Kylver is one of “those” bands for me. I have bands that just hit me hard from the first note and that was the case when I listened to Kylver for the first time. Both of their albums combine the best parts of instrumental heavy prog and post metal with a hint of classic prog rock as well. I talked with guitarist Jonny Scott about both albums, their influences and getting nominated for a PROG Magazine Award twice!
So tell me how Kylver started.
It just started out of a want to make something a little more interesting than previous projects we had been involved in. Myself, Jim and Neil had been in various other bands together around the Newcastle area, we were not doing anything at the time already had that familiarity of playing together. We wanted to make it instrumental mainly because we wanted it to play our instruments for ourselves and play what we enjoyed. It wasn’t too long after we started jamming ideas when Barry joined us after we had both been working together on something none musical. I mentioned to him that I had been jamming some proggy type instrumental music with a couple of guys and asked if he fancied coming along to play drums, then that was that really.
What are the influences of the band and how do they present themselves in the music?
Our influences stretch quite far and wide and will vary for each or us, I guess. It’s pretty hard to say specifically as to how they present themselves in the music. We don’t sit and say “we need to write a song that sounds like this band or that band” but at the same time we don’t disagree that you can’t here our influences in our music, I’d say it’s more subconscious than conscious. For me what I listen to can change a lot from week to week but stuff like Melvins, Sleep, Tool, Mastodon, Rush, Zappa, Yes, Conan ect… all the usual and then I also love listening to the bands we meet and play gigs with around the UK. Guys like Cauls, Telepathy, Lords of Bastard, Space Witch, Old Man Lizard just to name a few, there are so many good bands kicking about at the moment.
The first album “The Mountain Ghost” really caught my attention out of nowhere. How did it get the attention of so many people, including Prog magazine right?
It was just a lot of hard work really, a lot of hours sitting behind a screen Googling sites that we thought would be interested in our music and sending emails, there was a lot more people that didn’t reply to us than did, but that’s just how it goes. It’s a numbers game and you just hope it hits the ears of the right people (like yourself). With Prog Magazine we were lucky to get a last minute spot on one of their cover CDs which I guess put us on their radar as a couple of months after we were given a Limelight feature which then lead on to us getting nominated in the Limelight category of the 2016 Progressive Music Awards.
When it came time to do a follow up, was your mind set as a band any different after that first album?
Not really in terms of writing we just carried on from where we left off, not that we had really stopped. We’re always writing and trying new ideas, either individually at home or in the practice room. The process does slow a little when we have a run of gigs coming up as we need to rehearse for them but we started writing the tracks that became “The Island” not long after the mountain ghost was released. When it came to release ”The Island” and send it out I must admit I was a little anxious as I did think “what if we had just hit lucky with The Mountain ghost?”. Personally I think it’s hard to judge your own music, especially when you have fun writing and playing it what other people might think of it doesn’t really pop in to your head.
What are the differences between “The Mountain Ghost” and “The Island”?
I think “The Mountain Ghost” is more raw sounding in comparison to “The Island”. From the demoing stages to being in the studio the recording process was different for both albums. “The Mountain Ghost” is a very live album in comparison to “The Island”, where as “The Island” is very layered. We also introduced some new sounds like various Mellotron and Theremin sounds, we’d always used a Theremin live but this was the first time we had used it in the studio. With “The Island” we didn’t want to just make “The Mountain Ghost 2” but we didn’t want to stray too far from our original sound and I feel we achieved that quite well.
You guys released “The Island” on vinyl AND cassette, right? What brought that up?
We were just asked by the two separate labels labels. Rachel from Graven Earth Records in Colorado got in touch asking if we would like to do a cassette release of ‘The Island’ and we had already been talking to Jonas from Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings here in Newcastle about the Vinyl release so we thought it would be a good idea to release them both on the same day, kind of like a “Retro Release”. We had never really thought about doing a cassette release and it was pretty cool being approached by a label from another country, so we just thought “why not”.
Tell me about the upcoming video for the track “The Great Race.”
The idea to do a second video came up around December of last year, sat in a pub (like most of our ideas). We decided on doing ‘The Great Race’ as two of the other tracks would involve some how creating another dimension/time travel and ‘The Great Storm of 1703’ would have been just be too long of a track for a music video, so ‘The Great Race’ was the sensible choice. It starts off at the point where out stories character has been sent back to the day before his ship is to set sail in search of the island and follows his day and evening up to the point where he boards the ship. The whole making of it was pretty huge in comparison to shooting ’Hy-Brasil’. We have a full crew of extras, lights, a director, a DOP and a separate camera guy spread across five locations. It was a ton of hard work but it was worth it in the end.
You recently got named as a finalist for Best Album Cover by Prog Magazine. How does that feel?
It feels pretty crazy to be completely honest. I mean… we’re just a bunch of guys from the north of England, we have boring day jobs and Kylver is something that we squeeze out of our free time, we make zero money from this but here we are getting nominated for awards and this time we’re up against giants like Mastodon and Opeth. One day I’m sitting on a bus at 8am going to work and listening to these guys on my iPod then the next day I’m seeing Kylver’s album sitting next to theirs in the Progressive Music Awards. I would be nice to be able to make it to the ceremony.
So what’s next for Kylver? I can tell you that I already want a third album!
Yeah, totally! There is going to be another album, we already have ideas floating around. I know Jim has a bunch of riffs, we’ve recorded a few here and there and I’ve been pondering themes for a concept, maybe even a concept with a bunch of mini concepts. We have few dates around September and October then we just need to get our heads down and in to full writing mode.