Over a decade since the release of their debut album, UK's stoner/progressive metallers Sons of Alpha Centauri return for their sophomore album – an epic introspective journey of abrasive and ambient progressive electronic alt rock entitled Continuum. Continuum was released on June 1st 2018 through H42 Records – Worldwide. Aaron Harris from post metal band ISIS and Palms (featuring members of Deftones) has engineered and produced the Continuum.
Hallo. First of I would like to congratulate you on your new album. Could you start out by introducing yourself and tell us what part in the band you have?
Nick Hannon (NH) (bass): Right on – my name is Nick and I’m the bass player for Sons of Alpha Centauri. Me and Marlon (guitars) formed the band in 2001.
Why did you choose this title for the record?
NH: Continuum is something that keeps on going, changing slowly over time and is "a whole made up of many parts," so really represents SOAC changing slowly, maturing and evolving over songs which all link into one dedicated concept and album.
When did you start working on this album, how long did the process take from the first step to the final product? Was it hard to write new material for this record or did it come naturally for you?
NH: We started pre-production back in like 2015. We did the first studio session in 2015, Aaron then did some provisional mixes and sent them back. From there having heard where Aaron was going to take the tracks we were in the studio in 2016 into 2017 and Aaron mixed and produced the album in 2017. John McBain did the mixing at the end of last year and we were all good. We wrote a lot of tracks for this record so we don’t really have any issues writing – where it becomes crucial is bringing together albums that are themed and consistent. You hear a lot of album which is like a bit all over the shop where bands are clearly pulled in one direction one track and another direction the next track. Spending 10 years writing material meant that this album is consistent in concept and congruency.
Where did you record the album, and who produced it? How did the cooperation go between the band and the producer?
NH: Aaron Harris formerly from ISIS and now from Palms (featuring members of ISIS and Deftones) has produced and mixed the album. I met him in 2005 and been in contact since then.
We recorded a couple of tracks and sent the stems over to Aaron (Harris – producer) to for a provisional mix and to render the tracks with additional ideas. We loved what Aaron did and hence went on to record the whole album. Aaron was busy doing drum tech work for Deftones and Tool so he could only work with like two or so bands over 2016 and 2017 which was us and Spotlights.
Are you trying to express something through your music?
NH: Yeah, we are but it’s subtle so we’re not keen on making the concepts too overt else it gets boring. Thankfully our visuals co-exist perfectly balanced with our music to create concepts. However, what those concepts are trying to say are for the interpretation of the listener. I respect the ‘political’ bands who are like this is what this song is about and it’s really obvious and implicit within the tracks but for us its more implied and actually open to different interpretation in different ways based on personal perspective.
Since the release is only a few days away now, how has the response from the press been?
NH: It has been great for magazines and webzines to ask such in-depth and tailored questions so there is definitely some interest – which is great particularly as it has been like over 10 years since the debut.
You've already released the first song(s) online for your fans to hear, how has the new material been received from the fans so far?
NH: Solid. I think that some people were thinking we were disappearing into our own mystic and essentially obscurity so coming back with the full album with all of the visuals linked together has really generated a lot of intrigue around the band for the new record. It has been an intensive creative and artistic investment so really wanted to deliver it in a cohesive way and to talk to people what were interested. We’ve blended ambient electronic and post metal in a way that we don’t really think has been done so we’re keen to engage fully for this release.
Who did the artwork and what is the idea behind it?
NH: Marlon (guitars) did the artwork and we have a Russian Submarine Hunter Killer on the front of our album that we took photos of, boarded and did urban exploring on.
As I mentioned interpretation in different based on personal perspectives. So people can interpret that cover however they want – are we pro Russia or anti Russia or it is just a statement from the Cold War or what? I ain’t saying or telling what the listener to think – it’s there to let them think for themselves. That’s the difference with SOAC – we provided the fuel for people to think their own thoughts – as opposed for us telling people what they should or should not think. Music and art is about self reflection, not dictation.
How would you compare the material on this release to your previous material?
NH: It’s more mature, themed together into a concept and journey with more expression. The production is absolutely immense too.
What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to, and what kind new music do you listen to these days?
NH: I always gravitated towards music scenes and checking out like bands and labels so like Seattle, grunge and Sub Pop, then New York post hardcore with like Quicksand and Helmet. Then onto like L.A. gangsta rap, London / Detroit techno, Palm Desert rock, the Sacramento scene with like Deftones, Far and Will Haven. It was always great to get into labels like Ruthless, Mans Ruin, Roadrunner in the 90s as you could just buy a record and know that it would be a stamp of quality.
As someone who bought records I’d take them into school and they’d go round the taping circuit and loads of people would be listening to the same record at the same time which really captivated some ‘soundtracks’ growing up. With Discogs you can continue to ‘crate dig’ there which is what I do and I still buy a lot of music. I’m not some sort of self proclaimed ‘Bandcamp surfer’ or music critic so I ain’t got any recommends for new music really – I used to like taking CDs in to college and stuff but I’m not going to push bands in the same way I’m going not to push the concepts of the band onto people. I’d much rather creating a thinking environment then a forced one.
Have any of these bands been source of inspiration for the album?
NH: Yeah, absolutely!
In your time as musicians, what is your biggest musical achievement so far and what has been your biggest experience through the years?
NH: Touring and the vinyl series with Karma to Burn was cool. Yawning Sons (Yawning Man and Sons of Alpha Centauri collaboration project) to this day has still got a lot of interest and we nenver really expected that to happen in the way that it did. I did some work with members of Godspeed! You Black Emperor on one of their side projects ‘Set Fire to Flames’ years ago but it never got released that was like my first collaboration and although even the music wasn’t released it was still really cool and something that to me was a real achievement and opened up the confidence I had to begin that collaboration approach to Sons of Alpha Centauri.
Could we expect any European tour and maybe see the band in action here in Denmark any time soon?
NH: Absolutely. We’d love to play Copenhagen and Ärhus. Hvidovre would be awesome too – let’s see what 2019 brings but yeah, I’m tired of playing the UK. Getting into Europe and hitting Denmark would be awesome for sure.
What would be the ultimate tour, festival or show for you to play at?
NH: Probably one of the desert shows back in the day would’ve been great. We’ve done quite a few of our own generator shows in the UK. May be something like Glastonbury or something? Pyramid stage with massive visuals and a laser show.
Do you have any breaking news with the bands?
NH: Yeah, check out the new album. First album in 11 years and it’s available on different vinyl editions from Hamburg label H42 Records (www.h42records.com). It has been mixed and produced by Aaron Harris from ISIS and Palms and mastered by John McBain from Monster Magnet.
That’s all we’ve get this time, do you have anything that you'd like to add or say?
NH: Please check out all of the new media that is coming out from the previews, to the video for ‘Io’. There are more videos to be released as chapters to accompany the album. They’re all on YouTube – link em in!
We would like to say thanks a lot for your time. And we wish all you guys all the luck in the future whatever it might bring.
NH: We don’t really do social media much, would much rather have a proper conversation with a magazine / webzine so thanks for talking to us about Sons of Alpha Centauri and the new album.