DATE OF INTERVIEW:
25th January 2018
LA-based innovative rockers Perfect Beings recently released their ambitious third album, 'Vier'. Comprised of four longform compositions, it provides a laidback listen across its quartet of suites. Styled around both retro and contemporary sounds, and embellished with the addition of brass and woodwind instruments, it sporadically veers into jazzed-up territory and other expressive divergences. Guitarist Johannes Luley answered a few questions for Metal Discovery about the release, the band's first for Inside Out, as well as how ex-Cynic drumming legend Sean Reinert came to currently occupy the drum stool...
METAL DISCOVERY: The new album, ‘Vier’, has just been released, which is your first for Inside Out. How did that deal come about?
JOHANNES LULEY: Hello Mark, and thank you for your interest in Perfect Beings and our new album ‘Vier’. We had been in contact with Inside Out just after our second album, ‘II’, was released. Thomas Waber was interested in signing us back then, but the album had already been out. The timing just wasn’t right, and so we decided to get back in touch when the next album was taking shape. In the summer of last year, Thomas heard some rough mixes of ‘Vier’ and a few weeks later we had our contract in hand. We are very excited about joining forces with a label of such great reputation.
(Johannes Luley on Perfect Beings' new album, 'Vier')
"This album is about an awareness of humans becoming fused with machines and technology. No longer living in our circadian rhythm. A permanent flow of information and how that feeds our desires."
Perfect Beings - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2017 - Daley Hake
Perfect Beings Official Website:
Thanks to Freddy Palmer for arranging the interview
Perfect Beings Official Facebook:
Perfect Beings Official Twitter:
MD: What can you say about the album’s title? Is it derivative of “vying”, or the German word for “four”? With ‘Vier’ being your third album, I guess it relates to the four main suites of music?
JOHANNES: You got it exactly right. ‘Vier’ is German for “four”. Four continuous suites, four longform compositions, four sides of double vinyl. That was the guiding and overarching concept that started the whole process.
MD: What are the concepts and themes behind each of the four suites, and did these come before, after or during composing the actual music for them?
JOHANNES: The music and concepts developed in parallel, and the lyrical themes on ‘Vier’ are based on our own struggles and triumphs living in the modern world. The four suites have individual stories, but they are also interweaving and connected with each other. Each one has a thesis of finding a "secret" or finding a "key" to unlock some new knowledge or answer to life. This album is about an awareness of humans becoming fused with machines and technology. No longer living in our circadian rhythm. A permanent flow of information and how that feeds our desires. Robotic sex, global communication and instant access to the network at any time. The cover art speaks to that as well.
MD: In the press blurb, it states that you set out to make "a double vinyl album, with each of the four sides capturing one continuous long-form composition." However, most songs within each suite have fade-outs and don’t seem to segue from/to each other. Were they written as discrete pieces and then interrelated in general feeling and vibe, rather than direct musical contiguity?
JOHANNES: It is exactly like the press release stated: all four suites were conceptualized and written as continuous longform pieces. We had to divide them into 18 movements for the download version. The vinyl, as well as the Special Edition digipak CD, are playing without fades and/or interruptions. That is how the album was designed. The pieces do actually segue into each other. For those who are interested in putting together crossfades in their playlists, we would gladly provide info on crossfade lengths. We might actually post them on our website, now that you got me thinking.
MD: Did you encounter any challenges in composing four long suites of music?
JOHANNES: Apart from them being longer, not really. I find it kind of liberating to compose in longform. We don’t follow pop structures, anyway, so it only gave us more freedom. I realize it took two years to make the album but, for the most part, it felt like everything fell into place. There were some challenges in terms of my Pro Tools sessions, which were getting enormous. That bogged me down a few times, especially because I record in 96KHz.
MD: It seems to make more sense and has more of a slow-burning potent affect when the album’s digested as a whole, rather than dipping in and out of individual tracks. Is it more about the whole for you, rather than individual movements within each suite? Is it your hope and wish that people will listen to, and appreciate, the album in this way?
JOHANNES: No question, more potent indeed, and that’s how it was meant to be heard. We recommend the vinyl version or the CD. This is our first vinyl release and so we are extra excited about it.
MD: For live sets, will you be performing entire suites rather than individual tracks?
JOHANNES: We will perform the entire album in four suites, plus a few tracks from our first and second album.
MD: You’ve used more brass and woodwind instruments on ‘Vier’, so was this a conscious decision from the outset, or did you feel the compositions, once written, needed more of this kind of instrumentation to bring them to life in the ways you wanted?
