MEB Staffer Michael Tahmasian recently had the opportunity to speak with Becoming The Archetype vocalist/guitarist/mastermind Seth Hecox. They discuss the band’s forthcoming album I Am at length, the effects of their Christian faith, the importance of brushing your teeth, and more.
MEB: You guys are just about to put out your fifth studio album I Am. How are you feeling about the release?
Seth Hecox: Well, just like any band, we’re pumped about our new sound. How can a band not be excited about their new album? Looking at feedback, it looks like just about everyone is on board with the sound of I Am and that’s very pleasing. It’s nice to be blessed with a fan base that will for the most part allow us to follow our creative vision and continue to support us wherever that vision takes us.
I Am is the first release with three new members. How was the writing process for this album different than past releases?
Daniel [Gailey, guitarist/vocalist] and I wrote all the music and I wrote all the lyrics. Mostly, it was Daniel knocking out riff after riff and then my putting titles and lyrics to each song based on how the sound was. It helped that we had an overall theme to fit each song into. Daniel wrote the majority of the album and after his experience with us on Celestial Completion, he felt pretty comfortable in writing and making the metal he saw fit.
There is definitely a return to some music styles of past Becoming The Archetype works on I Am, from the ferocity of Dichotomy to the progressive influence of Celestial Completion. What inspired you guys to drop the sitars and focus on writing some seriously heavy riffs?
Well, the sitars and horns on Celestial Completion were a once-in-a-lifetime situation. I had wanted to incorporate those instruments for a couple years and it suddenly became possible to pull it off. So we went for the gold and for better or worse, Celestial Completion came out the other side with the most wide-ranging sounds we’d ever had. With new members, we had the realization that BTA has never explored purely heavy music. We were so busy exploring the outer limits of metal that we’d never dug very deep into the cohesive/focused aspects and depths of intensity that metal has to offer. So that’s where we went with this album.
Which songs off of I Am did you have the most fun writing/recording? Which ones are you stoked to play live?
“The Time Bender” was certainly fun. The crazy guitar harmonies took some time for me to get used to, but it turned out to be a bit of creative genius on the part of Daniel. I had a blast recording my organ and singing parts in “The Sky Bearer.” That might be my favorite song on the album.
What are the lyrical concepts behind I Am? There definitely seems to be a connection between the song titles.
The album’s lyrics are all first-person narratives explaining the work and person of Jesus Christ. But instead of a straightforward explanation, the songs are set in mythological proportions, so they work well in the context of a prog-metal paradigm. Christ describing himself and his actions as “The Ocean Walker” or “The Sun Eater” has to strike people as epic, if nothing else.
The band has strong roots in Christian faith. With all the lineup changes, has this remained a focus of the band? Do you feel like being a “Christian band” has affected your career?
All the current and past members of BTA are born-again Christians who are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have adapted our style of lyrics and ministry in small ways over the years to distance ourselves from some artists who are more overt in their preaching from the stage and their dogmatic hammering of ideals through their lyrics. We’re focused on Jesus and what he did. That focus has helped us gain a following, I think, but might have also limited our success somewhat. Who knows?
Do you have any funny or crazy stories from the recording session of I Am?
Well, we did pick up the now-vagrant and notorious Seth W. on our way up to record with Shane Frisby [producer] in Cape Cod. Seth W. used to run Buzzgrinder and then Noisecreep and he’s not only a fun dude, but he might be the guy furthest ahead in realizing where media and art are going. He’s an idea man if there ever was one. His voice also has an uncannily similar sound to Steve Carell. So we considered having him record a 30-second blurb about how he heard of BTA and we’d play it off like we had Steve Carell swing by and visit the studio. But like the lazy people we are, we never did it.
What bands would you consider to be the strongest influences on you?
My favorite metal bands are Extol, Opeth, Mastodon. For Daniel, it’d probably be Periphery, The Faceless and Between The Buried And Me. But as for songwriting, we’re on our fifth album, so we’re not exactly finding our inspiration in looking up to bands like we did when we were 19, you know? As for influences, I guess I’d have to say BTA influences BTA.
What bands or albums have you been jamming lately?
We all listen to a wide range of music in the van and almost none of it is heavy music because we hear hours of heavy music every night on tour. So the bands we listen to in the van are not appropriate to mention here, haha.
What are the plans for Becoming the Archetype in the near future?
Release I Am, play CD release shows, enjoy the holidays, then hit the road again next year!
Anything else you’d like to tell your fans?
Brush your teeth and do your homework!