THE SALESMAN: Out of Comfort Zone

The Salesman

Northwest Arkansas-based trio The Salesman are on the verge of launching their new full-length release entitled ‘Of Dust and Decay.’ In an interview for Prog Sphere, the band speaks about the ideas behind the new album, creative process, and more.

Describe the musical frameworks your latest album “Of Dust and Decay” explores.

The album is heavily inspired by our love of classic metal, 70s prog rock, and some modern metal too. We wanted to make an album with huge riffs and really heavy moments but for it to also have some more laid back and sometimes even emotional sections with clean vocals. We definitely went out of our comfort zone a few times to take songs where we thought they should go.

Tell me about the ideas that inform “Of Dust and Decay.”

We started writing lyrics for the album without the thought of a concept bringing everything together but as the songs came along we were able to loosely string them all back to the title track. We just wrote all the lyrics with the intent of writing what we were feeling at the moment. It was actually after everything was demoed out did we realise we could make it all a part of the title track’s story. Each song has its own topic, from crumbling relationships to timeline hopping and dystopias to zealous cults.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and lessons learned during the creative process for “Of Dust and Decay”?

The biggest challenge was probably coming up with the rest of the material after recording the title track. We tracked everything but a second guitar track for the song “Of Dust and Decay” like 6 months before we finished the rest of the album. In 2019 we won a contest with East Hall Recording in Fayetteville, Arkansas and at the time that was the only new song we had finished. I mean it’s a 22 minute song so it’s not like we didn’t have much material but not enough for a whole album at that time. Another challenge was mapping out a metronome and getting used to playing to it but it wasn’t too much of a challenge. We have a lot of tempo changes and never really bothered to use a metronome in studio before this but we ultimately decided on using it for the bulk of the album. We recorded the title track and the instrumental, “Tribulations”, live in studio but everything else was done to a click.

The Salesman - Of Dust and Decay

What does the title track communicate, symbolically?

The title track symbolizes where we’re all heading if we don’t make compromises and come together. And I’m not just talking about here in the US, I mean everywhere. There is so much conflict and turmoil online now and everyone is so caught up in their own social bubbles and confirmation bias. Everything is so “us” vs “them” now and we’re sick of it.

To someone who hasn’t heard the album, what can he or she expect from “Of Dust and Decay”?

They should expect heavy riffs, frequent mood swings, and to not get too comfortable with how a song is going because it’s liable to make a change they hopefully didn’t anticipate.

How has your perspective on the possibilities of song arrangement expanded over the years?

When I started writing music ten plus years ago, I followed traditional rock and metal structures to a tee. Over time we got more experimental with our songs and agreed not every song needs a chorus or even that many repeating riffs. We still have a few songs that you could say follow a more traditional style of songwriting but we really like to go wherever we think the song is taking us. When I’m writing the musical structure for a song, I think of it more as a story with different peaks and valleys and surprising solutions rather than a predictable structure.

What evolution as musicians do you see across your recorded works?

Our playing is tighter than it has ever been for one. I also think our songwriting has gotten a lot better through the years. I still love our last album, “Awæcnan”, but I am very proud of how everything turned out for “Of Dust and Decay”. We don’t like to be labeled as just another metal band and think the new album shows it.

The_Salesman

What types of change do you feel this music can initiate?

We’re hoping people can relate to the themes of the album and can think about the things that are really important in their lives. That maybe instead of arguing with strangers on the internet to take a step back and enjoy the people and things in around them.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

No, not really. I don’t really like to put recurring songwriting patterns in songs unless the riffs demand it. A lot of times, I’ll have a specific riff that catches my ear and I’ll start writing more riffs in that one style and feel around until I have something that catches my ear again and compliments the first riff. And so on and so forth until you have a full fledged song. It’s very much like solving a puzzle created by the emotions that the riffs give me.

What non-musical entities and ideas have an impact on your music?

Really just our day to day lives and what we’re going through and feel as people living today. We love to get together and talk about aliens, alternate dimensions, conspiracies, video games, fantasy and sci-fi books, shows, movies and so on. All of those things seem to influence our music in one way or another.

What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in forms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it, or anything else?

Keep grinding and don’t give up. Some things need to simmer in the pot a while before it’s time. Be it finishing a song, getting booked at a certain venue, or being able to nail a new technique. Keep your nose to the grindstone and the results you want will follow.

Check out The Salesman on Bandcamp, and follow the band on Facebook and Instagram.

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