Founded in 2011 by multi-instrumentalist Brian Ellis, Nashville-based band Convection‘s inception was fueled by Ellis’s deep fascination with meteorology, metaphor, and progressive rock. The early years saw the birth of Convection‘s first raw and ambitious offering, the 17-track album “Into Darkness,” independently released in the summer of 2014. Over the following years, Convection underwent several lineup changes, evolving its sound and artistic direction.
By the spring of 2017, Convection unveiled their debut record, “Polarity,” which marked a significant departure in style, embracing a more progressive and heavy metal sound. The lineup solidified with vocalist Ben Forbes, guitarist Steven Jacobs, bassist Ben Morris, and drummer Mathias Fodor. The end of that year saw the addition of Chris Healey, who had been an early years guitarist, and a transition of bass duties from Morris to Healey.
Convection‘s journey continued to unfold with their second album, “Kepler,” released on February 20th, 2020. With a refined and experimental sound, “Kepler” is described by the band as a personal narrative of struggle and strife set against an interstellar backdrop. As they ventured into this new era, Ben Morris, having joined GRYMM, passed the bass guitar to his long-time friend Chris Healey.
The band’s commitment to experimentation and collaborative creativity culminated in the release of 2023’s “The Ghost of Albert Gallatin EP.” This record, a pot-luck of progressive metal, rock, orchestral, and electronic music, represents a significant milestone for Convection, as it is the first project where every member played a role in the creative process from inception to completion. As we delve into the intriguing musical odyssey of Convection, we sit down with the band to explore the intricacies of their evolving sound and the stories woven into their latest artistic endeavors.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your musical journey. How did you get started in the world of progressive rock?
For most of us, we grew up listening to a wide variety of music, but especially rock and heavier music. As we got older, that really started to evolve into a love especially for progressive music – metalcore, nu-metal, alt. metal… stuff like that. Eventually, after we met in high school, prog. metal just ended up being the “favorite” sound that we came to appreciate the most.
Let’s dive into the featured track on the compilation. Can you share the inspiration or story behind “Truth Hurts”?
The main meaning for us, among other things, stems from the frustrations we had with the medical industry during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. We just feel there’s a lot of stuff they did that was motivated by things other than wanting to truly help people. Hence “First do no harm”… We really wanted to bring those frustrations to light, and hopefully make people more aware of how bad things really were, and still are in many ways.
Walk us through your creative process. How do you typically approach writing and composing music? What was your creative process like for your recent EP “The Ghost of Albert Gallatin” in comparison to your previous efforts?
Well… we usually come up with a bunch of riffs, and melodies and such, then at some point Brian will find a way to add song structure and complete the song, then we all detail it further until we like it enough. After that, somewhere towards the end of a ‘music cycle’ so to speak, we’ll start coming up with lyrical ideas, etc. But, to be totally honest, most of the parts were written and recorded by him in the early days…
As far as T.G.A.G. goes, we really wanted to write and record our parts from top to bottom this time. That’s not to say we didn’t share ideas or help each other writing parts, but with the final product, we wanted it to be each individual’s sound and performance on the EP. Especially with our current line-up being the same for this long.
The way we approached writing and recording was a lot more difficult to work out at first, but we learned a TON by the end of the journey for sure, especially with all the new gear and techniques we’ve gathered over the last few years. It ended up being like nothing we’ve done before, so all that new effort was definitely worth it. We’ll be using what we’ve learned from this journey, from now on – 100%.
Who or what are your major influences in progressive rock? How do they impact your own musical style?
Each of us have slight differences in exactly what type of progressive music we like, but we’ll just name a few… Bands like, Periphery, Tesseract, Meshuggah, or artists like Sithu Aye, Polyphia, Good Tiger, and Mastodon lately. Going further back though, Rush, Deftones, Tool, Lamb of God, also System of a Down of course. There’s a ton more, but that sums it up pretty well.
What challenges have you faced as an artist in the scene, and how have you overcome them?
Overcome them? …Simply put, we haven’t. [laughs] But seriously, dealing with social media and short attention spans is probably the biggest challenge we’ve had to face being progressive artists. It’s hard to expand our reach to people who can appreciate prog. metal and such because of how specific of a sound it is. Really, it’s just the nature of things, and getting traction is an uphill battle.
