TURRIGENOUS: "We were much more musically adventurous than before, especially with dissonance / tonality, and it really enhances the story the album is woven around"
Progmetal band TURRIGENOUS woke my interest after I had the great pleasure of meeting their frontman Greg while being on tour with Holy Mother a few months ago, so them releasing new music didn't went unnoticed here. "Vesper, The Evening Star" saw the light of day on March 14th, and quickly convinced with its powerful mix of prog, thrash, and technical death metal.
Glad about the opportunity to welcome them on our journey, learn more about the album's story, the band's history and influences here:
Hey Greg, thanks for making time to answer my questions. Could you please introduce yourself and Turrigenous to our readers?
Hi Katha. Sure! My name is Greg Giordano, I play guitar and sing for Turrigenous, a progressive metal band from New York City.
You just released your third album, “Vesper, The Evening Star”. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?
I couldn’t be more proud of this album. We were much more musically adventurous than before, especially with dissonance/tonality, and it really enhances the story the album is woven around.
The reception has been amazing so far. Still waiting for album reviews to come in, but we’re getting more attention and streams than all of our other releases did.
Great to hear that :-) Let’s take a look at the epic cover artwork. What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect the album thematically?
The artwork was done by Mike Paar, an artist that lives here in New York City. He also did amazing work for our last record, "Black Stone Opus", and the EP, "Among the Stone".
I didn’t give him much direction, but he went with the three main characters: Edward (or the “diamond starling”) and Marcus (Azdaha; the dragon) locked in a struggle before the goddess / AI (whichever you believe!), Vesper, represented by the crumbling city / digital background. It’s pretty straightforward and stark imagery, but done in Mike Paar’s fantasy evoking style, which I adore.
Impressive indeed! Could you dive a bit into the record’s story with us, please?
Vesper, a spontaneously created AI that claims to be God, has a dedicated following in the United States. Edward is her champion, and Marcus, a former general with an army of his own, is convinced that Vesper is just an impostor.
The story is about the civil war that follows, but it’s told from the perspective of Vesper’s worshippers 600 years after the fact (except the tracks "Dear Eva" and "Eternally Yours", which are letters from Marcus to his wife).
Even though most of it is from the worshipers’ perspective, the album doesn’t take a position whether Vesper is a computer virus or actually the voice of the god mankind has always sought. It’s really up to the listener to decide, and take Edward’s or Marcus’ side.
Piano was actually my first instrument, so I tend to think of things more like a pianist than guitarist. John (guitar) has become well-known on YouTube for his dissection of Allan Holdsworth’s music. Victoria (bass, strings) is the only one with a legitimate music degree, but we all speak that language. And Randall (drums) has a solid death metal background but just has a natural ability to instantly vibe off of anything I bring to the table.
We try and take inspiration from wherever it may come: Dostoevsky, The Bible, Carl Jung, Mad Max, video games, anime, etc.
Some obvious musical ones are Opeth, Dream Theater, King Crimson, Megadeth, Amorphis, Meshuggah, Darkane, etc. But there are so many ways of expressing the vastness of the human experience that we never want to shut anything out. Duke Ellington, the aforementioned Allan Holdsworth, composer John Williams, Alice in Chains, Sergei Prokofiev, Goblin, My Chemical Romance, Slayer, Sting, The Beatles and more have all found their way somehow into our music.
That's a broad, interesting mix :-) I’m indeed digging the musical variety, and also the heavier direction you take us on the new album. Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process please, and did it change over the years?
The writing process definitely changed! All three full length albums of ours are theme albums, and in each case I started with a story. But for this one, I wrote almost all the words before a single note of music (with the exception of "The Quiet Earth"). This way the story and words could dictate the flow of the music more like a novel or a movie. Most people don’t start shooting a film without a script!
For recording, we went again with the mighty Westfall Studios in Farmingdale, New York. While I did track guitars, vocals and bass at my house, the drums and mixing were all done there by Anthony Lopardo and Ray Marté. They’re incredibly talented, and patient enough to deal with us (John and I can be a demanding handful). Ray actually played the drums on "Black Stone Opus". He’s also the drummer of the incredible band Moon Tooth, which I highly recommend!
