Interview w/ Count Seth of Becoming The Archetype
Solid State Records, the special forces wing of parent label Tooth & Nail Records, based out of Seattle, Washington, has long been a prominent force in the production and distribution of quality hardcore/metal. If you are hungry for some metal that is ever progressive in it’s development and deeply rooted in a Christ-centered worldview, you will not want to miss Becoming The Archetype. Our thanks to Count Seth for taking the time to discuss music, faith and the relationship between the two.
HC As a band, you obviously put a lot of time into your compositions, lyrics and even titles. Can you tell us a little bit of the meaning behind Dichotomy?
BTA Dichotomy explores human nature in terms of biological vs. spiritual, natural vs. technological and mental vs physical. We believe man is very complex and an understanding of who you are is the foundation of knowing anything about the universe in which we live and breathe.
HC Where are you currently grabbing your inspiration from as far as writing music and lyrics?
BTA Lyrically, there are a lot of ideas drawn from C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy and Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series. Musically these days, we’re drawing from Opeth, Mastodon, In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Extol and Pink Floyd the most heavily. Everything one experiences goes into the mix of making that person who he/she is. I’d like to think that the love we experience from our families and churches influenced our writing as well as the aggression we feel toward sin and its effects on human life.
HC From a fans perspective, each album seems to get progressively better, it is apparent that you guys put a lot of time into perfecting your craft and working to push the envelope of metal rather than finding a comfortable niche and milking it. Where does this drive to push and reconstruct come from, has it been a conscious decision on your part?
BTA Well, I’ll tell you, I’m a bit of a Beatles enthusiast. Any student of The Beatles knows that after the stopped touring, their songwriting amped up in a huge way and allowed them to do things no band has done since in terms of melody and experiment. In only eight years, the Beatles released 13 albums and over 220 songs which most people can’t find much negative to say about. This shows that touring constantly, as bands are pressed to do now, cuts down on the time spent honing the craft of songwriting. If I had to point at any one thing lacking in the current heavy music world, it’d be good songwriting. There’s no lack of amazing guitarists or vocalists. No lack of great production or heaviness. But people seem to have forgotten that a song needs to be constructed and thought out well. We are seeking to do that the best we can. So yes, it has been a conscious decision on our part. We are spending inordinate amounts of time shaping and refining songs so that they aren’t a hodge podge thrown together in a few practices: they are the product of hours of intelligent thought with multiple songwriters shaping them into something we all feel is very powerful.
HC Your albums have a clear Christian message and I’ve witnessed myself the sincere faith that you carry with you on the road. How would you describe your efforts in this regard as a band? Would you describe yourselves as missionaries?
BTA We are certainly missionaries. The Great Commission, as Christ gave it just before His ascension, left no room to not take the good news of the gospel with us as we go everywhere. We do that in a multitude of ways, but one unique way on this last album was to set the lyrics of “How Great Thou Art” to our music. That was exhilarating.
HC For those who are praying for you and encouraging you efforts to share truth, what have you observed as far as the receptiveness to your message amongst other bands and fans who come to your shows?
BTA Receptiveness isn’t the problem. No one wants to call anyone out or judge in this climate, so we’re never hated for our message. It mainly just falls on passive ears. We want people to know the truth that we are sinners, but as willing as we are to sin, Christ is more willing to forgive. The continual spring of sin in us may be deep, but the spring of Christ’s love and forgiveness is greater. That is an urgent message, because without that truth in your life, existence is harsh. Not many treat it that way. We have a prayer team set up and that has become a great community of believers praying for us and each other. Anyone that wants to join it can email firstname.lastname@example.org or add us as a friend at myspace.com/btaprayerteam
HC For those who have a desire to see the “scene” kids e
experience the love and truth that is only found in Christ, what have you learned as key factors in understanding and reaching out to youth within this field?
