INTERVIEW: The Arusha Accord (16/07/2018)

Credit: Promo

Behind closed doors, the internal cogs and workings within a band aren’t always as simple and care-free as they may appear in public or in the space of social media, and the putting together of a new record certainly is rarely an easy and straight-forward process, and it’s definitely not stress-free.

Back in September 2010, a few months after an appearance at the now defunct Ghostfest, Reading based mathcore/technical metal outfit The Arusha Accord performed their last show together before taking a step back for an at the time indefinite hiatus.

Ever since, a small ember has remained, which has flared sporadically in a resurgence. Back in 2012, the band began posting images of them working on what would be their sophomore album and follow-up to 2009’s ‘The Echo Verses’, but since then – bar a few shows and the release of two new songs ‘Vultures’ and ‘The Blackened Heart’ – word on a new release has remained reticent.

Set backs have halted progress on new material to come from the band, but now the new era of The Arusha Accord is finally ready to begin, and instead of an album it’s coming in the form of several EPs, beginning with ‘Juracán’ in just a few months from now.

Ahead of its intensely anticipated release, we spoke with vocalist Paul Green to air out what has been happening with the band since their hiatus eight years ago, the many setbacks, internal conflicts, and the band’s plans to reignite the flame and seize the metal world once again.

DP!: Well, hello stranger! It’s been a while since we’ve heard much from The Arusha Accord. How are things going on within the band at the moment? Enjoying the heatwave?
P: Things are actually really great at the moment, thanks. We’re at the exciting end of the record cycle, so there’s a real buzz growing in the band for the first time in a very long time. It’s been a bit flat up until now, there have been some events over the past year that nearly stopped the band full stop, so I’m really over the moon we’ve got to this point.

As for the heatwave, it’s been amazing but I’m ready for a proper English summer now. I miss rain as crazy as that sounds!

DP!: Let’s cut right to the chase – the fans are seething to get their ears fed with a new The Arusha Accord album. What’s the current status of your second album and follow-up to ‘The Echo Verses’?
P: Well, first, I think it’s best if I counter some of the assumptions that people have been making: it isn’t an album. This is going to really annoy a lot of people, especially after eight/nine years since the first version of ‘The Echo Verses’ was released, but let me explain why and I’m sure people will dig what we’re doing instead.

On September 28th we’ll release the first of four brand new 5-track EPs. EP one is titled ‘Juracán’, named after the deity of chaos and disorder. We’re also deep into finalising writing of the second EP right now. No mammoth Tool style waits anymore thankfully. Over the past eight years we’ve continued writing, building up a vault of ideas, tracks, and sections. It’s really exciting to see the entire project come together.

So, yeah, in a nutshell we have twenty tracks – five recorded – and the first EP will be with you in two months on vinyl and digital, with the others not miles behind.

DP!: That’s one way of getting handfuls of material out in an almost drip feed fashion. What’s made you go for that route as opposed to a full-length?
P: Initially we probably would’ve put an album out. However, the way that the music has come together has organically created four groupings. There’s a consistent motif that covers the four records and it just works so much better as four separate bodies. Everyone will see that once they’ve heard the four records. I guarantee it.

DP!: I take it you guys must’ve put together quite a lot of material over the past few years since you started working on the EPs. I believe that began more seriously in 2013?
P: There’s so, so much material. It’s quite daunting looking at it when I know that I’ve got to write vocals to all of it. It’s obviously very exciting too, but this is going to keep me busy for sometime.

In terms of when it started more seriously, I can’t really put a finger on it. We’ve had a lot of false starts and then gone back into our shells at times. 2015 and 2016 felt like that all changed dramatically though. There was way more intent and collective direction. That led to the music being recorded at the end of 2016, and then Alex (Green, vocalist) and I received it in November to start writing to.

DP!: Five years is quite a long-time to work on a record. What have you each been keeping busy with? What has been causing the delays? We know of course you’ve been also handling vocal duties for Devil Sold His Soul.
P: I’d say for ‘Juracán’ we’ve only really spent a solid two/three years working on it, purely because of all the other music that’s been written in the meantime. Either way it’s a long time, but we’re slow and meticulous writers.

Definitely from my side, Devil Sold His Soul has kept me tied up at times, always in a really positive way though. I genuinely think if that hadn’t have happen for me then I may not still be doing music. I’d also say that if it hadn’t been for Devil Sold His Soul this past year, I would’ve totally given up on this record and music. That’s a pretty big statement to make, but I whole heartedly mean it. It’s been such a low year for The Arusha Accord.

Part way through the writing of the second track on ‘Juracán’, titled ‘Vultures’, Luke (Williams, bassist) and Alex’s relationship completely died. It became irreconcilable. The six of us tried to find options to make it work out, even as far as to tour in two separate vehicles and not be near each other at shows, but it was too broken. Alex was asked to leave at the end of last summer. It was a real low point. None of us really wanted this to happen, but that’s where we are.

As you can imagine, this had a big effect on the EP completion. It led to us cancelling our UK tour and Euroblast slot. It was pretty gutting all round to say the least.