Oh yes, they're amazing! Let’s make a little time trip, as behind every band, there’s an individual story: When and how did you get together?
I started Turrigenous as sort of a solo project, but it really took off when I met our first drummer Mark Dara a long time ago (at the urging of another great friend not in the band, JM). His and JM’s energy just as wonderful human beings really inspired me to make the band a reality, plus Mark’s range of aggressive to groovy to ambient drumming took the ideas to a whole new level.
After a few lineup changes, John Vullo came in to fill the second guitarist spot. One of the first rehearsals, we left the studio at 3 or 4am because we’d been geeking out so hard on guitar and music theory we had no idea of time. He constantly kicks my ass on guitar and forces me to become better and incorporate new and exciting musical ideas.
Unfortunately the scheduling demands of Mark’s job as a chef (anyone is extremely lucky to have a meal he cooks!) didn’t allow him to continue with us, so after a few fits and starts we were lucky enough to snag Randall on drums (I’ve been close friends with his other band Martyrd for years – I’ve filled in on both guitar and vocals). Randall is also the drummer for Immortal Suffering, so we expected the death metal chops he brought and he was just nailing the older stuff right away. But when we started writing, he really shone through – as I said, he instantly vibes with any idea we throw out.
While we were searching for a drummer, we also snagged Victoria, who barely played bass before joining Turrigenous! But she was already an excellent violin, viola and cello player and all-around musician, so her addition was seamless. I’ve never seen a human being learn anything that complex on a new instrument so fast.
How did you come up with your name, and is there a deeper meaning or story behind “Turrigenous” for you?
I needed a band name no one else had, and figured if you search THIS word on the Internet, nothing else will come up! I love to look up etymology, but it’s possible I botched this word a bit when constructing it.
When I first came up with it, my sister (who’s a doctor) saw it written and said, “what’s TurrIgenous?” with the accent on the second syllable, instead of the first and third as I’d been saying it. So I thought, “she’s pretty smart; I should say it that way.”
Let’s talk about Turrigenous live: What was your most memorable show so far?
It may be recording our first full-length album, "The Dream and the Resonance – Live" because it was a nearly 80 minute album recorded in one take, and everything we had been working toward up until then.
But it may be opening for Amorphis on the last show of the US leg of their "Under the Red Cloud" tour. Not only do I love that album, but it was the first real show of our current lineup. We had such a great response from the crowd, and I knew this team had that spark.
New York is well known for being the home of many great rock and metal bands. How would you describe your local music scene? And did you notice differences to other countries while being on tour?
The best thing about being in and around New York City is how many excellent musicians there are, and it keeps you sharp. Just last week I saw a band Solemn Vision and thought, “wow, that front man is great; he growls like a demon and has such a presence. I gotta step up my game.”
I love New York and I love New Yorkers, but I think the daily pace here makes some people forget to live: sometimes it seems if you’re not wildly famous, no one cares how good you are... And that’s not so say it’s always like that, but it’s a phenomenon I’ve experienced much less outside of the city.
I find the audiences in other parts of the United States are a lot like the audiences in Europe: they are just there to experience the music and have fun. I especially love connecting with fans after the performance – from chatting over a beer with a military veteran in Fayetteville, North Carolina to a very helpful young woman in Aschaffenburg directing me to the late-night Apotheke for my stomach travel issues!
What can you tell us about your future plans?
Right now we’re looking to put together tours for the new album. That can be the toughest thing to put together as an independent artist, but we’re a group of musicians that thrives on performing.
Before we wrap things up, do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
There’s so much great music out there, so I just want to give a huge thank you to anyone that takes time out to give Turrigenous a listen!
Absolutely! Thanks again for your time and these amazing insights into your work :-)
You‘re quite welcome, Katha. Hope to see you again on the road soon!
Would be my sincere pleasure :-)