INTERVIEW, LIVE REVIEW AND ALBUM REVIEW
Xander: Here I am at UKTMF with Cilice, hello guys! I first caught you guys about four years ago, but since then your vocalist left, and I’ve just found out your other guitarist left too actually, but we have your new vocalist here – would you like to introduce yourself…
Ramage: Halloo I’m Ramage!
X: And you are from?
Theo: But where are you from?
R: Oh right yeah I’m from Cilice, haha. I’m from Scotland, Edinburgh.
X: How did you get involved with the band?
R: Through the grape vine really, through the wisdom of MySpace! Back in the day I sang on a few tracks for a man called Nick… what was his second name?
T: Vos? He was in a band, The Fire Will Fall, we did a couple of tours with them. He got Ramage to do a few vocals tracks for him and our old guitar player, Remko, did the mixing and production for those songs. When Daniel left the band for Textures, it was so hard to find a new vocalist with their own personality. We got a lot of tapes and it didn’t work out, so what do we do now? Then we remembered Ramage from the recording. So we had a listen and thought yeah that’s cool.
X: So you approached Ramage?
R: I got a wee email from Cilice saying “We’ll fly you over and give you an audition”. So it was a five day audition of singing the set relentlessly six to seven hours a day. Then at the end of it we played the Mammoth Fest in Brighton, we headlined the second stage that day and that was an audition and a half! But I’m in the band now, don’t worry.
T: He also did his own backing tracks (for the gig) which I think is the most important thing. Don’t try to copy something, you have to use your own voice in. If we’re writing new music we need to know what somebody else is doing and not copying somebody else.
R: That was actually an issue when I first joined, obviously I’m singing somebody else’s songs, and Theo said that from the get go. So they sent my all the tracks without vocals and the album with the vocals so I could practice at home in Scotland. So I listened to what Daniel did and obviously I’m trying to make it my own as much as I can and still stay true to the original, and live I do certain things differently either because I can’t do it or it’s just not my style. Cilice play with backing tracks a lot, mainly because we love vocals, but there is only one of me!
It would be nice to have lots of choirs going on and extra vocals. So we synch the backing tracks to the backing vocals, Phil plays to a click track and that come’s through the PA as extra synths. So obviously touring with Dan he had his backing tracks, so I did my own for that first set, which was nice! It meant I could make the songs more my own, the song I think the one I’ve changed the most which I really enjoy playing is Chinovel with and Eastern European kind of choir section. It’s nice, it adds a new spin on the old tracks, making the more my own a little bit until the next albums comes out.
X: Interesting, so what’s the highest amount of layers you have?
R: Umm… I dunno, haha, it was so long ago that I did. I think the most vocals on any one part.. actually it would be on the newer stuff, I put 50 tracks of vocals on one section, but it was a four part harmony and I did each harmony for or five times and then doubled that up with octaves as well.
T: Like Queen!
X: Yeah that’s right, I know they did a hundred layers of their own vocals for a choir effect!
X: An inevitable question you probably get asked by everyone about not having a bassist, do you have one playing in your back track?
Ramage: No, it’s all completely live.
Theo: The story behind it is we had a gig but we were not complete, we didn’t have a drummer, we didn’t have a bass player and we were rehearsing with a drum machine. We worked with another drummer but it didn’t work out but then I found Phil via a friend of mine and he passed by and we did some things and he studied one song and I thought we’ve found the right guy! When we went to the rehearsal room and played everybody was smiling and we thought this is it! And Daniel was smiling again and laughed, “Yeah guys in three weeks we have a gig!”
The thought behind it was you can wait ages for a bass player, it’s really hard. So we thought we’d play the gig and solve the problem. Remco has a digi system with two signals, one is a bass sound, one guitar sounds, we did it for the first show live and it worked out! So we didn’t need the bass player, just started getting gigs and playing. If we get a bass player in the end it needs to be more natural, like if you know somebody and it clicks, but not force it. The music business pays so bad, so one musician less is not so bad!
