LUCID AWAKENING: Challenges & Rewards

Lucid Awakening

Back in March, Oklahoma based progressive metal six-piece Lucid Awakening has launched a new single entitled “Epiphany,” which was featured on our recent Progotronics digital sampler. The single marks the introduction of a vocalist Heyden Smith, and about the group’s mission, the creative process, and more, Lucid Awakening tell us in the interview below.

Define the mission of Lucid Awakening.

To create music that challenges as much as it rewards, that can entertain as much as it gives the listener something to think about, all the while carving out a space for ourselves in the vast world of the progressive genre. We’re not necessarily trying to reinvent the wheel, but we do want to scratch that itch that maybe people didn’t necessarily know they needed itching. Above all, we write the music that we want to hear and hope that our authentic approach to how we write it will resonate with others.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your new single “Epiphany.”

As with all of our music to date, Colton and Garrett laid down the basic structure for “Epiphany” years ago. However, there was an intentional approach to the writing in terms of having a more boxed composition while still incorporating some of our signature linearity. We wanted this song to be more driving and have a noticeable structure, while still maintaining some of the style we’d built upon in the songs you’ll hear from our debut album, “The Sum of Infinity”.

What is the message of “Epiphany”?

“Epiphany” is about becoming aware of the agency one has over their life and of their view of the world. It’s about how we react to the grand and ever-evolving mystery that is our existence. It’s about finding meaning in the mundane and the static when we’re so often pressured into definitively providing an answer for our purpose in this world.

How does the music video for the single emphasize the message you want to portray?

Like the track itself, the video is intimate. It focuses heavily on Heyden’s emotional delivery. He wanders aimlessly around this house, dwelling on symbols that are physically portrayed throughout the video in the three picture frames. In the end, the picture frames are crushed. Heyden walks out of the attic; out of his head. It’s an omen for taking the agency we mentioned above, and for re-framing (pun intended) one’s view of their place in the world.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Most of the documentation early on was confined to our noggins. Most of the band had played this song for years, so it became muscle memory. When studio time approached, there was a Guitar Pro file and a particularly *rough* recording that came into existence. We’d rather the latter be lost to the digital void.

Is the dynamic flow of the piece carefully architected?

Yes, although it all started with just a collection of riffs. From there it was figuring out how they flowed together. We wanted to play with tension and release. We wanted the song to explore but not meander, and feel like a journey by the end. It also taught us that simplicity in structure (at least compared to our previous songs) can be equally as challenging to execute as more intricate and purely linear songs.

Describe the approach to recording the single.

We took a couple of trips up to Maine to record with the man, the myth, the legend Evan Sammons. From there, we’d wake up, walk over to the studio and piss excellence. Just kidding, it was more a product of drilling our parts over and over until there was no more string noise or pubescent-sounding vocal cracks. We started with drums, then strings, then vocals and keys. A lot of the process for keys was just finalizing sounds and exploring options with the synths and VSTs that Evan had since Michael had already recorded MIDI data. There was also a fair amount of ear candy written in the studio. While we had the gist of each song down, Evan gave us an outside opinion and helped us write some leads, harmonies and more that we didn’t have when we first stepped into the studio.

Lucid Awakening

How long “Epiphany” was in the making?

“Epiphany” has been in the making for close to 10 years, so Heyden (vocals) was only 13 years old and eating his boogers at the time of its conception. It was one of the last songs in the batch when Lucid Awakening was only a 3-piece in Garrett (bass), Colton (guitar) and Nikki (drums). Jake (guitar) would fill in his parts in 2016, Michael (keys) in 2018 and Heyden (vocals) in 2020.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the song?

Dream Theater and Between the Buried & Me have heavily influenced our work across the board and Garrett would cite their influence here as well. Michael was getting into VOLA’s “Applause of a Distant Crowd” and Haken’s “Vector” at the time of writing “Epiphany”. Colton cites The Faceless and Mastodon as influences on particular riffs. Nikki has always incorporated a lot of his jazz background into our sound which is showcased particularly well on some of the slower, groovier parts of the song. Heyden and Jake would both cite The Contortionist specifically as an influence for the chorus, as it carries a subdued, melancholic sound like the one that The Contortionist has done so well.

What is your view on technology in music?

We love it. It’s democratized access to the tools needed to create music. It has made musicians and composers of those who might not have been otherwise and has opened up endless possibilities. So much amazing music has come into the world as a direct result of technology’s presence. From a distribution standpoint, it is so much easier now than ever before to get music into the ears of people who will actually love it. We’re fortunate to be making music in an era such as this.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Of course. On a purely selfish level, we all write music out of personal enjoyment and to process emotions, but if a listener can connect to our music in any way, it means the world to us and is extremely humbling. That being said, we hope that the addition of lyrics to our music will elevate the connections people can make with it.

What are your plans for the future?

It’s no secret that there’s more music to come following “Epiphany”. We’re excited to hit the road in support of this music in the upcoming post-Covid renaissance, all the while experiencing as many places and good times as we can while doing what we love!

“Epiphany” is out now and is available from Bandcamp. Follow Lucid Awakening on Facebook.

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