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Becoming The Archetype

At a show in Chattanooga, TN,'s Timothy Estabrooks caught up with the guitarist of metal act Becoming The Archetype, Seth Hecox, to discuss the band's latest album Dichotomy, as well as the metal scene and what is in the works for BTA's future...
This interview took place on: 9/19/09.

  • Jesus freak Hideout (Timothy Estabrooks): Tell us about the current tour that you're on.
    Seth Hecox: Well, right now we're really just doing two dates on the weekend. We went last night to Athens, Alabama and then we went all the way home, which Athens is only like an hour or a half, maybe two hours at the most from here. We went all the way home because Jon, our guitarist, he and his wife just had a baby almost a year ago actually, so we had to go watch the baby today. So we had to go home and let him watch the baby and so that's why we didn't get to leave home until 4:30, cause he had to wait for his wife to get home. So yeah, we got up here late and that's all we're doing. We're going home tonight after the show and then we'll be going to Europe on October the 22nd. So we'll be flying out then, doing some festivals, and I'm gonna stay over an extra week in Europe, so that I'll be there a little over two weeks.

  • JFH (Timothy): What are some bands that you enjoy touring with?
    Seth: Well let's see, in the past we did a tour with Demon Hunter, and that was really good. That was definitely the best tour we ever did. That was Demon Hunter, August Burns Red, Zao, and Spoken. The last tour we went on actually was this Summer, and we took a band with us called Black Pageant, and that was a lot of fun. They're from Wyoming, and they're unsigned but they sound really good. They're heavy but they're a very unique form of heavy. They're a very good band. And we talked and hung out with Project 86 a lot at Purple Door Fest this year, and that was fun. We're hoping to work something together with them next year. And we did a tour with The Chariot in Europe, and that was fun not only because it's the Chariot, but also because it's Europe. That was fun in every respect! So that's probably been some of the highlights for us with touring.

  • JFH (Timothy): Do you have any songs that are favorites to play live? Cover
    Seth: Right now we're really liking the new single we just released on the internet called "Necrotizing Fasciitis" and that's been really fun to play live. Mainly because it's just a like two-and-a-half minute or so metal song, no breakdowns, you know what I mean? Like no hardcore influence or anything. [It's] brutal all the way through. But it doesn't lose the hardcore fans because it's brutal all the way through. In a sense it's almost like a more organized Cannibal Corpse song. So it's just heavy and metal all the way through, and that's probably been one of our favorites. I'd say another favorite recently has been - we're doing a few songs from our new album live. From the new CD, Dichotomy, playing "Artificial Immortality," or "The Beast," has been really really fun. I really get into that one. And also "Ransom," or "The Serpent," I think is the other title of that song, has been a lot of fun. There's a sing-a-long part that people seem to like.

  • JFH (Timothy): You mentioned "Necrotizing Fasciitis." I've noticed that it's much more grind-ish than you're previous work. Is that like an experiment for you guys or do you think you're going to move in that direction?
    Seth: No, there will be a little bit of that stuff kind of interspersed through the music, but no, we're not really moving in that direction. The whole thing behind "Necrotizing Fasciitis" really is that, about a month ago, no, maybe seven or eight months ago, Jason said "You know why Lil Wayne is at the top of the charts? He came out, for like two years, he's come out with singles every four to six months. And just singles, they aren't related to albums or anything, it just keeps buzz going." He said "Why doesn't a metal band do that?" And I was like "Let's do it!" So we wrote this one song, and it's never meant to be on an album. I mean, maybe it will end up on some album sometime, but it's not meant to be on an album. It's just there to record and put out as a single just to keep buzz going. And it's there just to be kind of an attention grabber, you know? So we were like "What can we do that's in our style that would really grab attention?" We wanted to do something that was kind of, not gimmicky, but was like a different version of what we do. So we figured that would be the coolest thing to do, just to do a really really grimy, short grind song. So that came together. We also could write it a little bit faster than we would normally write a song, so we could get it out quickly.

