Our resident prog nerd, Jangel, chatted with Tyler Dworak, bassist for up-and-coming prog death metal quintet The World Is Quiet Here (TWIQH). They talk about TWIQH’s new record, Zon, due out January 27th via Silent Pendulum Records, bad Chinese food, and playing music during a human suspension show. Read on to learn more!
So tell me about the band! Y’all are from Milwaukee, right? How did you all meet? How did we get here to your second album? Give me the whole story.
Yeah, not exactly from Milwaukee, we’re from Wisconsin. I’m from Milwaukee but we all met in college. Our vocalist is from California, we met him later on, but we met in college up in Oshkosh. We met pretty much how you meet everyone in college, at the dorms. I saw Isaac and Ethan wearing cool band shirts from bands that I was into. And we found David, he was the jazz drummer for the jazz ensemble and we figured he would be a good metal drummer so we brought him on. Then we had a different vocalist at the time who was also from Wisconsin but he left in 2021. Our new vocalist Lou, we found his music online, we were big fans and we interacted with him a little bit. When it came time to find a new vocalist he was the first one we asked and he was really the only one who could do it, we felt like. That’s really the long and short of it, we met in nowhere Wisconsin.
So you said David was the drummer in the jazz band. Was he a music major? Were others of you music majors?
Two of us were. Isaac and I were both music majors, both of us went through the recording program. David was for a little bit. I think he went through software programming or something with computers, I can’t remember what it was. He was just really good at drums and Isaac played guitar in the jazz ensemble. That’s how the two of them really connected. A couple of us went through classic training and have degrees in music.
So you mentioned Lou is the new member and he gets a lot of love in your press releases and coverage. What was it like having him for the writing and recording process of Zon? Like obviously I’m assuming he contributed a lot but were there things you were like, “oh we can do this now because Lou is here” as opposed to maybe you didn’t do it before?
The recording process for Zon is pretty interesting. We recorded most of it in 2020 and 2021 so the pandemic was very much a thing. What was good about Lou was that he sort of knew what he was doing. He’s a composer himself and writes music all the time. So when we brought Lou on we figured “oh this is someone who knows how to build harmonies in an interesting way, or he mixes music himself, or he knows how to add certain things, or he knows that this part calls for something a little heavier rather than something sung.” So we brought somebody on who just knew a lot more of the actual music part of it. Plus his range is just insane so we didn’t need to find one of us, who aren’t really singers, to do harmonies because Lou could just do them all himself. Having someone who was a lot more experienced in that realm was something that we really needed and we’re really thankful that Lou is up for it.
Yeah, that sounds really nice. I am a fan of Lou (laughs). He sounds pretty fucking cool on the record. So expand a little bit on the writing process for Zon. Is it like a typical metal band where the guitarist comes in with the riffs and everybody does their thing over top of it, or was there more, like a top-down approach kind of thing? Just expand on that a little bit, if you would.
All our music is one continuous story, so this album takes place immediately after the first one in the world of the story. We knew where we started and where we needed to end but as far as the songs were concerned, we started writing in 2019. Isaac had a job where he could work from home and he was doing a lot of the writing for a lot of the songs. Him and Ethan come in with a lot of the riffs and David and I fill in the blanks. A lot of these songs were written before Prologue (TWIQH’s debut record) even came out. There was a couple on there I remember learning when I first joined the band way back. It was pretty traditional as far as the writing is concerned. We were going to try to open it up, trying to get it a little more organic, but due to the distance it just made sense for us to share riffs or have one person to take the charge in writing the actual song structures. Then you collaborate with everyone, make sure that everyone is cool with the part, if there was a part that didn’t make sense to some of us you talk about it and you cut things. For recording it was a lot of the same. We couldn’t really travel so everyone basically did themselves. Ethan was able to travel to California to record guitars with Isaac, I recorded bass myself in my home studio. Lou actually recorded everything in his car. He was basically able to isolate himself is in his car so everything you hear from Lou, as far as I know, is in his car.
That is absolutely hilarious. So you mentioned that Zon is a concept album. Can you talk about the story of it? And I guess a little bit about Prologue too since you said, it’s like a continuous story.
