“‘Justify & Reason’ ventures into the dark, labyrinthine corridors of the human psyche”
In just under a week, on March 10th, Norwich metallers, Synaptik will be releasing their second album, ‘Justify & Reason’. In the build up to the release, we caught up with the band, speaking to vocalist John Knight, his brother and the band’s guitarist Ian Knight and bassist, Kev Jackson. The three talk about the band’s origins, their influences and favourite bands, while also talking about the expectations and their excitement for the forthcoming album.
Tell us about the formation of Synaptik
Ian: When you form a band, you want the best musicians in your band and that’s what happened with Synaptik. I’ve been in other bands previously with my brother John Knight (singer) and Kev Jackson (bassist) so these were the ones I thought of straight away and they were looking to form a band too. I then knew Pete Loades, a drummer at the rehearsal rooms I went to. Jack Murton was a local guitar teacher I’d seen on a video. I knew he was the man for the job, so I went for a lesson with the intention of asking him to join us.
What were your influences and goals when you formed?
Kev: Just to play some good music that we could enjoy. Influences are varied due to each member bringing their personal slant to it. It’s definitely metal and certainly heavy but we also like to throw variation in there.
John: Our main influences are Nevermore, Queensryche, Death, Pestilence, Atheist, Dream Theater, Watchtower and Spiral Architect. We all have different influences, which is a good thing. We bring them together to create the Synaptik sound.
Ian: The original goal of the band was to write some songs, play some gigs and simply see what happens. People liked what we created so we carried on. We want as many people as possible to hear our songs. Anything else is a bonus.
In the last 4 years, do you feel you have reached or at least come closer to that goal?
Kev: We have certainly managed to write material we enjoy. Now we need to expand our audience and increase the enjoyment of our music. It has been a slow process, sometimes a slog, but it now feels like it’s coming to fruition.
Your second album is coming soon, how excited are you? Are you more prepared this time round?
Kev: We are really looking forward to getting this out there, as we are very proud of the progression from the first album. Can you ever be fully prepared for this? We hope so, but time will tell… haha.
Ian: Yes we are very excited about the new songs and can’t wait for people to hear it. We’ve been living with these songs for a while since they were recorded and they still make me excited. We have stepped up a level this time and are a lot better prepared this time with management and a PR company on board to give the new album the push it deserves.
What has been the writing process for the new album?
Kev: Last minute kind of sums it up. The ideas had been around for a while and just needed putting together, so we booked the studio. Funny how quick that came up. There’s nothing like pressure to focus the mind… or melt it. Still not sure which one happened.
Ian: Mainly Jack or myself write individual riffs and we stick them together at rehearsal, Kev tweaks them by either adding a note or changing times and then plays what he wants underneath. The same with Pete or he will have a cool drum pattern and we will write a riff for that. John oversees the writing process and makes changes to make the song flow better and to fit his lyrics. We try very hard to make the songs be memorable, songs that will be remembered and not ones that sound the same.
What are the topics that fuel the fire in Synaptik?
Kev: Deep, very deep. Life, thoughts, dysfunction and the human element.
Ian: Grief, Pain, Misery, Loss, War, Control, all things everyone can relate to.
John: Lyrically, ‘Justify & Reason’ ventures into the dark, labyrinthine corridors of the human psyche to examine the relationship between inner emotions and society at large―universal themes that transcend cultural and national boundaries.
“We felt unshackled, with no restrictions, free to write exactly what we wanted with no fear”
What are the areas you are hoping fans will notice you have improved on since the last release?
Kev: We would like to think the maturity of the songs and the melodic aspect. The production has also been upgraded to suit.
Ian: The new songs sound more mature, as we have developed as a band over the years since the last release. They flow a lot better, we spent a long time making sure they worked as songs and not just a collection of riffs thrown together. These songs have some of the fastest and heavy riffs we have done but also some of the slowest mellow clean parts. They have everything in there a true Progression from the debut album.
Re-releasing your debut album just over a month before the new album isn’t common, do you think this might spark some extra interest in the band in the build to ‘Justify & Reason’?
John: I certainly believe so. The debut album gained very positive reviews on its release and you can hear our progression as a band just in that one album. From the early songs ‘Utopia’, ‘Vacancy of Mind’ and ‘Allies’, through to the later tracks that are more in keeping with where Synaptik are now sonically. ‘As I am, As I was”’is the last track we wrote just before going into the studio to record, ‘The Mechanisms of Consequence’ and it really was a turning point for the band. We felt unshackled, with no restrictions, free to write exactly what we wanted with no fear. A mix of brutality and melodic dynamics which we more than embraced on the new album. The remix breathed life into them and they sound better than ever.
Who has been some of your favourite bands to share a stage with?
John: As Synaptik, we have been graced with playing both Mammothfest and Bloodstock (New Blood). Both fantastic experiences with some great bands.
Who would be the dream to tour with?
Kev: We would all say slightly different things but Watchtower, Dream Theater and Evergrey wouldn’t be bad.
Ian: Yes, Watchtower, Queensryche and Dream Theater.
John: Yes, Queensryche, Dream Theater or Iron Maiden be good.
What is one song you wish you wrote and why?
Kev: Again, too many answers for this and I don’t think we could all agree.
Ian: My favourite song is “I Won’t Dance” by Celtic Frost so it will have to be that one, l don’t know why I just love it and could play it forever and not get bored. But there are countless other songs that send shivers up and down my spine and grab me by the heart that I wish I’d written.
John: Too many. Maybe a good Xmas song that keeps bringing the money in. Wizzard or that one my mate Justin wrote, ‘Bell End’ or something like that haha. Seriously, though, far too many. ‘Armed & Dangerous’ or ‘Breathing Lightning’ by Anthrax – great songs with epic vocals and hooks. ‘Hanging on a String’ by Psychotic Waltz, too maybe.
Do you have any messages for your fans?
Kev: Check our website and please take a listen. If you like what you hear, pre-orders of the album are available. Watch out for live dates, we will be out soon.
Ian: Synaptik all love what we have created with this new album, ‘Justify & Reason’ and can’t wait for you to all hear it too. If you like the unexpected, the different then look no further.
John: Current fans, thanks for sticking with us. The new album will be worth the wait. Potential new fans, if you want something different then stop on by our website, eargasms guaranteed.
Check out the video for ‘ESC CTRL’, taken from ‘Justify & Reason’
‘Justify & Reason’ will be released physically March 10th 2017 via Snakes On Fire Records (UK), Divebomb Records (US).
Synaptik were announced to play Mammothfest 2017 in Brighton, October 6th to 8th.