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Origin - Speed is not a goal, but this time it has titties!
This year’s Neurotic Death Fest took place a few months ago in the always lovely 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Two full days of extreme death metal isn’t for everyone, but the Metalrage crew was there to blast some beers and bang some head to 250+ BPM songs. Next to that we also talked to a few bands, and the following conversation with Origin drummer John Longstreth and guitarist/vocalist Paul Ryan took place in a very neurotic, deathly smelling dressing room! Read on to learn more about Origin’s latest album, Antithesis!
Your record, Antithesis, just came out. Did I pronounce that correctly?
John: It’s ‘Antithe-sis’ .
So, it has ‘tittie’ in it?

Paul: Yes. Tittie. Just like in the inlay of the cd, it has a tit-monster.
The first thing I noticed when I listened to it is that it’s the most heavy, but also most cohesive Origin record yet.
Paul: It has elements of all the Origin records so far. It’s the most dynamic record. It’s the longest Origin record. Some parts are the fastest, some parts are the slowest. It has songs written around techniques, instead of techniques written for just a song.

John: I think it also has to do with the fact that the band has been writing music for 10 years now. The songwriting is much stronger.

A lot of songwriting is done by sending each other emails with samples and tabs, since most of you live far apart from each other. Would you think that the sound of the band would be different if a lot of the music would originate during jams and rehearsals?

Paul: We keep advancing the songs in a live format, but yes, I think it would be different. There are certain parts where I have an idea in mind for guitar, vocals, drums or lyrics. And John would work with that and try to make it better, and we help each other with that. Trying to make the best product possible.

John: And in some way, it is easier as well. When we were recording Informis (Informis Infinitas Inhumanitas from 2002) we would get together after working the entire day, and Paul would come in with something which I just didn’t ‘get’ because I would be tired of working. And now, the procedure is pretty much the same. Paul and Jeremy write big parts, the skeletons, of certain songs, send it to me on a CD or mail, and now I can listen to it when I want to. I can put it on my computer, clean it up if I need to, analyze it. It allows me to understand everything much better and easier. It’s easier than having an amp blowing at me.

Paul: The band now also looks forward to making music with each other. Sometimes you knew you were going to be rehearsing for 3 days every week..

John: And that’s hard when you’re still mad at Paul because he spilled beer on you on Friday..

Paul: The band puts individual pressure on itself as musicians, and no one wants to be the weakest link when we get together. This way it’s more fun, and people get to live their lives.

John: It also allows each of us to bring more of our own personal individuality into the band,

Does it make the band more productive? I read somewhere that you recorded for only 4 or 5 days?

Paul: We rehearsed for 10 days, but John recorded the drums in 4 days.

John: A little bit longer than usual, since I like to get my stuff done in three days -smiles - . But it’s a little longer album.. and we didn’t play the songs 1500 times before. We were going in a little bit unprepared but at the same time you’re catching a spontaneous moment. It’s really raw and not something that has been perfected. It gives the music the nervous energy that Origin needs.

Isn’t it hard to play and record the tracks in the studio and then go tour and play them every day; and realizing that it isn’t going as tight as you want to be?

Paul: I`ll say that it was the longest break between playing shows. I love recording and writing demos, and the first couple of shows I was nervous with the newer material. But when the live-element comes in to play, playing those songs together, you know that it’s there. It was different at first but now it’s getting a part of the set.
John: It’s easier for me. In the studio, you`re under a magnifying glass and you cannot make any mistakes. But live, if I make a mistake maybe the sound guy hears it. But the kids up in front won’t. When I hit some rims during a tom-roll or hit a cymbal in the wrong way, that stuff isn’t a problem. When you are dealing with rental gear like right now, i`m struggling with the drumkit so it makes everything a bit difficult. But after a few shows you`ll get the hang of it. I think we had one of the better first shows of the tour, so I hope it will be even better tonight.

Origin makes a kind of music that often goes from fast to faster and fastest; doesn’t that make it more comfortable to know that mistakes will get unnoticed?

John: That depends on the mistake you make. There have been times.. a couple of weeks ago I forgot a whole part of a song that we’ve been playing for 8 years..