Ramage: I think it makes it tighter as well, If there’s one guys that knows the songs inside out and he’s making the sound of the guitar and the bass with every stroke of his pic, it makes the performance tighter. It’s the advantage of technology these days to get the sound of the bass and guitar through one amp. Also, I can’t fit any more than four people in my car!
X: How is the music evolving now with two new members in the band?
Theo: Good, good. I worked last the last two months together with Simon, he lives 20 minutes from my home. We weren’t actually looking for a guitar player, I wanted a rest because there was too much happening at the same time, but I met Simon as he works in a venue as a sound engineer and also from other bands, djenty kind of bands and I saw him performing and asked if he was interested. And so we have been working on him learning the old songs and then with Phil we learn the new songs together.
Ramage: The next album is pretty much already written, we’ve got all of our demo’s. We arrange everything first on the computer riffs etc. and then we send it to each other and access, and we’ve been analysing it over and over for the last year or so.
Theo: Also he came to my place to work on some things and I went over to him.
Ramage: Yeah I went over to finish writing the vocals for the album. And the entire album is there, it’s ready to be recorded, the songs are… awesome!
X: Great, so what’s the plan to get this out there and released?
Theo: Well we start recording after the holiday.
Ramage: Yeah Theo’s going on holiday for a month! I’m seriously hoping next year sometime it’s going to be released. We’ve got a good part of this year left to get some music down. I myself am aiming to get my vocals down over winter cuz that’s generally when I record stuff, in the winter time – favourite time of the year.
Theo: Perfect time of the year, you’re not going outside!
X: Well just as well you like it cold then, I like it hot! Right now it’s 20 degrees!
Ramage: Oh this is far too hot for me! I’m sweltering, my poor car is melting!
X: So what’s the name for the album?
Theo: I have a title but I don’t want to give it away! But because we haven’t discussed it yet.
Ramage: We’ve got the preliminary artwork though! It’s really really cool, it’s the same guy that did the artwork on the first album. It’s err.. different, it’s a little bit more colourful!
X: Any theme for the album?
Ramage: Nah i’ve not really got a conept, each song has got its own story, that’s the kind of way I like to keep it, unless something drastic happened in my life and I need to kinda express an entire album worth of angst or pain or love! It’s quite funny, these guys write a song and send it over to me as a midi file and call it some random name and sometimes that name will trigger off lots of ideas.
Theo: Yeah when I write a song I don’t want to call it just song no.2, that’s boring. So when reading a magazine or something and I think hey this is a cool thing, I’ll call it that, like Hydro-syphilis! (laughs) I like the sound of the words together, like Mental Breakdown and Psychotic Mind-warp.
Ramage: Yeah sometimes the name can just last forever, and even when you get a name for the track band members will still call it that first name.
Theo: It’s fun because I make up names like that and then the lyrics come and sometimes the name stays, so the title can inspire lyrics I guess, sometimes!
Ramage: Yeah sometimes, not always. I’ve pretty much written all the lyrics of the new album and I have managed tow rite music for one song as well which is something I didn’t think I’d get to do, I’m hoping that will make the album! Phil’s been writing a lot too and also our previous guitarist, Remko, has wrote two songs.
We’ll record them all and see which ones gel together best, it would be nice to put them all on the album but you know.
Theo: I like different composers on the album because you get variety, it’s not like every song is the same, but you have to produce the songs the same way so it sounds like the same band. But I think that is a strength to be able to do different songs.
Ramage: Yeah and the music isn’t exactly easy to play.
X: Oh I don’t know about that, it’s all the same note really; dum dumdum dumdum! (laughs)
Ramage: Ha, yeah, if only!
Theo: That’s the way I see it, it’s about the whole song. OK there is a lot happening but the song has to be strong, strong vocals, etc and there may be weird things happening, but it’s the energy and the focus thats important in the song. I really think quite traditional in the structure of the song.
Rammage: Pop djent!
