We chat to Periphery’s Jake Bowen ahead of their SA gig

2016-09-14 06:00

Cape Town - It was recently announced that progressive metal giants Periphery will be touring to South Africa for Krank'd Up 2016 along with Norma Jean and 16 awesome local rock and metal bands.

We had a chance to chat with Jake Bowen, one of the guitarists of Periphery, to hear what he had to say about coming to South Africa for the first time.

Hi Jake, how are you doing today?

I'm doing great. I'm outside in perfect weather with my dog, sitting next to a river, so, feeling pretty good.

Are you guys excited to visit South Africa?

Yeah, it's one of those places on the globe that's always talked about as being an incredible place to visit. So just visiting I'm stoked about, but we're also able to play a show, which is amazingly cool, so I'm really glad we get the opportunity to do that, because I don't think a lot of bands do.

Have any of the band members been to SA before?

I think it will be the first time for all of us. We're all pretty seasoned world travellers, even before we started Periphery, so maybe one of the guys might have been before, but I'm 90% sure that everybody has not been yet and everybody is looking forward to it.

Are you guys only booked for the one show in Johannesburg?

I believe that the one show is it, but I hope that if we come back, we'll do more than one show, but for right now it's just the one show.

Where does the name Periphery come from?

It was conceived by Misha [Mansoor], the other guitar player, probably in like 2004 / 2005. I don't know the exact story, because he came up with the name before he had band members, but I think he might have seen it in an advertisement, or it was just a word that kept popping up in his world, so I think he thought it sounded cool and it has a cool meaning, and it's one of those things that when you hear it, you're not automatically like: "metal band". So he thought it would be appropriate for a band name and I'm glad he picked it, because I like it.

When visiting a new country for the first time, what is the first thing you usually do?

Sample the local cuisine and get checked into the hotel. Once those two things are done, I'm all settled in. But it's definitely food first. You have any recommendations?

In SA there are so many cultures, so there are a lot of things to choose from. I say go for a braai, try some boerewors rolls!

Got to go hiking in a redwood forest today, definitely a special place!

A photo posted by Jake Bowen (@jakeperiphery) on

I've followed Periphery's career for quite a while, how do you feel that your sound has progressed over the years?

I think the biggest thing is that with every album we've become much more collaborative and everybody has kind of solidified their role when it comes to the writing, production and recording of the music. So Periphery I was mostly Misha and a little bit me, Periphery II - This Time It's Personal, everybody was involved but it was like in 2-3 person writing groups and every song was different. And with Juggernaut: Alpha and Omega, everybody worked on every song. 

It was a bit difficult to handle that at first, because we didn't really know how to incorporate everybody's strengths and weaknesses into the writing process. But by the time we got to the last record, Periphery III - Select Difficulty, we all were very comfortable having everybody contribute and everybody knew when a good time was to step up and contribute and when it was a good time to step back and let other people step in and pick up the reigns.

It was this nice ebb and flow on everybody's part to make the writing and recording process as smooth as possible. First and foremost we have become the best of friends. We respect each other as friends, but also as professionals. So it's kind of like we want everybody to have their space, each person respects the other's opinion and trusts the other person to make good writing and business decisions in the band. It's this deep understanding we've built over the course of the time we've been together and the writing of all the albums.

How do you feel about bass player Adam 'Nolly' Getgood's departure from touring with Periphery?

I'm bummed. It was a bit of a bummer to find that out, but we also respect Nolly's decision, and we understand it ultimately, his reasons for not wanting to tour are not selfish ones, they’re just what he needed to do and thankfully he is still in the band, a writing member and he is also the engineer and producer, so to have him still a part of the process is really good, I'm glad he is still down for that. If he ever wants to return, the door is always open to him. He's a great friend and a really good person, so I'm just glad that he wants to remain collaborative. So yeah, it's a bummer, but it is what it is and we'll move on from it and figure it out.

So is his departure effective immediately, meaning he will not be joining you on the SA tour then?

I don't think so, I don't think he is available, because he is also a producer in his own right, so he has a bunch of clients that he works with and he does records for bands, so he'll more than likely be busy.

What is the plan for his replacement? Are you guys getting a touring bass player or using backtracks?

We're not sure yet, for the time being it will be backing tracks. We really want to take our time with this decision. Whether we go one way or the other, we still have to do work and make sure that it is the right fit for the band. We can't stop the momentum with the touring and playing shows. So the backing tracks will have to do for now, but we'll see what happens in the coming months.

The new record is really amazing, you guys did a great job. What is your favourite song on the new album?

Yeah, the last track Lune is one of my favourites on the record. All the tracks came together organically, because we all write together and we're always bouncing ideas off each other, but that song was born out of just jamming in the living room, not actually trying to write or record a song. As we started playing around, everyone else just joined in. It ended up being a really cool song, and something that we don't do too often, so it just made an awesome album closer.

What kind of material can we hope to hear from your show here?

I don't know what we're going to play for that show. I'd like to play mostly new material, but we've also never been to South Africa before, so it might make sense to play stuff from all the albums so people don't feel like it's just new stuff, in case there are old fans. What do you recommend we play?

I think most people that know you would dig to hear stuff from all the albums.

Cool, that was what I was thinking too. Good idea.

In your career as a musician, what has been the stand-out favourite show you've ever played?

It was recently actually, it was at KOKO in London, a show with 1200 people, with Good Tiger and Veil of Maya. Great bands. The crowd was awesome, the energy was perfect. I was really happy with the way that I played. All the boxes were checked on that show for me, so I was really happy with the way that that show turned out.

Do you have any crazy tour stories to share?

(Ponders for a bit). Our bus caught fire once, while we were on tour with Between the Buried and Me. We were sharing a bus and we were in England somewhere and I woke up after rolling over a bottle of water that was in my bunk. I smelled smoke and I looked out and no one in the band smokes, so I looked to the back and saw smoke in the back of the bus. I went to the driver and told him what was going on, and we saw flames shooting out of the back of the bus, and we were both like: Fuck. We shouted: Everybody get out of the bus, it's on fire! We got out and watched the bus burn. A lot of smoke built up in the luggage compartment, and all our luggage smelt of burnt rubber. It was funny when we got to the hotel, cause we stunk up place, and all the guests were complaining about how stinky it was. It was vile.

You are stranded on a desert island, and you have one band's music with you. Who is it?


Good choice. Any questions you'd like to ask me about SA before we say goodbye?

You know the area we're playing, is it cool to explore the area or should a tourist not explore there?

Explore to your heart's content. It's generally safe for tourists in our country, just avoid the dodgy areas. I'm sure the people organising the tour have your safety in mind.

Awesome, that's good to know.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Jake, really looking forward to Periphery's show.

Thanks for taking the time. Thank you for supporting our music. Please come say hi at the show.

Krank'd Up will take place on September 24 at Sundowners in Alberton. Tickets are available through Computicket and will cost you R490.

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