MYTHOLOGY: Interesting and Challenging Music

Mythology

West Milford, New Jersey based progressive metal trio Mythology was part of our recent Progotronics compilation series, and guitarist Brynen Sosa sat down to answer our questions about their work, their latest full-length release “All the Planets Have Aligned,” influences, and more.

Define the mission of Mythology.

Mythology’s mission has always been to create interesting and challenging music that harkens back to the era of early progressive rock, while infusing many other genres as well. Even those typically not associated with prog rock, like pop, Latin music, and alternative rock for example. And also to push ourselves as both musicians and instrumentalists. One of the reasons I wanted it to be a 3-piece band from the beginning was because each player is required to be on point at all times. There’s nothing to hide behind in a 3-piece, you each have to fill up your own space as much and as efficiently as possible without stepping on the other two guys’ toes.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your latest album “All the Planets Have Aligned.”

I’ve made a lot of different records with many bands, but “All The Planets Have Aligned” was one of my absolute favorites records to make, I must say. It was our 4th studio album, so by that time we certainly had the recording process down really well. And we also know how each other performs after so many years of playing together. So we’re now able to react to each other’s specific playing style. It seemed as if the planets did truly align for this one. Usually most records are met with some sort of roadblocks and hurdles, but this one was quite a smooth process, and was very well planned out beforehand. The songwriting process was a fun one, as most Mythology albums are for me. Mythology’s songwriting process is a very simple one, although it sounds like it would be complicated. Usually, I write a piece from start to finish with a compositional structure, melody, chords, lyrics (if any), and overall concept on my own. Then I will present to it Dane and Jordan, and they will add their own own parts to the song skeleton. Their contributions usually complete the song since they both complement my style very well. Then from there, it’s arranging the piece as a band. Trimming or adding as necessary. Then, of course, rehearse, rehearse, REHEARSE!

I had many raw materials over a few years time of lyrics, melodies, rhythmic ideas, riffs, concepts. One of the fun about this band, is trying to piece those ideas together to form a giant song or suite, all while trying to make it sound cohesive and almost play out like a film from start to finish. Many of these songs have a cinematic quality, at least to me they do. I can visualize scenarios taking place over certain melodies and moments. So for the opening track Thilafushi, our drummer Jordan Morrissey had written some words that he wanted me to come up with music to accompany. His instructions were “beauty, but with a decent amount of regret and ugliness to it”. So the song vacillates between very pretty moments, and sort of dark and sinister sounding intensity to convey that. Raindrops is a song I think I’ve always wanted to write, but hadn’t yet: sweet, melodic, and acoustic, but also with a bit of improvisation. Typically our acoustic numbers are composed. Hoodeehoo has a riff that I had kicking around for years, but never applied it to anything. Every Mythology album has to have at least one song with a riff that gets stuck in your head for days, that’s Hoodeehoo. Latin Heat had been in my mind for a bit, and happened to be in the same key, so I attached it to Hoodeehoo. A two for one type song. Doppelgänger Rag and One For The Gipper were also two unrelated songs that I had strung together due to key signature and continuity. Now I can’t hear one without wanting to hear the other. Lunar Lupines is the closing track, and a cinematic journey, while being set to many different genres. Most notably Iron Maiden style heavy metal! That song stems from my love of old fantasy films and video games. Particularly the Final Fantasy video game series (especially 6 & 7), and the old cartoon film “Flight Of Dragons” with Tom Bosley and John Ritter.

All The Planets Have Aligned

What is the message of “All the Planets Have Aligned”?

Although there is no underlying theme to the entire album, I would say the concepts vary from song to song. Some were world issues like in Thilafushi. Some songs have an autobiographical theme to them like Raindrops and Doppelgänger Rag. Hoodeehoo and Gipper are more or less the fun “party” tunes on the album. Every album need its bangers. While Lunar Lupines is purely meant to be a fantasy story. A rollicking adventure with wolves, swords, dungeons, and magic spells. It’s worth noting, I was getting married and buying a house right around the time that I was writing a lot of this stuff, I think some of the sentiment and love I was experiencing seeped into the songs, even if in a subtext kind of way.

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

When I write something that I think is worth holding onto, I will either record a quick video of me playing it on my phone or computer, write a quick chord chart, or make a demo in Logic Pro. The videos are helpful especially when you don’t have a guitar handy. I may record a quick video of my self singing a melody I just came up with just so I don’t forget it, then later try to learn it on the guitar. This album had a lot more demos and short videos simply because I had more technology and devices at my disposal than in the past. Also, lyric sheets and chord charts were plentiful. I usually keep a few notebooks of various lyrics, charts, and ideas on hand at all times. Nothing beats pen on paper!