Theo: Yeah! But I really like the blues rock background of vocals, I don’t like very much the screamo, I don’t want that at all.
Ramage: And I certainly don’t have the hair for it! I certainly don’t have the voice for it either, which is a good thing in my opinion. The whiney boy vocals don’t do anything for me.
Theo: Then you get stronger songs, if you look at the old blues records the melodies are really strong and it sticks in your head.
Ramage: I think it will make you a bit unique in that sense because so many other bands are going down that [screamo] route and then have exactly the same sound, they’re just copies of each other. It’s a shame, some of them have got really good music but I can’t really listen to a band if the vocals are like that. That’s why I like bands that have done something quite different with this particular genre.
Last year we went to Euroblast festival, a whole weekends worth of djent bands and math metal bands. It was awesome, insanely talented musicians, but with the vocals there was only a few bands that stood out for me and did something really different with it. I really enjoyed seeing Hacktivist because it was rap djent! It was awesome! I really enjoyed their set, and Destiny Potato had a more melodic thing, it wasn’t just “rar rar rar”, you know! It is different, melodic and more focused and songs that you’ll remember and they’ll stick in your head. Chimp Spanner doesn’t even have vocals! It’s just lots of really interesting compositions and melodies that stick in your head, I love Chimp Spanner, it’s my driving music!
Theo: Yeah there was a lot of really good musicians there but I love how good he is, it’s a different vibe being instrumental, totally different compositions. It’s really cool you can create your own thing.
X: OK, well now it’s time for the pop quiz! first gig you went to?
Ramage: It was a long time ago, I was very young! Well I can tell you the first two gigs I went to, I just can’t remember which one was first. One was White Zombie, the Astro Creep 2000 album, and the other one was Iron Maiden in the Barrowlands with Blaze Bayley singing! I still to this day have not managed to see Iron Maiden Live with Bruce Dickinson! Which is a shame because I’m a big Iron Maiden fan!
Theo: I think my first gig was Wishbone Ash. I was a kid and it was music before my age, but I got into playing guitar and they have those dual solo’s.
X: First album you bought?
Ramage: Michael Jackson – Bad, it was on tape!
Theo: I think my first record was probably The Beatles. But the I got into punk to Crash or GBH.
X: Who has the smelliest feet in the band?
Theo: I think me?
Ramage: I think Theo too!
X: Who snores the loudest?
Theo: I think me! I never hear it though.
X: What’s your favourite pizza?
Ramage: I know! I love pizza, pepperoni, salami and crackled pepper. Simple. Elegant, amazing. With a fresh thin base.
Theo: I’m not a big pizza lover but if it was really good in Italy, then thin with ricotta.
X: Your house is on fire, what one item do you save?
Ramage: First thing would be my hard drive, it’s got everything of my love on it from the last ten years musically.
Theo: Yeah you got a point, I thought of photos.
X: If you were a superhero, what would you power be?
Ramage: That’s a really hard question for me.
Theo: I think the power of Godfrey Coughlin. Amazing guitar player, if I could do that I would be very glad!
Ramage: Say if it actually happened and some one was actually able to make me a superhero and give me one power then obviously I’d have to do something that would help everybody, so I’d probably have the power to be able to make everybody stop being a dick to each other. With a click of my fingers “stop being a dick!”, and he’d not be a dick any more!
X: If you could be a woman for the day, who would you be?
Theo: A very sexy woman, my girlfriend!
Ramage: I don’t know how to answer that, what would I do if I was to become one? Spend a long day in front of a mirror! A pretty lady that blew me away recently I saw online playing the drums, she’s called Meytal Cohen, she’s really really cool. That’s just someone who I’ve come across recently as you do after ours worth of browsing videos on YouTube, and she has this really big nice smile. Playing heavy metal drums and being herself, it’s pretty cool, she’s really talented.
X: Jack Daniels or Jager?
Ramage: C’mon man, that’s no question, JD.
Theo: JD for me also.
X: The ultimate question, what’s your favourite cheesecake?
