, THE LATEST DOUBLE A-SIDE SINGLE FROM THE MECHANIST, ARE AVAILABLE NOW.
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: