Isochronous seeks to escape within

2011-09-14 11:46
Back in my university days I used to study with this guy called Alex Parker. He was liked by all and quite smart to boot. Alas, after the first semester I didn’t see him again until quite recently (about four years later) at Mercury in Cape Town.

"I did not give up studying. I only gave up journalism. I’m in my third year of studying music now," Alex explains while setting up his keyboard on stage in the club. He still looks exactly the same although he speaks way less Afrikaans than he used to. ("But my girlfriend is Afrikaans," he’s quick to add, just so I know he can still understand it fine.)

He plays keys and sometimes guitar for this really cool band called Isochronous who recently kicked off their national tour to launch their third studio album called Inscape.

I tagged along for the soundcheck before their show at Mercury and then had a beer with Alex and Richard Brokensha, the lead singer and guitarist, at The Shack next door before their show.

Inside out

"The name Inscape means the opposite of escape. It means to look inside yourself and basically that was the concept for the whole album," explains Alex.

The idea was to assess themselves from the inside out and let that be projected into the music. The boys were growing up and "a lot of path finding and soul searching took place," and that was reflected in the lyrics of the album.

In 2006 Richard and Marco Benini, the drummer, started playing together with another guy from Argentina who then left to go back to his home land. Then they got Franco Schoeman in on bass and Alex on the keyboard. The rest, as they say, is history.

"We’ve accomplished a lot with the band so far. We’ve got three albums, we’ve done a tour of Germany and we’ve toured the whole of South Africa. We’ve recorded a live DVD in Berlin. We have a single that’s playing on 5FM," explains Alex.

They have also developed "awesome" relationships with one another because they didn’t really come together as friends but rather as musicians and developed friendship from there on.

"Richard said a while ago that music is one of the things that tie us together and then the friendship grows around that."

Alex even goes so far as to compare their friendships with marriage. They want to kill each other a lot of the time but still manage to stay friends afterwards.

"I want to blow Richard’s head off sometimes and he wants to blow my head off sometimes and I want to kick him in the face but we still love one another."

Collective consciousness

Richard (when he finally gets a chance to say something while Alex takes a sip of his beer) says that in general Isochronous sings about a collective consciousness more than love.

"There is a connection between the four of us and because of that we feel like that translates to the audience and the audience feels that connection," he says.

"When we’re playing everyone is sort of in the same space. So a lot of our lyrical content is about discovering ourselves and discovering everyone else through that."

All of them contribute to the lyrical content but mostly Richard and Marco write the lyrics and music and then they take it to the band after which everyone contributes to get to the final product.

"On the new album the lyrics were written by Marco and I and all the arrangements were done by the band. It only took about a week to record it but it took about a year to get to the point where we could record it," he says.

At some point during the interview we are interrupted by a man asking for a smoke. When Alex gives him a cigarette and kindly (yet pointedly) asks him to leave the guy drunkenly says "remember, don’t overdo it, just do it over."

German accents and future plans

Isochronous have some tentative plans for another overseas tour but that’s not set in stone yet, explains Alex.

They will, however, release a live DVD that was recorded in Berlin last year when they did a tour with Marius Muller-Westernhagen, a German rock star.

"We met him at a show last year and even spoke with him. We didn’t know he was looking for someone to tour with so later we got a call from him asking (Alex imitates a rather impressive German accent) ‘Would you like to tour in Germany with me?’"

They went, they saw and they came back with a lot of knowledge and wisdom and a vision of what they’d like to accomplish in the future.

Yes, I only attended the soundcheck but once Richard starts singing their music makes sense. You live in that moment with the band and at the end of the evening your soul feels a little bit richer.

Click here for an Afrikaans version of this article.

For more on Isochronous visit their website, and follow Isochronous on Facebook and Twitter.

Marieke Snyman chats to alternative pop-rock band Isochronus about their introspective new album, Inscape.
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