  • JFH (Timothy): So, have you guys done any work on a new album?
    Seth: Yeah, we haven't recorded yet. We haven't even actually talked to any producers at recording time yet. We'll start talking about that in the next couple months, trying to set some recording time next year. We're going to hope to record in 2010, in the first few months, and then have an album out by summertime of next year. We have started writing, though. We are working on a very long song, which we're about eight minutes into and we still have a long way to go. So it's going to be a very long metal song. So yeah, we've begun work on that and we have a couple tricks up our sleeve for that album.

  • JFH (Timothy): That leads to another question I had. Each of your albums, to me, seems to have its own unique flavor to it. Where do you see the band going with the next album?
    Seth: Well, oddly enough, the only album that we had a concept of what we wanted it to sound like going into it was The Physics of Fire. And that ended up being one that seemed to connect with fans the least. I think what happened with that album was it just kind of had a cold, calculated feel to it, which some people really liked, but a lot of people were not that into. And there was also sort of a production and mixing aspect that didn't resonate with some people. But Terminate Damnation was basically a collection of the best songs that we had over the last three years of being an unsigned band. And Dichotomy was also a crazy collection of all the best songs we'd brought together, because there were more songwriters involved on Dichotomy than on any of our other albums. Jon did four songs, I did three, Jason did one, which was the first time he's written a full-length song for the band.

  • JFH (Timothy): Which one was that?
    Seth: That was "Ransom." Then Lopez, our drummer at the time, had a lot to do with one of our songs. And then Alex also was involved in one of the other songs, and that song that he had, Jon and I went in and changed around a couple riffs. So that first song, "Mountain of Souls," started off as an idea of Alex's, then Jon and I wrote a few other riffs for it, and Lopez was involved. There were just so many elements of songwriting involved there, and we didn't have any idea what it was going to sound like going into it. Devin Townsend sort of took that and shaped it to make it sound the way it was. So I think we're just kind of going into this fourth album [where] we don't really want to have a concept for what it's going to sound like, we want to go with the producer that we think is going to bring out of us the kind of thing that Devin was able to bring out of us. And we would record with Devin Townsend again except he's not really recording heavy bands anymore. So we're going to have to find someone else, but I think we will be able to find someone. I don't know what it will sound like actually.

  • JFH (Timothy): How has your style changed going from the three guitars on Terminate Damnation to two on the last two albums?
    Seth: Not really at all, because with Terminate Damnation, Shaun, our third guitarist, didn't write any music and he actually didn't record any music. So he was just a live guitarist, so we had three guitars live to sound full and heavy. We did try to split up into three guitar parts as much as we could, but half the time it was just me doing a melody line with Jon playing a harmony, and then Shaun would be doubling the bass line, just to make the low end thicker. We didn't need any more, so we let him go. And recording obviously is the same. You record as many guitar tracks as you need. On Dichotomy, we had sometimes as many as seven different guitar tracks on the album. So I think that's just part of image, having three guitarists. No one really needs three guitars.

  • JFH (Timothy): What artists have influenced your style?
    Seth: We grew up listening to Living Sacrifice, and Extol is a big influence. Lately we've been listening to a lot of Mastodon and Opeth. A lot of the other guys are into Metallica, old and the new style which seems to be pretty good. And Jon's into a lot of European, regular, like Swedish bands like At The Gates and In Flames, bands like that.

  • JFH (Timothy): You mentioned Living Sacrifice, are you as excited about the new Living Sacrifice album as I am?
    Seth: Well, I don't know honestly. I wasn't super excited about the three songs that came out on In Memoriam, the three new ones. I haven't heard anything yet, so I am excited about it but I don't know what to expect. We're playing a show with them in January, actually at the same place we played last night. It's January 16th and hopefully they'll give us a sneak of what's going on with some of that stuff. When does the album come out?

