Intronaut 14/11/2010

INTRONAUT is a post-metal band from Los Angeles, California and features Sacha Dunable, ex-Anubis Rising, guitarist Leon del Muerte of Exhumed, Impaled, drummer Danny Walker of Uphill Battle and bassist Joe Lester. They play progressive metal with harsh vocals combined with progressive and jazzy instrumental breaks. Their sound incorporates traits from sludge metal, jazz and death metal. In 2005 the band released a four-track demo entitled Null – Demonstration Extended Play Compact Disc. Soon after that the band got signed to Goodfellow Records, and in early April 2006, they recorded their debut album ‘Void’ at Shiva Industries in Santa Ana, California with producer John Haddad. In January 2008, the band announced that they had signed a world wide deal with Century Media Records, and theycompleted their next album, ‘Prehistoricisms’. In 2009, Intronaut went on tour with Kylesa, as support band for Mastodon.



INTRONAUT ‘s latest effort, the ‘Valley Of Smoke’ came out a couple of weeks ago via Century Media Records. The follow-up to 2008's ‘Prehistoricisms’ was once again produced by Josh Newell (Jane's Addiction) and it features a guest appearance by Tool bassist Justin Chancellor. In order to hear all about this new release, we tracked down David Timnick (Guitars, Vocals) to ask him some questions, here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-experience.


First of all, how are you doing? Congratulations with your new album ‘Valley of Smoke’ which will be out soon, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it!


David: Thanks!  Ask away.


I’m not familiar with your band, so could you start this interview off with an introduction of the band? How did you get this band together and where does its name come from?


David: We are Intronaut from Los Angeles, California USA. The band has been together for almost 6 years now. The name Intronaut is pretty self explanatory (and a bit cheesy as well!).   Just as an astronaut travels and explores outer space, an Intronaut travels and explores inner space. I told you it was cheesy. But we are all quite fond of the name now.


How did you launch into writing material for ‘Valley of Smoke’ and how much time did you spend on creating the songs?


David: Well, we had the fortunate experience of touring with Mastodon in 2009 for our previous record, ‘Prehistoricisms’, and once we got back home we decided it was time to get to work on a new record. We had already been jamming on some new ideas before that, but once we got home from that tour, we started getting together as much as possible and began putting our ideas together and working out all the subtleties and nuances that turn a handful of ideas into cohesive musical statements, and eventually, complete songs. So we were writing full time for the better part of a year before we were ready to start recording.


Which approach did you choose to create this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. Or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?



David: Well, this particular record has a concept behind it, which isn't really something we had done before. ‘Prehistoricisms’ was a bit conceptual, but not in the same sense as ‘Valley of Smoke’. The whole record is about the lesser known histories and mysteries of Los Angeles, the city we all choose to call home. We thought that if we're going to do some kind of concept record, then the concept itself should be something that we all relate to and are affected by.


Was your experience with you previous bands helpful in creating this album? 

David: I think that any previous experience, musical or otherwise, is useful when starting something new and different from anything one has done in the past. It goes without saying that every member of this band brings a lifetime of different experiences to the table when coming together to create something new. We all have very different musical backgrounds, which surely plays a large role in the music we create together.  


How can we imagine you worked on these songs, what's the typical writing process like for Intronaut? For example, did people come in with just riffs, or was it more of a group process?


David: It's a combination of many things. We spend a lot of time together in the practice space, jamming together and working out ideas and transitions, but we also all spend time on our own coming up with riffs, beats, melodies, harmonies, rhythmic ideas, etc. The finished product is a result of all the practicing we do on our own, as well as all the time we spend together creating musical statements out of musical ideas.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Valley of Smoke’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?


David: The biggest goal for this record was a musical first for us, which is the inclusion of clean vocals. This is something we haven't done before, but it's something we have wanted to do for some time. We believe that the dynamic nature of the music demands an equally dynamic approach to the vocals, but it took us a while to find the right way to do it. This album is complete with singing and vocal harmonies, as well as the screaming and growling you'll find on our previous records. It's all a direct result of our desire to be as musical as possible. Also, the guitar playing is a lot more involved... Sacha and I have been practicing!


Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?


David: Absolutely. We try to write music that runs the gamut from heavy and crushing to ambient and psychedelic, and if the vocals are brutal and dissonant throughout the entire record, then it does very little justice to the music itself.


What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?


David: I don't know if there really can be only one, but I guess I would have to say cohesion.  All the beats and riffs in the world mean very little if they are not serving a purpose with regard to the entirety of the song itself. We try to use as few ideas in a song as possible, and rather than "riff stacking", we try to expand and contract those ideas ad-nauseum until we have what sounds like a bunch of different parts, but in reality are just variations of a few simple ideas.


Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Valley of Smoke’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?


