First of all, how does it feel knowing Fortress turns 10 this year?
I want to say it doesn't feel like that much time has passed but it really does. I think about Luke and I driving into the jam space everyday and I wonder if I would be willing to do the same thing today. Probably not, thank goodness for technology! I never have to leave my house now.
How did you feel when the album came out?
There was a nervous excitement in the air. We were all really happy with the record, but it's still difficult to push back that overwhelming thought of "the sophomore slump". Kezia had been released to such positive reviews and had propelled us to new heights I think we were all a little nervous about how this record would be received, especially because it was a bit of a departure from what we had done previously.
Where do you think the album fits in the band's legacy?
I don't really know. I think it's probably our most metal record. When someone lumps us into the category of "metalcore" it's usually because they're thinking of this record.
How did the band approach writing?
We went into a rehearsal factory at Dufferin and Dupont everyday. Our space had like four different rooms. The guys would set up in the large room and just run ideas while I would sleep in another room. Eventually they recorded them and while they continued to write, I would write my part on my computer in the other room... between naps. It was weird, we had a giant vase that we filled with cigarette butts. I don't really recall drinking very much, which seems unusual for us, but it seems as though we took it very seriously. This is the last record I was actually there for everyday.
What inspired the lyrics?
This is a question best left for Arif, however you'd have to find him to ask him, and your guess is as good as mine as to where he is. He said he did a lot of mushrooms while he wrote it, but maybe he was just saying that to sound cool. He is a very talented writer, and I don't know where some of these ideas could possibly have come from, but I'm very fond of the work he did.
Do any of the themes touched on the album still hold relevant for you after 10 years?
I don't think I every felt very connected to any of the stuff on this album, how could you? The conquests of Genghis Khan, and the goddess of the forest. I think we were just listening to a lot of power metal at the time, so I didn't really care what I was singing about as long as it sounded like Rhapsody or some other such thing.
What were your hopes and expectations for the record during the writing and recording process?
We just wanted to continue our trajectory upward. Reach that next threshold. Also we just wanted something heavy, complicated, and fast. Those have always been the main factors in our song writing and I don't think that has changed.
When you were in the studio, how was the morale of everyone?
We were stoked. Juice (our engineer and producer) had seemingly grown just as much as we had in the three years since the first record. So not only was the music better (in our opinion) but it sounded better as well. We did a bunch of weird stuff, like recorded our selves running and screaming in a field for the beginning of Bone Marrow, we had huge bonfires, got absolutely drunk out of our minds, and basically ran rampant through the small town of Stoney Creek.
When was the last time you listened to the record? Are there memories and emotions that come back?
I listened to it before the tour, just to refresh my memory of how it was actually preformed. Sometimes when you sing a song so much live, you fall into these weird little habits and it drifts from it's original form, so I tried to remember how it was initially recorded. I suppose memories and emotions returned, however we've never really stopped playing a lot of those songs live, so the memories were not only of a longtime ago but also very recent memories, nothing of any particular significance.
What do you remember most about making the album?
Probably the vase full of cigarette butts in the jam space. Moe and I were smoking Peter Jackson Orange, and we smoked a shit ton of them in that there. we had what we called the "wall of chain" which was just all the empty packs piled high on the wall. Thinking of it now makes me fucking sick. What a filthy habit. The other thing I recall quite vividly is the light brown couch which I slept on while they wrote in the other room. It was a dirty old couch that I brought from my parent's basement, and we left it there when we were finished.
Were there any bands in particular you enjoyed playing with while touring for the record?
We toured with so many bands in that time it's difficult to say. We did Warped Tour the summer that came out, and met a ton of great people, and great bands. We thought we were too cool for Warped Tour at the time, and acted as though we were better than it, but I look back and remember that tour as some of the most fun I've ever had with the band. I think we had pretty massive egos at the time, we were unable to see the forest for the trees, and thought we were just the greatest. Time and experience has proved otherwise and given us a generous dose of humility. Kevin Lyman treated us very well, and we were ungrateful little shits, but whatever, you live and you learn.
What sort of place was your life in when the album came out?
I was still living in my parent's basement. I didn't realize how sweet I had it. My parents must have hated me, some drunk little fuck living in their basement sleeping all day and leaving for months on end without contacting them. I'm not particularly proud of the person I was then. I was mean, and angry for no reason.
Do you remember what you were listening to at the time?
An absolute frig ton of Symphony X, Dillinger Escape plan, always Propagandhi. Tim actually made a playlist of the music we were listening to at the time; it may be worth getting him to send it over to you.
Did you ever expect the album to have the influence it did?
Certainly not, I'm still not entirely sure what kind of influence it had outside of the influence it had on the five of us. There was great highs and tremendous lows throughout the album cycle. Which bolstered my ego and conversely deflated it. I grew up in those few years, I moved out, started dating my now wife, learned what it meant to be an actual functioning adult, who couldn't just party my way through this life. So the influence it had on me was vast, and I didn't expect it at all. I expected to be a stupid rock n' roll party child for the rest of my days, but ended up finding my true self along the way.