By Scott A. GrayIf the exuberantly iconoclastic genre-swirling protoplasmic goo of Tera Melos's music finally seeps into the mainstream thanks to the smokescreen of accessibility disguising the multitudinous quirks of their latest album, X'ed Out, the "progressive" tag might regain its functionality as a positive descriptor in the annals of popular music. The ever-evolving three-piece still warp the building blocks of rock, jazz, punk, metal, ambient, IDM and pop to suit the ceaseless imagination of their unique musical instincts, but on their follow up to the peerless Patagonian Rats, Nick Reinhart, Nathan Latona and John Clardy give their compositions a little more space to breathe, which should help their decidedly progressive sound infiltrate a much wider audience.
Did you guys have any specific objectives when it came to recording X'ed Out? Nathan: Yeah, kind of. We didn't want the process to be this over-thought thing, whereas the last record we felt like, and this might sound silly or paranoid years later, we felt like we had eyes on us after losing a drummer, getting a new drummer, and how the music was going to change. With this one, everyone who's already interested is familiar with how we are now and everything's been well established with John, so this weight was off. It was like, "let's not focus too much on the parts when we're working on them with the three of us; if something sounds cool, go with it." We didn't want to over-think about a part not being technical enough. Not to say that everything's more simple or anything like that, but we allowed ourselves to do cool things like mash on the same chord together or play something straight for a minute. I'd say all the obsessing and over-thinking of parts went on during our own time so that when we were in the room together writing, it was like, "let's have fun." Nick: Personally, I had an idea that it'd be cool to make more of a minimal sounding record. Minimal for us is obvious not the same minimal as a Brian Eno ambient record or something. In the past we always wanted to pile on so many things and make the songs as melodically, structurally and generally complex as we could — I guess not even purposefully but that's just what we did. The challenge this time was to kind of step back from that and see if we could take more of a "less is more" approach. Initially, I didn't even know what it would mean for our band to try to do that. I'm sure the average Joe would listen to it and think, "I don't know what this guy is talking about; there's all sorts of weird, crazy shit happening on this." It's our interpretation of trying minimalism in songwriting. It's a really weird thing for us to do. To reiterate: it was just this concept floating around initially; we didn't know what it would turn into once we started working on it.
Did you feel that you'd pushed the individual complexity of each song as far as you could reasonably go with Patagonian Rats? Nathan: No, no, no. Not really. I feel like in a lot of ways, the stuff we did on this record is in some ways more complex because we had to hide it. It's still in there — these tricky little things that are just more subtle or quirky. I think it takes a little bit more ingenuity to hide things. Most of the songs you can listen to multiple times in a row and hear something new. There's more space for that to happen. Nick: I don't think we've reached that limit. I don't really know what the future will be for the band in terms of songwriting, but no, there was no conscious thought like, "shit, we've hit a wall with this." It was just time to do something new. I'll gladly accept the challenge of making an even more dense record with crazier things happening that we've never done before. To me, that could be a really fun thing to try.