“INTRINSIC” Interview by Trisha Lindley
It’s no secret all the difficulties that Intrinsic has been through over the years with everything from member changes to a dissolution in 1997. What circumstances came about to bring everyone back together?
Certainly, the reunion shows in 2005 and 2007 got the ball rolling. We stayed good friends after the band broke up in 97. We even worked on each other’s projects. Mike (McLaughlin – bass) ran front of house sound for Chris’ (Binns – drums) post-Intrinsic band, Motograter, on a few tours, including OzzFest. I co-produced and engineered the debut album of Mike’s post-Intrinsic band, Snubnose32. Since we were pretty spread out over the western US, we spent very little time together overall, though. The reunion shows reminded us how much we enjoyed being together as friends and how much we loved making music together. We did resolve, at the time, to continue, but with our geographic separation and much more complicated adult lives, it was easier said than done. The real catalyst was Mike writing and demoing 4 songs (with Michael’s help on a couple of songs) a few years back. It showed us the power and potential musicians have now for recording with the proliferation of the digital project studio.
With the exception of having performed in reunion shows in 2005 and 2007, is that the last time everyone has played together on the same stage? Can the fans expect to see Intrinsic live in the new year?
I would love to say yes, but I think all of our efforts will be going into writing and demoing new music this year. The 2005 and 2007 reunion shows were the last time we played live together.
Nails, your sophomore album, was originally recorded in 1992 but was just recently re-mixed and released in 2015. How did the release come about after all those years in the vault? Can you tell us how the pairing up with Divebomb Records to release Nails came to be?
Man, I thought that album would always just be lost for the ages. After everything that went into making the album, it was such a bummer for it to get shelved in 92. It was so gratifying and a pretty emotional experience for us to finally release it after all these years. When things started rolling on writing new music a few years back, I started a Facebook page to reconnect with friends and supporters and maybe connect with some new people. We started to hear from metal collectors. When they heard we had an unreleased album from 92, they connected us with a few different labels. All would have been good choices, but we went with Divebomb because they are in the US, have a stellar reputation and we really liked the look of their other releases. After all that, it still almost didn’t make it. The original mix master tapes did not fare too well over the years and would have required major reconstruction to use them. At that point, we decided to remix because the amount of work and money that would have gone into reconstruction would have been almost as much as a remix. Plus, remixing would give new life to the album by allowing it to reach its sonic potential. We couldn’t have been happier with how it came out. We remixed it at the perfect studio – The Mouse House in Altadena, CA by the owner/engineer Rich Mouser, who is also guitarist of the band, Oleander. Since the tapes couldn’t be played over and over in the way that is required to mix, we had to transfer the music to a digital format. (That was another tribulation because the tapes had to be baked at 350° for 4 hours in order to play correctly after all those years. It reactivates the glue that holds the two parts of the tape together. Scary stuff) The Mouse House is a hybrid analog/digital studio. So, while the music was archived in digital, it went through an analog mixing board and outboard effects processors and mixed down to ½” analog tape. It was the best of both worlds and really helped retain the feel of a 1992 recording while bringing it into the present sonically.
With the band members being in different areas, when can we look forward to hearing a new album?
Because we have to work remotely and have much more complicated lives than we did back during our first run, writing is going a little slowly. We’ve had to learn a whole new way to collaborate. Back in the day, we rehearsed 4+ nights per week and the collaboration came easy. Yeah, we would practice at home and bring riffs and lyrics to practice, but most of the writing happened with all of us in the same room. The energy is very inspiring and the synergy of all 5 of us working together took the songwriting to a level that was greater than just the sum of the parts. You get used to working that way and it’s hard to be an independent unit working on music by yourself in your project studio. But, we can also demo the music so much easier now and be more reflective in our approach. And I think that works well with where we are in life. You tend to become more reflective and wise with age and less impulsive. The trick is to not overanalyze, though. It’s very easy to do that when you can listen back to your music over and over again in the comfort of your own house. You tend to get option anxiety. We have found novel ways to collaborate using video and audio conferencing and special software that allows us to all be virtually in the same room like we were in a recording session together. I can even control the software on another band member’s computer remotely just like a recording engineer. It’s really cool. We hope to have demos done by next fall 2017 and will start recording shortly thereafter. Can’t really speculate on when an album would be released, but it will be at least in 2018.
With talk of a new album, what can we expect from the new material? Will we hear the sound us fans have grown accustomed to or will the band be stepping off in a new direction?
You know, I think in the new music there are elements of everything we have done in the past, but filtered through the life and music experiences we’ve had since we last wrote together. I mean, how do you ignore those things? They are part of you and come out in the music.
We aren’t writing Nails 2.0, but there will be elements of Nails in the new music. Probably not the long songs, though :). Definitely a progressive vibe in places. Couple that with the more simple and direct heaviness of Closure and the riffarama of the first album and you get a pretty good idea of where we are going. There will be some surprises, too. I think that each of our albums are different while maintaining an Intrinsic feel and the new one will continue in that vein. I know for sure that we won’t purposely try to make a “modern” album or a retro true metal album. We try to make music that we love and that moves us and if others like it, great. If they don’t, well, we still love it. There are not many things more exciting for us than writing a new riff or a new vocal melody and it just sticks in your head for days. It keeps us going.
With all the challenges Intrinsic has faced in the past, what do you see in the future for the band?
Right now, we are not looking too far ahead into the future. Our main goal is to get all the songs we are writing finished and demoed. After that, the plan is to record the whole album ourselves. We have all the recording gear to do it. Then we would mix it at a proper studio. Hopefully we will have a record company to partner with to record and release the album. It’s one step at a time now, though.
Thank you, for taking the time to speak with us here at Metalheads Forever Magazine. I look forward to hearing the new material and will be on the lookout for Intrinsic’s next release.
Trisha Lindley / MHF Magazine