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Periphery Guitarist Misha Mansoor Talks Touring and Future Projects

Misha Mansoor of Periphery
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Periphery have their first headlining tour under their belts and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

Earlier this year, the Baltimore lads released their ‘Icarus’ EP consisting of various remixes of the track ‘Icarus Lives!’ as well as a couple of new songs. Periphery fans are also amped up for the release of the band’s two full length albums due out next year.

The band recently added new guitarist Mark Holcomb to its lineup, which also consists of singer Spencer Sotelo, bassist Tom Murphy, drummer Matt Halpern and guitarists Jake Bowen and Misha Mansoor.

Loudwire had the opportunity to speak with Mansoor, who shared his thoughts on their latest EP, future projects and his excitement about Periphery’s upcoming European tour with Dream Theater.

What made Periphery put out the ‘Icarus’ EP and what inspired the remixes of the song?

We’ve always thought it would be really fun to have some electronic remixes of our songs, then that tied in what we were trying to do. Essentially, we’re trying to put out two albums next year, a concept album and a regular album and as fun and cool as that is, it requires a lot of preparation. We haven’t been putting out new music for a little bit in order to write and prepare for that. What we figure is that we can kill two birds with one stone and get these remixes out there and also have a supplement to the album that can hold the fans over so that they’ll have something to chew on while they wait for the two albums to come out.

With that we had a couple new songs and some B-side and import tracks that were really hard to get in any form and they weren’t available in the physical form so we’ll put those on there. We got two new videos, a reworked version of one of our tracks and we just put it all on there so it’s truly a supplement to the album. I wouldn’t recommend to anyone who hasn’t heard us before but I would say that is you do enjoy the first album I highly recommend that you check it out because you’ll probably like it. It’s that kind of a release.

Do you know when fans can expect a single from one of the new albums?

It’s hard to say because until we’re finished with the album and maybe in some degree we’ll have to see which songs resonate the best wide. That’s how we picked ‘Icarus Lives!’–  that was the song that kids always seemed to connect with the most live. That’s why it was the logical choice and in some way that would be the best approach, to play some of the new songs live and see which ones work well. We are actually playing one song right now that’s brand new but it’s not on any album. It’s called ‘Face Palm Mute’ and that one could potentially be unless something knocks it out of first place as far as contenders go. [Laughs]

One of your upcoming albums is a concept album and the other is not. What made you guys want to come out with two albums around the same time and what inspired the idea for a concept album?

Well the idea for a concept album has been around for a long time. I’ve had demos up and I’d been playing around with this idea for a little while. To some degree we were considering making the first album the concept album because ‘Icarus Lives!” is part of that concept. We figured since it was our first album it’s best not to start with a concept album, that would be geared toward experimental sounds and it wouldn’t be totally representative of what we do, especially because that would be people’s first impression of us. I feel as a second album it would be good but at the same time we had all these other songs that didn’t fit the vibe of the concept album.

The two albums will sound very different and the approach to both albums will be very different because I write a lot of the material and when I write I have no regard for anything other than the instrumental music our singer puts vocals over the top. But in the case of the concept album it’s going to be writing towards the story and I’ll have to fill in the gaps of the story and try to fit certain moods and definitely fit the lyrics and what’s going on so it’s going to be almost writing backwards for me which will be a fun challenge. It’s an ambitious undertaking but I think it’s something that we can pull off without sacrificing quality so that’s why we want to do it.

You guys were on tour with the Human Abstract, Textures and the Contortionist. How did it feel to embark on a headlining tour?

This was our first time headlining in the U.S. — it’s awesome. In some ways I’m surprised this day came at all, but it’s a very pleasant surprise. The tour went much better than we expected, which is always a plus. We were very, very picky about the bands we took out, we were very adamant on getting certain bands and we ended up with a lineup that we basically had asked for. It doesn’t always turn out that way, sometimes bands are unavailable but when I say that this is the lineup we really wanted for the tour I mean it. I couldn’t be happier and I think it has a lot to do with the tour success and having solid package that kids want to come out for and will stay until the end, it won’t be like “oh I’m going for this one band.”

What made you choose these bands?

I wanted bands that have a sound of their own, that are very original but very creative. Being original doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be good but I wanted to find that band that doesn’t really sound like anyone else, like if you try to describe their sound you’d basically end up saying “Ah, you just gotta hear it.” The Human Abstract are basically like classical music played on electric guitars and I just haven’t heard anything like it, they’re phenomenal musicians and they’re incredible live. All three of these bands kept us on our toes because if we don’t put on our best show we’d get upstaged by them and I like that, it keeps you working hard and keeps you humble.

Textures — they’ve been one of my favorite bands for the longest time, they’ve been around forever but this was their first opportunity to come to the U.S and I’m glad to be a part of that, they’re amazing dudes. The Contortionist are I think one of the best up-and-coming bands. They have a lot of buzz around them but I think not enough really. They really are doing something right with their music to where they’re the kind of band that has the potential to stick around for a very long time.

Next year, you’re touring Europe with Dream Theater. Can you talk about what that experience will be like?

I can’t put that into words Dream Theater is such an influence to me in a way, I can go on for hours about them. Since I was 14, I’ve been obsessed with them. They’re the reason we play seven string guitars, they’ve influenced us in so many way. The ability to just share the stage with them is surreal. I’m not even going to believe it until I’m onstage because that’s the kind of stuff I fantasized about when I was a kid but I fantasized about it because I realized it wouldn’t have ever actually come true.

It’s actually coming true so it’s kind of crazy and that is a tour as amazing as it’s going to be, it’s also going to be nerve-wracking because they’re pretty much the best band you’ll ever see live. You cannot upstage them, you’ll just never be better than they are because they are incredible and they’ve been incredible live for almost as long as I’ve been alive. [Laughs] I’m sure we’ll learn a lot, I’m sure it will make us a much better band and force us to be a better band.

You have quite a few side projects you’re working on, including your work as a producer. How do you balance all of your projects?

The truth is I don’t. [Laughs] It’s a mess, I get really excited about all sorts of things and then I don’t have time to finish. Producing is something that I stumbled upon, I never planned on doing it, it just sort of happened and now that’s what I do as my day job when I go home because being in Periphery definitely does not pay enough to survive. So that’s my day job and I can’t complain because it beats a nine to five and it definitely pays a lot better, that I do have to make time for which is very hard.

Instead of preparing for our headlining tour I should’ve been producing the new Veil of Maya record and it was a little stressful but you gotta do what you gotta do. Other than that whenever I have any free time I try to work on side projects just for fun, working with other people forces me to get creative in ways I wouldn’t by myself and I really enjoy doing things like that.

Just wondering where you guys got the name Periphery?

I really like metal and a lot of aspects of metal and I wanted my project to be heavy. Although I love just about every style of music I felt that metal had the most rewarding live show, that’s where the energy was just the craziest, kids moshing, the stage dives, I felt the energy was most raw. At that same time I felt that a lot of metal bands had really generic names like “dying” or “blood” or whatever. I wanted to have a band name where if you never heard the band before you would have absolutely no idea what kind of music we play. Even the album cover’s like that. If you had no idea who we were or what we sounded like and you saw our album cover, we could be like an Enya cover band for all I know or we could be chill electronic music, it could be anything. Periphery was just a word that was neutral.

Watch the Periphery ‘Icarus Lives!’ Video

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