Arcane Roots: The ArcTanGent 2018 Interview

Photo: Joe Singh

It's difficult to pinpoint an act who embody the spirit of tasteful left-field experimentation more than Arcane Roots. Whilst at ArcTanGent we sat down with Jack Welch (drums) to chat about Melancholia Hymns, the Landslide EP, and upcoming electronic tour.

Hi mate, you've got two sets ahead of you today, how you feeling about it?

Jack: Very excited. We haven't played here for a couple of years but last time we were here it was fantastic. I think that ArcTanGent and 2000 Trees have their own kind of vibe. We always kind of describe it as everyone in the front row of your gigs, it's like a whole festival full of them. People who really look into your music and look into what you're trying to do on a different level to perhaps some of the bigger festivals. It's a really nice vibe. I think that they know exactly who their demographic is. People who go to ArcTanGent and 2000 Trees, in my experience anyway they go every year without fail. It's the highlight of the summer for them in terms of festivals. The lineups are always great too, for us as a band it's really exciting because you get to go and you know that the lineup is going to be awesome. Every year it's special and it has it's own vibe which is separate from big festivals. It's nice.

So one of the set's you're playing later today is a synth set. Obviously synths were a major part of Melancholia Hymns, where did the idea originate to play synth focused sets?

Jack: It all came quite naturally, just the progression from the album. Once we finished the record we had so many versions of every song, so many. It become an in joke really, we were constantly asking each other which version are you on about when we were tracking. After the record was done, there was a lot of stuff there that we were like 'man, I would have loved to looked into that idea a little bit more and take it a little bit further'. Then we started talking about doing alternative versions of tracks from the album and with that when we started pursing it we were talking to management and they said it would be great if you could do an electronic set. It kind of just developed from there and it's started to grow. I love the fact that we are doing two very different sets, the main show will be heavy guitars and riffs and then we just get to completely meander off and do a whole different thing. So yeah, I'm excited to do it later.

Did you return to the studio to flesh out these alternate versions?

Jack: Yeah, a lot of the core ideas did originate in the actual album tracking sessions. We took a little bit of time out after the album and we kind of had all these ideas that weren't quite finished and things we had to leave behind so we could finish the album. After that we went back into the studio and Andrew (vocals, guitar, synths) did a lot on his own to be fair to him. He's got quite a lot of synths in his house and he's got a good little set up. We all got involved but we just fleshed out the full alternate versions as well as releasing our new single 'Landslide'. It's nice to have the opportunity to get all of this on paper instead of just being an idea on a computer.

So speaking of Landslide, the EP is out in a short while. How do you think people are going to react to it?

Jack: I'm excited, I'm starting to get that feeling that I had when we first put out the album. 'Curtains' was the first single Melancholia Hymns, but this is different. Because it is just an alternate EP, it's not to say that it's anything like the new material is, I know it's not because we are currently working on new material now, but that's the whole point, it's like taking all these ideas and taking it as far it can go and putting out something that's completely different. I'm really excited and being able to perform it like today, it's a really nice feeling and it's really nice to tick the box and make something of all these ideas we had in the studio. But yeah, I'm excited to see how people are going to react to it.

Do you approach these different sets with a different mindset?

Jack: Yeah defiantly, I think you have to keep in mind the people you're playing to. Sometimes it's difficult because there's a lot of material you're trying to cram into a small amount of time. The more tracks and more records you put out the harder it is to please everyone. But again, it's really a blessing to do something like today, were you have the opportunity to craft two very different sets to cater to the whole spectrum. We always think hard about who we're playing to. If you're playing to a new audience you do kind of cater to that but if you're playing to people who know you're back catalog from start to finish and you know that they know everything you're more inclined to give them a little easter egg and throw in something that we haven't played in a long time. But yeah, it's always in the back of our minds when we craft a setlist.

I presume those easter eggs are stuff like 'Triptych and 'You Are'?

Jack: Yeah yeah, like today it's techy and people like a good riff here. In the main set we are going in one hundred percent for 55 minutes of pretty heavy shit.

So you're touring the Landslide EP later this year. How you feeling about touring that particular set in contrast to your normal set?

Jack: We're all really excited. We as a band had a little taste of it as well as the people who have come to our one off electronic sets they've got a taste of it and we've got a taste of what we want to do, but it is still going to be different from say what we're doing today. But the kind of idea of playing a venue that you wouldn't normally see us in, I really like that. Like a church set up or just something that's different and you can make it a special evening and people who have seen us twenty times will still be completely separate. Yeah, it's going to be awesome, I don't really want to give too much away because we're still planning it, every day it's changing in terms of what we're going to be bringing to that set. It's not necessarily going to be quiet, it's just going to be different. I'm really excited, it's cool to have the opportunity to do that.

With that in mind has your approach to song writing shifted over the years?

Jack: Yeah, I mean I joined the band in 2015 and even now from recording the first album to now when we look into new songs it's definitely changed a lot. I think that the struggle we had with recording Melancholia Hymns was that we had these ideas and then we were in the studio and we wanted to do and once we recorded it then we were like how are we going to play this live? We kind of worked backwards where as now the live performances are very much at the forefront of the songwriting. And so it is very much now that you've got a synth, I've got this electronic set up, we've all got guitars and drums, what can we do with it in the room? It's refreshing, I think we can only get to that point from doing things the way we did before.

Speaking of the recording of Melancholia Hymns, the album is approximately a year old now. Looking back, how do you feel about it's release?

Jack: Amazing, I don't know how the other guys compare it to previous releases but for me it was a real achievement. The creation of the record wasn't easy, it took us a long time and it took a lot out of us in terms of creating songs and then demolishing them, recreating songs, demolishing them again. We were learning as we were going, I definitely was and when it was finally done and to get the reaction it did, it was amazing. It just got us all very excited to get back in the studio and top it.

Last question, is there any bands you're looking forward to catching today?

Jack: So this is the thing, I was looking at the whole poster and I didn't break it up. So I'm kinda at a loss of who's playing today and who's already played. I was very much looking forward to Vennart but I think he was playing yesterday. Well, Toska are good friends of ours and they're an absolutely amazing band, I think Black Peaks are playing today too. Bad Sign, again, really good friends of ours. I think because it's going to be a busy schedule for us I think we're going to try and kind of catch as many bands as possible. But yeah, Toska, I really hope I can swing by and catch their set, they're amazing, amazing musicians. I'm kind of looking forward to just wandering and seeing what I come across.

Arcane Roots will be touring the Landslide EP later this year in what is looking to be their final ever tour. Don't miss this for the world.