UTG INTERVIEW: The Architects (US) Talk Future Of ‘Border Wars’

Architects US Interview

The Architects are not your little sister’s kind of rock n’ roll. The band is completely in your face, engrossing your brain with infectious riffs and irresistible melodies. Coming off the 2013 release, Border Wars – Episode 1, The ‘Tects are rampaging across venues in the greater 48 throughout this spring. Border Wars – Episode 1 is the first episode in a five-part series of records and graphic novels the band is releasing alongside artist Mallory Dorn. If you haven’t listened to the first installment of Border Wars yet, strap in and be ready to be taken on a rock n’ roll rollercoaster.

At their recent stop at SXSW, we had the chance to catch up with guitarist Keenan Nichols, bassist Zach Phillips, and drummer Adam Phillips to discuss the band’s new record, further plans with the Border Wars series, and the band’s writing process.

What year is this at South By for you guys?

AP: This is year 8 or 9.

Yeah? What has it been like to come back so regularly?

AP: It feels good, it feels good.

KN: Yeah, it feels good. We’ve taken a year off here and there, but yeah, we’re in the veteran status. We know what we expect out of coming down here and how to get around and negotiate the city itself. Grtting that out of the way makes it a lot more enjoyable.

What do you think you’ve seen change most over the last decade?

ZP: Popular American music.

KN: Coroprate sponsorship.

AP: Yeah, there’s a lot more superstars down here now then there used to be and things tend to be a lot more inflated.

KN: There was a lot more rock n’ roll 10 years ago, then there is now. There’s still a lot of rock n’ roll, it’s just more tucked away and hidden.

So, Border Wars, where did the idea come from?

KN: We were on tour, and we were actually driving from Dallas to Tuscon or Phoenix or something like that, and we were discussing the merits of putting out another record the way that everyone knows it and the way that it’s been done and we were all in the same mind that we didn’t want to just put out another 12 songs on a disc and then hope it takes off or sinks, or whatever. So, we started talking about the ideas of bringing extra elements in it to engage the audience and do something different and more interesting all together.

AP: We already really liked Quadrophenia, like this big concept album and movie, but that’s unobtainable, we don’t really have the budget to do a movie. There’s all this really cool episodic stuff that was really pleasing us around that time. Like Cormac McCarthy or Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead, between all of that stuff it came together that we could put out a concept, have a screen play that tells a big story and provide a soundtrack for it, and split it into episodes so it’s more realistic to put together.

Okay, that’s plausible. How did the idea of the comic book come to play and how did you get hooked up with Mallory?

AP: That was really cool. We have a mutual friend who has done a bunch of video stuff with us through the years, and Brandon took the idea of the comic book to her and asked her if she knew anybody that had a good fit and when she heard the idea she immediately knew Brandon would be a good fit. Brandon met with Mallory and she drew up some quick character sketches and they were perfect, exactly what they should have been.

With the concept, how do you approach the writing process, opposed to a traditional record?

ZP: Originally, Border Wars was a screenplay for a movie and we broke it up into five episodes. Brandon’s (vocals, guitar) writing has always had a lot of story telling in it anyway, so I think it was easy for him to tie it all together with the music.

KN: Musically, we didn’t put any restrictions or limitations or goals or anything like that on ourselves other than just trying to write music and writing the best stuff we can do. We took a little different approach compared to how we recorded in the past. We haven’t stopped writing songs. They’re still coming.

AP: Yeah, we have, what? 30 something songs already done and we’re writing another 10 or so right now.

Do you still see Border Wars being a five-episode EP concept?

KN: For sure. At this point, we’re pretty much trying to beat that take. If there’s anything coming down the line that’s stronger than whatever we’ve pre-determined for episodes 3, 4, or 5, then we’re going to release it.

How was reception been on the first episode?

KN: It’s been really positive. We did a little short run this winter, some east coast dates, some follow up to when we went out with Frank Turner, and there were people at the shows who knew every word to EP 1.

AP: There’s a whole lot of people who got the idea right away. We try to explain it well. A lot of people pick right up on it. There’s a lot of other people who pick up the comic book on the merch table and say, “but what is this? I wanted your album.” We’re all getting better about being able to quickly explain what it is, why it is, and how it relates to what we’re going to be doing for a while.

What does Episode 2 look like, what can we expect? Is it recorded?

KN: Yes. It’s recorded, it’s all inked, it’s all drawn. We just saw the proofs of it. It’s all put together. We just saw it for the first time last week.

AP: I’m really excited about it. The story unfolds a little bit more. I really dig the new songs. We’ve already started slippin’ in some of the songs from Episode 2 into the set because we’re so jazzed on ’em. I think everyone’s going to be happy.

And Episode 3? Have you gotten to the studio for it?

AP: We’ve recorded like 30 songs total. So we have enough songs for all of the epsiodes, but we’re still writing. It’s weird placing them as soundtrack songs. Once we’re all the way done with this new batch of 10 or 12 songs and we’ll step back and look at which songs speak to each episde in the best way.

KN: And there’s definitely some anchors that we’ve recorded that will make 3, 4, and 5. As we stand, they’re already tracked, sequenced, and ready to go. We’re just trying to beat ourselves with better songs. As long as the songs keep coming, ya know?

Purchase Border Wars – Epsiode 1, today.

Written & conducted by Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt)

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