UTG INTERVIEW: Corpus Discuss ‘The Sliding Scale of Morality’

corpus

Sometimes, while waiting for a headliner to take the stage, you encounter a support act whose performance flips the script on your expectations and leaves an indelible mark on your memories of the night. For me, Corpus is one of those acts.

Personally selected by Bert McCracken to support The Used on the Australian leg of their dual headlining tour with Taking Back Sunday, the duo from Western Sydney took the eyes and ears of the Melbourne audience hostage with an energetic, raw and utterly captivating performance that didn’t so much as just warm the stage as set it on fire. Inspired by what I had seen, I researched the band immediately and what I discovered was one of the most genuinely exciting and innovative young acts I’d encountered in years, and more than enough to warrant inclusion in the second volume of our ‘Sounds of the (Down) Underground’ feature. In the wake of the release of their brilliant seven-track mini-album, The Sliding Scale of Morality (read our review here), Keiron Steel (Guitars/Vocals) and Jack Bruun (Drums/Vocals) were kind enough to answer some questions about the recording process, their inspiration and their visions for the continued evolution of Corpus.

UTG: The Sliding Scale of Morality was recorded in Tokyo, an experience that you documented beautifully in the journal you released to accompany the record. For the benefit of those who have not had the chance to read the journal, what was the experience of recording in Japan like for you and do you feel it influenced the sound of the record?

KS: We’ve always been a band that’s tried to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and going to Japan was definitely an extension of that. Not only were we in a different country but we’d all put our personal lives back in Australia on hold to make the record, which I think fed into the creative process. Also, having our friend Kenji contribute ambient and chaotic noise to the mix was great. Having a ‘noise’ artist is something that happens much more in Japan and Australia has a ways to go to catch up!

JB: Also, Typically when we record we do so at night after we’ve already spent a whole day working and have to balance our personal lives amongst that as well which can turn into a pretty high pressure situation where everyone is a little on edge and completely destroyed by the end of the night. Tokyo forced us not to do that and allowed us to be 100% immersed in the experience. Also recording in unconventional locations such as Shibuya Crossing, Aokigahara Forest and random karaoke booths added a little something.

UTG: Do you feel that more Australian acts should focus their energies on touring and releasing records in Japan and other countries throughout Asia and Southeast Asia as opposed to following the standard ‘try and make it in the states/UK’ approach?

KS: We’ve never been a band that particularly followed the blueprint or trajectory of others. I’d like to say that we had a grand scheme behind travelling overseas but a lot of it was just trying to push ourselves artistically and do things that we’d be doing even if we weren’t in a band. That being said, the Japanese heavy/alternative music scenes are awesome and we’ll most likely be doing more stuff in our region of the world (Southeast Asia would be amazing!) before we head further abroad.

JB: Furthermore, here is the Corpus way of doing things;

1. Make an off-the-cuff comment about something you think would be interesting, fulfilling, etc.
2. Delude yourself into believing you have the money or time to pull it off, or that it’s even physically possible.
3. Plunge headfirst into it with complete disregard for all external forces and advice.
4. Try to come out the other end with your mental health and bank account intact.
5. Cry at night

UTG: Lyrically, The Sliding Scale of Morality covers quite a diverse array of topics, ranging from the personal to the political and everything in between, tackling many topics that other acts of your genre might not dare to address. How important is the lyrical aspect to your songwriting process and do you feel it is has helped with your ability to connect with your fan base?

JB: The lyrics on TSSOM are the most personal lyrics we have ever written. For me personally this record documents a pretty intense period of my life and I think we both made a conscious effort to be as honest and direct with the content this time around. It is a record that I can’t personally listen to without getting a little miserable but I think it is all the better for it.

KS: Writing this record almost killed us at the time – I’d left lyric writing until the flight to Tokyo – and we were in weird places with personal stuff which all coalesced into some of our best writing to date. It’s a cliched and kinda self-defeating thing to admit, but we really do come up with some good stuff when we’re emotionally fucked.

UTG: Are there any tracks on The Sliding Scale of Morality that you are particularly fond of or proud of from a lyrical perspective?

KS: The lead single, “Awash With Monotone,” and our next single, “(I Plan To) Starve (On You),” fell together really nicely and for me sum up the thematic and lyrical tone of the record. Equal parts reflective and darkly humorous.