We took a breather after Alex was asked to go. In all honesty, the vibe was so low that I think he’d have walked himself if the decision hadn’t been made. Then I just got my head down and finished the final two tracks as a single vocal. I’m really bloody proud of them too.

DP!: Yikes! What actually happened between you guys and Alex which became so serious that it lead to him being ejected from the band altogether?
P: Like I said, this was a big fall out between Luke and Alex and didn’t really involve the rest of us, other than for mediation and just being mates. There’s a lot that I don’t think is appropriate to say here, but to be to the point it was around some irreconcilable personal differences. From the perspective of the 4 non-protagonists, the event was a slow motion car crash. It was horrible to see it rip the band apart for three/four months.

DP!: Are any of you guys on good, or at the very least civil terms with him at the moment?
P: Absolutely! Tom just named Alex his son Zach’s godfather, Mark played drums for him at a show this week, and I’ve had the occasional interaction with him. For me and the guys, we just want to move on from the shit storm of last year and focus on getting the best music written. Alex played a big part in this band, and half of the EP too, so I wish him all the best. I’m gutted that it happened, but we’re all better off the way we are now.

DP!: Has his leaving the band meant that you’ve had to go back and re-write and/or re-record any of the songs he featured on, or have those songs been scrapped altogether?
P: We spoke about doing that, changing both ‘Blackened Heart’ and ‘Vultures’. I decided that it was too disrespectful to do that, but also that those two tracks were already released so it felt utterly pointless.

There is one more track on the record that we did together, ‘The Road’, but because I’d written much of the track anyway I was happy with it as it was. It was also time to move on. I don’t like retracing steps, so it was right to leave everything as was.

DP!: Well, back to the music. Of course, the last two songs you put out were ‘Blackened Heart’ and ‘Vultures’. Are these going to be featuring on any of the forthcoming EPs, or will they be remaining as one-off singles?
P: They’ll definitely be on there. If the record hadn’t have been paused they would’ve led a lot more neatly into the release schedule, so I totally get the question.

DP!: Are those two tracks good indicators of what is yet to come?
P: Yes and no. There are so many different styles across this first EP, let alone the full twenty tracks. I’d say they were more single-worthy and frantic, old school The Arusha Accord tracks compared to the next three on the EP, but there are no fillers on the records. The other tracks just offer something a bit different to the ones that you’ve heard so far.

DP!: With the five years that have passed, have any of the songs you wrote in that period been completed and are going to remain in a vault as no longer representing who you are as a band now?
P: There are probably some sections and riffs that will never see the light of day again, but not full songs. We don’t really do standard structures, so songs just don’t materialise the same way some bands create. Every song is sculpted to be a finished and used piece rather than a maybe.

DP!: You put out the collector’s reissue of ‘The Echo Verses’ through Basick Records. Are you still with that label now for these forthcoming EPs, or have you signed with another label?
P: Our record deal with Basick Records lapsed many years ago, and in all honesty it’s probably a better thing for us both that we have chosen to self-release. Basick are an excellent label, and we have so much love for everyone involved there, but going down the self-release route will bring us closer to the EP sales so that we can maybe one day pay off recording it. It’s been an expensive one.

DP!: I see. Have you approached or been approached by any other labels, or is there any form of crowd-funding scheme that you’re planning to take for this?
P: We had a very very good offer on the table for the record from another source, but we had to pull out due to the uncertainty surrounding the band last year. That hurt us. I ended up bailing us out for the recording, which was pretty rubbish, so please buy this EP, haha.

DP!: It sounds like there have been a lot of speed bumps and bad luck, but we’re really glad to hear that the new era of The Arusha Accord is just around the corner now. What would you say has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about both yourself and the band with all that has happened?
P: I’d say that the biggest lesson 100% is don’t jump the gun. We should never have played shows or released singles until the whole record was complete. It’s left people hanging, and any buzz we had when we came back with ‘Blackened Heart’ will have to be rebuilt, as will the trust with the fans. I hope they read this and understand that we really did have every intention of delivering this EP last year, but we’re here now and we really bloody appreciate that they are too.

DP!: What do you guys have planned for the remainder of this year, and how are you going to make up for all of the lost time in 2019?
P: Let’s get this second EP written and recorded. I can’t wait to get my teeth into the next five tracks.

DP!: Any final words for the fans or that you’d like to share with our readers?
P: Mainly a big thank you for sticking by us, and reading my dribble about our pathetic dramas on this record. Please be sure to check out our new record ‘Juracán’ and pre-order the limited edition vinyl, because even if you don’t like the way it sounds (and I hope that you do), it looks incredible!

The band’s first of four new EPs, ‘Juracán’, is scheduled for self-release on September 28th 2018. The following three EPs are scheduled to drop intermittently over the coming months.

You can pre-order the EP online now from the band’s official webstore (here), iTunes (here), Amazon (here), and Google Play (here).

You can keep up to date with the band online by following them on Facebook (here), Twitter (here), and Instagram (here).