As opposed to what the meaning of its name in Latin may suggest, Terminus Victor’s last album may not be its ultimate victory. The band has recently finished recording Under Surveillance, its follow-up to Mastering the Revels, with Matt Talbott from the Great Western Record Recorders studio.
The biggest challenge in working on the new album stems from how different the band sounds live as opposed to in the studio. While the first album replicated the band’s live sound, Under Surveillance uses more layering than what can be accomplished by two men and a drum machine.
“There are some things we do that sound good recorded, but they won’t be done at live shows,” lead singer and bassist Scott Kimble says. “Musically, the tempos are a lot more in the pocket and there’s a lot more layering guitar-wise going on. We also use a lot more effects than there were before.”
Even though Terminus Victor recorded its first album at Great Western Record Recorders, as well, the band has created a very different sound on the new album. Some of the new sounds include live drums and keyboards by Kimble. The guitar sound is also more complexly layered than in Mastering the Revels or in their live shows.
The trial of how to control a band’s evolving sound turns up in many sophomore albums, and guitarist Don King says that he and Kimble approached their changing sound by dividing up the creative tasks before bringing it all together.
“We are at a more mature stage with getting songs written, done, and fine-tuned,” King says. “Scott did more composition, and then I did stuff on top of that. He just got on a roll with the writing.”
Kimble also says that he has developed more as a vocalist on Under Surveillance.
“As far as the vocals are concerned, it’s a lot more melodic and there’s a lot more vocals in the lower register,” he says. “And the lyrics are a lot better. I actually had something to say this time.”
Kimble says that as far as where the title Under Surveillance comes from, they wanted something to encompass the album without restricting any part of it.
“We just kind of thought it up. It just kind of fits and ties up everything,” he says. “The album isn’t a concept album by any means, but it kind of ties all the songs together.”
According to Kimble, there are a few songs which people have made the most comments on: “A Scream in the Park” and “Arctic Living.” He also believes “Safety in Numbers” and “Your Nemesis” stands out on Under Surveillance.
Terminus Victor has been wrestling with the finer points of recording, as well.
“We’ve been paying attention to being happy with the details,” King says. “This is a landmark record, so we want to make it the best we can. I think it’s going to be a signature record because it is the pinnacle of the current sound we’re doing right now.”
Many descriptions of their sound have ranged from “inferno” to “not quite human.” What makes Terminus Victor unique is a non-human drummer, and yet there is nothing lacking in the rhythms pulsating from the drum machine simply referred to as “she.” As for her human programmers Kimble and King, they form a symbiotic organic/mechanical relationship not quite like any other hybridization seen out there. Part of this connection stems from the decade-long friendship between the two, who had been in a project called Hush Tower, then formed Terminus Victor in October 1999.
As for the third member of the band, “she” has her advantages and disadvantages. At times, she causes people to identify Terminus Victor as either industrial or electronic. However, Terminus Victor is one of the many bands that falls into the grey areas of music. Also, Kimble himself doesn’t like to be pinned into any particular genres.
“I think the only reason genres are there is to direct people to know what a band is going for. People just like to call it something,” Kimble says. “What it comes down to is that we’re influenced by so many things. We’ve never tried to target any audiences exactly, but just stay true to ourselves and do what comes naturally. ”
They have continued working this philosophy for their next album, along with their live shows.
“It’s always important to have a realistic expectation of the response people have to the music and not have a ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ attitude,” King says. “We just try to be who we are and do the best work that we can.”
“Never turn down shows. Even if there’s only a handful of people there, never half-ass anything,” Kimble advises. “Always be personally accessible to other musicians and create a sense of community with the bands you play with, whether they’re from town or not. Never be afraid to take risks.”
Under Surveillance will be released September 27 on Innocent Words Records.