Periphery’s Spencer Sotelo Talks New Album, Band Chemistry, Songwriting Process + More
Periphery frontman Spencer Sotelo was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer discussed how the band's latest album, 'Periphery III: Select Difficulty,' morphed from an EP into a full length, the chemistry between bandmates and how the group has fortified their songwriting process. Check out the chat below.
How ya doin', Spencer?
Doing great, how about yourself?
Doing great, thanks so much for taking the time to be on the show this evening.
Thanks for having me on.
Periphery III: Select Difficulty is out now, and it was originally supposed to just be an EP. How did it evolve into a full fledged album?
We got together with the band to write just purely out of fun, we had no expectation on anything whatsoever. I think with a lot of things in life — and you take the pressure off and you're doing it for fun — you tend to be more creative and more driven in general without having that stress. Everything came together so fast that we had a lot of material and just decided to do a whole record instead of an EP.
The Juggernaut albums were an elaborate, very specific project. What did you want to do differently with this album?
With Juggernaut, we were kind of limited into writing only what the story allowed us to write. We tried to match the vibe and lyrical content to fit into the storyboard that we had created. This time around with Periphery III, we really had nothing dictating what we did. We'd wake up one day and be like, 'Oh let's write a song like this' and the next day it's something on the opposite end of the spectrum. I think I personally prefer to write like that. It just allows you to be more creative and think outside the box and have a little bit more fun.
What was most satisfying about the whole process of making Periphery III?
We're in a really good place personal relationship wise between everybody in the band at this point in time. When we were together writing it just felt like a bunch of friends hanging out and writing music for fun. It hasn't been like that in a long time. I won't get into specifics but there have been things in the past that have hindered writing or recording because of the relationship thing with working with the band.
This is the first time where everybody has been on the same page and everybody is in good spirits. It felt like just a bunch of brothers writing. I think that's something I'll take away and never forget about this whole PIII process.
The people playing in Periphery always seem to be changing. Is that stressful, or does it invigorate you to work with different musicians?
In the past it was stressful because Periphery for a while had been a revolving door of band members. But now, the lineup we have now, I feel like that's going to be our final lineup. Even though Nolly, our bass player, isn't going to be touring with us he's still very much involved with the writing and recording process and will be for here on out. I don't see us changing at all, lineup wise. I think we have the perfect set of band members right now.
Periphery is hard to categorize. What challenges you most about being the singer in the band that can be musically diverse?
I think sometimes it's a little bit overbearing to get a demo from the guys and it's just a wall of sound with all these crazy layers and technical guitar riffs and crazy drum beats going on here and there, but the guys are very open to leaving space once it comes time to really produce the tracks. They always throw everything into demos, we take a listen and then we take a step back and say, 'Okay, what needs to come out now to make space for vocals? What's going to make it easier to write vocals that fit in this song?'
So everybody is very much on the same page with stuff like that. It's never too much of a stressful process. It used to be back in the day when I first joined the band. It was very stressful because certain members wanted everything that they put into a song to stay, but I think everybody has gotten to much better at songwriting now and doing things that serve the song instead of everyone's ego instead.
What is going to happen with Periphery beyond this current tour, what are the plans for the rest of the year?
We have a few weeks off after the U.S. tour ends and then we're going to South Africa for a few days. We're playing a festival down there. It's actually going to be our first time there, so we're all pretty stoked about that. Then after that we have a few things in the works, nothing I can talk about but stuff outside the U.S. for sure.
Thanks to Spencer Sotelo for the interview. Pick up your copy of 'Periphery III: Select Difficulty' at Amazon or digitally through iTunes. Keep tabs on Periphery's touring activities on their Facebook page. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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