Into The Storm is a sludge/progressive metal band based out of Seattle, WA. I was not familiar with them until recently, but they have one of the best albums of the year coming out this November in the form of Where the Merfalo Roam. This new release features a lot of great ideas that come together perfectly, and I went so far as to call it the Gojira album we really wanted in 2016. With that in mind, I had to know more about the band’s inspirations, process, and influences.
TO (FlightOfIcarus): First of all, thanks so much for doing this. I am blown away by ‘Where the Merfalo Roam.’ The mailer listed influences including Baroness, Mastodon, and Pelican; and in my own upcoming review I stated hearing a lot of Gojira as well. Who do you consider to be your major influences on both lyrics and music?
Into The Storm: Our major influences vary throughout the band with Gojira, Mastodon, Baroness, Cursed, Converge, and The Moody Blues being generally shared amongst us. The lyrics just kind of happen organically during the song writing process, not really sure there is any direct line from a group of bands we listen to, more so the mish mash of everything we encounter through life.
TO: You have described the concept for the album as “a journey through discontent, oppressive governments, dystopian eras, and the connection between the cycles societies go through.” Could you expand on that? What in particular pushed you in this direction?
ITS: Reading. Lot’s of reading. That and the current events unfolding around the world. While not wanting to tackle 1 direct issue there is just this undercurrent of events/circumstances that seems to pop up or be present throughout history. Reading dystopian novels; 1984, Brave New World, We, Harrison Bergeron, The Mighty Boosh. The motifs we present fit with the music and the stuff we bullshit about when we get together to write/practice.
TO: There are some interesting song titles. I Gotta Get The Bees Outta My Teeth, for one. Where do these come from?
ITS: Sleep deprivation and pop culture references.
TO: What does your songwriting process look like in general? Where do you start?
ITS: One of us brings in a riff and the others try to keep up, then lyrics are added. Once it’s all jammed out we get a general feel for the song. So riffs -> song structure -> more riffs -> revise song structure -> lyrics -> optional additional song/riff structure revision if needed
TO: Aside from the crushing guitars, drums, and bass, you have a few interesting touches added to the album. Could you tell us a bit more about the little break on Truck Van Trailer and brass section on Maturin? How did those materialize?
ITS: [B] As such heavy riffing goes, so does the breaths, in crushing guitar we have more breaths we add, to make sure we breath. Our identity has always been lets take a break before we get into the next big riff. James has a trumpet.
TO: Do you have a favorite song on the album? Favorite song to play live?
ITS: [B] Live: Ghostmaker, Album: Where the Merfalo Roam
[J] Live: Maturin, Album: Fell Off A Horse
[O] Live: Ghostmaker, Album: Truck Van Trailer
[M] Live: Truck Van Trailer, Album: I Gotta Get The Bees Outta My Teeth
TO: Where is your favorite place to play live? I’d like to hear about in Seattle and beyond. I happen to be in Portland. Got a venue to recommend there?
ITS: Some of our favorite venues we have played no longer exist. There was a place known as the Josephine that was an art space/venue that was always an amazing time. Of current venues The Highline in Seattle is our favorite. Good food, good people, metal playing 24/7 though they need to make it easier to get gear to the 2nd floor. Of our times in Portland, Club 21 has always been the best to us.
TO: Who has been your favorite band to play a show with?
ITS: Gladiators Eat Fire were an inspiration from the get go and one of our favorite bands to share the stage with, though they have recently disbanded. We did a tour a few years back with He Whose Ox Is Gored and that whole tour was a great time filled with heat, fire and shit breaking all the time, we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
TO: What has it been like working with Alive and Breathing Records?
ITS: It’s great they have helped us with getting promotion and financing pretty much everything from this and every record we have ever put together as a band. To put it lightly “two brothers in a van and then a meteor hits, and they ran as fast as they could from giant cat monsters and then a giant tornado came and that’s when things got knocked into 12th gear. A Mexican armada shows up with weapons made from tomatoes. And you better bet your bottom dollar that these two brothers know how to handle business. In: ALIEN INVASION TOMATO MONSTER MEXICAN ARMADA BROTHERS WHO ARE JUST REGULAR BROTHERS RUNNING IN A VAN FROM AN ASTEROID AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS THE MOVIE. Hold on, these’s more. Old women are comin’ and they’re also in the movie and they’re gonna come and cross attack these two brothers, but let’s get back to the brothers because they’re, they have a strong bond. You don’t want to know about it here, but I’ll tell you one thing: the moon, it comes crashing into earth and what do you do then? it’s two brothers and it…and..and they’re gonna…” – Rick and Morty
TO: You seem to be fans of the somewhat psychodelic artwork on the cover. What was it like working with the artist? Did you give him any direction, or is this his own open interpretation?
ITS: [M] I do what I want
TO: Share a band from the metal underground you feel deserves more attention and why our readers should check them out.
ITS: Yautja. they fucking kill it, on rotation all the time.
TO: Anything else you would like our readers to know about Into the Storm or ‘Where the Merfalo Roam’? What comes next for the band?
ITS: The new line up we solidified recording this album, gives us the freedom to explore whatever musical direction we want going forward… We are already back to writing new music and suffocating in the tiny box we call a practice space. Expect a reasonably quick follow up release as a possible split with another Seattle band. In the mean time we are hoping ‘Where the Merfalo Roam’ is cool long enough to last us at least 3 months. Gotta catch them all.