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

I’m also the producer for these albums, so I have to oversee the grand picture, as well as be the guitarist and vocalist. That includes carefully choosing the right songs for each project. Does this set of songs go well together? What track order makes the most sense, and flows the best? Is there a unifying sound to this series of songs, while being diverse and each song being unique? These are all questions I have to think about before even going into the studio. I have plenty of songs, but do they fit Mythology, or some other project I’m involved in? I think there’s a fine line between a band trying new and cool things, and also overstepping into places they maybe shouldn’t go. But experimentation has always been one of the cornerstones of progressive rock, so it’s all relative to one’s perspectives. In short, when you hear our final products, there’s almost no accidents!

Describe the approach to recording the album.

We’ve always recorded the same way since day 1: basic tracking is done live with the 3 of us in a space where we can look at each other, with our instruments isolated somehow. We work best when we‘re playing together in realtime. We don’t use a click track, because some of our songs include so many rapid time signature changes, a metronome would just throw us off. We were very well rehearsed for this album, so most of the basic tracking was done on day 1. We did basic tracking for Raindrops on day 2, and also all of my acoustic and electric guitar overdubs on day 2 & 3. I’m pretty sure I used every single guitar I own for this record! I even borrowed one from a friend!. Most parts on this album were done in less than 5 takes. Certain things went over that, I’m sure due to difficulty, but I wanted to keep as much of the “live” aspect of the band as possible, while also using the conveniences of the recording studio. Day 4 was mostly my lead vocals, and harmony vocals with the other guys. We did harmony vocals the old school way, with the 3 of us gathered around a condenser mic singing composed, 3-part harmonies in realtime. We would then overdub the same parts 3-4 times for layering effects. For day 5, I had hired a crack team of guest players to help add other instrumentation to the songs. All those guys came in throughout the day and just knocked their parts out in about an hour each. It was a wonderful experience!

How long “All the Planets Have Aligned” was in the making?

The writing process didn’t take too long, due to my method of writing for this band. I keep a log of melodies, lyrics, riffs, chord charts. which over the course of a year can grow very quickly. It’s then a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together digging into the log, as well as adding brand new parts previously unheard. We rehearsed the songs for over the course 4 months when we could find the time. The whole record was recorded in 5 days by our good friend Shane Stanton at Architekt Studios in Butler, New Jersey. Then carefully mixed by Shane over the next few months. He’s an extraordinarily talented man, and has quite a set of ears on him. Then, of course, Andy VanDette mastered the record adding his final polish to everything. And I don’t even have to tell you the amazing career Andy has had as a mastering engineer. Mythology has always been very much a 1970s style band. I think Shane and Andy both made us sound like a 1974 prog band even moreso than ever before!

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the album?

As per usual, Mythology tends to wear its influences on its sleeve. Our primary influences are Yes, King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, Nirvana, Mel Torme, Weather Report, Return To Forever, Burt Bacharach, Tom Lehrer, Weird Al, Nine Inch Nails. The list goes on, but that’s a good starting point. I’m sure if you spoke to each of us individually, we’d spout off 100 more each hahaha!

What is your view on technology in music?

Technology can be a great thing. It’s made all of our lives a lot easier and streamlined. It can also be a crutch, though. I think one of the things that makes this band great, is there isn’t a recording we’ve done that we cannot perform live. Now, of course, sometime you’ll mess up a part, but everything on record could feasibly be done in a live setting, sans overdub parts. I love digital recording, as it makes things so much easier than it would’ve been in the past using reel to reel analog tape. But one of my M.O.’s is to keep things as “real” and “live” as possible, while using some of the luxuries of the modern digital age to sweeten the project. If a ProTools edit means I don’t have to record a part over and over, then great! But if you’re recording something 50 times, I’m not sure that person can play that part.

In short, I like to use the technology we have to my advantage, but I don’t try to be something I’m not. Integrity is everything.

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

I have always wanted to see our music get placed in a film or a television show. It certainly has that visual quality to it. I think if we teamed up with the right directors and producers, we could do some outstanding things scoring.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now, it’s taking whatever shows are available for now. 2020 and this year are a little rough with live performance. Although we did some live stream concerts, and released some archival and aggregate studio material in the meantime which we are very proud of (Mythology Lives Vol. 1 & The Pinstripe Players). I am currently writing the follow up to All The Planet Have Aligned. I’m at about 50% now. We were talking about concepts before, and I’m thinking this one may be our very first full concept album. I’m hoping I don’t lose the plot halfway through haha!! It’s called “The Story Of Sound” and it tells the fictional story of the man who invented music, how this occurrence effected civilization throughout the eons, and finally how it effected myself and my own life. So it gets very real and autobiographical towards the end. I’m really happy with how it’s coming out so far with the demos I’ve recorded. Hopefully it’ll get recorded sometime in 2022. I would like to record the album in a house somewhere, rather than a proper recording studio. Even if it’s my own house. I think that’d be a wonderful and very comfortable environment to make a record. A lot of my favorite albums were done in houses. There’s a charm to that that I feel permeates throughout the recordings. I think it’s time for us to do something like that.

All the Planets Have Aligned is available from Bandcamp.

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