Arcane Roots: Interview
Anthony Firmin managed to interview Arcane Roots drummer Jack Wrench during a very busy day at ArcTanGent Festival 2018 where the band were performing two sets...
We caught Arcane Roots back in October 2017 at the Rock City Basement in Nottingham which isn't really the basement of the venue and the layout is a tad strange with the bar next to the stage. Drummer Jack Wrench remembers the show well because they had a really long discussion amongst themselves about whether to set up facing the crowd or whether they should face the speakers which is about as rock’n’roll as it gets within Arcane Roots. But once they were onstage they were in their own zone and it didn’t really matter anyway.
Following a highly successful spring tour the band performed at the O2 Indigo2 as part of the Space Rocks event. “We all had such a good time there” enthuses Wrench his eyes light up like a big kid in a candy store. “It was the first time we got to showcase any sort of electronic set, before that it was just on laptops in the studio and to have the opportunity to do it in such an interesting environment was incredible. We cannot sing the praises enough for the guys who put on Space Rocks, they really engaged with everyone including the younger generation, it was great to be a part of it. Tim Peake was there along with Brian May talking about all these amazing things and I would definitely go again as an enthusiast and a punter.”
Arcane Roots has a very clear and distinctive but also unique sound so it came of something of a surprise that they would diversify into the realms of electronica. “When we recorded the last album, Melancholia Hymns, the presence of electronics was really shown within the band, they were there in previous albums but more as a thickener whereas with the last album we really embraced the idea of it being at the forefront of the songs. The first time we didn’t have guitar was terrifying. Just the way the writing and recording process went we ended up with so many versions of each song.”
He continues “there was a lot of unfinished business with that record that we all wanted to address so when we finished it we thought about reworking some of the tracks with the idea that there already was a guitar/bass/drum version of a song and there would be a million other versions that would be nothing of the sort so we thought it would be really nice to embrace that for a whole EP. Andrew (Groves – guitar) really worked hard on this EP and Chris Coulter did an amazing job producing and engineering the record too and we all had a lot of fun doing it too.”
They could do anything with the songs because they had already released the record version but it also means that there is no limit for the future in reimagining songs. “Since then with the release of our recent single Landslide it was the first time we could write a song knowing that electronics would have a pretty heavy presence but also being able to embrace the heavy side at the same time. Even so it has been a natural process just over a longer time period and we have now reached a nice equilibrium.”
One thing that piqued my interest was that with so many versions of each song that they are creating during the recording process how do they pick the final versions? Jack laughs and says “that this is the question we had for six months. The interesting thing about recording Melancholia Hymns was that coupling the electronic side of things with the bass/guitar/drums was something that we were all learning and there would be one song where you would absolutely nail it and that then sets the bar for everything else and then others don’t quite make the cut because we are constantly recreating songs. When a song has it’s own colour and texture you start to get a better idea of what the album is going to look and sound like it then becomes easier to identify other pieces that will fit, as a result it slowly and naturally fell into place. But a lot of versions have completely different melodies and different choruses, sometimes the only thing that would remain the same would be the title. It was tiring but reflecting on it, it was really amazing too. This EP is definitely a way of ticking the box and closing the book on Melancholia Hymns.”
With the electronic side now firmly embedded in the band are they likely to explore it more in the future? “Exploring in different ways, the live element is definitely at the forefront of song-writing now where as with the last album we were writing much more in a studio environment and then thinking ‘I wonder how we are going to do this live’ whereas now we are in a room with all our equipment ‘what can we create completely naturally?’ then it is about putting that on a record. It is about exploring it in a live environment that I am really excited about, about juggling all of this and it not being a process of doing it individually but how can I do it all in one go.”
The band are doing two sets in one day at ArcTanGent, an electronic one in the afternoon and a main set in the evening. “We did it at 2000Trees” Wrench explains, “it can be a bit of a squeeze but I really indulge in both elements. The main set will be heavy and fast paced for 55 minutes straight whereas the electronic set will allow us to breath and it will flow naturally. We can really dig into both sides of it and I am really looking forward to both sets.”
It has been a real weekender festival season this year for the band “every weekend we have been playing live so during the weekend we have been getting together and starting to piece together what the next step will sound like.”
Even so the band are very much the definition of the modern progressive movement, moving forward within their music and not resting on their laurels. “When I joined in 2015 I wasn’t too keen on stepping into someones shoes and continuing what they were doing. It was nice that I wasn’t having to directly compete with what they were doing previously and that we were going to be trying something new and that made me feel more involved straight away.”
Landslide EP by Arcane Roots is available 14th September 2018. Pre-order yours now.
Arcane Roots play Gorilla in Manchester on Monday 15th October 2018.
Get your tickets here: seetickets.com/arcane-roots/gorilla-manchester/