  • JFH (Timothy): November 3rd [It has since been moved to January 26].
    Seth: Oh! Well, then it'll already be out. So yeah, I haven't really been paying much attention. I was much more of a fan of Reborn than I was of the last two full-length albums they put out. To me, production has become more and more important and it kind of depends on the production. If the production is really good, then I'll probably like the album at least some. So it kind of will rely a lot on that.

  • JFH (Timothy): So, talking about metal in general, what's your favorite thing about doing metal music?
    Seth: Honestly, the only reason I do metal anymore is because I'm with Becoming the Archetype. I don't really enjoy listening to or playing a whole lot of metal anymore. If Becoming the Archetype broke up, I wouldn't be pursuing being in another metal band, that's for sure. I enjoy the energy that we can have onstage. It's kind of a thing where I don't feel like I have an option but to be really jaded about the whole scene, because there's so many bands that it's made everything that anyone does really generic. Bands are a dime a dozen, and when you've got that many bands, it ruins it for the bands that are legit. All I can really say is that I'm kind of pessimistic about heavy music right now. I'm kind of worn out on it and, I don't know... I mean, I like what we do and that's it. If we didn't do that then I wouldn't really be involved in the scene at all anymore.

  • JFH (Timothy): So you say if Becoming the Archetype hypothetically were to break up, you wouldn't pursue being involved in metal. What other interests do you have, musically or otherwise?
    Seth: Well one thing I'm already doing, I'm in another band as well called Anchors, which is like a power pop band. I play piano and it's like a pop rock band. That's a lot of fun, I play piano and sing. Anchors provides another outlet for me musically that I don't get to do a whole lot in Becoming the Archetype. So I would probably just pursue that more and if somebody asked me to join a band that was like Anchors, I would be into that. There's just a lot of cliches in the heavy music scene that have worn me out. And I'm sure they're in other music, I just haven't experienced them for the last five years, you know? So I get to be met with a whole fresh set of cliches in a different genre.

  • JFH (Timothy): That leads to another thing I was curious about. In your mind, what is the key to making good metal?
    Seth: I think there is a different element to metal than other genres, but overall I've realized in the last year or two, you have to focus on good songwriting. People get into "is their vocalist good?" or "can their guitarist sweep pick?" or "can their drummer play this fast?" And that has nothing to do with anything. You have to be good at writing songs. That's not necessarily to say that you have to follow a verse-chorus-bridge format or you have to do a progressive format. You just have to be able to make things flow. You have to be able to start with an idea and have a melody that goes all the way through. In pop music, that's singing. Coldplay is genius at this. If they start, they've got these piano chords and then Chris Martin starts singing this great melody, and then as soon as his vocals die off, most of the time if you listen, as soon as his vocals die off a guitar melody comes in. And it's like you have melody after melody and there's no second of the song where there's not a melody on either the guitar or the keyboard or the strings or the vocals or something. So that's kind of what we do with Anchors. And BTA is the same. You want melody all the way through, whether it's a guitar melody or a keyboard melody or whatever. You have to implement different things to carry that melody, but you still want melody and you want to be able to have a procession of thoughts through the song. I feel like that's the biggest thing. Man, people are awful songwriters. Like, I'm not saying we're great at it, but we're learning. We're pressing towards that. Most of the bands I hear, I'm just like "that's terrible songwriting. That's just awful." I can look at them and go, "their drummer is good, their guitarist can play really well, they're working hard, everything's here, except..." So if a person can write a good song, craft a good song, and keep melody, then I think that they're gonna do well. In metal, I think that there is more of an element that you have to keep high energy as well. You don't have to do that as much with other genres. With metal you do have to keep energy, and I think that's what Opeth does really well. They can write a ten or twelve minute song that can go to acoustic parts, but they keep the energy going with those parts. And that's really hard to do. I actually had no concept of that on the first album, so we had a couple slow parts like in "Elegy." And a lot of people love this, but in "Elegy" I go into that piano section which is this whole thing. And now I'm trying to stay away from that sort of, where everything just completely dies out. You know, when you've just got this piano that meanders around for a while. Not to say that I'll never do that again, but I'm trying to stay away from that and keep energy going. So if I do go into a piano section, it kind of still has some movement to it.