JOHANNES: We knew we wanted a wider sound palette on ‘Vier’. We had already introduced flute on our last album and when I started working on ‘The Golden Arc’, it became clear that the flute would play a dominant part again. Max Kaplan, who played clarinet and sax on ‘Vier’, helped me with the score for the other woodwind and brass players. Having Max on board allowed me to start thinking in terms of real live orchestration, and so I did. From there it kind of just developed naturally. The use of brass is new for Perfect Beings. I love the brass sound. I am all over it. It can be very aggressive and edgy.
MD: The clean vocals are great throughout the entire album and, although I adore quality death growls in music, I wasn’t so sure how to take the deathed-up screams midway through ‘Everywhere at Once’. I think they, perhaps, lacked a degree of conviction. I’m guessing I might’ve missed the intended affect, so what kind of vibe were you aiming for here?
JOHANNES: Ha! The witching hour. He is in character. Sorry you don’t like it. Ryan has a wonderful, mostly mellow voice. We pushed him towards a little more rock and will continue to do so. It works for us.
MD: Whose idea was it for the animated video for ‘Mysteries, Not Answers’? Are you fans of animation as a visual accompaniment to music?
JOHANNES: That was our keyboard player, Jesse. He should answer this.
JESSE NASON: The storyline of this guy was my idea. The animator, Timm Daza, has been a friend of mine for many years and I knew his style would take the idea into another universe.
I'm a fan of any visual accompaniment to music, if it is done well and done so that each complements the other. Pink Floyd were the masters at this, and their use of animation was great. But their use of all visual art was amazing, and that influenced decades of musicians, including me.
MD: Press releases for Perfect Being, in the lead up to the new album, seemed to focus equally on the recruitment of Sean Reinert, but I gather it’s Ben Levin who played on the album. Are you aware if that’s led to any confusion or disappointment from Cynic fans checking out ‘Vier’, only to discover Sean doesn’t feature on the recordings?
JOHANNES: Well, I hope not. I mean, people really get the best of both worlds: 1) to know that Sean is in the band and that he will play with us live and on our future albums, plus 2) an amazing performance by Ben Levin, a fantastic drummer most of Sean’s fans likely have never heard of before. Plus they get to know Perfect Beings. It’s clearly a win-win.
We certainly didn’t mean to confuse anyone. It just so happened that Ben didn’t pan out as a permanent drummer for the band, and so we started looking again. Sean was our main contender and he joined us only a few months prior to the release of this record. That is the reason his joining the band and the release of ‘Vier’ coincided.
MD: How did Sean come to occupy the drum stool?
JOHANNES: Sean used to play in Aoen Spoke, together with our original bassist Chris Tristram. After Ben left, Chris suggested to get in touch with Sean, who at the time was in limbo with Cynic, and thrilled to check us out. We became fast friends and started rehearsing the new album together. The band recently also added Jason Lobell on bass and Brett McDonald on flute and sax. We’re starting to sound pretty solid and are excited to perform with the new lineup at RosFest (Gettysburg, PA) in the spring.
MD: Sean’s obviously well-renowned and widely respected for his drumming talents within the innovative music sphere through his work in Cynic, Death, Aeon Spoke et al, but what has he brought to Perfect Beings, thus far? Have you played many live shows with him yet?
JOHANNES: Not yet. We are working on putting together a few LA shows at the moment. Sean has brought precision to the live band. He is rock solid and is definitely keeping us together. On top of that, he has been adding his signature style to our music. That is working really well and we love playing with him. I also think that Perfect Beings is a great vehicle for Sean, as it gives him the opportunity to show even more versatility. I think his fans will get to see one or two new sides.
MD: Out of interest, at the time of writing my review of the album, clicking on the photo of Sean on your website linked to Dicki Fliszar’s site, whereby blurb in his bio claimed he still drummed for Perfect Beings. What was going on there?!
JOHANNES: Now you know why I was fired from my position as the webmaster. We have a new site now and the Sean link works properly. Check it out everybody.
MD: Finally, do you have any touring plans for 2018?
JOHANNES: All I can say at the moment is that we have the aforementioned Rosfest gig booked. That is May 5th at 2pm in Gettysburg, PA. We are talking to booking agents at the moment, trying to get a summer tour secured. Also, a few local L.A. shows that will be announced through our website and social media.
MD: Thanks for the interview and hope the album does great for you now it’s out there!
JOHANNES: Yes, thank you, Mark. I enjoyed your questions very much. Please, everybody, share the news about our new album. If you haven’t already done so, you can buy it here:
And don’t forget to visit us, follow us and sign up on our mailing list. We love to hear from you. Btw, the other two albums of Perfect Beings are available through our website, perfectbeingsband.com.