Severed Fifth’s Jono Bacon Recalls

Written by on January 26, 2012 in Interviews, January 26, 2012 - Comments Off on Severed Fifth’s Jono Bacon Recalls

What’s u with New Album

Severed FifthSevered Fifth is a band from Northern California and they have a brand new album called “Liberate” and after working with producer Juan Urteaga, frontman Jono Bacon says “It is very similar to Nightmares; that was a demo that I recorded myself in my home studio, with the exception of some of Jim’s leads. The difference is that before the live band formed I had written all the songs and then when the guys joined, we went through an active process of refining the tunes. Bits were chopped out, re-arranged, vocal parts adjusted, new leads added etc. The result is what you hear on Liberate.” The album will be dropped February 3rd with a CD show in its place. Jono Bacon talks to me more about the recording and writing process for this upcoming release.

All Access Magazine (AAM) So tell me why the name Severed Fifth? Are there apparently five severed pieces you’re not telling me about?

Jono: Hah, not quite. I came up with the name Severed Fifth back in 2008 when I was trying to think of a cool name for this music project. I have always tried to pick made-up words so this makes it easier to get unique search results online (my previous bands included Neuraxon and Seraphidian, which are also made-up words). I thought Severed sounded like a cool name, but wanted it to have another word so it was more unique. At the time I was writing a song about politics and thought of the Fifth Amendment, and the vivid image of it being torn in two, and Severed Fifth was born. Importantly though, the name doesn’t mean anything specific: we like everyone to interpret it how they will.

AAM What about your new album “Liberate” you worked with producer Juan Urteaga and he’s worked with Machine Head, Testament, and Exodus, now those are some top notch acts how does that make you feel to have worked with a man that worked with bands such as those?

It was awesome. Jim Adams (guitar in Severed Fifth) has worked with Juan in the past with Defiance, and we were all pretty familiar with the quality of his work. He was awesome to work with and really worked to get the most out of the band, and he brought lots of ideas and suggestions. Juan had a particular impact on my vocals: Jim had warned me that Juan was going to work me like a motherf**er, and he wasn’t wrong. I am pretty proud of the performances that resulted.

AAM How was the vibe in the studio?

It was great; very laid back, but focused on getting a great result. Working with Juan is like working with an old friend – there are no formalities, it is loose and laid back, but we knew he wanted the best for the album and the band. Before we went in there he had not heard us but he started really digging the band as we worked more and more on it.

This resulted in him dipping into the album even when he didn’t need to. He was constantly sending me new mixes, fixed sections and other bits that he noticed when he kept listening to it. It was awesome to see him rocking out to our music in his studio and singing along to it.

AAM How would you describe the overall sound of the new album? How does it compare to “Nightmares By Design”?

It is very similar to Nightmares; that was a demo that I recorded myself in my home studio, with the exception of some of Jim’s leads. The difference is that before the live band formed I had written all the songs and then when the guys joined, we went through an active process of refining the tunes. Bits were chopped out, re-arranged, vocal parts adjusted, new leads added etc. The result is what you hear on Liberate.

As such, the songs on Liberate are much more reflective of the whole band. This is also significant in the performances, specifically the drums (performed by Ben Gibbs who used to be in Severed Fifth) and the bass (performed by Ron Crockett) who brought their own styles in the recordings. Obviously the whole sound is better too with Juan’s engineering and production skills.

AAM Did the band have any definitive goals they were shooting for before the recording process began for this album?

We just wanted to get in there and create the best album we could within the time and budget constraints that we had. We have always held a firm philosophy in Severed Fifth that we want to write great songs. There are lots of really awesome technical death metal, metal-core, thrash, and other bands out there that write awesome technical riffs, but they sometimes fall down in terms of writing cohesive songs that feel like one consistent unit.

Speaking personally, I am a huge fan of technical death metal (I used to play in a more death metal orientated band), but I wanted to form a band that wrote and performed songs where each song felt distinctive and went through an ebb and flow. When the other guys joined they shared this philosophy, which is why I think we work well as a team.

A continuation of this philosophy is that we don’t really give a shit about what is considered current or ‘in’ right now: we just like to write tunes that feel good to us and that we think our fans will like. This is why some songs are more melodic (e.g. They Prey and Forgotten Heroes) and some are thrashier and more aggressive (e.g. Fallout and Fight Philosophy). We like the different flavors of songs as they spice up the album and the set, and we wanted Liberate to reflect this perspective.

AAM Were there any songs that were particularly difficult to write?

Politicold was more complex because I really wanted it to have this extended groove feel to it, but I also wanted it to inspire from those awesome Megadeth-style Rust In Peace musical passages without replicating it to closely. It took a fair few re-writes to get the song in its final form.

