If you were putting together a list of the UK’s most hyped bands, there’s a good chance Loathe would be somewhere near the top. For good reason, too - their second album ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything’ sees them take experimental metal to new heights. Bassist Feisal El-Khazragi tells us more.
Hi Feisal, how are you today? Are you having a good 2020 so far?
Yes, this year has been so great already. It's been amazing seeing the fruition of a lot of hard work that has been going on behind-the-scenes for the past year and a half come to life and be received so well and with this amount of positivity and love.
Tell us about your second album, when did you start putting it together and what was your mindset like going into it?
We began piecing together the vision for this record about a year and a half ago. It took 451 days from inception to the completion and submission of the album, back in late October.
It was interesting, this mindset. Going into it as a fan of the band (as this was my first album with Loathe) we knew we didn't want to create the same record again - an outlook that we have on everything we create. The idea was not necessarily to 'surpass' previous works so to speak, but to 'expand' the collection of art that is out under the name of Loathe.
Did you start out with an over-arching concept for this one?
At the start of the process when piecing together the vision for this record, we were toying with the idea of approaching it as an anthology, with each song telling its own story, yet still remaining very ambiguous, lyrically. This is all reflected in how eclectic the album ended up sounding.
The record's scale is massive, what took the most time to get right? Were there any challenges you were especially pleased to overcome?
Thank you, we're all glad to hear that. The sonic eclecticism that this record houses came very naturally to us. If anything, we were struggling to stick to one vibe or feeling. The writing process was spread out over a long period and written at many locations, definitely lending to how diverse it became.
Did you draw from any influences that might surprise fans?
Many. The musical influences people would expect from bands such as Meshuggah and Deftones right the way through to Radiohead, Flying Lotus, My Bloody Valentine, The Verve and 00s/90s rock which may come as more of a surprise. Our influences aren't only ever sonic though - we enjoy drawing inspiration on fashion through our favourite artists, and like music, we express ourselves with these influences in mind too.
How are your ideas manifesting via mediums like artwork and live shows with this album?
All we knew is that we wanted to make something that looked timeless. There was an effort to carry a lot of the imagery into the live show through as many avenues as we could. Much of every aspect of the band bleeds into the other, giving a lot of continuity while also making whatever we release visually or sonically very 'of its era' and most importantly very true to us as people and as a band.
Are there many teasers or Easter eggs for fans to work out? You've been secretly flashing up the album name onstage, right?
On the album itself, there are a few Easter eggs, yes. We enjoy being quite meta and self-referential whether we're referencing past arts or laying down the groundwork for things to be referenced in future works.
Yes, we first teased the album name at the heavy music awards back in August. People were definitely confused as it seemed to completely halt any clapping that happened at the end of the set and left many people standing there thinking '...what just happened?'. I don't know if people worked it out or anything, but the reaction was what we wanted.
I would like to finish off this answer by saying that any Easter eggs won't be purely a sonic thing. Everything we do has a meaning, a purpose and a bigger part in the full picture that we are painting.
You guys have put a lot of thought into how to push your sound further, are there any areas of metal you'd like to see a more widespread exploration of?
Thank you. Although we've covered a lot of new ground on this record, I feel as though there is much more to explore in those newfound areas of our sound. We're all as excited as anyone to see and hear what happens next.
Focusing in on metal, however, I'd personally like the see more exploration of old school shoegaze through the lens of metal. I think that will be the next big influence on metal music.
Where do you see the genre going over the next few years? Are there any bands you feel are doing particularly exciting things with their music at the moment?
I believe the genre is definitely becoming more varied.
The growing inclusion of metal and heavier genres in the mainstream is almost allowing or encouraging people to be themselves a lot more and express themselves visually as well as sonically in more and more eccentric and amazing ways. This provides the environment for heavy music to produce a new breed of artists that will continue to break the boundaries of music and art as we know it.
Honestly, (not that that I'm biased because they're my favourite band of all time) I feel as though The 1975 are one of if not the most exciting band of our time now. Architects, Bring Me The Horizon, Slowthai, and Skepta I love and respect massively for bringing the mainstream to their respective genres.
On a more underground level, (though probably for not much longer), bands such as Sleep Token, Phoxjaw and Holding Absence I think are next bands to take that big step up and straddle the line between mainstream and the alternative world in the future, however small that line may be.
Taken from the March issue of Upset. Loathe's album 'I Let It In And It Took Everything' is out now.
Featuring Milk Teeth, Four Year Strong, Loathe, Nova Twins, Slipknot and more.