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About 6 years ago PERIPHERY guitarist Misha ‘Bulb’ Mansoor busied himself recording and releasing music online that would soon become the talk of metal forums around the internet. That was the beginning of what’s now called the modern Djent scene – a style of music combining the technical precision of math rock with the brutality of progressive metal. 2012 will see PERIPHERY undertake their most ambitions effort yet: two full albums in one year! Misha gets us up to speed on all things PERIPHERY…

NZRock: You’re planning on recording and releasing two albums in 2012 so it sounds like it’s going to be busy times! Do you have the music prepared for both albums already?

Misha: We have a lot of music already prepared and we are also writing a lot of music. We will just be trying to make these albums focus entirely on quality even though it may seem like a lot of material to be putting out. So we are just constantly going to be working and trying to make the songs as best as possible and cutting the list down to the very best of the best songs that we have.

NZRock: You guys recently toured Australia but you missed New Zealand, will you try and get here next time you’re down this way?

Misha: You know it’s tough, I wanted to play in NZ both times because I have some family there. I have actually visited NZ twice now and I had a great time both times. It just didn’t work out for whatever reason, but hopefully next time we can play at least one show in NZ!

NZRock: You’ve performed with some big name bands. Who have you most enjoyed meeting on tour? And what feedback have you been getting from them about your music?

Misha: We have been so fortunate to tour with so many amazing and influential bands. We got to tour with DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and FEAR FACTORY last year for example. Both of those tours were absolutely surreal! We have gotten positive feedback from a lot of bands we respect and love, but I always find it tough to really take it in and believe it, it just seems too good to be true haha!

NZRock: You probably get asked about your influences a lot, but what are some of the most important recordings you’ve heard that have shaped the way you create music?

Misha: Here are a select few, I’m definitely missing some: DEFTONES ‘Around The Fur’, DREAM THEATER ‘Scenes From a Memory’, TOOL ‘Lateralus’, FINAL FANTASY 7, 8 and 10 – Nobuo Uematsu [Video game composer], MESHUGGAH ‘Chaosphere’, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN ‘Calculating Infinity’, TELEFON TEL AVIV ‘Fahrenheit Fair Enough’, BT ‘This Binary Universe’, REFUSED ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’, THRICE ‘Vheissu’.

NZRock: When you started out you were creating music on your own computer. How did you discover recording this way and why did you choose it over conventional recording done in a studio.

Misha: I had always wanted the ability to demo my own ideas out on my own time, I used to borrow a friend’s 4 track tape machine, but eventually realised I could do it on a computer. From there I just started tweaking and experimenting seeing how good I could get my computer rig to sound, and I’m still doing the same today!

NZRock: You never seem to run out of ideas for music, where does it all come from and is it pretty safe to say you’ve never had “writers block”?

Misha: I feel like I always am suffering from writers block. I don’t feel like I write enough, and maybe thats why I end up trying to write as much as possible, but its tough to always have ideas. sometimes I just have to spend time away from music to get inspired again. I definitely have little control in the situation and I just feel like I’m almost a passenger watching the process happen when I do get inspired, I just go with the vibe of the song and see what happens if that makes sense.

NZRock: The stuff you’re writing is incredibly technical yet it always stays melodic and really listenable. Is it a challenge to keep that perfect balance when you’re writing music?

Misha: I dont worry about the technical side at all, I just worry about making things that sound good to me. A very broad statement for sure, but a very useful mantra. I don’t like imposing arbitrary rules like “it needs to be more technical” or anything like that, I just want to create something that sounds good to my ears and hopefully has a sound of its own, if I can do that in a simple manner then that’s even more awesome, but oftentimes the technicality is a by-product of trying to create riffs that sound good to me!

NZRock: As well as the crazy riffs and leads there are a lot of ambient sections in your music e.g the outros to ‘All New Materials’ or ‘Buttersnips’. Where do you get the inspiration for that stuff?

Misha: Actually Jake Bowen handles that stuff! He’s an incredible talent and I have been picking up a lot of things from him and his electronic music. It’s an aspect of our sound that is very important to us and that we are currently expanding on and will only continue to do so with each release, but he just goes home and writes some of the coolest electronic music I have ever heard.

NZRock: You’ve been involved with a number of other projects outside of PERIPHERY. Will PERIPHERY remain the priority for you or can see something else taking over in future?

Misha: Yeah PERIPHERY always has been and unless it falls apart or something terrible will always be my priority and the priority of all the members. We can all have as many side projects as we want, so long as PERIPHERY gets your full attention and is your priority. I like to get involved in other projects to work with other people and experience different dynamics and challenges, but the beauty of PERIPHERY is our sound is so broad that I feel that I can express myself in the purest and most true to self fashion with it, so it’s the most rewarding!

NZRock: What is your favourite piece of music that you’ve written so far and why?

Misha: I think I’m most proud of ‘Racecar’ which was one of the first songs Jake and I wrote together and coincidentally one of the first songs that i had written successfully with anyone else! We hadn’t planned for it to be so long, we just kept on bouncing ideas, themes and motifs off of each other until we had that much music! It was fun to write and im still very proud of it today!

NZRock: You’ve recorded and released music, then re-arranged and released it again which is something that you don’t see many other metal bands do. What are your reasons for doing that?

Misha: When you have the ability to record yourself for free whenever you want, you can do things like that. We just seized an opportunity when we saw it, because we knew we could have some fun with it!

NZRock: With most well known bands there’s this degree of separation between the musician and the fan. But you’ve been active on music forums in the past and still continue to be. Do you think that’s something unique and do you benefit from having this connection with other musicians?

Misha: I think that its something that separates us from a lot of professional bands, because a lot of bands have been built up with this wall between them and the fans, and that adds a level of mysticism that we may not have as a result. However we were brought up to where we are now on the Internet, and our fans are to thank so we definitely aren’t going to stop talking with our fans on forums and Facebook and Youtube or whatever now that things are picking up for us. I think having a connection with your fans in this day and age is a good thing because everything is so accessible these days, and for the fan it just takes their relationship with the band to the next level!

NZRock: There’s a highly respected guitarist / producer over here in New Zealand called Zorran Mendonsa who you’ve given some praise in the past on Soundclick. You guys have similar influences. Have you ever thought about collaborating with him?

Misha: Ah Zorran is awesome! I could learn a lot from him! He’s an amazing producer and musician, I would definitely collaborate with him if the opportunity presented itself!

NZRock: Before I let you go… Who are the top 5 guitarists to emerge in the last decade in your opinion, and why?

This is a tough one but I’ll try! Tosin Abasi, because he is such an original and creative talent, so unique. Mattias “IA” Eklundh, I dont know if he counts as the last decade, but lets just say he does because he makes a guitar do things it just shouldn’t be able to do and is incredibly clean and tasteful. Guthrie Govan, if you think you are good at guitar you wont anymore after watching him haha! Emil Werstler, have you seen this dude alt pick? It’s like Jeff Loomis meets Django! And last but not least my good friend Adam “Nolly” Getgood, his understanding of the instrument and technique, and his ability to pickup on nuance is amazing. You may not have heard of him yet, but he plays the solo on “Totla Mad” on the debut, and he is incredibly creative and one of the cleanest guitarists out there!