Ilium's fourth CD Ageless Decay is one of 2009's strongest metal releases and not to mention Ilium's best album yet. Ageless Decay is brimming with uplifting metal, and Jason Hodges is one guy who knows what's required to create a great metal CD. Sea Of Tranqulity's Scott Jessup recently got some interesting feedback from Jason about this Aussie bands latest and their future plans.
SoT: Hi Jason! Ilium's latest Ageless Decay has been getting some very good reviews- do you think it's Ilium's best release?
Jason: Yes, I believe that. Song wise I've always been proud of what we've done, but as we evolve, we are able to work more on the arrangements and the production. This time around was without doubt the least stressful recording experience regarding the actual recording process, which has meant that the money spent on the album all went towards a great product, as opposed to having to re-record certain parts or use some desperate studio magic to fix the sound! This album has the songs, which we've always have, but it's also competitive in terms of the overall sound.
SoT: The artwork is impressive, this must be an important component for the band?
Jason: Growing up in the 80's meant that we bought our music on vinyl and the cover paintings were larger and more representative of the band. It meant that we were able to escape from what was often a difficult world growing up and really enter and alternate world through the music and artwork. Iron Maiden, Megadeth etc made a big impression on me in that regards. And not only that, our subject matter really lends itself to these great dark fantasy paintings!
SoT: Like I wrote in my review, your music is certainly not predictable, with lots of cool surprises like on track two. How would you describe Ilium's music?
Jason: The most honest way of describing it would be a hybridization of the musical essence of Adam and myself. It's honest - we aren't trying to impress anyone but ourselves and by doing so we hope others will relate. We try and create music that is heavy, melodic, a little progressive and dramatic, and lyrics that often make a political, social or environmental statement, but are generally based around unique observations or original, often Poe-esque dark literature.
SoT: Lyrically the tracks on Ageless Decay are an entertaining read. What gives you inspiration? Being an author also, obviously writing must be a real passion for you.
Jason: I'm not sure really! My brain works in strange ways! Quite often I'll just come up with a title that sounds intriguing and work around that. Often it's about somewhat monstrous, but often non-descript characters, but usually there's some sort of subtext happening referring to either the state of the human condition or the planet as a result. But generally I don't try too hard to channel inspiration, it just comes to me. Plus I have a lot of bizarre dreams! Being an author has a bit of a two-way flow about it. Some of our songs were originally written for high school examinations, and my first book was actually inspired by the first song I ever wrote, Black Abyss (from our third album Vespertilion). The one I'm currently writing is "Parasite In Calvary" which is from the song of the same name also off Vespertilion, but which the lyrics were written for a school assessment, so that one has come full circle! I just wish I could find more time to do it! Lyrics I can write in no time - novels are very difficult and complex!
SoT: Ilium's myspace page says your debut Siren Of Styx is sold out- will you be releasing more copies?
Jason: We've has all sorts of thoughts regarding re-releasing it. One thought is that we'd re-record it and release it as a double album, but that seems unlikely now. However, we plan on doing an EP with the next album available only through the band which will contain a new song and three re-recorded tracks from each of our first three albums. Hopefully that concept can continue with future releases.
SoT: Who came up with the band name?
Jason: The band was originally called Iliad, which is an ancient name for the city of Troy. Apparently there was some dance band in Sydney with the name and it would have made things awkward, so we changed it to Ilium, which is another version of Iliad and which made it easier to adjust our logo! It was me who came up with the name.
SoT: Will the next CD be similar to Ageless Decay, or are you planning something different?
Jason: We don't try and write in any particular style, but we do just write what we want to hear ourselves. So there won't be a jazz improv number or anything! Some of the lyrics are getting darker and there's plenty of irony in there. Some very heavy and emotive riffing as well, plus some really great progressions. We have a working name of "Genetic Memory" for it at the moment, and that song is very dark and one of the most exciting we've ever recorded. It's every bit as twisted and songs like "Idolatry" from Ageless Decay!
SoT: Is Mike DiMeo going to return for this next release?
Jason: That is the plan at this point. He's very proud of Ageless Decay and we're still a bit starstruck from working with him! We think he was a perfect choice for us. We're lucky in that our music can suit a variety of styles though. We just need to find some money - that's that tough part.
SoT: Any tour plans? Where would you like to have the opportunity to tour?
Jason: We've tried to get lineups together to tour in the past and it's always ended up in disappointment. It's very difficult for many reasons. We won't rule it out - we've had opportunities to play big festivals in Europe but logistically it would be a nightmare and we are afraid that would detract from writing and recording, which is what we're really passionate about.
SoT: How popular is Ilium outside Australia?
Jason: Well it would seem we're popular with reviewers, which is very humbling! It's next to impossible to get your name out, let alone grab a market share, when you're on the opposite side of the world. Australian metal bands generally don't get taken too seriously by most. I would say we're more popular overseas than here, and we have fans in many parts of the world who are really supportive, but it's tough. And then you have to contend with illegal downloads etc.
SoT: How do you see the metal scene in Australia? There is certainly some fine metal bands and the number of international acts touring down under seems to be increasing, there must be the demand?
Jason: Australia's very hard to gauge. In terms of the underground supporting Ilium over here , well, mostly they don't seem to. It's all about who you know and we don't get out much! I feel the metal scene is waning a little, which is sad, but there are some great bands. The recession in Europe will possibly be the final nail in the coffin for bands here though. It's just too difficult to pay $25000 out of your own pocket to record and album just to have people steal it from you as soon as it's out, or even before. It's good that kids are getting into the music of their parents though!
SoT: Which is your favorite release so far this year, and most anticipated CD yet to be released?
Jason: I have over 4000 albums so I can never remember off the top of my head what has come out! I am looking forward to the new W.A.S.P., At Vance, Megadeth, Riot. The new Heaven And Hell was the one I was probably most looking forward to though.
SoT: If you could pick your ultimate line-up for a new metal band, who would be in it?
Jason: That's a tough one! Mike is obviously one of my favourite singers, but aside from him I really like Bob Catley, Ray Alder, Mark Boals, David Readman, Ronnie James Dio etc. Michael Romeo on guitar would be cool, perhaps with Tony Macapline. Drums probably Mark Zonder. Keyboards I think Jordan Rudess. Bass-hmm... could bring Johnny Rod out of retirement!
SoT: Thanks for your feedback Jason.
Jason: Thank you!
(Click here to read our review of Ageless Decay)