The debut album from prog-metal outfit Nucleust marks a significant milestone for the Perth quartet since coming together in 2013.
The album, 'Terra Cerebral', was released in June and drummer Shay Smith says the band took their time crafting their ideal record. “It's been a long journey and there's been a big push for us,” Shay says.
“The biggest thing I'm terrified of with making an album is making a boring album… I didn't want to make an album and go 'yeah it's good but it's easy to pigeonhole'. We really wanted to try and break some ground and try to really do something that was unique and our own.”
"With two EPs already under their belt, 'Fractured Equilibrium' (2014) and 'Resistivity' (2016), Shay says 'Terra Cerebral' highlights the subtlety and nuances of their songwriting, noticeable in the first two singles from the album. “'Lullaby Paranoia' was really true to what we've done in the past but just a bit more sophisticated and a bit more hard-hitting in places,” he says.
“People have really given us feedback on that one, saying we're definitely heading in the right direction with that one. A whole bunch of new people, particularly in our circles here in Perth, have really liked the last one we released, 'Quantum Umbrella', just because it's really expanded our sound hugely with adding piano parts, more clean singing and lots of different guitar tones in sections.”
With the band wanting 'Terra Cerebral' to make a defiant statement about their particular sound and style, Shay says his biggest challenge was sewing together fragmented sections of music into a tapestry of form and structure.
“As the drummer, my biggest focus was trying to fit sections together,” he explains, “trying to get from one section of the song to the next when there's a tempo change or complete change in groove or the feel of the song somewhere and making it fit; getting it to flow, and that was a mission.
“Sometimes there was a section that just snapped from one bit to another and you've got to try and do something to bring that transition about in a way that makes musical sense. There were some parts for the album where I was sitting at the drum kit and did over 200 takes, just over and over and over again trying to get that fill feel right and [to] fit.”
Nucleust are preparing for a two-month national tour for 'Terra Cerebral', their biggest run of live shows yet seeing the band play coast-to-coast and almost everywhere in-between. Shay says they still have some technical details to confirm, mostly to do with how to play the songs live in a way that does them justice.
“There's been a bit of confusion over that as to what we should really do and what parts should end up on the backing track,” he says, “because we have run some backing tracks in the past before but never any guitar overdubs, only ambience.
“Translating [the album] to stage, that's been the biggest issue and working out what we feel comfortable putting on the backing track. Because despite the fact we're a four-piece... we don't want to be one of those 'backing-track' bands that is not playing half of their song; we really want to feel like the live show is us playing still.”
Audiences can expect to see a high energy, live-wire performance from Nucleust as they make their way across the country, with Shay saying the band have been hard at work refining their on-stage capers and escapades. “We want our music to be really energetic,” he says.
“We want to be one of those bands that when you see us live you can't help but move. We want to try and get people moving, get people really into it. There's nothing worse to me than a band who just spends the gig staring at their fretboard.
“Our stage antics are hopefully going to be bumped-up a notch for this tour. We've been practising all kinds of moves in the rehearsal rooms and trying to co-ordinate a bit more together; it's an on-going process.”