It’s been a long time since Prologue came out, it’s been like five years. We’re still trying to figure out a way to really deliver the narrative in a way that we think will be impactful without people reading and guessing what the lyrics are about. We want to find a way to come up with a more definitive delivery. The long and short of it is, our main character, in the first album, as you can guess from the first song, it’s called “Some Call Me Cynical”; it’s someone who’s very down on themselves, their outlook on life isn’t great. He goes through an inward spiral that basically leads to him jumping off the roof of his apartment building and at the end of Prologue he dies. We wanted to explore what happens when you die. And we came up with this idea, or it was really Ethan’s idea, years ago, where the afterlife in our world takes place in a celestial universe. So your afterlife starts off on this planet called Zon and you are meant to come to grips with the things you didn’t like about yourself or the things that you might have regretted in your life and come to terms with them in your own way. The story is really this character who was just a terrible person at the end of his life sort of realizing that and slowly coming to terms with how he could have changed and how he could have bettered himself before he did what he did. We call them Vagrants, and once Vagrants are able to do that and sort of atone for themselves then at that point they’re able to have whatever comes next after that. It’s sort of like he’s stuck in purgatory but there’s a lot of different stages and other albums will focus on different aspects of himself so he can deconstruct himself and build himself back up to the person he should have been.
Cool. It’s not so navel-gazy as other sci-fi concepts.
Yeah there’s less on the sci-fi aspects and leaning a little bit more toward the fantasy. You know there’s no spaceships or dystopian governments or anything. It’s a very personal story about self-reflection trying to be a better person when maybe it’s too late./
Cool, cool. So, we have a number of musicians in our community who read the Noob Heavy blog, many of them are into prog music, myself included. What is the coolest, nerdiest musical moment on the album?
That is a good question, there are a couple that come to mind. I would say one of my favorite parts is right in the middle of the album in “Heliacal Vessels II”. There’s a part on it that’s nothing like any other part of the song where basically Lou turns into a preacher. There’s a character that our protagonist meets that’s almost like a prophet and he’s addressing his congregation. There’s a lot of jazz elements going on and that part was a lot of fun to put together and writing the lyrics for that part was one of my favorite parts of working on it. I would say that’s probably the weirdest, dorkiest part just because it’s in the middle of this 13-minute long song that’s otherwise super, super heavy. That was probably my favorite part and I think a lot of people get a kick out of the humor in that.
Cool. Who did the album art for the record?
Oh yeah, so the actual painting, the sort of blue, purple swirly painting, was done by Isaac’s dad. He did the watercolor circle on our first album as well. He is a super talented artist, so we had him come again and sort of show this representation of the lake, which is a very important location on Zon. And then the rest of the layout, the mountainous desert, was done by Isaac and his fiance.
Cool, that’s great. Keeping it in the family. So I assume working with Isaac’s dad is pretty chill then?
Oh yeah, he’s really excited. And he’s been a super supportive figure this whole time. He did the art on the first one and we just gave him some ideas and he sends us probably a dozen different versions of what he’s thinking and we sort of go back and forth and pick the one we think that’s best.
Sick. How long have y’all been with Silent Pendulum Records and what’s it like to work with them?
We got in touch with them just on this album. So one of the people who work there, Mike, runs the label. Someone else who’s there named Dave, he found us on Bandcamp I believe. He reached out to us on social media and said he liked what we were doing and once we announced that we were getting ready to record and put out Zon he reached out and said that they wanted to take a chance and put it out physically, which was super great to do. We got in contact with them officially at the beginning of 2022 and then we were finalizing everything throughout the year so it’s definitely a new relationship but we’ve been talking on and off with Dave now for a couple of years.
Cool. I’ve met Mike before when he was touring with So Hideous and he seems like a really cool guy. So, do y’all have plans to do a tour to support Zon?
That is a big question! (laughs) And it’s a little bit complicated. All of us have full time day jobs and touring right now and touring right now for big bands, you know, bands that are actually established and not small like us, they’re struggling to make ends meet, so if we were going to do anything it would have to be the right bands to go with, the right environment, the right situation, a lot of pieces that would have to line up in order for it to make sense. I mean, never say never but as of right now there’s no plans.
So the band formed when you’re in college, so I’m assuming you played some shows in Wisconsin in the early days?
Yeah, there were a lot of local shows. The Wisconsin metal scene is pretty healthy so there were a lot of unique opportunities for us to still sort of get our feet wet. There were a lot of local bands. We have some good friends in the band Pangea which is in Wisconsin. Their bass player Spencer is the one who mixed and mastered our album so we played a couple of shows with them. Where we were in Oshkosh it was a lot of take what you can get so even if we didn’t fit on a bill, if we didn’t fit on a show sonically, we figured we might as well just to do it. So we played with some old school punk bands and celtic rock bands and black metal bands at human suspension shows and that sort of thing. There wasn’t a ton early on just because there wasn’t a lot in our area. We had to drive long distances to get to those shows but we took what we could get.
