ZT INTERROGATION: I AM THE TRIREME’S NEW RELEASE IS A MACABRE MARCH OF DEATH
Jay Briscoe, singer with blackened Philadelphia pulverizers I Am The Trireme, takes ZT’s Paul Castles on a journey into their new albumGnosis: Never Follow the Light.
Hi guys, thanks for taking time out to talk with Zero Tolerance. For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the band can you tell us who or what is ‘the Trireme?’
Well let’s start with the meaning of the word ‘Trireme’. A Trireme is a warship that was discovered to exist as early as 410 BC it was more popular in the 5th Century in the Mediterranean seas. The meaning behind our name has become more prevalent during our career The Trireme relates to our band and the fast paced blasting sound that we have. Like an ancient war ship crushing through the waves of the Mediterranean Sea. With a Trireme every man must hold down their portion of the ship, the next man relies on the other to travel. The Trireme stands for the beliefs and values that were consecrated upon the band’s formation. We are just men that are rowing and steering the boat.
You’ve got a new album out at the end of June which I’ve been enjoying very much. Can you give us an insight into it and perhaps explain something about its title Gnosis: Never Follow the Light.
Gnosis: Never Follow the Light is a poignant passage through the stages of Enlightenment and Ascension. Each song has its own symbol and is comparable to the metamorphic phases of a butterfly, or in a more morbid sense, the five stages of grief. This album leaves room for the listener to use perception as a tool while reaching a common result. Sonically Gnosis lacks the ability to just belong or lump itself in a collective genre which can attest to I am the Trireme’s existing struggle with just blending into a scene or live line-up. For IATT this album holds the symbol of constant suffocation and deprivation of carrying out a normal life. For two years our lives have been consumed by this album.
I understand that each song has its own symbol and relates to the metamorphic journey of a butterfly, or in a more morbid sense the five stages of grief. Was this concept inspired by anything in particular?
Initially we discussed a concept album that would tell a story, but that idea did not stick. Lyrically each song is written after a full musical skeleton is completed. Of course each song is never complete until the recording process is final. My approach to Gnosis: Never Follow the Light was simple, to paint a picture that reflects the music that is being played. The tone of the album was set by the composition of the first song Metre fin a Cette (End this Life). Each brush stroke in this portrait of an album is arranged so that the listener may take each jagged word as a blade to skin and bleed metaphorically.
This is your second album. Did you approach this one from a slightly different angle as to the first, perhaps in terms of demanding more from yourselves?
Absolutely, I believe that any time a band is on the verge of writing new material the goal is to improve over the preceding album. I personally approached Joe Cantamessa (lead guitarist) before the writing process about breaking the musical boundaries that we set with the previous release. Joe is a music theory enthusiast so he took the challenge and had a hand in us becoming a more well-rounded band with an emphasis on dynamics. Musically we wanted to challenge ourselves but we also wanted our songs to be full of emotion. Writing songs that are moving play an integral part in our compositions.
The album is out on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. How is your relationship with them and do you feel the label is a ‘good fit’ for I Am The Trireme?
Yes I do believe HPGD productions is an excellent fit for I am the Trireme. Mike Juliano approached me a few years ago at Hostile City Deathfest showing interest in our band. My interaction with him stuck with me and we decided to join forces. This move is showing results and may easily be one of the best moves of our career. Mike is a hard-working individual and he has built plenty of relationships with his professionalism. He has provided us with a slew of his personal contacts that are currently benefitting I am the Trireme and providing us with a lot of opportunities and exposure. May I throw in that his relationship with his current employer Relapse Records was a bonus for us because he has the knowledge and experience from working for a reputable metal label.
It’s a really eye-catching sleeve. Who was responsible for it?
Alec Pezzano co-founding member of I am the Trireme is the official graphic artist of the band. He has from day one provided all artwork, logos and shirt designs for the band along with show banners or flyers. We find that his participation in the band is key to the visual image that we would like to portray to listeners. Alec’s graphic design company Vital Signs Media has had a few of his cover artwork including IATT’s Gnosis featured in a few album art zines.
Although there is a strong black metal connection through both the music and vocal style of the band is it fair to say that you’re not purely operating as a black metal outfit?
I would have to agree. Sonically we may have sections of our music that sounds like Melodic Death Metal or Doom Metal. Then you have the DSBM influence that we have as well and that sounds nothing like traditional Black Metal. That brings you to the question – What is Black Metal?
I will not get into that debate because Black Metal is not owned it is borrowed and the best person to answer that is none other than Mr. Nodtveidt himself. Rest in Chaos, John.
You’ve produced a powerful video for the track ‘Thy Sombering Light’ which showcases the aural ferocity of the band set against the visuals of a female dancer. She begins dancing gracefully but it ends up in quite a disturbing manner. Tell us a little about it.
In the video the dancer represents an element in life that may seem innocent and beautiful but in reality she is vile, she is a cancer and she is poisonous. Her mere presence is something that could end life as you know it and eliminating her is the only choice. Visually the video borrowed some themes from the 1950’s German Expressionist era.
There is a symphonic edge in places to your sound – does that influence come from any band member in particular or is it something you all embrace?
Alec Pezzano the rhythm guitarist is responsible for any orchestral arrangements within our songs. The past three releases the symphonics were more involved. In this album we decided that we only wanted the symphonics to accent the music instead of being an actual part of the band. We did not want to be identified as a symphonic band. We didn’t want the burden of being labelled. We just wanted our music to reflect true darkness.
Your sound is quite complex in places – is it something you can still perform live or do your gigs take on a different feel in any way?
We do have challenging parts in some songs but for our own musical integrity we push to stay honest to what was recorded. We demand a lot out of each other. Musically you do not want to be the person that let the next man down. I would say that our drummer Paul Cole has one of the most physically demanding positions. Our songs require Paul to play at a fast tempo, while using power and stamina.
Just give us a little background material. Are all the band members from Philadelphia?
When the band started in 2008 all members were from Philadelphia. But as line-up changes took place we were forced to find members outside of Philadelphia. Majority of the band only lives a few minutes away from Philadelphia.
How is the music scene there currently, and have you established much of a local following?
Honestly the music scene as a whole has changed since the early 2000’s people don’t go to shows like they use to. Big name tours don’t come to Philadelphia like they used to. But I will say that there are a variety of good local bands from the area, you just have to find them. There are a lot of cool small bar venues with regular local bands that go unnoticed. Philadelphia is home base to Relapse Records and Decibel Magazine. Season’s of Mist has an office here as well so there has to be something going on in Philadelphia! I would say that we have a decent following within the Tri State area. IATT has travelled the North East region to play shows and now I can pop up in New York and have a few people recognize me as the vocalist of I am the Trireme. I went to a non-metal show with my wife and I had someone walk up to me and tell me that I anointed him at one of our shows a few years back. That is very rewarding feeling to know that your band was a memory and not an afterthought.
Will there be tours to support Gnosis: Never Follow the Light and how much enjoyment do you take from performing live?
There will be some touring to support the release. We are currently working with a booking company to set a tour up. We have a few consecutive dates on the east coast. I wholeheartedly enjoy live performances. I believe that live performances are where a band’s identity takes shape. Live performances are everything and that is the difference between a band and a project. I am the Trireme is not religious but the Stage can be considered our Holy Ground.
Thanks for taking time out to speak with us – Any final message for your UK fans?
I would like to thank you for taking your time to check out I am the Trireme. Keep your eyes open for our first Full-Length Gnosis: Never Follow the Light out June 30 on Horror Pain Death Gore Productions.