WMSC’s The Metal Teddy Bear Experience went on the road to Starland Ballroom for Summer Slaughter and caught up with Colorado science thrashers, Allegaeon. Vocalist Riley McShane and guitarist Greg Burgess shared fun times on Summer Slaughter and the bands they’ve been hanging with. The band also revealed the title of their upcoming fifth album, “Apoptosis” which is projected to have a mid-October release. The duo delved into the process of the album and provided details on writing and recording. During the Three Random Silly Questions segment, Riley and Greg talked about ice cream cake, making albums into movies and removing eating from their daily routine.
Your last album came out two years ago, 2016? You guys have put out a Rush cover since then (Animate)…Have you guys been working on new songs?
Greg: Yeah, we just got the final mixes today actually.
What’s the album called?
Riley: It’s called Apoptosis.
Greg: You’re the first person to get that. Exclusive.
Tell me more about the album. What’s the concept?
Riley: It’s not really a concept album like how Proponent for Sentience was. That one had a pretty clear story line. Very much a concept album. This one is…
Greg: It has themes..
Riley: It has themes. The title of the album, Apoptosis is the scientific term for when cells systematically die to have new cells come in and replace them. It’s often seen in just regular growth of tissue and growth of organic materials. So growth is really the theme of the album. We feel that between Proponent for Sentience and this record, Proponent for Sentience was my first record with Allegaeon, Apoptosis is going to be Brandon Michael or Boo-Boo Money, our new bass player, that’s going to be his new, his first record. I think that as we continue to play and grow we just…grow, y’know? We just keep getting better and better and the music really shows and I really wanted to tie that into the lyrical concept, still keeping things scientific, showing how death leads to new life in a lot of different ways, whether it’s through how forest fires do that kind of stuff or whether it’s for certain types of cellular adaptations and all that stuff. But there’s is also a few songs on there that are a little more geared towards social constructs and growing as people and growing as artists and growing as a society. It’s a little bit deeper, I’d say, lyrical themes that have been on previous Allegaeon records but I think that’s just another way that we’re showing that we’re growing.
I’m curious, your lyrics are very science oriented. Do you guys have degrees in any science?
Riley: Yeah, I went to school for biochemistry.
And what about you(Greg)?
Greg: Hobbyist. Anytime I write any lyrics, which I didn’t have to do any on this album– thank god!
You don’t like writing lyrics?
Greg: I hate it. I absolutely loath it.
So you’re just the riff master?
Greg: (laughs) nah, that’s Mikey on this record for sure. No, it’s just a lot of research. It’s like you find a topic that’s really interesting and then you just research it and then write album.
How many tracks do you guys have for this album?
Riley: 13 I want to say.
That’s a lot. Are those b-sides?
Greg: There are a lot of instrumentals.
Riley: Yeah, there’s a few instrumental tracks on there. Classical pieces, stuff like that.
Greg: Two classical guitar pieces. The first and the last track on them are instrumentals.
How long did it take you to write and record?
Greg: Two years. We’re on a two year cycle. So every two years we put something out.
Is that what you want? Or is that the label or someone?
Greg: No, the label doesn’t really pressure us to do it, it just always seems when we’re ready. This one…I don’t know if we’re just like…Oh it’s two years we have to put something out..
Riley: We’re not on a timed contract, it’s just good to be consistent. I feel having put out four records on every other year…to deviate from that at this point would just be silly.
Greg: Even our EP, it’s like 2008, 10, 12, 14, 16 now 18.
Where did you guys record this?
Riley: Flatline Audio with Dave Otero again.
Where is that?
Riley: Denver. He’s done all of our albums. Except for Formshifter. He’s done all of them.
When is this coming out?
Riley: Probably late October. We haven’t announced an official release date yet but that’s the window we are aiming for.
Is that coming with a tour too?
Riley: We don’t have anything on the books just yet but it’s something else we are working on.
Random Silly Questions
1. Is ice cream cake an actual cake or is it ice cream in the shape of a cake?
Greg: YES! Oh yes! Get out Riley it’s my turn!
Riley: Oh man..This is a Greg question 110%…
Greg: So it’s like my two favoritest(sic) things put together! It’s like…I have been guilty of going to Baskin-Robbins and dropping 40 bucks and then y’know…just kinda hogging over the cake..
Doesn’t look like it. You work it all off?
Riley: Yes. I’m going to..simple answer. Yes. It counts as cake. Is it in cake form? Do you slice it and eat it often at parties or celebratory events? Then it’s a cake.
Greg: You know what? We should clarify because there are some ice cream cakes that are just ice cream and there’s no cake in it. Is this what you’re getting at?
Yeah. You know Carvel cake?
Thank God. No one knows Carvel cake, I feel. I didn’t know it was an East coast thing..But we were going to get that for my friend for his birthday and he’s like dude you can’t get him that, you have to get him a cake. I’m like that is a cake and he said no a real cake. That’s when the argument started.
Greg: See it’s a slippery slope dude dude because it’s no cake if it’s just ice cream. It’s just in the shape of a cake.
Riley: I don’t know man. No. I think if it’s a square dessert base treat that cut into slices and serve to people for their birthday or their parties or whatever it might be..it’s a cake.
