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Interview with Amos Williams, Bassist and Production Manager for TesseracT
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Interview with Amos Williams, Bassist and Production Manager for TesseracT

The decline in record sales and the increasing importance of touring for bands is well documented.  But with so many artists relying on the live arena to sustain a successful career, it simply isn't enough to just 'play a show' anymore.  We talk to TesseracT's Bassist and Production Manager Amos Williams about creating a "sonic fantasy" and their plans for a truly "immersive" live experience...

What inspired you to become a musician?

I have no idea whatsoever, as I was so young when I started performing that it must just have been something base and animalistic, perhaps? As a 5 or 6 year-old, it must just have been simply a case of: ‘hey, this looks fun, let’s try it’. I’ve been most comfortable upon the stage ever since! I dread to think what my life would be like, could be like, if my performing career never existed. I would be lost, it is that much of the fabric of me. 


Who are some of your earliest influences?

Let’s focus on me as a bass player. It’s fair to say I gravitated towards bass at about 9 or 10, and at the time I was listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Faith No More, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Rage Against The Machine. A broad range of heavy music, I’d say. So, early influences are definitely Flea, Duff McKagan, Steve Harris. These bassists have such a strong influence upon the attitude and direction of the bands they are in, that I think that pushed me to have that same point of view. TesseracT, although striving to take the studio to the stage at all points, are still very different beasts of two different disciplines. So, it’s almost fair to say that my influence is far more intense in the live arena, as Acle’s influence is far greater for studio TesseracT. 


Did you play in any other bands prior to joining TesseracT?

Ha…yes. I suppose we all look back at our youth and are embarrassed by our previous work. I’m not but I get that fashions change. Actually a lot of TesseracT was in the same Nu-Metal /Rap-Metal band called <209>. We were dumb, full of youthful misplaced anger, but always headed towards something slightly different; as we dabbled in world music, lots of polymetric experimentation, and melodic games atypical of the genre. Before that I personally was in a few groups who emulated the likes of Steve Vai and Dream Theater, so it was wild to tour with Devin Townsend and meet the likes of James LaBrie with TesseracT. 13 year old me was very happy indeed!

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 The democratisation of technology has enabled bands like TesseracT to gain access to solid, high performance equipment; and as such to be able to fly anywhere in the world with the brain of our system, and create a sound that is as close to the album as possible.

How important is it for you that the sounds you work so tirelessly to create in the studio are translated live? What is the process?

Very early on in the formulative phase of TesseracT we realised that we needed to use a sequencer or employ 12 guitarists. This forced us to work with a click to keep everything in time, and ever since then we’ve been either overcoming issues, or exploiting the benefits of working with essentially a studio setup on the road. On the underground scene this was unusual, but I think it is now the norm.  The democratisation of technology has enabled bands like TesseracT to gain access to solid, high performance equipment; and as such to be able to fly anywhere in the world with the brain of our system, and create a sound that is as close to the album as possible.


What ultimately is your vision for the TesseracT live production?

I want to create a sonic fantasy at every show, one without impairment of the equipment at hand. Where the only limitation is that of the creativity of the musicians and engineers involved. We’ve been looking at various ‘3D’ or ‘Immersive Audio’ systems recently, that may in fact help us achieve this goal.  But, there is one element to our shows that is unique to TesseracT. The show is high energy, so I’m wondering if part of the charm is the element of controlled chaos. Perhaps leaving a little bit of wildfire in the system is essential for the TesseracT sound?


Would you be willing to share any difficult lessons you have learned?

Certainly! I think my main lesson that I am dealing with each and every day is twofold. Firstly, when you double duty, like me, working as Production Manager and Bass player, you are sharing your energy between two roles. Perhaps only half there for each role. So, in an ideal world, I reckon I will be handing over Production duties to dedicated stage manager/stage tech and will focus solely on being a mediocre bass player instead. 

Secondly, you can prepare for everything, think about all possibilities, and have a plan for everything. But, you cannot control a damned thing. Sometimes events happen that hamper your vision, and you just have to deal with it and continue moving forward. 

