Allegaeon: No Facade

"Proponent for Sentience" set to be unleashed on September 23rd, 2016. Get excited!

Allegaeon has been busy over the past 12 months, with a lineup change, a tour with Acts of Defiance, and a new album, “Proponent for Sentience” that is scheduled to come out September 23rd. I am excited to sit down for Metal As Fuck with vocalist Riley McShane, to talk about all things.... Primarily music, touring, and ham sandwiches....

When I saw Allegaeon last November in Toronto, you opened for Acts of Defiance, and shortly after you were announced as Allegaeon's permanent vocalist in December "Man, every time we play Canada we have such a fun time! It was already confirmed within the band that I had joined full time while we were there, but we kept it quiet for that tour, and announced just after. I'd already started writing music with the band by that time".  

How have the past 9 months been for you? "It's been great, I love it. So much fun! I've been friends with the guys in the band before I joined, so making music with these guys has been great. The challenges as a writer for this concept record have been super fun and right up my alley in terms of interest. I love the scientific and philosophical elements". I've been lucky enough to have a sneak peek of the album and it sounds incredible! You must be pretty proud of it? "Super proud of it. It's the best Allegaeon record so far, and it's the widest margin of progress between albums. As a fan I loved that from album to album you can hear a noticeable progression. I feel like that margin has gotten wider as time has gone by. With Proponent for Sentience, I feel musically the guys have out done themselves and grown so much between these two albums. Super proud to be a part of that process".  

How do you feel about the final product? "I couldn't have asked for a better team to work on this album with. Including two people who don't get enough credit - Joe Ferris who does all of our symphonic work - we'll send him a rough idea and he'll bring it to life - he'll bring the orchestration to it and really bring it together. All the quiet parts are done by him and having him on the team as well as Dave Otero out of Flat Line Studios is awesome too (Recording Engineer/Producer) - he's a fantastic addition to the team. Another person behind the board would make a completely different record".

It also looks like you guys had a LOT of fun recording the album. What was the experience like for you? "We are always getting into shenanigans [laughs]. We like to keep things light, and not take ourselves too seriously. You’ll see us goofing around with all sorts of things on our Facebook page – hanging out with Stormtroopers, pizza box Jenga, and just goofing around in general, it's how we get through time in the studio. When people hear the album, the music speaks for itself, we don't need to put on that tough guy "metalhead" facade. We can be ourselves and we're all a bunch of goofballs. It's fun being in a band where our personalities can shine through. Take what you do seriously, not yourself seriously".

There is a classical influence to your music. Gray Matter Mechanics is a great example of this. How did you find integrating this flair to the album? "That is all Greg Burgess! All the props for that one. He's a classically trained academy guitarist - he has guitar degrees! His composition is other worldly. It feels weird saying this about someone I'm in a band with but he's one of the best guitarist in the game. He can seamlessly incorporate a different style into a melodic death metal song and make it sound effortless".

Gray Matter Mechanics was released a few months ago, how has the reception been from your fans? "It’s been overwhelmingly positive. There are a few people out there that aren't that keen on change, especially with a lead singer change, most people are accommodating and willing to go into the experience with open ears. Many of those have told us they have been very pleased. I try not to stray too far from the vocal style that Allegaeon has had over the past few albums. My previous bands have historically been straight technical death metal or prog rock bands, and a different style to Allegaeon. The people familiar with what I've done in the past know I've made an effort to keep things sounding consistent".

Parts I, II, and III of “Proponent for Sentience" are all pretty epic! To me it sounds like it could be the score from a blockbuster film. What was the inspiration behind putting this three part story together? "Parts I,II and III serve as punctuation marks for the concept of the album which is most deeply rooted in science fiction. Composition wise they were written as a three part sonata (thanks Greg!). It starts off with Part I that sets the stage for the rest of the concept. The connective tissue between Part II, is more about scientific/neurological accomplishments with Gray Matter Mechanics, and Part III is the creation of intelligent consciousness but adhering to the 3 laws of robotics. Final stage of the concept - A.I. gains a consciousness and then destroys humanity. It's the classic Terminator/Blade Runner/Matrix idea; through logical deduction, A.I. looks at human history and thinking FUCK THAT, and wipes it out. Someone needs to shut down SkyNet before Allegaeon flips the switch!". I thought I heard an orchestra behind PFS II. Did you get to work with other musicians for the album? "Joe is an aspiring movie soundtrack guy - he does freelance projects to work on film scores. He's invested in the technology that modern Hollywood uses for making big budget movies. He works his magic and the final product is Proponent for Sentience Part II, which sounds like some awesome Star Warsshit".

Whose idea was it to cover Rush?! "That was a collective decision to be honest. When I first joined the band, Greg [Burgess - Guitar] wanted to cover Deicide. One day on the Act of Defiance tour, I asked if we could cover a prog rock song, or a prog metal song. It would be more in context of the album. I mean, yeah, it's a death metal album, but there's still other stuff happening in there, with the classical, and orchestral compositions. It was a chance to show off our interest elsewhere in the metal scene as well also our ability to cover it. We played around with other ideas, but decided on Rush - we made sure Brandon [Park - drummer] was okay with this!  Once we solidified that we got onto it. Subdivisions was the only choice. I don't even remember the other options because Subdivisions was such a resonating song with all of us".  

And something a little more serious, who the hell started posting Chad Kroger photos on your Facebook page? That would be Brandon Park!!! We ran into someone in New Jersey on our last tour and Brandon and she are the brain kids behind “Krogering.” You're on tour across the U.S. with Ozzfest shortly, what about any Canadian shows? "This year Ozzfest is a weekend thing, Black Sabbath is ending their tour. And we will be touring with Max and Igor [Cavalera] from Sepultura on the Return to Roots tour. We will be supporting them on a bunch of dates through US with Combichrist and a few other guys. In Canada we have a few dates with The Black Dahlia Murder".  

Describe your ideal show to play? Festival/small show/European tour...? "I think my favourite show to play is similar to what we did in Tucson AZ last month - not a super huge venue, big enough to fit a few hundred people in there. Packed to the rafters. In Tucson we headlined a festival which was exactly that case. Medium to large sized venue, that skill kept that local show energy but having a large enough crowd to feel good from the stage". Finally, what are you most excited about for the rest of 2016? "OZZFEST! I grew up in CA, and I've been to a few Ozzfests when I was younger - this year is going to be at the same venue that I went to when I was 14 - being on the other end of things, I feel very accomplished. And of course, the record coming out the day before Ozzfest - it's going to be one hell of a weekend! We really appreciate everyone's support, pre-orders for the album have been great so far - those contributors is what’s going to help us get on the road and see everyone who puts out the support. A big thanks to all the fans! Even with the changes in the band. It's been wonderful seeing everyone so die hard and accommodating".

Allegaeon will be playing 10th October in Ottawa, 11th October in Toronto, and 12th October in Montreal. Check for more details.

Check Allegaeon's "Gray Matter Mechanics" right here!