Carley Coma: Vocals
Michael MacIvor: Bass
John LaMacchia: Rhythm / Lead Guitar
Danny Grossarth: Drums / Percussion
Julio Arias: Rhythm Guitar
Born in Brooklyn, NY, the name Candiria is synonymous with the kind of experimentation and genre-bending more often associated with freeform jazz and progressive rock than hard/metalcore music. Their original fan base, predominantly rooted in the well-knit NYHC second wave (Merauder, Madball, Burn, etc.), took to Candiria‘s balanced integration of aggressive unusual time signature’d dissonance with hip-hop, jazz (early bop as well as late period fusion), dub, and abstract psychedelic experimentation straightaway, a testament to the band’s skillful musicianship and intelligent sonic aesthetic.
Releasing four critically acclaimed and fan adored albums over the course of six years, the band would in 2002 face its biggest challenge, as both band and individuals. While driving through Batavia, NY, touring in support of their latest release, their van was subject to an accident whose physical and psychological repercussions deeply informed each of their decisions to follow. Upon recovery, their appropriately titled 2004 release ‘What Doesn’t Kill You…‘, retained components of the band’s earlier fractal aesthetic while introducingmelodic choruses and clean singing alongside the guttural and triple-timed vocalizations the band historically employed and perfected.
Candiria would spend the years following ‘What Doesn’t Kill You…‘ recovering from their injuries, losing and replacing personnel, tied up in legal disputes, and individually engaging in new musical projects that would serve to enlarge the creative scope of each band member. In retrospect, this period should be regarded as a phase of reconsideration, realignment, and renewal. It is with this perspective in mind that Candiria has written and recorded their latest album, ‘While They Were Sleeping‘, a concentrated demonstration of their relentless desire to explore and expand upon an aural palette whose depth and breadth has always challenged the complacency of remaining static in an ever-changing world.
‘While They Were Sleeping‘ is a concept album conceived by the band’s lead vocalist Carley Coma. Telling the tale of a failed musician who rises up against a monarchy in New York City, ‘While They Were Sleeping‘ aims to encapsulate a vision of the contemporary world, in all of its riotous and tech-driven complexity. Ambitious as such an idea may seem, it is part of Candiria‘s natural development, and has given birth to some of the band’s proudest and most challenging moments.
One of those moments comes early on in the album, just prior to the halfway mark of ‘Mereya’, when the band deftly shifts gears from a pummeling assault of well-knit propulsive rhythms into tenor sax-laced jazz percussion patterns heightened by Coma’s introduction of a scat-singing that skillfully combines the styles of world renown vocalists Jon Hendricks and Jimmy Scott. Bassist Mike MacIvor recalls it as an experience wherein the history of the band’s determination to push themselves beyond their known limits crystallized: “At first, I wasn’t a fan of the idea, but as we went through the recording process, I realized that if you’re doing something that makes you uncomfortable, strikes you as weird, or even induces nausea, then you have to do it. That is what Candiria is all about.“
And so much more, as the conception and formation of ‘While They Were Sleeping‘ would prove. “I was unafraid to be completely honest, and approach the band as a new entity“, says Coma. It’s with this kind of openness that for the first time he created songs centered on character development, a notion he became interested in and studied with the aid of Robert McKee’s classic book ‘Story: Style, Structure, and the Principles of Screenwriting‘. Spending just over a year working on the story, prior to the consideration of its musical accompaniment, Coma states: “I wanted to learn about creating characters. and how one could make that happen.” This thoughtfulness would be fusedto current events, as the song ‘The Whole World Will Burn’ demonstrates. Written both as a response to the Ferguson riots,and as a means of propelling the story’s plotline, it serves as an example of Coma’s extensive aspirations for this project.
“I had some skepticism“, says guitarist John LaMacchia, in reference to the idea of a concept album. A completely new idea for the band, he was unsure of how to approach the writing of music whose main goal is to serve a narrative that had been carefully contemplated and constructed. Encouraged by Coma’s spirit of unguarded writing, LaMacchia notes that the foundation of the recording process was rooted in a feeling of union: “Having faith in one another, giving each other space to present and pursue individual ideas, then uniting them into a whole.” Adding to this already healthy dynamic is the inclusion of new drummer Danny Grossarth, and new rhythm guitarist Julio Arias, both of whom bring a fresh fire and energy to stage and studio alike.
Recorded at Spaceman Sound by Tom Tierney and Alex Mead-Fox, it was of primary importance to Candiria that they retain a distance from the compartmentalized, disinfected, and essentially whitewashed production qualities heard throughout much of contemporary music. As a band that has always operated from a working class perspective, capturing an organic aesthetic was essential. The proof of this can be heard on tracks as dissimilar as ‘The Cause’, an experiment in electro-discordancy that lures the listener in with a seemingly innocuous riff whose rhythm coils in on itself until stuttering to an end, and ‘Opaque’, a track of transcendent significance for both this album and the band.
‘Opaque’ was conceptually intended as a sparsely decorated composition. However, its fruition took on auditory dimensions Candiria had heretofore never investigated. If the song has a point of reference in the band’s canon, it is an oblique one that MacIvor deftly elucidates “In the same way that our fans weren’t ready for a song like ‘Observing Highways’ (from their debut album ‘Surrealistic Madness’), they won’t be ready for ‘Opaque’. What we’re always trying to do as a band is paint a picture that hasn’t been seen; looking for a sound that hasn’t been heard.” This emphatic ambition, coupled with an unwavering confidence in one another, has allowed them to create a concept album that is completely off the musical grid, will defy expectations, and establish a new standard in Candiria‘s willfully driven evolution.
Throughout 2016, Candiria have played several shows in the New York City area with musical compatriots and veterans of the scene such as Sick of It All, Poison the Well, and Killswitch Engage, as well as more recently formed boundary pushing outfits like Death Grips, Shabazz Palaces, Netherlands, and Moon Tooth. ‘While They Were Sleeping‘ will be released on October 7th, 2016, with a full U.S. tour to follow.