I’m going to add a third thing, sorry. Something that I’m still working on – trust. You need to place trust in the team you are working with. Give them responsibilities and ask for their help. If they fail you repeatedly then maybe they shouldn’t be part of your team, but you can’t prejudge them and not give them the chance. Working as part of a team is more fun, and ultimately that is the aim for this; it has to be fun. 


What ultimately is your vision for the TesseracT live production?

I want to create a sonic fantasy at every show, one without impairment of the equipment at hand. Where the only limitation is that of the creativity of the musicians and engineers involved. We’ve been looking at various ‘3D’ or ‘Immersive Audio’ systems recently, that may in fact help us achieve this goal.  But, there is one element to our shows that is unique to TesseracT. The show is high energy, so I’m wondering if part of the charm is the element of controlled chaos. Perhaps leaving a little bit of wildfire in the system is essential for the TesseracT sound?


Would you be willing to share any difficult lessons you have learned?

Certainly! I think my main lesson that I am dealing with each and every day is twofold. Firstly, when you double duty, like me, working as Production Manager and Bass player, you are sharing your energy between two roles. Perhaps only half there for each role. So, in an ideal world, I reckon I will be handing over Production duties to dedicated stage manager/stage tech and will focus solely on being a mediocre bass player instead. 

Secondly, you can prepare for everything, think about all possibilities, and have a plan for everything. But, you cannot control a damned thing. Sometimes events happen that hamper your vision, and you just have to deal with it and continue moving forward. 

I’m going to add a third thing, sorry. Something that I’m still working on – trust. You need to place trust in the team you are working with. Give them responsibilities and ask for their help. If they fail you repeatedly then maybe they shouldn’t be part of your team, but you can’t prejudge them and not give them the chance. Working as part of a team is more fun, and ultimately that is the aim for this; it has to be fun. 

I want to create a sonic fantasy at every show, one without impairment of the equipment at hand. Where the only limitation is that of the creativity of the musicians and engineers involved.

Do you have an album or song that you are most proud of?

I am very happy with the cohesiveness of two of our albums. All the bits work well together on both 'Altered State' (our 2nd album), and 'Sonder' (our recent album). Music, production, theme, presentation, and artwork. Both those albums are strong because each element is focussed towards a common goal. 


In terms of the current music scene, who are you a fan of?

I like what The Contortionist do. Like us they focus on dynamics and melody. I’m waiting for that moment where somebody out there just blows me away. It’ll happen, and it’ll be someone so unassuming and natural that it’ll just make me so envious! 


If you could work with anybody who would it be?

I’d love to worked with Michael Jackson. His music is so universally adored, and seems to come from such a singular point. I would also have loved to have worked with Prince. I’m sure it wasn’t all fun and spontaneity, but the results are just so exciting and far reaching. Both artists had a powerful vision for each song they were working on. It would be life affirming to be pushed super hard to be excellent each and every minute of that gig. 

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 I personally have quite lofty visions for unique performances, immersive AV shows, events that are more than just a gig...

What are your plans for the rest of 2018 and beyond?

We are deep into the Sonder World Tour. Australia (easily my spiritual home) then European headline tours for the rest of 2018. I’m hoping that we get to return to North America, and to visit the rest of Europe and Asia in 2019. But, as the tempo of music cycles for a band at our level is so fast, we’re going to need to start writing new music soon to keep up with things. I personally have quite lofty visions for unique performances, immersive AV shows, events that are more than just a gig; so hopefully a few of those come to fruition, too. TesseracT is all about moving forward at all time. Musically, technologically, and conceptually. We wish to improve all facets of our game, at all times. Nothing is ever ‘done’.

Big thanks to Amos for taking the time out to answer our questions.  TesseracT's new album 'Sonder' is available now via Kscope.  You can catch the band on tour in the UK in November and December 2018.  Follow Tesseract @tesseractband.

All photography by Kristell Gathoye, 2018.

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