Interview: Thomas Powell of Auralayer

Written by Kirk

The month of July was packed to the gills with great releases. One of those records was Thousand Petals, the debut album from newcomers Auralayer (you can read my review of it here), and it honestly blew me away. So when I heard the band was eager to do some interviews, I jumped at the opportunity to find out more about Greenville, South Carolina’s native sons.

Kirk: You’ve just dropped your debut album and are getting compared to bands like Baroness, the Sword, Torche, Mastodon, Kylesa, and Queens of the Stone Age (among others). How does that feel? Do you find it intimidating to be compared to such beloved bands from the early ‘00s, or does it inspire you to push harder to find that perfect riff?

Thomas: It’s definitely a bit intimidating, those are some big shoes to fill. However, it’s incredibly more inspiring than intimidating to get that praise. It makes us feel like we’re pushing some boundaries just like those other bands did, which is always fun, especially because we don’t aim to. We just try to write what’s fun for us and challenges us as musicians. 

K: Tell me more about the process of making Thousand Petals. What is your favorite song on the album? Which song was the toughest to get right in the studio? Were there any songs that got left in the cutting floor for (fingers crossed) a future release? What’s your writing process like? And what did you guys do to celebrate your last day of recording? 

T: My personal favorite, along with Vladimir [Putomong, drums], is “Christ Antler”, it was the first song we ever wrote together and it always felt special to me. I believe Jake’s [Williams, bass] is “Shelf Black”. 

If I remember correctly, “Monstrum” was the hardest song to get down, but it came out great in the end. I remember we didn’t necessarily celebrate our last day of recording, but definitely felt the win of finally nailing that song. There are definitely a couple that didn’t make the cut that we’ve been honing in for the next release. 

As far as our writing process goes, it’s pretty simple. One of us has an idea, and then we just collectively build off of it. We bounce ideas around with one another until something sticks, and usually within a couple hours we have a skeleton of a song to work with. 

K: I love the photo of you guys where Jake has on what looks to be a vintage Care Bears shirt, Thomas is wearing a Gatecreeper shirt, and Vladimir has on the “Love Over Hate” shirt. With so much homophobia and transphobia going on in both the metal scene and the United States as a whole, it’s nice to see someone standing up for the LGBTQIA+ community. What is your stance on the treatment of the LGBTQIA+ community, and how important do you think it is to make sure they feel welcome in the metal community?

T: The importance of making anyone feel welcome within the metal community is unparalleled, especially to those who deal with it outside of that realm as it is. Especially for us, as Jake and Vladimir are both part of that community. There is no room for hate of any kind in such a mixed environment of people. We’re all just trying to have a good time, so why ruin it? 

K: What bands/artists have inspired you the most? And of those bands/artists, which (if any) of their influences do you feel are reflected in your music? 

T: Our influences really vary depending on who you ask. I’m more into to the heavy side of things, but bands like YOB, Mastodon, and High on Fire really had an effect on my playing over the years. 

Jake really is into old school dance, rock, and pop, being absolutely obsessed with Paul McCartney, Tina Weymouth, and Gene Simmons but I’m here for it. Vladimir is a prog fiend, always jamming Between the Buried and Me, or talking about Rush

Honestly, we all wear our influences on our sleeve a bit. When you listen to Jake’s bass playing or Vladimir’s drumming, you pull the Paul McCartney and Neil Peart right out of them, at least in my opinion. 

K: What was the first instrument each of you ever purchased?

T: Jake and I both had guitars being the first instruments we purchased with our own money. Mine being a really shitty Epiphone SG, which at the time I loved but is long gone. Jake’s was a Fender Toronado, which is still used to this day. I’m pretty sure they worked three jobs over a summer to pay the whopping $500 price tag on eBay. Vladimir’s was a Hartke WK-5 bass, which they still have as well, funny enough. 

K: You have a show on July 26th where you’ll be playing with Crobot, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, and River of Deceit at Radio Room in your hometown of Greenville. If you could pick any three bands to share the stage with you, who would they be and why?

It’d be a pretty mixed bill if we all had a choice in the matter for sure! We’d probably stick with those who’ve influenced us so heavily over years. Probably YOB, Soccer Mommy, and Between the Buried and Me. Hell of a line up for sure. Although, we all share a love for a band called Beitthemeans, who we played our first real show with. Those guys are practically legends in the music scene we’re from, so we’d love to play some more shows with them at some point.