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5th December 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: Thereís an interesting quote from Ben Ratliff on your website, the NY Times jazz critic, about your music being better understood out of a metal context although your audience seems to be predominantly a metal one still, but have you ever had feedback from jazz guys or people from other genres of music that love what you do?
PAUL: Yeah, sure. Theyíve always been there, woven in, even from the ĎFocusí period it seemed like a lot of our best shows back in that period were the college towns and it was all the jazz guys.
(Paul Masvidal on Cynic transcending their metal fanbase)
"...even from the ĎFocusí period it seemed like a lot of our best shows back in that period were the college towns and it was all the jazz guys."
Paul Masvidal in The Garage, London, UK, 5th December 2011
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Cynic Official Website:
Focus (1993)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Gunnar Sauermann & Guillaume Rochard at Season of Mist for arranging the interview
Traced in Air (2008)
Re-Traced (2010)
Cynic Official MySpace:
Carbon-Based Anatomy (2011)
Cynic Official Facebook:
MD: Really?
PAUL: Yeah, and they were studying and had eclectic tastes. We were this freaky heavy band that had jazz elements. So, yeah, I think that theyíre a big component of our audience. Itís just theyíre maybe not as obvious concert goers and weíve been obviously associated with the packages and the scenes and the record companies that are more metal. And we have a heavier sound per se than a lot of jazz and whatever groups. Yeah, definitely, some of our peers and contemporaries have given us the nod which is nice.
MD: Thereís obviously been some changes in Cynic since the reformation, but how did you hook up with Max [Phelps] and Brandon [Griffin] as live session players?
PAUL: Brandon toured with us when we toured the States with Meshuggah. He toured with a group called The Faceless, they were the support group. So weíve known him, I guess, for over three years now. He just became a friend because he lived in Los Angeles. And Max, when we announced that we were letting the other guys go we had a bunch of emails come in and he stood out amongst a lot of guys who wanted that position. He just had a natural sensibility and I think it is a 0.01% of the population that can actually play like Allan Holdsworth and, also, really complex, heavy music and growl on top of it! [laughs] Itís a very peculiar combination of skills! He had it all and was just right, and heís really earnest, heís young and he has a great attitude, so it just all kind of worked.
MD: Sounds amazing and weird when you put it like that. Iíd love to see Allan Holdsworth growl, or John McLaughlin!
PAUL: Yeah, exactly! Itís a really peculiar combination.
MD: Quite a niche. Did you have a lot of emails then from people; you were saying a lot of people asked if they could join Cynic?
PAUL: Oh yeah. Iíd say a couple of dozen of people wanting either the bass slot or the guitar slot. There were a few definitely, seriously, insanely talented musicians out there that we were humbled that actually approached us but I think itís just one of those things where itís not so muchÖ I mean, beyond skill thereís also personality. You want people you can live with because youíre on the road in tight quarters. And just, also, a lot of different things have to come together beyond being able to play the music. And I think itís intuition-driven for us too, like a gut thing and who feels right. But these guys have just been great.
MD: So there were more people coming to you than having to go off and search for new musicians?
PAUL: Yeah, we didnít have to do any of that. It was nice. It was probably to our advantage that we did a press release announcing the departure and that did it. We almost put the word out immediately.
MD: Last time we did an interview, three years ago, you said reforming was born from a period of ďcosmic synchronicityĒ and you felt like you were ďtaking direction from the universeĒ. Is that still your ethos to this day with the band?
PAUL: Yeah. Sometimes you donít feel that because the nature of the music business can be really challenging and I feel disconnected occasionally but if Iím paying attention and Iím just having faith in the way things are, and generally not arguing with reality, everything seems to go okayÖ [laughs]Ö so thatís really the name of the game and I think Iíve gotten a lot better at it since our early years. We were hyper sensitive kids in the ĎFocusí period and a bit overwhelmed by the music industry, and now Iíve just turned it into a bit of a dance, you know, I donít take it too seriously! [laughs] I just go Ė ďohhh, okay, here we go, this is how it goes, thatís fineĒ!
MD: Older and wiser.
PAUL: Yeah, exactly.
MD: So the final thing I want to ask, are there any plans for a full length release because thereís just been the two EPs since ĎTraced in Airí?
PAUL: Yeah, and ĎCarbonÖí, to me, ended up feeling like a full-length. Itís so concentrated and has this beginning, middle and end thing, so kind of a realised mini-album per se versus an EP. To me, itís all semantics these days because, again, weíre in a day and age where people are downloading single songs and itís ADD to the max in terms of the nature of the internet and how music is distributed. And Iím always a fan of quality over quantity so the next album might be two EPs bundled together orÖ itís one of those things where I just want it to be good and it doesnít matter about how long it is.
MD: Itís twenty three minutes long?
PAUL: Yeah.
MD: Youíre only seven minutes off of ĎReign in Bloodí! So itís just semantics, like you say. Fundamentally, itís just a new Cynic record.
PAUL: Yeah, exactly, and it boils down to the songs and, for us, this was just the right length. But, yeah, Iíve got a lot of material and probably, I would predict, like barring disaster or anything too crazy, by next summer itíll be coming out.
MD: Wow, that soon?
PAUL: I think so because the materialís there; itís just a matter of getting in the room with Sean, playing and jamming the stuff, and then building these little demos. Yeah, itís doable. Weíll see if itíll be released and everything but thatíd be cool, right in time for the festivals and everything.
MD: Are you booked for many festivals then next year?
PAUL: I donít know actually. We need to get on that.
MD: Hopefully somewhere in the UK.
PAUL: Yeah, itíd be great to play Donington or some big ones. That would be amazing.
MD: Definitely. Right, thanks for your time.
PAUL: Thank you. Thanks for making it.