  • JFH (Timothy): So making all that more specific, what is your view on Christian metal specifically?
    Seth: I don't really know any good Christian metal bands now. I don't know if they even exist, honestly. I don't listen to any Christian metal anymore. Actually, I only listen to like four metal bands. I listen to Opeth, and I listen to Mastodon, and I listen to Metallica. And I've got some Decapitated records. That's about it for metal. I don't know who plays Christian metal and I really don't even care. We did listen to a lot in high school and even in college, but Extol is broken up, Living Sacrifice is more or less broken up. I mean, they haven't come out with a full-length album since 2003. I don't really know what to even look for. War of Ages is pretty cool but I haven't heard a whole lot of their stuff recently. So yeah, I wish someone would just be able to come out that could just do exciting things. I don't know why no one chooses to follow in the footsteps of a band that's really creative. You have a band that comes out, some stupid band like whoever the first emo band is, and you have all these other bands that follow in their footsteps. Why are you following in their footsteps? Why is that Radiohead can come out and no one even attempts to do what Radiohead does? Radiohead has been doing extremely creative, electronic music that's still really catchy, it's not like far-out electronic music that no one can understand, you can still understand it and get into it. And they've been doing that since like '97 and no one's even attempting to follow in their footsteps.

  • JFH (Timothy): Well can you pair up to Thom Yorke's voice?
    Seth: Well that would be a hard thing to overcome, but of course anyone could say "The Beatles were the first rock band, can anyone compare with their vocal harmonies?" But that didn't stop bands from still following in their footsteps. And I feel the same with, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now I know there was like 311 and a couple of those bands, but I still feel like the Chili Peppers have a really unique sound and I like it a lot and no one's even trying to do that. And in the metal world, you have Opeth. Who's even attempting to do what Opeth does? I feel like they are leagues above everybody else. I feel like the next closest band is half their stature. To me, I don't know why people aren't emulating the really good bands. I think people are emulating the easy bands, and that really frustrates me.

  • JFH (Timothy): Well sticking with the Christian theme, how do you guys maintain your spiritual lives while you're on the road?
    Seth: Well we're not on the road that long usually. A weekend like this we're out Friday and Saturday, we can go to church on Sunday morning at our own churches. We're pretty active in our own churches. When we're on the road, usually we do try to go to church. A lot of times we stay with friends at their houses after the show, and if we stay with a friend on Saturday night, we will try to wake up and go to church with them on Sunday morning. As a band, we pray before each show and we're involved in each other's lives spiritually. God is a really big part of our lives so when we're having conversations about whatever, it's probably got something to do with spirituality. There's not any regular set pattern that we have, it's constantly in conversation and thoughts.

  • JFH (Timothy): Well I have run out of questions. Thanks for the interview. Any final thoughts?
    Seth: Well we're excited that we have pretty much our original lineup back for Becoming the Archetype. I think 2010 is going to be a busy year for us. We're hoping everybody keeps their eyes out for what we're doing. Like I said, we hope to record another album and come out with the album in the Summer. And we will be touring a lot as well. We'll probably do more shows next year in 2010 than we've done since 2006. The last two years have kind of been laying low for us. And we've played some shows. We've probably played around fifty to seventy shows each of the last two years. But next year, we're gonna be amping that up, playing a lot of festivals, touring between festivals, doing that stuff. So I'm very excited about that. I'm hoping that people will dig "Necrotizing Fasciitis" and that we'll be able to come out with a really cool album next year. Thanks guys.

    Becoming The Archetype's latest album, Dichotomy, is in stores now!


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