1980s power balladeer and one-time punk Belinda Carlisle said it best; heaven is a place …
Our conversation with TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins is brief. His call arrives late. But no sooner than he starts talking are you in on the conspiracy.
Tompkins has been all over the place and so too is his hard-touring band. Following an exit from the band in 2011, Dan returned for 2015’s Polaris. Since then the UK prog outfit have been touring world over while chasing time to record a follow-up.
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While far from the flat end of inspiration, the completion of new album Sonder offers Dan little respite. For all his confidence in these recordings, he confesses to feeling that the band is yet to deliver their definitive statement. They’ve got a lot more give.
TesseracT’s opus may be lurking somewhere in the future but for the moment new recordings aren’t too high a priority. The five are touring their album internationally including Down Under. As the vocalist puts it a global campaign. No rest for the wicked.
Hysteria: The last time we had TesseracT in Australia was with Polaris in 2015. Where did that album leave off and how has it led on to the new record, Sonder?
Dan Tompkins: Can I ask something?
DT: Are there crickets in the background?
H: There are!
DT: That’s a beautiful sound man! It’s horrible here. It’s snowin’ and it’s really cold!
H: Sometimes you feel bad calling people from Australia in the autumn, summer or spring. It’s always great!
DT: All good. But let me answer that first question for you. So Polaris was a bit of a different experience for us. Rather than write a conceptual album we decided to write an album of songs. It was very much a case of me coming back into the band and kind of finding my feet again because I’d not only left and returned to the band, but I had returned a very different singer with a different approach to writing. That’s why Polaris was drastically different to anything we’ve done.
Sonder I feel is a progression from that. But also, it encompasses elements of the first album One and Polaris combined. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing. We wanted to bring some heaviness back and I decided to bring some screams back into the music. Not many! We’d always said that if I was going to do that it would have to happen naturally. There were a few moments where they fit really well so we put some screams back in.
We wanted to keep it still fresh but still TesseracT. I feel like we have done that, although personally I don’t think we’ve hit the mark just yet. We’ve got a lot more to give.
To get to that writing mode–for some people and especially for us–it takes space and it takes time to get in the mood to really produce the goods.
[ Dan Tompkins ]
H: It seems like there was a very meticulous approach to recording this time around as well. Just in the sense that even when you were releasing singles you were at pains to point out that the songs could still be evolving and might appear differently on the final product.
DT: I’ll be very honest. It was quite stressful. We were supposed to be writing the album a year and a half ago and every time we settled into the writing mood there was some big disruption that either happened behind the scenes or with touring schedules.
For example, we were ready to get back into the writing mode and we’d get offered to tour with Megadeath! That’s not an opportunity you turn down. So we sacrificed even more time from album writing. Then we suddenly got back and realised that we’d lost so much time. To get to that writing mode–for some people and especially for us–it takes space and it takes time to get in the mood to really produce the goods.
H: Would you say you’re not a unit which writes on the road?
DT: Well I do! It’s easy for me because I can just put one voice to some music. But for Acle [Kahney]? Nah, nah! He needs to be in his studio with his instruments, with his production software. He needs to be able to lock himself away and have some down time.
Lots of distraction kept seeing us put the album back and all of a sudden, we had a deadline! Because of the pace of how the business works behind the band–tours had been booked. We were trying to catch up with the business when really it should always be the other way around.
H: Creativity before commerce! So, you have the two different mixes for the record too. One stereo and one ‘binaural’. Could you explain that a little for our readers?
DT: Binaural will be a slightly different listening experience I’ll be honest. You will need headphones to experience it because it will be listening in 360. You’ll be able to perceive instruments in front or behind you or left to right. It’ll be a subtle difference for a lot of people, most people won’t fully understand it. But it’s just an interesting angle to take and we’re all about experimenting with sound. It just felt like a great thing to do.
H: What’s the future holding for the band?
DT: We’ve only just begun to release singles; the campaign hasn’t even started! We hit the states—North America and Canada in April. We have a lot of summer festivals going on. We’re going to Europe and I’d also like to see us over in certain parts of Asia and the rest of the world. It’s going be a worldwide campaign for sure. We want to push it as far as we can.
Catch TesseracT this September with Special Guests Circles:
Tuesday, September 11: Capitol, Perth
Thursday, September 13: The Gov, Adelaide
Friday, September 14: Melbourne 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, September 15: The Metro, Sydney
Sunday, September 16: The Triffid, Brisbane