As The Sun Dies - Chatting with Switchblade's drummer Mat "Picco" Piccolotto.

Upon the release of their newest release Invictus Infinitum, we sat down with Switchblade drummer Mat Piccolotto to discuss what is going down in the world of Switchblade.

Since forming in 2001, Switchblade has worked relentlessly to be one of Australia's shining lights within the metal community. Their debut release The End of All Once Known was released in 2005 to acclaim from their peers and their fans alike, and the band proved its
musical dominance on the live front by touring until early 2007. After this time they wound up their tour cycle and focused on composing new material for the follow up release.

"We decided to take a year off to concentrate on writing and recording what was to become Invictus Infinitum, we had tried to do that while performing live, but it was too much of a distraction to do both at the same time,' Mat explained. 'When we are in live mode, we put the emphasis on rehearsal and being tight musically so people can get the best possible live show, that does not leave much time to sit down and compose new material. After touring for the debut album for three years, the band thought it was time to move on to new material.
People were probably getting sick of hearing the same tracks in the set, so I am glad we took the time off."

During the writing process, you might assume that the band would analyse their previous work and base the songwriting process upon that. In Switchblade's instance this is pretty much the case. Mat explains the process that went down.

"The song writing process came easier and naturally this time around, the band have all progressed musically over time and we wanted to write the kind of music we want to hear, the core of our sound has remained the same from the beginning, we took what we thought were the best aspects of The End of All Once Known and further expanded and progressed on it to the best as we could."

I asked Mat if he thought that the upcoming release Invictus Infinitum would likely change the perception of Switchblade, especially given how the band keeps their promotional machine going and kept their fans in the know with what's happening.

"As far as how we promote the band, we have kept it the same. Obviously when a band is writing a new album, you don't want to deviate to far away from your sound and not to alienate your exisiting fanbase, unless you are unhappy with the direction you had undertaken,' he explained. 'Our new album is very different to The End of All Once Known but not different in a way that is not going to change our fanbase's perception of us. Our goals and long term visions have stayed the same since we formed which is basically to write the best music we can, tour as much and as hard as we can and hopefully the people enjoy it as much as we do. So far so good at this stage!"

Upon listening to Invictus Infinitum, it is a different beast compared to The End of All Once Known as it seems like a new band. It's enough to make one wonder whether was much passion involved with Invictus Infinitum in comparison to The End of All Once Known, and whether it was a collaborative effort from the whole band.

"There was a lot more passion put into this album purely in the fact that we invested a lot of time making sure every song we composed was the best it could be. We actually recorded the album twice over and that was after we scrapped nearly a whole albums worth of material
that didn't make the cut,' he revealed. 'We meticulously slaved over every little detail and went through a lot of pre production which ultimately achieved the final product which made it easier on the jobs of the engineer - Jenk (Darren Jenkins - former drummer of Aussie metal legends Cryogenic) and the world renowned mixer Neil (Neil Kernon - Queensryche, Nile, Cannibal Corpse). Invictus Infinitum was definately a collaborative process from the whole band, everyone had a lot of input in the composition stage and the recording stage so the whole band was happy that their ideas got heard."

I asked Mat what it was like working with Jenk and Neil, if they had any input on the material itself, how they came about to be involved with the band, and what emphasis they had on the recording process.
 
"They were both amazing to work with, the whole experience was great,' Mat enthused. 'During our pre production stage, we put the feelers out there to see who would be interested in working with us. Jenk had a great reputation here in Australia in an engineers' role and was known to be very easy to work with and when we found out he was working in a studio close to home, the choice was quite easy there.
The idea of working with Neil came from Jeff Loomis, the guitarist of Nevermore who we had the pleasure of touring with back in 2006. Neil worked with the band on their first three efforts and Jeff was just about to being working with Neil on his solo record -  Zero Order Phase. We stayed in contact with Jeff over the years and it all fell into place.'

Neil was on board to mix before the band had even started to record the album in Sydney, and so he was able to provide advice, ideas and tips, and information on how he wanted certain things done so his job was a bit easier for when he received the band's files.

'He did not have much input on the song writing process as the material was already written and he was happy with the demo material he heard so there was no problems,' Mat explained. 'Jenk had a bit more of a producer's role and he definitely pushed us hard in the studio to get our best possible performances. He worked us so well that Neil commented the album sounded great before he had even started to mix it!"

After working with MGM Distribution for The End of All Once Known, the band have found a new home in AmpHead Music. Mat explains how that came to be - going on to say how happy they are with their decision to join the AmpHead family.

"Deciding to go with Amphead was an amazing decision. They have been nothing but awesome and they really put a lot of effort toward the bands they distribute for,' Matt told me happily. 'While we were working with Jenk, his friend DW Norton (former Superheist guitarist) came down for a visit and he mentioned that his label Faultline Records is distributed via Amphead and he raved about them to us and suggested we get in touch with them in regard to releasing Invictus Infinitum. Amphead were totally into the idea so it has all worked out so far!"

Now Invictus Infinitum is out there in the fans' cd players and/or iPods, I asked Mat what does he think the future for Switchblade hold, and what their plans are in terms of an upcoming tour cycle.

"After doing a small pre-release tour earlier this year, we followed that up with our initial album launch tour which we are just wrapping up at the moment. We are looking at booking more dates for the second half of this year kicking off around August/September; sadly we initially had to miss Adelaide but we are definitely coming over there this time. As far as the international front goes, we are in the intial stages of sending our album out overseas to labels and putting out some feelers, so nothing as of yet, but hopefully that will change very soon. We are getting some fans from overseas ordering the album via our MySpace,  so the word is slowly spreading on the international front which is awesome!"

Mat had this to say to our fine readers: "Thanks guys, our new album Invictus Infinitum is out now in all good music stores through AmpHead Music and on iTunes so please check it out!"

Switchblade's Invictus Infinitum is out now on AmpHead Music. Click here to read our review of this release.