An Interview With : Myles Yang (Native Construct)
7th May 2015, 13:00
Posted by Tristan
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Having just released their brand new album Quiet World. An ambitious concept album with a slightly unorthodox story, complimented seemingly by the slightly off kilter music, Native Construct are a band that are truly revolutionary. Melding symphonic elements to create a true sense of narrative we recently spoke to one of our story tellers Myles Yang, guitarist and composer of Native Construct about his Quiet World, what it was like releasing an album whilst still studying at college and how american noodles taste!

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The Metalist : What exactly is Quiet World? In the press release I was given, it says that its about a boy and girl and it kind of goes from there, could you elaborate a little more for us?

Myles Yang : So as far as the world itself, it could be a number of things, we do like to leave it open to interpretation. The back story that we created implies that maybe he has created a world inside his own mind since he’s a little bit mentally unstable, he being the main character Mute also known as Sinister Silence. Or it could be interpreted in a more fantasy way, where he was actually creating a physical world, using supernatural powers. Of course there is also countless other interpretations that can be derived. So we kind of liked the idea of not giving an explicit explanation. To us some of the greatest pleasures of music appreciation are derived from personal interpretation and the search for meaning in the music and we wouldn’t want to deprive our listeners of that by giving away too many specific interpretations that we had in mind whilst creating the music.

M : So there wasn’t an specific storyline itself? 

Well there was for us, but we don’t want to reveal it. We like our listeners to come up with their own interpretations. 

The music is pretty overwhelming in the best way possible, for example “The Spark Of The Archon” contains symphonic pieces, what exactly was your inspiration behind them and do they mark a specific change in the story? 

So I’ve also been a classical composer for quite a while, actually most of my musical training started in the classical world. So I’ve been very interested in classical especially  music Pro Chromatic classical music, things like the Strauss Tannenbaums for example. Those are instrumental pieces but they are also Pro Chromatic they paint a very vivid picture and tell a very detailed story all instrumentally. We use some of those techniques in our music to have events occur or tell pieces of the story through the music itself. As opposed to all lyrically, so when symphonic things happen they definitely have specific meanings or story related things for us, but like I said I don’t want to give away too many exact details.

It sort of points you in the right direction kind of thing, so are you studying at Berklee now?

 I just finished my studies last fall.

Ah brilliant! As you mentioned that you were working on classical pieces, is it a foreign concept adding in the metal elements?

No, actually I have done metal music and rock music for almost just as long. I started both at the same and I’ve kind of had these two sides to me as a composer. It’s been really cool to bring both elements together for this music. 

It’s pretty ambitious, I’m not going to lie! The final track Chromatic Aberration is probably the heaviest on the album, however it also contains some mellow sections, which can be said for the majority of the album. What would your influences outside of the classical genre be?

We have all sorts of influences, Between The Buried and Me is one. Other progressive rock and metal, Dream Theater was an important one for me also the classic prog. Precursors to the prog rock movement, such as Queen, The Beatles, Pink Floyd…

Genesis?

Yeah a little Genesis, Yes also, Closer To The Edge is great stuff!

I noticed as I’m a huge Dream Theater fan myself. Is there a small amount of similarity between the Six Degrees album? Did you want to slightly honour it? One of their songs entitled “Solitary Shell” 

Interesting. Actually I have not heard that album very much, so I’m not familiar with that piece.

Man you have got to check it out! It’s incredible especially for a double album! I’ve gone slightly off piste haha! Did you ever think about Native Construct being an instrumental project?

No, not really. From the beginning we sort of set out to do this musical theatre kind of thing so the vocals were very central to the sound. 

What was it like, though not all of you worked directly with Jamie King, to have such an esteemed producer help you guys out? 

It was a very new experience for us. This was our first experience working with a prfessional producer. We’ve recorded music in the past obviously but that was all on our own. We worked with Jamie for only the lead vocals though, we recorded in his studio in North Carolina most of the lead vocals and we did the rest in our own studios. Our time there was very interesting as he has a great perspective on things. It definitely would have come out very differently if we hadn’t worked with him, so we’re very grateful for that. 

Having worked with so many bands over the year, one of which being your main influence BTBAM.  Has he a got a different approach that might bring you out of your shell slightly, vocally I mean? 

He definitely has a different approach than what we’re used to. We’re very much perfectionist and tend to get very anal about getting the perfect takes. Jamie has a bit more of a relaxed approach, sort of like let it rock mentality. If a take is pretty much there then its good, he doesn’t want to be splicing different takes together.

I think you need a little bit of a compromise between the two really!

Its more about the energy, which is cool, beneficial for us. 

I’ve noticed that on “Passage” especially,  there’s a jewelry box kind of sound?

Yeah the music box!

