Sea of Tranquility's Murat Batmaz caught up with guitarist Jason Hodges of the Australian Power-Metal band Ilium to discuss the band and their new album Permian Dusk.
Read on for the full interview!
SoT: Hi Jason, congratulations on your new album! How have the reactions been to Permian Dusk so far?
Jason:It's still early days, with the Christmas/New Year break, but so far the reactions have been very positive. We already made some best of lists for 2005.
SoT:Could you talk a bit about the history of Ilium?
Jason: We basically started in 1998 when myself and former vocalist Mark Snedden decided to try and get a band together. We'd previously played in a band called Oracle, and initially that's where we recruited that band from. We had Kris Arendse on guitar and Michael Noonan on bass in the first incarnation of Iliad (our previous name). We got Adam (also and ex-Oracle member) in as a third guitarist and changed our name to Ilium
afterwards, then when we met Lord Tim we did our EP with him producing in 2002. We released our first album "Sirens of the Styx" in 2003 and our second "Permian Dusk" at the end of 2005. Tim joined on vocals just prior to recording that one. We're currently recording our third album "Vespertilion". (Tim Yatras has already recorded the drums).
SoT:Reading your extensive website, it seems some of the band members were also previously involved with Oracle. What happened with that band and how did you guys decide to form under the Ilium moniker?
Jason:Oracle actually did quite well in the early '90's in Newcastle. We had a bit of a following and lots of originality and enthusiasm. The problem was people kept leaving after a few gigs and we basically had to start again several times over. We eventually just got sick of it. With the internet starting to make an impact we thought that maybe we could form a band and take a different approach - make recording and not playing live our first preference and make sure we get the product out there. We'd love to play live but we need to find reliable people first - harder than it seems.
SoT:. Your previous singer left and was replaced by Lord Tim. What were the reasons for that?
Jason: Basically I fund everything and it put an enormous financial strain on us. Mark wasn't contributing financially and felt he shouldn't be in the band if he wasn't meeting his financial obligations. He also wanted to concentrate more on his family - he had a young daughter.
SoT: Is it true that Lord Tim joined the band only a week before the recording of the album? He's done a great job.
Jason: Yes that's true. Of course Tim was involved with us from the start - he helped record and sang backing vocals on both the EP and "Sirens of the Styx", and he was familiar at least with the music for "Permian Dusk", but nonetheless Tim and I really reinvented the vocals and lyrics in the studio, so yes, he did a remarkable job. I think he even surprised himself!
SoT:Did you guys change some of the vocal melodies for Tim or did he contribute to anything songwriting-wise or was everything ready before he joined?
Jason: Tim was given a free reign with the vocals. At first there was a little tension - I was a bit precious about my lyrics and even Mark's to some degree, but once I saw where Tim was trying to go with the melodies I went with it and it all exceeded my expectations
SoT:You've had some tragic experience with your keyboard player. Will he ever rejoin the band? Also Peter Gilchrist is listed as the bass player in the booklet. Did he really play on the album?
Jason: Adam played all the bass on Permian Dusk as he did on our first album. Pete played the demo versions for the album but left. He came back later but wasn't ready to record at that stage so Adam played bass on the album. Corey never really did anything with us. When he got hit we were all understandably shell-shocked. He's a really good guy, as is Pete and we wish them all the best. I think Corey is ready to do his own music and Pete will help him out there. We wish them nothing but the best, but they won't be a part of Ilium's recording or touring future.
SoT: How do you usually go about the songwriting process? What bands are your favorites and how would you describe the sound of Ilium to someone who's never heard you guys?
Jason: The songwriting process has evolved over the years. When we were in Oracle I wrote everything and I took a different approach to each song, though I usually wrote around the lyrics. Now Adam and I usually sit down and play around with a few ideas, Adam takes it away and puts it all together then I write the lyrics and Tim and I will sit down and work out how they fit with the music. Now I'm largely writing lyrics to bring out the theme and then changing them to suit what Tim wants to do with the vocal melodies
SoT: Thanks for taking the time to answer them Jason!
Jason:Thanks very much Murat and I wish you guys all the best for 2006!
(Click here to read our review of Permian Dusk)