Aaron Marshall, frontman of Canadian prog metal outfit Intervals, on the band's debut India tour
Aaron Marshall, founder and frontman of Canadian prog metal band Intervals talks to Firsptost about coming down for his debut India tour, the process of composing new music and his advice for indie musicians
After rumours floating around in 2017 of an Intervals India debut, the Canadian prog metal band is finally coming to the country this year.
Between 30 October and 3 November, Intervals will perform at Bacardi NH7 Weekender Meghalaya edition, and in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru
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After rumours floating around in 2017 of an Intervals India debut, the Canadian prog metal band is finally coming to the country later this year. Between 30 October and 3 November, the band will perform at Bacardi NH7 Weekender’s Meghalaya edition, with additional dates in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. “We’ve been talking about this for a few years now, so I’m very excited to finally be making it happen,” says Aaron Marshall, guitarist and founder of the band, in an email interview with Firstpost.
Intervals’ India tour is arranged by Bohemian Live in the three cities, and Gravity Talent at Weekender. This seems to have become possible primarily because of the genre’s growing popularity. As Amarjeet Singha of Bohemian Live explains, “We knew that Intervals had a lot of fans in India, and also owing to the recent success of tours involving artists in the same genre.” Marshall pins down the upsurge in popularity of instrumental music to specific factors. “The genre is still quite niche, of course, but I do believe that it is the biggest and best it’s ever been,” he says.
This, according to him, is a result of guitarists’ approach to music and composition, with room for more unique sounds to carve their own niche. “I would attribute that to the focus being routed more in quality composition overall, and less about guitar as a “sport”, if you will,” he says about the flashy, stereotypical showmanship many guitarists emulate, adding, “There’s so much more room now for all the wonderfully nuanced aspects that the instrument and its players have to offer.”
Marshall himself explores the instrument with great virtuosity, has a consistently experimental approach to composition, and is widely regarded for a sound that is as melodic as it is upbeat and heavy, and above all, entirely consuming. The start of his guitar instrumental composition journey is the relatively straightforward story of a passionate individual having, early on, discovered a sound he could relate to, and continuing on in the same language. “I think it honestly just sort of came from necessity. I’ve always been into instrumental, and guitar-driven music, and when I started composing music on my own, it just began to head in that direction,” he explains.
His process of composing seems as intuitive as his choice of genre. “I don’t really have one tried and true method that I implement when composing," he reveals. Simply, ideas come to him and he explores them, letting the music guide his direction.
“I find an idea in the form of a riff, chord progression, or melody, and explore its identity to find where it came from, or where it wants to go and let that unfold naturally.
My objective is to listen and not force anything. Sometimes entire compositions take shape in a single session, other times I’ll work on a tune for weeks. It’s a case per case process for me,” he explains.
While Intervals’ music is known for its uplifting, positive quality, Marshall doesn’t orient his process with specific themes in mind. “My music is the result of discovering ideas on my instrument, intuitively, and then listening closer as I explore, in order to grow them naturally. No preconceived themes, or anything like that.” The happy music then, seems essentially to be an imprint of the inner workings of his mind. This has been his approach from the start, where in the past Marshall has described Intervals as his “outlet for all things guitar and music related” and now has similar advice for young indie artists:
“Make art for yourself and don't fixate on, or pander to current trends in the space that your music exists in. Just do what comes honestly and naturally.”
After two EPs, The Space Between in 2011 and In Time in 2012, Intervals’ debut full-length album, 2014’s A Voice Within, was the first to feature vocals by Mike Semesky, with Marshall returning to instrumental compositions with later releases. “Of course, it was something we tried with AVW in 2014, and I’m glad I did, for numerous reasons. I’m still so proud of that record, but it did ultimately show me where my honest passion for this music lies and everything from there forward has felt natural and organic,” says Marshall.
A Voice Within was followed by The Shape of Colour in 2015, and since the release of their third album The Way Forward in 2017, Intervals has consistently been touring. After their four-show India tour, they head off on a two-month North America tour supporting Chon and Between the Buried and Me. About the gear he'll be using on tour, Marshall says that things are changing for him at the moment. “I’m not really at liberty to speak on that just yet, so let’s just say it’s going to be a surprise,” he says.
Amidst all the touring, he also finds it hard to schedule in time for composing. “I’ve got new material shaping up, but there is time scheduled specifically for writing when all of my touring for this year is finished and we can finally wrap this cycle up,” says Marshall about new music. And about the direction the new music is taking, he explains: “As for now, I'm focused on continuing to hone and refine my sound and style... I'm always open to collaborations, but in the same sense as how I compose music, I do what comes naturally,” adding: “I’m bringing a wide variety of tunes for these shows though, and since this is the first time in India, it will all be new for you guys!”
In preparing for tours, Marshall’s challenges range from trying to cover a lot of ground in terms of how much music he can incorporate into a set, to logistical details like crew and merchandise and figuring out gear-related things – issues faced by most indie artists.
Having achieved spectacular success as an independent musician himself, Marshall has spoken at length – in previous interviews – about treating his band as a business and often refers to himself as an entrepreneur. Now, he also emphasises that every other aspect of a band besides the music is as important: “You need to eat, sleep and breathe it, in all aspects, especially the details that exist beyond the music itself.
I think independent artistry in the modern music industry truly is entrepreneurship
as it encompasses digital marketing, creative brand direction, and an overall business oriented mind-set,” he says, “My advice is observe those who are doing what you are striving to do yourself and pay attention to their moves. It is important to assimilate those traits in your own way and within the parameters of your band/identity.”
As for the music he's currently listening to — “I’m all over the place, haha. Here’s what’s at the top of my Apple Music, currently: Travis Scott, Joshua De La Victoria, Evan Marien, Pendulum, Nothing, Nowhere, Slipknot, Kehlani, Dwilly, Chon.”
Intervals' debut India tour runs from 30 October to 3 November. More details here.
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