Varials have been busy as they just wrapped up their North American tour with Counterparts and Stray From the Path in support of their new album, In Darkness, which was released on October 11th via Fearless Records (order here). The Philadelphia metal outfit still has a few shows lined up before the year wraps up including their show in New Hampshire on December 7th and their Rhode Island gig on December 8th. Despite the band’s busy schedule, we recently caught up with frontman Travis Tabron to discuss In Darkness, looking back on their debut album, and more.
Can you talk more about the themes and lyrics to the new album, In Darkness?
Being a huge fan of continuing themes and motifs throughout our music from song to song and project to project, I revisited the lyrics to our song “Anything To Numb” off our prior LP Pain Again and realized that the phrase “In Darkness” was a line that had so much hidden potential that went completely skipped over. So to prep for our album and help build up the theme from LP1 to LP2, i actually used that lyric in a guest spot for another band’s song to sort of coin the term as our own and help brand ourselves into a different realm. The lyrics also perfectly described the sound change we were going through for the new album so it only made sense to keep digging into that concept and take every ounce of storyline i possibly could out of it. Overall these lyrics reflect much more pain and honesty than LP1 did, but to match the sound, I had absolutely no other choice but to dig deeper and find a truly dark mood and inspiration for the record. Definitely spilled a little bit too much of my guts on this one.
How would you compare it to 2017’s Pain Again?
To compare Pain Again to In Darkness is virtually night and day as far as musicianship goes, but to be completely honest if people are paying attention, I don’t think the sound change would be that surprising. Because there are still a few notes and measures that can allude to a desire for experimentation. In Darkness is absolutely stronger in every way. Our riffs aren’t just mosh parts just for the sake of having mosh parts, our noises are controlled chaos, and the lyrics ebb and flow with the track much more fluently as to where they inhale and exhale as the track is doing the same. I personally think that this is the record we were always supposed to write so we could distinguish our sound from the pack and just make the music we wanted to. There was never a goal to please everyone or “sell out” with a few clean vocal songs, it was purely a decision to make what we wanted to hear, and I truly think we made that happen.
You guys went through some significant changes before signing to Fearless Records. One could say, 2017 marks the next chapter for you guys. How would you describe the overall experience?
I don’t think we went through any significant changes at all actually, all we did was add our boy Mitch on guitar. However i do see how you could say signing to Fearless was a new chapter for us, because it definitely was. It opened our band up to way more people and let us tour with so many crazy bands we never thought we’d get the chance to tour with, but if I had to choose a moment that REALLY encapsulated the reincarnation of the band, it would absolutely be the moment we released In Darkness. LP1 was absolutely a good introduction to who we wanted to be, but this is the true evolved form of the band and if there’s ever a moment to start paying attention, it’s now.
I hear a lot of different elements in the new album from Slipknot to Killswitch Engage, how would you describe your overall sound?
With these records we really didn’t take any influence from any newer/modern heavy records with the exception of like…Suicide Season by BMTH, and we really just dialed in on sounds that expressed certain moods and spent a lot of time figuring out what chords make you feel certain ways so that we could get the exact feeling and vibe across that we wanted to. As far as current heavy bands, I don’t think we sound like anyone else at all now. We have a lot of sounds ranging from industrial, nu-metal, hardcore, rap, with tons of homemade “samples” thrown all around the record to give it a vintage sound and feel. To be honest, I really can’t describe it any better than the album title “In Darkness” already does.
Are there any particular songs on the new album that was more challenging to write?
This is going to sound really cocky and arrogant but no, there weren’t really any hard songs to write on this because like I said earlier, the goal was to create what we wanted to create. So when it came time to hit the studio and write these tracks, they all came so naturally to us because we took ourselves out of that creative box that we had ourselves inside in the past. Lyrics, this time around, were also fairly easy to come up with because of how powerful the music was to me this time around. And once we realized how much of a step up the songs, the lyrics had to step up too, so I took all my concepts from Pain Again and fine tuned them, found my true voice, and dug deep as hell into my personal life to really give you the whole complete Varials package.
Are there any particular cities you are looking to goto in 2020?
2020 i want to go absolutely everywhere. I want to see places that look like real life screensavers, like Dubai, Egypt, Greenland, Brazil, Portugal. I would absolutely LOVE to play a show in Hawaii ever since I saw Wage War do it hahaha. WW if you’re reading this you better take our asses over there!!!!!
Since 2019 is wrapping up, what are some of your favorite albums you’ve listened to this year?
So not all of these records came out in 2019, but these are the records I’ve been absolutely loving ALL year. Mac Miller’s Swimming album, Rich People’s Grace Session record is absolutely outstanding, Twentythreenineteen’s self titled album is definitely a favorite for 2019. Heavy record wise, I would have to go with Kublai Khan’s Absolute, and Knocked Loose’s A Different Shade of Blue.
Is there anything else you’d like to say or add about the new album?
I just want people to understand that there’s no more room in heavy music for everybody to be copying each other and aiming to be something they’re not. The new cool thing to do is to write something DIFFERENT and write something that is 110% undoubtedly you. Don’t be afraid to write the music you want to make just because the hardcore kids say it’s not cool. Trust me; there’s way more to life than being cool. There are also way more people that listen to music than just hardcore kids, so don’t get discouraged ever and stay true to whatever your creative vision is. We did, and I can promise you it’s the most satisfying feeling in the world. In Darkness, baby.