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Chosen - Interview, March 2013

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    Posted: 06 Mar 2013 at 5:09am
Chosen, the thinking men of extreme metalWith their debut-album Resolution to be released on March 30, the Irish death metal duo Chosen are about to unleash their highly original brand of progressive/technical extreme metal upon the world. We have had a chat with Chosen's thinking men of extreme metal, drummer David McCann and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Paul Shields, who discuss with us, among other things, the history of Chosen, the recording of Resolution, and the perpetual issue of genre pigeonholing. Fans of extreme metal which challenges your ears as well as your brain, read on.

Firstly, congratulations on the completion of Resolution. How do you feel about the album now that it is done and about to be released?

David McCann: It feels fanatastic just be able to release what we have been working on for several years. The entire recording process was fraught with various delays and set-backs, so we're very satisfied and excited about the final product getting to see the light of day.

What can the metalheads around the world expect from Resolution?

Paul Shields: Resolution captures the very best material we have written to date. It is a representation of everything we both worked very hard on. We're quite proud of this album and we hope that others will appreciate the effort that was put in to its creation.

I find that Resolution is difficult to pigeonhole genre-wise. How would you describe your style of music in your own words?

David McCann: We are not huge fans of pigeonholing music but people sometimes need to categorise different things in order to try and identify it or for the purposes of making comparisons. Our style of music has been labelled almost everything from death metal to extreme power metal. In our own words, we just refer to it as being a fusion of extreme metal elements with crushing heaviness.

What was the writing process like for the album?

Paul Shields: Overall, it was an enjoyable process. The songs were written over the course of a few years with some being composed in Ireland and others during the time we lived in Canada. We had no specific formula for writing the songs. Most times a particular set of ideas would emerge from a collage of guitar riffs that were then tweaked, arranged and turned into a song. The majority of the songs were composed in the bandroom. However, the song 'The Narcissism Epidemic' was one that I put together while at work in Vancouver. I spent the day humming guitar melodies into my phone's voice recorder at the office and then played it back on the guitar that evening after work. Inspiration can strike anywhere!

How about the recording process?

David McCann: Initially, we began recording the drums at Komodo Studios in Northern Ireland, with producer Alwyn Walker. The guitars were also tracked there too. That took about a month. A bit of time then passed and Alwyn ended up taking over Westland Studios in Dublin as the studio manager. So when it came time for us to complete the record, with bass guitar and vocals, this took place at Westland Studios. It worked out really well in our favour as we got the opportunity to re-amp the guitars and to mix the album on the studio's legendary SSL console. Having collaborated with Alwyn in the past we had already established a good working relationship with him. We're big fans of his producing and it was great to get his input throughout the recording process, considering that Chosen is a two-member band. We're very pleased with the production value that was achieved as we wanted to stay clear of the same plastic drum sounds and falseness that plagues a lot of current metal releases.

Is there any specific track on the album that you are particularly proud of, and, if so, why?

Paul Shields: 'Defective Prospection' is a track that gives the best representation of Chosen at this moment in time. I think it gives the listener an idea of what we are all about (even though it has some guest vocals from Jackie McNally). The song was one of the last few songs we wrote for the album and showcases some nice rhythms and heavy passages but also displays the melodic side to the band, especially at the end where we layered tons of clean vocals.

'Engines of Belief' has been available for free download and streaming for some time. What is the story behind this track?

David McCann: It's about the human species; in particular, the human brain. Our brains are like belief engines that make connections which appear to make sense to us but are often far from being accurate. Anecdotal thinking is something that comes naturally to humans, whereas critical thinking requires training and self-determination to look beyond the seemingly obvious for a more likely explanation. Currently, we live in world in which superstition, the belief in magic, witches, daemons, ghosts and other similar delusions can be found in every culture, despite the fact that we have been endowed with one of the most complex and sophisticated organs in the known world (the brain). In a cruel twist of irony, we have the capacity to send people to the moon and explore space as well a number of other scientifically-minded endeavours, yet we are more capable than any other species at fooling ourselves with false beliefs, self-deception and wishful thinking, based on a need to control the course of our lives.

Rock out to 'Engines of Belief'

The music on Resolution strikes me as being quite eclectic - but at the same time very focused. Which other bands served as your main sources of inspiration for Resolution?

Paul Shields: We have always been huge admirers of Death, Meshuggah, Nevermore and more recently Cynic and Gojira. Lyrically speaking, our influences come from many different authors and the late, great Chuck Schuldiner.

How did you manage to strike the balance between eclecticism and the focus that characterizes the album?

Paul Shields: There are a lot of bands out there that would be way more technically proficient than us. I marry technicality to eclecticism and songwriting to focus. Songwriting is very important in order to keep the listener interested. I believe we did a good job with keeping a healthy balance between the two.

