Rising progressive death metallers Psychotogen recently released their second album The Calculus of Evil. So I thought it would be appropriate to hear what guitar player and songwriter Jeremy Grande had to say about things.

Jeremy Grande interviewed by PSL

Would you start out with a brief history of the band?
We have been together for about three years, and have released two albums, Perverse and Unnatural Practices in 2001, and The Calculus of Evil in 2003 on Crash Music. The line-up consists of Tony Pernia - bass, Chris Pernia - drums, and myself on guitar. Both Tony and Chris used to be in Pessimist, and recorded that band's first two albums.

What's up in the Psychotogen camp at the moment?
We are currently enjoying the positive response for our latest release, The Calculus of Eviland looking for a permanent vocalist. Some writing for our next album is underway, and we are rehearsing our set for future live dates.

It sounds like much has happened since Perverse and Unnatural Practices. You really have evolved and progressed a lot. Is it just natural progression or do you say to yourselves; we need to push things in that and that direction?
The progression was very natural. Perverse and Unnatural Practices was 50% new material when it came out. The other 50% was really leftover stuff from a previous incarnation of the band. We had another guitar player and main songwriter at the time, and when he left, we changed the name and wrote all new material. When we made this change, we said to ourselves that we would not limit the songwriting to fit into any mold. We took all of our influences and wrote the kind of tunes we naturally wanted to write.

You really get around in the musical spectrum. I spot a lot of different genres in you music. So what bands are you inspired by and listen to?
I think what you hear on the new album The Calculus of Evil is a band that is not afraid to share their influences. We all listen to different types of music and have been influenced by all kinds of sounds in many different genres, from jazz and classical to Death and Dead Can Dance. It really runs the gambit. If you were to see our CD collections, you might be surprised.

The influence from bands such as Atheist, Cynic and Death sounds much more obvious this time around. Is it a coincidence or was this done deliberately?
Those bands you mentioned were definitely influential but we never tried to deliberately sound like them. They were bands that defied trends and were pioneers in our genre of music. I think that is what we tried to do, as well.

You have some jazz stuff incorporated in the music. Are any of you big jazz fans?
Big jazz fans? I don't know. We all listen to jazz mostly to hear certain players. I, for one, am not a huge jazz fan, although I like certain types of jazz.

You've really managed to create a pretty unique and original sound that really sets you apart from most other extreme bands out there. Is this an idea that you have been toying with from day one or did it just turn out that way?
Thank you very much for saying so. I think that is a great compliment. The only thing I can say for sure on this is that we did not limit ourselves to anything, whether it be by not playing in 4/4 meter all the time, or by using acoustic guitars, or by the fact that we all write the tunes, it has all been integral in our sound.

Some places on the CD the drums and bass reminds me a little bit of what was going on, on the Pessimist album Blood For the Gods I guess it's not such a strange thing since some of you played in that band. Do you try to distance yourselves totally from time in Pessimist sound wise or is this a thing you don't think about when you write music?
We just don't think about it. I can't speak for Tony or Chris, but I would say it is not something we do intentionally. Tony and Chris are on the first two Pessimist records, so naturally you are going to hear similarities in their playing, but it is not a conscious thing.

You've used some acoustic guitars this time. How did this idea emerge?
I have never been much of an acoustic player; however, I have always loved the sound. I just thought it would help give the album some texture. When I hear an album by a band that sticks solely with one sound all the way through, I personally get bored. I have always liked albums by bands that were not afraid to step outside the box and add texture to their sound. I felt the acoustic guitars were one way to do that.

How would you describe or categorize you style?
Progressive death metal.

How did the idea of covering "All Guns Blazing" come about?
I knew this was coming! "All Guns Blazing" was something we threw in at the last minute. It was never meant to be part of the album. It was just something we tossed in for fun.

How did you hook up with Mike Harrison? He sounds like the perfect replacement for Rob Kline!
Mike has been a friend of ours for a while. He used to jam with Tony and Chris in Pessimist, and was someone we thought could do the job. We were under a deadline with the new album and were having trouble writing the songs we needed. Our previous singer was asked to leave, and we needed a vocalist quick. Mike was really one of our first choices. We liked his voice, and we knew he could deliver in a pinch. Truth to tell, it was really an impossible task. We said to him "Look, we've got six weeks for you to write and record vocals for our new album. Can you do it?". He said yes - so that was it. Six weeks later he had lyrics and melodies to the songs and we recorded them. Most of the vocals we had never heard before hand.

You've recorded both your albums at Nightsky Studios with Ron Vento. But to me the production on The Calculus of Evil sound somewhat different than on you debut. It sounds like you've gone for a clearer sound this time around!
Well it was with the same engineer - Ron Vento, but it was really two different studios. Ron had just purchased a new facility and equipment when we recorded the new album. We had a bit more time to record, and Ron had better equipment.

The lyrics, are they based on reality or fiction?
Mike's lyrics are more socio-political and less about psychology; however, the song "Lying in Wait" on the new record is about the Zodiac serial killer, so I would say the lyrics on this album are based more on reality.

How has the response been on The Calculus of Evil so far?
So far we have been very pleased and surprised by the positive feedback from our peers and the music press. Sure, we've had criticism, but who doesn't?

How is the deal with Crash Music?, Are you satisfied with things like promotion and such?
Crash Music has been pretty good to us.

Your new CD The Calculus of Evil, is it released in Europe? I must confess I haven't seen it anywhere yet. Well at least not here in Denmark.
I think it has been released worldwide. I have no trouble finding it here in the States. I must confess, though, that it troubles me that you couldn't find it. I was under the impression that it was out pretty much everywhere.

What does the future hold for Psychotogen?
I can't predict the future, and don't want to try. I can say we plan on writing and recording another album, and hope to do some more live dates, hopefully in Europe. So who knows?

How is the metal scene doing in the Baltimore / Maryland area?
The Maryland / Baltimore metal scene is very poor - no places to play and not much to see by way of metal bands.

Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
Thank you very much for the support. We all really appreciate it. I hope you liked the new album, and for anyone who hasn't heard it, we welcome you to check out the MP3 at our website - www.psychotogen.com.

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