|Audio-only version of the interview|
On the last night of the band's 2010 tour with Between the Buried and Me in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cynic frontman Paul Masvidal sat down with White Noise Metal's "That BS Dude" Brian Shields to talk about the band and the progressive metal movement’s evolution.
"I'm kind of a folky," Masvidal said. "Generally all of the songs start on acoustic guitar with strong chord changes and a good melody. At the root of it I'm really just interested in a great song. It's always about subtraction to try to get to that. It's almost like an effective poem. You want to say just as much as you can with as little as possible. It's tricky to do that in the world of progressive music because it tends to do the opposite where you're more indulgent. We've always done it in a more concentrated way instead of the other extreme. It's about trying to keep it simple but engaging naturally in what we do as musicians stylistically."
Masvidal says the popularity of bands like Between the Buried and Me shows today's metal audiences are ready to accept diverse sounds.
"It's almost like a palate cleansing," Paul notes. "You have to just let go and it requires your attention. It requires energy. It's not background music. It's a different kind of aesthetic from what it attracts audience-wise, and it's probably a smaller percentage of the general public but the rewards are much greater when you give yourself the time to appreciate this kind of music. It bears so many gifts if you just surrender to it and really give it some energy and give it some time."
On the White Noise Metal video podcast, Paul and Brian talk about three songs off of "Traced in Air": "The Space for This", "Evolutionary Sleeper", and "Adam's Murmur." Masvidal says all of the songs on the record trace both his musical and spiritual journeys through the years.
"I think it's pretty much the whole deal for me," the singer/guitarist said. "I had a teacher who encouraged me to go deeper down the path. What was curious was getting turned on to people like John McLaughlin who was marrying these worlds. I got really into Mahavishnu Orchestra. I was like 'Wow, it doesn't have to be separate. I don't have to be this rock and roll musician and the dude who meditates. They can merge and co-exist. They always have and I didn't realize it. I feel it's the duty of the artist to push the envelope and give back, to put up the mirror and just say 'who are we and what's happening here?' To do it in a way that's loving and compassionate instead of just hitting you over the head."
Masvidal says he values being able to share his experiences with musical audiences.
"I'm grateful to be a musician," he said. "I feel lucky that I found this early on and it made a lot of sense to me as something that resonated on multiple levels and that my parents were cool enough to push me and say, 'if you really want to do this we'll get you lessons and you had better get to work and practice.' I was loving it. It made a difference for me in this sense of I wasn't fighting a system. I wasn't trying to prove a point. I wasn't going against anyone. I certainly had my dark moments and periods but they were more my own stuff versus what was going on out there."
"White Noise Metal" with "That BS Dude Brian Shields" features interviews and profiles with some of the top names in the genre. Previous episodes have spotlighted bands ranging from Trivium to Shadows Fall to The Faceless to Gojira to Corrosion of Conformity. The podcast is available for download on iTunes or at www.whitenoisemetal.com