Interview with Josh Middleton of Sylosis

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Josh & Bailey of Sylosis on stage at Islington Academy, January 2013

Back out on the road properly for the first time since their horrific bus crash that took them out of their biggest US tour thus far with Devildriver and Trivium, Reading thrashers Sylosis are out to make up for lost time. Acting as main support to Devildriver on their first UK headline tour for the Winter Kills album, Rock Sins’ James Halstead was able to catch up with their frontman Josh Middleton backstage in London a couple of hours before show time.

So how’s this tour been going so far?

Really well, we’re five or six shows in and its the most fun we’ve had in a while I think. Well, I say a while… it’s the first one we’ve done in about seven months. But most fun tour, yeah…

Did you take a few shows to hit your stride?

Yeah, definitely, always takes a good few, especially as we’ve been out of it for so long. We did that tour back in September in America when we had our crash so we didn’t tour for a while after that, then we did three shows in November, just in the UK and we haven’t played since then so it’s a huge gap. It always takes a while to get used to it, and Bleed From Within’s drummer is filling in for us so that took awhile too.

Why’s Ali filling in on this run?

Err, cause our drummer is unavailable for this tour, just work stuff getting in the way. We’re obviously not on a level where we can make a living off the band so sometimes it’s tough but, yeah, Ali just stepped in at the very, very, last minute and absolutely nailed it.

You did the Razor tour with Bleed from Within a few years ago, does it feel like you’ve grown up to the same level together?

We’ve always kept in touch with those guys. It just feels normal being on the road with them. It doesn’t feel like so long, but it was 2011? Three years ago.

When you plan the setlist do you try to keep an equal amount of songs from each release?

Yeah, we do, whenever possible.

Are there many songs you particularly dislike performing live?

Yeah, there are loads! Personally, I can’t stand our first album or anything before that so I’d rather not play any of it but we have fans that want to hear it so it’s not about what I want, or what we want as a band. It’s still fun playing any of that stuff regardless but to be honest with you, the way we rehearse and write we don’t always get to jam as a band all the time. We don’t know how to play all of our songs live. We have to learn them and rehearse them as a band so we can only really play ten or eleven songs then if we need more we have to learn them from scratch. We never write in a room all together.

Is the first album a bit harder to play guitar and sing live?

Yeah, there’s a few songs that the rhythm of the guitar doesn’t go with the vocals and it’s a bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head. It’s a coordination thing but saying that, since I started doing vocals I don’t really write to do what’s easiest I write what I think sounds best and then I might have to struggle to learn to do it. I guess I’ve been less inclined to learn stuff off the first album because I’m just rubbish doing new stuff.

You’ve done quite a few high profile US and uK tours in the past year and a half, does it feel like you’ll have the necessary US fanbase to step it up and start doing headline tours.

Yeah, I think next time we’re going to do headline stuff over there. It definitely makes more sense. Financially its really tough when you’re on first for those tours and our fanbase does seem to be growing quite well and we seem to have sold a good amount of CD’s there. I think we’ll stick to doing more headline stuff in the future.

Did Lamb of God taking you under their wing give you a boost?

I think it helped quite a lot. We noticed our likes on facebook go up a considerable amount each week because we were on tour, that’s a good example of just seeing support grow.

Have you got any plans for the rest of the year?

Err, yeah, sort of. There’ll be festivals yeah, not sure which ones we’ve announced. To be honest, I’m really bad because I just know that this is what I want to do. I don’t have the same sort of worries with jobs as the other guys do because I just bum around at my parents house so I never really bother looking at what we’re doing. I’m just like “I’m free whenever so just book whatever and I’ll be there.” I know there’s a few in Europe. We will be doing a new album at some point too.

Any UK festivals?

Don’t know… I don’t think so.

You mentioned on Monolith that there’s a slightly stonery/doom vibe to it, do you go into each album with a conscious decision on the musical direction you want to take?

Don’t know, really. The writing process is always really long and drawn out, like whenever we finish an album in the studio, so when its recorded and mixed there’s still a few months before it comes out and we’ll already be writing stuff. You just write stuff continually through the year and pick out the best stuff to make an album. I’ve always found that I liked Stonery and Doomy bands and it just never really came out in our sound, whether that’s due to the production or not thinking that it’d work with the thrashier side of things but it seemed to work well on ‘Monolith.’ I mean, I wouldn’t say it was overly stonery or doomy it just came out a bit more which was cool.

In relation to Shrine Studios have you always been quite closely involved with visuals in Sylosis?

Yeah, I’m an absolute pain in the arse to work with for album artwork. The guy who’s done our last two albums; Dan Goldsworthy he’s a really good friend of mine, but he’s got so much patience because I’m like “it has to be just like this” ‘cause I could probably do our album covers but it takes a lot of patience and it’s something that I’ve only just developed now; patience as an artist. I’ll start off spending hours on something that’s tiny, then I’ll think “I’m sick of this” then I’ll rush it so I’ve learned to be a bit more patient so I always have a clear image in mind and he’s actually nailed it on these last two albums. I was like “that’s exactly what I can see in my head.” I’m an absolute pain to work with.

Have you ever considered going the whole hog and doing all the artwork yourself?

I don’t know if I will just cause it’s so stressful. I’m too much of a perfectionist for, like, I’ll just think its shit, I’d rather let someone else do it.

You mentioned the bus crash earlier, is everyone fighting fit after that?

Yeah, pretty much. We all had cuts and bruises and scars but no broken bones.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars. I haven’t seen any Star Trek…

As always further updates from the Sylosis camp will be available here at Rock Sins when we have them. Sylosis’ current album Monolith is out now on Nuclear Blast Records. You can also check out Josh’s design studio project Shrine Studios here – https://shrine-studios.com/.

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