Feed the Ego is Algebra’s second album and a veritable delight for all fans of the harsher, darker side of Thrash Metal. Tony and Phil from the band filled me in with some insights into what makes them tick…
What are your influences?
Tony: So many things ! Regarding the effort put in Algebra I listen to a lot of not-so-easy-listening thrash, for example Forbidden’s “Distortion” record, “Time Does Not Heal” by Dark Angel or some Forced Entry. Personally, regarding my style of drumming, it’s quite easy to name: Lombardo, Hoglan, Benante and as a bonus I always put a Lars Ulrich drum fill in every record… it’s up to you to find it.
Phil: I think that every band that I intensely listen to inspires me, whether it’s conscious or not. I started listening to thrash and then thrash and then some more thrash. I think my first influences are Megadeth, Forbidden, Testament, etc. As time went along, I started listening to more and more extreme metal. And slowly some death metal parts started to appear in my songwriting.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
Tony: Right now while I’m answering your interview, I’m updating my Accept compilation, which is a band I really love. Besides that, I really recommend Misery Index’s latest album “The Killing Gods” to any listener of extreme metal.
Phil: Not really new bands. I listen to a lot of bands like Dawn and God Dethroned right now
Tony: To give the listener a real album, not just one or two songs that stand out, but a progression. Of course, it’s not a concept album, but you can listen to it in its entirety without being too disorientated. The lyrics, for us, are globally as important as the music, they also need a certain degree of coherence.
Phil: To make the best Swiss thrash record since Polymorph hahaha. I set multiple goals for this album. The first is a musical one. I think that after Polymorph, everything had to be redone regarding songwriting and searching for new ideas etc. I find it to be a difficult moment because you easily say to yourself: “damn, how will I find new ideas”. But slowly it all comes naturally and the songs started to spawn and then all your fears disappear. The second goal was to give the new album more exposure than Polymorph. When you do things DIY-style, your exposure tends to be quickly limited. We were lucky enough to have contact with Eric from UnspeakableAxe who offered us to release our next album.
Are you happy with how it turned out?
Tony: I’m the happiest guy on this damn earth. I’ve been fighting ever since the first time I sat down behind the drumkit and played songs from Kill Em All to make an album of this quality, even if it’s not related to Kill Em All. Right now, when listening to my own album, I can objectively say: Damn, this is not bad!
Phil: Oooohh yeeeeeesss. First off, I’m very happy with how the CD turned out, at all levels. Whether it’s the playing, the lyrics or the production. Furthermore, our expectations were fulfilled, like I said, by the fact that UnspeakableAxe released our record. The communication and exposure is already y so much bigger than it was for Polymorph, thanks to their job.
How do you feel about the recording/production of the album?
Tony: We are more than satisfied with the job Andy Classen did in only 4 days on our first record “Polymorph”. Because of that, we worked with him again and are very happy about it. The sound remains very natural compared to a lot of modern productions, and that was our main goal. Furthermore, having played with Holy Moses, he very easily understands our examples and comments.
Phil: I’m really happy with the way the album sounds. We all worked really hard for it to be as clean as tight and right as possible. Some songs needed more hours of work than others and at many times we were on the verge of kicking us in the nutsack but globally speaking, everything sounds like we wanted it to sound. Because we like our sound to be as natural as possible, we once again recruited Andy Classen, who already worked on Polymorph. His job is even better this time.
What can you tell us about the lyrics?
Tony: The lyrics are strong and in accordance with my opinions and thoughts. I will never talk about something I don’t believe in or that has no interest. I like to study human relationships, the current state of the world, and many other subjects. It seems like it’s too well thought of for thrash, but I’m not so sure of that!
Give us a bit of information on the songwriting process.
Tony: Two words: Guitar Pro (version 3.0. haha). It’s actually very easy for us to write songs. Phil and myself are the biggest input of raw ideas. After that, I sit down and think about not putting 52 riffs per song, but to develop a single idea in many different ways. And that’s what’s funny in Algebra’s music, many people here think that we spend a thousand hours to arrange our songs, but in general, the same idea will be used for the main riff, the arpeggios, the clean bits, etc… It’s a question of arranging and that makes all the difference when you listen to it, believe me.
Overall you work in the heavier/darker side of Thrash Metal I’d say – was this a conscious decision or something that developed naturally?
Tony: Both. Like everybody, we started by playing Slayer and Sepultura covers among many others, but it didn’t totally complete all of our wishes and ambitions, albeit the genius of these bands and the undeniable contribution to metal music, they lack of musical elements that we keep close to our hearts. Slayer, for example, did it really well on a record like “Divine Intervention”, with a wide range of riffs, vocals, great arrangements, without losing the aggressive and fast side that defines Slayer. I listen to a lot of things with great care, Voivod, Coroner, Pestilence, Atheist, thus when I write songs, I want to add as much variation in the music as possible.
Phil: I’d say that’s something that developed itself through time. Regarding myself, I don’t write songs saying to myself “ah shit, this needs to sound more evil”. I roll with sensations in music and it’s that part that I like the most. When I write songs, I will not propose something that doesn’t touch me, even if the riff is cool.
Tony: Simple (as usual): Reviews. We listen carefully to positive and negative reviews that listeners make about our music, that’s what allows us to move forward. I can very well recall the day when I read the next comment, on Youtube I believe: “Never slow down and never play ballads, it’s for pussies.” That’s when I was forced to show that we also like that and that it can rightfully be put on a thrash record. For example, Testament’s ballads are musical pearls that shouldn’t be ignored.
How do you see your position in the wider Thrash Metal musical framework/genre?
Tony: I’m really happy we can spread albums on a worldwide scale like we did with “Polymorph” and now thanks to UnspeakableAxe Records, this is going beyond our expectations. We reach a lot of listeners that are very demanding and genuine connoisseurs, that are satisfied with our records. And I won’t hide to you that not reaching the 15-year-old thrash revival fans isn’t important to us, because that style doesn’t affect us, we think it’s empty, musically speaking, and redundant.
Phil: We’re not that bad at all hahaha. All jokes aside, I think it’s hard to find your place in a scene satiated with “revival” bands that nag all the people that like real thrash. I believe that thrash isn’t just about having Ed Repka artwork, tight pants and Converse Weapons.
How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?
Tony: We are going to continue in the same direction by keeping ultra solid foundations of old school thrash while adding all the other musical elements that influence us.
Phil: Regarding myself, I never know which direction I’m taking whenever I write new riffs or new song ideas. But I think that over time, I’d like to have songs with more complicated structures. Having more technical songs will come naturally with time but I don’t want to leave the “in your face” side.
What’s next for Algebra?
Tony: Gigs! Gigs! Gigs! We really love to play live and to share our music with fans and listeners.
Phil: Since the departure of our vocalist/guitarist, the main priority is to find new members. A lot of work is ahead for us!