Is that a form of a narrator for the story at all? It’s prevalent in some of the other sections of album as well. 

It’s definitely a big theme on the album. We like to think of it as a representation of the presence of Sinister Silence. So whenever you hear it he’s either speaking or watching the situation or he’s present in some way.

You mentioned that, the jewelry box brings about the presence of Sinister Silence is that highlighted in the vocals as well?  

A lot of the times when you hear vocals with the vocoder effect on it that indicates that Sinister Silence himself is speaking.

So the main characters are what, Mute, Sinister Silence is there anyone else?

Mute and Sinister Silence are actually the same. If you’re familiar with Star Wars, then it’s kind of similar to Anakin and Darth Vader. Kind of the same person but he has been transformed, then there is Archon who is his main opposer and theres various other characters on the album.  But those are the main ones

Yeah I’m sure you don’t want to give too much away! Along with the other influences that you have mentioned, with regards to the symphonic element did you take any influence from Danny Elfman at all? In “Passage” again reminded me of the classic Nightmare Before Christmas kind of thing?

Yeah, yeah, we definitely like a lot of the Danny Elfman kind of music and he works with Tim Burton a lot and you know the Tim Burton imagery that kind of dark cartoony type stuff. Especially in “Come Hell Or High Water” I think you’ll hear a lot of that. That’s definitely something that influenced us a bit.

Personally whenever I see an album cover, it sort of helps me with the interpretation of the album. The cover for Quiet World itself is pretty colourful and quite happy. You’ve said that you took the Tim Burton essence, is it overall a pretty dark record or is more of a good vs evil sort of thing?

It is very much good vs evil. There might be a little bit more evil than good overall haha, but with the cover what we wanted to capture was the vibrancy and the diversity. It’s a very hectic cover just like our music, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

I think its a great representation of the music, so you were happy with how it turned out?

Yeah, I think its a pretty good representation!

Does the music reflect what the character in the story is feeling? Like you said its based on kind of like a musical sort of thing, the various vocoder lines. Is that specifically meant to accentuate the certain pieces? Will there a differentiation in the lyric booklet or will it be left pretty open.

Yeah, obviously we’ll  include the lyrics in the for the album. But as far as speaking directly about how the music ties into them, we will leave that open. I will say that everything that happens musically is very much intended to support the story. There are a lot of times that there will be a sudden left turn or something seemingly out of place its all done very intentionally. If something crazy happens its because that some thing crazy is happening in the story and wanted to portray that musically.  

A lot of this is about the story itself, what stories were you influenced by then?

We’re all pretty big fans of fantasy and science fiction, you know things like Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings. Also more classic drama and theatre that sort of stuff. We really liked the idea of drama. For most of the music the story actually did come first, then we tailored the music to tell the story. Which is an interesting thing writing music with a rock band that is specifically telling a story. Normally rock band plays song form, so its very difficult to have a dynamic story in the song form you know because you have to repeat sections. There’s not much freedom there, so we kind of broke out of that form. Had a more linear way to the whole thing but we’re still very careful to keep our themes focused and common throughout so it wasn’t random.

Did it take a long time to bring the entire piece together as you guys decided to go on the D.I.Y. route of recording, writing and recording your own music.

Yeah it did, especially as we were in school a lot of the time and we had a pretty heavy workload for that. This started out as a sort of passion project on the side, whereas school we had serious deadlines that we had to meet. Many times we had to put this band on the back burner and weren’t able to give it as much time as we would have liked. It’s a very slow process and like you said especially as we were doing it all ourselves it was a lot of work. It took us a lot longer than we had intended initially to finish this, but we’re glad that we took our time with it and absolutely refuse to compromise any quality for the sake of tiem and we’re glad that we did that. 

I think its good because the more time that you have with the music you might want to decide to tweak the music at certain points, reflect on it a lot more. Did you ever feel that you had bitten off more than you could chew?

Yeah, for sure haha! It was a very very ambitious project for us while to take on while we were at school, it turned out to be a lot more work than we had ever imagined.

As a pretty insane record if I’m honest haha, did you use any kind of world instruments? I’ve noticed that on “The Spark Of The Archon” it almost sounds like soul searching in India! 

Yeah, yeah, we used some Indian percussion for that part. We did use a lot of world instruments, however we didn’t have the budget to hire live instrumentalists to play all of those. Luckily we’re living in the year 2015 where you can use pretty much any instrument virtually so we had great freedom to experiment with extended instrumentation all within our computers. Which is great.

That’s insane! All of these extra instruments are all done through the computer then?

Pretty much, we recorded some live cello for “Come Hell Or High Water” our vocalist Rob plays cello a little bit and then we had a man named Carl Catron come in to play a Saxophone solo on “Passage” other than that pretty much all the extended intrumentation is virtual.