Right on, I hear ya. Do you have any crazy gig stories from those early days?
Yeah. I would say the biggest one, and we knew what was going to happen going in, was we played Halloween a couple years ago, I think it was probably 2017 or 2018. We played a Halloween show and there was a human suspension act going on. So you know, that thing where people are sticking hooks into their backs and swinging around or putting hooks into their knees or something like that. And there’s video somewhere of us playing while a guy is swinging from hooks in his knees on the ceiling. It was a show where I don’t think any of us would’ve gone to see that but we found ourselves there and it was pretty gnarly.
Are there any bands that are friends with your bands that folks should be on the lookout for? Any friends of the band you want a shout-out?
Yeah, yeah for sure. So I mentioned the band Pangea which was Spencer Fox who mixed our album. That is his band and we did a lot of shows with them. They’re great friends of ours. I think he has a new band called Solshade as well. They’re more of a classic metalcore/hardcore outfit. We’ve been friends with the guys in those bands for a long time.
So the vast majority of our community is trans and/or genderqueer What is The World Is Quiet Here’s stance on inclusivity and metal?
We want to be as inclusive as possible. There’s a band that we’re big fans of called Flummox. A very good friend of ours, Max Moberry, who’s also in another band called Others by No One they identify as… I don’t want to mislabel them but they are part of that community. They are the front person in Flummox and Max is featured on our album.
Oh, fuck yeah
At the very end of “Moonlighter” Max is on it. So we welcome every walk of life, we don’t want to exclude anybody, we don’t think that has any place in our community, any exclusion. So we want to bring those people out to the spotlight because it doesn’t get done enough. People should listen to Others by No One, they put out an insane album last year called Book II: Where Stories Come From and Flummox has been doing a lot of gigs recently, they go on tour all the time. Those two are the ones we have a lot of connection to because of Max and they’re fantastic.
Cool, that’s great to hear. If there’s any one particular thing you want folks to take away from Zon, what would it be?
It’s a dense album, there’s a lot going on, but we really want people to get involved with the lyrics. There’s a lot of lyrics, they’re densely packed in there. We just want people to be able to listen to an album that’s not about being the absolute heaviest it can possibly be but we want people to walk away with something they haven’t necessarily heard before and enjoy a weird journey with a lot of introspection. There’s a lot of things discussed on the album that if you read between the lines a little bit there’s a bigger theme. We want people to think about those things. Like I said, this album is a big piece of self reflection and I personally think that’s a very important part of being a better person. So starting that journey is hard but this is sort of our first step into that. So enjoy the album for what it is and read the lyrics so you can get a better understanding of what we’re trying to say.
What’s your favorite food to eat after a show?
After a show?
Or before, whatever.
I’m a big fan of pasta. It’s probably not a great thing to eat before a show but I’ve done it a lot. When we played in Wisconsin we would always get Chinese food and one of my favorite foods is just bad Chinese food. You know, those places that always look sketchy and have like three and a half stars on Yelp and the food is always awesome.
Hell yeah. Inebriant of choice?
Or weed or molly or whatever.
Yeah, so I’m sort of a lame person to talk to about this because I don’t partake in anything like that. I don’t drink, it’s never been an interest of mine. On behalf of David and Ethan, they’re big into craft beer, a lot of local Wisconsin breweries that they’re into. Unfortunately I’m a bad recipient of that question. Not my scene (laughs).
It’s OK. I guess your inebriant of choice is getting high on life.
There you go.
Last question, what’s the number one thing a fan should do if they want to chat and become friends with the band?
We’re pretty active on social media. Isaac and I look at that stuff all the time. Personally, I respond to almost all the comments we get on Facebook and Instagram whenever we post on there. We’ve done a couple of AMA’s but just messaging the band with a sincere question, not spam or anything, will usually generate a pretty sincere response.
Cool. Is there anything else you want to say about the band, the record, life?
I think people should order the record and they should keep getting things from bands they like. The music industry is not in a good way right now with bands not being able to tour, or when they do tour they’re losing a lot of money, so support the bands however you can, if you can, and listen to cool music because music is good if you like it and if people are giving you shit about music you like, don’t listen to them because if you like it that means it is good music.
Amen. Well thank you very much for your time!
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