Abiotic – Interview with John Matos (guitar)
Interview by: Svetlana Likhacheva
Recently re-emerged technical death metal outfit Abiotic is proud to announce their third full-length, Ikigai. The album will be released on Friday, February 12th, 2021 via The Artisan Era. We reached out to the band’s guitarist John Matos to know more.
Hello, I hope you are having a great day! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. You are releasing your third full-length album, Ikigai, soon. How are you feeling about the new record?
So excited to finally be releasing Ikigai to the world. We worked so hard on all of these songs and it has been too long since we released a full body of music. Really looking forward to seeing what fans think of the record as whole.
The band has been on hiatus for several years. How do you feel about coming back on to the music scene?
In many ways it feels like we never left and also feels like we’re playing a bit of catch up, but feels great to be back doing what we all love to do.
Did you ever think that you’d have to break up completely as a band? If so, how did you cope with these thoughts?
With how hard we were working the first few years of our career, I don’t think it ever crossed our minds. It was certainly a challenge to cope with at the time, but I think we’re stronger than ever after the hiatus and I know Ikigai will show that to the world.
The band’s line-up have seen some changes before the new record. How did the atmosphere in the band change when Anthony Simone and Kilian Duarte joined you?
We certainly had some big shoes to fill in the rhythm section when we decided to get going again and Tony and Kilian fit perfectly. They both have become such an integral part of what is new to our sound and you’ll be able to hear that on every song.
What did new members bring to writing and recording process?
With Tony helming engineering, production, mixing and mastering, it’s easy to say that the songs wouldn’t be as strong as I feel they are without him. It was a great experiencing working with him on these songs and I cannot speak highly enough of his talents. Kilian also brought a myriad of ideas and techniques we had never used before; ferocious percussive slaps, harp harmonic melodies, and he was also not afraid to sit in the pocket to let sections shine. Us being such a bass driven band, he had some big shoes to fill and did an amazing job.
Do you like to work individually and then combine your ideas or do you all work collectively when creating?
A healthy mixture of both is great and is what ended up happening on Ikigai. We all worked on some songs alone and then came together to hone them into what we see as the end result. The pandemic provided us time to bounce songs back and forth and make edits to demos before tracking the finals.
Let’s talk a little more about Ikigai. The album title features the Japanese concept of “meaning of life” and you are exploring the topic during the whole record. But there’s a ton of different views on this aspect in a lot of cultures, what drew you to Japan? Why did that concept attract your attention in particular?
It was something I came upon while doing some reading that really struck a chord with me. We wanted to make the lyrical concept of the new record something real, raw, relatable and something that would draw emotion. As far as musically, I’ve always been a huge fan of traditional Japanese music and the instruments used. The melodies are always so hypnotizing and I’ve always wondered what mixing sounds like that would sound like in a heavy context. It’s not over done on the new record, but I think what we achieved with the flutes, strings, and piano pays homage to some of the music that has inspired us.
What kind of aim did you have for this album? Are you satisfied with how it turned out?
We were aiming to top everything we’d done before and continue to show our evolution as a band. We wanted to incorporate things we had never done before, like clean vocals, and at the same time give our fans the signature sound they look for from us. I’m beyond proud of Ikigai and truly believe it’s an album that should be listened to all the way through from start to finish. It’s truly a ride.
Which track from Ikigai was your favourite to work on, and why?
That’s a tough one, but I would have to say Her Opus Mangled is my personal favorite. It has a huge mix of technical, melodic, and heavy parts that makes it a stand out track. It’s got what is probably one of my favorite guitar solos that I’ve ever written and also has a back to back bass solo section with Kilian and guest Jared Smith from Archspire.
You did a lot of awesome collaborations with other musicians for this record, including Trevor Strnad and Brandon Ellis (Black Dahlia), Chaney Crabb (Entheos) and others. Were these all collaborations you’d wanted to do for a while or did they come about during the creative process?
Definitely collaborations we’ve wanted to do for some time. I wanted to approach this album differently in many ways, which included going a little heavier with the guest spot collaborations. It was such a treat to hear artists that are personal friends that we all look up to in the context of our sound. I think listeners will enjoy it as well!
What aspects of the collaborative process do you enjoy the most?
I’m a fan of it all, to be honest. Especially with taking as long of a break as we did and not knowing if we would ever do it again, I’ve learned to appreciate as much of the process as possible, because that’s where the memories lie. It’s not in the final product, but in the journey it takes to get there. Being present in the moments, where as an artist, we get to truly create what lies deep inside.
Who of the guest artists was the most pleasant to work with, or stood out in any other way?
That’s a tough one to say, because they were all such a pleasure to work with. Getting to work with Trevor and how much of an amazing guy he was through the whole process was incredible. We’ve looked up to Black Dahlia and Trevor for as long as we can remember and having him was a check off the bucket list, for sure.
What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
I don’t do much outside of music aside from spending time with my wife and dogs. I’m to be a father very soon, which I imagine will leave even less time for other hobbies!
What are the band’s plans for 2021?
For 2021 we’d like to continue to push our music to the farthest reaches of the world and wait patiently until it is safe to play in front of fans again. Until then, we’ll be pumping out content on our social platforms and engaging with fans as much as we can.
Is there anything else you’d like to say or wish to our readers?
Thank you so much for all the support during our return. It truly means to the world to us to see our fans so pumped for the new release. Pre-order Ikigai and let us know what you think!
Thank you so much for your time, stay safe, and best of luck for Ikigai to go out successfully on February 12th!
Music video for Grief Eater, Tear Drinker: