Legendary producer Russ Russell (At The Gates, Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death) has managed to squeeze in time to start a new metal band with Napalm Death guitarist Shane Embury and Megadeth drummer Dirk Verbeuren. Tronos have already released their debut record ‘Celestial Mechanics’ and even brought Billy Gould (Faith No More), Troy Sanders (Mastodon) and Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault) in for guest performances.
We caught up with Russ to talk about the record, his busy schedule and the future of Tronos.
DP!: Hi Russ! Thanks for talking to Dead Press! How do you feel now that ‘Celestial Mechanics’ has been released?
Russ: Hi, great to be here. Well i guess I’m partly relieved, we worked on the album for a such a long time and put so much of ourselves into it, its quite a weight unloaded in a way, but i am also utterly blown away by the response so far, its not exactly the easiest album to digest in one go but people seem to really get where we’re coming from, which is amazing.
DP!: You’ve worked with Shane Embury a lot over the years, when did the two of you decide to make this record together?
Russ: Spending so much time together on tour and in the studio over the last 2 decades, we talked a lot about the concept of merging together certain styles and influences. We both have very diverse but similar tastes and using this wealth of influence we wanted to bring together sounds and compositions that really stir up deep emotions and fire up the imagination. It was about 7 years ago we first entered the studio to try out the idea, and it worked immediately, but for various reasons it was a long time after that before we could really get our heads down and complete it.
DP!: Does Tronos give you the opportunity to approach music in a way that you haven’t encountered in your previous production work?
Russ: Yeah absolutely, mainly because there were no rules at all, and other than the concept of merging these different moods and influences, light and dark, heavenly and hellish, there was no real preconception of what would come out of the sessions. We wrote and recorded at the same time so musically what you hear on the album is basically us freeform jamming. The songs just grew organically and very little ended up in the bin, it all just flowed and fell into place, like we were guided by some unseen force of creativity. Plus we know each other so well, we’re almost telepathic, very little needs to be said while we work so in that sense its probably one of the easiest albums I’ve made.
DP!: How did you manage to fit the record into your busy schedule??
Russ: Hahaha not easily, yeah this is mainly why it took so long to complete, we actually worked pretty fast on the album in the studio, but it was a long long time in between some of the sessions. Shane is always on tour and he became a father during that time, and I’m constantly working in the studio or on my other chosen path of tattooing, I think there was over a year in between some of the album sessions. We also spent quite a while looking for a vocalist before we realised we could just do it ourselves, we discovered Shane has a great voice and I helped out with the backing vocals. We also made 2 Napalm Death albums, a Lockup album and a Brujeria album during that time too hahaha.
DP!: What’s the biggest difference between producing and playing in the studio?
Russ: Its all part of it for me, I often end up playing or singing something on albums I’m producing anyway so this was no different really, just easier in a way because we had only ourselves to please, we both knew if we wanted to do another take on something, no debate was necessary. The main difference was when it came to mixing, because i was so close to it and so emotionally invested in the album I said I didn’t want to mix it so we got our good friend Jaime Gomez Arellano to help out, we worked together on certain parts of the mix and then I would leave him to it and he did a great job.
DP!: How did all the different guest appearances on the record come about?
Russ: They were all just friends and people we’d met on the road over the years, Shane introduced me to them, we asked if any of them would be interested in jamming on the record and to our great delight they all said yes. They all brought such wonderful character, adding their own flare, it really added a lot of depth to the album, we are eternally grateful to them all.
DP!: ‘Celestial Mechanics’ closes with a Black Sabbath cover – why did you want to cover ‘Johnny Blade’?
Russ: It was just something we’d talked about for years, it’s a seriously underrated Sabbath song and also that album doesn’t get the attention it deserves, its fantastic. We weren’t sure exactly how it would work but we thought we’d give it a go. Snake jumped in on vocals and it really worked, I absolutely love it, even though it took me forever to figure out the solo, hahaha.
DP!: Will we ever get to see Tronos on stage?
Russ: We certainly hope so, I can’t see there being huge tours but a few shows here and there is a thrilling prospect for us, we just gotta find the time to work out how to pull it off but we got some great ideas of how to present it visually. A lot of the psychedelic projections in our ‘Judas Cradle’ video came from pieces of my artwork and we want to continue that theme live, it will be a real trip for sure.
The band’s debut full-length album, ‘Celestial Mechanics’, is out now via Century Media Records.
You can purchase and stream the album online from different oulets webstore (here).
Features Editor for DEAD PRESS | Based in MK