Approximately a year ago we had a nice chat with John Knight, the composer, vocalist and leader of progressive metal band Synaptik from UK…Time has passed, and the new album beats charts in the progressive metal world, so we have decided to catch John for another sincere conversation!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, how are things you your world?
Things are great at the moment, very busy with the run up to our second album release in a few weeks, its all good.
You are about to release your new album “Justify & Reason”, what can you tell us about the album?
The new album showcases a continuing progression & maturity in our songwriting, further channeling our unique blend of melody, aggression and technical abilities to create a sound that I personally believe makes us stand out from other bands, without ever alienating the listener. Heavier and faster than before whilst still embracing the progressive dynamics that we (Synaptik) are known for.
We hear quite a different sound on this record than on your previous work. What were you trying to accomplish with this album?
Thanks for noticing, we really worked hard to give each song their own feel, so the listener can immerse themselves into it, read the lyrics and hopefully come out the other end feeling great. We have embraced the progressive style attributed to us on our debut album and mixed it up so you never really can predict where the song will go. Each song has its own intricate sound and all are attentive to melody. Production is huge, a massive step up also from our debut album. (speaking of the debut album…..our debut “The Mechanisms of Consequence” has been remixed and re-mastered and now sounds amazing, its available worldwide in all the best digital stores out on Heart of Steel records, and bonus disc on our USA version of new album from Divebomb Records)
For the ones that heard your earlier work, what would you say are the biggest changes, and what’s still the same?
Well as what I mentioned before, the production is certainly different, we really made sure of it this time, Floodgate studio in London did an amazing job. What remains is the Synaptik style, attention to the song as a whole and never being shy of melody, saying that don’t be mistaken for thinking it isn’t a heavy album, some riffs will make your bones dissolve.(laughs) and some parts are the fastest we have written, it’s a great mix, it’s like how the classic metal bands used to write albums (Judas Priest etc) slow song, fast song, each with their own feel, mixed up and with a modern style and production. From a vocal point of view I purposely used more of my range, using some lower and mid range that I haven’t used so much over the years, I still have some of the high screams (Tate, Halford, Tecchio style) but they are used sparingly & have a better effect for it I believe.
What would you say is the most important ingredient in any Synaptik song?
Feel. Melody. A mix of all our styles, each member has so many influences and we welcome them into the mixing pot so to speak. We want each song to tell their own story, be their own beast, but all with what makes Synaptik who we are.
What was the recording process like this time, was it an easy record to make?
Most of the songs fell together quickly and naturally, we didn’t have as much time as we thought to write the songs, gigs and other personal setbacks lost us time and at one point I was concerned the wouldn’t be ready but the last song wrote itself very quickly. We had our own recording equipment this time around also so we recorded pre studio demos of the songs at rehearsal and I worked on the vocal melodies from home, which allowed me to work on stronger vocal hooks, it was a great help to us all to have that technology at hand. I even changed one song two days before we went into the studio, new melodies and lyrics which I am so glad I did, it’s the strongest song on the album now imo. Studio wise Meyrick at Floodgate was amazing, such a relaxed atmosphere to record in and as he is an accomplished musician himself (Exist Immortal) and great singer it was good to get his feedback also.
Your first single, Esc Ctrl, what is it about? Probably not about a keyboard shortcut?
(Laughs) No, That one is about someone who I believed to be a good friend, we had supported each other a lot through dark times and she started a new relationship which was initially great news, but, basically he didn’t like her having a male friend, his insecurities made him manipulate her and her emotions, he made her stop seeing many people including me, stopped her doing certain things I know she enjoyed, she became controlled and it was a real shame. It’s no way to have a relationship, I felt strongly about it, but as long as she ‘says’ she is happy I have to respect her choices……but she isn’t really, best I can do is write a song hoping won’t happen to someone else and be there when it all falls to pieces and she realizes what a mistake she has made. “Esc their Ctrl, reconstruct all social circles, free will so restricted to serve all their selfish needs, manipulate emotion and the order that it feeds, sever ties you cherish with such consummate ease” Never be controlled, be free and ‘choose’ to be where you are, not forced by emotional blackmail. Writing is very cathartic.
What are your favorite songs on the new record?
It changes every time I listen, and what mood I am in. At the moment I think it’s “White Circles”…….it’s starts very mellow and progressive, builds and is a monster at the end, it just goes on a rollercoaster ride, it builds and builds and Jack (guitarist) plays one of the best solos I’ve heard from him, it’s a killer.
What does the cover art symbolize, the head with all the gears, are you big thinkers?
Yes, well I certainly am anyway, I think too much really, it gets a bit much at times, so that’s when I write lyrics or design & plan something, I create the artwork for the bands merchandise and album covers myself, “Justify & Reason” was inspired from the opening song ”The Incredible Machine” (our next single, video soon) It’s about the human brain, the mysterious, incredible machine, how we still know so little about it and how it really works, we use only a tiny portion of it, a hundred billion nerve cells co-ordinate our physical actions, regulate unconscious processes, an autonomic nervous system. How its studied and philosophized about by Nietzsche, Jung & Freud etc, how it justifies and reasons, constantly working, the most complicated confusing mystery, the mind, our consciousness. It’s crazy when you ‘think’ about it. The cogs are simply an interpretation of the working mechanisms of the mind, a continuation of the Mechanisms of Consequence from our Debut artwork.
I read that you came out with a question in our metal community regarding clean vocals…Are there any concerns that it’s not popular nowadays? What are your feelings about it as of a metal vocalist?
Yes I did, it was just something that I was discussing with my bands agency, it had been suggested that clean melodic vocals weren’t as popular anymore and that a band wouldn’t be as successful unless they had aggressive vocals. I disagreed and thankfully so did many readers , although I do enjoy some bands with aggressive vocals, melodic death metal especially as it is a great influence in our own music, bands like Death, Atheist, Extol, Coroner, etc, I thought the idea that a band couldn’t be popular with clean vocals seemed odd, there are many ‘huge’ bands in metal with clean melodic vocals, and from what I can see melodic vocals are having a major resurgence, personally I believe melodic vocals ‘are’ ‘Heavy Metal’, aggressive and ‘screamo’ vocals are offshoots, parts of a sub genre of metal, there’s room for all, as I said I enjoy some aggressive singers a lot, but wouldn’t choose to sing that way myself. I really want to play in Europe and other countries outside the UK, they seem so much more open minded and receptive to music that isn’t just a ‘trend’ or this weeks popular style. We never change to fit trends, we are Synaptik and we play Metal. Simple.
Where will we be able to see you live this year?
A tour is being planned for UK, it all depends on the costs involved, money seems to be what stops many bands from truly pursuing their dreams, I’ve seen so many great bands call it a day because in so much debt. We would love to play some festivals so if people out there could mention our name to promoters and festival organizers then that would be great. Live is where our music really comes alive, we’d love to bring the brain spark to more countries.
Do you have any last words for our readers?
Hey fellow Metal lovers, is been great talking to some of you in the Metal On Loud FB page, thank you to all who have supported Synaptik and have been patient waiting for the new album, it will be worth the wait and I can’t wait for you to hear it, to those who are not aware of our music please give it a listen with an open mind, there will be something there for everyone I’m sure.
Read the reviews, subscribe to our FB page and our mailing list, and please buy the album and merchandise, this really is how bands survive to continue writing our music.
Synaptik are going to make a bigger mark in 2017 and we hope to rise and be heard by many more people. Spread the word. Stay Metal and play it loud.