With their second full length Dawn of the Sociopath recently released through Rastilho Records, Echidna's guitarist Pedro has taken some time out with SoT's Jason Guest to discuss the band's history and their influences, the themes and ideas behind the album, its artwork, and what the future holds for the band.
SoT: Can you tell us about Echidna's history, the band's formation and development?
Pedro: Echidna was born out of a group of friends that liked to play music together. We spent some years in the rehearsal room writing original songs until we felt confident to play those songs live which happened for the first time in March of 2005 at Hard Club (V.N Gaia). After that initial concert we just kept playing live and writing new stuff when eventually we had 6 tracks to record (our free demo "Tearing The Cloth") and we had our first studio experience. After the demo we continued playing live and writing at the same time and just a year later we had material to write our first full-length album which we released in 2008 ("Insidious Awakening"). We then spent two years touring "Insidious Awakening" but this time around we were having difficulties in writing at the same time as playing live so that is one of the reasons why this new album took a while longer to release. There was a big maturing process in the last 6 years and we hope that it has shaped the sound of the band for the better.
SoT: Who are your main influences? Are there any bands that have had a significant impact on the band's sound?
Pedro: As a band that is made of 5 individuals it's really hard to pinpoint exactly what our music references are but there are some bands which were very important in our process of wanting to write metal music. Bands like Metallica, Sepultura, Pantera, Slayer or Testament are all old-school references that I guess managed to influence every one of us but other than that the spectrum of influences is really very hard to describe because each one of us likes different things in metal.
Mixed between all the members of the band we are influenced by progressive rock, heavy, thrash, death, technical death, death core, melodic death, groove metal and even some power metal thrown into the mix.
SoT: For Dawn of the Sociopath, you chose the theme of "the devious and malicious mind of a sociopath". What was it that drew you to this idea?
Pedro: The first lyrics that were written for this album were the lyrics for the "Dawn Of The Sociopath" title track and we immediately loved the feeling that the song had with this type of lyrics over it and eventually decided to turn it into a narrative about a sociopath that could be used for the whole album.
Our primary goal in this album was also to change things up a bit so it just felt natural to focus on a more restricted story instead of having 10 tracks speaking of different subjects.
SoT: What influences were there for the concept and lyrics?
Pedro: We didn't have a particular influence that made us realize that this concept was what we wanted to do. It really all started because of that first song and the way we felt that it was a perfect fit for the direction we wanted to go. After making that decision the rest of the lyrics were already written having that central theme and character in mind.
SoT: There are some very complex structures across the album and the dynamics are very varied. When writing for Echidna, how do you balance technical ability with song-writing?
Pedro: Most of the time we don't really over-think those decisions. There are some moments where we realize that we need a slower part or a faster part but other than that we try to just go where the music is asking to go. In that sense, the technical ability is just another tool to help us keep the various musical elements fresh and unpredictable.
SoT: How do the band work together to produce material? Is it a democratic process or is there an arbiter that makes the final decisions?
Pedro: 100% democratic. The process is very simple, someone comes up with an idea like a riff or a melody and we go from there. After that the whole band makes the decisions as the music progresses. We really cannot imagine working any other way, at least for this band.
SoT: The artwork for DotS is very impressive. Can you tell us about the idea behind its design?
Pedro: The artist/designer who worked on the project was a fundamental contribution to our album. We already had a concept laid out for what the artwork could be but he really turned our idea into something really special. Of course our opinion is biased since it's the cover of our album but we really think that his work was brilliant and that he completely captured the essence of what we imagined the artwork to be.
SoT: Do you have any plans for a video? Which song would you like to make a video for?
Pedro: Yes, we have though and already have plans to record our first video. The song will probably be Obscuring My Reason because we feel that it's that track that represents best the various musical elements and themes throughout the rest of the album.
SoT: What do you see in the future for Echidna? How do you see the band and its sound developing?
Pedro: We want to keep this flowing process of trying to improve our songs from several perspectives. We want our sound to grow in maturity, improve in technique, develop new song structures and to create greater ambiences inside our songs. The last thing we want do to is release the same album over and over again.
SoT: It's early days I know as DotS has only recently been completed, but are you working on any new material?
Pedro: At this time we're focusing our efforts in rehearsing and giving the best live show we can deliver so, no, we haven't really started writing new stuff. However, we have that in mind and we definitely want so start writing sooner than we did after our previous album ("Insidious Awakening").
SoT: Any tour plans? Europe? UK? USA?
Pedro: We have already been playing throughout October and we have a few shows lined up until the end of the year. However, we're currently putting together our tour for 2012 which we hope will take us most of the year. We are also working in trying to get some dates outside of Portugal and we will be going to Vigo (Spain) on the 12th of December. We would love to tour in the USA but as you can understand it is a particularly difficult place for us to go because of logistics and time constraints. Other than that we obviously would like to go play in the UK and especially countries like Germany or the Netherlands have always been in our plans for the future.
SoT: Is there anything you'd like to say to our readers?
Pedro: We would like to thank them for taking the time to read our interview and to keep supporting alternative music.
SoT: Again, thanks for taking time out for this interview. We look forward to hearing more from Echidna in the future.
(Click here to read our review of Dawn of the Sociopath)