Earlier this year Jordan had the chance to sit down with Morgan to discuss all their news.
MI: You guys have been very busy, you’ve recently dropped a new single, you’re in the middle of an Australian tour, are you happy with the progress of the band?
Morgan: I am so happy with the progress of the band, I couldn’t be happier! We’re still a really young band, being around only two years and achieving what we have already is mind blowing! It’s so much fun.
MI: Could you tell us a little bit about how you guys met up and became Acolyte?
Morgan: Originally it was just a fun project between a whole bunch of friends, in the background of our band there was a lot of theatre; a number of old people had dine their degrees and met along the way of doing that, and we’ve had a couple of newer people involved as well who were more hobbyists, such as our guitarist. Today, the lineup has three original members and a new member who is our drummer, Chris.
MI: From what I understand, Morgan, your roots lie in musical theatre, what about the other band members? Does having different approaches to music become an advantage or a hindrance within the band?
Morgan: Coming from different angles has helped us so far as a band. I personally don’t think there’s anybody else out there doing what we’re doing, or at least I haven’t come across it, which has probably helped us get noticed, and has helped us not be put into a specific genre. For instance, our drummer is either doing his masters or PhD at the moment, so he’s exploring so many different styles and different things that he’s bringing in, which are really really changing the whole feel for us.
MI: Acolyte’s sound seems to create some very unique sonic textures and landscapes, particularly from the instrumental passages, is this something that happens along the way or something you try and create consciously?
Morgan: Most of our stuff is written organically in a jam session, so we always evolve it and add on to it later, all the way to the point where we were still adding onto it when we went into the studio to record our album. When we sat down with Ben Erinburg our producer, we continued to layer different feels and different styles, which came into the singles and evolved them from what people had previously heard of them previously live, and even our Melbourne audiences who heard them live this year will notice our songs have changed slightly. We love to let our songs develop, and we never just let them sit the way we wanted to be.
MI: So it’s almost as if the music takes on a life of its own outside of what you’ve created?
Morgan: Absolutely! Some of the guys here are teachers, and when we all got into this project we decided it was always the music first for us, its not the band first and where want to be or this, that and the other. When we have a moment in the studio to think, its never is this going to be played on the radio or the next big hit, its is this the best we can make it and are we happy with it.
MI: Do you guys take influence from other musical sources during the writing process? Or do you prefer to write completely to your own sound?
Morgan: We write a lot of what’s in our own minds, but that being said we’re writing the next album already, even though we’re still working on the latest one, and this time around we’ve come up with a giant list of bands that we’ve heard that are local, or big bands from the past, and we’ve just thrown all these bands on the table and said we all have to listen to them so that when we got into the studio to start writing all these influences are flowing though us and we’ve all heard the same things, and whatever comes out comes out. We have forty or so bands on that list, but we also have some local bands that we’ve met along the way that’ve inspired us even further, so who knows where we are going to go from here!
MI: Could you name drop a few of these local bands for us?
Morgan: Yeah! So there’s an Adelaide band called Favour The Brave which are a really cool performing unit! Love those guys to death! As well the Soulenikoes and they’re just bloody brilliant! They’ve been throwing a heap of different things around and they’re different from us again. Everyone that was on our Melbourne opening launch, like Lungs, Arachai, Soulenikoes, they’re really letting it flow in terms of the prog influence, they’d be my strong Melbourne picks. Some of what I’ve been hearing is a bit of tunnel vision though, as in some of the newer bands are taking the sounds of the big prog bands too strongly and not creating their own sound window. But, some of the newer bands in Melbourne are really exciting in that they’ve totally ignored it and are going their own way!
MI: Morgan, your vocals are very impressive and unique, is singing something that has always came naturally?
Morgan: Singing is something that’s so natural! I think I sang before I spoke. I was always going to do singing but I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be leading a band and a rock band no less! That part is crazy for me. One of the guys in the band saw me in a production and said if we work on your voice you could definitely lead, if I worked on my lower register to add some volume and create a striking sound. It wasn’t easy but we got there in the end I think!
MI: Did you ever picture yourself in the metal scene, and how hard was it to adapt your theatre voice to this style?
Morgan: Absolutely! I’m not even going to pretend to lie and say it was easy. I was a classically trained singer with a little bit of blues and jazz, and I try and bring opera into our set here and there. But, getting that lower register and range took so much effort, it was crazy! I was given a whole list of people to listen to and I watched heaps of videos on voice control to get a clean lower register that I could use night after night and not ruin my voice.
MI: Could you tell us a little about the lyrical influences behind The Message and your songs in general?
Morgan: I get so into the music sometimes ad we’re writing! As I mentioned it starts off organically as a jam. I’ll actually be sitting and singing as the guys are writing so I’ll be throwing these really abstract sentences here and there to get my melodic ideas down, and it actually started from a sentence I said “one of us came over and took your hand”, and I started to imagine aliens, or an abduction, and all this kind of stuff and it got really fictional with The Message. We obviously couldn’t bring that over to the music video though, with the cost restraints. But we leave it open to other peoples’ interpretation but in my mind that’s where we were going with that song. There were two other songs that came from a closer place to me but I try not to do that because I can’t deliver it in a theatrical way; it becomes too personal. It depends totally on the feel of what I’m doing!
MI: And that ties into your music having it own life!
MI: Do you have a good working chemistry within Acolyte?
Morgan: Three of us have been in this for the last two years, and with our new drummer joining us we’ve been super close. There’s no barriers up with us, we don’t even have to filter what we say, like, we can just bury someone in the ground if they’re not getting what we want out of a session. It makes it so much easier! Also touring becomes much easier if you all get along too.
MI: You guys have been on the road pretty extensively this month, what is the touring like? Is it enjoyable?
Morgan: I can’t stress enough, there’s so much white noise in the whole scene in general. So when you’re really young, it’s so important to get your face out there and actually speak to people. So getting out and touring, you mightn’t have a full room, we’ve been really lucky with how this latest single has been received though, but even if there’s three people, we do all we can to entertain those three people so they remember us and bring more people next time. Its so important that you get to shake peoples’ hand so people remember who you are and when you come back you’re building on what you did last time. For us, with the single, it was the right time, and we are so proud of the album we’re about to bring out! So we thought let’s go shake peoples’ hands, and get to know our fans, and we can get back on the road with our new album and keep building!
MI: What have you guys found to be the biggest obstacle in establishing yourselves as a band?
Morgan: The biggest obstacle is that the industry itself is a fickle thing. There are so many different things that can contribute to people losing their way. And when I say that I mean that you can become too concentrated on so many different aspects rather than focussing on delivering what you want to. So I think its really important to have control over your own music, deliver it as well as you can, and work really really hard on having the right relationships with other bands, bookers and venues all over the country. If you’re good enough they’ll invite you back. In this day and age, there’s no need for bookers or agents until later down the track, and then more so for legal reasons. There’s no reason in this day and age that people can’t achieve this stuff on their own. That’d be my message I guess!
MI: Thanks for your time Morgan!
THE MESSAGE – SINGLE
Shades of Black