Greg: Y’know it doesn’t even matter because it’s going to be awesome in my belly.
Riley: I think the kind of person who would receive a Carvel cake and then be like “Well this isn’t a cake” Isn’t the kind of person you need in your life anyway.
2. What is something you would take out of your daily routine?
Riley: Eating like an asshole.
Greg: I would say eating. I have a hard time eating a lot. So if I didn’t have to eat I’d be super stoked.
Riley: I love food so much. I just eat so much of it that it’s just…ugh..I get heartburn and I’m starting to put on weight. I need to just not eat like such a jerk. Eating is fun.
Greg: I have this weird swallowing thing…I’ve had my esophagus enlarged and sometimes I can’t…I won’t get too graphic but I won’t get too graphic but the food won’t go down. So sometimes I can’t physically eat. It’s always a roll the dice like a lot of times my food will get stuck in my esophagus. So if I don’t have to eat then I’m totally all about that. That’d be great.
3. What album would you make into a movie and who would star in it?
Riley: “Rain of a Thousand Flames” by Rhapsody and I think pre-insanity Mel Gibson would be awesome.
Braveheart Mel Gibson?
Riley: Yeah. I wonder if that even still counts as pre-insanity I’m pretty sure he was still crazy he just kept it collared but yeah, Mel Gibson in “Rain of a Thousand Flames”
Greg: Dude I don’t know, I think I’m going to be disappointing on this one because I have no clue.
Riley: Dude, “Planetary Duality” starring Will Smith.
Greg: He’s having a really good one..I can’t compete with this. I don’t know. How about “Symbol of Salvation” by Armored Saint starring Bruce Willis. That is a cop-out. I just picked all these things that I liked.
Riley: You know what I thought you were going to go with for sure? Is that one Dream Theater concept record about the mysterious tree.
Riley: Yeah, I don’t know who would star though.I feel I would be good with Gary Oldman
Greg: You need two leading men for that. Gary Oldman..he’s too old. I don’t think he could do it.
Riley: Well,what about Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds? I feel like that would be good for “Metropolis”.
Greg: Oh you don’t need me in this interview. He has all the great ideas! I just wanted to talk about his shirt and he’s coming up with all this cool shit.
You had a solid one, Armored Saint. That’s not bad and Bruce Willis. Dude they just had a Roast on him.
Riley: I haven’t seen it but it does sound lovely.
Greg: Yeah. I wonder if he would just be very…He’s a very stoic dude. Would he just sit there and take it? Y’know I can see his bald head just *does nodding motion* Just shaking up and down.
Riley: Just like..putting people on the list throughout the whole Roast. He’s like “I know where you live”
Greg: He’s like “I’ll kill you”
Riley: He will but he’s going to wait ’till Christmas though.
Summer Slaughter is ending at the end of August. Any other plans you want to talk about or mention?
Riley: We are working on the album, going to be releasing that. We’ve got another tour lined up for next year that we can’t really talk about just yet.
Riley: Direct support. Well, not direct support but a support tour. That’s going to be a good one. We are working on getting another tour on the books before the year’s over so we can maybe be out on the road when the album drops or close to that time.
That’s what you guys aim for? Album release and tour?
Riley: Yeah, I mean sometimes you kinda wanna let the album steep a little bit. Get people listening to it, get people familiarized with the songs.
*Gregs phone alarms goes off*
Greg: My alarm is telling me that I need to take my meds.
Riley: Can I ask you a question?
Riley: Are you familiar with the band Toto?
Nah but ask anyway.
Riley: Well nevermind then.
Greg: You can ask me the question and I’ll give you the right answer. *laughs*
Riley: So I’ve been having this debate with our bass player, so Toto has a lot of hits right? “Afria” is the biggest one right now. So they have a couple other big hits, one of which is the song “Rosanna” *sings chorus*
Another one they have is “Hold the Line” *sings chorus* Between “Rosanna” and “Hold the Line” what, would you say, is the better song?
“Hold the Line”
Greg: See! That’s the right answer.
Riley: Okay, cool. I’m trying to stack points in my favor because I say “Hold the Line” and he says “Rosanna” and I’m like you are on a lot of drugs…
Greg: He’s coming from a purely musician standpoint.
So I used you for my ice cream question and you guys are using me for Toto. I like it. Thank you that’s awesome.
Riley: Yes, yes and now this one is documented though.
Greg: Toto is one of those bands that have so many hits that you’ve heard but you just don’t know it’s Toto. Just like Foreigner.
Do you guys think you would do a Toto cover? You guys did a Rush cover.
Riley: No probably not. I think all the good Toto covers have been done. I mean we could cover “Hold the Line” because we could cruuuush it,
Greg: I would totally cover
Do it. Make it your b-side.
Riley: You might have just planted a seed. It’s going to be a beautiful tree.
Inspired by The Metal Teddy Bear Experience
Riley: That’s right.
Greg: What’s going to happen is someone is going to hear this and beat us to it..
Riley: Just bleep out “Hold the Line” be like we’re going to cover beep.
Thank you guys so much for doing this interview, I really appreciate it.