BTA I believe there is no key factor in showing love and grace to the world. If the gospel were that easy, Christ would’ve said, here’s what you need to do when you tell people about me: say “blah, blah, blah” or whatever. But He didn’t because there is no secret. There is only living a life of truth and love and community. Patience is a virtue and those who follow it will find it strengthening their ability to connect with people who need the gospel of grace.
HC You’ve been around now for a few years, have an impressive discography for fans to enjoy, would you say that you are still in the struggling-artist camp or have you reached some area of comfort in being able to support yourselves solely as musicians?
BTA Well, we are in a decent spot right now, mainly because we’re not killing ourselves on the road, having vans break down every month. When those things happen, they put so much of a strain on the band that the band runs a serious risk of being pulled apart. My advice to younger bands: get a job and fund your band instead of relying on it. Ian MacKaye says the same thing. Stop hoping your band will make you money. There is an over-saturation of bands out there eating up the profit that can be made. This is good for the scene because it weeds out bands who aren’t made of tough stuff.
HC What have been some of the most important lessons that you have learned through your journey as musicians?
BTA Mainly that music is a portal to something deep within yourself. Other things can take you to those places, but for many people, music is the strongest connection to that place in their heart where the mind can’t enter. When you hear a certain riff, your heart feel like it gets pushed over two inches in your chest and there is no explaining it. That is what you try to do with a song. If your music doesn’t have that effect on a substantial amount of people, you’re doing something wrong.
HC When you first arrived on the scene, or when you first were introduced via Solid State Records, there seemed to be a unique relationship with Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter that apparently continues to this day. How has Ryan been a part of your band and what has that relationship meant to you?
BTA Very observant! You’re either a great fan or you’ve done your homework. Kudos! Ryan Clark has been somewhat of a father figure to us in the music industry. He discovered us at Cornerstone ’04 and signed us to Solid State. He gives us advice on everything from artwork to producers to touring seasons. If it weren’t for him, we’d probably have been the Remnant for a couple more years then broken up and pursued other things in life. We still have a great relationship with him and I’m always talking to him and we’re kindred spirits on different coasts.
HC Are there any favorite/funny/scary memories from your current (or past) tour(s) that you’d like to share?
BTA Haha, well, some of them aren’t appropriate to be printed, but one time is still fresh. While recording our last album, a bear crawled into Devin Townsend’s truck cab, trying to get at the trash he had piled in the back. None of us knew it and when we walked out the front door, there is the black bear peering out at us over the dash. Devin started to shout and try to get him out and the thing just shimmied and pushed it’s way through the two foot slit where the window was rolled down. There’s something transcendental about watching a bear squeeze through a truck window as fast as he can. Of course, we sat in bear hair on that trip to the store and Devin still has that slice of his steering wheel missing from the bear’s claw.
HC What have been some of your favorite tour stops so far? What new foods have you discovered (scary or good)?
BTA Birmingham, AL is always great. There are so many good promoters we’ve developed relationships with over the years. Clinton, NJ has become another favorite as well as Palm Bay, FL. I eat anything and sometimes that does bite me in the rear end. I once tried some kind of strange curry at a friend’s house and I soon realized the joke was on me. The curry was made with anything hot that can be imagined and as soon as I closed my lips around the curry, I almost threw up. Amazingly, I swallowed the stuff, but that was a mistake. My throat instantly felt like gravel, I couldn’t see because my eyes flooded all their tears at once and my body about went limp. Man, that was rough. I wasn’t right again for almost an hour!
HC Any words of encouragement for aspiring bands?
BTA Quit. Haha, kinda joking but seriously, there are more fulfilling things to do with your life. Why do you think so many bands break up after just a couple years on the road? It takes a certain sort of person to be content touring all the time and I don’t mean a necessarily good sort of person. We are still playing 50-80 shows a year, so we get a decent break. But for up and coming bands, that’s not an option. Another thing if I may: we’re writing a song called “Necrotizing Fasciitis” which we’re shooting to get out this summer. Keep your ears and eyes peeled for it because it’ll be something different than what we normally do.