UTG: Musically speaking, The Sliding Scale of Morality covers a lot of ground stylistically as well, incorporating elements of post-hardcore, grunge and punk (among others) while maintaining a raw melodic sensibility, creating a sound that is unmistakably your own. Is this diversity within your sound something that you are proud of?

JB: Definitely. I think our sound is partly a conscious decision but also inevitable. We’ve been in this band since high school and throughout that period we’ve tried to be many different things (as you do when you’re impressionable youngsters) but it’s always ended up sounding like Corpus. We are incapable of doing anything else. Sad huh?

KS: I’m gonna defer to Jack’s answer. As much as we try, we’ll never be the Icelandic trap-metal band we always dreamed of being.

UTG: Is there any particular track on The Sliding Scale of Morality that you feel best represents what Corpus is and what you plan to be?

JB: I don’t think I could isolate one song. We want to continue to release records that aren’t completely homogeneous. We’re in the middle of writing the next record and it sounds nothing like these songs, so who knows what’s next?

KS: Ditto.

UTG: For a two-piece band you are able to create a hell of a racket both live and on record, without losing the ability to convey emotion or melody. How are you able to achieve this?

JB: Relentless misery, oppressive social anxiety, a vegan diet and an alcohol problem.

UTG: When I saw you live I could not help but be overawed by the percussive elements of your band, your drummer is a beast! Is this the secret to the fullness of your sound?

JB: Thanks, mate. Keiron layers his chords so that a large spectrum of frequencies are covered and then complements that with considered use of pedals. I just buy big drums and hit ‘em real hard.

KS: Over the years our songwriting style has developed to be as full as we can make it. My entire musical progression has happened with Jack playing drums next to me, so in a way he’s ruined me for life. I wish I could have the years back but I can’t. Thanks a lot, Jack.

UTG: Many people (myself included) became aware of your band courtesy of your breathtaking performances on the Taking Back Sunday/The Used dual headlining tour. I understand that Bert McCracken invited you personally to join the tour after witnessing your live shows,. How did this come about and what was the experience like for you as a band? Those were some pretty big rooms you played!

KS: Bert’s been a great help and a wonderful friend for the past few years. Playing on The Used/TBS’ tour with two of the bands that got us into music was such a great experience not just for our live show but for meeting a bunch of awesome people around the country.

UTG: Corpus as a band seem to be a very creative entity overall and you seem to explore that creativity in a number of ways that extend beyond your music into other areas such as merchandise designs, web design videos, artwork and journals. Is this something that comes naturally, and can fans expect more of this content moving forward?

JB: Corpus opens up a lot of great creative opportunities for us so we always try to take advantage of that. Though it usually means that in the months leading up to a release we don’t sleep and by the time the release is out we are completely burnt out. I imagine we will do it until we either kill ourselves or each other.

KS: I’m writing a draft for the Corpus ballet. Coming soon to a concert hall near you.

UTG: You also seem to be quite active in terms of interacting with your fans. How important is the relationship you have forged with your fans to Corpus both as people and as artists?

JB: Corpus has allowed us to meet so many amazing people from all over the world and we are endlessly grateful for that.

UTG: With The Sliding Scale of Morality out for the world to hear, what’s the next on the horizon for Corpus? Any large-scale tours or further recording plans you’d like to inform our readers of

JB: There’s plenty in the works but we can’t discuss them until we get clearance from the Sony executives, the NSA and Christopher Pyne’s fat head. We do have something coming out in March though.

UTG: Are there any other up-and-coming acts you think people should be aware of?

JB: So many. Regresser from Newcastle, Old Love from Melbourne, Sincerely Grizzly & Raccoon City Police Department from Adelaide, Ted Danson With Wolves & Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt from Sydney, Kiri from Brisbane, etc. I could go on forever; Australia’s music scene is killing it right now.

UTG: If a song was played every time you entered a room (like a pro-wrestler) what would you want that song to be and why?

JB: “Mantra 1” by Merzbow. Maybe then people would stop inviting me to things.

KS: “Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus or “Guillotine” by Death Grips. Or both playing at once.

Written and conducted by Brenton Harris — follow him on Twitter
‘The Sliding Scale Of Morality’ is out now and can be purchased/streamed here.

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