Ramage: Nondo’s Chocolate Cheesecake, I’ve had that many a time, that’s why I’m the way I am!
Theo: Space Cheesecake!
Ramage: What would be the ingredients of that?
X: Something that would be legal in Holland!
Theo: I give it to all my guests you know, they don’t know and then play soccer!
THE LIVE REVIEW:
Cilice took to the stage, somewhat in the darkness and to quite a bad sound actually, distorted and over powered. Neither of which were the band’s fault and they just played away regardless in an absolute positive momentum kicking off with ‘God Of Lies’, this band are really chugtastic! Not bopping your head along is not an option, the music orders and you quite happily oblige. A happy sight to see the band play a larger crowd compared to the just me four years ago at the Vic Bikers pub.
At a time when the for-runners of djent were exploding onto the scene, compared to now where it’s almost a dirty word, somehow Cilice have eluded the mainstream wave which I think has saved them in the long term allowing them to avoid going into the ‘fad’ bin. Great news because this band is something that needs to keep going, I love their groove and and unique quirky side. New vocalist, Ramage, nailed the set which is no easy task to follow in the footsteps of Danël de Jongh, now vocalist with Textures.
Whilst respecting the composition of existing tracks, Ramage manages to maintaining them whilst bringing forth his own characteristics. Additionally, new guitarist, Simon, has slid into place no problem, seamlessly continuing the grove and chugs. The flow of this band is just aewsome, like riding the seas in a small viking boat the grove rides the waves, and the chugs hit with every cut on the bow.
Fills from drummer Phillipp Moser are just insane, watching him is like watching someone write, he barely moves making this job look effortless! Yet the sounds are as intense as a heavy storm. Theo Holsheimer keeps the energy high leading the tracks with an accuracy and intent that leaves your jaw dropped along with the rest of the band.
Once the band set out playing their new album, hopefully due in 2014, I think Ramage will be able to give a bit more attitude onstage, something to display the passion from this humble Scotsman. I’m sure they will be great shows, I for one, will be there!
CILICE: ‘DERANGED HEADTRIP’
Bar the instigators, Meshuggah, and trend setters, FellSilent, Cilice were the first “djent” band I’d heard, playing in my local dingy bikers bar in Coalville. It’s amazed me how these guys haven’t been snapped up along with Textures, Periphery, TesseracT and Monuments, especially when with such prolific musicans as vocalist Danël de Jongh (who subsequently left for Textures), riffist Theo Holsheimer and banger Phillipp Moser!
Pelting off with ‘God Of Lies’, to me this is pretty much the bands signature track. It’s freaking awesome, the whole bloody album is and it infuriates me that a label (such as Basick, Century, Sumerian) hasn’t picked them up yet, why the hell not? Have a listen to ‘Mental Breakdown’, pure genius, how could you even come up with that? Well I guess these days with the barrage of tech/djent bands it’s not so shockingly amazingly, but back in 2009, this was groundbreaking – leaning towards the SikTh end of the scale.
‘Drone’ changes the tone with a smothering of industrial sounds, which is good for a djent band to diverse and have different elements, it can all get a bit tedious to have the same staggered chugging, right? ‘Golem Servants’ whilst typical not just of djent, is more defining to the sound of Cilice; choppy chugs, breaks and vocal noises.
‘Chernobyl’ you could be forgiven for thinking it was Mushroomhead! Lyrically deep and intense, I love that this band is not typical, every track has something interesting going on and over four years later sounds more fresh and exciting than a lot of other stuff out there. Djent music gets you nodding along with no effort but ‘Malice’ certainly gets you bouncing off the walls, groove doesn’t even do it justice.
‘Psychotic Mindwarp’ ends, oddly short at only two minutes, leaving a hunger for more, right now, gimme gimme gimme! So here’s to a prosperous 2014 for Cilice with their new album featuring new vocalist, Rammage, and rhythm guitarist, Simon. I cannot wait for this sh*t to hit!!