Isis - False Light Still Shines
By: David E. Gehlke
Blistering.com: In the raw environment, as in the demos, you sound heavier. I can point to “Carry” and “Wills Dissolve” as sounding heavier in demo form than the actual recording. Did you pick up on that as well?
Harris: I guess it’s more raw and a lot dirtier and sludgier. You don’t get the isolation of the instruments where you can EQ the instruments. We’re in the practice space and on that early stuff, those were just stereo room recordings. It’s a totally different vibe. The Wavering Radiant stuff was done live, but done via multi-track.
Blistering.com: The jump you made from Celestial to Oceanic was huge and came to define your career. Can you speak to the progress the band made during that time?
Harris: Clifton [Meyer] and Mike [Gallagher] had just joined when we started writing Celestial. We were finding our sound and those guys had just started working together with us on Celestial, so that happened. Once we got touring on Celestial and became more of a tight unit and knew each other better and everything was feeling more cohesive…there was a little drug use and we started writing for Oceanic [laughs]. At the time, I didn’t feel like we were on to anything. It just felt like writing another Isis record. It felt more of a tight unit and we finally had full-length with Celestial…Oceanic didn’t feel like we were onto anything. Looking back, it’s a pretty big step.
Blistering.com: The way in which I’ve always viewed your catalog is that you started this big phase with Oceanic, but Panopticon finished things off. That’s you taking Oceanic a step further.
Harris: I see the records a lot differently now that I’m not living the songs and not playing and touring them constantly. It’s weird…I can sort of appreciate the songs more and hear why people like the songs. I almost appreciate them more now that I’m not playing them.
Blistering.com: Do you see In the Absence of Truth differently now too? That’s considered your weak link.
Harris: That was a really weird record. That was when Jeff [Caxide] and Mike moved to the East Coast and Aaron [Turner], Cliff, and I were living here in town and Aaron had a lot going with his label [Hydrahead] and in his personal life. Cliff and I were jamming a lot on songs. It was a really weird record to write because we’d get together in these little writing blocks and work on the stuff everyone had. I think even though that record sticks out, it was an important record for us to make. It got a lot of stuff out of our system and we were able to try some new things that we realized afterward that worked or didn’t work. I listen to that one the least. Like I said, I really do feel like that was important record for us to make.
Blistering.com: My first thought in regards to that record is you guys touring with Tool.
Harris: That was really strange and amazing for a lot of different reasons. Tool is a band we liked for a long time. I remember riding home with Aaron and Jeff for early Isis rehearsals in Boston for Celestial listening to Ænima. We really appreciated their ability to build, like “Eulogy” and “Stinkfist.” For a major label band, we thought that was really cool stuff. Then you fast-forward a few years later, you’re out on tour with them. Those guys are so cool and really into underground music and into music in general. They treated us really well. It definitely helped us in a lot of ways.
Blistering.com: Over to Palms. You made it clear from the start that this will not be “Isis-meets-Deftones.” From your perspective, how is it sounding?
Harris: That’s a really tough question for me to answer [laughs]. Jeff put it really well in an interview that “It’s not Deftones and Isis, because Deftones and Isis would be really boring.” It’s different. People will hear it and it is a little bit of what is expected…it’s three guys from Isis and Chino. The songs are long and there’s a lot of dynamics and melody. There’s a little more electronics. It’s not full-on and heavy as Isis, but there’s heavy moments. It’s been really fun working with Chino; he’s a great guy and musician and adds a whole new element to how the three of us having been working. It’s been really fun. It’s cool to see how Chino does things and it’s cool to keep writing with Jeff and Cliff. It’s cool to see people are really into it…we didn’t know what to expect.
Blistering.com: It must be nice doing something without the Isis banner hanging over your head.
Harris: It does, but there’s a lot of pressure involved. I’m pretty confident people will like it, but at the same time, it does add pressure…people are expecting something. That’s just me being cautious.
Isis official site
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