Monday, January 2, 2017

Interview: Dan Sullivan of Arriver

On December 2nd, Chicago based progressive blackened death metal band, Arriver released their album Emeritus on Scioto Records.

Recently, Dan Sullivan took some time out of his schedule to field some questions from us. 

GM: How did you guys get started as Arriver? 

Dan Sullivan:The birth of ARRIVER was an inevitability, a connecting of dots, finding ourselves back at a place where we were born as musicians and brothers. 

When the band was formed in 2005 we had already spent over a decade playing together in other incarnations and configurations, only some of which could be classified as Metal.

GM: Your songs aren't cut from the same sort of cloth as many other extreme metal bands these days. How do you go about writing a song like "Emeritus?”

DS: For the track “Emeritus" main themes were conceived of and communicated as directly as possible. Other parts emerged through improvisation, documentation, transcribing, arguing, much rehearsal and finally transcendence. 

It should be noted the lyrics were mostly composed by my brother Rob.

GM: What's the inspiration behind your sound/music? 

 DS: Instinctually we find it is good practice to draw inspiration from something other than our chosen idiom. 

ARRIVER strives to never be derivative, selectively referential, always cut against the grain, push ourselves and expand our pallets while continuing to focus our sound and vision. This is paradoxical of course, and clarity has sometimes only emerged toward the end of composing a record. But such is the journey.

Diversity between songs on an album, as well between albums themselves has always been the vision.

GM: I really love the cover of Emeritus, tell me about it.

DS: The cover is a paper-cut drawing by Karolina Kowalczyk. 

It was featured in an exhibit at Chicago’s Ukranian Institute of Modern Art commemorating the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. Karolina's mother was pregnant with her, living in Poland at the time it happened. 

I saw the work in a local news feature and immediately knew it was the perfect choice for our album cover, both for its exquisite beauty and the subject matter, which happens to align with the over-arching narrative of Emeritus. 

We were thrilled when she agreed to license it to us.

GM: What do you do when inspiration strikes? 

DS: At rehearsal we will chase an idea until we run out of time. 

We religiously document and catalog new riffs/arrangements in Dropbox so they can be privately studied and referenced at our next rehearsal. Other songs are more thoroughly composed using Garage Band, which can cut both ways: it is important to trust the band to transform your ideas, to fully occupy them and share ownership. 

But this can also necessitate fighting to preserve a vision and original intent. 

GM: Speaking of, where do you typically find inspiration? 

DS: Inspiration comes from our lives, families, careers, and most importantly each other. 

Knowing that there are three other talented, opinionated guys ready to invest in your vision or call you on your bullshit provides plenty inspiration. 

We read a lot, share history books and discuss them, often while sitting in a Russian sauna on the northwest side of Chicago. 

And of course we are also inspired by our peers, the other awesome Chicago bands like Cokegoat, Beak, Starless, Arbogast (RIP), the Swanking (RIP), Burned or Buried. 

GM: In your opinion, what are the five most important albums of all time? 

DS: These are 5 records I have probably listened to more than any other, in no particular order:

Sonny Sharrock “Ask the Ages”
Metallica “…And Justice For All"
Igor Stravinsky “The Rite of Spring”
Yes "Close to the Edge"
Led Zeppelin “Houses of the Holy"

GM: Now that your album is out, what kind of touring do you expect to be doing? 

DS: Virtually none. Selective shows around the Midwest. 

Make us an offer we can’t refuse or come find us in Chicago. But don’t expect us to slog across the States playing dives. 

Been there, done that. 

GM: Is there anything I didn't ask that needs to be said? 

DS: I love Metal, I know Metal, and I can play Metal well enough to hold my head high and share the stage with virtually anyone. 

But I have very little interest in the image, politics, popularity contests, and oneupmanship that can drag down Metal. 

At the end of the day it comes down to strong, compelling songwriting; writing and performing music to enhance your life and the lives of those around you. 

Purchase Emeritus here. Digital/Vinyl

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