*Victims of Vanity Exclusive *
T.E.A. (an acronym formed from the band’s full name, The Eternal Affect) just wrapped up the production of their highly anticipated debut record, In Balance with this Life, this Death. Victims of Vanity had the opportunity to sit down with the gentleman of T.E.A. and have a little chat. If this is your first time hearing about T.E.A. then check out Clock Hands (a track from their up-and-coming album) via Youtube before reading the interview.
T.E.A. - The Interview
Victims: Was this your first time being in the studio to work on a full concept record? Can you elaborate on that experience for us?
Benjamin: "This was the first time I spent that much time and effort in one studio to complete a single album. Most of my previous time in studios was to record just one song. We were in this last studio for 2 weeks straight from 9 AM till dusk, so it was pretty exhausting by the end, but at the same time, the most enjoyable "work" that I’ve ever had to do."
Matthew: "Yes, it was. I had gotten a small taste of the studio process from some classes I had taken in college but everything still felt very new to me. As a musician it was a very hot and cold experience; on the one hand you’re mega exciting because you know it’s going to be the best you’ve ever sounded in the end, but at the same time, any weaknesses you may have as a musician become completely exposed and it feels very naked."
Victims: We understand you wrote the majority of the songs on this record. Do you always know what you want the song to be about? Do you just get lyric bubbles that spontaneously emerge out of nowhere and just run with it? How does it work?
Nikos: "The music definitely comes first. Once I start writing the music I pretty much feel out the vibe of the song and try to hear what the music sounds like it’s trying to say…if that makes any sense. If a song is finished being recorded and it turns out being a very dark and Gothic track, that may have just been how I was actually feeling when I wrote it. Same goes for the songs that have a more beautiful and uplifting sound. It’s never the same. With every single song I want listeners to know exactly how I was feeling when I wrote it. I think I sort of landed off topic! Next question? "
Victims: Which track do you feel best represents the soul and heart of the entire record? Why?
Matthew: "I’d say Clock Hands. Musically it’s definitely one of the most complicated. It has two time signature changes, some off-notes, some subtle vocal harmonies that are pretty wild, the bass line is real modern, it’s got gang vocals, crazy piano arpeggios, and all kinds of orchestral stuff. Even though not every song on the record is that elaborate, I think it highlights where we’re coming from as musicians, and lyrically it’s also very relevant to what this record stands for."
Nikos: "I couldn’t just choose a single track that captures the soul and heart of the entire record. I would have to say Clock Hands and Dancing with the Dead are both very important to me for several reasons: They give listeners a full idea of how the record will sound in its entirety. The record is split in half; some very dark and orchestral influenced songs and some very contemporary, “radio friendly” songs. The other reason these two songs are important to me is because they are some of the most honest and brave lyrics on the record. It’s getting harder each year for me to share my faith and beliefs with people through my music because some people just don’t want to hear it. With these songs, I was able to shut out any fears I had of possibly offending somebody and I was able to write and sing about what I feel in my heart most. It taught me a lot. The “follow your heart” cliche’ really did something for me in the end. Anyway, if you enjoy rock music and epic movie scores, I’m hoping you’ll dig our album. Lots of piano, strings, three part harmonies, and some good old fashion rock.”
Benjamin: "It’s hard to say, simply because the very concept of the album falls on the idea of contrast, and no one song can sum up an idea that is about two opposite things. However, if I had to say which one I believe turned out best, it’s probably "Another Sunday Morning."
Victims: If you could have had any musical artist you desired (dead or still living) collaborate on this record, who would that be? Why?
Matthew: "I’m tempted to say Tchaikovsky. The stuff that was bouncing around inside that guy’s head was bizarre and if we got to capture it in a rock album I think that would be really interesting."
Benjamin: "I admire John Williams more than any other composer/artist alive or dead. It would have been incredible to collaborate with him, but we’ve got more records a’ comin’, so it’s never too late!"
Victims: Do you get nervous when you go out in front of a live crowd?
Nikos: “No, it’s more of the exciting type of nervous, not the fear type. Chuckle. The night before most of our shows I find myself barely getting any sleep, replaying the set in my head over and over again. I think it’s the adrenaline.” Chuckle.
Victims: What thoughts pass through your mind right before you get on that stage?
Benjamin: "During the short moments before hitting the stage, my head is so jumbled with excitement, mental reviews of certain parts of the performance, and other random thoughts, that I can barely remember what exactly I am thinking about. However, during the quiet, low-key moments backstage, I try to take the time to be aware of ‘Why I am doing this’."
Matthew: "Details. Just all kinds of details about the set, who’s in the crowd, hoping the monitors sound the way they did during sound check, how I’m going to transition when we play songs that require different guitars, tons and tons of details… and then I say a prayer and stop worrying about it."
Victims: Alright…now give us a ridiculously random fact about yourself that Victims of Vanity followers will be the first to know.
Nikos: "I am a huge fan of the television show L O S T and I have a tattoo of the Dharma Initiative logo on the back of my leg. I love the show that much… it’s pathetic. I also could eat Chinese coconut shrimp every day of my life and wouldn’t get sick of it. Oh yeah, I also have a secret fascination with anything "time travel" related."
Matthew: "I love anything iconic. Let me think of an example… like if it’s summertime and the windows are open, then I’m drinking lemonade. I might not want lemonade, but I’m drinking it, just because it’s summertime, and the windows are open." Chuckle.
Benjamin: "When eating milkshakes, I use a straw to do what a spoon was intended for."
Nikos: “Or you can tell them how you take pleasure in eating food at boiling hot temperatures.” Group chuckle.
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