From the ashes of Canvas Solaris comes The Universe Divide, an all instrumental act featuring former Canvas members Chris Rushing (guitars) and GaŽl Pirlot (bass), as well as drummer Jason Parker. Their debut EP is called Dust Settles On The Odontophobes, a blistering display of virtuoso musicianship and expert songwriting skills. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo recently caught up with both Chris and Gael to talk about the demise of Canvas Solaris, the formation of this new band, and their outstanding new release.
SoT: Before we start talking about The Universe Divide, perhaps everyone needs a little closure on Canvas Solaris. Can you talk about the last few years with that band leading to its demise, and ifyou think there is any possibility that you all might resurrect it at some point down the line?
Chris: This is probably a question for Hunter or Nathan since Canvas Solaris was their baby but I'll do my best to put some perspective on the situation. There were a lot of factors that lead to the decision to disband but I would say the largest was probably distance. Gael (bass), Donnie (Keyboards) and I (guitar) all live here in Atlanta. Hunter (drums) lives in Savannah and Nathan (guitar) lives in Statesboro. This meant we had to drive a minimum of 3-4 hours anytime we wanted to rehearse. With our day jobs and personal lives it became extremely difficultto keep a consistent rehearsal schedule. In the time leading up to The Atomized Dream, we were still doing some live shows but we were lucky to have a full band rehearsal one weekend every two months or so. Leading up to Irradiance I think there may have been two full band rehearsals in the span of about a year.We had all worked together long enough that we were able to make it happen but the amount of personal time and mental preparation required to do an album likeIrradiance on zero rehearsal is very taxing. I think it was this process of putting so much energy into a project or album and then finally getting it released to be followed immediately by not being in a position financially orgeographically where we could go out and support it is what made everyone step back and assess what we were doing. Ultimately we felt like Irradiance was a "great"album for us on an artistic level so it just seemed like the right time. End on a high note if you will?
I can't speculate on a resurrected Canvas but I can tell you that those guys are four of my best friends and I imagine that we will continue to write music together in some shape or form for many years to come. There are actually a few projects in the works right now between various members and we all did a Female fronted melodic metal release earlier this year entitled The Burden of Existence(www.theuniversedivide.net/TheBurden)
Gael: Hunter and Nate are working on Solar Betrayal. Hunter, Nate, and I are working on a minimalist project called the Human Ruins Ensemble. It was a very amicable conclusion and one that ended on a high note in our eyes. The energies have just been reapportioned.
SoT: The Universe Divide has been something that you have wanted to get started for a few years now, yet for various reasons it's not till now that the band has been thrust on the scene.Can you talk a little bit about the idea behind the band and the history of how it all came together?
Chris: I think the main driving force initially with the formation of this band was our desire to have a group that Gael and I could consistently play live with. That was the one thing we really missed towards the end of Canvas Solaris. We love recording and being in the studio but we also really enjoy the live performance aspect.
We met in another band here in Atlanta. It eventually imploded due to musical differences but it was in that period that we realized that our writing styles worked well together (at least to our ears). We would write riffs/sections of songs as time permitted and occasionally try out a drummer. It was a very relaxed process.
Gael: Chris and I have worked together for so long that our styles and methodologies have meshed. It's very rewarding to know that we (Chris, Jason, and I) mutually feel that each others additions are beneficial to the music/concept and not a compromise in any way, unlike many other bands I've been in. This and the desire to blend conventional metal with decidedly un-metal elements were catalysts in the creation of The Universe Divide.
SoT: Jason Parker was the lastpiece to the puzzle-where did you get in contact with him?
Chris: Gael answered some extremely random add that Jason had posted on Craigslist. It was kind of absurd because I believe he had at least 6 or 7 styles of music listed that he wanted to play that weren't really related. I was certain that he was going to be horrible before we ever met him and I kept telling Gael not to encourage him. I am usually pretty good at calling those sorts of things. Thankfully, I was way wrong in his case or we might not be having this discussion!
Gael: It was definitely a shot in the dark which has panned out.
SoT: Dust Settles on the Odontophobesis a unique title-where did you come up with that, and is there any meaning behind it?
Gael: The title has personal meaning and one which I believe applies to the band in general. It also hopefully has enough ambiguity and imagery to allow for reinterpretation. The title is a symbol of the abandonment of inhibiting instincts for better or worse whether they arise from exterior or interior sources. Our music is about desertion, progression, and selfishness. Positivity juxtaposed with terms deemed undesirable. This is certainly a bold statement, but I felt that this would be an appropriate and broad introduction to The Universe Divide.
SoT: The debut CD has equal elements of metal and prog rock-can you talk about some of your musicial inspirations behind the music?
Chris: I tend to try and pull inspiration from almost everything I hear. If you got hold of my IPOD you would see that it is pretty schizophrenic but I am usually seeking out the same types of things as a listener. I love to hear a great melody or a great utilization of dynamics. My top ten most played artists on Last Fm currently are Paramore, In Flames, Dark Tranquility; He is Legend, Beyonce, Outkast, Soilwork,Katatonia, Silverchair and Opeth.
Gael: I come from equally eclectic blend (though I can't claim the level of appreciation of Beyonce that Chris does). While I tend to delve a little more in the avant garde, I believe that most music has some redeeming element. This is banal statement, but I just get genuine joy out music in general. My repeat listens these days are Interpol, Bohren & der Club of Gore, Themselves, Though Industry, Deathspell Omega, The Cracow Klezmer Band, Defleshed, Gorod, Venetian Snares, Ulver.
SoT: Like your previous band, The Universe Divide is an instrumental group. Do you have any desire to perhaps one day add vocals to the mix?
Chris: We are open to the idea. Thus far we have not encountered anyone who has fit the bill but we aren't anti vocals. It is a tough spot to fill because we all like different vocal styles and our main group rule is that we don't do anything that all three of us don't agree upon.
SoT: Have you had any interest from any prog or metal labels looking to sign the band?
Chris: We have spoken with a few but no one has made any solid offers. I think in this economy the labels are looking for a "sure sell" and with this band being relatively new on the scene there will still be a lot of work creating awareness. We did however manage to secure distribution through Sensory/Lasers Edge.
SoT: There are some really dynamic songs on the new CD-what are some of your favorites?
Chris: I think my personal favorite is "Of Realism-The Lead Artery". That song for me is the perfect blending of my melodic approach with Gael's more dissonant/heavier approach. It is probably the most relaxed song on the album playing wise but it is also the most fun to play.
Gael: I'm partial to "Of Optimism - The Glass Vein" but "Curator of the Seventh Automaton" is a fun one to perform and is melodically interesting to me.
SoT" For technical metal/prog geeks,your music is going to be tailor made for them-have you given any thought totake the band out on the road, possibly pairing up with similar type acts for areal treat for fans of this style of music?
Chris: We would love to do that. Unfortunately we haven't gotten our music to the right people yet who could help make this happen. We have a lot of contacts from our time with Canvas Solaris but it is still proving to be difficult to get our foot in the door.The market is literally flooded with similar styled bands. We realize from past experience that even though the word "Progressive" is common ground on metal forums these days, many of the bands that are dominating in that genre are about as progressive as Ac/Dc. So even though many people would tell you that Prog Music is booming right now, there may very well be no market for a band like us.Hopefully, that isn't the case but at the end of the day, it really has no lasting effect on our approach to play and enjoy the music that we think is cool and interesting.
SoT: Now that you have the debut out,what are the bands plans for the next 12-18 months?
Chris: We have started writing for a full length release and we are still working hard to book shows and get our name/music out to new listeners.
(Click here to read our review of Dust Settles On The Odontophobes)