Not to mention our “day jobs” really put a strain on our ability to schedule things as a group, and progress in the “scene” so to speak. Adapting to all that is definitely a challenge compared to how things were when we started almost a decade ago.
How do you see the scene evolving, and what role do you believe your music plays in that evolution?
There’s been a lot of genre crossovers happening, and we definitely think that’s going to continue. Hopefully that will help expand the reach of prog. rock and metal to the ears of those who might not have listened to it before, and maybe allow them to appreciate something new and interesting musically.
As far as Convection goes, we dove into that with the song “The Ghost of Albert Gallatin” on the new EP, by going a whole different direction, crossing into the electronic and hip-hop world a bit. We didn’t do it because we felt like we needed to, it just kind of turned out that way and we loved the sound. That’s really the main point – we write music based on how we feel, not to satisfy anything, or anyone else. We make music for us to appreciate first. Hopefully, that will inspire others to do the same.
Share with us some of the most memorable moments in your musical journey so far.
Definitely when we did our showcase at Ridenour Studios in Murfreesboro, TN. It was the first time we’ve been able to play a show, just us, in a personal setting, in front of the fans that love us most. We even had a green room! That was a badass show.
The other big memorable moment was playing Frozen Fest at The End in Nashville during the winter of 2018. It was the first show we played with Mathias on drums, and it felt a million times better than how we did it before. For a while after Polarity came out, we played with drum tracks on stage, like, no drummer. That’s something we don’t miss at all. For being our first show with a drummer, it was packed! Yeah… what a night.
Do you have a personal favorite among your own compositions? If so, which one and why?
That’s a good question… If we were to choose one we all can agree on, it would have to be ‘Beyond the Rift’ on our album Kepler. It was really ahead of its time and starts out in a completely unique way compared to our other songs – vocals and music from beat one. It’s also one of our favorite songs to play live, and really showcases what we can do as musicians.
Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re working on?
We already have a few working demos, and a ton of leftover ideas from the last cycle. But nothing is set in stone. We’re looking at the next record being a full length album though. That’s about it so far.
What does it mean to you to be a part of our compilation? How has the experience been for you?
It’s been great! It’s actually the first time we’ve been on a compilation, so it being all about progressive rock and metal is even better. We really appreciate all that you’re doing for the scene. Thanks for the opportunity!
Is there a message you’d like to convey to your fans who will be discovering your music through this compilation?
Thanks for giving us some of your time in this chaotic world we all live in. Remember to keep an open mind, explore nature, never stop growing as an individual, and listen to music to help you out along the way.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or not, who would it be?
Brian: Dave Grohl
Ben: Elton John
Steven: Spencer Sotelo
Mathias: Ian Anderson
Chris: Frank Zappa
If you had to pick one instrument (besides your primary one) to master, what would it be?
What’s your all-time favorite progressive rock album, and why? One album that you always return to.
Brian: ‘Erotic Cakes’ by Guthrie Govan. It’s a wonderful instrumental journey through all of the prog. genres, and Guthrie is the best!
Ben: ‘Koloss’ by Meshuggah. I’m a really big fan of music that makes me think of an Earth where humans evolved from elephants and not apes.
Steven: ‘Periphery 2: This Time It’s Personal’ by Periphery. It was my gateway into progressive music.
Mathias: ‘Thick as a Brick’ by Jethro Tull. Most conceptualized album of all time, it’s one song played at forty-five minutes, what’s not to love?
Chris: ‘Metropolis: Part 2’ by Dream Theater. It was a standout album in my early days as a musician.
Are there non-musical influences that find their way into your music? (e.g., literature, art, science)
Meteorology, the balance of nature, certain world views… also, astronomy. Just to name a few.
Any final thoughts or reflections you’d like to share with our audience?
Let’s see… I guess, to us, it’s not so much the destination that matters the most in life. “It’s the trek that makes you; shapes you, it makes us who we are.” – to quote our song ‘Beyond the Rift.’ So, remember to stop and smell the roses, as they say, from time to time. Just something to keep in mind with all the “bs” that life throws at us… yeah!
Our music is streaming everywhere, and we have merch on Bandcamp. We’ll also be coming out with new merch designs and items related to the new EP in a month or two. We’d appreciate your support more than you know!
Where can our audience find more about you and your music?