Oh wow! I was going to say the drums on their own they’re pretty technical so its all drum machines?

Yeah, we were working with a drummer originally. He is a very very talented drummer so we wrote some pretty extreme parts for him and then he ended up leaving the band before the record so we ended up having to use programmed drum parts.

Did you use the drums parts that he had written and then programmed them in?

A little bit, I actually wrote most of the drum parts for him but he did contribute as well so we did use some of that on the record.

So are you kind of like the brains behind the whole idea,was it a collaborative effort or was a lot of it from your vision and then the guys helped out?

I wont take full credit it was collaborative to some degree. It is mostly a solitary composition process like I said I have roots in classical composition and that is typically the way that classical composers work. You sit down and you write everything out explicitly on the score every details is accounted for its a very solitary and intellectual process. Instead of a more jam setting where everybody is just kind of throwing out ideas. There was also some collaboration, especially during the production when we experimented with things like instrumentation and sound effects those little of details. 

 I’ve noticed that the lead guitar is present all the time on the album, but there is no kind of eighties huge solo. It’s there in the background , however sometimes its brought forwrd at certain sections that matter, so it’s quite a pre meditated thought process. Is that always been the way that you have written?

Everything is very thought out and meticulous, we don’t like to improvise too much. We like to sit down and think of how to make each part the best it possibly can, how to make all the parts fit together like a puzzle. I don’t feel that I am a strong enough improviser to come up with the part as goo as I would be able to come up with if I sat down with it for a long time. It’s all very planned out in advance. We don’t leave much up to chance.

As you’ve said that planning is central to Native Construct, would you ever perform the material live? 

Yeah! We’re definitely doing that. We’re actually rehearsing right now, we haven’t got any tours booked yet but we’re planning on doing that very soon. We’ll be heading out to support this album as soon as possible! 

Obviously nothing has been announced yet but I would imagine that it would be a US tour?

Yeah, it will probably be the states at first, obviously we would love to go all over at some point if possible. We’re still a small band so we will probably stick around the local area and slowly expand.

I meant to ask earlier on, what was it like working with Metal Blade? Working with a roster with so many death metal bands its a bit of a surprise that they have chosen such an out there and niche band! What was it like with the process with them?

Yeah it was a big surprise to us too, that they were interested in us. It’s been kind of cool though to be the odd ball band on the label I feel that it maybe makes us stand out more compared to the other bands amongst the rest of the bands. They have been very supportive so far, being on a big label is very new to us obviously this is our first time being in a band on a label like Metal Blade. Its been very weird but they have already been able to support us in ways that we would couldn’t possibly have done ourselves so we’re grateful for what they’ve done.

Being from Berklee yourself, do you feel that there is any pressure with the accolade that comes with the Berklee territory, you mentioned Dream Theater who are big ambassadors of Berklee. Is there any pressure behind it to create something as fantastic, which you have! 

Thank you! I hadn’t really thought about that I guess there maybe is some pressure but it doesn’t really bother me I feel like this is just the music that we naturally wanted to make anyway, we’re just making and peopel seem to like which is cool! but I haven’t really thought about it. 

You mentioned earlier that you were a pretty big Dream Theater fans, I’m still surprised that you haven’t listened to Six Degrees! 

Haha, I should amend that, I wouldn’t say that I am a very big Dream Theater fan but they were important for me earlier on, they were one of the bands that helped me step into the prog genre. I haven’t heard all of their music extensively but there is a lot of it that I do enjoy

Is it Metropolis that you dig?

Yeah man Metropolis is great! 

It sounds ever so similar to the concept that you guys were going for with Quiet World, though it is completely different, something that is completely out there but you’re able to interpret it in your own terms. What album have you been digging recently! 

The album I’ve been listening to the most recently is probably  Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That album never gets old, every single song on there is a hit and its beautifully written, beautifully produced and beautfully performed its a concept album also, its just a masterpiece.

Do you see them as a big inspiration

Definitely yeah!

And now the most important question, how did the pot noodle taste from the Chromatic Aberration video! 

Hahaha! Pretty bad actually, some college food right there for you! 

Some food for thought from our young creative. As we finish up our phone call, I press play on the band’s debut album. For such a young band to craft something so ambitious for their first ever album truly sets the bar high. With the inclusion of more unorthodox genres becoming more and more accepted in the place of metal, there’s hope yet for this fantastic band. Listening to the new album after speaking with Myles, many subtle nuances that were once veiled seep through, playing to its pantomime strengths, making Quiet World not only an engaging listen but unique in every aspect.

Native Construct’s brand new album Quiet World is out now via Metal Blade and you can pick up a copy here!