Paul: Things go wrong. John has seen kickdrum beaters flying out, I break strings. These things happen. I`ll go up to a band we’re on tour with and I`ll walk up to them and say “That was awesome” and they’ll say that they sucked.

John: You are your own worst critic. We never had a perfect set.

This is the same line up again as 6 years ago. How did that came to be? You guys just called each other?

John: The way things went down 5 years ago, it was pretty stupid. But after a while we realized that this line-up makes sense. I started talking with Paul on the phone and was ready to do this.

Paul: When we were talking we both knew that we were getting the right thing out of it as professionals, musicians and friends.

John: I think it was a month’s worth of phone calls.

Paul: We had to make sure it was for the right reasons and that it was cool for the band. When I’m playing I only have to look at John to get a message across.

John: And it has gotten much easier for us to get passed dumb things that happen with each other.

Paul: It was easy when we got back in a room together and started making music again.

John: Aside for needing to have the endurance to play the Origin songs.

John, you played with quite a few bands in between the records. Was that hard?

John: Yes and no. I didn’t have the speed and the attack that I needed with Origin. But I gained a lot of experience on the kit. I played in a hardcore band, an oldschool Carcassy-grind band and tons of other stuff. I did a lot of different metal and basically the only thing I had to do with Origin was work out for a few days and trying to get back into the songs. And these guys pushed me well.

Paul: And he pushed us back!

John: We have a rivalry going on.

Didn’t they send you stuff that you considered to be unplayable?

John: Paul send me some demos.. and I clocked one of them at 272 bpm. I didn’t have a clue how I was going to play that. Originally I thought that we should slow it down. But then I started messing around with a different foot technique (double strokes on the feet), and somehow I managed to get it. And it’s always in 4 and I think that it sounds much tighter. Some people might call me a cheater but so far it’s working out pretty well.

Paul: Playing together with John made me concentrate on songwriting and dynamics instead of just a lof of fast songs.

Is that also a reason why the titletrack, the closer of the album, is more dynamic?

John: James came up with the title, because everything about the album is totally different than everything we had done before. We wrote it in a different way, different lyrical topics. It’s the Antithesis of what we normally do.

To me that last track would have fit better in the middle of the album, because my brain is getting pretty much blasted after 5 tracks or so..

Paul: Well, when would you think that you would listen to a 9 minute Origin song, with actual grooves, and vocals for only the half of it? It’s our ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’. Nothing we would ever conceive of doing.

A shape of things to come?

Paul: If you would take that song away from the album you will have a more typical Origin album. But I think the song made it better overall. And for most people, Origin is extreme and over the top, and that song has all the elements of Origin. From the staccato type rhythmic stuff to the arpeggios.

John: And we had a lot of ideas. When I was driving home a few months ago and someone would say that we were going to do a nine minute song, I would think they were crazy. If Paul told me that he was going to write a nine minute track I would probably have said something like : “Ok, just do it”. While in my head I was thinking “No way he is ever going to write a nine minute song”.. But he did!

What's the next goal for you guys, since “Antithesis” is pretty much your best album so far?

John: We’re going to tour a lot on this album..
Paul: (whispers) and do a jazz album.
John: .. and we’ll be going head to head with the biggest and best we can find. And through natural progression we hope to come up with something that makes this album look wimpy. And I was thinking about re-releasing Informis in a pink tutu.

Paul: When I`m not thinking about the songs as much anymore I`ll start writing new things. When I know that I’m done with these new songs I know that I`m ready for the new stuff. It’s going to be Origin, it’s going to be brutal, fast and technical. But it will also have a new spin on it, and it will have a different identity as well.

295 bpm songs?

Paul: Haha..the ceiling is only so high.

John: It’s getting silly how fast some guys are getting.

Paul: Speed is not a goal. I`m writing songs with techniques, not songs based on them. I consider us somewhat technical but not outrageously technical. But we’re always trying to come up with a few new tricks that will keep us as musicians, and the fans as well entertained.

John: Don’t worry, there won’t be clean vocals on the next album!