We recently caught up with guitarist Simon Christie from London instrumental band Only Echoes Remain. Described as “creating instrumental cinematic prog-tinged rock music” we dive into their drive and influences.
How did the band form?
The band was started in late 2015 by Arran as a post-rock side project that then became a lot more than that. I joined in Spring 2016 just as the first selection of songs were starting to form. We hit the ground running by completing songs that Arran had brought in as demos, and jumping straight into a couple of gigs. Since then we’ve been writing and performing as much as possible.
Where do you draw your influences from?
Each member of the band brings with them a selection of different influences from lots of different styles of music but the crossover is in the post-rocks styles of bands like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, maybeshewill and then a mixture of prog bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Tool plus particularly on the album there are more film soundtrack composer influences like Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman.
You’ve just released your debut album The Exigent – can you tell me about the writing and recording process for it?
The writing process for The Exigent was really in a few different phases. As a start there were the core songs that we had been writing and gigging. Some of those came from the original demos Arran had, which each member then brought their individual influences to, and then some other tracks like Aurora came out of a collaboration and jamming in rehearsal rooms. Throughout the writing we always had the narrative of what would become ‘The Exigent’ in mind, so when it came to record we already knew it would be a concept album/EP. When we realised that we were going to get the chance to record this at Abbey Road it was an opportunity to really push the concept as far as we could and try and give the album a sense of cohesion and a sound. That meant the next phase of writing was all of the extra post-production sound design work, where I started arranging some additional strings and brass for the tracks and transitions and Arran added some piano motifs that pulled the individual tracks together. Eventually some of these additional orchestral ideas that we worked on even became separate tracks themselves. We had a really strong vision for the record and are extremely proud of the final result.
Were there any songs on it that were more of a challenge to get right, or did everything go pretty much to plan?
Things were pretty straightforward for the most part when it came to writing, but I think that’s largely because we’ve been fairly ruthless on ideas that didn’t make the cut. There’s always a few parts of songs that take a bit more work, or times when everyone has different ideas that we need to come to a consensus on, but ultimately the tracks that we were not happy with or we felt we were trying to crowbar ideas into we decided to drop to ensure that we weren’t just including songs to make up track numbers. This all meant that when it came to actually record then we managed to get the tracks down pretty quickly – if anything the challenge was more in the mixing as we were going for some ‘wall of guitar’ sounds so there were a lot of tracks of guitars to balance. Sam Jones who recorded and mixed the record did a great job of getting the sounds we were after!
You’re going to be touring the UK in a few weeks – what can fans expect from one of these shows?
We’re really looking forward to this tour and it’ll be the first time we’re starting to bring some of the orchestration, sounds and dynamics of the album to the stage, so we’re aiming for a fairly epic sounding set! It will be a mixture of big soundscapes and energetic rock.
What do you like most about playing live?
For me its just great to be up there playing the music we’ve written and seeing people enjoy it. Nothing really beats that adrenalin rush of performing live.
What’s the best show you’ve played?
There’s been some great shows for many different reasons but I think supporting Totorro was a highlight. Not only did the night have a great line-up (Vasudeva and Waking Aida also supported) but as we were essentially unknown compared to those other bands on the bill the audience really got into our set and it just a had a great feel and some great feedback.
What about the strangest or weirdest?
We’ve actually been pretty lucky so far and not had anything too strange, yet! However as we start to get more into performing The Exigent live maybe we’ll have some Spinal Tap moments coming our way!
And what do you have in store for the rest of 2017?
We’re going to be playing live a lot in support of The Exigent with this tour of London, Brighton, Leeds and Manchester coming up. We’re also looking to book in another tour for later in the year. Apart from that we’ve already started writing for the next release, it’s early days yet but we’re keen to keep the creative juices flowing.