UK progressive metallers Ending Paths are set to release their debut full-length album Mindwalk in early 2017. Prog Sphere talked with guitarist Jamie Ford about the release, the band’s expectations, influences, and more.
Define the mission of Ending Paths.
For us, it’s simple. We want our music to take it’s audience on a journey. We live in a world that moves so quickly, with data, soundbites and stories falling rapidly past our eyes, we rarely have time to pause and take in those ‘moments’. Our music intends to be that moment, a retreat from the eclectic mess that the Information Age brings.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your upcoming debut album Mindwalk and the themes it captures.
Mindwalk has been a labour of love for about 2 years now. It began during the recording of an EP we had planned. We were about halfway through recording the third song when myself and Adam (Pyke, Bass) decided to take a different direction. I’d written Horizon (the next single, which will be available early 2017) as a personal project, not really intended for Ending Paths. We rolled with the epic, over the top, musical theatre vibe and ended up with an album that followed a narrative, the same story as the abandoned EP but told very differently.
What is the message you are trying to give with Mindwalk?
The story follows a genius (Arthur) who’s found a way to enter the dreams of others, ‘Mindwalk’ is the name of the head worn device that he’s built. He attracts the attention of a very powerful man (Victor) who kidnaps him and forces him to complete the creation of the device as he see’s it as a potential tool for political gain. Arthur finds love and escapes, drama ensues. The story is one of consequences, where a man’s curiosity can either lead to positive or negative results (think Schrödinger’s cat) and takes some inspiration from Robert Oppenheimer, where his genius lead to unfathomable suffering.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
We wrote everything as a flow of ideas, all bedroom demo’s that have been systematically polished and refined. It was simply a string of cool ideas which followed a narrative, with a touch of quality control along the way.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
Absolutely, the album flows as a stage play would, with 3 acts and interludes. The album references itself a lot, chord progressions pop up throughout which are expressed differently each time, for example, they may be aggressively strummed in one section and then arpeggiated later. There are also vocal parts that reoccur throughout, which gives a sense of familiarity without the album becoming repetitive.
Describe the approach to recording the album.
We have at this point recorded everything twice! As the songs were written with programmed drums and a lot of midi supplements which served as writing tools, we tracked the album in its entirety as roughly mixed demos. We then played the songs together and ‘updated’ them with more human touches, and would later go on to record the final tracks with live drums which sound amazing comparatively.
Luke (Nelson, Drums) has a live room for recording drums at his house, Adam and I tracked Bass and Guitar at my house together and David (Pegna, Vocals) has also been at my house tracking. The album is entirely home-brew!
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
As individuals, we have hugely diverse tastes which influence the overall feel of Ending Paths’ music. David has been singing a lot of swing and jazz, which sits very uniquely in a prog metal soundscape that tend to prefer higher, harsher tones. So we have vocal influences from Rat Pack, Sinatra and even a little bit of Joni Mitchell. Adam brings more melodic ideas to the table, hinting at the sounds of Justin Chancellor, John Myung and the odd groove with tastes of Paul Turner and Mark King. Luke has taken my ‘average at best’ programmed drum writing, and transformed the songs with Rudinger-like foot patterns, Halpern-esque fills. Myself, I take a lot of inspiration from the arrangement skills of TesseracT, Haken, Steven Wilson and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and of course Petrucci-like riffs and shred.
What is your view on technology in music?
Technology is wonderful, I couldn’t dream of creating music like this in my bedroom 10 years ago. It doesn’t make studios redundant in any way, but it does enable an alternative for musicians on a budget. The sounds we wanted are so ‘expensive’, with choirs and strings throughout the album, but with a good load of research and a little investment, we eventually found plugins that sounded exactly how we envisioned the songs. With companies like Slate Digital and Cinesamples, we can finally make great sounding music at home.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
I sincerely hope that this music makes people happy, whether it’s the tool that gets someone through a rough patch or an inspiration for someone to create music or media of their own. We don’t want to spread political messages, call for revolution or influence people to live differently, but to enrich the lives of anyone who loves a good bit of dramatic storytelling.
What are your plans for the future?
More immediately, we’ll be getting together in January to play through our songs and put an awesome live show together. “Horizon” (our second single) will be available early 2017 and Mindwalk will follow on from that.
In the meantime, we hope we can spread our music as far and wide as possible.