When the band formed and we started chopping and changing the songs I had written, we spend quite a bit of time on Blackening – we added the new intro, moved some sections around and adjusted it until it felt right. I think all the songs sound way better ever since we went through this process.

AAM Do you have a favorite song from the new album?

I am really proud of Forgotten Heroes; this was always going to be the weird different song on the album, but I think it really needed the attention to detail in the production, and would be quite different to the other songs. It needed the big drums, the careful mixing of the instrumental middle section, and for the Winston Churchill speech to be thought-provoking yet respectful to his memory.

I am really pleased with how End Of Days and Blackening came out – we absolutely love playing Blackening live and the blistering nature of the live performance was captured well in those songs on the album.

AAM What can we expect from the new album? Has this been your favorite album to write and record?

Totally my fave. I wrote and recorded the previous Severed Fifth demo ‘Denied By Reign’ (which was pretty much all out death metal) and wrote songs for albums in my previous bands, but this one felt more personal and involved. I have always thought that music reflects where you are in your life, and this album reflects the kind of music we all love to listen to, play, and share with others.

In terms of what to expect, I think people should expect something a little different. We have always described Severed Fifth as a mix of British heavy metal and Bay Area thrash, and I think the album reflects that pretty well.

AAM Can you go into one or two tracks on the new album? If so, can you give us the track title and brief description of how the track sounds and how it came about?

Let’s look at They Prey. The song is written about a genocide that takes place on a rural African community. The song kicks off with a big intro before laying down a solid groove and clean vocals coming in. The chorus of the song is pretty big and anthemic but with a grindy rhythmic section behind it, before it continues into the second verse with growly vocals. The song then moves into a big head-banging bridge section, an awesome solo from Jim Adams, and then wraps with a solid slab of rhythm to finish the song. Of all the songs we have played people from the new album, They Prey has become a favorite, and we are really happy with how it turned out.

Another example is Blackening. This song is written about the exorcism of a small girl and the fight between good and evil in her body. The song kicks off with a big grindy intro before launching into a thrashy verse section. The song then picks up into the pre-chorus and chorus with open rhythm chords and a mixture of clean and growly vocals. We then head into the bridge which is an up-tempo rhythm with cutting growly vocals that is designed to band some heads. The bridge is interleaved with some big Maiden-style breaks and clean vocals to bring some light and shade.

The album also includes some slow growly crunching songs (e.g. Fight Philosophy), some straight-ahead thrashy grooves (e.g. Machines Of War and Repent), fast thrash (e.g. Fallout and Drill Down), an acoustic song (Forgotten Heroes), and more.

AAM You mentioned that you recorded this album and it was paid from the donations you got from the global Severed Fifth community? Tell me about that.

Part of what we are trying to do with Severed Fifth is to change how the music industry works. The band was formed from the philosophy that if a band gives their music away for free and builds a community around the music, you can achieve great things. We released our first few demos and gathered quite a bit of interest with Street Teams forming around the world, people contributing wallpapers, creating fanzines, mobile phone apps and more.

When we knew we wanted to record the album, we had an appeal for donations and around $4500 was raised by fans of the band. These contributions came from over 15 countries and covering all continents in the world.

While we will give the music away freely when the album is released, we encourage fans who like the music to support the band with a donation to http://www.severedfifth.com/pay or to buy the album on CD when it is released.

Importantly, while the music is given away, we retain commercial rights. This opens the door for us to work with record labels around Severed Fifth releases, box sets, digipacks etc.

AAM What are your upcoming plans with shows and touring? Any bands in particular you would like to see yourselves play or tour with?

Right now we are focusing on getting the release out, but in 2012 we want to tour, preferably around the West Coast to begin with. Our manager, Tambre, is currently looking into these opportunities, but if wider tour opportunities came up, we would love to do it.

In terms of bands, we have a huge list of bands I would love to tour with, including Machine Head, Exodus, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Testament, Hatebreed, Judas Priest, Metallica, Megadeth, High On Fire, Anthrax etc.

AAM Let’s go five years into the future, where do you see Severed Fifth being at as a band?

I would like to see us in a place where we have a global fan base who loves the music, supports the band, and comes out to see us play. I would love to see us take Severed Fifth on the road across the USA, Europe and elsewhere and to play with some cool bands and record and release music that people love to listen to.

AAM Is there any last word you would like to say to your fans that have bought your albums and have come out to your previous shows?

Thanks so much for supporting Severed Fifth and what we are trying to do. Your support builds more and more energy in us and we will always be thankful for everyone who supports Severed Fifth in any way. Stay metal. 🙂