David: As I mentioned before, ‘Valley of Smoke’ is a concept record about Los Angeles.  The title itself comes from the name given to the region by the Chumash tribe of Native Americans that lived here before us. It has to do with the actual geography of the region which, based on being in low basins surrounded by mountain ranges, would trap smoke from campfires which would in turn remain as a haze for extended periods of time, much like our smog issues today.


Who was responsible for the lyrics on this album and where do you get your inspiration from? Are there any stories behind them? Did anything in particular inspire your lyrics?


David: I wrote most of the lyrics for this record, and Sacha wrote some as well. If you check out our website, you can find explanations of the historical events that directly inspire the lyrics, song by song. And you can read all about the songs on the following page:


How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

David: I'd say it's very important to me personally, but honestly, if people get into our music without much care for the lyrics, then I'm perfectly fine with that. The music is really what's most important in this band. The lyrics and the vocals are only there to enhance (not define) the music.


How did the recording process proceed, did you work differently this time than you did with your previous works? How much time did you spend in the studio?


David: This time around we had quite a bit more time to work in the studio than we did for our last record. This was extremely beneficial to the actual recording process, because we could go back and change things at the last minute if we felt so inclined, and really make sure everything was exactly the way we wanted it before it was officially done. 


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?


David: Well, honestly I think that the inspiration for writing music and lyrics comes from everyday life. Trying to find inspiration without experience is a dead-end street.  You can slop together some cool riffs, or some deep-sounding lyrics, but creating something meaningful can only occur when you find a way to channel your thoughts and emotions truthfully into whatever it is you're doing.


Which song is your favourite one to play live? Which song do you find is the most challenging one to play live?


David: I don't know if there's one song I like to play live more than the others.  If I had to pick one, I would maybe say "Core Relations", "Miasma", or "Above".  I guess I just picked three.  But that's just from the new record. There are a couple of songs from the last record that are particularly fun for me personally, namely "Any Port", which ends with a big dual drum solo between Danny and myself, as well as "The Reptilian Brain", in which I play tabla for the first 5 or 6 minutes of the song.


What were the highlights and low points throughout your career?


David: Well I'd like to believe that our careers are far from over, so I'm hoping that our low points are behind us, and the highest points are still to come! But so far, I would say that our last 3 tours could all be considered high points. I don't think that any of us thought when we started out that we would eventually be touring with the likes of Mastodon, Cynic, and Helmet! And we don't plan on slowing down anytime soon.


Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:


Thrash :  Slayer.                 

Underground :  The dwelling place of the mysterious lizzard-people which are the subject of the song "Core Relations".       

Internet :  Free porn.                 

Religion :  The only good things to come from religion are music and art.                

Politics :  Sadly and hopelessly corrupt.                  

The Netherlands :  Rembrandt, van Gogh, Escher, and an amazing football team. Also, good food and good weed! 

United States:  BBQ, jazz, corn.        


What is your opinion on the metal scene these days?


David: I'll preface this by saying that I don't come from a strong metal background, but I have noticed that now more than ever there are a lot of metal bands taking influence and inspiration from other genres of music, which often results in something fantastic. One thing that I've notice about most different styles of metal is that they all take the technical aspects of music very seriously, and when this approach is coupled with outside musical influences, well, the sky is the limit.


What do you think about the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?


David: There will always be a surplus of bands in any musical genre, and there will always be certain things that could be considered missing. I think that the best music comes from a person or band with 2 driving forces behind them: 1)  a desire to stand out from the overload of other bands, and 2) to create whatever they believe is missing from the scene.  So I think that the overload of bands and the things that are missing from the scene are absolutely essential to the evolution of music, in any genre.

What can we expect from Intronaut in the near future, any touring plans?


David: Hell yes!! We don't have anything set in stone just yet, but our plan is to tour our asses off throughout 2011. And we definitely plan on making it back to the Netherlands during that time, so make sure you come out to the shows, say hi, and smoke us out!


Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?


David: Well for now, the plan is tour tour tour. We're hoping that people respond well to this new record, so that we can continue to play our music for anyone and everyone that wants to hear it.  As far as musical direction and the future of Intronaut goes, all I can say is that we never know where we're going until we're there. It's all about the journey...

A last statement?


David: Music is still alive and well, contrary to popular belief. Support it! Go out and see your favorite bands, buy the albums, and spread the word.


Thanks for your time,

Eugene Straver



Current members:

Sacha Dunable – Guitar, Vocals

Dave Timnick – Guitar, Vocals

Danny Walker – Drums, Samples

Joe Lester – Bass Guitar


Former members:

Leon del Muerte – Guitar, Vocals

Cristina Fuentes – Keyboards


Studio albums:

2006 - Void

2008 - Prehistoricisms

2010 - Valley of Smoke



2005 - Null (self-released)

2006 - Null

2007 - The Challenger