Sunday, April 28, 2019

catching up with Nucleus

The last time I interviewed Chicago's Nucleus, they were gaining traction with their debut Sentient and were just about to release the split EP Fragmented Self. Since then, they've been quiet but not inactive - their second full-length Entity is about to drop courtesy of Unspeakable Axe Records. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Muntean and guitarist Dan Ozcanli brought me up to speed via e-mail.

Band photo:

Dreams of Consciousness: The last time I interviewed you was just before the release of the Fragmented Self split. What have you been up to since then?

If memory serves correctly, after the release of Fragmented Self we almost immediately began writing for the second full length (which would later be named Entity over a year later). Entity is essentially a continuation from the split, both lyrically & musically, so Dave already had enough material to get us started with the writing process. We played a few shows here and there, it really depended what we were offered and if we could do it. Notable ones were Full Terror Assault 2017, Tomb Mold/Taphos Nomos, and Morta Skuld/Scorched/Embalmer.

After the Morta Skuld show in November 2017, we agreed not to play any more shows until the album was out. This is when we really started putting the material for Entity together. We met up pretty consistently once a week to put the songs together and fine tune whatever needed to be done once we completed a song. We only meet for about 3 hours, once a week, and weren't going to wing unfinished material live; nor did we have time to practice older material for shows. However, our friend Paul Dunski asked us to open the Demilich/Blood Incantation/Artificial Brain show at Reggies in May 2018, and we seriously could not say no to that. We actually debuted the title track of Entity live at that show too!

Things may have seemed quiet on our end from an outside perspective, but I can assure you we were busier than ever when it came to writing Entity. We actually also wrote two songs for the new Four Doors to Death split during that time as well, which we recorded in the same sessions we recorded Entity in.

DoC: Tell me about your upcoming album Entity - where was it recorded? How would you compare it to your last album Sentient? What can we expect from it, musically?

Entity was recorded in September/October 2018 at Iron Hand Audio in Chicago; tracked, mixed & mastered by Dan Klein, who did the tracking and mixing for the Fragmented Self split, Sentient, and Hegemony (he mastered Hegemony as well).

Personally, I believe Entity doesn't even compare to Sentient. While we are proud of Sentient, some songs on there date back to late 2013, and the album was released in 2016. The band had only formed in early 2012. We were still trying to figure out what we wanted to do, and dealt with some lineup changes over that time, but by the time Sentient was released we were pretty set on our path.

With Entity (as well as the Fragmented Self split), this was brand new, fresh material that we had in the works. We had a solid vision for the sound we were going for. For the most part Sentient could be played with a single guitar without too much of a difference. With Fragmented Self and especially Entity, the two guitars diverge regularly and wouldn’t sound the same with a single guitar player. That, in addition to overall technicality, constant progression in the songs, and of course Dan Klein’s ever growing engineering skills, distinguishes it from previous material.

This album is also a concept album, and we wanted that to come across in the music even if you didn’t understand the lyrics. The songs flow into each other, and each song was written with the story in mind. So at least in our minds there is some narrative to the music itself that matches the lyrics.

There’s also one thing that we’ve also introduced to our music with Entity - clean guitars. They are used very sparingly, but definitely set the tone of the album where used.

We are certainly proud of Sentient, but we are way more comfortable with and proud of our newer material.

DoC: What can you tell me about the lyrical concept behind the album? Are you continuing the themes from Fragmented Self

I won’t go too in depth, that’s what the music and lyrics are for, but yes the album is a continuation of our three songs on Fragmented Self. The three song concept on Fragmented Self was smaller scale. A small fragment of some long lost thing is floating through space and is caught in the gravitational well of Earth. Once it comes in contact with organic matter it begins to absorb and restructure it. Over the course of the songs it consumes and grows until it builds a large structure out of itself, the beacon, which it uses to send a signal into space. It is destroyed moments later by other species in our local area of space, but not in time.

The album starts shortly after that. The other alien species land on Earth at the beginning of the album on “Arrival”. They tell us about the threat, uplift our species, and we prepare for the coming battle. Space is big and takes incredibly large amounts of time to travel across, so we have many generations to prepare. Side two of the album is when the Entity finally approaches, and the war with it.

DoC: I really like the cover painting by Adam Burke. How did you find him, and what direction did you give him to create the artwork?

I decided I wanted him to work on our next albums artwork back when I first saw Gatecreeper’s album art in 2016. The style and coloring on that one I thought would work perfectly for us. I was pretty set on using him pretty much immediately after seeing that. I gave him a synopsis of the album story, and we settled on the portion of story on track 6 of the album, “Outpost”, as being something that would look really cool visually, and mainly taking inspiration from old science fiction novel covers. Specifically I believe Adam took some influence from John Harris, which he mentioned was his favorite sci-fi artist.

DoC: What's next for Nucleus?

Our release party will be Friday, June 7th, at Livewire Lounge in Chicago. Our friends in Melting Rot, Garoted, and (labelmates!) Cemetery Filth will be accompanying us on this bill, and we couldn’t be more excited.

We will also be performing at Blood of the Wolf Fest in Lexington, KY, on Sunday, August 4th. We’re right in between House of Atreus and Profanatica. I’m seriously looking forward to this one.

Entity will be available via CD, tape, and digital download through Unspeakable Axe Records. We will have some copies too. Vinyl will eventually be available through Me Saco Un Ojo Records, and we should have those shortly after they are pressed. There are also album art flags, log pins, logo patches, and a new shirt design.

We will also have a couple songs on the upcoming volume 2 of the Four Doors to Death split coming out this year through Unspeakable Axe, with Temple of Void, Fetid Zombie, and Ectoplasma.

Nucleus on Bandcamp

Entity through Unspeakable Axe Bandcamp

Future Passed:

an interview with
Nucleus (2017)