So, Priest is finally putting the full-length release out. The Pit was a fantastic lead-up and New Flesh delivers on The Pit’s promise.
Thank you! I’m glad that you liked it. You never know how people are going to react once it’s released into the world.
Just for background, when did Priest come together as a band?
When we first started talking about it, it was 2011, so the idea has been there for a while. In 2015 we really started to pull everything together. That summer is when we first went into the recording studio with Alpha producing. But then everybody had their own things that they had to do so we just recorded when we could get together.
How many people is Priest comprised of in total?
Priest has three members; Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury. There’s one singer and then two guys running the synthesizers, electronics, and electronic percussion.
Before New Flesh you guys released The Pit. Is that meant to be an EP or single?
Actually, I really don’t know! It started out as a single but then we released a second single. I can see how that could be a little bit confusing.
Either way, it was Priest’s first official release and a precursor meant to lead up to the full-length…
It’d probably be a good time to address the past with the inevitable curiosity about the affiliation with Ghost. Without really giving that anymore attention outside of clearing things up, what was the affiliation with Ghost? Did that have anything to do with the way Priest came together?
Alpha produced the first Ghost album, so there is that connection. It may be that seeing how fans responded to the mystery and anonymity of Ghost kind of served as a catalyst of sorts for the way we might approach some of the visual aspects of Priest. I guess maybe it even served as a springboard for us to dare to do what we have with Priest. I would say that it might be considered a bit of a learning process as far as stepping into the unknown is concerned.
So in that respect, Priest was affiliated with Ghost, but no other significance. How about yourself, personally?
Let’s just say that I was something like a marionette within the band back in those days. The other two guys in Priest we’re not in Ghost, however. But you know, that was a great period of learning in my life. I loved playing in a group with such great musicians.
For you, is Priest an artistic project or is it something more substantial and long term?
It was always meant to be a band. We have a lot of ideas and plans for the future. We haven’t done it full time yet but we will get there. I’m sure that some people probably see it as a project but it’s something much more for us. Priest is something that we’re all serious about.
The release of the group’s first full-length album is certainly a step in that direction. The material has a significant crossover appeal. How did Priest’s sound begin to make its shape? One album in and there’s already a discernable stylistic approach established, it seems.
I guess you could say that our sound is like a broth of what we grew up listening to. We wanted to write an album that shows what we love and where we come from, so we went back and listened to recordings from bands we’ve loved for a long time because we wanted to see how they were recorded, the way they used their synthesizers on album’s like Music for the Masses and other early albums. The production also gave the songs a different touch, I think.
When did you begin the sessions for New Flesh?
We began recording that material in late 2016 and January of 2017.
Had all of the songs been written prior to recording them or were they done in the studio?
Most of the songs already existed when we got to the studio, but a few were completed once we went in, like “Populist,” for example (an album highlight – Ed.).We wanted to experiment a little once we got there. A couple of the songs were taken from long, long pieces on a computer and given to Alpha to be cut and arranged. It was a little bit of a strange way of working but I think we manage to find some good things that way. But I think it’s always great to be able to find something new in creative experiments like that.
The so-called ‘happy accidents’.
How did you guys go about writing the material?
We have one main songwriter, but there are some collaborations between him and Alpha. The first song on the record is a collaboration between him and Mercury, which was written a while back. Of course Alpha came in and put his touch on it so it was a completely different piece after that. But for this album we just had one main songwriter. In the future we will experiment much more with a lot of different ideas that we have floating around. It would be nice to just go away for a week somewhere, to a house or something and plug in our synthesizers and equipment and see what happens. There are so many different ways to go about doing something like that.
You mentioned having a lot of different ideas to work from. Is there more music that didn’t make it onto the album for whatever reason? Whether it was due to time, continuity, or something else?
We actually have a lot of songs, we’re not going to run dry. I mean, we have songs that have been written over time, maybe the span of 15 years or something. That’s a lot of songs!
I’m sure it’s safe to assume that the years yielded a lot of music.
Yes! It’s kind of like a gold mine. With so much material, that gives us a lot of music to experiment with. It gives the future some security, knowing that we have so much music to go through and work with.
I would think that would make you feel a lot more free to explore further reaches of your spectrum.
Yes, I guess it does. It’s kind of like insurance or having a backup.
The influences of classic artists and bands comes through but you guys manage to keep your sound your own while incorporating some of those elements really well. Is the possibility of turning younger listeners on to that early music that you love something you’d like to do?
Oh, absolutely. It’s a compliment to hear that you can see those influences in our music, so thank you. We did reach back into our pasts to bring this music out.
So, is that something that the group will continue to do?
I don’t know, honestly. Maybe we could reach back centuries and try something with classical music interpreted through modern technology and music machines! Of course, whenever you’re lost you can always go back to Bach. You can always find something within his music.
With regard to the creative aspect of writing, what inspires you? Outside of music, I mean. Is it scenery? Is it film? Do stories inspire you? Where do you find that kind of thing in the world?
I have vivid dreams. When I was young I used to dream about things like robots and technology. I guess I found some inspiration in electronics. I used to dream in pixels, something that looks like that, anyway. I also find creativity in things like video games or movies. I have a lot of ideas that are inspired by movies. Not all of the lyrics were inspired by movies on New Flesh, necessarily, though the title comes from the David Cronenberg movie Videodrome. I think that a lot of inspiration can come from daydreams. But sometimes that’s very hard to understand. I mean, how do you interpret that? How do you grasp that and turn it into something real? Is it in sounds? Is it in words? To be truthful, I think that I can find inspiration in just about anything that can affect me and any kind of way.
What kind of standards would you say that you’ve set for yourself? Creatively speaking, I mean.
For me it’s really important that words and music fit together. It all has to be one entity. I absolutely feel like it has to work for me. As long as I get it and it means something to me, that’s what matters, I think.
What about the creativity where the visual aesthetics concerned? The masks are effectively ominous in their own way.
There were a lot of ideas that we put through the grinder. It took a while. We didn’t know which way we wanted to go. I found some bondage masks online and I picked one that I though looked pretty cool. I thought, “Let’s put that on with the priest’s collar to see how it works. Then, bingo!” There it was. It was one of those moments that you don’t really have to talk about it because everyone just knows. Since everybody really liked it, naturally, that’s what we decided to do. Then we decided to use the bird masks for the other two people. It’s kind of like the image of Odin and the two crows. Of course, with the bondage mask, there’s a little bit of a Hellraiser influence, as well!
What does Priest’s foreseeable future hold where touring is concerned? Has that been discussed?
We’re actually planning for our live show now.
Any substantial plans to speak of?
We have two shows coming up: Vienna on December 7th and Copenhagen on December 9th. Then there’s going to be a showcase for industry type people and close family members. After that it’ll be a matter of finding a good team around the band for us to work with. We have some great ideas that we want to do the right way.
Are there any places, geographically speaking, that you’d like to shoot for?
Well, at this point it’s easiest and makes the most sense to focus on Europe. We’d love to play around the U.K., but all of Europe should be fairly easy for us right now. Especially compared to places like North America, Australia, or Asia, though we do want to visit those places, too. In the long-term we’re focused globally.
It’ll be great to see these songs live with a top-notch show to go with it.
Hopefully it will be much sooner than later.
Well, thanks so much for your time today. Good luck with the album release. It’s certainly one of my personal favorites for the year. And good luck with the tour plans. Be well!
Thank you! I appreciate your time, as well. It will be great to make something happen. Good bye!