Is there any specific significance to the title of the album?

David McCann: Yes, it has been a long a bumpy road in getting this album written and recorded, what with past line-up changes and so forth. The title Resolution is quite personal for the both of us, in the sense that it represents our determination and sheer resolve to not give up on what we initially set out to do when we formed the band.

"Resolution", resisting categorizationThe cover artwork is a bit untraditional for an extreme metal release. What is the story behind the cover artwork?

Paul Shields: A great friend of ours, Fiaz Farrelly, took care of all the artwork and illustrations that will accompany this release. Basically, we just wanted something different to be the face of the album. Similar to the way some people like categorising music, we didn't want them categorising the artwork so easily. When we both saw the cover we knew we had a winner. The cover image also ties in nicely with the album title. The two grassy stalks twisting in the wind can be interpreted as being representative of the both of us overcoming all the challenges and set-backs in the last number of years and remaining resolute.

Turning to Chosen the band, it seems that you have had a turbulent history with relocations back and forth between Ireland and Canada. For those of our readers who are not familiar with Chosen, what is the history of the band?

David McCann: As teenagers, Paul and played in a few different bands before going on to form Chosen. By 2005 we had a full line-up and over the following three years, released a number of independent EPs, gigged regularly around Ireland and went through a few member changes towards the end. In 2008, we then relocated to Vancouver, Canada in order to pursue playing music abroad with a new line-up but also because it was an opportunity to live in another part of the world and experience a new way of life. Travel can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. During our time in Canada we wrote some of the songs for Resolution, played a tribute gig to Death, and finished off our twelve month stay by touring the country. However, when we got back to Ireland, ready to record our debut album, half the band quit and returned to Canada, citing personal reasons. Paul and I then took some time off but it wasn't too long before we were back in the saddle, so to speak, recording our parts for Resolution. It did take a while though, and we made a few attempts to put together another line-up but in the end it didn't go as planned. Becoming a two-piece band is what enabled us to complete the record the way we wanted to and, in hindsight, is something we probably should have done a long time ago.

As a two-person band, what are the advantages and disadvantages when recording an album like Resolution in comparison with a four- or five-person band?

Paul Shields: It's much easier working on ideas because there are just two opinions to take into account. The only disadvantage is that I now have three roles to fulfill, the vocals (clean and heavy), guitars and then bass, and so I have to spend a lot of time practising for all three, whereas in the past I could just focus on my guitar playing. That said; I'm much happier now knowing that it's just the two of us working on ideas, which makes the songwriting process go much smoother and less filtered down by multiple opinions. 

How about writing material, is that easier or harder for a two-person act?

David McCann: Things go much smoother, as Paul says. When it came to writing the lyrics and vocal melodies it took us no time at all because we work very well together and, again, did not have to consult with other members in order to run things by them.

Do you plan to keep Chosen a duo or are you going to expand into a trio, quartet or quintet?

David McCann: For the time being it is going to be just the two of us, as to invite other members into this partnership could see history repeating itself, and we've gone through more than enough line-up changes for one band's lifetime.

Are you going to do any live shows in support of the album? If yes, where can Chosen be experienced live and are you going to hire some additional live musicians?

David McCann: We are currently exploring our options in seeing what kind of live show we could pull off which would do our songs justice. Whether this involves going the route of session musicians or perhaps running some of our own recorded parts (bass, rhythm guitars) through a multi-track device, allowing us to recreate the album with only the two of us, is something we are undecided on at the moment. We will just have to wait and see.

When the album comes out, which formats will it be available in, and where can it be acquired?

Paul Shields: The album will be available for free download from our website. In addition, there will be two limited edition hardcopy versions for sale. The Deluxe Special Edition (2CD) features the album as well as a separate disc containing a mixture of unreleased songs from the album sessions, rough mixes and some drum and bass tracks. The Collector's Edition (Art Book & 2CD) is a spawn of the Deluxe Special Edition, which comes with a full colour softcover book, bundled with extensive liner notes, lyrical themes and illustrations for each song, rare photos, studio diaries, and more, all exhibited with the expanded artwork of Fiaz Farrelly.

Where can people go for more information on Chosen?

Paul Shields: Our website is the hub of our internet presence and has links to our various social media profiles too (Facebook, Youtube, Soundcloud, Twitter, Bandcamp, etc.)

Once again, congratulations on an awesome metal album, and best of luck in the future.

Paul Shields: Thanks for your time and we're glad you enjoy the album.

David McCann: Likewise, thank you very much.

Edited by Time Signature - 06 May 2014 at 11:26am
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