We recently covered the upcoming release from Chrysalis, Focus On The Center, which you can check out here. Wanting to find out a little more about the band, we caught up with Yessi for a chat.
Can you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
I’m Yessi Burton. I sing and play guitar.
Chrysalis is four friends that have been playing music together since childhood. Me and Billy (the drummer), used to play together years ago when we were just kids. Everyone in our small town knew Jared Sturgis was the best bass player around, so we plucked him from another band. That’s basically the nucleus of Chrysalis that’s still together to this very day. We recently added Gabe (guitar player) to fill out the lineup. He’s another local musician that we’ve always known. We’ve also collaborated with other local musicians on a regular basis; Chris Norris (guitarist, and Billy’s younger brother), Arsenio Otero (Lyrics) & Noel Castillo (Keyboards).
You’re about to release your new album Focus On The Center, your first in seven years – can you tell me a bit about the writing and recording process of it?
It’s been a long time coming. We played a lot of shows to support our last album, but until recently we didn’t do the band thing full time, so we we’re only able to get recording work done sporadically. The album was recorded in bits and pieces at different locations.
A lot of the tracks are musical ideas that had been laying around for a long time, while some of the tracks are brand new. I think we recorded something like 20 different songs.
Also, the band took some time off after touring and recording some of the initial material. We had to recoup a bit, but also restructure our lives to make the band work and give it our full dedication. After the hiatus, we put down Saturn Waits and Instant Silence. We added those songs to some of the other tracks we had, and that was essentially the album.
Were there any tracks that were more of a challenge to complete than others?
Absolutely. I think that’s always the case. Some songs come together right away, while others were a challenge. For example, Ms. Me, Sounds of the Playground and Thoughts Behind all went through various restructurings and vocal/lyrical changes, while Instant Silence came together right away.
What track are you most proud of?
Sounds of the Playground and Ms. Me. I like the way these songs are structured. They don’t adhere to the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge format but yet they still work, and I’m surprised how rarely reviewers comment on that aspect of them.
Additionally these songs have a lot of dynamics, and some classical piano over the top of them. It was no easy task trying to get all of that to fit together. I know every band claims to be unique/original, but I really don’t think anyone else in the metal/rock/post-whatever genre has a similar sound right now when you listen to those tracks in particular. When we play these in a live setting, they stick out like sore thumb compared to most other bands, and I’m really proud of that.
I could be wrong though. One reviewer accused us of ripping off Coheed and Cambria, which I find to be hilarious.
One of my favourites is Ms Me, I like the heaviness juxtaposed with the softer sections. Can you tell me a little more about that song in particular?
Years ago we fiddled with an album concept in which there would be no individual songs; the record would be one big song, with a bunch of different parts that acted as songs with in a larger song. We never fully pursued the concept, but afterwards we were left with a bunch of different “mini” songs. Ms. Me is two of those songs put together. At around the 2:50 mark is when the 2nd song begins.
The whole track is essentially the result of our metal instincts clashing with some of our more mainstream and classical influences. That’s how you end up having consonance chord voicings and classical style piano being played over aggressive metal drums.
I think having soft sections in our music contrasted against heavier sections is something that comes natural to us. We grew up in a time when nu-metal was big. We can’t help but be influenced by it. Say what you will about the genre, but the bands of that era had great dynamics; lots of loud and soft sections put together. We incorporate that element into our music regularly.
Any interesting stories from the studio?
We’re a bunch of broke dudes with no label support. We’ve never been in real studio before. Most of the recording was done in our manager’s living room. Some of the drum tracks we did with Kris Comeaux were done in a makeshift studio that was inside a rent-a-warehouse.
If you could collaborate with any artist or band, who would it be and why?
Probably Letlive, or maybe Lacuna Coil. Not necessarily because of musicianship, or because of their styles, but more so because we have a little bit of history with both bands. We used to tour with Letlive years ago, long before anyone knew who they were. I think I still have some of those old show flyers. We had a great time with them, and it’s been cool seeing their career take off. With Lacuna Coil, they were a big influence on me when I was a kid. I used to go to their shows and even got to hang out with them a bit. This was before they crossed over into the American market. Me and their guitar player used to exchange emails regularly. I don’t listen to much Lacuna Coil these days, but collaborating with them would be cool, it would be like having things come full circle.
If you could choose an animal to represent Chrysalis, what would you choose?
One of those weird fish at the bottom of the ocean. The ones that have the light bulbs sticking out of their head.
And if Chrysalis could put their name to any product, what would it be?
A bottle of wine. It can be high class or low class, gets better with age, and everybody likes alcohol.